29 April 2016

Here’s the stuff I bought on Bandcamp for the month of April:

Tengger Cavalry - Mountain Side EP

Tengger Cavalry Mountain Side

Tengger Cavalry is a New York-based metal band that incorporates traditional mongolian instruments and throat singing into some fast metal. I first heard of them when their 2014 album Ancient Call was released, instantly fell in love with the band, and forced it on anyone in my social circle with even a passing interest in metal.

Although I skipped their 2015 album Blood Sacrifice Shaman, their new Mountain Side EP, and it fit within my bandcamp budget for April. For 9 USD you get 11 tracks, but only two are full new songs. Both new songs focus more on the folk side of folk-metal Tengger Cavalry’s previous albums, and the recording and production quality is better. However, the songs sound a little too similar, and don’t have a good ending: Mountain Side ends abruptly and Krutaya Gora fades out.

The other songs in the EP are not even worth including: there’s a club mix of Mountain Side that isn’t fast enough to dance to, an instrumental version which adds nothing because the throat singing on Tengger Cavalry tracks is practically a sixth instrument, a live version with a distracting yell of “everybody fucking move”, and an acoustic version that turns what was metal into country-western.

The highlights on this album are the new version of War Horse, which sounds to me like a completely different (but better!) song, and the bonus jam tracks.

The Mountain Side EP is not a particularly good value for money, but I have gotten so much enjoyment out of Ancient Call and I like the direction Tengger Cavalry seems to be heading in so I don’t mind contributing towards their next release.

Sourvein - Aquatic Occult

Sourvein Aquatic Occult

Sourvein is a sludge metal band (which as far as I can tell is slower, more distorted stoner metal) from North Carolina. I loved their last album Black Fangs.

Aquatic Occult is 14 nautical-themed track. The singing style on this album is different than Sourvein’s older albums, it seems more anemic and doesn’t quite match the tone or beat of the instrumentals.

However, there are few tracks with harsher vocals which are quite good. Ocypuss and especially Aquanaut are absolutely hypnotic. Urchins contains some awesome atmospheric guitar melodies like those that Baroness has become famous for, but the track is far too short.

Aquatic Occult has a few highlights, but Black Fangs was better.

Fall of Every Sparrow - Ophir EP & Beautiful Fiction Single

FOES Beautiful Fiction

FOES Ophir

Last month the music video for Beautiful Fiction by a band called FOES (Fall of Every Sparrow) caught my eye, so this month I bought the single and FOES other bandcamp release, an EP released in 2014 called Ophir. This EP is an unexpected gem. It reminds me of post-Porcupine Tree Steve Wilson, though as a Canadian that might be influenced by the accent.

Like post-Porcupine Tree Steve Wilson, this music is introspective and immediately emotionally relatable, which is uncommon from an alternative progressive rock band. The tracks sound a bit sonically full, verging on shoe-gazy. The unclean vocal bits effectively emotionally compliment the clean bits and are used sparingly. The melodies are accessible, but there’s enough complexity in the counter melodies and rhythm to keep the songs interesting.

However, this emotional accessibility occasionally goes overboard. The opening lyrics on The First Rook To… are trite. It’s a shame, because the rest of the song’s lyrics are bit more subtle and poetic. I think the song would have been better without lyrics in the first section, because the rest of the song is fantastic. I especially liked the triplets in the piano counter melody.

Their latest output Beautiful Fiction is also great, it sounds like the band are experimenting a bit with syncopation, but kept a lot of the elements that I liked from Ophir. I’m looking forward to whatever comes next from FOES.

On another note, it drives me crazy when bands change the punctuation in their titles. I take great, possibly neurotic, care in keeping my music organized and now the FOES tracks don’t stack up nicely in VLC.

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