Jul 302015



(This is Part 2 of a three-part post in which Andy Synn discusses the tendency of fans, reviewers, and bands to compare and contrast the music of one band to that of others. Part 1 is here.)

Here’s a little peek at my writing “process” (scare quotes entirely necessary here…).

As I’ve said before, this was originally only a single column – at least in my head. But as it expanded and snowballed (no, not in that way… get your mind out of the gutter) into a longer and longer piece, it seemed prudent to split it up and rework each separate section slightly to give each one its own focus and theme.

So, as it currently stands, I’m actually still writing/rewriting the main body of Part 2 even as I type this introduction. That’s my process. A mix between stream-of-consciousness rambling and periodic bungee-cord recoils to retype or rework previous sections as and when something new occurs to me.

If I was feeling generous I’d call it “organic”. Although “haphazard” might be a better word for it.

Still, for Part 2 I’ve elected to focus on the ways in which the use of comparisons can be roundly abused and misused, whether consciously or unconsciously.

So let’s get on with it, shall we?

Jul 292015



(Here’s a thought piece by Andy Synn about a topic that we as reviewers have pondered more than once.)

Ok, so… originally this was just once piece. But, over the course of writing it, it began to snowball and expand beyond the original specifications. So it seemed only sensible to split it up, first into two, then into three, separate columns – that way you can pick and choose whatever parts most grab your fancy (and ignore the others).

Sound good?

Anyway, I’ve been kicking around some thoughts, feelings, and questions with various friends and compatriots recently, all to do with the idea of what it means to compare one band with another – when it’s appropriate, how frequently to do it, and how to do it right.

Because, and I’m pretty sure you’ll all be with me on this, over the years I’ve seen it done right, and I’ve seen it done very, very wrong…

Which leads us to Comparative Metallurgy, a three-part infosplurge of spurious factoids and absolutely bulletproof opinions about the use, abuse, and over-use, of comparisons between bands.

Jul 262015



(Father Synn has been shirking his ministerial duties lately. We trust he has duly administered chastisement to his flesh. And now he is again ready for your flesh. Share your metal confessions in the comments. This is not a request.)

Forgive me my children, for I have synned… it has been one whole month since our last confessional. Truly it is a poor shepherd who neglects his flock for so long. Woe be upon me if any of you have been led astray in the meantime.

My only excuse, the only caveat I can offer… is that I’ve been off enjoying myself and getting drunk quite a few times… so suck it.

As always, let my sins be the shining light leading you on the path to redemption!

Jul 032015

artwork by Sam Nelson

(Andy Synn wrote this opinion piece about the tendency of some people to make excuses for mediocre or terrible bands in the face of criticism. We gave up making excuses for Andy long ago.)

A wise man once said:

“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”

A similarly wise (and far more handsome) man also once said:

“Excuses are like assholes… I don’t want to hear yours, and it’s not special.”

Ok, so maybe that second one is slightly less well known, but still…

Jun 212015


(Father Synn is ready once again to listen to your filthy confessions after first making his own, and then to prescribe your penance. Unburden your diseased souls below.)

This week’s confessional has a special theme my brethren (and sistren). That of chances not taken and opportunities lost. Oh the sorrow. Oh the shame. Oh the goddamn fucking irritating annoyance of everyday life getting in the way!!!


As always, where I lead, thou shalt follow!

Jun 142015


(Father Synn returns after a brief hiatus, ready once again to listen to your filthy confessions after first making his own, and then to inflict the penance.)

Truly my shame is deep my brethren. It has been two weeks now since our last confessional together. And without my firm hand (piercing eyes, flowing leonine mane, washboard abs… sorry, getting sidetracked there) to guide you, who knows what terrible acts you may have committed?

Dear god, what have I wrought?

So I beg you… come forth and let me cleanse you, let me wash you, let me bathe you and…


Jun 092015


(Andy Synn presents a rare thing — an actual calm, reasoned, fairly objective discussion of Djent, and (surprisingly) a defense of sorts.)

Oh the dreaded “DJ-word”. Never has a genre risen, seemingly from out of nowhere, to such prominence so quickly. And perhaps never before has a genre gotten so over-saturated and over-exposed in such quick succession.

And it’s because of this (and perhaps a few other issues that I may, or may not, touch on in this column) that the merest mention of the word can reduce even the sanest Metalhead to a frothing ball of apoplectic fury. “It’s all the same!”, “It’s just nu-metal with fancier gear!”, “It’s not even a real genre!” are all things I’ve heard multiple times, spilling from the mouths (and fingers) of everyone from the angriest internet troll to the most elitist critic.

But rather than just brush all these protests and allegations aside, I thought I might try to actually engage with them for once, and look at not just what’s being said, but why it’s being said in the first place.

Jun 042015


(Maryland Deathfest 2015 is in the history books, but the organizers already lining up bands for next year’s edition of MDF. Here’s KevinP’s wishlist of bands for next year — and we want your ideas in the Comment section, too.)

 2015 is in the books and we have a date for next year already (May 26th-29th).  Bands usually start being announced in a month (or so), so let’s get the discussion going!  Who do you want to see and why?   For the sake of reasonableness, I’m keeping my list to 10, even though like many of you I could easily do 20+.  Also, a few rules I applied:  if a band played in 2014/2015, they won’t be playing next year, just accept that as near fact.  Even bands who played in 2013 seem far-fetched.  So no Bolt Thrower, Dark Angel, or Bloodbath.  The most recent year I’m pulling from is 2012.  So here we go with my list (in order of importance) along with my infallible logic.


1. Hail Of Bullets – their last appearance was 2011.  I think a five-year gap is more than enough time.  Who doesn’t like this band?  If you don’t you should get your head examined (or you may be a Finnish guy named Markku).  I would like an Edison Lot show, though.  Since I would bring my 12-year-old daughter, who loves HOB, the shows end earlier and there’s more breathing room at the lot.  Would be awesome for her to finally meet Ed Warby and Martin van Drunen.

Jun 022015


(This is the second part of a mammoth essay by our Russian contributor Comrade Aleks, who explores a variety of spiritual rituals and their connections to doom metal. Part One is here.)

Tonight we’re finishing our brief research of Dark Rituals performed by doom bands all over the world. In the first part of this article we took part in Voodoo and Aghori rituals with Pombagira and The Moon Mistress, we participated in Christian and Black Mass ceremonies with Griftegard and Hour of 13, and besides that we even visited the Sabbath in some godforsaken pub alongside Barabbas, we summoned Cthulhu with Arkham Witch, and spent the Beltaine feast with Serpent Warning and the Wakan Tanka ritual with Caronte. Is it too much? Not at all. I have a few more examples of how sacred, ancient, esoteric traditions of dark occult wisdom have been reflected in the music of modern doom bands.

Today Reino Ermitano, War Injun, Ethereal Riffian, Tenochtitlan, Alunah, Stangala, Matus, Obake, Taak, and the almighty Abysmal Grief lead us into the mystic realms of the unknown. And I must warn you once more – don’t even try to perform these mysteries at home!

May 312015


Can it be? Is it truly seven days since last we gathered here to unburden ourselves? Oh, my congregation, I weep for you, and for the sins you must have accumulated. How they must weigh upon you.

But rejoice, for the time of absolution is at hand once more!

As always my children, you show me yours, and I’ll show you mine…

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