Sifting Through Bandcamp – January 2018

Tuesday, 30th January 2018

The first time diving into this column for the year is always easiest. Pooling more than 2 months of content into one feature makes for a plethora of possibilities. Not to mention it being the dead of winter, which means that shows are at a minimum, which in turn maximizes free time (and cash). So this month we investigate Adavant, Amber Town, Anaria, Bloodbark, Clavicus Vile, Confession by Silence, Dante’s Theory, Embrace the Maddness, Emulsified, The End of Melancholy, Feelament, Insaniam, Light Dweller, The Malice, and Rage of Light.

Adavant – The Unyielding
Release Date – January 2018
Location – Arizona, USA
Style – Folk metal

Folk metal tends to lend itself well to concept albums, and The Unyielding certainly holds its own in that regard. Incorporating a dual guitar and vocalist approach lends them plenty of options and credence to add intricacy to the mix, and they do a good job of mixing it up while telling a tale. There is a theatrical flair to it at times (particularly when the spotlight’s on Charlotte Doherty’s semi-operatic vocals), and frequent dips into epic melodies make sure that the songs are never too bloated, even as lengthy cuts lead the way towards the finale. This should be easily appreciated by fans of the folk scene – fun without feeling goofy, and epic without over doing it.

Amber Town – Bloom
Release Date – November 2017
Location – Italy
Style – Metalcore

Despite some clearly modern touches, the most refreshing thing about Amber Town’s Bloom is how it can ratchet up the brutality. There’s plenty of visceral riffs to be found, along with some rather brutal vocal work from singer Elektra. The focus here tends to be groovier, but some upticks in tempo (see “Last Words”) help give the band an edge. When they go melodic, it’s also all-in, with both memorable vocal lines and hooks. It’s a more lively combination than many of these groups shoot for, and one ripe with potential moving forward.

Anaria – Invocation
Release Date – December 2017
Location – Massachusetts, USA
Style – Symphonic metal

After a brief hiatus, Anaria has returned to deliver more symphonic and cinematic metal. New track “Invocation” shows the band hasn’t missed a step since their excellent debut Inception, with a wildly catchy chorus and memorable solo sitting as a highlight. If anything their sound seems bigger than ever, but with a metallic sheen to back it up in the right places. Ballad “Requiem” is an elegant display of vocalist Jessica Mercy’s range, as does the orchestral arrangement of “My Ruin,” which offers a look back to the band’s previous EP. The future looks bright for the symphonic act if this release is indicative of what’s to come. Welcome back Anaria!

Bloodbark – Bonebranches
Release Date – January 2018
Location – Unknown
Style – Atmospheric black metal

Finding Bonebranches on a quiet snow day was perfect timing. Reflective and sullen material that never really feels ‘evil’ so much as it does melancholic, it’s a fantastic release to just sit down and relax with. Epic and glorious sounding stuff at times when it gets moving, and it keeps a sense of adventure about it, even if it sticks to the more sorrowful side of things. With only 3 tracks spanning 40-minutes, it’s also safe to say there are plenty of dynamics in place to keep things moving, perhaps more than what some may be accustomed to for the style. A real winner if you are into this kind of material.

Clavicus Vile – The Nightspirit’s Call
Release Date – January 2018
Location – Illinois, USA
Style – Progressive/technical death metal

Despite their name coming from The Elder Scrolls, a fantasy or folk metal act this is not. Instead, progressive and technical guitarwork leads the way across driving and frenetic death metal landscapes. Containing a slew of guest vocalists, it is indeed the riffing that locks the band into position. While it can be massively technical at times, it never feels mechanical or soulless. Instead, proggy leads provide some flash against brutal environments, along with contrasting atmospheric moments to create a murky yet enticing feel. Closing track “The Existence Paradox” pushes the prog one step further, even including piano, violin, and cello. Enjoyable for both tech-fiends and death metal fans.

Confession by Silence – Reach the Surface
Release Date – December 2017
Location – Germany
Style – Melodic death metal

For a melodeath fiend like this scribe, there’s nothing wrong with finding yet another band that focuses on the basics. That of course calls for plenty of gorgeous guitar harmonies and aggressive yet catchy riffs, of which you’ll find plenty on Reach the Surface. Some slight keyboard use in the background augments things but never steals the scene (though “A Better Day to Die” is quite tastefully done), and groove-based sections provide some balance against the enjoyable melodic guitarwork. There’s some standout melodies on each track – which should make Confession by Silence more of a prominent name as they continue to build their catalog.

Dante’s Theory – Deconstruct
Release Date – January 2018
Location – Singapore
Style – Modern death metal

After enjoying last year’s Amut EP, it was a no brainer to check out their latest offering with “Deconstruct.” Go for the throat brutality ensues, with punishing grooves and in your face vocals giving the band a very abrasive edge. The second half of the track turns more melodic in a welcome sense, offering some increases in mood and finishing off with a bit of quiet piano. Some intriguing prospects for sure, and the stage is set brightly for a new release by the act later this year.

