January 31, 2013

Angist - Circle of Suffering

Art by Christian Sloan Hall

Angist is from Iceland and Circle of Suffering is an EP of uncompromising death metal. They band take in many influences, a little doom, a little black, a little old-school - the latter mainly in the great live sounding drumming - and a little experimental. All this is mixed into a cohesive and atmospheric sound. It may not be entirely original, but Angist carve their own path in between the swe-death clones and the current crop of death/doom bands.

The growls of Edda Tegeder Óskarsdóttir are deep and throaty, and the interplay between her and lead guitarist Gyða Hrund Þorvaldsdóttir is fluid; as can be witnessed in this live video from Wacken Metal Battle 2012.

No Clean Singing published an interesting interview with three of the four members of Angist. Read it and listen to some excellent death metal below.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

January 29, 2013

Scum Guilt - Enslaved

Intricate this, atmospheric that. Multi-layered, post. Stoner, doom, progressive, haunting. I need a palate cleanser, and Enslaved by Scum Guilt will do just fine. 9 tracks of pissed off grindcore in the classic Napalm death vein. Fast, furious, unhinged, and with a great guitar tone. Click that player, and feel the blood rushing the next 10 minutes of your life.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Adrift for Days - Come Midnight​.​.​.

Written by Ulla Roschat.

Come Midnight... (2012) is the second album of the five piece psychedelic/drone/doom band Adrift for Days (formed in 2009) from Sydney/Australia. It consists of 6 songs with a total playing time of about 71 minutes.

The album is a psychedelic journey through soundscapes of extreme contrasts, contrasts in quietness and loudness, in acoustic fragility and massive walls of droning distortion, in enchanting melodies and crushing riffs. These contrasts may unfold in an agonizingly slow build up weaving a multi-layered texture of sound with threads made of psychedelic, drone, sludge and post metal elements, or it may just hit you unprepared with a crushing riff coming out of nowhere.

There’s an underlying eerie atmosphere throughout the entire album created by the incredibly beautiful melancholic melodies, the menacingly driving tribal rhythms, the echoing sounds barely locatable - from far away or from inside your mind?, and of course the creeping doomy heaviness and crushing destruction.

And despite all the contrasts and many different elements the album never sounds forced or glutted. Instead it simply takes over your mind from the first sound and won’t let it go until the last one faded away. It is bracingly experimental, organic, progressive, unpredictable... and with vocals to die for.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

January 27, 2013

Morne - Asylum

Morne's Asymum from 2011 is now available on their Bandcamp page. The 17 minute title track opens the album with a strong dose of atmospheric sludge. 4 minutes 20 seconds into the song comes that moment. A beautiful little piano melody is being played on top of crushing guitar interplay; and you get lost in the music. Josh from That's How Kids Dies explains the lure of Morne so eloquently:
It’s something about the guitar tone. Milosz Gassan and Jeff Hayward somehow channel ghosts through their amplifiers, pushing air that crackles with spectral electricity. The unearthly distortion comes in waves, crashing against the rhythms before crumbling into the aether ever so slowly, leaving phantom trails in its wake.
The vocals are of the pained shouts variety, so prevalent in sludge metal. The gruff style fits the album, because it is juxtaposed with the layers and textures the other musicians in Morne create. Check out the doomy My Return and marvel at that riff; the way echo is added to the vocals making the song sound larger, the constant gloom created by the keyboards, and off course the way the song ultimately drowns you in a sea of guitars and haunting keyboards. Morne are masters of the sludgy craft.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

January 26, 2013

Imbroglio - Declared Self Hatred

Review by Justin C.

The opening track of Imbroglio's Declared Self Hatred starts with slow, menacing chords that sound like they're being strummed on a guitar strung with bridge cables. This only lasts for a few seconds before the band kicks in at full volume with a scream of pure rage and despair. Everything sounds like it's been distorted, recorded, and then distorted again, just for good measure. The first lyric in human language is, "My flesh is killing my soul." All of this gives you a pretty good idea of the slab of grinding, filthy sludge that you're going to get from this album.

One of the most impressive things about this album is that while the band sticks to a fairly limited sonic palette and more or less one emotion, the music is still varied enough to hold your interest. The second track, "Sharp Teeth," picks up the pace from the lumbering tempo of the opener and mixes in some jangly guitar chords that would fit in perfectly with a 90s alternative rock band, if that band had become possessed by a demon. The band quickly shifts into a straightforward, stomping rhythm with vocals that sound like a drill sergeant barking commands. The song then changes up again to a guitar riff that sounds like a siren, played over lurching bass and drums. This all happens during the first two minutes of the song. The description makes it sound like a mess, but somehow it all hangs together.

