(In Part 1 of a two-part post, NCS contributor Austin Weber puts the spotlight on three underground bands — Cognizance, The Conjuration, and Replacire. Part 2 will come tomorrow.)
The new age of music has been creeping into a higher plane of existence for some time, due to more inexpensive and accessible sound-recording equipment intertwined with the development of many new exciting avenues for independent distribution. Combined with the ability to raise funds without label support, this has leveled the playing field for the creation of new music. But this is a dual-edged sword because it can mean a lack of promotion for many groups who truly are doing great things. This is an article for those kinds of bands.
Cognizance - Inquisition
By now we all know Alex Rudinger left The Haarp Machine and joined The Faceless. What we weren’t made aware of is that he recently did session drumming for a tight group of young UK death metallers on their debut EP Inquisition. Cognizance create death metal heavily entrenched in a pervading brutality but are smart enough to prop up their songs with memorable guitar playing.
As a group they clearly draw from the absurdly steamrolling nature and rhthms of Beneath The Massacre but make it their own by smoothly matching it with an elegant melodic embrace similar to Fallujah. They just so happen to approach that ballpark but then conveniently step away and find their own place with grace.
Guest appearances are plentiful, including Scott Carstairs (guitarist for Fallujah), Aaron Matts (vocalist for Betraying The Martyrs), Reece Fullwood (Eumeria), and the phenomenal Sacha Laskow (ex-lead-guitarist and vocalist for Divinity). If you’re not familiar with them, here’s a hazing:
While what Cognizance does fits within a framework of sounds I have heard before, it’s the way they combine their influences that sounds their own. The band’s EP is available for a mere $3 on cdbaby. Even though this just came out in January they have plans to release another EP before years end. A group to watch for sure.
The Conjuration- The Human Condition
I hear from so many critics about how black metal is the metal subgenre with the most artistic merit and least constrained by the sounds it is built upon. In the same breathe I hear opinions that death metal, for all the technically oriented playing and speed upgrades, has stayed pretty much the same, or to some, has stagnated. Well, The Conjuration are here to fix all that.
Imagine if a death metal band embraced many of the ideas of black metal: Psychedelic tendencies, experimental and bizarrely broken-up songwriting, schizophrenic ever-shifting vocals, and harrowing atmosphere. You’d have a fucked-up take on death metal like it’s rarely been heard before. This is is indeed seriously fucked-up music that constantly jars you into a new place, a new vision, a new way of hearing madness.
This duo of Corey Cochran — vocals, guitar, synths, drum programming — and John Moss (bass) from Danville, VA, draw from a diverse swath of bands, and as their Facebook page states, they’re influenced by Sigh, Pink Floyd, Between the Buried And Me, Ayreon, among other groups.
Just when you get comfortable with the roaring, ghastly death metal, the songs will suddenly transition into creepy sections, anywhere from jazzy to ambient to keyboards, and the band constant chop the music into pieces with many different parts.
Lots of riffs, killer funk bass, and an Unexcept-level of unpredictability that keeps you guessing and encourages multiple listens. Corey’s demonic vocals, mad singing, and bizarre, near-poetic recitations likewise help sell the themes of madness beautifully in tortured tones.
The Conjuration are a hard working band, having released an entire other full length in 2012 as well, Tragedy. That album harbors a stronger melo-death and black metal feel that sounds different from The Human Condition. My only complaint about Tragedy is that some of the clean singing is weak, especially when compared to how much better it sounds on The Human Condition.
Still, seeing as they are thrown in more to induce the schizophrenic feel than to convey a sad or happy emotion it doesn’t matter that much. If you like what you hear from The Conjuration, they are already writing a follow-up and plan to have it out this year. Both albums are of the “pay what you want” variety on Bandcamp.
Replacire – The Human Burden
This was not one I found on my own, and so to give proper credit, thank you HeavyBlogIsHeavy.com for this excellent find. The Human Burden is an intricate technical death metal affair but gives a lot of room to Opethian passages and subdued grooves. Replacire have a complex songwriting format down pat, but not in a showy way; they use their skill to craft distinct songs. Truly one of the few bands I would feel comfortable calling progressive death metal.