Sifting Through Bandcamp – September 2018

Thursday, 4th October 2018

Doing this column really is a labor of love. Digging through the piles and piles of Bandcamp releases is something that demands some time and dedication. As Dead Rhetoric has continued to expand and evolve, there’s been a bit less ‘free time’ to give this column it’s proper due. But alas, as this scribe’s wishlist continues to soar, it was high time to get things rolling once again. This month we check out At Dawn’s Edge, Crystal Plains, Empress, Geryon, Hatalom, The Lust, Lux Terminus, Oppressor God, Promethean, Shiran, Soul Decoder, Svavelvinter, and Tulip.

At Dawn’s Edge – Reframed
Release Date – September 2018
Location – Canada
Style – Progressive metal

Reframed takes three songs from last year’s excellent Through Glass Eyes and gives them the acoustic treatment. Given the progressive spread that the band displays, it’s a cool transition to see this transformation take place. It brings out some new qualities, and has an almost jazz club vibe at times, and allows the vocals to shine in a different light. It gives some new life to these tracks (check out “Evil Flamingo”) and serves as a nice piece to enjoy while waiting for new material without resorting to being a gimmick. It’s clear there’s been a lot of TLC added to recreate these tracks.

Crystal Plains – Magenta
Release Date – September 2018
Location – New Jersey, USA
Style – Metalcore

Mixing in some djent and progressive influences into their sound, Crystal Plains aren’t exactly your typical metalcore act. There’s some real depth and nuance to the tracks as you listen to them more, with some standout melodies that work right alongside the necessary levels of heaviness. Some brutal grooves that avoid being typical breakdown fodder also provide another reason to dig further into Magenta. The title track serves as an excellent example of how they pull all these forces together into something far more effective than it might sound on paper. Those who enjoy this style should likely find their new favorite band with Crystal Plains.

Empress – Crawl
Release Date – July 2018
Location – Canada
Style – Modern metal

Last year we checked out “Your Prize” from this modern Canadian metal act, and they’ve returned with a new song in “Crawl.” The blend of melodic death riffing and more straight-forward modern elements, along with more than its fair share of melodies (and a kickass solo) make it easy to crank through a few listens in a row. Vocalist Karina Charbonnier certainly has the chops to provide a unique and riveting performance, and one can only hope that we get a few more songs at once from this act in the near future.

Geryon – Astomatous
Release Date – September 2018
Location – New York, USA
Style – Death metal

Popping right out onto Bandcamp without much warning, the latest EP from the murky and obscure death metal champs Geryon was a welcome surprise. Utilizing material that was originally intended for Nicholas McMaster’s Astomatous (hence the title), there’s an eerie and often trippy vibe that accompanies the material that brings the band into their own space. Of course, being made up of only bass, drums, and vocals in the death metal context helps, but the unsettling and unpredictable flow is really something to behold. Add in the occasional ambient interludes and you’ve got some excellent ‘out there’ material.

Hatalom – Of Sorrow and Human Dust
Release Date – July 2018
Location – Canada
Style – Technical death metal

Fresh Canadian act Hatalom bring a surprising level of components to their brand of extreme metal. The first and most obvious of this would be the frenetic tech explosions that the band revels in, but there’s also a bit of more melodic death and even slight deathcore influences to what they do. The speed factor is more than sufficient to get the adrenaline going, with the tech mastery shining just as strongly as some of the bigger names in the genre. But the more melodic injections give it more listenability in the long run, and some needed hooks to latch onto. An impressive debut.

The Lust – Dear Diary
Release Date – September 2018
Location – Russia
Style – Gothic metal

One of those cool, random discoveries that Bandcamp provides, the rather prolific gothic metal act The Lust are a nice treat. Dear Diary is the latest EP, which brings to mind Lacuna Coil (in their early, more gothic days) in its execution. There’s a sense of immediacy to the material, which also seems to embrace an almost ‘80s new wave at times with the music (see the title track). Covers of Paradise Lost (“Perfect Mask”) and Sundown (“I Don’t Like to Live Today”) blend easily with the band’s sound and provide a unique take. With 29 releases on Bandcamp in total, The Lust have a wealth of material for new fans to take in and enjoy, including their last full-length Karmalove (released in March).

