Sifting Through Bandcamp – July 2016

Sunday, 24th July 2016

Lots of cool things going on in the Bandcamp world this month. In addition to the usual diamonds in the rough, we’ve got some bigger bands included with some return singles to check out before they return with a full album. While there may be a bit more death metal than usual, a nice variety awaits. This month we look into Azmaroth, Dream Void, Enigma, Eradikal Insane, Goodthink, Grimgotts, Hollowstone, Isenmor, Metalwings, Obed Marsh, Sentient Ignition, The Absence, The Odious Construct, Unflesh, and Vacuus.

Azmaroth – Death Crowned King
Release Date – July 2016
Location – Norway
Style – Groovy modern thrash

While one has a tendency to associate Norway with black metal, Azmaroth toss a curveball and play a mix of thrash and groove, delivered in a modern package with Death Crowned King. The whole thing works out pretty nicely, keeping things mostly in the necessary mid-tempo to stick those catchy riffs as needed. “Seek of Validation” and “Ashes of Life” being two of the stronger cuts, blending the groovy thrash with some nice melodies, where longer songs like “Odin’s Fate” and the title track adding a little extra with some atmosphere to give off a more epic feel. Solid if you are looking for some groove for your evening.

Dream Void – Deceptive Dreamscape
Release Date – July 2016
Location – Indiana, USA
Style – Technical death metal

Technical death metal that soaks equally in furious riffing as it does with creeping atmosphere, Dream Void’s debut is as dark and foreboding as its excellent cover implies. Plenty of shred, plenty of blasts, but the atmosphere that lurks below is what makes this one into a nice treat. A visceral death metal bite (see “Taste of the Fruit”) makes the listener aware of what they are getting into, and keeps it from becoming too much of a tech-fest. Some excellent lyrics (and concepts) lie in wait for those who wish to go further. Those into Inanimate Existence would do well to check this one out.

Enigma – Stars Misaligned
Release Date – July 2016
Location – California, USA
Style – Technical death metal

Another tech-y one, though if one word seems to describe Stars Misaligned, it’s “controlled.” Controlled in the sense that there’s a great deal of focus on songwriting here. Plenty of interesting riffs going on, but the moments of pure chaos are seated between some excellent shred-work that proves that you don’t have to constantly play at 1000mph to wow the listener. In this regard, think of Enigma as a more logical progression of what bands were doing in the mid-90s (Suffocation, Deeds of Flesh, et al). Lots of balance to ensure the song itself is brutal and embeds itself in your mind, instead of just saying, “Whoa that sounded cool.”

Eradikal Insane – Mithra
Release Date – September 2015
Location – France
Style – Death metal

French death metal that sticks to the modern side of things, a la Aborted or their countrymen Benighted, is what Eradikal Insane goes best. Groovy and punishing riffs, multi-faceted vocals, and in-your-face brutality make up the bulk of this one, but the melodies sneak in despite the aggression and make Mithra something that you want to return to. Toss in the added bonus of vocal guests Sven (Aborted), Julien (Benighted), and Triv (Kronos) and it’s a real headscratcher as to why this group isn’t more visible at this current moment. Hard to complain about death metal that hits this hard while sounding this good!

Goodthink – Guilt
Release Date – July 2016
Location – Michigan, USA
Style – Grind/mathcore

Finding this one through the vocal contributions on two songs of fellow scribe Austin Weber (whose Tech-Death Tuesdays are always an excellent source of Bandcamp fodder – see Enigma and Dream Void above), Goodthink pull off some really frenetic grind on Guilt. All music is by Maya Chun, who goes from adrenaline-rush level grind on “Where did it go” and “Sorry I’ve been busy” to the more eerie and near deranged “Trying something different these days” and “What a beautiful night.” Its abrasion may not appeal to all, but this provides some high-energy crazy while being simply bleak in the process. What you won’t see coming is how the combination of both sides of this come together into something that sticks in your head.

Grimgotts – Extenditus Playus
Release Date – June 2016
Location – United Kingdom
Style – Symphonic power metal

Last we checked on the fun-loving metal band Grimgotts, they had just released Here Be Dragonlords at the start of 2016. They wasted no time in returning to the fold with a new EP 6 months later, and things continue to look good for these gents moving forward. Epic and triumphant riffs and keys weave together with some fantasy-driven lyrics and sense of humor intact in a way that you can’t help but love. “I am the Hero” embodies this perfectly, capturing a sense of the band’s ability to write glorious metal anthems that are as infectious as they are deadly. Fans of bands like Alestorm or Equilibrium are sure to catch the spirit of this one effortlessly. Hopefully a full-length is quick to follow-up at this point.

Hollowstone – Walking Between Worlds
Release Date – June 2016
Location – Minnesota, USA
Style – Progressive metal

Taking a progressive metal route, with touches of power metal and gothic to pad things out, Hollowstone separate themselves from what many would classify as a “female-fronted act.” Not afraid to take heavier riffs front and center, “Into Oblivion” and “Disappear” highlight this side of the act and bring some genuine shred, while “Battle Cry” and “Lost Souls of the Asylum” capture the more power metal side, with some soaring vocal work and plenty of melodic/progressive riffs taking the lead. Regardless of song, the chops show through, making sure there’s plenty to hear as you move through tracks that frequently push beyond 6-minutes.

