Bite-Sized Reviews #9

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Today’s review is quite the flavour salad: together in the bowl we have Astronoid’s upbeat blackgaze and the modern prog of Instar, with a mix of djent spices (For Giants and David Maxim Micic) in the middle and an unexpected folk finish with Black Kirin.

– Pep

Astronoid – Air (Finland, 2016)

Like colourful butterflies that come crushing down at mach speed, the debut album of “dream thrash” project Astronoid has “taste the rainbow, motherf*cker” written all over it. With all the elements of a post-metal/blackgaze release, “Air” brings an amazing array of influences to the game, even borrowing from the prog and pop rock scenes. If you ever wondered how a collab between Devin Townsend, Blink-182 and Botanist would sound, “Air” by Astronoid is the answer- and so much more than that.

Free Download: Yes

David Maxim Micic – The Stock Challenge (Serbia, 2016)


Since his first release in 2011, serbian musician David Maxim Micic has become a household name in the Bandcamp community. His latest work, “The Stock Challenge”, is a two piece set of masterfully produced electronic djent-ish dubstep-py metal in its first half (featuring singer and visual artist Vladimir Lalic on vocals) and electronic ambient in its second half. And if you’re not into vocals, the first track comes with an instrumental twin as well, so everybody wins. Both an experiment with sound and equipment, the album is aptly named The Stock Challenge for the choice made by Micic to use only basic gear, stock elements and built-in plugins from Cubase Elements  8 (here’s a link to him explaining all the tinkering needed), thus proving that making great music is possible with good but mildly-inexpensive gear.

Free Download: Yes

 For Giants – You Are The Universe (New York, 2015)

If you like djent, but often find yourself wanting more heart and less math into your songs (I know I do), this album is definitely part of the answer. In “You Are The Universe”, For Giants build a solid structure of heavy-duty riffs but leave plenty of space for well-thought and heart-felt melodies (you know, the stuff music’s made off). And just when you think it cannot get any better, a soaring solo takes you around and over what’s going on with the rest of the song. Well composed, well executed and well produced, a definite pick.

Free Download: Yes

Instar – Self Titled (Texas, 2016)

In their three-track debut, “Self Titled”, Austin based Instar stand true to their own genre description: adventure prog. Not an outright easy listen even for the trained ear, Instar really take you onto an adventure, and things happen as you listen. With a structure similar to a soundtrack due to sudden changes in the musical narrative of the song, this modern prog quartet uses spoken word, synths à gogo, ambient atmospheres and badass riffs in uneven structures that truly feel like a trip around corners, giving the listener something new at every turn.

Free Download: Yes

Black Kirin – Xiao Shao (China, 2016)

So, yeah, this happened. Tags on the album are black, death, opera, folk and melodic death metal. On BC, it’s in the bestselling albums under the metal section. I thought to myself that a folk metal band from China I haven’t heard of before would’ve been amazing. A cake with some truly awesome ingredients. Turns out the cake was a lie all along. It’s a 40-min album of acoustic Chinese folk music. Which is not bad per se, but it is a lie. A lie, I tell you.

Free Download: No

UPDATE: upon further research I discovered that Black Kirin is in fact a Chinese folk metal band with one album on their record, National Trauma (2015), released in three versions: one sang in Chinese, one sang in English and one with seven of the nine tracks released in acoustic form (you guessed it, that’s the version I stumbled upon). To make it all the more confusing there’s the fact that the band has three different profiles on BC (the band’s, the record label’s and one for the acoustic release), none of which is connected to the other. Confusion aside though, it’s worth checking them out.

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