Sifting Through Bandcamp – June 2017

Saturday, 24th June 2017

Approaching the traditional quiet period for label releases before the upcoming fall onslaught, the Bandcamp market is still rather productive. As per the usual, there’s plenty to rifle through for those in need of new material to enjoy. This month we tackle Atmora, Canvas Black, Dark After Dawn, Death Design, Dialith, Empress, Grind of the Dead, Kandia, Tantal, Uerberos, Victim’s Foretaste, Whatever End, and Xelas.

Atmora – Fading Light
Release Date – April 2017
Location – Ontario, Canada
Style – Traditional heavy metal with a blackened touch

Feeling old school yet relevant, Atmora takes the classic heavy metal sound and gives it a more diverse edge by including elements of thrash and black metal in a compelling way. “In the Fading Light” is the pick of the three, with some punchy and twisting black metal riffing infiltrating the faster parts as vocalist Bailey Soulliere soars atop it all. The vintage feel is fun, and the melodies that are consistently employed (“Carousel” has some fantastic ones) only serve to heighten the excitement. Atmora have a sound that traditional metal fans will be drawn towards, but their ability to give it a few left turns without muddling the formula is what will be their ace in the hole.

Canvas Black – Destructive Herd Mentality
Release Date – May 2017
Location – Norway
Style – Progressive death metal

Progressive death metal that leans in a more modern direction (read: groove-based), Norway’s Canvas Black bring the hooks on their latest release, Destructive Herd Mentality. Virtually every track here has some parts where the groove instantly sticks in your head (see the title track for a particularly massive one). Mid-tempo riffing is clearly their forte, but they also include some faster and more intricate riffing sequences to change things up as well. They also use some atmosphere with the mid-tempo stuff to create some different moods (see “Selfdestruction”) to keep the variety flowing. This album will give you a sore neck.

Dark After Dawn – Purgatory
Release Date – June 2017
Location – New York, USA
Style – Death/thrash

After catching them open up for In Flames last month, it was a pleasant surprise to come across this recent single for Dark After Dawn at Bandcamp. “Purgatory” is a catchy number that seamlessly blends some modern groove, thrash, and melodic death into a real winner. Strong soloing chops (a plus remembered from their live set) and a good blend of the melodic and aggressive gives the track some lift and should easily please genre fans. As a bonus, there’s four tracks that were recorded live at Blackthorn 51 to help satisfy the urge for more material (which “Purgatory” surely will generate).

Death Design – Vicious World
Release Date – June 2017
Location – Finland
Style – Groovy death metal

Taking the modern death metal formatting and accentuating the groove is what Death Design is all about. Some fast and brutal riffing may hit hard (the title track), but they can knock you right over when they slow things down (“Closure”). It’s notably catchy stuff, bordering on the brink of melodic death metal but with a more caustic bite in the end overall. Considering the overall length as an EP, they play to the strengths of it and use the short runtime to give the music that extra kick in the pants. Vicious World is a fitting title.

Dialith – Through Stone
Release Date – June 2017
Location – New York, USA
Style – Melodic metal

An album that can pleasantly be described as melodic metal (as opposed to 15 different labels), Dialith’s first EP, Through Stone, contains three tracks with plenty of appeal for a wide breadth of fans. First off there’s the guitar playing, which features some great leadwork and riffs (see “Quiver of Deception”) that still maintain a degree of grit. It’s catchy, and while there is some synth usage, it never outdoes the riffs and melodies and instead serve as a supplement rather than the main feature. Some moments of audible bass helps the band to standout, as does Krista Sion’s vocal approach. There’s a unique character to her voice when contrasting with many bands in this style, and a soaring performance on the chorus of “In Every Breath” locks her and the rest of the band as an act to watch. Strongly recommended.

Empress – Your Prize
Release Date – June 2017
Location – Quebec, Canada
Style – Symphonic/melodic metal

As a long-time follower of I Legion, it took no convincing to check out Empress with Fred Riverin’s involvement on guitar. The rest of the line-up is no slouch either, composed of a few of Canada’s up and coming acts. Centered behind Karina Charbonnier’s potent vocal performance, there’s plenty of melodic riffing for fans to chew on. Epic riffing, great vocal work, and an unsurprisingly killer production from Jon Howard – this is a great start for Empress. Loads of potential as they continue on, so get in on this completely free track while you can!

