Best-of Sifting Through Bandcamp 2014

Monday, 22nd December 2014

More often than not, some of the smaller bands have a tendency to be looked over by the time we get to the huge influx of year-end lists (mine included). So after scavenging the Bandcamp landscape for almost the entire year of 2014, it seemed fitting that some of these smaller and sometimes overlooked bands should get their share of the limelight as well. There were a ton of possibilities here, and in some ways it was even harder to cut the list down here than on my own personal best-of due to the sheer volume of bands that were investigated.

In keeping with the Sifting Through Bandcamp monthly formula, provided with each album is the music stream from which you can get to the Bandcamp website to purchase each album if you so desire. There’s bound to be an album listed here that may have slipped below your radar (not to mention worthy of your time). Bandcamp is a growing location for independently released music (alongside some labels that are now embracing it); expect this trend to continue in the future.

1. Son of Aurelius – Under a Western Sun
Progressive, technically inclined death metal that is full of heart and dynamics, Under a Western Sun was one of the most enjoyable albums of 2014 bar none. Just getting edged out of my own best-of list, there was no doubt that this one was the album to beat here. The combination of sweeping and epic melodies and Riley McShane’s fantastic vocal performance is thoroughly engaging, even at the 72 minute runtime. Why more people aren’t singing this album’s praises on a regular basis remains an insane mystery.

2. Hoth – Oathbreaker
A Star Wars themed concept album that succeeds at telling an engaging story while simultaneously altering the music from a more “light-hearted” beginning to a damn near oppressive finish (all while sounding like a natural, coherent progression). Hoth has jumped leaps and bounds from their debut, and Oathbreaker has all the makings of a band set for the big leagues. Oathbreaker will take you on a journey like no other this year. Plus, it’s Star Wars and metal! Most impressive.

3. Warforged – Essence of the Land
Another concept album, this time in EP form. Warforged are another example of exceptional storytelling in metal (DR actually did a feature on this one at the beginning of the year), and the murky atmosphere that Essence of the Land produces elevates it above many signed technical death metallers. Highly emotive as well as technically proficient. Hopefully these guys will get a full-length out soon, as this one is just begging for a follow up.

4. Inferi – The Path of Apotheosis
Inferi was resurrected after a brief disbanding, and The Path of Apotheosis serves as a massive comeback. Absolutely stunning technical guitar work and feral intensity that are practically unmatched. Epic in tone and full of majestic, complex riffing, it’s hard to put this one down once you start listening.

5. Terracide – Existence Asunder
Terracide’s debut is melodic death/power that is full of hooks and infectious choruses. Upbeat and infused with keyboards, Existence Asunder will almost instantly find a way into your brain and stay on repeat. Fans of Into Eternity, Scar Symmetry, and In Flames won’t take long to warm up to this one.

6. Lethian Dreams – Red Silence Lodge
Occupying the same “is it metal?” tag as bands such as Anathema and Alcest, Lethian Dreams is the type of music best savored on a dreary, darkened day. A major piece to the band’s success is Carline Van Roos’ hypnotic vocal performance, perfectly accenting the band’s take on post-metal. Haunting and beautiful stuff.

7. Jute Gyte – Vast Chains
The ever-productive Jute Gyte also released the equally great Ressentiment late this year but Vast Chains gets noted here for its surprising lasting power. Microtonal black metal that defies genre convention (and any matter of sense) has to be heard to be believed. Once you get past the initial abrasion, it’s a unique and sometimes oddly soothing album. “Endless Moths Swarming” has to be the anti-melodic track of the year.

8. Flub – Advent
The latest EP from Flub sees them at their strongest yet. Technically-driven death metal that borrows as much from Between the Buried and Me as it does the usual “tech-death” to provide a more unique and adventurous album. Love that marimba too. It’s not too hard to see these guys and Unique Leader sharing the same space soon.

9. Oubliette – Apparitions
Gnarly US-based black metal featuring members of Inferi and Aether Realm. Keeping the ferocious black metal attack in check by coupling it with foreboding atmosphere is key here. The strong “old school” Gothenburg-esque approach doesn’t hurt either. Emily Low’s vocals only add to the intensity (or atmosphere, depending on the moment). A killer debut.

10. Moanaa – Descent
Sludge metal with heart? The key to Descent’s success is taking the Gojira-inspired heavy riff template and adding gorgeous post-metal melodies into the mix with just the right balance. They even embrace some doom from time to time to keep things fresh. Fantastic atmosphere with enough lumbering heaviness to knock you off your feet when required.

11. Release the Long Ships – Wilderness
Cannot even remember how this one was stumbled upon but certainly glad I found it. Instrumental post-rock/metal with some shoegaze elements is elegantly done here on Wilderness. A one-man show that is perfect for just putting on in the background and letting your mind take you on a journey. One of the most soothing releases of the year, and certain to appeal to Anathema/Alcest types.

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