August 31, 2012

Leucosis - Pulling Down the Sky

Leucosis' 2011 release Pulling Down the Sky is now available on Bandcamp. This is atmospheric, gritty and very doomy black metal. Despite that acoustic track with the sound of howling wolves

Leucosis' 2011 release Pulling Down the Sky is now available on Bandcamp. This is atmospheric, gritty and very doomy black metal. Despite that acoustic track with the sound of howling wolves, this is pretty far from the whole Cascadian foresty thing. The production is a little rawer and fuzzier than typical for the genre, it is also pretty quiet, so turn it up.

The cover and the title track tells the story of cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. The Living Doorway got a fascinating quote from Jeff from Leucosis about it:

The Soviets basically sent this guy into space in a half-finished spacecraft, and he burned up on reentry. The radio noises on Track 2 are his screams as he came crashing down to earth. The crazy part about this guy's story is that pretty much everybody knew the spacecraft was gonna fail, but nobody wanted to take responsibility (they'd get killed, thrown in the gulags, etc). Basically a really fucked situation. The picture on the cover is of the superior officers gazing upon the horrors they were responsible for, perhaps seeing that black mess on the table as something within themselves.

You can read more here about the fate of Vladimir Komarov in this NPR piece. And here's a review of Pulling Down the Sky from The Inarguable for you to check out.

August 29, 2012

Interpreter - Introspection

Review by Andy Osborn.

The past year has seen a surge of American bands playing an interesting form of progressive metal with an infusion of Scandinavian grimness. This wave of colossal, winding technical metal contains melodic tendencies with a distinct black metal rasp laid over the top. The Enslaved influence is apparent in groups like Cormorant, Wild Hunt, Autolatry, and now Interpreter. These young guns from South Carolina are taking bits of pieces of their favorite genres and funneling them into a swirling, beautiful adventure that never forgoes forward-thinking songwriting for needless brutality.

Opening things with a sludgy, instrumental jam they quickly switch gears into a cleaner, proggier sound that permeates the rest of the album. The band has a tendency to lean towards atypical scales which gives the music a slightly foreign and dynamic feel. There’s hardly a semblance of normal song structure as Interpreter never look back and only pummel headlong into new, uncharted territories of bass-forward jams, jazzy bridges, and thundering double-kick passages. Self-released and available at the price of your choosing, Introspection serves up six fascinating sonic journeys, each offering something unique while holding onto a forlorn familiarity.

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Satellite Beaver - The last bow

Written by Ulla Roschat.

Artwork & design by Alex Eckman-Lawn

The Total Beaver Attack

Satellite Beaver is a stoner band from Warsaw, Poland (Szymon - vocals and guitar, Tomek - guitar, Robert - drums). They formed in 2008 and The Last Bow is their second release (2012).

4 songs and 18 minutes of total playing time provide you with thick fuzzy downtuned heaviness - with the rather speedy rock'n roll groove as well as with the slow gloomy sabbathian doom sounds. Rooted in the stoner grunge soil they branch out quite widely.

Satellite Beaver combine the different elements in a pretty distinct way, and with the outstanding and rather unusual vocals they come off with an individual style that is complex, yet always tight and massive. I understand The Last Bow to be a kind of summery of the "Beavers' " stylistic development with the last song Roadtrip being the outlook on the course the band's going to adopt, which would lead away from the grungy stoner roots into darker and heavier realms. Right on! I will keep an eye on these guys for sure...

For now I will crank up this way too short EP and enjoy the total beaver attack and getting crushed by this highly energetic nasty fuzzy heaviness.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

August 28, 2012

Eye Of Solitude - Sui Caedere

Eye Of Solitude - Sui Caedere ("to kill oneself") is available on the Kaotoxin Records Bandcamp. This lies somewhere between death doom and funeral doom. Super deep growled vocals, melancholic guitar leads and layers of synths for that sorrowful feel. Agressive parts with double kick drumming and parts that almost sounds like downtempo symphonic black metal. And a few out of the box touches like the haunting spoken word passage in Depths of a Sick Mind.

