Sifting Through Bandcamp – May 2017

Saturday, 27th May 2017

Already back for another month of under the radar gems and underappreciated efforts, it seems like April was just here. Always plenty to seek out though, as it sometimes feels like this column could run more than once a month if there was the time/space. Alas, we give you 10 new(ish) releases to feast on once more, this time with Ataxia, Creature of Exile, Crimsong, Decaying Days, Killing Suzy, Project Renegade, Rejuvenation, United by Hate, Warpath, and Will You Remember Me leading the charge.

Ataxia – Awaken the Nebula
Release Date – May 2017
Location – Canada
Style – Technical death metal

Canadian tech death anyone? Ataxia combines some of the crazy and frantic death metal explosions that the country is known for (think Cryptopsy), but also mixes it up with some strong grooves and sneaky melodies. So the album comes across as weighted in the tech you are looking for, but in a digestible package that just as savage as you’d hope for in a brutal death metal album. Much of the album very tight and to the point, but they play outside their norm on the 9-minute “City Within,” pushing into more gloomy and dark melodies, and prove they’ve got even more to offer than the average tech death band. Intriguing indeed.

Creature of Exile – Age of Annihilation
Release Date – February 2017
Location – Kentucky, USA
Style – Brutal death metal

Pummeling, visceral, and straight ahead, Age of Annihilation is just the slab of brutal death metal that you’ve been looking for. Some reverence is shown to the masters (notably some Cannibal Corpse) and the riffing may be rather heavy but it’s certainly memorable to boot. Creature of Exile likes to alter the tempos, which adds to the success of the tracks and keeping them moving forwards as they hit both blistering speeds and some slower chugs (and everything in between). Some technical chops show up now and again as well, which also generates more reasons to return after a listen or two.

Crimsong – As the Fates Would Have It (Prototype 1.0)
Release Date – April 2017
Location – Massachusetts, USA
Style – Symphonic metal

The first single from MA’s Crimsong offers plenty of promise moving forward. Citing the usual influences (Nightwish, Within Temptation, etc), the riffing plays more into the power metal sector while still giving enough space to the synths. In other words, the music is punchy with a harder edge than one sometimes expects from the genre without betraying its roots. Vocalist Elizabeth Nisayas has a voice strong enough to carry that important aspect with a band like this, offering a range that can do both rock belting and higher operatic notes. They’ll be coming out with an EP in the future, so there’s a lot to get excited about.

Decaying Days – The Fire of a Thousand Suns
Release Date – March 2017
Location – Germany
Style – Melodic doom/death

Carrying the torch of bands like Before the Dawn and Rapture, Decaying Days brings a melancholic and gloomy approach to melodic death metal. There’s some influences from that side of the equation as well (see Insomnium or Omnium Gatherum), and it makes for a release that can balance both more catchy/triumphant material as well as the doomier stuff (even in one track – see “Eye of the Storm”). Some Rapture/Katatonia vibes are especially potent in their melodic approach (“Empty World”) and are sure to fans of this style. The heavy/melodic balance is that of a much more veteran act and worthy of praise. An especially pleasing first effort that should cause some chatter among the doom scene.

Killing Suzy – Everybody dies, darling!
Release Date – February 2017
Location – Germany
Style – Gothic metal

Gothic-tinged metal that carries a dark rock tone at times is what Killing Suzy is all about. There’s some catchy melodies and some eerie synths that join in to create a sometimes creepy atmosphere (“Sisters”), but something that feels more unique that what the symphonic metal genre usually sticks to. Electronic elements also sneak in on a few songs, and the rocking vibe on some songs like “Broken Dreams” really stick to your brain in no time flat. Overall the diversity keeps the listener intrigued, and Killing Suzy has set themselves up for something that can appeal to a wide audience. Let’s see where they take it from here.

Project Renegade – Cerebra
Release Date – March 2017
Location – Greece
Style – Groove/alternative metal

Ever wonder what Lacuna Coil might sound like if they went in a groovier direction? Wonder no more, as Project Renegade brings a darker and groove/modern metal vibe to the table on Cerebra. Marianna’s vocals have some magnetic pull to them, and fit the groovy feel of the music to a tee. The grooves are considerably catchy and frankly heavier than what you might picture (see “Natural Born Killer”). There are also some electronic elements that work their way into the songs, with gives them more of a personalized sound. While some components may feel familiar alone, they’ve worked it into something unique that works for them. A full-length is on the way, and should hopefully lock them in as a promising new act.

Rejuvenation – Chronology Protection Conjecture’s Negation
Release Date – May 2017
Location – Bulgaria
Style – Technical/progressive death metal

The colorful artwork served as a nice way to catch the eye with this one. Beyond that, Rejuvenation have crafted quite a specimen of technical and progressive death metal. Bookended by strong progressive instrumentals, the three songs in the middle bring a more technical feel to the band, which should feel quite comfortable but no less impressive. Fast and dizzying guitar riffs with an ear for melody, but some drops in tempo aid in some “wow” moments, such as the eerie melodies that end “Vortex Distortion Device.” The combo of catchy instrumentals and flashy tech should be enough to sign people onto this one.

United by Hate – United by Hate
Release Date – October 2016
Location – Pennsylvania, USA
Style – Deathcore/Slamming death metal

Sometimes it’s nice to just crank some crushing death metal and allow the rage to fade. United by Hate provide the perfect soundtrack for this, leaning into a deathcore and slamming approach that is suitably violent in its riffing structure. This is meant for one purpose only, and that’s audial destruction. The band can go from blistering speeds to an absolute crawl, but in a way that actually works for the music – no random jumps to a slam for no apparent reason. Well-written material, even if it does serve but one purpose – it does it well. Devastating riffs, brutal vocals, frantic drumming…what else do you really need to know?

Warpath – The Ambience of War
Release Date – April 2017
Location – Ireland
Style – Brutal death metal

Lots of brutal death metal, but it’s just one of those months. Warpath is rather appropriately named, with a sound that instantly stirs up a war-like march. One of those full-speed ahead type of bands, expect plenty of blastbeats and furious riffing at the band moves through five essentially relentless tracks. But a short EP for music like this works wonders, allowing it to get in and rage before exhaustion sets in. For what its worth, they do slow things down on the longer tracks, with mid-tempo segments adding some fresh air to the mix (as do the epic sounding melodies they revel in on occasion).

Will You Remember Me – Nightmare
Release Date – July 2016
Location – New York, USA
Style – Symphonic metalcore

More metalcore taking a darker path in recent years, accompanied by symphonic/gothic tones to give it a breath of fresh air. Such could be said of Nightmare, the first output from one-man act Will You Remember Me. The riffing stays pleasingly dark (with some catchy melodies) and there’s no overt reliance on using breakdowns, something that should help distinguish it from the established horde. Synths also seem to know their role, offering some variety and support without becoming too dominant, and it also thankfully stays away from too many clean/harsh patterns, and one hopes the heavier path is followed in the future. An interesting prospect to watch as it continues to develop.