May 242015


(It’s Sunday, and therefore Father Synn returns with another Metal Confessional, ready once again to hear your sins and mete out the penance.  I believe the enjoyment of meting out penance is the principal reason why Father Synn became a man of the cloth. )

Truly this is a momentous edition of Father Synn’s Metal Confessional, for many of our loyal congregation will surely have sinned their happy little hearts out at MDF over the past few days, and will surely have a burning need to confess their crimes.
So to them I say… step forward, and be absolved! (Disclaimer: absolution not guaranteed)

But first, as always, let me bare myself before you once again!

May 232015


That photo up there was taken shortly before Vallenfyre began their set at Maryland Deathfest XIII yesterday, with Waltteri Vayrynen perched behind the drum kit. Later, the band’s frontman Greg Mackintosh growled during a break in the action: “When we formed this band in 2010, we had a dream that someday we would perform in a parking lot in Baltimore. And now, praise be, we are living the dream, in a Baltimore parking lot.”

One of the better stage lines delivered during the fest so far, but some truth in it too, at least for me. For the second year in a row I’m having a hell of a time at this festival — deafened, sleep-deprived, with sore feet and an aching back — but living the dream. And the fest is only half-done.

May 202015


(Andy Synn expresses gratitude to some people who don’t ask for it…)

Recently I went on a little rant about how the term “brotherhood of metal” is thrown around a lot these days… and it’s usually by people using the term in a calculated manner, invoking it as some form of protection against criticism and as a way of making themselves look good for supporting this so-called “brotherhood”.

It galls me, it really does, when I see people invoking “the brotherhood of metal” purely for their own selfish gain, while disguising it in the trappings of mutual support and love of the genre. It’s hypocritical and disingenuous , and to these people it’s a “brotherhood” only as long as it’s convenient, as long as it can be used for profit, and as long as it can be used for self-aggrandisement.

But as pissed off as it makes me, and as negative as this post may have started, I wanted to use it as an opportunity to bring praise to those people who really do make me proud to be a part of the Metal scene instead – not the ones who trumpet loudest about it being a “brotherhood”, whilst simultaneously only helping out their mates and those who suck up to them, but the ones who work tirelessly in the background, without making it all about themselves, without looking to have their arses kissed or their boots licked, without looking for anything more than a way to contribute to making the scene a better, and more vibrant place.

And no, I’m not talking about myself.

May 182015


(In this first part of a mammoth two-part essay, our Russian contributor Comrade Aleks explores a variety of spiritual rituals and their connections to doom metal.)

All right now! Tonight we’re summoned for a divine cause!

Mankind started the basis of society since its  primordial childhood. Many old and good traditions have been lost to the ages, yet ritualistic aspects and traditions were set very deeply in the turns of our brains. Certain traditions and ceremonies have been transformed into religious acts or became social rituals during our evolution, but most of them remain alive in modern days. Something took the form of the Christian Eucharist, something else developed into the form of the Easter Rabbit or the bacchanalia of a metal gig. These rites have provided new trappings to the symbolism at their core, but some people still seriously follow and perform its archaic elements. Let us take a look at which forms of religious rituals live their new life in the sermons of modern priests of the doom cult.

This text is a reworked, renewed, extended, and a bit rude translation of an article that I wrote for a Russian e-zine (here), but I and some of the bands who were discussed thought it would be a good idea to have an English version as well. Of course, it’s not really as much of a scientific or anthropological work as it could be, but if there’s someone who’s ready to make a proper investigation then let me know — I have an idea or two.

Here I’ve used some of my past interviews or just asked some bands straight question about their vision of certain rituals.

Don’t take it too seriously! And don’t try to perform it at home!

And as I’ve mentioned above — tonight we’re summoned for a divine cause!

May 172015


(It’s Sunday, and therefore Father Synn returns with another Metal Confessional, ready once again to hear your sins and mete out the penance.)

7 days… 7 days of sin, scandal and sodomy… oh my children, what have you done?

Yet perhaps there is still a chance, a chance to be saved, a chance to be forgiven, a chance to free yourselves from the fiery chains of damnation!