This is well executed music, but special mention must go the to the drumming. It's varied and dynamic using fills and double kicks to keep things interesting even in the slower passages. The songs are filled with memorable melodies that are allowed to develop also through the more up-tempo parts, reminiscent of early Paradise Lost. This as a very likable album.

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August 26, 2012

Krallice - Years Past Matter

By Andy Osborn. Brooklyn’s finest proto black metallers are back with a new full length, Years Past Matter. The indefinable quartet has been confounding fans for the past four years with their insane virtuosic approach to avant-garde extreme music
By Andy Osborn.

Brooklyn’s finest proto black metallers are back with a new full length, Years Past Matter. The indefinable quartet has been confounding fans for the past four years with their insane virtuosic approach to avant-garde extreme music. This album, arriving just 16 months after their previous full-length, is as esoteric and mind-bending as one can expect from such a group. Arranged in six pieces, the tracks are inexplicable titled "IIIIIII", "IIIIIIII", "IIIIIIIII" and so on. But these aren’t songs, they’re slabs of metallic calculus concocted and condensed into auditory journeys.

Everything from the album art to the song names reeks of existential musings that the common listener can only begin to identify. The extremely long passages are contortions of sound seemingly guided by some long-dead sentient being, with Krallice’s signature nonstop algebraic-like tremolo remaining as the centerpiece. Nicholas McMaster and Mick Barr’s vocals rarely appear over the course of the hour-long cosmic exploration, but Colin Marston’s huge production and Lev Weinstein’s crushing skinsmanship hit so hard that you’ll never for a second think anything is missing.

Like all Krallice releases, Years Past Matter is not something that can be digested easily. It’s insanely complex, layered and multifaceted in every way imaginable, requiring dozens of listens before even the most tertiary layer is scratched. And while it’s stylistically similar to 2011's Diotima in many ways, that’s a good thing. For a band like this to progress their sound even more would not only be practically impossible, it’s something our tiny mortal brains wouldn’t be able to comprehend anyway.

Sinister Realm - The Crystal Eye

Sinister Realm's The Crystal Eye from 2011 is available on the newly opened Shadow Kingdom Records Bandcamp. This is traditional Heavy Metal with a doom influence and a few progressive touches. This is also amazingly well crafted and fresh sounding metal; as Cosmo Lee from Invisible Oranges put it
An old feeling returns, one I haven’t felt in a while. Strong riffs, strong solos, strong vocals, strong backs: strong metal
The production is a perfect. It is clear, modern but not sterile, and captures that vintage Heavy Metal sound. This enthusiastic rundown of some of the tracks by Steel Druhm from Angry Metal Guy gives a great feel for the album:
“Wings of Vengeance” Memorable, rocking , NWOBHM-influenced riffs, pounding drums and the outstanding, extra manly vocal delivery of Alex Kristof ... two more fist pumping, barbarian fighting classics (“Swords Held High” and “Signal the Earth”) and a foray into tough, unflinching doom metal (“Shroud of Misery”) ... their big, epic number ”The Tower is Burning.” Its like a poor man’s Stargazer mixed with Heaven and Hell. Its a huge song with a lot of varied moods and amazingly powerful, pure metal moments.
Here's a review of The Crystal Eye from Doommantia, and a interview with Sinister Realm from Invisible Oranges.

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August 25, 2012

Midnight - Complete and Total Hell

Written by Andy Osborn.

Midnight have slowly become kings of the underground with almost a decade’s worth of splits, EPs and demos. And last year the world finally got a proper taste of the Hell’s Headbangers favorites with their first full-length, Satanic Royalty. To gorge the fans’ on their new-found appetite, the label has compiled the band’s entire back catalog into a singular package. Complete and Total Hell is set to come out physically at the end of September, but the label has decided to make it digitally available on Bandcamp a full five weeks early.

