Summer is upon us, but since the forecast for my area shows nothing but rain for the next week, I don’t have the most sunny crowd-pleasers for you this time around. Instead, enjoy this collection of twisted, cacophonous, and occasionally blasphemous name-your-price releases from the darkest depths of Bandcamp. It’s the perfect soundtrack for staying indoors and becoming a nuisance to your loved ones.
As always, support the artists by snagging some tunes or merch!
Theophonos – Nightmare Visions
February 15, 2023
Best known as the sole member of Serpent Column, Theophonos has…well, I suppose I can’t say that he’s “struck out on his own”, but this first self-titled effort marks a slight departure from his previous work. Nightmare Visions was created with “lyrical and compositional directness” in mind, and while the material is certainly less chaotic than Serpent Column’s output, it is no less potent. One of my favorite tracks, “Thousand Imaginary Swords”, deftly transitions from the gnashing fury that Serpent Column fans know and love to a series of stomping metallic hardcore riffs, scorched by acrid snarls and occasional bursts of blast beats. I’m convinced that anything Theophonos touches turns to gold, or maybe something like finely-honed damascus steel, capable of slicing straight through flesh and bone alike.
Discordant Meditation – Interface
March 10, 2023
Discordant Meditation is a gnarly death metal duo that will leave your head spinning. Their latest EP Interface races headlong into delirium (or perhaps mere ego-death) with fifteen minutes of knotted, gnarled riffs and percussion that exhibits both method and madness. Each song sends the listener spiraling deeper into the singularity, and whether one emerges from this recording with their sanity intact is anyone’s guess. The only way to tell is to plug in and steel oneself for the trip.
Depleted – Failing
March 24, 2023
The debut album from Portland’s Depleted is yet another feather in Transylvanian Records’ cap, packing four tracks of elegiac funeral doom that are sure to darken your day. Failing is devastatingly heavy, each note an earth-shaking lamentation for that which can never be restored. Reverb-heavy drums keep time for the pallbearers’ steady footfalls; instead of the low tolling of distant bells, we have the gloomy peal of downtuned guitars sounding through the fog; and the sparse, rumbling growls intone each syllable with grim finality, like a huge stone door rolling into place.
Zorn – Zorn
March 25, 2023
Demented laughter echoes off the walls of a subterranean cavern accompanied by the scuzzy buzz of bass guitar. You push further into the sweltering, sulfurous tunnel only to find a rowdy gang of demons recording their debut self-titled album in the smoldering ruins of a dive bar–this is Zorn, originally of Philadelphia but now residing in the deepest circle-pit of hell. It’s impossible not to have fun with this devilishly raucous brand of blackened punk. Just listen to “Altar”, which begins with the vocalist screaming “BRING HIM TO MEEEEEE” in his most loving King Diamond impression and the drummer counting the rest of the band in with a goddamn cowbell. Zorn is the sonic manifestation of that old Bill Hicks routine where he pictures himself “surfing on the lake of fire, rocking out, high-fiving Satan every time I pass him on the fuckin’ shore.” So come on in–the lava’s fine!
Serotonin Leakage – 2C
May 21, 2023
Say it with me: psychedelic blackened goregrind. Labels will only get you so far, though; eventually, you’ll need to experience Serotonin Leakage yourself to understand why this project is so utterly entrancing. 2C, like the dozen or so other releases from this enigmatic band, is a drug-fueled odyssey of moody synths, incomprehensible gut-churning gargles, atmospheric black metal guitars, and relentless jackhammer drums. It’s a baffling blend of styles that I didn’t know I needed, but it’s got me hooked.