Sifting Through Bandcamp – July 2020

Saturday, 25th July 2020

Already that time again – we now sit in the warmer part of the year (for us Northern Hemisphere folk at least), and even as the world continues to slowly reopen and ‘normalize,’ Bandcamp is as busy as ever. They’ve been quite generous lately with ‘no fee’ days, so hopefully people are taking full advantage and giving something back to the artists in this time. For July, we take a look at Aquila, Human Carnage, Inpathos, Jen Janet, The Lust, Morbid Coal, Savage Blood, Void Prophet, Xythlia.

Aquila – Jewel of the Empire’s Crown
From Ontario, Aquila brings us some melodic groove metal with Jewel of the Empire’s Crown. This is a 4-song EP that packs in as much groove as it can, but also is okay with speeding things up into thrashier territory from time to time (“Glorify”). It’s got a somewhat modern feel to it, and a production that’s been mixed/mastered by Jon Howard (Threat Signal, Imonolith), and the melodies tend to stand out quite a bit, particularly the epic title track that finishes things out. Just what you are looking for if you want a more melodic bulldozer.

Human Carnage – Ancient Covenant of Obscenity
One look at the name and you know these guys are playing something brutal. Ancient Covenant of Obscenity is as extreme as it can get, with brutal death metal elements merging with some black metal vibes and some atmosphere and melody tossed into the mix. So for as devastatingly heavy as it can be, there’s also a melodic anchor that keeps the music moving forward and rather interesting. Not that the melodies get in the way of the ‘grab you by the throat’ ferocity, but they serve as something to tickle your fancy with return listens. A nice showcase of variation in extremity.

Inpathos – Divinity
The one album that was clicked on this month entirely due to the mindblowing cover art, thankfully the music was able to match the initial impression. While Inpathos plays melodic death metal, don’t expect too much (Gothenburg) melody here. It’s more on the dark and heavy side of the scale (in tone with the artwork). Not to say there aren’t some great melodies to take in (see “The Silence Below”) or acoustic guitarwork (“The Void Above”), but there’s also a wall-of-sound type of vibe that works as a nice, oppressive contrast to the melodies and cakes the entire thing with a bleak tone that many in this style don’t use. In doing so, it provides almost an intermediary step between melodeath and dissonant death metal. Cool stuff indeed!

Jen Janet – Possession
No stranger to this site due to her involvement with a number of acts (most recently Memesis), this single release is a little less metallic than some of her band work but it nonetheless a nice, dark track that should find appeal to fans of Evanescence or Lacuna Coil. Aptly titled “Possession,” there’s a haunting atmosphere that leads the way in the track, with some gentle yet moody riffs and electronics further setting the stage for Janet’s enchanting vocal performance. A catchy track that hopefully paves the way for some further exploration in this direction for Janet.

The Lust – Honest
Ever the prolific act, Russian gothic metal band The Lust haven’t released a new full-length since 2018’s Karmalove, but they’ve had a mountain of EPs, covers, and singles in between (36 total releases on Bandcamp!). Honest scratches that gothic metal itch for solid ‘beauty and the beast’ vocals, gloomy atmosphere, and occasional rock bravado. So there’s a lot of variety to behold, from more upbeat yet melancholic rock (“Operator”) to doomy sorrow (“Remedy”) to some more energetic heaviness (“Elaborate Design”) and it’s all done with plenty of style. Quite frankly, it’s a band more people should be checking out.

Morbid Coal – Faceless
Morbid Coal present a bit of an interesting heavy metal variant. The riffing is heavy and dark, but it also takes in a more rock/pop flavor to it, especially from a vocal standpoint. It sounds somewhat different than the norm, given the contrasting heavy and rock tones – something that could also present them with some strong crossover potential. The hooks are strong, and the dark/dreary vibes in “Origin” give it an enticing feel that the other three tracks maintain well. Some may be taken aback by the melodic side of the band, but if you want something a little different, it’s thoroughly enjoyable.

Savage Blood – Downfall
When it comes to power metal, this scribe has always preferred it at the heavier end of the spectrum (a taste of thrash never hurts either). Savage Blood plays right into that particular sound, with galloping riffs that don’t shy away from some thrashy heaviness and some gritty yet still soaring vocals from Peter Diersmann (ex-Enola Gay). The combination of furious thrash energy with catchy melodies and vocal hooks is thoroughly captivating (check out the potent “Release the Beast”). Raise the true metal flag high for this one – not sure how they are staying under the radar but they can grab some label attention soon. This is a real underrated gem of a release.

Void Prophet – Graze of Collapse
Progressive, atmospheric, and groovy – three words to describe Void Prophet in a nutshell. Intricate riffs (but nothing showboat-y) are used in combination with groovy elements for the band deliver a solid musical punch, along with some playful melodies that lean in a modern and progressive feel. Sometimes the band slows it down with some dark atmsospheres and melody (“Means to Revolt”) and the vocals take a turn from snarled rasps into ethereal cleans. It provides a freshness, particularly when they move from atmosphere to frenetic riffs and blasts and switch over to grooves. One band to keep your eye on in the future.

Xythlia – Immortality Through Quantum Suicide
If you came in search of your monthly dose of crazy and ‘out there,’ Xythlia is what you have been waiting for. The one-man project of Nick Stanger (Ashbringer), this is tech-y, extreme, grinding, math-y, and much more. The music is quite dense and it does not attempt to hold your hand. One of those releases that will leave your mind in shambles after your first listen, it’s also one that you can listen again and focus in on certain elements to get some added enjoyment from it. A tough one to really crack in terms of where it fits from a sonic perspective, but those who want the most extreme stuff are going to cherish this one.

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