If you’ve ever listened to the mighty Ohioans, you know what you’re getting yourself into. The compilation contains 21 tracks of their blistering blackened heavy metal, complete with '80s-style solos, devastatingly fun hooks and Athenar’s signature blasphemous, raspy vocals. While it of course doesn’t feel as whole or flow as smoothly as a proper full length, it fits the band’s raw and in-your-face style perfectly. Midnight has taken over, but it’s still the dawn of these demons’ career.

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August 24, 2012

The Royal Arch Blaspheme - The Royal Arch Blaspheme

Review by Adrian Tan.

Celebrations of blasphemy in its most hateful and vile form are central to The Royal Arch Blaspheme’s self-titled debut. With two of the most twisted minds in metal– John Gelso (Profanatica) and N. Imperial (Krieg) – at the helm, you can be sure that this will be as in-your-face and disturbing as it comes.

With every composition being built upon ugly and dissonant riffs, these exquisite pieces of aural abominations will thrust deep into your mind. Songs are crafted upon the motif of repeated main riff patterns that are subtly concocted with just enough variation to always keep things interesting. Tempo changes are abound, ranging from unrelenting assaults to crushing doom-paced deliveries. Broken lead fills are scattered amidst the chaos and allowed to linger on their own, adding a dimension of surrealism Gelso’s unmistakable bass-tone carries heft and colors the songs with crust and filth while Imperial serves up bestial vocals with hateful conviction.

As unsettling and nerve-wrecking as the proceedings may be, the songs are laden with hooks that threatens to fester within your inner being. As absurd as it may be, with blasphemous music this good, you cannot help but to be drawn back after it’s over. Something is definitely addictive about this unholy brew.

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Averse - The Endesque Chants

Artwork: Topher Crowley

French band Averse have added the 2010 release The Endesque Chants to their Bandcamp. This is progressive black metal, or rather this is 70's tinged progressive rock mixed with explosive post-black metal parts. There's lots of acoustic interplay, including a lovely instrumental. Instruments like clarinet, harp and violin gives some of the quieter passages a folkish feeling, not entirely unlike early King Crimson. The black metal parts are intricate and appropriately harsh.

The musicianship is outstanding from everyone involved, the production is warm and organic sounding, and lets you enjoy every single well played note. I like this a lot, but if the idea of Tales from Topographic Oceans era Yes with occasional double kick drumming and harsh vocals sends you screaming, then you should perhaps skip this. Here's a review from Don't Count On It Reviews.

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Besides the cover, the download includes images of the lyrics, credits and thanks.

August 23, 2012

North - The Great Silence

Written by Aaron Sullivan.

Artwork by Matthew Mutterperl

Hailing from Arizona comes the Atmospheric Sludge band called NORTH. While their sound does nothing to reinvent the genre, songs are solid and the record offer plenty for the listener to absorb. This album ebbs and flows with little effort taking the listener on a musical journey. Songs like Inanimate Fathers add a touch of progginess, and the addition of female backing vocals on two tracks adds softness certainly not found in the lead vocals. In fact one of the things that stands out are the main vocals. He sounds as if he gargles broken glass with rusty nails, adding a real intensity to the songs. Which juxtaposed against the slow burn of the music has an interesting effect on the listener.

Whether you call it Post-Metal or Atmospheric Sludge it is a genre that is a bit on the bloated side. And while NORTH may not be innovators. They do enough to shine above the rest. Making a solid album that lends itself to repeated listens (also one that may very well be on my end of year list). What more could you ask for?

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August 22, 2012

Thalamus - Mr. Avenson

Written by Ulla Roschat.

Cover artwork by Becker Schmitz

Genre Anarchy

Thalamus is a four piece band from Germany founded in 2003. Mr. Avenson (2011) is their 3rd release. They describe themselves as a progressive-grunge band, but you would do good to forget about genres when you listen to this album, or you will be getting confused.