We do get to catch our breath sometimes with quieter interludes. They can be a welcome break from the almost-overwhelming heaviness, but if I had one complaint about this album, it's that some of these stop the momentum of the album. For example, "Everything Spliced" is a two-minute instrumental with guitar far in the background behind high-pitched whirling sounds. It’s eerie, but the track never really goes anywhere. Luckily, this a minor flaw in an otherwise very solid album.

Sadly for us, Imbroglio announced that they were breaking up the day before the album released, but Declared Self Hatred is a hell of a swansong.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

January 25, 2013

Ellende - Rückzug in die Innerlichkeit

Review by Aaron Sullivan.

For my money some of the best Black Metal being produced comes from Germany. Just reading that a band is from that region makes me want to listen. Ellende is not from Germany, but when I read Austria I figured, close enough.

Their brand of Black Metal is of the Post style. According to the band, their name originates from the word ‘“elend”. A middle ages German word that means unclaimed wilderness or misery. And when listening to the album it makes perfect sense. All the things you look for in a Post Black Metal band are here. Post-Rock atmosphere’s mixed with Black Metal tremolo picking. Add to the mix piano, violin, acoustic guitars, and audible bass guitar. Vocals are the shrieks of misery, No clean vocals to be found. The production on this E.P. is outstanding. Everything is audible and full sounding.

My only real regret with this album was not finding it 2012 when it was released. I plan to keep a better eye on this band so as not miss out on what may come next. Because if this E.P. is any indication. It’s something I know I will enjoy.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

January 24, 2013

Monolithe - Monolithe III

Art by Robert Høyem

Monolithe - Monolithe III is available on the Debemur Morti Productions Bandcamp. One song, 52 minutes of funeral doom. But not the plodding, crushing kind, for a funeral doom album this is actually a pretty sprightly affair. Instead of slowly submerging you in a morass of epic and droning riffs (like Ea) Monolithe makes all 52 minutes count; bending and twisting riffs, as they lead us through musical movements each seamlessly appended to another.

Monolithe also tries things other funeral doom bands don't. As the always dependable Don't Count On It Reviews explains it:
it's what I think Blut Aus Nord might sound like if they went funeral doom. It has those really bizarre sounding guitars that are somewhat industrial tinged but harmonized in ways that make the entirety of what they're playing sound just a little off. It's like someone decided to slow down Godflesh to a crawl
Parts sound groovy, parts sound triumphant, parts sound progressive; thankfully all of this is held together by an extraordinary sense of flow, making Monolithe III also a very cohesive album. And one that comes highly recommended.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

January 22, 2013

Kowloon Walled City - Container Ships

By Natalie Zina Walschots. Named after an unregulated outlaw city in Kowloon, Hong Kong run by the Triads during its brief, tumultuous history, Kowloon Walled City have attempted to create a record that's part architectural monument and part bandit hideout
By Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published by Exclaim.

Photo by Roy Zipstein. Design by Bradee

Named after an unregulated outlaw city in Kowloon, Hong Kong run by the Triads during its brief, tumultuous history, Kowloon Walled City have attempted to create a record that's part architectural monument and part bandit hideout. The song structures and vast, Brutalist construction play with immense weight and scale, as well as echoing emptiness. The percussion, in particular, is colossal, evoking the image of the broken vessel on the cover and how the mighty inevitably fall. The title track is a well-wrought slab of rusting wreckage, as is "You Don't Have Cancer," which sounds sharp enough to give you tetanus.

The musical tone and emotional texture of the record both engage with the balance between defiance and futility, in terms of construction. No matter how beautifully designed or massive a feat of engineering and architecture may be, in the end it will fall victim to decay, stress fractures and abandonment. This sense of frustration and loss, especially as it relates to human creativity, defines the music, as well as the imagery of Container Ships. A tribute to industrial archaeology and failed wonders of engineering, Container Ships is a different type of dystopia.

January 20, 2013

Weapon - Embers and Revelations

Review by Adrian Tan.

The Canadian metal scene is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance of late, spewing forth a host of excellent black/death metal bands (Antideluvian, Adversarial and Revenge - just to drop a couple of names). Joining the dirty denizens of the Great North here is Weapon - a four piece from Edmonton led by the nigh ineffable Vetis Monarch (of Asian descent no less!).

While Embers and Revelations - the band’s third full length overall - marks their major label (Relapse) debut, make no mistake, this record retains every sinew of underground credibility. Eschewing raw primal aggression - so typical of many black/death acts - the band’s musical focus has always been on songcraft and composition.

Hook-laden riffage and killer guitar solos are blended together with just a tinge of Eastern flavour to form memorable tunes that befits the occult subject matter. The music is made all the more virulent through the extremely tight and competent delivery of the band.

