Sifting Through Bandcamp – June 2016

Sunday, 26th June 2016

Never an issue of finding enough to cover for each month’s edition, that’s for sure. The last few months have seen the article expand significantly to the point where there’s a significant number of quality releases that fall aside with no coverage. So consider what’s listed below the absolute cream of the crop. This month we take a look at American Empire, An Eater’s Curse, Clawerfield, Crisis Actor, Cyclocosmia, Devil Electric, Niverlare, Perihelion, Raze the Void, Red Dawn, Shadowrise, Sisters of Suffocation, The Great Cold, and Verse Vica.

American Empire – American Empire
Release Date – June 2016
Location – North Carolina, USA
Style – Progressive power metal

Always on the lookout for power/progressive metal that goes further outside the boundaries, American Empire was a pleasant surprise. As with this writer’s preferences with power/progressive, the sound sticks to the heavier end of the genre, and there’s some shred to be had for sure. Some intricate progressive riffs and memorable leads make up the bulk of lead-off “Edge of Insanity.” Iris’ vocals are quite palatable as well, going to some real soaring highs with plenty of belting power. Even with the need for shred, the vocals and riffing keeps the melodic nature that this type of material benefits from intact – keep your eyes on American Empire.

An Eater’s Curse – An Eater’s Curse
Release Date – June 2016
Location – Texas, USA
Style – Melodic death metal

Melodic death metal with a technical edge is what you can hear on this cut from An Eater’s Curse. A taste of what is to come with a future EP, it’s a high energy track with strong melodies but not without some heaviness to back it up. It effectively channels some older Gothenburg influences with some modern technical flair to ensure that it’s not just a trip through the past, and ends with some excellent leads. On vocals is Jesse Santos of Shattered Sun/Fall, who rasps and roars through the track, injecting some tasteful cleans to spice it up. This should be an EP to keep watch for.

Clawerfield – Butterflies of Smoke
Release Date – May 2016
Location – Switzerland
Style – Cyber metal

With other electronic/industrial-driven acts like Neurotech generating a fanbase on Bandcamp, Clawerfield is the latest discovery in this end. There’s a modern feel to this, with plenty of ethereal vocal hooks in the title track alone. The electronic parts are upfront, but the moments of heaviness provide some contrast (musically and vocally) to up the intensity. The groove keeps the songs moving forward, and the melodic elements work – particularly if you are fond of bands like Fear Factory or Mnemic. This single release follows up an EP from 2014, so hopefully we can expect more from them sooner than later.

Crisis Actor – Rape Crisis Actor
Release Date – January 2016
Location – New York, USA
Style – Dissonant death/grind

A collaboration between members of Black Harvest and The Communion, this three-song EP will only take about 5-minutes of your time, but you’ll certainly be back for some more rounds. Punishing and eerie death/grind that will easily appeal to those fans of the crazy brought forth by fellow New Yorkers Pyrrhon. A number of off-kilter ideas and interesting moments, as frenetic grind clashes with dissonant atmosphere and a wall of death metal heaviness. With the short runtime, it never has to break up the intensity and moves ahead with full malice. Would be a trip to get a full album of this (though one’s head might explode thereafter).

Cyclocosmia – Deadwood
Release Date – March 2016
Location – United Kingdom
Style – Symphonic doom/gothic metal

Playing off of the mighty contrast, Cyclocosmia use well-tested elements and combine them into different songs to create a picture of beautiful yet mournful gothic/doom metal. Shades of light and dark work into each song, with lead vocalist Lorena Franceschini having a voice that is usually heard in the epic/symphonic metal world, but is a fitting and excellent display in this more downtrodden and melancholic material. Occasional male growls over heavier guitars reinforce the doomier aspects of Deadwood, while the symphonic parts give it a more urgent tone (as well as providing a launching board for Franceschini’s vocals). Diversity is key here, and Cyclocosmia should quickly win over those into this particular genre.

Devil Electric – The Gods Below
Release Date – June 2016
Location – Australia
Style – Female-fronted traditional stoner/doom

It’s worth noting that within a week of The Gods Below’s release, Devil Electric already found a label home. The style itself is one that is becoming increasingly well-worn – occult stoner/doom with female vocals. But it’s the combination of the fuzzed out guitars, sleek grooves, and strong vocal presence of Pierina O’Brien that makes it worth checking out. It sticks to the roots of the genre, but at the same time, there are more modern sprinklings to keep it from feeling like a retread. Lots of promise here as they move towards their first full-length album.

Niverlare – Roots
Release Date – May 2016
Location – Germany
Style – Atmospheric nu-metal

Hopefully the style didn’t scare you off, because Niverlare is not what you typically think of with this genre. Vocally, it fits the style (on tracks that they appear) but the guitars are oppressively heavy. They have that downtuned and dark feel of the early nu-metal years, when it still seemed edgy and fresh but feel like they are on steroids – this will strip some paint from your walls. The riffs are thick, but the music gives way to some ambient breaks now and again, with a different but equally dark feel (“By a Thread”). An impressive introduction, bringing out a dark and intense version of a genre many considered dead several times over, all with genuine intent and devastating emotional impact.

