Sifting Through Bandcamp – June 2014

Friday, 6th June 2014

It’s that time again! With more and more albums falling behind for coverage and many more set for the future, this column has officially jumped from eight to ten releases per month. A number of the releases this month are quite recent as well as most falling into the “name your price” arena. So before the rush of summer releases start heading your way, take a few minutes and peruse some albums that may have missed your radar. This month features Acolytes, Arsafes, Black Monolith, Fever Sea, Hemotoxin, Human Collapse, Kever, Obsidian Tongue, The Seer, and Trials.

acolytes










Acolytes – Benighted
Release Date – March 2014
Location – Illinois, USA
Style – Fast and punchy melodic death
For Fans Of – The Black Dahlia Murder, At the Gates

While it’s clear that Acolytes owe much in sound to that of The Black Dahlia Murder, it doesn’t make it any less compelling. The four original tracks set a blistering pace, complete with some nice leads and melodies while retaining plenty of bite. They also pen a cover of At the Gate’s “Blinded by Fear” (every melodic death metal band’s favorite cover track) that benefits from some nice blasting and more brutal vocals. Acolytes have the brutal yet melodic thing down pat, with a tinge more originality (sure to come with a full-length), they should be a force to be reckoned with.

arsafes










Arsafes – Ratocracy
Release Date – June 2014
Location – Russia
Style – Industrial metal with plenty of groove
For Fans Of – Strapping Young Lad, Meshuggah

From the moment that “E.T.F.M” opens, you’ll undoubtedly be struck with a feeling of SYL. Arsafes burns through the better part of Ratocracy with that same destructive penchant and wall of sound SYL was known for and runs with it. Menacing roars, melodic clean vocals (see “Against the Legions”) and rage-filled lyrics are the norm, but “Faith” and “20 Days” show a more melodic and atmospheric sensibility that keeps Ratocracy from being too relentless and a one-trick pony. If you check out the bonus tracks as well you’ll find a broad stroke of 3 tracks from Rihanna to Strapping Young Lad to GG Allin. Talk about eclectic!

black monolith










Black Monolith – Passenger
Release Date – April 2014
Location – California, USA
Style – D-beat punky post-black metal
For Fans Of – Cara Neir, Deafheaven

A one-man project of a former kinda-sorta Deafheaven member does it’s best to blur lines between punk, crust, black metal, and post-rock in the filthiest way possible. “Victims & Hangmen” and “Dead Hand” really push the punk envelope while covered in ugliness while “Eris” captures some emotive post-rock within the gritty framework of the band. Other moments like “Adhere” move further towards black metal, giving the album an eclectic but fitting mix. Much like the previously featured Cara Neir, Black Monolith have a good thing going in their sound, mixing some interesting genres together to create something uniquely their own.

fever sea





Fever Sea – Fever Sea
Release Date – May 2014
Location – United Kingdom
Style – Progressive/post black metal with some hardcore influences
For Fans Of – Opeth, Black Crown Initiate

Similar to Black Crown Initiate in the ability to completely blur genre lines, Fever Sea’s second EP (also check out The Deluge as long as you’re at it) takes influences from post-black metal to hardcore to progressive to doom in its presentation. With such broad strokes, there’s always the chance that things become a jumbled mess but Fever Sea shifts from mellow acoustics to furious intensity with little effort. Lengthy closer “Tusk” sees Fever Sea at their most progressive and the most breathing room to set up an epic finale. At the “Name Your Price” download for both EPs, there’s no reason not to give these guys a look.

hemotoxin







Hemotoxin – Alchemist
Release Date – April 2014
Location – California, USA
Style – Old school death/thrash
For Fans Of – Black Fast, Death

Blending some death metal into their version of retro-inspired thrash metal, Hemotoxin usually run at full speed ahead through their newest release, Alchemist (feel free to check out the equally worthy Between Forever…and the End). Flashy guitar solos (“Postwar Civilization”) and the retro thrash riffing nicely balance some occasional death metal bludgeoning (“Incessant Existence”). Also included is a cover of Black Sabbath’s “After Forever,” which sees them slow down a few notches. They have recently signed with Unspeakable Axe Records and have begun working on a new album. Check this and be one of the cool kids!