The album definitely benefits from the masterful production job done here. Monarch’s barks and growls come through with menacing conviction. The thick guitar and rumbling bass tones lend just enough of a shade of filth to create the intended atmosphere.

Listening to Weapon is at times, somewhat of a throwback - a Slayer-esque riff here and an Immortal-esque arrangement there - these classics have undoubtedly laid their influence on the band. And like every other hallmark band that builds upon the best and innovates to find their signature sound, here is one band that is well on the right track. The Weapon sound may yet be a work in progress but it is quickly coming into focus.

Technicalities and atmospherics aside, at the crux of it, great metal is and always will be about songs. Here is a band that thoroughly understands this and in this album, killer songs are delivered in abundance.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

January 19, 2013

Enthral - Obtenebrate

Review by Sean Cordes.

Obtenebrate is the first full-length from Norwegian black metallers Enthral since 2003. They were oft-overlooked compared to other bands in the Norse scene, but they had a pretty distinctive style (and their outstanding Prophecies of the Dying still does). Obtenebrate is a long affair, and consistently dark, heavy, and oppressive. The riff lexicon is a deft mix of black and death metal, leaning more to the black metal side. The vocals are suitably gravelly, sometimes breaking into more death metal territory, but are not terribly varied - as a result, the focus is on the dark, nihilistic, hate-filled music.

If I have one small qualm with this album, it’s that the songs sort of run together. Mainly, this is because most sections seem to have vocals over them (that is, there aren’t many instrumental sections to let the music breathe and develop a lot), and it’s essentially riff-salad construction. That said, the material itself is so strong that the issues in composition actually don’t make much difference - it’s still a good album, mostly because of the riffs and ideas present, the band just have room to improve and tighten the screws, so to say, on the next outing.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

January 18, 2013

Hammerdrone - A Demon Rising

Art by Graham Harris from Hammerdrone.

Hammerdrone A Demon Rising. This is an EP of blackened and very melodic death metal. This is also a straight steal from the esteemed Full Metal Attorney. He writes that Hammerdrone
play melodic death metal the way it was originally meant to be: uncompromising and ridiculously catchy. There's nothing especially original about their style--but good luck getting these songs out of your head
and that's all you need to know really. But let me add that the production hits a sweet spot between modern and raw, that suits the music perfectly. Also that the guitarists lay down some wicked solos, without overdoing it. Check out the Sonic Abuse review, they describe Hammerdrone as a well-oiled, brutally precise band, and I agree.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

January 17, 2013

Njiqahdda - Yrg Alms

Art by Rebecca Clegg

To say Njiqahdda is a productive band is an understatement. Their Metal Archives page lists 51 releases including 14 full-length albums in just 9 years! I will talk about Yrg Alms from 2009, which is available on the Pagan Flames Recordings Bandcamp.

Yrg Alms is epic atmospheric black metal, full of emotion. The band utilizes layers of buzzing guitars, harsh noise and vocals on top of trance-inducing rhythms and amazing progressive drumming. It's beautifully hypnotic music, the best example being the 18 minutes long Saavolungaat. After a long raw droning part that moves up and down like a single massive wave, it merges into a clean section featuring a chiming guitar riff I could listen to for days. Despite the noise and the harshness I find this to be incredibly soothing music, Yrg Alms is an album you can get lost in.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

The album title, song titles and lyrics are all in a language called Njiijn invented by the anonymous members of Njiqahdda; known only as / and _. You can read more about them in this in-depth interview with HM Magazine.

January 15, 2013

Sons of Tonatiuh - Parade of Sorrow

By Natalie Zina Walschots. Sons of Tonatiuh are a doom-sludge three-piece from Atlanta, GA. While that description might initially make you assume they sound like drowning in blackstrap molasses, they also employ hardcore punk energy
By Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published by Exclaim.

Artwork by Chris Parry

Sons of Tonatiuh are a doom-sludge three-piece from Atlanta, GA. While that description might initially make you assume they sound like drowning in blackstrap molasses, they also employ hardcore punk energy. So, while their riffs are as hot and smothering as scalding liquid asphalt, Sons of Tonatiuh are still quick on their feet. Their songs may be like sinking in quicksand, but they evoke panicked thrashing rather than resigned, churning misery.

One of the strengths of the record is the bass playing, which adds weight to the rhythm section and imbues the record with a tense, sinewy strength. It's like a kind of wiriness that goes beyond the straightforward, muscular riffing of the guitars, like that skinny guy in a fight who's much stronger than expected. "Sea Sick" is an album highlight, evoking the swooping dizziness of nausea.

