Sifting Through Bandcamp – August 2017

Sunday, 20th August 2017

We may have touched on this concept earlier in the year, but in the realm of things that are both positive and negative, it seems that Bandcamp is an even harder nut to crack. Even more label-backed stuff can be found, which is ample proof that it’s a great place to find and buy music. The downside, is that it’s tougher to sift through the label stuff to get to the more independent acts that are really trying be seen. But that’s not this scribe giving up, merely pointing how much more necessary a column like this is for those in search of rising acts. So this month we have a gander at some old names as well as some fresh ones: Aether Realm, Another Vendetta, Blood of the Prophets, Cognizance, Dismal, Dream Void, Hexagon, Pancrectomy, Rage of Light, Sertraline, ShangriLah, and Transcend the Realm.

Aether Realm – Tarot (Instrumental)
Release Date – August 2017
Location – North Carolina, USA
Style – Folky melodeath

We may have covered Tarot back in June (it received a rare 10/10), but this instrumental variant is worth investigation as well. If anything, it acts as testament to how strong the album is, being able to hold up considerably well sans vocals. This scribe was sucked right back into the Tarot vortex upon checking it out, with cuts like playful cuts like “The Tower” and epics “The Sun, The Moon, The Star” both enjoying an added spotlight on the simply gorgeous melodies that build them up. Sing some karaoke along with it if you’d like, but if you’ve yet to check out Aether Realm or Tarot in general…what are you waiting for?

Another Vendetta – Paper Slave
Release Date – August 2017
Location – New Jersey, USA
Style – Death metal

Giving us a taste of some new material from their upcoming album, Desecrate, Another Vendetta fill this column’s seemingly monthly “this sounds similar to The Black Dahlia Murder” quota. No slag against the band intended, but the combo of galloping melodies amid hurried tempos and growled/screamed vocals are what power “Paper Slave.” The melodies are on point, particularly around the midpoint of the song where things slow down momentarily. It’s quite well done, and despite some famillarity, Desecrate seems like an album to keep your eyes out for.

Blood of the Prophets – The Stars of the Sky Hid from Me
Release Date – July 2017
Location – Ohio, USA
Style – Death metal with melody

Combining some blistering death metal riffing, ample doses of melody, and a bit of ‘core influences, Blood of the Prophets have a palatable take on the genre. Hard to really pin down the aspects that they take in, but if you like any of the descriptors in the opening line, it’s worth checking out. Some tracks offer more melodies, some offer more brutality, but with overall runtimes of about 3-minutes, they are effectively trimmed off all fat. Music like this benefits from an approach like this, and gives Blood of the Prophets the ability to focus in on each track. Plenty of strong riffing throughout, but if you want to check out a particular track, “Tides” has a great mix of both melodic undercurrents and the expected heaviness.

Cognizance – The Foreboding Impasse
Release Date – August 2017
Location – United Kingdom
Style – Technical death metal

Perennial Sifting vets Cognizance are always worth checking out, even if it is only for one track. “The Foreboding Impasse” stands just as tall as 2017’s earlier track “Ether of the Void,” combining the band’s perceptive approach to technical material. Meaning that there is a good mix of intricate riffs, savage energy, speed, and groove. The big standout here (to this scribe) is the killer solo at the end of the track, but that’s not to diminish the rest of the song’s onslaught of fury. Again, Cognizance is onto something with these small releases – they can go all out without any second thought about burning out the listener.

Dismal – Colorless
Release Date – August 2017
Location – Pennsylvania, USA
Style – Progressive death metal

Featured on this site before under the name Burn the Empire, Dismal has released a new track. In comparison to their stuff on The Iconoclast, “Colorless” is a bit less brute force and a bit more emotion. A somber beginning to the track sets the stage for more melancholic guitarwork, even if it is still quite death metal in sound. Some later clean guitar and melodic guitarwork confirms a more progressive shift for the act. It works well and is equally compelling to their more visceral side seen in the past. A good starting point for the re-named act.

Dream Void – Sanctimonious
Release Date – July 2017
Location – Indiana, USA
Style – Atmospheric tech-death

Last summer we checked out Dream Void’s first EP, Deceptive Dreamscape, which made a solid impression. So it was good to see them so quickly return with a new EP. It’s within the same style as the last EP, but you can tell that there has been some clear improvements to the act, even in only a year’s time. The dynamics between Fallujah-esque atmosphere and gripping tech-death is more apparent this time, and helps give Dream Void a more broad appeal. The death metal is heavy and as frantic as you’d like to hear given the style (check out “Lord of Maggots”), but the onset of heavy grooves and dreamy atmosphere is pronounced to the point where it has just as much influence. Dream Void is bound to catch the right person’s ear to move up in the world with continued progression like this.

