Sifting Through Bandcamp – March 2017

Tuesday, 28th March 2017

Another month bites the dust and we have finally made it to spring. That time of renewal and freshness after the scourge of a dark winter. To help put a little more pep in your step, we’ve got new releases from Ashen Horde, Carrion Vael, Clockwork, Exit Smashed, Hollow World, Inferi, Mute Prophet, ObsolencE, Promethean, Soulless Faith, Sunvoid, and Weight of Emptiness.

Ashen Horde – The Alchemist
Release Date – March 2017
Location – California, USA
Style – Black/death/thrash

Always a more unique entity, Ashen Horde have plugged away with a number of releases over the years. The Alchemist sees the one-man act expand, with vocalist Stevie Boiser and drummer Jeremy Portz joining Trevor Portz. The result may be the band’s strongest release yet, with both “Arisen” and “Fallen” taking the blackened, progressive, and thrashy standards to new heights. “Arisen” slowly builds in chaos from a more atmospheric start to gleefully frantic guitar fireworks, and “Fallen” utilizes a sleek melody to weave its constantly moving parts together. With two solid additions to the act, it seems Ashen Horde is completely ready to conquer at this point.

Carrion Vael – Resurrection of the Doomed
Release Date – March 2017
Location – Indiana, USA
Style – Melodic death metal

Though slightly unfair by design, the generic statement that if ‘you like The Black Dahlia Murder, then you’ll love Carrion Vael’ does indeed apply. Thrashy, high velocity melodic death metal is the band’s raison d’etre and the intricate, swirling riffage is sure to get anyone into a frenzy. Energetic and frequently frantic, Resurrection of the Doomed never pauses to catch its breath, but the band manages to keep it together and avoid homogeny from taking over due to the strong nature of the catchy melodies, occasional atmospheric/acoustic breaks, and some real rippers in the solo department. Expect people to start championing these guys real quick.

Clockwork – Glimmer
Release Date – March 2017
Location – United Kingdom
Style – Progressive metalcore

Though the metalcore/djent tag tends to make some run for the hills, Clockwork come off as far more progressive and technical in their approach to the material. It’s modern for sure, but the complex melodies and showy solos that often pop up over the course of Glimmer are bound to interest more ‘metallic’ progressive fans. They also eschew the more traditional clean chorus/rough verse patterns and each song has a more organic feel when it comes to heavier and melodic moments. It’s this vibe that keeps the longer tracks at the end (“A Path Beyond” and “Soul Storm”) quite engaging from start to finish. One can see these guys with a very bright future.

Exit Smashed – Teenage Mutant Thrashers
Release Date – February 2017
Location – Germany
Style – Crossover thrash

While the Ninja Turtle cover art initially gave cause to see what the band was all about, the energetic crossover material is what added Exit Smashed to this month’s column. A two song release, “The Runs” starts things off with some visceral thrashy goodness, tossing in heavy riffs left and right that are sure to cause destruction in the live setting. “Barfight” is a little more restrained, but still keeps the riff-forward approach, with some real ‘fist in the air’ gems to be found. The perfect sort of thing to indulge in when you are looking for something to crank at high volume and burn some stress.

Hollow World – Exanimate
Release Date – March 2017
Location – Australia
Style – Melodic death metal

Much like the already mentioned Carrion Vael, Hollow World takes their direction with some influence from The Black Dahlia Murder. Hollow World have pretty abrasive approach to their influences though, with some intense grooves infiltrating the songs (see “Patient Zero”) and seem to enjoy really accelerating the material at other points to extreme speeds. It gives the music a very brutal edge (as does the vocal layering), and gives them some of their own breathing space. Likewise, there are also some symphonic elements in some of the songs that give them a greater scope (“Infect, Replace, Disintegrate) and give some added depth. Another band that seems on the verge of taking off.

Inferi – Within the Dead Horizon
Release Date – March 2017
Location – Tennessee, USA
Style – Technical melodic death metal

For some bands, it’d be a stretch to include a pre-production track here, but any new Inferi is worth investigation. In anticipation of a new album in the fall, “Within the Dead Horizon” shows what the band’s been up to since The Path of Apotheosis (as well as the new line-up). Frantic speed, intricate yet catchy riffs, suitably epic synths, snarling vocals (of new guy Sam Schneider), and fiery melodic soloing all look towards Inferi somehow upping their already impressive game yet again. It’s going to be a long wait until fall. If you’ve somehow missed the Inferi train, it’s time to climb aboard.