Splits by Coffinworm / Fistula - Kowloon Walled City / Thou

Art by Kuba Sokólski

Hell Comes Home is a pretty specialized label. Their entire output consists of a series of 7" split singles released on vinyl and on Bandcamp. Featuring new and unreleased song by established, and up and coming acts from around the globe. Like Dephosphorus, Pyramido, Fight Amp, The Fucking Wrath, and Coffinworm, Fistula, Kowloon Walled City, Thou. The latter four bands share duties on two of my favorites in the series.

The Coffinworm / Fistula split is basically some of the heaviest shit you'll ever hear. Pummeling doomy sludge from Coffinworm; an incredible menacing track. And Fistula, a track that twists and turns giving it an progressive feel, while still delivering the sublimely crushing sludge they are known for.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

The Kowloon Walled City / Thou split features two cover songs. Kowloon Walled City performs June, a song by slowcore act Low. The combination of airy clean vocals from indie artist Lisa Papineau on top of sludgy riffs is frankly, quite lovely. Thou does an excellent version of Soundgarden's 4th Of July. Heavier than the original, sludgier off course, and with creepy blackened vocals in additional to very Chris Cornell sounding cleans (I have embedded both songs below, because 4th Of July is set to be the featured track on the Bandcamp).

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

The stylish artwork to the series is by Polish artist Kuba Sokólski. You can view all the covers here. Lisa Papineau is also on Bandcamp. Her music is quirky, pleasant and entirely non-metal.

January 14, 2013

National Sunday Law - Festival Of The Horned God

Review by Justin C.

Trying to categorize Festival of the Horned God, the new EP by National Sunday Law, is difficult. The dirty guitars and gritty vocals suggest sludge, but settling on that would ignore all the other sounds that the band uses in their multi-layered compositions. The two members--Darin Tambascio and Derek Donley--are also in Graviton with Sacha Dunable of Intronaut, and if you're familiar with those bands, you may have a sense of the kind of genre-bending music made by National Sunday Law. Perhaps ambient progressive avant sludge garde covers it?

Even if some or all of those labels are off-putting, you should still listen to their new EP. It's sort of a mini-concept album about the horned god, who according to my research has been a feature in one form or another in many pagan religions for quite a while. In spite of generally being viewed as a positive presence, the horned god may have also served as the root of early Christianity's concept of a goat-like devil. The lyrics are more poetic than narrative, so if you're not particularly interested in pagan mythology, you certainly won't feel beaten over the head with it. Besides that, the lyrics are really just one thread of many.

As I mentioned, there are only two members in this band, but they make enough sound for at least a dozen people. The first track, "Theriocephalic" (which means a human body combined with an animal's head), starts out with tribal drumming, a buzzing guitar line, and what I can only describe as a menacing bass "presence." The song is heavy and churning, but underneath there's a mysterious-sounding keyboard line that slowly comes to the front of the mix as the song nears its end. The tone of it sounds like piano, chimes, and maybe even xylophone all blended together, and it serves as a gentle transition into the second track, "Antoillier" (which appears to be the Middle French word for "antlers"). "Antoillier" starts with foreboding acoustic guitar lines, eerie strings, and lilting woodwinds, but if this all sounds a bit too bucolic, don't worry: the horned god gets plenty angry about two minutes in. Afterwards, the song alternates between folky passages and full-bore sludgy riffs with roared commands to "rejoice this cursed beast."

Part of the difficulty in reviewing this EP is my desire to tease apart and catalog all of the different sounds and themes that weave through these songs. These are probably better experienced than described, so I'll cut myself off and leave the rest of them for you to discover yourself. If you'll indulge me, though, I will say that the third and final track, "Preservation in Stone," is a mini-epic with an outro that's so lovely that I want to create a pagan rite that consists of nothing other than listening to it on endless repeat.

National Sunday Law recorded a full length and an EP before this one (which are also available as pay-what-you-choose downloads on their Bandcamp), which were both recorded before the band went on hiatus in 2010. Both of those albums are very good, but Festival of the Horned God is on another level entirely. It's a phenomenal piece of work, and hopefully it's the start of a long, new chapter for this band.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

January 12, 2013

Manilla Road - Crystal Logic

Guest review by Richard Street-Jammer.

Four albums into their career, only three of which had been released, and Manilla Road's sound was finally established. They'd etched away still more of the prog rock influences of their debut, but they kept the prog rock ambitions and sense of scale. Then and now, they had few peers in style, and fewer still in quality.

Crystal Logic opens with a minute and a half track of narration, and then the band rips into their best song, "Necropolis." It's a compact song, up tempo and to the point, with just a few riffs, a huge chorus, and a mid song tempo shift and guitar solo.