Grind of the Dead – No Lives Matter
Release Date – May 2017
Location – Massachussetts, USA
Style – Grindcore/death metal

As expected, Grind of the Dead fires off short blasts of sonic chaos. Plenty of full-speed bouts of aggression to be found, like scorchers “Let the Roots Consume” and “Shit Planet.” But they don’t play it completely straight with the grind approach, offering up some groove on some of the longer tracks like “Somewhat Deranged,” where slower, meaty riffing takes a more hypnotic approach that works quite well. A stylistic shift from their last full-length (it was called Pussy Jamz if that’s any indication), No Lives Matter is an excellent and brutal punch in the face.

Kandia – Alone
Release Date – June 2017
Location – Portugal
Style – Modern progressive metal

The newest track from Kandia, “Alone” is the first of presumably a few more songs in celebration of their 10th anniversary as a band. Ethereal singing from vocalist Nya Cruz sits at the forefront of the track, surrounded by swirling heavy riffs that border on hypnotic – an interesting blend of harder rhythms against an emotive backdrop. The contrast works, and the slight atmosphere in the background only benefits things overall – not really post-metal but a similar feeling. As the first bit of music this scribe has heard from Kandia, there’s some back catalog to explore while waiting to hear some more new tracks.

Tantal – Ruin
Release Date – March 2017
Location – Russia
Style – Alternative/gothic metal

Tantal has been releasing singles for their upcoming album (also called Ruin), and “Ruin” is the third one to date (the others are accessible through their Bandcamp page). Satisfying that rock/metal edge of bands like Forever Still, “Ruin” feels comfortably melodic but with just enough guitar backing to keep it heavy. There’s shades of melodeath in the riffing (a nice little lead tossed in there too), and it fits nicely with the serene vocals of Sofia Raykova to create a more unique sound. It was very recently announced (yesterday) that the band has signed with Sleaszy Rider Records and Ruin will be released in September, so enjoy these tracks in the meantime.

Uerberos – Tormented by Faith
Release Date – February 2017
Location – Poland
Style – Brutal blackened death metal

It’s not really a Bandcamp column without at least one completely brutal death metal band in the mix. Uerberos certainly fit the billing here, with a classic death metal approach that is high on adrenaline. They aren’t afraid to punch the gas pedal all the way to the floor and this is often where they provide some standout moments. But it’s not a completely blur either, due to some varied tempos and some strikingly catchy riffs considering the style. Some shades of black metal bring in some variety as well. The brutality you crave, but done in a memorable way.

Victim’s Foretaste – Incarnation
Release Date – May 2016
Location – Russia
Style – Modern melodic death metal

We are reaching back a bit with this one, but there’s bound to be many that haven’t discovered this yet. Victim’s Foretaste is reminiscent of more modern acts like Deadlock in the beauty/beast vocals, and fit snugly into the melodeath genre. Some hints of Amaranthe (albeit a heavier version sans male cleans) come up from time to time with some of the synth use and upbeat nature, like in “A New Day.” It hits a sweet spot for those that are looking for more modern acts, but still keeps a solid amount of aggression intact.

Whatever End – A Birth of Loss
Release Date – June 2017
Location – Greece
Style – Progressive doom

Whatever Loss have managed to craft a unique identity in the metal world with only a single full-length in their belt. A Birth of Loss takes the classic doom formatting (think Candlemass) and combines it with a heavier and more progressive touch (think Pain of Salvation or Nevermore). Interest still not piqued? A Birth of Loss is an album that spans the epic to the emotive to the dark and heavy. They write 7-8 minute tracks that always grab for your attention and contain some stellar musicianship, from the rhythm section to the guitar melodies to the charismatic vocals. An under-the-radar release that’s sure to catch some major buzz if it falls into the right hands.

Xelas – Transdimensional Enslavement
Release Date – June 2017
Location – United Kingdom
Style – Melodic thrash/death

Galloping and frantic tempos define Transdimensional Enslavement. Taking the At the Gates/Black Dahlia Murder approach, it does feel a bit familiar but it’s to the band’s credit that it never loses any of its punch or engagement. The five songs are a near-constant surge of energy, though thankfully not without their own dynamics. The high/low vocals work well, and the songs keep a sense of subtle melody that makes it worth returning to. If you are a sucker for this approach (as this scribe is), you’ve found another high-caliber act to follow.