Sifting Through Bandcamp – February 2021

Thursday, 25th February 2021

Even though February is a few days shorter than the rest of the months, there’s no shortage of quality metal output to find on the Bandcamp platform. So for those of us in the north, bundle up and get cozy – here’s a handful of releases that will provide some heat to break out of the cold winter blues. This month we check out Astral Code, Bloodkill, Cepheid, Disembodied, In Vision, Nyctalopia, Pit of Doom, and Riddlebreak.

Astral Code – Aurora
Starting things off on the more melodic side this month, Astral Code’s Aurora combines some metallic crunch with some rock/pop elements in a very hooky way. Driving melodies with just enough heaviness underneath it, there’s a playfulness to the riffing too, on top of a noteable bass (“Dawns”). Some light post- elements also convey a bit more of an atmosphere at times. A strong vocal performance is important for a release like this, and one needs only to check out the ethereal “Ashes” to be rewarded. Astral Code has all the pieces set to generate a strong presence for those into more modern or melodic metal.

Bloodkill – Throne of Control
Waving the heavy metal flag high from India is Bloodkill. A mixture of thrash and traditional heavy metal, there’s a definitive energy to Throne of Control without it sounding dated. Galloping tempos, thrilling solos, and ‘raise your fist’ choruses all play a part in Bloodkill’s plan, and there’s plenty of melody to back it up. The power of the riff is what pushes many of these tracks forward, with a clear bit of catchiness there to bring you in to further antics, such as a powerful chorus or melodic solo. The spirit of heavy metal is alive and well with this one, and it should land plenty of appeal if given some exposure.

Cepheid – Messenger in Flames
Looks may not be what they appear here, with Cepheid sounding more akin to some modern groovy progressive metal than that of an anime-ish act (outside of a vocaloid influence on older tracks). Crunchy, djent-y riffs carry the weight of the track and it’s sprinkled with some soaring female vocals and piano to generate a monolithic and catchy listen. This is actually the third song in a series of tracks about the solar system (“Gaia” and “Goddess”), so there’s plenty more to discover. The instrumental version of the track holds up quite well too, allowing for the riffs and piano to take center stage.

Disembodied – Eternal Worshiper
There’s a high quality when it comes to Indonesian brutal death metal – when it comes to being utterly devastating, there’s something about these acts that hold a steady consistency. Disembodied is no different in that regard, and Eternal Worshiper comes across as a flag bearing effort. Plenty of groove, fast tempo stuff, and guttural vocals for all – there’s a level of control to the intensity too. At some times, a Deeds of Flesh presence can certainly be felt (maybe some Dying Fetus too), and moreover a late ’90s feel to the brutality of it all. Crushing in all the right ways.

In Vision – In Vision
Russia seems to have an outpouring of melodic death metal that’s screaming to be heard by a wider audience, and In Vision is the latest in a line of worthy candidates. In Vision have a sound that sticks to the more modern side of the melodeath divide, but it’s pleasantly heavy at the same time. Snarls and cleans mesh well, but the driving and heavy components play an equal role to that of the melodic ones. It crafts a larger dynamic than those that stick to thrusting importance on the choruses and makes for a more dynamic experience. In Vision is pulsating with heaviness, but has an emotive core as well – an excellent combo.

Nyctalopia – Flesh Slayer
Definitely would not have pegged this one as a Christian act based on the cover, but indeed one-man act Nyctalopia ‘Slams for the Lamb’ and boy, does it slam hard! There’s all of the genre trappings that you’d expect, but it’s such a smooth listen oddly enough. The reason is that it never reaches the levels of absurdity that brings down a lot of bands like this, and balances the slams with some driving mid-tempo riffs and grooves, and provides some vocal variety as well instead of just going for the gurgles (which are there). It bludgeons with extreme force, but stays surprisingly catchy. Worth a listen for brutal death fiends.

Pit of Doom – Despairity
Groovy and gloomy isn’t a combination that is seen much, but Pit of Doom really make an argument for it with Despairity. There’s towering grooves that the band create that feel urgent, but there’s also a more dreary and almost melancholic atmosphere that is injected into the tracks as well. It makes for an album that has a playful energy at times, but is enriched by this sullen atmosphere into something that really resonates. Combine it with some effective clean vocals on occasion, and Pit of Doom have something that really works. A fresh perspective using some familiar elements makes Despairity a real hidden gem.

Riddlebreak – Architeuthis
Being a sucker for artwork that has giant squid on it, it was more or less inevitable that Architeuthis would be discovered by this scribe. This South African act carries some heavy weight behind it in the post-metal category (as well as more modern prog), and this short 4-song EP has plenty of intriguing bite to it. It’s tough to really nail down beyond a generic ‘prog’ tag here, but if you are seeking some groovy melodies, crunchy guitars, or emotive gravitas. From violin to pulsating riffs, there’s quite a variety to take in with Riddlebreak, and those seeking something more esoteric are bound to enjoy this quite a bit.

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