"Feeling Free Again" is another demonstration of the band's ability to write a killer three minute-ish tune. It's a playful celebration of being in love. Hop in your car, put the windows down, crank the stereo, and serenade your lover with the song while driving too fast. Trust me, it'll make sense.

Photos by Distortionplus.

The title track starts off as fast as "Feeling Free..." and "Necropolis," but it soon settles into Manilla Road's trademark groove. Elsewhere, it's business as usual for Manilla Road, but the business is stronger than ever. Manilla Road gets tagged as "epic metal," and no wonder: their core sound is expansive, but they're here to tell you a story, to make a point. Meandering serves them no purpose.

"The Ram," "The Riddle Master," and "The Veils of Negative Existence" live up to the epic metal tag. The riffs are a study in almost: almost hard rock, but too slow. Almost doom, but cut with too much speed. Almost progressive, but too direct and too forceful, and always excellent. "Dreams of Eschaton" lives up to its name, offering a foreboding series of riffs while Mark Shelton narrates the apocalypse.

Underneath the riffing, the rhythm section is adroit and nimble. Shelton's guitar solos belie his age at the time of recording. Send him forward in time, park him in front of a laptop cam, and he'd be a YouTube hotshot playing lead for a tech death outfit.

Photo by Distortionplus.

The Shadow Kingdom reissue features an extra track, "Flaming Metal System," that was originally released on a compilation album in the '80s. Other than some deranged vocals from Shelton, it fits right in with the album proper.

Thirty years and twelve albums later, Manilla Road still haven't topped Crystal Logic. They've only come close, perhaps because Crystal Logic is just that good. Perhaps it is something else? Perhaps it is age. Rare are the things that get better with age; number Crystal Logic among them.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

January 11, 2013

Abyssal - Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius

Guest review by BreadGod from Servile Insurrection

When I awoke early in the morning on New Year's Day, I checked my e-mail and found a letter from Abyssal. I loved their debut album, so receiving a letter directly from the band really excited me. The first line simply read, “The time has come.” Indeed.

The first song is a short intro track with the extremely appropriate name, “Forebode”. It serves as a warning that a powerful evil lurks here. After one minute, you are struck down and crushed by the massive wall-of-sound production. They still play the same riffs and song structures I know and love from Denouement (if it ain't broke, don't fix it), but this time the production is more Portal-like in its nature. It has become more sinister and more evil.

As I said earlier, the song structures haven't changed much since the last album, but they do sound much darker. The drums switch between ravenous blasts with lots of double bass and slow, crushing beats that sound like the world is collapsing in on you. They also play some military-style rhythms, such as on “Created Sick; Commanded to be Well” and “The Last King”. There are even these times when they break into these unorthodox jazz sections where the guitar recedes into the background and the bass takes on a greater role, such as on “As Paupers Safeguard Magnates” and “The Last King”. The vocals sound exactly like they did on the last album. It's like the growling of a diabolical entity that lurks in the deepest reaches of the earth.

As always, the best element is the guitars. Thanks to the production, when they unleash their tide of riffs, it creates this colossal cloud of distortion that conjures forth a soul-sucking, diabolical atmosphere. The guitars frequently switch from black metal tremolo picking played through a death metal filter to slow and sinister chugging. However, they also show signs of experimentation, such as the strange noodling at the beginning of “Under the Wretched Sun of Hattin” and the chaotic clashing chords on “A Sheath of Deceit”. Combine all this with occasional displays of melody such as on “The Headless Serpent” and “The Last King” and you create an experience that is both terrifying and wondrous, like peering into the thoughts of a being not of this galaxy.

Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius builds nicely upon the greatness of Denouement, making it darker, more complex, more sinister. I have a feeling they'll be like Anaal Nathrakh or Ulcerate where they'll fit themselves into a little formula and continue to release great albums based on that formula.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

January 10, 2013

Xanthochroid - Blessed He with Boils

By Sean Cordes.. The sound of Xanthochroid can, in essence, be pared down to the best parts of Opeth and Emperor coming together in one cohesive whole. While that description is close though, it doesn’t do the band justice. It is an extremely melodic, heavily symphonic, and nuanced brand of extreme progressive metal.
By Sean Cordes.

Album art by Natacha Nielsen

The sound of Xanthochroid can, in essence, be pared down to the best parts of Opeth and Emperor coming together in one cohesive whole. While that description is close though, it doesn’t do the band justice. It is an extremely melodic, heavily symphonic, and nuanced brand of extreme progressive metal. The vocals on this album deserve special mention, and demonstrate their sound quite well. There are well-executed, melodic clean vocals throughout and many ultra-layered sequences with alternating clean vocals and Ihsahn-esque rasps. Some dirtier death growls/roars and Inquisition/Abbath style croaks make appearances, and even some Burzum/Moonsorrow style desperate shrieks show up a few times.