The only reliable thing is its progressiveness... and it is most progressive in "not giving a fuck about genres", but as soon as you get that you will listen to the album with a broad grin on your face as its unpredictability is half of the fun. It leads you from one surprise to the next, be it the song structure, the perfect balance of harmony and disharmony, heaviness and fragile melody, the unique atmosphere of each song, or the fact that despite all the many exciting things happening in the songs, they never sound bulky or overloaded. The other half of the fun is to listen to excellent musicians who are able to give their ideas a unique form and who have the maturity to commit their talents to the songs (not to their respective egos losing the context in endless complicated tinkering - you know what I mean), to listen to a vocalist with the ability to emphasize the atmosphere of the song with nuanced expression and feeling.

Mr. Avenson is maverick "genre anarchy", food for your head and your heart. Inexperienced musical taste buds may need more than one approach to enjoy this taste of anarchy though, but this album is definitely worth the effort. My favorite song is (of course) The Machine, it has a good portion of "right-into-your-face" sludgy heaviness that warms my sludge heart.

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Usurpress - Trenches Of The Netherworld

Cover artwork by Rafal Kruszyk

Trenches Of The Netherworld, the debut full-length by Usurpress has been released on the Selfmadegod Records Bandcamp. Usurpress labels themselves D-beat deathcrust, a mix of old-school Swedisk death metal with a kind of metallic punk. The guitars have the right downtuned crunch, the vocals are as gruff as they come, and the bass tone is powerful and prominent. In fact the production is perfect for this stuff, raw but without losing any of the instruments in the mix. The drums really carries the mix of styles though, shifting from straightforward death metal pummeling to d-beat gallops that sometimes riffs harder than the guitars. On top of all this goodness, Usurpress adds their own little touches. As the esteemed Full Metal Attorney points out:
Distorted clean vocals show up for "Coronation of the Crippled King." Another clean-ish vocal style shouts the title phrase of "The Wooden Sceptre." Some kind of fiddle makes a prominent appearance during the intro to "Dethroned by Shadows," which might have seemed too out of place if they didn't blend it so well with the opening riff
Though clearly inspired by old-school swedeath, Usurpress covers more ground than similar bands. I don't think they deserve to be called 'retro', and I think you should check them out.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Usurpress bass player Daniel Ekeroth is also known as the author of "Swedish Death Metal". I assume he has a hand in running the Usurpress blog, where they recently posted an interesting interview with Selfmadegod Records boss Karol Pienko, about the hardships of running a DIY-label in 2012.

August 20, 2012

Nihill - Verdonkermaan

Illustration man: Aubrey Beardsley

Nilhill's Verdonkeerman is available on their Hydra Head Records Bandcamp page. This is the last part of a trilogy, the first being Krach from 2007 and the second Grond from 2009. This is not your typical black metal stuff, thematically it deals with Gnosticism, philosophy and death. Musically it switches between extremely blackened doom/drone, densely layered and dissonant black metal, and harrowing ambient passages. Cheryl Primes's review from Cvlt Nation states that
Nihill celebrate the annihilation of life with sickening melody and chaos. Verdonkermaan ravages with grimy riffs and powerful walls of noise
The music is matched by screeches roars, moans and whispers from the vocalist. He also delivers some spoken word passages that are really out there, as Thom Jurek mentions in his AllMusic review of Grond:
Strange dynamics from utterly in-the-red distortion, crackle, and hum give way to repetitive bits of ambience and hypnotic single-string guitar patterns (not solos), and noise that feels almost like Merzbow ("Antimoon"). The strange wandering nightmare that is Grond is unlike anything else in metal. The spoken word bits ("Antimoon" and "Pulsus"), rather than sounding corny or affected, come across as extremely serious, disturbing, and poetic. This is the bleak void of black metal.
Here's a review of Krach from The Metal Archives, and a review of both albums from Global Domination.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

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August 19, 2012

Wölfhead - Wölfhead

Guest review by Utmu.

Cover art by Andrei Bouzikov

Wölfhead, hailing from Spain and formed in 2008, shares members with Graveyard, Between the Frost, and Silence Equals Death. They combine elements from genres far and wide, as Javi, the guitarist puts it “It lies somewhere rock n’roll, heavy-metal, stoner, doom, grunge, black-metal, whatever!”. Although not all the songs carry these styles together, they are all present on the record and the doom/stoner vibe is there throughout most of the opus. Additionally the band also carries Viking-based themes in a couple of their songs, which, in my experience is different for a doom/stoner outfit.