Isenmor – Saxon Shore
Release Date – June 2016
Location – Maryland, USA
Style – Folk metal

Isenmor return after last year’s Land of the Setting Sun EP with a new single “Saxon Shore.” Notable for their dual violin approach, “Saxon Shore” takes full advantage of that fact, with some fantastic stringwork to create an atmosphere that is both fun and epic, without falling into the cheese-factor that it could have been. The strings take the lead for much of the material, with the guitars following along to create a really cool vibe of heaviness and melody. It seems Isenmor are continuing to hone their sound, and their next release is something that the folk community should really be rallying around.

Metalwings – Fallen Angel in the Hell
Release Date – May 2016
Location – Bulgaria
Style – Symphonic/gothic metal

Utilizing an electric viola and Irish flute, Metalwings gives more depth to their symphonic/gothic metal than the standard band in this genre. Stela Atanasova’s angelic vocals are the perfect match, with an operatic tone that matches the classically-influenced sound of the band. A gothic feel wraps itself around the symphonic elements, with a slightly dark tone that still remains playful and catchy. This allows songs like “Ship of Shadows” to open with classical elements, with the viola taking lead, but introducing more heaviness as needed as the song progresses. Let’s see where they take things from here.

Obed Marsh – Innsmouth
Release Date – July 2016
Location – Australia
Style – Lovecraftian doom

Most doom wallows in depression and sadness, but not Obed Marsh. Innsmouth amplifies the sadness and mutates it into sheer dread and tension. A supernatural tale makes up this concept album, and it’s impressive cover gives it the direction necessary to give you something to imagine while the songs lumber away, equal in both lurching atmosphere and terror. Eerie melodies weave into some songs (“Deficient”), bringing in a sense of longing to go with the raspy/throaty vocals that seem moments away from being taken underwater. Haunting from start to finish, the desperate nature of Obed Marsh’s doom is something that is worth further investigation.

Sentient Ignition – Demo Release
Release Date – March 2016
Location – California, USA
Style – Progressive/technical death metal

A two-song demo puts Sentient Ignition on the map, and does so with great style. More melodic and progressive than the other tech death bands this month, Sentient Ignition move between multiple tempos on a whim, toss in some cleaner vocals when called for, and tie it all together with some fantastic melodies. With two songs at 16-minutes total, there is plenty of scenery to chew up, and this time allows the band to adequately move between the more melodic and emotive spots and more frantic deathly ones but never carries on too long. Impressive for a first outing – this has all the signs of a band that is going to make some waves within the next few years.

The Absence – Septic Testament
Release Date – July 2016
Location – Florida, USA
Style – Melodic death metal

New music from The Absence has been a long time coming. The last new song was back in 2013, and it was beginning to seem like all hope was lost. “Septic Testament” is a preview of what to expect from the band’s forthcoming 4th album (due in 2017), and it seems that none of The Absence’s brand of caustic yet richly melodic sound has been shortchanged by time. This is a real ripper of a track (much like the best of their works), full of thrashy riffs, shredding solos, and enthralling melodies – still operating at the level of the best in this business. If the rest of the album sticks to this level, The Absence have the makings of a very triumphant return next year.

The Odious Construct – The Odious Construct
Release Date – July 2016
Location – California, USA
Style – Progressive death metal

Lots of Californian death metal to be had this month, and The Odious Construct is just as worthy of your time. Moving at a rapid pacing for much of the 4 song EP, what’s most impressive is how they inject the songs with enough melody that the whole thing doesn’t feel like a blur. There’s moments of calm within the storm (check out “Flatline”) and some well-placed melody seems to do the trick (as do some flashy leads), and tossing in some synths gives it some atmosphere to boot. Straight-forward death metal with enough technical zest and melodic underpinnings to keep it interesting. A lot of potential to be had as The Odious Construct moves ahead.

Unflesh – Transcendence to Eternal Obscurity
Release Date – July 2016
Location – New Hampshire, USA
Style – Blackened death metal

A new project from Ryan Beevers (Excrecor, Solium Fatalis) with Hannes Grossmann on drums, Unflesh had all the makings of greatness before a note hit the speakers. The album lives up to the expectations, and serves as a nice launching point for future releases. The closest reference point would be that of Arsis, if they went on a more black metal bend. The death/black/thrash attack of Unflesh uses intricate yet melodic riffs, catchy leads and melodies, and blackened rasps to get the point across, and keeps things moving to create a whirlwind of chaos. Lots of speed and aggression, but melodies and some mid-tempo turns keep everything quite manageable.

Vacuus – Eternal Continuum Hallucination
Release Date – June 2016
Location – Canada
Style – Death metal

The brainchild of Sasha Chrosciewicz, Vacuus incorporates much of the death metal spectrum to get the job done. The brutal slant of the mid-90s gives it plenty of weight to throw around (and some pummeling NYDM-esque breakdowns), some light technical elements make sure your ears are always finely attuned, and slight progressive tendencies help out the longer tracks to flesh them out. Tracks like “God Complex” are downright brutal but not without their technical flair, where “Seeding Infinity” takes a more progressive approach while keeping the visceral edge ever-present. An album that will please those looking for a burst of adrenaline, but want some true substance behind it.