The music is similarly varied - dramatic acoustic based interludes are used often, and very tastefully done. "Winter’s End" is a stunning example of this, as is "Deus Absconditus: Part I". On the metal tracks, strings and piano and other keyboards provide melodic flourishes in the midst of blackened rhythms, and despite the technicality of some sections, the band also shows a lot of restraint for such a new group - every note has it’s place. This is best showcased by the excellent final track, “Rebirth of an Old Nation,” which begins with an Opethian melodic keyboard lead over a thick chord progression.

The conceptual nature of the record also means tracks work to create a coherent whole of a record - they all have a distinct identity, but there are themes that appear throughout the album a few times on different tracks (almost always in different ways). All of this going on lends the record a very high replay value - there’s so much to the music that this seems to be a record one can listen to many times and get different things out of it or find different subtleties in it every time. An ambitious effort, and well worth hearing for fans of Ne Obliviscaris, Opeth, Emperor and even perhaps Moonsorrow or Wintersun.

January 9, 2013

Metal Bandcamp Doom Favorites 2012

My 2012 doom playlist is up at No Clean Singing.
Thanks to Islander for publishing it and for being one of the good guys.

January 7, 2013

Velnias - RuneEater

Review by Aaron Sullivan.

Four year have passed since Colorado’s Velnis released Sovereign Nocturnal. An album that brought together the sounds of DOOM, Black Metal, and Folk into three epic songs. Now with the release of RuneEater they have returned to push their sound further.

The name Velnias is a figure of ancient Baltic Mythology, the bestial god of the natural world. So this should give you some sense of what is in store for you thematically. The atmosphere created on these 5 songs make them feel as though they are played outside by the light of lit torches. Beautiful acoustic passages give way to foreboding DOOM dirges before crashing into chaotic Black Metal. Never jarring in it shifts but rather pieces in a puzzle that were meant to be put together. Vocals are deep raw shouts. Guitars buzzing and raw. Drums holding pace with the rise and fall of the tempo. At times coming across as a rawer version of Agalloch. But by no means a copy.

As a fan I was anticipating this album for some time. As Sovereign Nocturnal made such an impression on me. There were many delays but it was well worth the wait. The band took what they do so well, expanded on it and refined it. Making an album that was beyond expectation. RuneEater is in this reviewers top 5 albums for 2012.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

January 6, 2013

Dead Empires - Waiting In Waves

Written by Atanamar Sunyata.

Art and layout by Revolution Dream Design

My thirst for instrumental metal isn’t particularly pronounced, but when an album hits the spot I’m prone to drink myself into a stupor. Waiting In Waves appeared as a deus ex machina in the midst of an absolutely wretched work week, where it proceeded to lift my spirits towards total intoxication.

Dead Empires dwell in a raucous realm of propulsive contrivance, drawing measures of metal, hardcore, and bluesy brawn, all tinged with a judicious bit of progressive sheen.
Dead Empires don’t don the weepy triumphalism of Explosions in the Sky, nor do they rock the tongue-in-cheek thrashification of The Fucking Champs. Waiting in Waves recalls a bit of Pelican’s ballsier blasting, but the vibe here is more Motorhead than post-metal whimsy.

Waiting in Waves revolves around an axis of rhythmic excellence; the drums and bass mesmerize as they cheerfully beat you to the ground. The multifarious influences at play in the guitar work are well synthesized; the album has a pleasingly uniform and complete vision. When the cards are on the table, riffs always win, and that’s where Dead Empires shine. Piles of ideas are skillfully and memorably executed, reminding me repeatedly of the sadly departed Burst in their boundless charm. Please pour me another.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

January 5, 2013

Daylight Dies - A Frail Becoming

By Justin C.. Daylight Dies's fourth full length, A Frail Becoming, is available on Candlelight's Bandcamp. I've seen this album popping up on some best of 2012 lists, and the recognition is well deserved. Daylight Dies plays music that
By Justin C.

Daylight Dies's fourth full length, A Frail Becoming, is available on Candlelight's Bandcamp. I've seen this album popping up on some best of 2012 lists, and the recognition is well deserved.

