Sifting Through Bandcamp Best-of 2019Sunday, 22nd December 2019
For 2019, sadly Bandcamp didn’t get as many features as I would have liked it to. With personal and professional responsibilities on the rise there just wasn’t enough time to go around, so the Sifting through Bandcamp column took a bit of a backseat for much of the year. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t some absolutely fantastic releases to indulge in, so to make up for lost time, here are twenty of the best you could come across in 2019.
20. Helenium – The Elements
The solo debut from Persona’s Jelena Dobric isn’t exactly ‘heavy,’ but is none the less captivating. Relying on Dobric’s vocals and a gentle piano, a concept of the natural elements takes the listener along for a reflective journey that holds quite well with repeated listens.
19. Conflict – Decision Code
The spirit of Fear Factory lives on in Conflict (with one track even having Burton C. Bell provide guest vocals), which showcases mechanized riff attacks, excellent growled/sung vocals, and a strong sense of industrialized/electronic effects. But the atmosphere they conjure up, and added brutality, is all their own – a real hidden gem!
18. Organosyde – Kvlt of the Ziox
Pummeling HM-2 fun, with an allstar line-up (members of Allegaeon, Martriden, Nekrogoblikon), Kvlt of the Ziox is death metal indulgence. Chock full of energetic riffs and brutal melodies (and solos), they know all the right buttons to push for success.
17. Uriel – Multiverse
Coming across symphonic metal that emphasizes the classical side of things isn’t hard to find, bur Uriel casts themselves off as something a bit different. A more avant-garde approach, utilizing elegant strings and blasts of brutality while maintaining some serene beauty is something you don’t hear and gives them some really unique vibes.
16. Bleak Flesh – …And Save Us from Silence
Chile’s Bleak Flesh returns with a release that not only outdoes their previous works, but sees them further evolve their unique take on symphonic/neoclassical elements within their prog/tech death formatting. Dense, re-listenable stuff but immediate in that it doesn’t rely upon ‘tech for tech’s sake’ material. A band to watch.
15. Sunless Rise – Ultimacy
Completely loaded with catchy melodies, Sunless Rise finally returns with a new full-length in Ultimacy. Great use of synths to augment the explosive and charismatic guitars, not to mention some solid vocal diversity, make it just as compelling as anything you’ll find within the melodic death metal genre.
14. Our Destiny – Awakening
It’s nice to indulge in something a bit more relaxed and gentle from time to time, and Our Destiny really nails the vibe. A floaty merger of some proggy elements within an almost pop framework makes for an intimate and reflective experience. A must for fans of Anathema or Anneke van Giersbergen – glorious and uplifting stuff.
13. Ashen Horde – Tintregen
A busy yet excellent year for Ashen Horde, who also released a full-length in Fallen Cathedrals earlier this year. Tintregen continues to showcase the unique vibes of melodic prog and full-throttle extremity that they have sharpened to a razor’s edge. Still one of extreme metal’s biggest unsung heroes, there are few that can match the diversity and inclusion of different styles with such cohesion and strength.
12. Firelink – The Inveterate Fire
Dark Souls-inspired progressive death metal is the name of the game for Firelink, who are never at a lack for glorious melodies within their lengthy track framework. Interwoven elements of black/death up the brutality as needed, and some quiet moments provide a sense of isolation, giving it just the right backbone from the games it was inspired from.
11. Lindsay Schoolcraft – Martyr
Lindsay Schoolcraft sets her sights on the early ‘00s with the alternative/gothic metal sounds of Martyr. Just the right combination of darkness and light within the song structures, and Schoolcraft’s excellent vocal performance are just two highlights. An easy recommendation for those who dig Evanescence or early Lacuna Coil.
10. Master Sword – The Final Door
Yes, this isn’t out for another few days, but Master Sword bring an excellent close to 2019. Master Sword’s winning combination of traditional/progressive metal with homage to The Legend of Zelda is addictive and powerful. A stronger mesh of both elements make it a step up from their debut, and worthy of being sought out by the heavy metal faithful.
