Sifting Through Bandcamp – March 2016

Saturday, 26th March 2016

Taking the “less is more” approach this month, almost all of the selections are of the EP variety or shorter. They all also have a pretty low “buy it” price, allowing you to maximize those hard-earned dollars on even more metal to your liking. Getting more “into the thick of it” in 2016 at this point, so make those purchases count. This month we check out Chiasma, Chronological Injustice, Earthgrave, Garotte, Ghostmourn, Godsfarm, Mesarthim, Roniit, Sympuls-E, and Veiled in Sorrow.

Chiasma – Starboard (single)
Release Date – October 2015
Location – Indiana, USA
Style – Progressive metal/rock

Admittedly late to the party with this one, it was only through the discovery of Katie Thompson’s excellent contributions to the upcoming Fallujah record that the arrow was pointed in the direction of Chiasma. “Starboard” is a single released in advance of their next album, Human Element. Chiasma’s version of prog metal leans towards the more modern side, with heavy and intricate riffs bouncing off of Thompson’s soaring vocals (which occasionally utilize a vocoder) to create an intriguing yet intricate web of sounds. There’s atmosphere and complexity, but it’s still easily digestible. Hopefully Human Element will see the light of day soon.

Chronological Injustice – A Collection of Atrocities
Release Date – February 2016
Location – Oregon, USA
Style – Thrashy death metal

Chronological Injustice lays the groove on heavy on A Collection of Atrocities. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to get through these 5 tracks without cracking a very metal smile to your face at least once per song. The punishing groove works off of the often catchy, melodic framework quite well. Sizzling leadwork sets the tone (outside of the massive groove) and it’s hard not to be impressed by the guitar work if you weren’t so busy tapping your feet. You can hear flashes of Pantera, Soilwork, and even a little Revocation coming through the speakers, though it’s put together in a more unique and interesting way than you might imagine. Considering the stunning ages of the band members when Chronological Injustice was put together, you can expect big things moving forward.

Earthgrave – Demo 2016
Release Date – February 2016
Location – Finland
Style – Melodic death metal

Good ole Finnish melodic death metal is what you can expect with Earthgrave’s demo release. The melodies capture that riveting and melancholic feel that the best bands know how to pull off, and it is apparent right out of the gate with “Buried by Grief.” Sweeping mid-tempo riffage provides the melting pot for these melodies, with are augmented by some synths. “My Blood, My Land” ups the ante on these melodies, with a somewhat distinctive Dark Tranquillity flair behind the scenes, with galloping riffs sealing the deal. It never jumps out of the melodeath confines, but boy does it know how to have fun while staying in them. A promising start.

Garotte – Quietus EP
Release Date – March 2016
Location – South Carolina, USA
Style – Modern brutal death metal

South Carolina’s Garotte take in a modern death metal approach while giving the appropriate homage to the masters (in this case, definitely Suffocation – see the NYDM stylings of “First Born”). What does that mean? Well, there’s a crisp and clear production to Quietus, but it doesn’t lose the abrasion, and doesn’t put technicality above all. These are well-made songs, not technical displays of intricacy. Not to say that Garotte isn’t technical in those regards (there are some real zingers to be found), but it’s effectively blended into a well-rounded showing of headbanging riffs and NYDM-breakdowns that are as brutal as they are intellectually-stimulating. Somehow within all of that, they toss in some real melodic elements in there too (“Transmigrate” featuring some of the finest) to create what should be a new unstoppable force in the death metal realm.

Ghostmourn – Mourning Forest
Release Date – February 2016
Location – Canada
Style – Atmospheric black metal

One hates to toss around the “post-black” tag with an album like Ghostmourn’s Mourning Forest. While the album cover also pushes things in this direction, as well as the rather grim production, there’s more going on here than the usual Wolves in the Throne Room-inspired stuff. For starters, the melodies that are used feel more akin to early Gothenburg (read: Dark Tranquillity) than black metal, and doomy elements also pop up from well. These two pieces of the puzzle keep things interesting on the longer tracks in ways that other likeminded bands seem to falter with. The straight-up black metal blasting from time to time works well against the acoustic segments, and gives Dorian L plenty of options to keep it varied. Highly memorable!

