Sifting Through Bandcamp – May 2018

Saturday, 2nd June 2018

Crazy to think how time flies sometimes. For fun, this scribe took a look back to see how long this column has been running for, and it’s nice to say that it’s been a part of the site for over 4 years at this point (March 2014 is the first for anyone wondering). Even if it does sometimes feel like yesterday. Bandcamp isn’t going away anytime soon, and neither is this column. This month we look at Agonize the Serpent, ApHelion, Fallcie, Fear Bound, Human Prey, Isa, The Monolith Project, My Cold Embrace, Realm of Wolves.

Agonize the Serpent – Pray for a Plague
Release Date – May 2018
Location – Sweden
Style – Metalcore/melodic death

Playing a form of metalcore that leans further into the metallic side than that of ‘core, Pray for a Plague is a catchy and melody-driven release that sits with a comfortable degree of heaviness as well. They can incorporate more modern elements (such as synths) in the mix without getting too carried away, with some of the riffing occasionally veering in this direction too. The band’s death metal roots serve them well, in keeping a more aggressive feel at times, with snarling vocals and uptempo driving riffs that provide a suitable contrast. An intriguing debut.

ApHelion – Opposites Rendered
Release Date – May 2018
Location – Washington, USA
Style – Technical death metal

The second EP helping from ApHelion provides an enjoyable blend of technical death metal with melodeath tendencies. Meaning that the band can weave in frantic and intricate passages with the best of them (sometimes in some playful ways like “Apocrypha”), yet there’s a feeling of immediacy to it. There’s more focus on song structure and weaving in said technicalities than a more frantic ‘tech for tech’s sake’ approach, which makes them stand out a little more. There’s also a crushing and brutal side at times (see “Epithets for Canticles”) to complete the effective blend.

Fallcie – The Outer Space EP
Release Date – March 2018
Location – Russia
Style – Groove/modern metal

An emphasis on thick, chunky grooves brings Fallcie’s The Outer Space EP to life. Said grooves do owe much to the more modern acts that have come through, but provide many stomp-able moments with visceral aggression to them. Yet at the same time, they can switch to a more melodic aspect (including sung vocals) that almost borrows from a nu-metal perspective. The dynamic works, and the heavier moments provide the needed leverage to make the melodic elements shine brighter. It’s clear they’ve been successful in already providing a sound that is a bit removed from the norm, and should make for some exciting prospects.

Fear Bound – Seize the Day
Release Date – May 2018
Location – England
Style – Melodic death metal

It’s hard to go wrong with some more melodic death metal. Fear Bound play melodeath in its purest form on Seize the Day, with intricate melodies that consistently inspire over the course of the album. With an emphasis on anthemic riffs that hail back towards the golden age of the genre, there’s much to love on each song. It’s catchy with just the right amount of aggression behind it, and just a tinge of modern feel (enough so that it doesn’t sound dated). Guitarwork is king, and the solos shred (see “Black Pyre”) – there’s really not much more you could ask for in an album like this one.

Human Prey – Return of the True Kings
Release Date – May 2018
Location – Germany
Style – Brutal death metal

As usually found in this column, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of straight-ahead brutality from time to time. Human Prey easily fit the bill here, with a brutal death metal approach that’s rooted in the traditions of the veterans. Burly, thundering grooves and slamming breakdowns are par for the course and quite well-executed. The vocal variety is on point as well, with a rather solid mix to keep things feeling fresh. Brutality is law here, and its done in a way that’s catchier than expected. A solid reminder of why brutal death metal still works so well.

Isa – Chimera
Release Date – April 2018
Location – Massachusetts, USA
Style – Progressive death metal

A conceptual album based on dreams (suitably starting as dusk and ending with an alarm clock at dawn), there’s much to absorb on Chimera. A slurry of different genres with progressive simply being the catch-all behind it, the album can be trippy and atmospheric to intricate and heavy. Flowing from one song to the next, it all feels a part of a singular experience, even if the songs do work on their own. A thought-provoking look at dreams that is ripe for dissection at the technical level but with a constant purpose and feeling behind it. Not to mention it’s all from one man – most impressive.

The Monolith Project – Fleischkvlt
Release Date – March 2018
Location – Germany
Style – Death/black metal

More hard-hitting death metal is in session with The Monolith Project’s latest release. Prone to unleashing fast-tempo blastbeat assaults and more assaulting mid-tempo crunching, there’s also some sneaky melodies that weave their way in. While it sits more on the death metal side of things, there’s some black metal influence to be found as well, which adds to their range. There’s a refreshing amount of darkness to the band’s sound too, something that gets lost among much of the newer crop of bands these days with a more mechanical production. One of those steamrolling type of releases, but with some more fascinating parts underneath.

My Cold Embrace – Blank Planet
Release Date – April 2018
Location – Germany
Style – Thrash/death metal

It’s hard to truly describe what My Cold Embrace is portraying on Blank Planet, but that’s something that works to their advantage. The music is often fast, zeroing in on breakneck pacing and assaulting riffs in a thrashy manner, but it’s also championed by some ear-worm melodies that wouldn’t fit out of place in a melodic death metal band. Toss in some more hardcore/crust attitude and you have a combination that works perfectly and avoids an easy classification. With the act being around since 1998, it’s clear they’ve truly honed their craft.

Realm of Wolves – Shores of Nothingness EP
Release Date – May 2018
Location – Hungary
Style – Atmospheric black metal

Some more fantastic black metal from vvildr (vvilderness, Release the Long Ships), and this time he’s accompanied by some other musicians (bassist Ghöul and guitarist Stvannyr) from Silent Island and other projects. This is moody and atmospheric black metal that is equal parts sorrowful and soaring. The centerpiece “Shores of Nothingness” blends these two parts with ease, with moments of heaviness trading off with some near-ethereal moods. The remaining two tracks are more mellow and instrumental, but provide an excellent wrapping and framework on the emotional side of things. Keep this one in mind if you want something more poignant and gloomy.