Sifting through Bandcamp – February 2020

Saturday, 29th February 2020

It’s been a minute since I was able to do a solid, monthly Bandcamp column. Life gets in the way, as does our ever-growing website here at DR, but with any luck, we can get a sustainable one per month as we continue through 2020. To kick things off into the new year (yes, it is almost March), here’s our first commendable acts to check out, featuring Arcaine, Brutalody, Ethereal Exile, Nefariant, Sallow Moth, Shredding Skin, Stellar Death, Timescale, and Your Last Wish.

Arcaine – As Life Decays
As Life Decays is more or less a solid punch in the throat, from a musical standpoint. The death metal approach is in your face, from the often grooving guitars to the intense vocals to the sometimes battering drums. It’s everything the style needs to be, but it also is free to explore some melodic elements without diluting the musical punch. Enjoyable solos and soaring melodies sit comfortably in the same mix as the other elements, giving it plenty of appeal to both more strict death metal fans as well as melodeath ones.

Brutalody – Divine Right of Kings
It’s been a long time since we checked out Brutalody, with their modern melodeath approach to The Usurper. But the years appear to have been kind to them, with Divine Right of Kings holding that thrashy, modern melodeath approach with a generous helping of American groove to the same high standard. Its shining point is just how catchy and addictive the melodies are within the energetic package, and each track oozes with them. Something that meshes gallantly with the brutal and vicious mechanism of the riffing and tempo. A real winner of melodic death fans.

Ethereal Exile – Soul Beyond Time
Another melodic death metal one for this month, but Ethereal Exile feels much more akin to the earlier days of the sound. There’s an overwhelmingly violent approach to their sound, with thrashy riffs carrying the brunt of the melodies. But it’s not old school worship either, with the heavy approach also owing some of its feel to more modern death metal. The emphasis on strong and impactful riffs and melodies keeps it quite engaging across the seven tracks, and it would rather shred than go into more commercially-viable stuff (a la poppy choruses). A must for those who like their melodeath to stick to the more aggressive side.

Nefariant – Nefariant
With three members from the disbanded Ikillya, you may be quick to think that this is merely more modern thrash, but Nefariant is already its own beast. No doubt it’s heavy, but it pleasantly avoids a simple classification. Noticeable piano presence swings things into more unique territory, coupled with three tracks that zigzag among their death, thrash, metalcore, and gothic influences, and merges it into something quite fresh. While this is just a taste, the direction here makes it feel like Nefariant could make some real noise in the near future.

Sallow Moth – The Larval Hope
Sci-fi/horror lyrics coupled with a progressive death metal feeling have become more commonplace, but Sallow Moth manages to carve out some room for itself. A one-man act that gives off some Slugdge-y notes in it’s exploratory and progressive tone, and also its ability to explode into more throttling territory. There’s a good grasp of what makes the genre work, and it nicely blurs the line between old metal (of the Pestilence variety) and more modern stuff. The story of the album is conceptual, and follows up the Deathspore EP – something that sci-fi fans will probably enjoy as well if you dig into it.

Shredding Skin – Influential Primitive
Sometimes it’s nice to just find a straight-forward album that does it’s best to get you moving. Shredding Skin are all about the groove when it comes to their brand of death metal, and it takes little time to see how good they are at it. It’s heavy and aggressive, and each of the four tracks here are destined to get your head bobbing. It falls into that more modern side of death metal and it’s thoroughly infused with energy. The type of release to just crank up loud and enjoy.

Stellar Death – The Astronomer/Endless
A new group featuring members of Brave, Stellar Death is an instrumental act that seems to fuse elements of post-metal with doomy melancholy and atmosphere. Both songs have that sort of ‘rainy day’ vibe to them (particularly “Endless”) and they are the type of songs that you can just reflect upon while sitting down. “The Astronomer” feels more ‘metal’ in tone, but still offers that quality, as well as a heavy yet gloomy approach. They’ve released two songs in the last month, with more on the way, so if you dig it you can expect more soon.

Timescale – Flows of the Mind
The darker side of power metal is something this scribe has come to enjoy quite a bit, and Timescale offers a prime example of how that can work with Flows of the Mind. There’s an urgency to the material, with its heavier riffing style and charismatic vocals. The melodies fall into the same vibe, such as the opening to “Land of the Hollow,” with its driving tempo and call to arms sound. The type of thing that Iced Earth/Nevermore fans should identify with quickly. While there’s only four tracks here, there’s also two acoustic versions to increase the runtime, and “The River Flows” in particular sits as a standout in this version.

Your Last Wish – Eradicate
Your Last Wish is a Montreal-based act that delivers some epic sounding death metal. With the slurry of different influences, it’s hard to place a finger on something more than that, which is actually a strong suit. There’s some technically inclined stuff (Beyond Creation’s Simon Gerard guests on one track), some proggy injections, heavy grooves, and there’s never a shortage of breathtaking melodies. It all comes together in a package that feels much more than the sum of its parts. If you long for death metal that can be as catchy as it is frenetic, this is it.