Sifting Through Bandcamp – June 2018

Saturday, 30th June 2018

With summer festival season ramping up in Europe, all of us in North America can take solace in knowing we have a few more months to pinch pennies before the fall touring season commences. With that in mind, there’s plenty on the Bandcamp horizon to keep you entertained while the heat picks up. This month we investigate The Autist, The Earth and I, The Illusory Self, Kadebra, Mantra, Memnoch, Phthisis, Raider, Silent Utopia, and Structural.

The Autist – Anima
Release Date – June 2018
Location – Portugal
Style – Symphonic metal

The Autist return with a follow-up EP to last year’s The Coldest Sun. A unique approach that uses a number of vocalists (along with main singer Polina Psycheya), the symphonic metal tag doesn’t quite do them justice. Tapping into more extreme fields at times, the music is quite textured with everything from the orchestral pieces as well as heavier and more progressive elements. It can be grand and bombastic, but the underlying musicianship gives the band quite an edge. The four tracks here seem a big step up from the debut, and should establish The Autist as a rising force within the genre.

The Earth & I – The Candleman and the Curtain
Release Date – April 2018
Location – New York, USA
Style – Modern progressive metal

A real diamond in the rough with The Candleman and the Curtain. A rich tapestry of prog and djent await those who check it out, with an emphasis on both atmosphere as well as some distinctly heavy moments. A song like “Skies Like Fences” displays some intricate rhythms that aren’t afraid of delivering intensity (complete with some punchy growls) and breaking things up with some gentle melodies, proggy indulgence, and a pinch of melancholy. Some excellent clean female vocals as well, which have a unique delivery complete the package. Gripping yet esoteric at times, there’s a lot to soak in the first few times, but well worth the investment. This band should be garnering some buzz as they continue forward.

The Illusory Self – Praise the Fantastic
Release Date – June 2018
Location – New York, USA
Style – Progressive deathcore

The Illusory Self bring an intriguing introduction with this two song effort. Both songs go in some different directions while maintaining some uniformity (some passing deathcore vibes) and the overall impression is one of promise. “Garmonbozia” is frantic with extremity at its beginning, blurring lines between death, prog, black, and core and comes out strong and surprisingly cohesive. “Run with Dragons” takes a left turn into more melodic waters at its start with clean vocals and atmosphere before diving full force into more brutal territory (yet with an ear for melodies/atmosphere). There’s some exciting directions here that go outside the norm – the sky seems the limit for these guys at the moment.

Kadebra – Compass
Release Date – June 2018
Location – Russia
Style – Progressive/djent

The latest band to be influenced by Dune, Russia’s Kadebra provide their take on the classic sci-fi tale with Compass. Employing Chiasma’s Katie Thompson on vocals, the often hard-hitting and groovy djent riffing doesn’t always go for the easy route. Laced with plenty of haunting atmospheric moments to augment the massive riffing, the juxtaposition of soaring beauty and crunchy, headbanging aggression is notable. Those familiar with Thompson’s work with Chiasma know full well how gloriously layered the vocals can be, and this is no exception – pushing the boundaries further with some extreme vocals as well. The end result feels true to the concept, with sounds that feel among the sands – it’s immediately enjoyable but providing layers of intricacy waiting to be unlocked.

Mantra – Complexity
Release Date – June 2018
Location – Venezuela
Style – Modern melodic death/groove metal

DR’s soft spot for melodic death metal is well-established, but that means we are also a bit choosy when it comes to the genre. Mantra are an act that has managed to stay outside the reaches, but their latest EP Complexity is sure to please even the most hardened melodeath fiend. Catchy and somewhat modern riffing (think In Flames before they went off the deep end) is the backbone here, and they do what they need to do: stand out. The clean/harsh vocals are solid, but the meat & potatoes comes down to some interesting melodies – and they aren’t afraid to crank up the intensity either (see “The Book”). Well done groovy melodeath.

Memnoch – Command Hallucination
Release Date – May 2018
Location – South Korea
Style – Death metal

There’s not a huge number of extreme bands from South Korea that spring to memory, so Memnoch was a nice find. Command Hallucination may not jump out of the gates for innovation, but it does blend some styles together in a way that is consistently enjoyable. The death metal piece is obvious, but the infusion of more traditional metal riffing and some catchy grooves work in the band’s favor. Melodic solos and brutal riffs provide a nice balance, and while some might feel it’s more rooted in the old school, the production instead gives it a more timeless quality. Solid from start to finish.

Phthisis – Phthisis
Release Date – May 2018
Location – New York, USA
Style – Blackened death metal

Every bit as terrifying in tone as the creepy cover art would make you think, Phthisis has a chaotic and ominous feel to it. Whether it’s firing off blastbeats and spiraling riffs or slowing things down for a murky, sludgy vibe, there’s something otherworldly about Phthisis’ approach to extreme metal. It’s forward-thinking material that thankfully never borrows from one particular zone of death/black metal. Instead some dissonant moments blend with cavernous ones, as well as full speed ahead pandemonium. They also toss in some dark atmosphere from time to time, making them a band to watch out for.

Raider – Urge to Kill
Release Date – March 2018
Location – Canada
Style – Death/thrash

With three songs in tow, Urge to Kill cuts straight to the point. This is hardened death thrash that maintains that vintage thrash edge while hurling death metal intensity into the mix. While the galloping tempo is frequently doled out, they keep dynamics on the table and the riffing itself is of the highest quality. The title track utilizes some excellent groove, and each track contains plenty of riffs that are bound to stick in your head. This is the type of stuff that is destructive in tone, but you enjoy returning to thanks to the overall songwriting ability.

Silent Utopia – Silent Utopia
Release Date – June 2018
Location – Belgium
Style – Symphonic metal

The most melodic of this month’s batch, Silent Utopia sit at the lighter end of the symphonic metal spectrum. The two tracks here have a definite pop slant in their approach, something that melds nicely with the heavier guitars. This isn’t uncharted territory by any means, and what has to separate the strong from the weak is songwriting – something that Silent Utopia have a clear handle on. There’s something compelling about both songs. They have the urgency necessary to satisfy things on the heavier end, and are immediate in their tone to get toes tapping and heads moving. An easy recommendation for Delain or Within Temptation fans.

Structural – Metacognition
Release Date – June 2018
Location – Israel
Style – Melodic death metal with a technical streak

Structural provides plenty of material to get excited about with their first release. Those who seek out melodic death metal that projects itself in heavier directions, particularly with a technical playing style, are going to eat up Metacognition. It’s frequently driving in tone, with a frenetic energy that isn’t confined to one tempo. The technical chops are apparent, but never go too far overboard, instead working to blend with the melodic edge, particularly with some of the leads, to inject some extra catchiness to the material (see “The Ceremony”). A thoroughly enjoyable blend of brutal riffing with strong melodies.