Sifting Through Bandcamp – October 2016

Sunday, 30th October 2016

After accidentally missing out last month (oh, where does the time go?), this month we are primed once more to deliver all of the Bandcamp goodies. Plenty of gems to choose from, as it seems to be the case outside of Bandcamp with an always crowded fall release schedule. This month we check out Automaton, Cerberus Unchained, Counting Hours, Drunemeton, Lizard Professor, Lost in Wonders, Misthaven, Overcliff, Profundum, Singularity, The Malice, and Unearthed Elf.

Automaton – Automaton
Release Date – September 2016
Location – Massachusetts, USA
Style – Industrial death metal

The brainchild of Nate Exx Gradowski (Isolated Antagonist) delves into the same futurist, Fear Factory-influenced work but takes it into a different direction. Sci-fi synths mesh nicely with the machine gun riffing, and the alternating grooves and eerie atmosphere also brings to mind early Raunchy at the same time. There’s a more melodic element behind the scenes, with some songs like “Hydroshock” and “Sonic Pulse Heart Rate Sensor” providing some really infectious material. There’s a lot of potential here (not just for Fear Factory fans) and there’s more material approaching in December.

Cerberus Unchained – Di Inferi
Release Date – October 2016
Location – England
Style – Death metal with melody

Seems awful tempting to just place the melodic death metal tag here and call it good, but some may get the wrong impression. This isn’t Gothenburg-styled stuff that Cerberus Unchained is putting out, but genuine death metal that just happens to have a strong melodic streak (Carcass may be more of an apt reference point). A strong sense of balance brings these two sides together, and “Naturom Demonto” is proof of just how heavy and assaulting this band can sound. Yet frantic solos, rich melodies (see “Jacket’s Massacre”), and demonic roars will ensure there’s plenty of moments that are worth returning to.

Counting Hours – Demo
Release Date – September 2016
Location – Finland
Style – Melodic doom/death

It didn’t take much more than “featuring members of Rapture and Shape of Despair” to get immediately moving over to Bandcamp to check out this up-and-coming demo. With the pedigree involved, you can already hear the magic coming together. Depressive, Katatonia-esque stuff with all of the trimmings – sombering clean vocals, emotive roars, gloomy atmosphere, and melancholic riffs. “Buried in the White” captures the band at their finest, with near-upbeat riffs and awe-inspiring melodies (vocally and instrumentally) presenting a glum perspective that doesn’t lose any of its luster over it’s 7-minute runtime. Those looking for something similar to early Katatonia with a little more heaviness have just found your new favorite band.

Drunemeton – The Sacred Grove
Release Date – May 2016
Location – Russia
Style – Melodic black metal

Part of a split with Fjord (yet an entire album’s worth of material), The Sacred Grove captures the essence of ‘90s Scandinavian black metal with ease. Harkening back to the gripping, majestic winds of bands like Emperor and Limbonic Art, the way that the symphonic components are added into the mix and wrapped around the tornado of classic black metal riffing is reminiscent but never feels like a copy. Dark atmosphere with just enough grandeur, even the production lends to credence to the olden times, avoiding an overtly clean production to give it enough mystique (and enough buzzsaw feeling to the guitars). They’ve got only one full-length to their names, but expect Drunemeton to start generating some accolades soon.

Lizard Professor – Eccentricity
Release Date – September 2016
Location – Texas, USA
Style – Progressive/experimental metal

Talk about nailing the album title – Lizard Professor are about as eccentric as they come. Progressive metal that jumps by leaps and bounds, they owe as much to bands like Mr. Bungle as they do to acts like Between the Buried and Me and Devin Townsend. Lots of big name citations, but Lizard Professor can fit easily into the grouping – switching between technical death metal, prog, and power metal as well to provide a number of memorable moments that may require a full few listens to absorb, but worth the effort. Big melodies, big change-ups, and able to pull off brutality at the same time (“Equations of Dismay”) – Lizard Professor can do it all, and in ways that come off as interesting and unique.

Lost in Wonders – Stout and Full of Life
Release Date – October 2016
Location – Brazil
Style – Melodic/progressive death metal

Another effective album title, “stout and full of life” is a fitting description of the melodic death metal riffs that Lost in Wonders have developed. While they may take influences from the usual suspects, never does the music become anything less than compelling over the 8 songs. Sweeping, mid-tempo riffs are where Lost in Wonders spend most of their time, which allows the melodies to really stand out and become the centerpieces that they are. The melodies can be more introspective/melancholic, but just like Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum, the contrast with more soaring moments keeps it all in check. An easy pick-up for melodeath fans.