Perihelion – Relinquished Mind
Release Date – May 2016
Location – Maryland, USA
Style – Technical death metal

One year after the scorching Infinite Decay, Perihelion returns with a sampler track entitled “Relinquished Mind,” which features new vocalist/guitarist Anshuman Goswami. Still offering the same adrenaline-fueled approach to technical death metal, the monstrous riffing never fails to impress, providing some truly dizzying moments to sit in awe of. A mid-song move into more progressive waters is highly effective and memorable, allowing the listener to get their bearings before the tech fireworks kick off again. Utterly devastating stuff – hopefully a full new release comes soon.

Raze the Void – Obsolescence
Release Date – April 2016
Location – United Kingdom
Style – Melodic metal

Rooted with elements of death, progressive, and thrash, Obsolescence has a more aggressive feeling that what you might expect given the tendency to push songs towards the ten-minute mark. But it’s the balance between the melodic death metal, more complex prog rhythms, and galloping thrash riffs that fill the time without watering down the product. There’s a modern flair to the whole thing, with clean vocals that have an almost rock feel to them, but again, there’s a place for everything and it adds to the grandeur of each song. Kudos for keeping it interesting from beginning to end, full of real headbanger-riffs and moments of atmosphere to let your mind wander just far enough for the impact to settle in.

Red Dawn – Algorithm of Destruction
Release Date – May 2016
Location – France
Style – Technical death metal

Who says that a modern production means that it has to sound sterile? Red Dawn’s debut has all the fittings of a modern tech death release yet manages to maintain a bludgeoning bottom end that is ready to snap necks. Plenty of groove around to make sure that the faster/techier sections don’t leave you behind in the wake, and the vocals alternate between shouts and lower gutturals to make sure that the variety quota is filled. If you are on the lookout for bands like The Faceless and Gorod, Red Dawn should be right up your alley.

Shadowrise – Escape from Shadow Island
Release Date – May 2016
Location – The Netherlands
Style – Symphonic melodic death metal

Hard-hitting, thrash-intensive melodic death metal is something you can’t have enough of. Add some latent power metal influences (and bombastic synths) and know it’s something even more interesting. That’s what Shadowrise does on Escape from Shadow Island. Upbeat and frequently in the headbanging-friendly mid-tempo range, the energy is palpable from start to finish. The synths work to raise the ‘epic’ stakes while leaving room for some rather catchy guitar lines and solos, while vocalist Laura Guldemond shifts between venomous rasps and angelic clean vocals. You may have heard something along these lines before, but the intensity level of Shadowrise makes it an instant favorite and easy sell. Someone sign these guys (and gal) quick!

Sisters of Suffocation – Brutal Queen
Release Date – April 2016
Location – The Netherlands
Style – Brutal death metal

As what seems to be tradition dictates, there’s always one ultra-brutal death metal act in each Bandcamp article. The twist this time around is that this is an all-female brutal death metal band. There’s an old-school flavor (more ‘90s US brutal death than anything else) that is felt in the riffs – visceral yet catchy enough to keep you coming back after the initial “this is brutal” impact goes away. Also found within were some moments of black metal influence, which acts as a pleasant change-up. Of course, it doesn’t sound stuck in the ‘90s due to a solid production job, enhancing the already brutal edge. Els’ vocal performance is also worth crediting, with intense low growls pairing off with higher blackened rasps.

The Great Cold – The Great Cold
Release Date – February 2016
Location – Germany
Style – Instrumental post-metal

Instrumental metal sure to appeal to fans of Release the Long Ships and Erudite Stoner, The Great Cold sound exactly like their album cover would imply. Melancholic and sometimes bleak, yet there is always something to be in awe of. The type of album you can just sit back, absorb, and let the music take you on a journey. A sonic wall of sound aids in this process, providing a huge sound yet is never daunting. Usually the focus is on drawing out the emotive melodies, but The Great Cold is just as at home with fuzzy, near-stompable riffs (“Orphne”). The lumbering riffs just make the atmospheric payoffs all the more rewarding – something you’ll find more and more of with each listen.

Verse Vica – Psynergy
Release Date – June 2016
Location – South Carolina, USA
Style – Progressive death metal

“Psynergy” is a one-track taster of what Verse Vica have to offer (they also have a full-length that was released in 2014), and it leaves high hopes for what is to come. Intricate and playful riff patterns open up the song, as the heaviness factor increases with some strong growls atop mid-tempo crunching. Things then take a turn for the atmospheric, with soothing clean vocals and an ease off of the harder tones that kicked things off. A lot of things going on in the 5-minute track, with some of the guitarwork really shining after listening a few more times over.