Phasm cover art by Buttcoffin

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Well, here are three bands I wish I had known about sooner. We're skewing towards the obscure, here, with some underground gems that have poked their heads out here and there, whether on forums or by way of a Facebook link or Soundcloud suggestion. Stream on, Garth.

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Grift - "Dödens dåd"

Grift's vocalist might want to consider taking a break from the screaming for the sake of his vocal chords, but for our listening pleasure, let's be thankful he's willing to put his throat through the grinder. The vocals on "Dödens dåd" are harsh and grating, the kind of stuff that surely involves some blood. Paired with a mid-paced folk-y black metal, "Dödens dåd" suddenly becomes catchy and even hummable—who would have thought. I hear a lot of similarities to Quebecois metal groups like Forteresse and Brume d'Automne here, both in style and production sheen (or lack thereof). That's high praise. Grift's a Swedish duo active since 2011, and the band's debut EP, Fyra elegies, is out on Nordvis.

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Symptom - "Marrow Spires" and "Omen of Crypts"

And out of seemingly nowhere, here's a thick slab of filthy death/doom from a one-man band out of Portland that has already put out one full-length this year and is prepping another, Caverns of Katabasis, for release on "December 12, 2037." Don't let the opening to "Marrow Spires" fool you—these aren't all-out, mindless blasts. There are peaks and valleys and moments of reflection in these songs, but there's also an unrelenting sense of dread that permeates them. "Omen of the Crypts" might be the bigger ripper here—the spoken word intro that turns to a menacing blast is a highlight.

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Phasm - Scythe Wind

Phasm appeared on a forum I sometimes frequent a few months back under a thread simply called "PHASM." The thread announced a tape demo, in undisclosed limitation, with the description "Black metal mess from West Virginia." Coupled with some of the best artwork (by "Buttcoffin") I've seen in ages, that was enough to guarantee a click and a listen. "Scythe Wind" is cruelly short, just a teaser of what sounds like an awesome demo. The song is melodic and catchy, a head-shaker (not in a SMDH way) that presses all the right buttons. Killer vocals. If you want more info on Phasm, you're probably out of luck as Phasm has one of the least informative Metal Archives pages of all time. You can still snag a copy of the tape from Caligari Records.

— Wyatt Marshall

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