Misthaven – Newborn
Release Date – October 2016
Location – Italy
Style – Symphonic metal

Melodic, symphonic metal with plenty of appeal to fans of Lacuna Coil, Delain, and Within Temptation, “Newborn” is the latest single from the rising act Misthaven. Comprised of two tracks (“Newborn” and “Yesterday,” which are available separately on Bandcamp), “Newborn” has a metallic edge to the keyboard-intensive rock/metal feel, with a catchy and upbeat tone highlighted by Francesca’s vocals. “Yesterday” is equally enjoyable, with a more mellow approach accentuated by the keys and a memorable chorus. There’s plenty of competition to fight through with the female-fronted symphonic approach, but Misthaven have all of the components in place to break through if they continue to release material like this.

Overcliff – Depiction of Intimacy
Release Date – September 2016
Location – Greece
Style – Progressive death metal

Overcliff’s Depiction of Intimacy is progressive and monolithic death metal at its best. Pleasantly hard to nail down to any specific style, Overcliff embraces a number of different influences in their death metal formula. At times, it’s heavy and dense – the type of thing that can really rattle the speakers at loud volumes. At other times, there’s a blackened atmosphere that permeates the mood (“Disintegration of an Erased Cosmogenesis”). Plus, the band does well to include more melodic aspects into the music, even when it is surrounded by high-density riffs or blastbeats. However you want to lay it all out, Depiction of Intimacy is an intriguing listen that manages to plot its own course.

Profundum – What No Eye Has Seen
Release Date – August 2016
Location – Texas, USA
Style – Atmospheric black/death metal

Looking for more synth-heavy blackened death metal? Profundum should have you covered with this 2-track release, as well as a taste of what’s to come with their full-length to be released in early 2017. The symphonic elements feel more akin to black metal, but the riffs (and growled vocals) cement it closer towards death or doom metal territory, with some added majesty. Ominous yet wondrous gives a good description of the mood, which weaves in more atmospheric sections between blastbeats and lumbering riffs and ends far more quickly than one would like. But it’s an excellent appetizer to see what they can do with a full-length.

Singularity – Void Walker
Release Date – September 2016
Location – Arizona, USA
Style – Blackened symphonic death metal

Singularity were off to a good start with their first full-length, but it lacked some cohesion between pieces. It’s admittedly tough to blend elements of black metal, technical death metal, and symphonic elements into an effective package, but Void Walker ups the game in every regard. It’s more focused and does a better job of bringing everything together. Sharp melodies and technical chops, just the right amount of synths without overdoing it, and more dynamics present between the black and death metal (but more refined and purposeful) give Void Walker an edge against their first go-round. Another leap like this for their next release and everyone will be talking these guys up, and rightfully so.

The Malice – Enlil
Release Date – October 2016
Location – Sweden
Style – Brutal/technical death metal

The newest track from Sweden/Germany’s The Malice (following an earlier EP, Malevolent Creature of Kings) is almost five-minutes of blistering death metal bliss. Full-speed ahead riffs and frenetic brutality lead the blasting charge as the song erupts with maddening glee. But then some oriental influences weave into the song and give it added depth. It takes an ordinary (yet rather fun) brutal death track and gives it some support legs to stand on without compromising the blistering assault the rest of the music provides. The Malice is onto something special here.

Unearthed Elf – Into the Catacomb Abyss
Release Date – October 2016
Location – Wisconsin, USA
Style – Doom/Power/Heavy metal

The first word that comes to mind with Unearthed Elf is fun. Not in the overtly happy, power metal-esque way, but the fact that the riffs are so enjoyable that you help but grin. The combination of doom, power, and heavy metal isn’t structured in the way you’d imagine and gives it a fresh spin, as does the use of gothic and epic/fantasy tones. Add this to some phenomenal vocal work and you have all the makings of a true sleeper hit. Everything was done by Keith D, who has quite the ear for strong melodic riffs (and check out the impressive solos – “Eternal Night”) as well as vocal melodies – a typical one-man band release this is not. Impressive all around and worth seeking out!