Godsfarm – Solitude: Act I
Release Date – March 2016
Location – Netherlands
Style – Atmospheric deathcore

Before you are frightened away by the dreaded deathcore tag, Godsfarm isn’t like any other ‘core entity you’ve tackled. The uber-low growls, the almost melancholic edge to the guitar work (see the title track), the choirs and synth, and progressive riffing all point towards Godsfarm not being easily identifiable by a single calling card. There’s only about 10-minutes worth of music to take in, but things never advance in a stereotypical manner and there’s some real feeling behind it all, particularly with the atmosphere. But it is disgustingly heavy at times (in a good way of course) – check out the ending to the whole thing (“Passage to Alignment”) and witness it for yourself.

Mesarthim – Pillars EP
Release Date – March 2016
Location – Australia
Style – Atmospheric black metal

Picking up on Mesarthim last year with the excellent Isolate, Mesarthim quickly return with this four song EP. Oddly upbeat and synth-driven, it may be some of the most “happy” sounding black metal you can seek out, yet it works. The long and space-y tracks never seem to lose their charm, and sometimes feel more Depeche Mode than black metal on a track like “Orbiting” (though the screams will reel you back in). Dreamy yet enthralling, cold yet catchy, it takes you on a journey yet never goes into those droning areas this type of material usually falls back on. Mesarthim take black metal into a direction of their own and easily worth the $1 price of admission.

Roniit – Through the Night (acoustic)
Release Date – March 2016
Location – Colorado, USA
Style – Dark pop

Those looking for a major diversion from the rest of this month’s offerings will find it with Roniit. Continuing with the Fallujah theme, she sang on “Alone with You,” if her voice sounds familiar. This is an acoustic version of an already-released track, and though “Through the Night” may not be metal it should easily find favor with fans of the female-fronted variety. The song is carried on vocals and piano alone, and Roniit has the soaring dynamic necessary for such as task, using nuance and flavor to add to something that could easily have turned out cheesy and/or clichéd. Roniit’s other material, which is more electronic in nature, still finds a certain gothic/dark tone that some metal fans will appreciate (check out the stunning cover of Depeche Mode’s “My Halo”). Melancholic and atmospheric (another reoccurring theme this month), it’s a compelling track for anyone looking for something outside of the usual recommendations.

Sympuls-E – System Duality
Release Date – March 2016
Location – Russia
Style – Melodic death metal

Giving previous release, 2015’s Solarstorm, the thumbs up in a previous Bandcamp article, Sympuls-E have acquired a new vocalist in Vyacheslav Vlaskin and System Duality gives him the first opportunity to show off his pipes. Two new tracks and a cover (a solid take on Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”) complete this short EP, but it proves that Sympuls-E is just as strong as ever. Speedy, technical, symphonic melodic death runs wild in the best way, with uptempo melodies meshing together synths and guitars into a hybrid mix of catchy rhythms. Rounding things out are some guest cleans from Tommy Shockwave of Illidiance to give two tracks a little something extra in the cleans.

Veiled in Sorrow – Veiled in Sorrow
Release Date – February 2016
Location – Ohio, USA
Style – Technical and progressive death metal

One of those “super-impressive on a technical level” bands, Veiled in Sorrow still fully appreciate the fact that it takes more than wow factor to become invested in a band. Starting the EP with the classical “Prelude in A Minor” is a good way to divert some of that attention. Of course, “Devour” opens with double-barrels a-blazing, with shredding solos and blistering guitarwork, but it also takes left-hand turns towards acoustic moments on the stop of a dime. “Chiaroscuro” tips the scales again with some female operatic vocals that smoothly integrate into blistering death metal. It simply cannot be stated enough how jaw dropping some of the transitions are between downright brutal to simply gorgeous. It’s the neo/classical influences that sew the two halves together, and should rightfully get the band some credit as they reach a larger audience