Monday, January 12, 2015

Metal Bands-you-might-have-missed-camp 2014

Written by Calen Henry.

Here is a list of a few albums I really liked from 2014 that I either didn't see at all on year end lists, or that I thought were underrepresented on them. Some of them are albums that my Metal Bandcamp compatriots have previously covered, but that I think could use a “bump”.

Artwork by Mike DeStefano from Vukari

Vukari play is best described as "atmospheric black metal" featuring long, slowly building passages, culminating in blistering black metal explosions, but they frequently employ post-rock chords rather than the typical black metal voicings, so the result sounds like Mono covering Agalloch. It's great. The approach makes for a record that sounds familiar and cohesive, but also novel. The post-rock leanings, and the black metal fury both shine through without completely mixing.

The mixing for the album is what really brings it ahead of a band like Deafheaven, for execution. All the different part sounds right in the mix. The instruments and vocals are present without anything being overpowered, and the band has gone for clarity, over raw, lo-fi black metal, which suits the style perfectly. Absolutely my favourite band in the style.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Artwork by Ogino Design

Gloson's mix of metal and post-rock is eerily similar to Vukari's but with doom rather than black metal. They mix crushing doom sections with more ambient, clear guitar driven sections. Like Vukari, they often employ post rock chords, but know how to keep the doom, and worship the riff, while experimenting. It always comes back to monolithic riffs, first and foremost with the post rock experimentation adding to the downtuned assault, rather than taking over.

It's also worth noting that the EP is generally either free, or hovering around $1. It's absolutely unmissable at that price. Bonus: the album art is fantastic.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Artwork by Astral Body Horror

Anyone who likes folk metal should have this band. They combine galloping Gothenburg melodic death metal with galloping Mongolian folk melodies in a mix that sounds like it was made to be. The songs seamlessly shift between folk and metal, as well as incorporating both simultaneously, always held together by the almighty gallop.

In contrast to a band like Eluveitie, who largely mash melodic death metal with celtic jigs and reels, Tengger Cavalry have chosen two styles that complement each other perfectly to make something really special.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Artwork by Metastazis

Black Anvil come from the NYC black metal scene but, unlike some of their city-mates, play blackened thrash with a progressive edge, and the addition of all-the-things, including, but not limited to:
  • wah drenched leads
  • shredding leads
  • tapping leads
  • gang vocals
  • clean as well as rasped vocals
  • a gunshot
  • shouted “1-2-3-4” before one of the aforementioned styles of lead
It’s so good, but a lot of publications seemed to write it off as “almost there” or “good, but overlong”. Personally, I didn't even notice it was long until I read it. It’s so great that I’m happy to have every minute of it.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

To be fair, this was on a few best of lists, but not enough! Darkest Era have an amazing musical and compositional gift in that they are able to write and perform traditional metal, but make it sound indelibly Celtic, without actually being folk metal. Oh, plus, it’s got a wicked black metal edge in some of the drumming and guitars.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Artwork by Valin Mattheis

The best description of Old Man Wizard, is “sounds like the album art”.

It’s mostly proggy doom, but everything about it is a bit weird. The guitars are a bit too twangy for doom, the vocals are kind of folky, the drums have kind of a punk rock gallop going on, and some of the melodies sound like they’d be right at home in a campy 80s fantasy movie score. For all the prog weirdness, though, the songs are really catchy. A bit like Darkest Era just sound "celtic", Old Man Wizard just sound “weird fantasy”.

Also, it’s pay what you want, so there’s no excuse not to check them out.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tagged with 2014, Black Anvil, black metal, Calen Henry, Darkest Era, doom metal, folk metal, free download, Gloson, heavy metal, melodic death metal, Old Man Wizard, post-metal, Tengger Cavalry, thrash metal, Vukari
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