(In this latest edition of The Synn Report, Andy Synn reviews the discography of Martyr from Québec.)
Recommended for fans of: Death, Obscura, Psycroptic
It occurred to me just recently that the last three editions of The Synn Report have all had something in common, despite each covering very different bands. Each one, you see, tended towards the more mid-paced, or slower, end of the speed-scale, with a focus more on doomy, grimy grooves, over sheer velocity.
So, it seemed time to make an abrupt left-turn, flip the script, and spin the dial 180 to hit you with the fretboard mangling dynamism of Tech-Death lords Martyr.
Formed in 1994, and releasing their first album in 1997 (and, unfortunately currently “On Hold” since 2012), the Canadian quartet were one of the earliest seminal acts in the burgeoning sub-sub-genre of “Technical” Death Metal, standing proudly alongside such legendary luminaries as Pestilence, Atheist and Gorguts with their mix of intricate rhythms, angular aggression, and extravagant fretboard fireworks.
Happy Saturday to all of you. It is not a happy Saturday for yours truly. I am still mired in day-job hell, or more accurately, day-and-night-job hell. Fortunately, other people have been stepping up and providing content for our site, but until I make it to the end of my work project next weekend we’ll still be a bit light on NCS content.
I continue to be way behind in checking out new songs and videos, but I did spot a few this morning that I thought were worth sharing. Because I’ve got to get my nose back to the grindstone, I’m once again just going to throw the music at you with minimal commentary.
(Austin Weber wrote this review.)
It’s been awhile since I came out with anything labeled under my “Underdogs” series here at NCS, but some recent events have influenced its return — mainly that Islander is stuck in work hell, and this site needs content damnit! But more specifically, it needs what we do best: coverage of music that few others do.
So, the plan is for me to do one of these a day (on weekdays) to help out, and also to give me a chance to write about more of the bands I keep finding online. Some may be shorter than this, but all will cover exceptional bands you need to hear from various metal subgenres.
The first target in the resurgency of this series will be Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based technical death metal omni-wizards Ara.
We bring you a review and the premiere of L’aorasie des specters rêveurs, a four-track EP by the a one-man atmospheric black metal band from Québec known as Grimoire. The EP is being released by the German label Eisenwald and it follows Grimoire’s 2011 debut album À la lumière des cendres.
The one man behind Grimoire is Fiel, who is also a member of other Quebecois black metal bands — Forteresse, Csejthe, and Ephemer. With this EP he has created an enthralling union of the the harsh and the sublime, a captivating work that is effectively atmospheric and emotionally gripping.
Artist’s rendering of my life at the moment.
The old fucking day job has been railing me from behind so vigorously that I can’t sit down. I’m still stuck on the east coast of these United States, mired in one of those day-and-night projects that periodically consumes me like a school of piranha on a bloated cow carcass. On the plus side, the threatened snowpocalypse from earlier this week never arrived where I am. On the minus side, I’ll remain mired in work for the next 8 days.
I’ve barely had time to post what other people write this week. The “Most Infectious Song” list has gone into hibernation, and the “Seen and Heard” column has become virtually non-existent. I’ve collected links to new music I’d like to hear, but have had no time to actually listen to it. So all I’m doing in this post is embedding some of those new songs. I don’t know what they sound like.
We’ve made no secret of our fondness for The Monolith Deathcult. It may go too far to say that everything they touch turns to gold — it would be more accurate to say that everything they touch turns to rubble and bone splinters. But when it comes to metal, destruction IS gold, isn’t it?
Given the quality and success of the band’s last album, 2013’s Tetragrammaton, we thought maybe they had retired to the Riviera, rolling in cash, bathing in champagne, and passing their days in the endless consumption of fine cigars and premium caviar. But it turns out they have actually torn themselves away from the delights of the flesh and recorded some music, of which we have the privilege of bringing you a first taste.
On March 24, Season of Mist will release a new TMDC EP entitled Bloodcults, and a few paragraphs from now you’ll be able to hear one of the songs on the EP, a hellish track named “Reign of Hell”.
(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by a one-man Floridian band named Encircle.)
Anthony DiGiacomo has been my friend now for a couple years in some capacity or another even though we didn’t really get close until last year. I have to admit, I’ve never seriously listened to his music under the moniker Encircle until recently. With that said, I am giving full disclosure here: I am reviewing the music of a friend. Some bias may be unavoidable.
However, that doesn’t mean that the music under the Encircle name isn’t great. It is. It’s also exactly what I like, which is very hybridized music. Anthony mixes the best aspects of more modern tech death, technical metal core, and a bit of some big dumb death core skull-smashing to taste. Lost Chronicles is a pretty beastly record if what I just described sounds appealing to you.
(DGR reviews the new album by Poland’s Hate.)
With most musical sub-genres and regional scenes, I have found that most people will have what I call a three- to four-pillar series of bands. These groups are generally the more popular bands. and sometimes even the cream of the crop. They do what they do the best and have come to define their particular musical realm.
In the case of the Polish death metal scene — which is a dangerous one to bandy about, since it seems like huge swaths of it have become the “blackened death metal scene” — the imperialistic, riff-heavy, relentless-blast-and-shouted brand of death metal that has hailed from Poland, and it seems like only from there for some time, would later become one of the progenitors, if not the most important one, for the sort of subtle genre-morph that Blackened Death Metal has gone through. It has reached the point where the two have almost become synonymous.
(Andy Synn wrote this review of the December 2014 album by an Indianapolis band named Mapmaker.)
In a crowded scene where the word “Progressive” has been bastardised and bandied about so much that it’s become almost meaningless, a band like Mapmaker, with their melding of proggy, emotive instrumentation and bruising, Deathcore-ish heft, seems like precisely the sort of band you’d expect me to instantly dislike.
Yet I must admit I was drawn in by the fantastic cover art (never underestimate the value of a good album cover, kids), and decided to give the Indiana natives a chance, hoping to discover something new.
And I’m very glad I did, because this is a fantastic (if flawed) gem of a debut.
In fact although the album may not be perfect, Automation more than justifies the band’s use of the “Progressive” tag (de rigeur sci-fi concept, notwithstanding) with an enviable wealth of ideas and focussed ambition, every element being organically woven together in layers of carefully crafted texture and nuance, all bolstered by an extremely heavy low-end of juddering intensity.
Doubtless it won’t be for everyone, but in a scene where shallow superficiality and bland technicality are often used as a substitute for real creativity and credibility, Automation clearly stands head and shoulders above the rest, both on the strength of its song-writing and the impressive clarity of its vision.
(Comrade Aleks interviews Markus Stock of the German band The Vision Bleak, among others.)
If you like really dark and mystic metal, then you should certainly know the German project The Vision Bleak, a duo of Markus Stock and Allen B. Konstantz. They boldly explore a world of myths and horrors, writing album after album; the fifth full-length record Witching Hour was released in 2013, and I felt a need to know if the band had plans for something new for us.
Markus is also a mastermind of the forest-influenced band Empyrium, and an honorable member of post-black-metal project Eudaimony; it was obvious that he had a lot of things he could tell us about.