Welcome to another trip to the vast catacombs of Bandcamp. Every month us writers at Astral Noize will be picking releases on a complete whim to listen to from Bandcamp’s “New Arrivals” section, and then giving you our informal first impressions. We might discover some absolute gems, or it could all go horribly wrong! Consider us explorers, and we encourage you to spend some time on Bandcamp and discover some true independent gems for yourself!

September’s Bandcamp Breakout:
Expunk – Swoon

I fancied hearing some more modern shoegaze after enjoying the new Slow Crush record. After clicking around the preview tracks, this one stuck with me. The mighty ‘Citizen’ is a really explosive track with tremolo guitars aplenty. After this the album mellows out somewhat, but still remains fantastic and intriguing. ‘Minor League Tryout Hopeful’ and ‘The Owls Have Taken Flight’ have a sound reminiscent of classic Tortoise, with slow, mathy guitar arpeggios and offbeat jazzy drums. More of a post-rock record than shoegaze, but I’m sure glad I found it. This is excellent instrumental glory sounding very nineties.

Swoon is out now, self-released on Bandcamp.

Words: Chris “Frenchie” French


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Boar Worship – Balance Of Terror

A metal band naming itself after an animal that isn’t a goat is bound to catch my eye, and Balance of Terror from Boar Worship makes me glad it did. Punked-up, noisy-as-hell sludge metal is the order of the day, with riffs that tap into the same sort of filth-crusted vibe as Eyehategod and Weedeater. There’s even a few moments of blackened melody, which is an unexpected delight; and more spacious sections provide vital contrast. Top it off with some truly desperate and nasty vocals, and you’ve got something that sounds genuinely threatening, that also provokes involuntary headbanging. It’s hardly subtle, but when your riffs are as good as this, why hide them?

Balance Of Terror is out now, self-released on Bandcamp.

Words: Stuart Wain


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Refinement – Life Without Representation

I don’t know how, but I found myself drawn to this New Jersey band Refinement. The album cover struck me and they were actually listed in the post-hardcore section. Turns out this EP was more in the slam/beatdown hardcore realm. Not a subgenre I am particularly drawn to often, but the first track ‘Confused’ was a decent slab of metallic hardcore so I stuck with it. But the terrible guest vocals on ‘Asylum’ nearly put me off entirely, I mean their main vocalist is pretty decent on his own. The guitars sound crunchy, but the drumming is very static, I can’t really tell if the drums are programmed or not. Guess they’re a bit… Unrefined (tee-hee). The twiddly guitar leads of ‘Lost’ redeemed this band for me. Not a release I would usually be drawn to, or particularly want to hear again, but it wasn’t so bad in the end.

Life Without Representation is out now, self-released on Bandcamp.

Words: Chris “Frenchie” French


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International Grindcore Compilation – The Sound Of ✘ 4

Full disclosure, I initially clicked on this because my girlfriend loves The Sound of Music and I wanted to show her the cover, but whilst I was there, I discovered a compilation full of grindcore gems. With 28 tracks from a host of acts, the release is filled to the brim with speedy extremity and walls of impenetrable noise. Compiled by The Hills Are Dead Records (see what ya did there), this fourth instalment in The Sound Of ✘ is a must for those who like their music fast and loud. They’re not all winners, but Prison Shank‘s ‘Vertebrae’ is a highlight, Uncle Ray‘s Dumb And Dumber sample works a treat and RASGA!‘s punk-tinged grind is tons of fun, whilst Flea Pest‘s raw, blackened contribution and Weeping Skull‘s particularly storming offering are both instantly loveable.

International Grindcore Compilation is out now on The Hills Are Dead Records.

Words: George Parr


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Lost Hours – IV: The Silence Of The Perpetual Choir In Heaven

Immensely heavy and crushing funeral doom from Atlanta, Georgia. Though there are just two tracks on this EP, it clocks in at a whopping 28 minutes. The EP unfolds at a lumbering pace with plenty of atmosphere, and earth-shattering, swampy tones. Combine this with the monstrous growling vocals and you have a sound that will absolutely devour you! The closing track of the EP is strangely called ‘Roman Polanski Is A Monster’, opening with a vocal sample, presumably from the film director himself. A bizarre source of inspiration! This EP is fantastic, recommended for fans of Esoteric and Ahab.

IV is out now, self-released on Bandcamp.

Words: Chris “Frenchie” French


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Monte Palomar – Cénit

Man, there is some shit out there. You have no idea how many albums I clicked on before I found something worth listening to, but thankfully, I found it with Monte Palomar, an Argentinean outfit churning out stonery doom jams. Cénit seems, at first, rather unoriginal, soaring on the quality of its riffs alone, but a longer listen unveils a band who seamlessly traverse doom, stoner rock, psychedelia and more atmospheric textures with ease. The four-track release kicks off with the more atmospheric tones of ‘Oración’, a bold move given that its first half is devoid of the grooves that make this release so infectious, but it gives vocalist Sasa Fontana a chance to show off her impressive pipes before guitarists Pablo González and Alejandro González take over. The pair display some expressive leads throughout the EP, but their foot-stomping riffs are just as delectable. There’s a ton of music out there that doesn’t sound too far from this, but plenty fall at the first hurdle – Monte Palomar glide over it with style.

Cenit is out now, self-released on Bandcamp.

Words: George Parr


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Juice Machine – Holographic Understanding

Juice Machine are a duo from Eugene, Oregon. I was intrigued whilst cruising through the experimental section by the striking cover art that looks like it was made on Microsoft PowerPoint. It also looked very happy with rainbows, roses and bubbles. In a way, this is quite a pleasant listening experience. Even though the duo add a lot of noise into their compositions, it never gets too harsh. The album has four tracks averaging 20 minutes, sounding like improvised pieces, made with noise pedals and primitive electronics. This was a real trip with plenty of interesting sounds and textures.

Holographic Understanding is out now on Swamp Circle.

Words: Chris “Frenchie” French


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AbbatoirOvGoats – Decimation Ov Faith

I’m a sucker for bands with “goat” in their name – you usually get exactly what you expect. But on this occasion? Not quite. I expected solid, if unspectacular war or bestial metal, with a shitty production due to the fact that this is the demo of a solo project. But instead, Decimation Ov Faith just feels like a mess. The drums and guitar on each of the three tracks seem to be playing in different time signatures, with some of the drumming feeling less like rhythms and more like warm-up exercises. There’s no flow, no atmosphere, just a chaotic mess.

Decimation Ov Faith is out now on AHPN Records.

Words: Stuart Wain


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d10xn.zip – Moving Forward

A trip to Bandcamp wouldn’t be complete without listening to some vaporwave, a subgenre that thrives on the platform like a bloodsucking leech! d10xn.zip (yes, really) is very much on the ambient side of vaporwave, not relying so much on pitch-shifting and samples, although sound manipulation does take place. The album is full of very pleasant swishing and swooshy sounds, and is just a very relaxing and pleasant album to drift away to. The Finnish artist appears to have released this album on Japanese vaporwave label Seikomart, but who can even tell if this is a legit label or not!

Moving Forward is out now on Seikomart.

Words: Chris “Frenchie” French


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Illustration: Blair Shaw (@blair_draws_stuff)

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