May 132015

Leonid Pasternak — “Throes Of Creation”

(We welcome back guest writer Grant Skelton with these thoughts on… exactly what the title of the post says.)

I received a recent email whose contents I’ve been mulling over for the last several days. The email came from a metal musician but, as is often the case with me, we ventured onto a rabbit trail of a conversation. It turned out that the musician and I shared a similar interest in H.P. Lovecraft. That fact alone is not surprising, because Lovecraft’s fiction has provided metal bands with lyrical fodder for decades. (Side note: If you happen not to be familiar with Lovecraft, Amazon has a $0.99 Kindle ebook with over 150 of his short stories. See the link at the end of this article). When I mentioned that I was a fiction writer trying to publish a first novel, the musician compared that to the process of writing, recording, and releasing an album.

The first phase, he said, was the creative phase. It is fun and rewarding, but it is also hard work. The second phase, which I anticipate can be enjoyable if you’re a business-minded person with a lot of grit in your bones, is the uphill battle of getting your product out there. Or as he put it, a “whole gauntlet of navigating the various gatekeepers and industry contacts.”

May 102015


(We received such an overwhelmingly positive response to Father Synn’s first Metal Confessional last Sunday that he has returned, ready once again to hear your sins and mete out the penance.)

Greetings once more my faithful congregation! Can it really have been a whole week since last we bared our souls (and, in some cases, a little more than that…) to one another? Oh, how the time flies when you’re wallowing in sin…

Surely in the last seven days some amongst you have committed yet more egregious crimes against the great name of Metal? Or perhaps you’ve simply garnered the courage to finally admit to your past mistakes?

Whatever the case, Father Synn is here once more to listen and pass judgement. Yet, as always, I will lead the way, by admitting to yet more of my own fallibilities and failings…

May 062015

photo by Mitch Dobrowner, near Galatia, Kansas

(Storm clouds have been building in Andy Synn’s mind, and now comes the downpour in this opinion piece.)

Human beings are storytellers. That’s undeniable. It’s part of our nature. We construct stories around our world in order to make sense of it.

You see it in everyday life, in times of comedy and tragedy. You see it in everything from politics to personal relationships, and in the way we act and present ourselves to the world at large.

Whether consciously or unconsciously we’re always constructing some sort of narrative, putting the pieces together in a way that allows us to get a grasp on things.

And it happens in music too, both in obvious and more subtle ways.

May 052015

Ares Kingdom in Berlin, 2011 — photo by Anan Tan

I’m doing something I don’t think I’ve ever done before — re-posting on the site something we’ve previously published (with just a few word changes). There’s a reason why I’m doing this, which you’ll find in a postscript at the end.

I wrote this almost exactly five years ago, when this site was about six months old. I was a little inebriated when I wrote it; I tend to get emotional when I’ve had a few shots. But re-reading it last night, for the first time since I wrote it, I decided it still reflects what I believe. And I think there’s a decent chance that very few people who are visiting our site these days will have seen it five years ago anyway; we’ve grown a bit since then. So, here we go…


I suppose this topic is sappy, and sappy isn’t metal. But maybe it really is. You be the judge. And if you conclude this is just too much emotional tripe, chalk it up to an excess of tequila

What motivated me to write about parents (besides too much tequila) was my recent piece on an awesome KC band called Ares Kingdom and their album Incendiary, and some messages we received in response to it. In addition to praising the music, I praised the album art — the kind of thing that many bands do poorly, and that’s often lost in our download culture when it’s done well.

May 032015


(Andy Synn, who seems to have become a man of the cloth when we weren’t paying attention, herewith begins a new series…)

Rejoice my brethren and sistren, for today marks the inauguration of a new feature here at NoCleanSinging, that of Father Synn’s Metal Confessional!

For a long time now I have felt your pain brothers and sisters. How you suffer in silence. How you long for absolution. I know of the dark secrets that you keep locked up deep inside, and I step forwards now offering a balm to your soul and a reprieve from your torment.

I ask you to come forth and confess your sins before the congregation. Speak to us of your fears, your hidden longings, and your secret shame… all shall be heard, and all shall be forgiven!

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