Jun 302014

(In this 49th edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reviews the discography of Send More Paramedics.)

Recommended for fans of: Municipal Waste, Suicidal Tendencies, Exodus

The early part of this new century wasn’t exactly my favourite period when it came to the underground metal scene here in the UK. Not that there weren’t some great, hard-working bands out there doing their own thing (and doing it well!), but it seemed like every other band I encountered was desperately trying to be a sub-standard version of either As I Lay Dying, or Converge, but without an ounce of originality or integrity (while also essentially trying to be as dumb and needlessly confrontational as possible).

Now, that’s not the whole scene by a wide margin, but most of what was out there just wasn’t really clicking with me. However, there were definitely a few exceptions, and one of those was the sheer bloody-minded, self-declared “Zombiecore” madness of Send More Paramedics.

Part thrash, part punk, all crazy… Send More Paramedics rose from the grave in 2001, and were sent back into their deathless slumber in 2007, leaving behind a strange legacy of blood, brains, and bile… set to a soundtrack of rabid thrash riffs and punked-up aggression. The band actually reformed for a few reunion shows earlier this year, but unfortunately I couldn’t make any of them. So, instead, here is my tribute to the heathen masters of undead disaster.

May 282014

(In this 47th edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reflects on the discography of Ov Hollowness, and we have Bandcamp streams of all the albums, as well as Andy’s suggested songs from each one.)

Recommended for fans of: Abigail Williams, NachtmystiumSólstafir

After the one-two punch of brutality of the last two editions it’s about time for something a little more… nuanced.

Ov Hollowness is the name of an atmospheric/progressive/post Black Metal project masterminded by Mark Rafferty of Edmonton, Alberta (that’s in Canada, for you less geographical types). Since the project’s genesis in 2009 it has produced 3 albums of driving, blackened riffs, thundering rock beats, and cold, haunting ambience.

Though primarily a guitar-driven affair, the vocals are also of prime importance and add their own vital character to the mix, blending bloody, blackened rasps and passages of portentous spoken word with moments of piercing clean-sung melody and clarity. Even the drums, electronically-programmed though they might be, are written and incorporated into each overall song in a way that seems both fluid and natural.

Over time the sound of the project has undergone a slow, organic evolution, moving from a raw, yet fluid early aesthetic, to a grandly melodic, deeply atmospheric, powerfully passionate vision that takes the building blocks of Black Metal and uses them as a foundation upon which to construct something altogether more ambitious.

Apr 252014

(In this 46th edition of The Synn Report, Andy Synn reviews the discography of Lecherous Nocturne.)

Recommended for fans of: Hour of Penance, Nile, Aborted

Lecherous Nocturne play Technical Death Metal – not Tech-Death. There’s a subtle, but important, difference there. Because this shit is brutal. With a capital B. And possibly a lot of other capital letters too.

The disgustingly violent quintet from South Carolina have three full-length albums under their belt, the last of which was only released last year. That’s three albums of stunningly technical riffage and sheer metallic mayhem, devastating drum work and bleeding-edge bedlam. Utterly merciless and unforgiving.

It’s an appropriate time to be covering the band too, as next month they’re joining Abigail Williams and Panzerfaust on a massive US tour sponsored by NCS. So if you like what you hear (and you will, if you know what’s good for you…) then make sure you catch them live in May/June! [the schedule is here]

Mar 312014

(In his 45th Synn Report, Andy Synn looks back at the discography of Denmark’s Horned Almighty.)

Recommended for fans of: Mayhem, Aura Noir, Goatwhore

Time for something beautifully filthy, brutally heavy, and just downright nasty.

Horned Almighty are a four-piece Satanic coven from Denmark who deal in a ragged, ugly form of Black Metal which melds raw thrash intensity with a Satyricon-esque sense of groove, and a primal punk-ish passion for perversion. There’s even a hint of Death Metal to the band’s sickening sonic synthesis – their gargantuan guitar tone and booming bass lines are delivered with the same crushing, tank-track aggression of early Obituary – while the bowel-shaking, gut-level heaviness of the band’s low-end rumble is pure Celtic Frost.

With four albums of malignant musical menace already under their collective belt, the band are currently in the studio laying down the foundations for their next full-length World of Tombs, so now seems like the perfect time to introduce you all to their brand of balls-to-the-wall blackened misanthropy.

Feb 242014

photo by Wout Muyldermans

(Andy Synn delivers the 44th installment in this series, reviewing the discography of Belgium’s Marche Funèbre.)

Recommended for fans of: My Dying Bride, Eye of Solitude, (early) Paradise Lost

Doom – any form of doom, from groaning cadaverous crawl to crushing melodic melancholia – isn’t really a genre I’ve touched on all that much in The Synn Report. Oh sure, there’ve been a couple of bands that flirt with doomy atmospherics and haunting ambience, but (as far as I can recall) no one who’s really been a full on Doom Metal act.

Well it’s time to change that.

Hailing from Antwerp, Belgium, Marche Funèbre deal in a form of downcast, depressive Death/Doom which shifts seamlessly between a funereal march and a thunderous death metal gallop, accented by frail threads of plaintive clean vocals and searing flashes of majestic lead guitar.

Desolate and depressive, ominous and oppressive, their often lengthy, drawn out songs are simultaneously draining and invigorating – at times they hit with instant impact, at others they build slowly and insidiously, insinuating themselves into the darkest corners of your mind.

