Sifting Through Bandcamp – November 2014Saturday, 29th November 2014
Taking the quality over quantity approach this month, it seemed that writing a little bit more about a few less offerings was the way to go. This will be the last standard edition of this column for the year, as next month will cover the “Best of Bandcamp” for 2014 (we all do love our year-end lists don’t we?). Can’t think of a better way to end the year than with this bunch. Check out Buckshot Facelift, Drakum, Flub, Ossonor, Release the Long Ships, and Winter Nights. Should be enough to get you through the holiday season in one piece.
Brought to this band through the knowledge that it featured Artificial Brain vocalist Will Smith, but even more pleasantly surprised to see that this band is also composed of a number of members of the underrated Grey Skies Fallen. This is grind for those that think the genre barren and full of nothing but explosive, short outbursts for songs. The genre-blurring here is phenomenal, shifting from death metal to powerviolence to older hardcore to even sludge influences. These are songs that can balance brutality and death metal heft with some occasional dark melodies (“I Left My Heart in El Paso” is wicked). Combine it with the killer Travis Smith cover, and it’s doubtful that it will be too much longer before a press release comes through that they’ve signed with some lucky label.
Drakum’s Around the Oak demo was one of the first albums I “discovered” on Bandcamp over a year ago at this point. Debut album Torches Will Rise Again continues the band’s tradition of massively catchy and upbeat folk metal that is sure to appeal to fans of bands like Equilibrium, Ensiferum, Trollfest, and their ilk. With songs like “Whisky” and “Absinthe,” this isn’t going to change the opinion of those too “serious” to enjoy these tunes, but it’s a great time for those that do enjoy the more melodic (or danceable) side of folk metal. Drakum’s strongest point is being able to blend the melodies with enough metal bite that no one is going to call them a “party” band despite the upbeat tone. Songs like the title track and “Song For Your Death” will confuse you (in a good way) whether to headbang or do a jig. Can’t complain about that!
Flub is a band that I’ve been following over the course of their last EP and single. Advent sees them truly take some jumps in their formula that make them transcend the typical “tech-death” mold. Bringing an almost equal number of melodic influences as well, these are “songs” (always a key factor with some tech death) that often reach into far more progressive places, even pushing towards some Between the Buried and Me territory in a few spots. Many of the solos are fantastic, and the riffage is equally ear-pleasing (see “Unrequited” in particular). There is even some marimba present, which adds some neat personalization to the band (see “Euphoria”). Lastly, check out that artwork! Such an awesome coloring scheme, why can’t more bands use some bright colors in their work? Flub are now working with the complete package here; a must-hear for technically or progressively minded fans.
Imagine, if you will, the grandiose sound of a band like Fleshgod Apocalypse. Driving death metal but with plenty of symphonic elements. Also imagine that instead of the growled vocals leading the action, they are the supporting act, with soaring female vocals taking the lead. It’s extremely intriguing formula, and that’s what Ossonor have provided us with their opening act, Dreadful. It’s almost as if they perfectly captured what works best about symphonic, epic metal and decided to bring it in a darker, more death metal direction. What’s even more impressive is that this is a three piece band, with a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist/growler, and one person dedicated to the orchestral arrangements. There is a huge sound here, and look to Ossonor to move up the ranks quick once word of mouth gets around.
Release the Long Ships is a one man operation by Ferenc Kapiller, who did everything on the album, including the captivating cover art. It’s also worth noting that he produces all of his music with a single guitar and a computer. Clearly this is a labor of love type of thing, and it shows. The melodies here are often-times breathtaking. There’s a bit of sorrow to them, but still retain that hopeful vibe, it sounds like the kind of thing that fans of Alcest or Anathema would eat up, but still even appeal to the “blackgaze” crowd. Being instrumental, it’s the type of album that you can sit back and just relax and let the music take you away. This knocks the sails out of a lot of a number of more high profile, full bands that are doing the same thing. Excellent!
Winter Nights may play a brand of melodic death metal that you are already familiar with, but they do an exceptional job of it. Viewing their older albums on Bandcamp, it’s clear that the band has done some progressing over the years, and An Endless Apocalypse is certainly their strongest effort thus far. With a distinct Scandinavian flair, but coupled with a bit of the ole US brutality, theirs is a nice melding of catchy older melodic death metal here (read: no watered down pop choruses or the like). “The Doomsday Code” is the cut of choice, with it’s all out thrashy approach that is sure to get the adrenaline pumping and features a solid solo towards the end and even touches upon some black metal influences as well. There’s plenty here that should appeal to fans of anything from Amon Amarth, Arsis, or Dark Tranquillity (whom they will be opening for in January).