The first track, Journey by the Shaman’s Hand is pretty mellow, made mellower by the vocalist’s use of a style that doesn’t sound unlike something a grunge band would make use of. This tactic on the singer’s part creates a great atmosphere – the drums play their part well keeping a steady, almost tribal beat throughout, and the guitarists lay down some super heavy riffs. Also of note is the use of sound clips throughout the album, including at the beginning of the next song, Cul de Sac. This is actually one of my favorite songs off the album; it sounds a lot like something Motörhead would make, with the aforementioned sound clips and barking vocals in the chorus exclaiming “CUL DE SAC!” The transition from the first song to this track allows the vocalist to show his diversity, going from the grunge style from the first song to this gruff style interspersed with the barking chorus.

The rest of the songs are great as well, but since this band offers up such a plethora of sounds, the listener probably isn’t going to know exactly what’s coming up with the next song, which is one of the reasons why I’m not doing a whole track-by-track for the entire album, I don’t want to spoil the great surprises that await you. This one comes HIGHLY recommended.

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Dominium - The Incursion

All of the albums on black metal label Forbidden Records Bandcamp are now available as name-your-price downloads. The latest release is Dominium's The Incursion; an EP of raw and intense black metal, and also a teaser of things to come. This is the first release from Dominium since they reformed in 2011 (originally from 1999, they split up in 2002) and features re-recordings of earlier songs and a new one, the pummeling Unleashed.

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August 17, 2012

Label spotlight: Rogue Records America

Rogue Records America has set up shop on Bandcamp. Originally founded in 2000, the label focuses on digital distribution. One of the albums in the Rogue Records America catalog, Synthetic Breed - Perpetual Motion Machine, was reviewed by Don't Count On It Reviews, who said
I could imagine fans of tech metal, or djent, could get into this album very easily. If you like mechanical, industrial, and groovy sounding music, definitely give this a listen.
And this seems to cover much of what is available on the Bandcamp. But check it out yourself, Rogue Records America has made it easy by releasing two sampler albums as free downloads: Rogue Summer Sampler from 2012 and The Autumn Collection Vol 1 from 2011. Together you get 37 tracks from 26 different bands!

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

August 16, 2012

Pallbearer - Sorrow And Extinction

By Natalie Zina Walschots. With only a three-song demo prior to this release, Arkansas doom heralds Pallbearer have dropped a bomb with their debut full-length, Sorrow and Extinction. It's not often that words like "flawless" get bandied about
By Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published by Exclaim.

With only a three-song demo prior to this release, Arkansas doom heralds Pallbearer have dropped a bomb with their debut full-length, Sorrow and Extinction. It's not often that words like "flawless" get bandied about when it comes to a doom debut, but this album wholly deserves the high praise it's inspired.

The record is composed of five long, wrenchingly emotive songs, each drawing out the beauty of the instrumentation, to the point of pain and beyond. As the opening acoustic guitar notes of "Foreigner" quiver, tremulous and achingly vulnerable, the listener is drawn in, following a golden chord into the Minotaur's labyrinth. Then the huge, towering riffs crowd in, each as solemn and mournful as a headstone. Every note is played as if with aching arms, as though the sound is constantly being lifted and dropped, like the musicians can't possibly bear the weight.

The balance that Pallbearer achieve between the incredible heaviness of the music and the audience's ability to bear it is razor fine and brilliantly successful. The listener is constantly pushed to the point of being unable to endure the oppressive pace, the misery, the yawning chasm of despair. However, Sorrow and Extinction always manages to offer just enough beauty, just enough of a whisper of possible redemption that we do bear it and solder on through the gloom. Sorrow and Extinction is an achievement.

