Welcome back to another installment of Cheap Thrills, your guide to some of the best free and “name your price” releases that the internet has to offer. In this entry, we will explore fantastical landscapes, pour one out for a fallen werewolf, and jam with some swamp creatures. All of that and more below!

—Alex Chan

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Stygian RuinStygia 1: Slumrende i hjertets mørke
June 29, 2022

I met a traveller from an antique land, who said—”OK, this one technically has a minimum price of one measly US dollar, but I’m sure that you can overlook this minor detail because the album is incredible”. Indeed, the latest release from Stygian Ruin is a wonderfully old-school atmospheric black metal adventure inspired by “the scorching desert sands, forgotten ivory temples, old gods, and mighty sorcerers” of Stygia from Conan the Barbarian. I haven’t read Robert E. Howard’s legendary series (just Kurt Busiek’s run on the Conan comics), but Slumrende i hjertets mørke is more than capable of conveying the ancient majesty of the region through epic (yet tasteful) synths and soaring guitar leads right out of an early Rotting Christ album.

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MicoZigurat
June 29, 2022

For everyone who was crushed to hear that Botch’s decision to reissue their discography did not also mean that the band was reuniting [Editor's Note: We remain hopeful!], perhaps a band like Mico can ease the pain—or give you a completely different reason to start punching through drywall. Zigurat is the Columbian duo’s second full-length album, fusing metallic hardcore with swirling dissonance to create some truly impressive sonic mayhem. Each track is a vortex of gnashing teeth and clenched fists aimed right at your soft tissue, and while there are a few slower moments that may lull you into a false sense of security, the band always circles back to deliver yet another beating.

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Dungeon SteelBloodlust
July 10, 2021

Dungeon Steel is a black / speed metal band from Ecuador featuring several members of the prolific Wampyric Rites. Their debut EP Bloodlust is dedicated to the bands’ former guitarist, Vrolok, who passed away last year. One might assume that it would be a somber affair, but this could not be further from the truth. Just look at Bloodlust’s cover art. A werewolf downing a flagon of ale and brandishing a sword is the perfect encapsulation of Dungeon Steel’s sound, and Bloodlust is a fitting memorial to a musician who clearly loved his craft. The album is chock full of razor-sharp riffs that could turn any unsuspecting metalhead into roadkill…or perhaps a lycanthropic speed demon.

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Colony·DropOne Year War
May 25, 2020

War is hell—even in anime.

The anonymous French musician behind Colony·Drop wants to make this fact clear while also stressing that he really, really likes Mobile Suit Gundam. For the uninitiated, both the band and album names reference a 1979 mecha anime that opens with a separatist republic crashing a 3600km3 space colony into Australia. It’s a pretty brutal way to begin a show designed to sell toys to children, and that dissonance ironically makes it fitting subject matter for some tongue-in-cheek hardcore punk about giant robots. This ain’t Discharge–that much is certain–but if Colony·Drop was a band in the Gundam universe, I could totally see them playing a dingy dive bar in the year 0080.

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Bog MönsterHell is Full
April 26, 2021

Umlauts ahoy! Bog Mönster is a promising death doom trio who, in the words of the philosopher GZA, are “straight out the swamp”. Well, they’re technically from Australia, but as the internet loves to remind us, the wildlife there would like nothing better than to kill us dead. Anyhow, Bog Mönster’s debut EP Hell is Full sounds like Wolverine Blues-era Entombed jamming with Celtic Frost in a sewage treatment plant, and this combination is as morbidly satisfying as it is grimy. The guitars and bass are thicker than mud, the drums punch like a moss-encrusted fist, and the vocalist’s guttural roars proclaim that hell is indeed full, because all the bog monsters are up here as overflow. Strap into your hazmat suit and wade in—the water’s fine.

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