Recently, I’ve been making rounds on Bandcamp looking for interesting and unknown gems. Having found a few (as well as having a few friends tip me off to some), I’ve decided to share them with you! We’ve got a large variety today, so let’s jump right in.
Pathfinder – The Fifth Element
A symphonic power metal band from Poland, Pathfinder should soon be one of the biggest names in the genre. Absolutely fantastic composition and arrangement, an epic storyline that would rival Rhapsody of Fire, and wonderfully talented musicians can all be found on this album – Pathfinder’s second – released in May of 2012. The Fifth Element features more over-the-top dramatic power metal bombast than its predecessor, and it’s all played out perfectly. Cheesy, but that’s how power metal of this kind should be. The guitars set a blistering pace, and the vocalist is one of the most diverse sounding ones I’ve heard in power metal. This is one of the best modern power metal albums, and hopefully this band will receive more recognition in the near future.
Vuyvr – Eiskalt
Blackened crust, just like mama used to make when she accidentally left the pie in the oven too long. This debut album by Vuyvr is a torrent of cold, filthy crusty blackness. Only two songs are available to be streamed on the Bandcamp, but those two are enough to convince me to really look into this album when it’s released on January 31st. The vocals are shrieks of pure vitriol that cut easily through the hammering blasts of guitar and drums. The instruments themselves are a hurricane force of hatred, hitting with all the intensity of a storm that leaves thousands dead and many more severely wounded. Vuyvr could easily be one the best up-and-comers in the blackened crust scene if the rest of the album delivers on the potential shown in these two tracks.
Hammerforce – Dice
Trance power metal. Wait, what? Hammerforce are a Russian power metal band that mixes trance and electronic influences into their music. They’re most apparent on their 2009 album, Dice, where those elements aren’t overdone, thankfully, and simply serve to add interesting textures to a genre that is generally very same-y. The keyboards use a trance-type sound instead of the normal power metal symphonic sound, and it really changes the tone. It achieves the same overall effect, but doing so in a far less cheesy manner. The vocalist has excellent pipes on him, and the guitars sound wonderful. It’s a different take on the genre, and it works out well. Definitely worth a listen, and it is available for pay-what-you-want download.
Aquilus – Griseus
Imagine, if you will, what it would sound like if Howard Shore had discovered black metal whilst composing the score for the Lord of the Rings. Now imagine no longer and listen to Aquilus, because this is pretty much what it would sound like. This Australian band combines black metal with graceful and melancholic orchestral swells. The depth of sound is astonishing, on good speakers it completely encompasses every fibre of your being. This isn’t your standard symphonic black metal; it’s a symphony which happens to have elements of black metal in it. At time gorgeous and others it is foreboding and evil. This is an album that I’m sad I missed in 2012, as it surely would have made my list had I known about it.
Skullview – Kings of the Universe
It’s time for some true heavy metal: Skullview are a heavy metal band that have existed since the 90s, and in 1999 they released their second album Kings of the Universe to the world. With an name like that, and an album cover that features a muscle-bound shirtless warrior guy riding a dragon, it’s pretty safe to assume you know what you’re getting here. This is excellent heavy metal, trad metal revival about ten years before the trad metal revival scene actually started. The vocalist has a lot of power and range, and he has a strong commanding presence. The riffs are meaty and melodic, and the drums pound out Armageddon in every beat. Kings of the Universe is a very solid bit of traditional metal, worth a listen for fans of the style.