August 15, 2012

Ethernal - Arkioas

Ethernal - Arkioas adds intriguing atmospheric and progressive parts to a base of old-school black metal. Not raw and frostbitten, the production is warm, the drums are natural sounding (and wonderfully played), and the guitars have a kind of rounded buzzing sound. Catchy, almost thrashy riffing gives way to epic passages, some with clean and acoustic guitars and lots of reverb and sustain. The title track even has a long passage with clean echoing picking, that wouldn't have been out of place on an early Pink Floyd album. This is a black metal band that doesn't sound like many other black metal bands.

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The download of Arkioas includes a pdf booklet with complete lyrics and credits.

August 14, 2012

Sophicide - Perdition Of The Sublime

The debut from German one man band Sophicide has been released on the Willowtip Bandcamp. Perdition Of The Sublime combines pummeling and intricate technical death metal with the smooth melodicism of melodic death metal. There's enough progressive passages, sudden stops and starts, acoustic interludes, and blistering technical riffing to satisfy a jaded tech death fan; but it all comes together as parts of a whole. I agree with Angry Metal Guy's assessment that
While the songwriting is stellar, the thing that takes this record from just being well-written songs, with technical flare and crushing riffs is the excellent guitar work
Fluid neo-classical soloing, that is often multilayered and always beautiful. Check it out, Sophicide is a great addition to the Willowtip roster.

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August 13, 2012

Saint Vitus - Lillie: F​-​65

Review by Aaron Sullivan.

Saint Vitus, makes its long awaited comeback album with their second (and perhaps most popular) lineup: Mark Adams, Dave Chandler, and Scott ‘Wino’ Weinrich - with drummer Henry Vasquez replacing the deceased Armando Acosta. Along with Pentagram no band has done more to influence the sound of DOOM.

Photo by Carmelo Española.

And as soon as the guitar comes in you know who this is. Dave Chandler’s tone is all his own. His solos having more in common with cries of torment then actual leads. Mark is the anchor. Never flashy and always maintaining the weight, while Wino’s bluesy voice tell the tales of DOOM and despair. Henry may be the new guy but you wouldn't know it when you hear him. Constantly proving his versatility throughout the album.

Photo by Carmelo Española.

For guys that had not recorded together in almost 15 years this album makes it sound as if they never stopped. This was always my favorite Vitus line up with Wino as the frontman. And while it would have been easy to do a quick record to cash in on past glory, this is not the case at all with Lille: F-65, I’m glad to see they did not disappoint. This easily stands with their classic albums.

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August 11, 2012

Laster - Wijsgeer & Narreman

Review by Adrian Tan.

Ilustration by Rembrandt van Rijn

Hailing from Utrecht, Holland, Laster offers up an absolute stunner of a debut in their demo EP - Wijsgeer & Narreman. Drawing inspiration from the Goethian interpretation of Faust, Laster has constructed an atmosphere of sound that instantly proffers the listener onto a grand albeit tragic journey.

This is music that is begging to be dug in deep. Hidden within each song’s dense wall of distortion are some highly nuanced instrumental playing. While the songs are built upon tremolo-driven riffs and double-bass drum sequences, each element is used purposefully in building the overall atmosphere and theme.

The influence of classical music on the band’s composition is undeniable. Shifts in tempo are akin to musical movements that are allowed to ebb and flow. The result is haunting, with songs that are able to invoke feelings of tragedy and majesty in equal measures.

An overall fantastic debut by a band with exceptional musicianship and compositional prowess.

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August 10, 2012

Samothrace - Reverence To Stone

Review by Andy Osborn.

Art by Moses Saarni

Samothrace have been a busy bunch. Since releasing 2008's Life's Trade, the group moved from Kansas to Seattle where they have been gaining esteem by playing absolutely pulverizing live sets opening for some the world's best sludge and doom acts. By doing so they haven't let their fans forget the brilliance and importance of their first full length, a piece that crossed the doom/drone bridge into un-ventured fields populated with rare beauty.

Reverence to Stone has been a long time coming but the band proves with their music that patience is indeed a virtue. With this album, Samothrace has somehow made things even slower and heavier, creating one of the most massive-feeling records of the year. They shun funeral doom, instead playing with hopeful melodies that build themselves a mile high at a leisurely pace. Vocals are sparse but loud, only rearing up when the riffs reach a crushing crescendo to add to the already devastating weight of the sonic journeys. This is a recording where what the band isn't playing is as important as what they are. Every rest, breath and ringing chord is precise and calculated, intertwining melody and patience into an inseparable fusion.