Daylight Dies plays music that falls somewhere between melodic death metal and doom. They strike a very good balance between tempos that are slow but not glacial, and song lengths that are long enough to create an atmosphere but not so epic that the narrative thread gets completely lost. The vocals are a mix of harsh and clean. The harsh vocals are a bit more distinctive, but the clean vocals are an integral part of the songs they appear in, rather than being thrown in for variety's sake. Nathan Ellis's growls are gritty and full-throated, but they're also surprisingly clear and understandable. I certainly don't mind unintelligible vocals--I listen to way too much black metal to be picky about that--but Ellis's vocals are a very nice change from the norm. In fact, this album is probably tied with Lord Mantis's Pervertor for having my favorite harsh vocals of the year. Bassist Egan O'Rourke handles the clean vocals, and he manages to convey a lot of emotion and expression without sounding melodramatic. At times, O'Rourke reminds me of Jerry Cantrell more than any clean metal vocalist I can think of. I've read reviews that claim the harsh vocals are the only thing that keep Daylight Dies from slipping out of metal and being a more alt-rock band like Alice in Chains, but this hardly seems like a useful criticism unless you need your br00tal meter firmly set at 10 at all times.

I'll go one step further to say that this is one of the catchiest metal albums I've listened to this year. The compositions are tight and memorable, and the band favors clear melodic lines over blazes of technicality. I sing along with this album in my car, and let's face it: Most extreme metal makes that very difficult, unless you're already a metal vocalist yourself or don't mind coughing out your own tongue. Metal pushes a lot of boundaries, and as fans, we're clearly all drawn to that, but there's nothing wrong with an album that you can holler along with, and A Frail Becoming is an excellent example.

January 4, 2013

Black Table - Sentinel

Simply put Black Table's Sentinel is post-black metal. For a more in-depth description I would go with black metal mixed with the grime of sludge, the angular riffs of hardcore, and the melodies of post-rock. A smorgasbord of heaviness. Black Table are talented musicians

Simply put Black Table's Sentinel is post-black metal. For a more in-depth description I would go with black metal mixed with the grime of sludge, the angular riffs of hardcore, and the melodies of post-rock. A smorgasbord of heaviness. Black Table are talented musicians, and their sound is intricate. But Sentinel is not filled with progressive noodling; there are brilliant riffs aplenty and the songs, especially opener "Heist", are quite catchy.

Court from the Nashvile blog recorded Black Table's show at The Hymen in Dec 2012. Check them rip through "To Tear Down" and the EP title track. Due to technical issues you can't really hear the vocals. But you can enjoy the bands musical chops, including some awesome 6-stringed bass shredding (part 1 is here). I file Black Table under "Very, very promising".

January 3, 2013

Aaron Sullivan's 2012 Bandcamp favorites

Written by Aaron Sullivan.

It’s hard for me to keep it to some arbitrary number. So instead I will list the ones I enjoyed in no particular order.

Jodis - Black Curtain

Fantastic sophomore album for this supergroup of sorts. As I said in my review "Jodis’ sound have much more in common with Khanate or Jesu than Isis. In fact if you crossed Khanate with later era Earth, this may very well be how the music would sound." This is an album you can get lost in.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Agalloch - Faustian Echos

What can I say about a band I hold so dear. They prove whether it is an album or an E.P. they will deliver every time. Over 20 minutes and you never loose focus or turn away. It grabs you from the start and never lets go. To hear it live was also a highlight of my year.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Saint Vitus - Lillie: F-65

DOOM legends. A title reserved for only a select few, Vitus being one of them. For a comeback album it’s a doozy. As I said in my review "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 Lillie: F-65, I’m glad to see they did not disappoint. This easily stands with their classic albums."

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

The Shadow Principle - Golden State

If Prog is your thing then this is an album worth checking out. As I said in my review "Golden State see them mixing elements of Post Punk, Metal, and Prog Rock. The kind of Prog they play is the kind I enjoy the most. It’s that sneaky kind where at first listen it sounds as though it is your normal rock song. But underneath lurks the little flourishes that show there is so much more going on." Add to this mix a vocal style reminiscent of David Bowie and you get an interesting and original sound.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction

An album that is blowing up everywhere and for a good reason. This is DOOM in it’s purest form. Having released a three song demo two years prior, you had a feeling of what they were capable of. Sorrow and Extinction far exceeded that. When Warning called it a day a void was left in DOOM. One that was vast. Pallbearer may just be the band to fill that.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Alda - :Tahoma:

One of the great Black Metal albums released this year that mix elements of DOOM, and Folk. This seems to be something that is catching on, and I for one am all for it. Alda really pushed forward the ideas that they were going for on their self-titled debut. :Tahoma: is like an album of Pagan camp fire songs.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Behold! The Monolith - Defender, Redeemist

Progressive Sludge with just enough grit and grime to never lose it’s street cred. No song stand still. Just as you get your DOOM on they hit you square upside the head with a riff straight from the Thrash handbook. I had the pleasure of seeing these guys three different times this year and they never disappointed. They sent the crowd into a frenzy. Quite frankly, Behold! wrote the best High on Fire album of the year.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

North - The Great Silence

This was one of the few bands to make my list that I was not familiar with prior. But man am I glad I am now. Playing Atmospheric Sludge with just a touch of Prog. As I said in my review "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)." Self fulfilling prophecy perhaps?