Jan 292014

(In this 43rd edition of The Synn Report, Andy Synn reviews the discography of the sadly departed Russian band Heironymus Bosch.)

Recommended for fans of: Gorod, Atheist, Obscura

Are you a fan of Tech Death? Or Progressive Death Metal? Bands with a Schuldiner-esque grasp of futuristic fretboard faculties that blur the lines between the two and stretch the boundaries of what can be done within the genre? Then this one, my friend, is for you…

Now I’m afraid I can’t take credit for discovering this wonderful little band on my own, as that must go to Mr. Andrew Workman, the fleet-fingered bassist for both my own band and for Taken By The Tide, who, while driving to play a show in Bristol last year, calmly turned to me and said the immortal words, “Did I ever play you any Hieronymus Bosch?”

He hadn’t. But now I’m damn glad he did.

Because Hieronymus Bosch were a fan-fucking-phenomenal Progressive/Technical Death Metal band from Russia who produced three albums of viscerally heavy, virtuoso complexity before their eventual dissolution in April 2010, leaving behind a little-known legacy of amazingly intricate, astronomically implausible riffs, belligerent, barking vocals, sinuous fretless bass work, and drumming that was the very definition of “superior”.

There’s no doubt in my mind that – were it better known – this is the sort of stuff that would leave Michael Keene green with envy, and have Gorod eating their berets out of sheer jealousy. The sort of stuff that belongs in the Progressive Death Metal hall of fame alongside such luminaries as Death, Cynic, and Sadus. It really is that good.

Jan 142014

(Andy Synn provides this update on three bands who have been the subject of previous editions of THE SYNN REPORT.)

While I’m busy putting together the first “proper” Synn Report of 2014 (it’s coming together and I guarantee you’re going to love it) I suppose I should take the opportunity to check back in on some of our previous alumni and update you all as to what’s been going on!

To make it easy for you this one’s in alphabetical order, A, B, and C, because I know you people have trouble with anything more complex than that!

ASTARTE

First, and most importantly, it was revealed just before the new year that Astarte mastermind Tristessa was gravely ill in hospital with a form of leukaemia. This was of course terrible for her and her family, and the outpouring of support from her fans did little to assuage the dark cloud hanging over the whole situation.

Thankfully a few days ago the following post appeared on the band’s Facebook page which, while not a complete about-turn, certainly gives us all more cause for hope:

Dec 312013

(In this new edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy reviews the discography of Derelict Earth from Grenoble,GFrance.)

Recommended for fans of: Cormorant, Alcest, Borknagar

Like I’ve said before, writing each edition of The Synn Report takes up a fair bit of time. And, since my job is pretty busy these days – and involves a lot of writing/typing – it sometimes takes me a while before I have a chance to really settle into the groove of things, to find the energy and the impetus to put finger to keyboard and rattle off a new edition.

I do try and keep to a “one per month” rule, but sometimes that slips. It’s unavoidable. So, with that in mind, please consider this particular entry, the second for December (and the last of 2013), as recompense for the lack of one last month.

You see I’ve been wanting to talk about Derelict Earth for a while, but the timing’s never been quite right. Until now.

The brainchild of one man – Quentin Stainer – Derelict Earth have produced three albums of sublime prog melody and startling aggression, melding bold strokes of creative colour and artistic anxiety into a tremendous triptych of emotionally charged, intellectually stimulating, prog-metal majesty.

What’s best is that each of these albums is available for free on the internet, with the artist’s full consent. So if you like what you hear after the jump, then you’ll be able to immerse yourself in his creative vision to your heart’s content!

Dec 062013

(In this new edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn explores the discography of Seattle’s Book of Black Earth.)

Recommended for fans of: Immolation, Grave, Belphegor

The Synn Report is like a fragile eco-system. Cultivating it requires maintaining a careful balance between editions. You can’t have too many Black Metal bands, or too many Death Metal bands, one after the other. You can’t go too dark, or too melodic, for too long. You can’t oversaturate the tech or over-indulge the prog. You need to cover as much ground as possible, varying your approach, as the whole ethos of the column is one dedicated to exposing deserving bands from across the metal spectrum.

While I have some definite surprises planned for the future, this time around I felt like we needed something raw and vicious, something filled to the brim with rabid vocals, blasting drums, and buzz-saw guitars, where even the barest hints of melody have a dark and menacing feel to them.

And since I’m off back to Seattle again soon, I decided that now was the best time to introduce you all to the killer Black/Death hybrid of Book of Black Earth, a band who have walked the left hand path, worshipped at the altars of madness, and dwelt under the sign of hell ever since the release of their first demo, way back in 2004.

Nov 192013

(In this post, Andy Synn provides updates about five bands who have been the subject of past SYNN REPORTS (and one “proto Synn Report”): Martriden, Astarte, Anata, V.A.S.T., and Persefone.)

Wow, it’s been almost two months since the last edition of The Synn Report! Where does the time go?

In the intervening time I’ve been very busy, both with work, band stuff, and my personal life (yes, I do have one outside the site… erm, kind of…), and simply haven’t had chance to settle down and get to work on things in the more in-depth way that The Synn Report requires of me!

Don’t worry though, a new edition, with an all-new band, is on its way. In the meantime, I thought we might as well check in with a few updates from those bands we’ve featured here in the past.

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