Mute Prophet – The Unheard Warning
Release Date – March 2017
Location – Missouri, USA
Style – Progressive, symphonic metal

An interesting self-description from Mute Prophet describes themselves as “Nightwish meets Periphery.” Not a bad assessment either, as the symphonic metal backbone meets a heavier and more progressive bottom end – offering modern, intricate riffing structures with plenty of dark atmosphere to enhance matters further. Tough to come up with a favorite, given the catchy yet complex riffing patterns and the versatile vocal approach of Adrienne Odenthal – who hits everything from rockish vibes to soprano to growling. The technicality of it all may go over some symphonic fans palettes, but it is a breath of fresh air that progressive fans will definitely be pleased with. An underrated gem that certainly deserves a wider audience. Also, there’s a remix and original with significant production differences – choose the one you like more.

ObsolencE – Inner Voice
Release Date – March 2017
Location – Poland
Style – Progressive death metal

Methodical, crushing death metal with a more personal and post-metal side is what you’ll find with ObsolencE’s new EP Inner Voice. Be it some gentle acoustic guitars and clean vocals, or near sludgy and heavy death metal riffing (with some bellowing roars), there’s something to enjoy at any moment. Some of the quieter moments have an element of gloom to them, which helps to further enhance the heavier moments, where more thundering mid-tempo riffs reign, as being distinctly different (yet still serving a cohesive product). Emotive death metal is something the world could use some more of, and you’ll get a healthy dose of it here.

Promethean – Aloades
Release Date – February 2017
Location – France
Style – Symphonic blackened death metal

It’s been said before, but symphonic black/death metal is tricky in execution. Promethean have already seemed to master the basics with Aloades though. The symphonic elements add some distinct ‘epicness’ to the music without taking too much away from the guitars. And speaking of which, Promethean comes across as unquestionably brutal (especially those vocals), a feeling many other bands tend to drop the ball on. There’s some melody involved in the riffs as well (not just the keys) and it helps to keep the sometimes frantically paced music memorable and engaging. Bring on a full-length!

Soulless Faith – No Life Till Death
Release Date – March 2017
Location – Uruguay
Style – Death metal…with melody

Sometimes it’s important to separate the “melodic death metal” crowd from the “death metal with melody” crowd as it occasionally stops people from checking out a killer act. The frenetic and often thrashy death metal of Soulless Faith has more than its fair share of melodies, but no one is going to lump them in with the Gothenburg crowd. Peppy and energetic songs with solid leadwork and melodic sensibilities still find a suitable home among the more brutal death metal vibes the album turns out. A consistent ride from beginning to end – worth investigating if you like your death metal to have some intensity, but still enjoy a good melody.

Sunvoid – Through the Dazzling Illusion
Release Date – February 2017
Location – Spain
Style – Symphonic melodic death metal

Seven years to create a debut album is nothing to scoff at. In the case of Through the Dazzling Illusion, it’s an album that’s massive in scale. Symphonic backing to add depth and layering, sweeping guitar melodies that feel as urgent as they do impressive, and some dizzying fretwork when it comes time to bring out the leads. Harsh/clean vocals find their appropriate footing among the energetic (and sometimes futuristic, due to the keys) music – be it thrashier rhythms or moody atmospheric segments. The band’s Facebook page makes it seem questionable whether they will record again, so soak this one up for all it’s worth.

Weight of Emptiness – Anfractuous Moments for Redemption
Release Date – March 2017
Location – Chile
Style – Progressive doom/death

Nothing like a little doom/death to round things out for the end – Weight of Emptiness hits the spot in this regard. The usual genre formula is set in place, but it doesn’t make it any less effective – lumbering riffs, depressive melodies, emotive growls all do their part, as does some slight progressive noodling from time to time. It hits hard and hits often, but has an emotive undercurrent that rises to the surface with some clean vocals that offer melodic balance. Most songs also tend to stick to the 5-6 minute range, giving them a more compact and precise approach than other doom acts that tend to drag things out (sometimes past their necessary runtime).