Hello and welcome back to the Bandcamp Buried Treasure article series, where I'll be hunting down Buy It Now/Free Download-payment option albums on Bandcamp by the best bands you've never heard! The goal is to introduce you to smaller bands or obscure side-projects you might not have heard of. Anything to expand your musical horizons by just a little bit each week, all while keeping your cost (potentially) down! This week we'll be listening to the fall-and-winter-mood-evoking jams of Kansas City's Existem!
Obviously with an album titled Years of Winter along with the cover art it showcases, it's easy to label Existem's debut album as "fall-and-winter" related. Except I'm thinking beyond the visual aspect of the release and right into the music; bands like Opeth, Katatonia, Between the Buried and Me and Porcupine Tree have always evoked this snowy, cold, overcast feeling for me. There's simply something about the overall mood their music sets with their choices of tones, riffs, and playing styles from each member along with their respective vocalist. Something in those bands just reached out with a cold hand and grasps my heart in way that makes me yearn for a walk in the snow through neighborhoods and woods alike. Existem fit that bill with Years of Winter; it just so happens the album name nailed the sound they were going for to a tee. Or was it?
Years of Winter comes in with light flurry of snow on "Equals" and turn the switch on and off throughout the album, from hellish blizzard to gorgeous snowfall that's more appreciated than it is treacherous. Among the latter (outside the aforementioned) are "Corruption, Pt. 1: Balance," "Corruption, Pt. 2: Ruin," "Solace," and "Ocean." Outside the "Corruption" duet, none of those songs appear next to each other… because why should they? What's braving a storm if everything violent is over quickly, only to give way to beauty? As those songs tend to leave you dreaming of a winter wonderland, the rest only aim to bludgeon and snow you in. After the two "Corruption" songs comes the title track of the album, where the skies instantly turn dark and foreboding with monstrous riffs and demonic vocals… as any personified storm would tend to be.
The end two tracks of the record, "She Speaks" and "A Message From Earth," defy everything we've come to know about this record so far. "She Speaks" starts off care-free enough, but then kicks into easily one of the heaviest damn riffs on the entire record and then goes out on an ambient note. Again, storms are unpredictable. "She Speaks" gives way to "A Message From Earth," which switches a bit back and forth between the two moods, but then gets oddly heavy at the very end in a major key. A fitting way to end a record that's full of contrast.
Sure, it's September and the temperature is only beginning to drop, but why wait for the first snowfall of the year? Why even wait for these to be frost at your doorstep in the early hours? Why not put on your headphones and get lost in the snowy, winter-laden world of Existem right now?