Embrace the Maddness – The Hellwish Chronicles
Release Date – January 2018
Location – Missouri, USA
Style – Atmospheric death metal

The first of an ambitious three album concept, focusing on character building a machine to travel to the multiverse, The Hellwish Chronicles is not your typical death metal machine. A one-man band of Brendan Thomas, it blends otherworldly atmosphere, dissonance, and dark melodies in its structure. The emphasis on atmosphere, even when it’s at its most brutal, gives a suitable feeling in which to tell a tale within a thoroughly death metal structure. It’s never so brutal that you leave the moment, but gripping enough to keep you invested as the music moves along. It will be interesting to see how the other two portions line-up with this.

Emulsified – Flesh
Release Date – December 2017
Location – Indiana, USA
Style – Brutal death metal

Sometimes, all you need at the end of the day is some well-constructed brutal death metal to calm the nerves (or rather soothe the beast within). Emulsified fit the bill here, with Flesh containing a devastating blend of old school brutal death metal, with sprinklings of technicality to keep you interested after the brutality wears thin. The groove-heavy material is catchy enough as it is, and the combination with more intricate moments provide a strong balance – the ‘best of both worlds’ so to speak. If brutal death metal is your thing, consider Emulsified an act worth keeping your eye on.

The End of Melancholy – The Demon
Release Date – December 2017
Location – Russia
Style – Gothic metal

Bringing in a vibe that feels akin towards gothic, industrial, alternative, and even post-metal, The End of Melancholy aren’t short on diversity. No doubt wrapped into a modern feel that should appeal to a broad fanbase, “The Demon” is the first single from an as-of-yet unannounced album to be released later on in the year. Overall, it’s catchy, has just the right amount of heaviness behind it (even a few shouts later on), and powerful vocals from Olly Lex. Enough distinctive flair to warrant bookmarking the band for said upcoming album and beyond.

Feelament – What’s the Price
Release Date – December 2017
Location – Russia
Style – Modern/groove metal

Hitting the brutal/melodic sweet spot that bands like The Charm The Fury and Spoil Engine have tapped into, Feelament have a modern and groovy approach to their material. Rooted in thrash, melodeath, and metalcore, it’s a very heavy approach that doesn’t back off much. Vocalist Masha Balyasova has a ferocious set of lungs and produces a wide variety of snarls, barks, and growls in addition to a few cleaner sections – a suiting backdrop being provided by the rest of the band that sticks to crunchy and energetic riffs (and a short but sweet lead). For less than $2, you can grab this track and their previous EP – a great introduction to a band you’ll likely be hearing plenty more of soon.

Insanium – Ominous Era
Release Date – January 2018
Location – Spain
Style – Black/death metal

Insanium’s second full-length release is certainly a complete slurry of black and death metal. Darkened atmosphere, frantic blasting, and black riffing stands at the forefront for much of their sonic assault, but it’s not without some hardened death metal brutality behind it at times. Some synths and sinister melodies often add further layers to the sound, sometimes resulting in a more creepy and near-claustrophobic vibe. While the death/black sound is one cemented in the ages, Insanium provide a more fresh and eerie vibe than most end up delivering, alongside some enjoyable melodies (see “NNN”).

Light Dweller – Nullity of Light
Release Date – January 2018
Location – Arizona, USA
Style – Dissonant black/death metal

A new one-man project of Cameron Boesch (Nullingroots), Light Dweller is a blackened death metal group that aims for an otherworldly sound to their music. Some Artificial Brain and Gorguts nods for sure, but it’s taken in more of a black metal direction to prevent too much name association. Much like early Nullingroots, you’d be hard-pressed to identify this as a one-man show without prior knowledge – it’s professionally done and monstrous in sound. The riffing is sometimes labyrinthine but blackened melodies help to inject some sly memorability into the equation. Brutal, complex, and completely engrossing.

The Malice – Lamashtu
Release Date – January 2018
Location – Sweden
Style – Death metal

After checking out The Malice back in 2016, Lamashtu marks a triumphant return for the scorching death metal act. The band knows how to really push that adrenaline-pumping edge for death metal, with frequent speed runs and blastbeats keeping you on your toes as not to be run over by the amount of carnage. Keeping things fresh are some oriental influences (which never get in the way of the steamrolling action) that standout amid the brutal assault. Technically-proficient but not over the top, there’s more to hear with each return to the EP. A monstrous effort from a band that should be mentioned among the Hour of Penance and Hate Eternals of the world.

Rage of Light – I Can, I Will
Release Date – January 2018
Location – Switzerland
Style – Modern melodic death metal

We at DR have covered Rage of Light within these pages a few times to date, but when they release a new track, it’s always worth seeking out. The trance-enhanced melodeath approach is one that they’ve seemingly perfected, with a sense of inherent melody, pulsating beats, and chunky guitars combining together in a strong harmony. “I Can, I Will” is no doubt the strongest track they’ve released to date, and should serve as an excellent introduction to a band that is deserving of a far wider audience. Hopefully we’ll get a full-length from them sooner than later at this point.

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