At 30 minutes, the LP is a bit on the short side for the genre, but comparing Samothrace to unworthy peers would be doing them a disservice. These mathematicians have perfected their formula with no excess or filler . Each note, cymbal crash and pregnant pause is a part of the master plan, one they alone have the ability to write.

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Dead to a Dying World - Dead to a Dying World

By Aaron Sullivan.. Blackened Sludge is sub-genre that has seen some growth in the last year. Bands like Wolvhammer, Coffinworm, Lord Mantis, and handful of others leading the way.
By Aaron Sullivan.

Artwork by Bryan K. Ward

Blackened Sludge is sub-genre that has seen some growth in the last year. Bands like Wolvhammer, Coffinworm, Lord Mantis, and handful of others leading the way. Hailing from Texas Dead to a Dying World have thrown their hat in the ring, and like so many things that come from Texas, it is a big one.

EPIC! That word alone is what keeps coming up when describing this band to people. With only three song totaling over 40 minutes there is a lot to take in. Not satisfied with the usual instruments to create such music, they add an upright bass and cello into the mix making this a seven person band. Again, everything about this is big. With so many instruments you would think it could be chaotic, but in fact it is anything but. Songs are streamlined. The production (by Kylesa’s Phillip Cope) is done in a way that no one instrument dominate over the others. Each instrument is able to add layers to make the songs fuller. The cello is utilized at times as though it were the lead guitar. Songs sound and feel so triumphant and epic they at times give off the vibe of Symphonic Black Metal. This band does more in three songs than some bands do in entire albums, but there is not a wasted note on this album.

Blackened Sludge is still in its infancy as a growing sub-genre. But with bands thinking outside the box the way these guys do and expanding what is possible in the genre, the future looks very bright.

August 8, 2012

Cloudkicker - Fade

I found a new interesting blog (or rather it found me). Spoonful Of Tar is a review blog that focuses on releases where you can buy a digital version, which unsurprisingly means lots of Bandcamp links. While not a metal blog they have a ton of metal on there (Pallbearer, Uzala, Cloudkicker, Saint Vitus and 20 Buck Spin/Profound Lore etc). As a way of introduction I'll simply steal their overview of the Cloudkicker discography:
Plough through the whole Cloudkicker catalogue; every release is a gem. By "The Map is Not the Territory" he had utterly nailed the Prog Rock/Metal djent Meshuggah with soul and big fat riffs thing. Beacons is just perfect, pisses on anything else doing poly-rhythmic djent from a million miles away. The last couple releases have seen him get more into Mogwai style Post-Rock and the new one, Fade, takes that direction and shows off a lotta love for Siamese Dream era Smashing Pumpkins. It's still instrumental, it's still complex and poly-rhythmic, but it now sounds like it was produced by Butch Vig. Amazing!
Read the rest here, and listen to Fade below. I'm on my first play-through and I'm really enjoying it so far.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Obsessor - In Fear of the End

Awesome artwork by Andrei Bouzikov

Obsessor's third single In Fear of the End is available on the Tankcrimes Bandcamp. This is punk-flavored thrash, marrying d-beats with Celtic Frost, Bathory and Venom. Two short tracks featuring furious riffing and vocals with an attitude (and background vocals by Randy Blythe from Lamb Of God). Plus a production that is both clear and appropriately raw.

