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From the Bandcamp Vaults #3


Hello and welcome back to the Bandcamp Vaults. It’s been awhile since our last installment. How’s everyone’s spring? Is the weather considerably less grim and frostbitten than it was the last time we got together? Well, we’ve got a nice spread of fun, nasty tunes to bring a little filth to your sunny soap commercial. Drown out the chirping birds with some South American speed metal; rot those blossoming flowers with windswept Australian black metal; shun all light with suffocating noise rock.

Also, I’m riding solo on this one as Aaron attends to some stuff IRL. As such, we’ve only got six recs for you here as opposed to the usual 10, but we’ll be back at MAXIMUM POWAH next entry. And, as always, if you or a loved one or an inmate you knew back in the joint crafts tunes that upstanding members of society would label as offensive to modern decency, send them here and we’ll give ‘em a spin:

Full Price

Will the second era of NWOBHM ever stop giving? Just when you think we’ve unearthed every obscure band from the early ‘80s explosion, five more claw their way out of the graveyard soil. Aragorn’s story is similar to so many other would-be household names: following one monster single in the form of 1980’s “Black Ice,” Aragorn spent the next few years struggling with lineup instability while releasing a number of follow-up demos, each with a different set of members. By the time they settled down and recorded their debut LP, any label interest in the band had waned and the material they put to tape never saw the light of day. While the history on the band’s website is unsurprisingly disjointed, what we have here looks like the 12 tracks from that debut album, plus “Black Ice” as an opener to rope in any newcomers. The leadoff certainly does the trick with its mega-hook of a riff, but it’s the rambunctious energy of the main album proper that really sells this thing. Check out vocalist Chris Dunne’s “Oooooh yeah, let’s get it hot” over “Radar Love”’s sexy funk bassline and his playful banter with guitarist John Hull during his solo. Pure swagger.

Wow, there are a ton of bands named Vehemence. In an effort to distinguish themselves from the melodeath band from Arizona and the dozen or so other bands using that moniker, this French duo added a few choice accent marks to their name to become Véhémence. But of course, a name is just a name and it all comes down to the music, and our Véhémence plays boisterous, lead-friendly black metal in the vein of their fellow francophones across the pond in Quebec. Check out that cover art. These guys love castles and medieval shit. They’d get along with the dudes in Ephemer. A major difference here is that Assiégé (French for besieged. Great castle imagery) is a much brighter recording than most of what’s coming out of the cloistered Quebecois movement. Vocalist B.R.’s fantastic, varied performance is pushed to the front, lending Assiégé an empowering Viking feel with his deep growls and occasional berserker shrieks. It all comes together on the title track, where multi-instrumentalist Tulzcha lays down some soaring battle hymns leads while B.R. loses his damn mind howling all sorts of craziness, all of which is assuredly about aiming a loaded trebuchet at your weakest flank.

Name Your Price

South American metal has been a churning, evolving hotbed since Sarcófago blasphemed their way into our hearts 30 years ago. While the continent has heavy tunes of all makes and models for market, there’s a growing number of young bands cultivating a very specific strain of raw, NWOBHM-laced speed metal. Shredding twin guitars; spilled beer; bullet belts; high pitched but still-gruff vocals; FUN. Chile’s Mortal Whisper formed in 2012 and dropped a rough two-track single on their homeland’s own Metal Blood Productions. The quartet decided to go the indie route for their second two-tracker, a rehearsal that somehow has more fidelity than 2014’s Fire On the Highway. And yeah, this thing jams. Guitarists Jose Tapia and Cristobal Moreno might be credited with lead and rhythm — respectively — on the band’s Metallum page, but they both go equally hard on record, locking into “Demoness”’ fist-pumping charge and syncing up for a monstrous hook during “Mortal Whisper”’s bridge. Are garages all around suburban South America just full of teenagers rocking Flying V’s and Motörhead cut-offs? I don’t know, but I kinda want to visit and find out.

The great thing about writing this series if stumbling upon fantastic bands with little to no Web coverage. It’s always fun being first, especially when you come across a band like Bronze Age. With only two EPs and seven tracks total to their name it’s not surprising these guys have flown under the radar, but with the renaissance of off-kilter noise rock lead by Ken Mode, the time is right for this stuff. This stuff in particular is all about the riffs, and man does guitarist Scott Minter bring ‘em. “Pushed” opens with a queasy Keelhaul number, the band swaying in nautical time and shouting the titular chorus en masse. “Halls of Sacred Eyes” emphasizes the band’s trio status a naked bassline grinding its way to a lead-driven mid-section. I love when a three-piece doesn’t try to hide behind unnecessary multi-tracking, and the stark mix throughout Alone sells the whole “dudes jamming out in a room” vibe that makes this style so endearing.


Full disclosure: Panopticon is my favorite album of all time. And yes, the 2014 remaster for that one is right there on Ipecac’s Bandcamp. So why am I writing about Oceanic instead? Well, because the recording itself is better, and with this remastered version, that difference is even greater. I’ve listened to Panopticon hundreds of times, and I can hear only slight differences between the original master that’s permanently tattooed on my mind and the one here – and yes, I bought it and listened in lossless because I am a shameless Isis fanboy. It’s slightly more dynamic, the guitars are a little softer and less compressed, but that’s about it. Oceanic might as well be a different album, and I say that with full knowledge that it was already the best mixed and mastered album in Isis’ catalog. Aaron Turner’s vocals are noticeably more prominent, the spacing in the guitars is more dynamic, and don’t even get me started on Aaron Harris’ drums. Matt Bayles outdid himself with the drum mix; it’s spacious, resonant and expertly mic’d. The remaster doesn’t tinker with perfection so much as magnify it.

Discount Discogs

As I hinted with my intro up there, I’m very much a seasonal listener, especially with metal. I got my spring jams, my summer jams, and fall and winter, too. Not much black metal graces my ears in the warmer months, mostly because I just feel like a misanthrope blasting staticy tremolo lines into my eardrums when the sun is out. Woods of Desolation are one of the exceptions to this. I’ve loved the work of New South Wales wailer D. since I first came acrossToward the Depths on some long-defunct black metal blog back in 2009. Some call this style “depressive black metal,” but these ears hear triumph over despair, especially in his more recent work. Torn Beyond Reason and As the Stars push powerful, cascading sheets of guitar right to the front, creating a warming cocoon of distortion. They are masterpieces of the style, and now you can grab those and all of WoD’s other material for about 30 bucks U.S. Hell, even the previously unreleased one-track 2007 demo is worth a listen as a shockingly realized distillation of D.’s sound in its nascent stage.

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