Lux Terminus – The Courage to Be
Release Date – August 2018
Location – Ohio, USA
Style – Progressive metal

Keyboard-driven progressive metal/fusion/jazz has the potential to be something that sounds overtly pretentious. But what Lux Terminus do on their debut is nothing short of an emotional feat. The music instantly pulls you in, and frequently takes exhilarating turns. From softer, more jazzy vibes to upbeat proggy landscapes, it’s easy to connect in with the overly concept, even if it is an instrumental one. Yet another release that is set on taking you for a journey full of peaks and valleys, and one you won’t forget anytime soon, particularly the massive 21-minute title track. All but certain to brighten up your day.

Oppressor God – Mechanical Manslaughter
Release Date – August 2018
Location – Arizona, USA
Style – Technical death metal

Another dose of brutal and technical death metal for the month, Oppressor God don’t play it up completely by the book either. Some layering of melodies and atmosphere help to keep Mechanical Manslaughter from looking like your usual effort. The hyperspeed blasting is there for those who want to indulge the senses, but cuts like “Void” hint towards a more varied and melody-driven fusion in the band’s future. The riffing, despite the technical prowess, never feels too cold, even when drifting into near-Origin territory (“Blood Spatter Entrails and Body Matter”) and gives it a more brutal edge than the more sterilized approaches of many of their peers. Things are definitely looking on the up and up here.

Promethean – The Nameless Colour
Release Date – August 2018
Location – France
Style – Symphonic death metal

Promethean impressed last year with Aloades, and “The Nameless Colour” serves as a tidbit to hold fans over until their full-length debut. The band has stepped things up quite a bit with this track, to be certain. The symphonic elements are gargantuan, yet don’t overpower the massive riffing either. Blackened death metal still reigns supreme, the perfect backdrop for these symphonic elements, with a level of intricacy that can rival with tech death squadrons as the song rages on, but knows when to dip into some melody to stay fresh. If the rest of the band’s debut is this strong, Promethean are going to have a lot of people turning their heads.

Shiran – Release the Bounds
Release Date – May 2018
Location – Israel
Style – Progressive metal

Tough to really nail down exactly what Shiran is up to on Release the Bounds, and that’s a good thing. There’s a modern, progressive feel but the riffing itself is quite heavy and provides a unique contrast to the varying parts, at time also embracing a more traditional heavy metal sound (albeit darker). The female vocals are emotive yet have a tougher edge to them, matching well against the heavier feeling the music provides (outside of melodic track “The Promise”). An intriguing vibe seeps through the tracks because of all these contrasts, which is something that should appeal equally to many parts of the metal scene.

Soul Decoder – Haal-Å-Khul
Release Date – September 2018
Location – Czech Republic
Style – Melodic death metal

Soul Decoder is what happens when you blend more modern metal acts like Trivium with firmly established melodeath favorites such as Dark Tranquillity and Insomnium. There’s even a more brutal, straight-up death metal side that appears from time to time as well. That description alone should get some interested, and surprisingly doesn’t oversell what the band is pulling off. There’s a lot going on at once, as well as when you move between songs, but it feels complete due to the nature of the songwriting keeping everything seem uniform. It begs the question of how more haven’t found these guys yet, as this is their third release available on Bandcamp. Killer stuff.

Svavelvinter – Mörkrets Tid
Release Date – June 2018
Location – Sweden
Style – Melodic black metal

At last, Christian Älvestam’s Svavelvinter project is available in a digital format. The latest release, Mörkrets Tid, was done in collaboration with writer Erik Granström (who provides the lyrics – all in Swedish) as the inspiration is from his fantasy novels. Majestic, sweeping, and sometimes brutal black/death metal is the name of the game here, with Älvestam’s charismatic vocals giving life to the material. The songs can be lengthy but never lose momentum due to varied tempos and levels of heaviness/melodies. The overall feeling is one of immense grandeur and epic scope, handled in a way that only Älvestam can deliver. Those hip to Unmoored, or any of his other extensive works would do wise to check this out immediately.

Tulip – Tulip
Release Date – September 2018
Location – Texas, USA
Style – Progressive/symphonic metal

An offshoot from the excellent melodeath act Monolith, Tulip shares a knack for catchy, symphonic riffs but moves further into some groovy territory. The symphonic elements are there as well, but don’t expect the usual level of bombast or cheesiness to accompany Tulip. The tracks have some aggressive tones, and with their straight-forward attack, and these elements only aid in making the tracks seem more massive and epic in scale. The end product is infectious yet has more depth to it than some similar artists that wave the symphonic metal flag. A strong beginning, which hopefully leads to some even more incredible heights.