Welcome to Beneath the Vault, a column in which we take a brief look at the many review requests we get from bands that aren’t always fortunate enough to afford a promotional campaign or the backing of a big record label. Whether you like your music like you like your coffee or prefer listening to groovy tunes with headphones and some smoke, we’ve got you covered with these underground treasures. If you’re a band and would like a review or a spot in this column, click here to put in a request.
Released on August 11th, 2019
Genre: thrash metal
Damn! It wouldn’t have taken me reading Iron Talon’s description to quickly know that they draw heavily from the likes of Sodom, Kreator, etc. This two-piece Finnish thrash band only has one demo of three tracks to their name, but it really allows me to have high hopes for the future of the band. Opener “Sinner In Blood” is a fast and blitzing number that drops crunchy and raw riffage, loaded with a super sturdy rhythm foundation. “Iron Talon” features cleaner singing in the chorus without slowing down the momentum at all, and it also boasts an incredible solo. Demo 2019 closes with the longest track “The Emperor” clocking in just past four minutes. This one focuses on attitude more than anything, and although it isn’t structurally much different than the others, it adds a fuming oomph to the already strong songs. If nothing else, the drums stick out in it more. There’s only about ten minutes of music here, and it’s nothing new, but Iron Talon does what they do tremendously.
Released on September 27th, 2019
Genre: speed metal / crust punk
They call themselves a crust punk band, but Depopulation Department actually isn’t as harsh and burning as that would suggest. There’s a lot of speed metal in the riff work, there isn’t a massive amount of slams, and the vocals hold the occasional melody here and there. Life Kills comes right in under twenty minutes, and is a digestible ride that isn’t anything outside the box, but also didn’t leave me wanting more. The vocals actually surprised me at times with how high up they would get. See “Collateral Damage” or “Wounds Of War” to get a taste of what the band’s finest tunes are. Anybody into the likes of Discharge or The Exploited should enjoy.
Released on September 16th, 2019
Grayscale Season play a modern brand of heavy metalcore, replete with crushing beatdowns and thunderous riffs. There’s some djent here too, but don’t let that put you off. The full assault of the music is softened in places by the inclusion of melodic clean singing or atmospheric moods, but for the most part, this is harsh and unforgiving in its pit-friendly approach. This album is well-recorded, and has suitably ferocious harsh vocals, but does suffer from being a bit too lengthy. Despite this, Everything Hurts has plenty to offer fans of modern heaviness, and there are even some nice surprises to be found along the way. I enjoyed this more than I expected to.
Released on September 1st, 2019
Now here’s an intriguing and compelling release. The artist behind Zeresh plays atmospheric neofolk, dark and alluring. This is then cut with dashes of noise and industrial, and delivered with an experimental steak. A one-woman act, her voice is strong and carries emotion well, regardless of whether her performance is taking center stage, or if her voice is deeply embedded into the music, almost as another instrument. Either way, it hits the spot. Soft and ethereal, but with a darker and more foreboding atmosphere than a lot of ostensibly similar acts, Zeresh’s music is engaging, affecting, and quite delectable. Highly recommended.
Into the Meat Grinder
Released on September 25th, 2019
Genre: Death Metal
I’m a fan of Creeping Flesh, how could I not be? The band play old-school death metal as it was meant to be played, mixing the Swedish style with a rolling, Bolt Thrower/Asphyx influence that’s positively infectious. The style may be nothing new, but the delivery and performance here is so spot-on it seems churlish to complain about this. Besides, the band clearly know their chosen style well, and these songs just demolish everything around them. The music is well-written, with plenty of barbed hooks to catch yourself on. I’ve been looking forward to hearing an album from this band ever since enjoying their Rising Terror EP in 2015, and they have not disappointed. DEATH METALLGGHHHHHH!!!
Kalt || Weiss
Released on September 20th, 2019
Genre: Black Metal
Drawing me in with a description of dissonant black metal merged with Deftones, a brief flick through the album on Bandcamp left me certain that I wanted to explore this album more. Although ‘black metal’ and ‘Deftones’ would seem to be an oxymoron, trust me, it works. Kalt || Weiss’ avant-garde/post-black metal approach takes the darkest aspects of both, mixes them with a healthy dose of blackgaze, and then uses this atypical mixture to craft songs that hit you right in the emotions. Atmospheric and immersive, while also having sharp enough teeth to bite when needed, Serotonin is one seriously good album.