As… different as 2020 has been, some things have not changed. The underground scene is as fertile as ever, cranking out new bands and new releases at a dizzying pace. It is impossible to listen to everything, but a stroke of luck and some good timing can put new and exciting sounds in your ears occasionally. Here are debut EPs from four different bands, sonically diverse but united in passion, energy, and this silly loud noise we all love.

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Vital SpiritIn The Faith That Looks Through Death
August 28th, 2020

The last decade has seen the malleable nature of black metal implemented in several distinct and successful ways: blended with Appalachian folk (Panopticon), inspired by American Indian folklore and rituals (Nechochwen), and going further back, Alcest and the disciples of blackgaze. Vancouver two-piece Vital Spirit stake their claim in the scene with debut In The Faith That Looks Through Death, trading in the traditional winter forest vibes for sunbaked deserts and Morricone aesthetics. If Black Anvil and Spindrift spent a week jamming in a shack somewhere outside El Paso, this is what it might sound like: expertly crafted melodic black metal giving way to lonely acoustic string plucks and distant whistles, blast beats morphing into a galloping march and back again. In less capable hands this would fall apart, but Vital Spirit have a vision and the chops to back it up. Cowboy corpsepaint forever.

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Rumours (Germany) – Neither Innocent Nor Wavering
September 25th, 2020

Drawing from the wide palette rock ‘n roll has to offer, Rumours deliver a little something for everyone. There are classic rock hooks, post-punk melodies, some goth and new wave vibes, and a smattering of occult-adjacent proto-metal heaviness. You’ll swear you’ve heard this before, because you have; that is not a negative criticism, it’s one of this EP’s best features. The only real downside is its thin production, but that’s an easy fix moving forward. If you have the Replacements, Hour Of 13 and Beastmilk vinyl on your shelf, there is lots to love here.

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The PassingThe Passing EP
September 15th, 2020

The Passing refer to themselves as a hardcore band, and while punk rock looms large in their approach and intensity, the strongest reference point their debut (and previous 2019 demo) invokes is Tom G. Warrior’s salad days in Hellhammer. Vocalist Ian has a raspy, guttural roar that’s more primal black/thrash than Black Flag and guitarist Izzy dials in a tone that any Nihilist worship act would die to have. Still, there are plenty of breakdown and circle pit moments to keep the punk rock kids busy while the denim-clad longhairs are headbanging by the bar. The Passing strike a balance between scenes with ease, and once shows happen again it’s a safe bet theirs will be legendary.

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SépulcreAscent Through Morbid Transcendence
November 13th, 2020

One minute of ambient creepy intro, and three tracks of no-frills, straight OSDM. That’s it – and that’s all a demo needs to be. This Brittany three-piece – whose members have served time in Skelethal, Destroyer 666 and Trench Hell, among others – know exactly what they want to do and do it incredibly well. Crushing riffs (“Invocation Of Plague Ridden Entity”) doomy/gloomy catacomb atmospherics (“Morbid Transcendence”) and disgustingly creative song titles (“Drowned In Impure Semen”) put all of Sépulcre's cards on the table, and they’re all winners. If you are a false, don’t entry.


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