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Planks - Funeral Mouth

A fantastic Sludge band out of Germany that I hope continues to gain in popularity. Never ones to rest on their laurels. As I said in my review "Planks has seen a lot of progression in it’s short time as a band. Starting as a Hardcore influenced Sludge band, they began adding Black Metal and Doom elements to later albums. This one adds the element of Atmosphere with great effect. Who knows what future albums will bring in terms of style. It’s just good to see a band want to expand their sound with each release.”

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Chelsea Wolfe - Unknown Rooms: A Collection Of Acoustic Songs

An artist that was brought to my attention thank to her opening slot for Wolves in the Throne Room. The minute I hear her I was hooked. Earlier albums have been described as drone-metal-art-folk. Which is quite fitting. But with this release she strips a lot of what she does to the bare bones. Making songs more intimate and allowing her voice to really shine.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Velnias - RuneEater

The second best album combining Black Metal, DOOM, and Folk comes from Velnias. As I said in my review "As a fan I was anticipating this album for some time. As Sovereign Nocturnal made such an impression on me. There were many delays but it was well worth the wait. The band took what they do so well, expanded on it and refined it. Making an album that was beyond expectation."

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

The Flight of Sleipnir - Ascension

Flight of Sleipnir combines DOOM with Folk in a way I have never heard. Lyrics about Norse mythology and battles. With three full lengths to their name all are quality. Ascension is a compilation album. Combining their demo and first E.P. along with a cover of Pentagram's Be Forewarned and a live version of Algiz from the Algiz + Berkanan album. I for one am a huge fan of this band and look forward to the new album come February.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Kólga - Demo

First off I am a Panopticon fanboy. You tell me he is attached to something and I am checking it out. So when I heard he was a part of Kólga, well you know the rest. This is not too far from what Panopticon does. Raw Atmospheric Black Metal. Three songs clocking in at almost 30 minutes. It’s also free. So if this sounds like something you would like, then you are out of excuses.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Rodha - Raw

Musically this what you would expect from a Sludge band. Heavy and slow. It’s the vocals that really set them apart. They bring a hardcore style to the album that fits well. Helping the lyrics a great deal. As I said in my review "The album is aptly titled. The recording has a rawness to it but more important the emotions contained within the lyrics are raw. You get the feeling these are not just words to be sung, but to be felt."

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Samothrace - Reverence in Stone

I picked up their first album Life’s Trade after it made Decibel magazine’s year end list. I was glad I did. Playing a slow crushing style of DOOM. Not Funeral and not Death. Rather somewhere in between. For four long years we waited for a follow up and when released my first thought was, “FOUR YEARS AND ALL WE GET IS TWO SONG?!?!?” Oh but what songs they are. More about feeling than actual notes. Songs move like glaciers. Yes it would be nice to get more. But sometimes less is more.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

January 2, 2013


Allow me to rattle off some Metal Bandcamp numbers:
Since the blog started on September 9, 2011 we have published 553 posts and had a total of 295448 pageviews. There have been 0 ads shown on the blog
At the moment we have ~1000 daily pageviews. The Metal Bandcamp Facebook page have 540 likes, and @metalbandcamp have 335 followers on Twitter
These numbers will grow slow but steady, the way I like it (one will not). And that is all good. There is one number I'm really proud of though, and that is 10. 10 is the number of people of who have (more or less) regularly written reviews for Metal Bandcamp. Check them out on the Contributors page - and if you would like to end up on that page, just send me a mail.
So, huge thanks to Aaron, Natalie, Atanamar, Zamaan, Ulla, Andy, Utmu, Adrian, Sean and Justin. And off course to the guest reviewers Dane Prokofiev, Islander from No Clean Singing, Josh from That's How Kids Die, Brandon from The Sequence of Prime, Eric from Valley of Steel, Phro from Phro Metal, and Ethan from The Autistic Metalhead.
There are many things I look forward to in 2013. More albums on the Profound Lore Bandcamp is one of them (Evoken! Bell Witch!). Seeing a lot of my favorite bands on the Heavy Days In Doomtown II festival is another. I also look forward to the proper release of the Into Darkness Demo on their Bandcamp. That will happen when all the physical copies have sold out, so please people, buy the fuck out of them.

Listen to the demo below, it is top notch Italian Death/Doom. And have a good 2013.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]