Next we've got Gourd is a two-piece band from Ireland. They play a disturbing mixture of doom, noise, and drone that's easy to get caught up in. From the echoing, claustrophobic recording space of the drums to the strange layering of electronic soundscapes, it's a Pink Floydish journey down the river Styx. Distorted black metal howls creep around the edges of the mix like a lurking shadow. Gourd achieve an otherworldly balance of sounds that are soothing and almost serene with those that are far more unsettling. While this EP is only four tracks long, the 12 minute treks end up making this a lengthier undertaking. Let these rumbling, under-produced chaoshymns lull you into terrifying sleep paralysis.
Next up, Animate The End are an instrumental deathcore/djent metal project from Syracuse, NY. Anomalous is their first EP, featuring 7 songs over twenty minutes filled with deathy low-end groove. Think of it as Azgard or perhaps elements of iwrestledabearonce sans vocals. The tracks remain pretty consistent, but I do feel that "Vitalism" stands out with melodic directions that connected with me most readily. "Misgiving" is a close second. If you're a fan of progressive, djenty music, or maybe like deathcore compositions but get sick of meathead vocals, you should check these guys out.
Then you've got your folk-tinged black metal courtesy of Brünndl. This Italian band combines fairly straight-forward BM passages with more tavern-friendly singing a la Manegarm or certain early works from Enslaved. Pretty solid stuff. Member Stefano also plays in a vaguely Opethian-sounding atmospheric, insturmental project approriately called Evoka. You can check out that demo HERE. It's interesting to hear both styles, because while Evoca is a much more chill project than , they share certain elements and evoke imagery involving nature, at least for me. Check either of these bands out if you like stuff by early Ulver (Bergtatt) or Drudkh (Autumn Aurora).
Finally, we close with my favorite EP on this list, which is an interesting little debut from Oddhums. The Inception is the product of less than a year's time being together for this Spanish band. And yet the ideas sound mature as hell. Stoner doom vibes make sweet love to a very somber post-metal sound. Had I more time I would have liked to do a longer write-up for this one, but what are you gonna do. The distant, wispy vocals are smooth as silk; seeming to float on a psychodelic cloud of reverb and delay affected guitars. The only thing keeping the band grounded is the heavy, swinging pundulum of bass rumble. This music simply embodies "cool." If the Fonz were still around now, this is what the jukebox would play when he threw down his magic touch. Personal favorite: "Wounds."