9. Monochromatic Black – Pneuma
Taking that more brutal side of extremity and merging it with an effective melodic edge, Monochromatic Black sounds crushing. Some may make some Jinjer comparisons, but they have a direct, scorching approach to their material that helps them to stand out. The music is frequently technical but never daunting due to the melodic lacing and groove. They are primed for something big if the right people find them.
8. The End of Melancholy – Paradox Intention
An intoxicating blend of modern and gothic metal with plenty of industrial and electronic trimmings, Paradox Intention has plenty of catchy moments. They can raise the heaviness more than what you might initially expect without losing appeal, making it a bit more diverse than some similar bands in the genre. Melodic stuff that has a lot of promise and intriguing directions for the band to travel down in the future.
7. Dead City Crown – Rex Mortuus
Nothing but the purest joy for melodic death metal to be found here. Dead City Crown have made their sound ‘bigger and better’ this time around, but still capture those Gothenburg-inspired roots at the same time. Insanely catchy riffs and leads pepper each track along with monstrous vocals and effective synths. Quite frankly, one of the best bands doing this type of sound in the US right now.
6. Mimesis – Mimesis
Capturing a sound that is massively technical and proggy, Mimesis are also surprisingly easy to get into. They have just the right combination of hook-y, immediate atmosphere that makes digging into the layered and dense material easy, which speaks to their collective experience in bands prior to this one. With only five songs under their belt, there’s some massive promise for them as they explore their sound further.
5. Fellahin Fall – Fellahin Fall
With their fingers all over the map, from Katatonia-esque gloom to industrial, doom, and gothic vibes, unique sounds spring up from all around Fellahin Fall. They elicit a dreary feeling, yet one that’s incredibly catchy and sure to draw in fans from all over the metal map if given the exposure. Like a few bands on this list, this is Fellahin Fall’s first release, and the creativity and enjoyment it offers is simply stacked with potential moving forward.
4. Olathia – Snake Charmer
An all-out hybrid of melodic/traditional heavy metal, thrash, progressive, and groove, Olathia provides a triumphant return. It’s heavier and darker than Hunters but it sounds their punchy and aggressive vibes. That’s not to say that they’ve lost their more playful melodic side, as Snake Charmer still has plenty of triumphant melodies and choruses to raise your fists into the air. One that both traditional and modern fans should be able to equally enjoy.
3. Project Renegade – Order of the Minus
Fully delivering on the promise of their debut EP from 2017, Order of the Minus manages to set itself apart from much of the alternative metal crowd. How? By bringing in some heavier moments, cinematic vibes, and gothic atmosphere to their modern metal approach. It’s incredibly catchy and varied approach keeps listeners on their toes – they have a firm grasp on their sound as well, able to provide some tweaks while continuing to push the envelope. There should be more people talking about this act.
2. Brave – The Calm – The Storm
The band’s first full-length album in a decade, The Calm The Storm takes things to heart with a combination of heavier progressive tracks with more quiet and delicate ones. The result is something that feels intimate yet very much layered and exploratory. It’s all grounded by the band’s biggest strength – emotional resonance. Brave is practically indescribable with their sound, but those who have encountered them through the years will attest to their unique songwriting and atmosphere, of which this album seems to culminate for them.
1. Dialith – Extinction Six
A Dead Rhetoric darling after their 2017 debut EP, Dialith’s first full-length is now seeing the band capture a well-deserved and larger audience for their approach to the symphonic metal genre. Easy to see why – it’s heavy, it’s energetic, and it steers clear of the tropes of the genre. There’s a fresh feeling to Dialith that they have been able to nurture and develop, be it a rocking track like “The Sound of Your Voice” or an ambitious, but not bloated, 18-minute epic (the title track). The sky is seemingly the limit for Dialith, and Extinction Six soars.