Hexagon – On the Decline
Release Date – July 2017
Location – France
Style – Metalcore

Don’t cringe up immediately at the mere sight of the metalcore tag, as Hexagon don’t exactly play it by the book. For starters, while the metalcore riffing may feel familiar, they instead go with clean, female vocals which give the whole thing a different feeling to it. Even when things are heavier (“Your Shadow,” it provides a more haunting vibe than one of straight-forward aggression. As such, it feels more fresh than your standard djent or metalcore act, and the musicianship behind it also taps into more metallic territory with some quality leads (see “May My Heart Be Your”). Proof that even some slight changes to the formula can have some very satisfying results.

Pancrectomy – Insulin Induced Coma
Release Date – July 2017
Location – United Kingdom
Style – Grindcore

A grindcore act out to raise Diabetes awareness, there’s still some element of fun to this one-man attack. Humorous samples (related to the subject matter), colorful artwork, and some tongue-and-cheek vocals bring some added value to the death/grind urgency. Musically, it’s as explosive as it should be, and there’s some added melody within it (see “Ketone Acidosis”) that’s a pleasant surprise. Add in that 10% of the proceeds will be donated to a diabetic charity, and there’s plenty of reasons to check out this quirky and fun release.

Rage of Light – Mechanicals
Release Date – August 2017
Location – Switzerland
Style – Modern melodic death metal

Last year’s Chasing a Reflection introduced Rage of Light as a band to watch, and their latest single “Mechanicals” truly enforces that notion. Combining elements of melodic death metal and electronics together, the song has a futuristic approach that still retains heaviness much better (and more naturally) than others who have attempted it. The dual vocal approach of Melissa Bonny and Jonathan Pellet helps to further bring the band into their own, eschewing the traditional ‘beauty and the beast’ vocals and providing traction to music that can please with both the heavier and softer ends of the spectrum. Truly some high-grade stuff – it’s only a matter of time before someone scoops this band up.

Sertraline – Shade
Release Date – May 2017
Location – New York, USA
Style – Atmospheric/post black metal

When it comes to the post/atmospheric black metal material, this scribe has become a bit more fickle. It was beginning to get bit more tiresome with the influx of new bands popping up everywhere, but Sertraline is one of the more satisfying and enjoyable bands of this ilk in recent memory. It’s got quite a bit of melancholy engrained to the material for starters, and not in the bandwagon-jumping Cascadian sense. It’s not so much woodsy as it is just entirely gloomy, even though it’s not without its fair share of near saccharine melodies in the two ‘metallic’ tracks. They have some black metal heaviness to them, but also don’t rely upon blastbeats to lead the charge. “Shade” is furious, but feels more like a wall of sound at time. Worth your time, particularly if you like the style.

ShangriLah – Embrace the Tide
Release Date – July 2017
Location – South Africa
Style – Atmospheric death metal

While more death metal acts look towards the sea for inspiration (and not of the pirate variety), ShangriLah find their own space on Embrace the Tide. Some groovy, progressive riffing is the centerpiece, along with their ability to blend some moments of atmospheric melody to the forefront. A little dark and foreboding, they add a new layer to the heavier sections (see “Tidal Satisfaction”). “Fins in the Abyss” is one of the stronger moments, with a slow building intro that turns into some catchy and driving riffs that have just the right combo of heavy and catchy. An easy recommendation for the progressive death metal fan.

Transcend the Realm – Perennial Discoveries
Release Date – June 2017
Location – California, USA
Style – Tech death

More tech-infused death from the apparent mecca of California. But fret not, Transcend the Realm carries the goods with them to stand out in the ever-widening scope of the genre. “Ars Moriendi” (a Mr. Bungle cover) will introduce you to their ability to move into more jazzy and intriguing waters than that of most tech-death acts. The progressive leadwork really sticks out, with some exotic eastern European flair as well as a good sense of balancing memorability with technical prowess. There’s also some spacy keyboard work, as the closing “Black to the Fuchsia” really taps into. Don’t look at the band as just “another tech death band,” because they are really moving into unique territory and should be an exciting prospect moving forward.

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