human collapse










Human Collapse – Darkness to Fall
Release Date – April 2014
Location – Russia
Style – Melodic death/doom
For Fans Of – Daylight Dies, October Tide

Seems there’s no lack of quality doom/death to be found with the realm of Bandcamp. Human Collapse take the best elements from Katatonia, Daylight Dies, Novembers Doom, and October Tide to create Darkness to Fall. While it does sound quite familiar, there’s no denying the caliber of work this album is. Excellent use of the Katatonia-esque rhythms adds to the melodic and melancholic aspect, with some occasional clean vocals (“Human Collapse”) that feel right at home in this mix. They do not back away from putting some heaviness in from time to time (“Nowhere”) to keep things interesting. A fantastic debut from a band that’s sure to rise towards the top sooner than later.

kever






Kever – Eon of Cycling Death
Release Date – November 2013
Location – Israel
Style – Retro death metal
For Fans Of – Bolt Thrower, Autopsy

Formerly known as Morbid Tendency, Kever plays old school death metal with some throwbacks to thrash as well. This is straight-ahead, brutal stuff that given the current oversaturation of the retro movement, still manages to stay interesting. The guitar riffs are crushing and occasionally catchy (“Desolation of Mankind”), the vocals are brutal, and the band doesn’t try to be anything it’s not. This is set to be released via Dark Descent on CD as well, which should be the final notch to convince you that this is some quality stuff.

obsidian tongue














Obsidian Tongue – A Nest of Ravens in the Throat of Time
Release Date – July 2013
Location – Massachusetts, USA
Style – Atmospheric black metal
For Fans Of – Agalloch, Enslaved

Just the title alone to this one is interesting enough to warrant some inclusion. Obsidian Tongue’s sophomore album is more or less the best bits of Agalloch, Opeth, newer Enslaved, and Wolves in the Throne Room by way of Massachusetts. There’s plenty of blackened wails and tremolo-picked riffs to balance the more atmospheric and psychedelic moments. “A Nest of Ravens in the Throat of Time” even features John Haughm on clean vocals for the Agalloch-obsessed. Much like Human Collapse above in terms of “you’ve probably heard this before”, but their execution of the style is note-worthy and a definite for Agalloch fans (hey, they are touring with them soon as well).

the seer











The Seer – Prologue
Release Date – April 2014
Location – Australia
Style – Symphonic death metal
For Fans Of – Fleshgod Apocalypse, Septicflesh, Meadow’s End

Exposed to this through vocalist/guitarist Ryan Huthnance’s side-project Gaped, The Seer is a more melodic and less visceral affair. While it may lack the grandeur of the “Flesh” bands noted above (this is self-released after all), the symphonic portion adds an enhancement to the sound, as opposed to dominating the mix. The riffs are catchy and powerful, and Huthnance’s vocals (like in Gaped) come across as incredibly enunciated for their brutality. A re-recorded mix of older material from a previous single and EP as well as 3 completely new tracks, it’s a great springboard to showcase what The Seer is capable of.

trials








Trials – In the Shadow of Swords
Release Date – May 2013
Location – Illinois, USA
Style – Modern thrash with an emphasis on groove
For Fans Of – Darkane, Pantera, Revocation

Catchy and never afraid to make you bang your head as much as possible, Chicago’s Trials brings plenty of infectious groove to their take on thrash. There’s really not one moment of In the Shadow of Swords that you won’t find yourself moved by the energy and conviction coming through the speakers. Though some might back at the amount of clean vocals, these are in fact one of Trials greatest assets. Check the wicked cover of Judas Priest’s “Jawbreaker” if you need proof. It’s surprising that Trials is still standing around unsigned, as this is the type of album that seems like it could really make quite a mark if given the chance.