Enjoy all three Obsessor singles below, the newest on top. And check out reviews of Obsession and Sick Salvation from American Aftermath, Meat Mead Metal and Invisible Oranges.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

August 7, 2012

Axis Of Metal - The Axis Of The Underground Vol. 1

Got a mail about Axis Of The Underground, a free Canadian underground metal compilation series. The press release goes:
Volume one is a twenty-two track metal opus that encompasses twenty-two bands spanning from thrash metal, black metal, power metal, progressive metal, doom metal and many different varieties of death metal. The Axis Of The Underground is two hours of uncompromising metal from emerging artists who are true to their craft and decimate all who stand before them
A few of the bands have been featured on Metal Bandcamp already: Titan's Eve, The Isosceles Project and Nephelium. I can't tell you more than that, as I haven't heart the compilation yet. But check it out. It's metal and it's free.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

August 6, 2012

Across Tundras - Sage

Sage, the latest full-length by Across Tundras is now available on their Bandcamp. Across Tundras has been described as Neil Young meets Geezer Butler. The basis is formed by doomy rock with a post-metallic edge, and infused with country and dark Americana. Strong songwriting, and inspired touches like the punkish mariachi gallop that ends In the Name of River Grand, and the Velvet Underground does country vibe of Buried Arrows. Prairie metal, heavy but not brutal, and dark but not bleak. Read the reviews from Metal Review and The Obelisk and check it out.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Across Tundras' previous album, the excellent Old World Wanderer from 2010 is available as a free download here.

August 5, 2012

Mayhem - Ordo Ad Chao

Mayhem's Ordo Ad Chao from 2007 is available on the Season of Mist Bandcamp. A wildly divisive album when it was it was released, Ordo Ad Chao has since received status as an uncomfortable black metal masterpiece. Unorthodox song structures and heavy use of dissonance gives the music an almost improvisational feel. That feel is enhanced by the production, the album sounds as if its being performed in the basement beneath you. Like you're a fly on the wall of some infernal, subterranean gathering.

The production can't hide the dizzying display of musicianship. You're flooded with waves of blazingly fast tremolo picking, bludgeoning by double-bass drumming, and baffled by schizophrenic tempo changes and almost jazzy fills. And then there's the vocals by Attila Csihar. Croaks, hisses, growls and grunts. Insane shrieks and maniacal laughter, the man does it all. Read the reviews from Sputnik Music, Metal Review and From the Dust Returned, and file under not so easy listening.

Attila Csihar. Photos by Carmelo Española.

In a short time Season of Mist Records has established a strong presence on Bandcamp. They have individual band pages and a catalogue site:
seasonofmistrecords represents the current, up to date titles, and bands who already had bandcamp sites made by anyone outside of the label.

The catalogue site represents the back catalogue. It includes bands that are no longer on the label, but whose albums we still have the rights to sell. Its also a means to sell albums for bands that already have bandcamp sites with other labels, or that otherwise don't want to have a bandcamp site.
Both sections are updated regularly. Right now there are 219 albums on the Season of Mist Records Bandcamp, including three, other, albums by Mayhem.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Ironbird - Songs Of Spite And Ire

Ironbird have released their debut album Songs Of Spite And Ire on their Bandcamp. This mixes stoner and sludge metal with fuzzy desert rock like Queens of the Stone Age. The albums has a dry sounding production with plenty of room to enjoy the buzzing guitars and the excellent musicianship. The songwriting combines driving melodis metal with enough embellishments and tempo changes to make it rise above generic sludge. A good debut, check it out.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

August 4, 2012

Ea - Ea

Ea's self-titled fourth album is available on their Solitude Productions Bandcamp page. A single monolithic track, totaling 47 minutes, of atmospheric funeral doom. Starting with foreboding piano notes, it slowly moves through parts with low-tuned riffs, melancholic leads and hypnotic clean guitar chords. Dark textures are added by church organ, choral vocals, plucked strings and lots of floating keyboards. The vocals are infrequent death growls, and harsh screams during the anthemic middle section. The band biography on Bandcamp page states that
Ea is based on the sacral texts of ancient civilizations. Ea uses a dead language which was recreated according to the results of archeological study.
I just love stuff like that. And you can easily imagine the dying days of a vast, ancient civilization while listening to the album. It also works as very heavy ambient music. Here's a review from The Metal Archives, and one from Doommantia.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Lately work has interfered with the running of Metal Bandcamp, but now we're back. Thanks to Ea for making a couple of weeks of hard work seem less painful.