(We present the April edition of THE SYNN REPORT, in which Andy discourses about all three albums in the discography of Italy’s Incoming Cerebral Overdrive.)
Recommended for fans of: The Dillinger Escape Plan, (early) Mastodon, Nero di Marte
Somehow this Italian quintet have completely passed me by up until now, despite releasing three extremely well-received albums within the past 8 years. Thankfully this edition of The Synn Report allows me an opportunity to rectify my mistake, and really dive into the band’s eclectic, eccentric, electrifying Prog/Tech/Math Metal stew.
Now, to be clear, when I use the term “Progressive” in this column, it’s to refer to the more chaotic, out-there-adventurousness of bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch, and early Mastodon – so don’t go expecting some sort of Dream Theatre-esque instrumental extravaganza or gleaming, harmony-laden Post-Metal odyssey – as Incoming Cerebral Overdrive (or I.C.O. as they shall hereto forth be referred to) have a much rawer, more experimental vibe to their music, and aren’t afraid to take a few risks whilst also keeping things nice and heavy.
That being said, their most recent album (2012’s Le Stelle: A Voyage Adrift) definitely saw them reining in the chaotic Hardcore influences of their earlier works in favour of a more refined — though no less challenging — sound, so it’s clear that the Italian band aren’t done experimenting and progressing (in the most literal sense of the word) their sound just yet!
(In the 71st edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reviews the discography of Code.)
Recommended for fans of: Borknagar, Ihsahn, Leprous
For whatever reason I’ve decided to stick close to home again for this edition of The Synn Report, following up the beefy Death Metal of Dyscarnate with the category defying, blackened-prog vibes of the legendary Code.
Though originally a joint venture between members from Norway and the UK, with strong ties to such groups as Ulver, Dodheimsgard, Indesinence, Season’s End, etc, the current incarnation of the band is an entirely British affair.
However, despite the many changes in the band’s line-up, and the ever-changing, ever-evolving nature of their sound, there remains an undeniable and intangible thread of identity and continuity within their music, running all the way from the very first track of their debut, Nouveau Gloaming, to the final climactic notes of last year’s phenomenal and shamelessly progressive mut.
(In this 70th edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reviews the releases to date of UK-based Dyscarnate.)
Recommended for fans of: Immolation, Hate, Misery Index
I’ll probably catch some serious flack for saying this, but sometimes it seems like the UK scene has an unfortunate tendency, consciously or otherwise, to celebrate mass-appeal and mediocrity over inspiration and artistic integrity — often mixed in with a weird strain of pseudo-nationalist sentiment that demands your unequivocal, unthinking support for “True British Heavy Metal”… and insinuates that you’re a traitor or a poser if you fail to do so.
Despite the fact that the country is currently bubbling with fantastic, unique bands (particularly in the Doom and Black Metal genres) easily the equal of anything the rest of the world can produce, there’s still a large section of the scene who seem happy to just settle for what’s comfortable and familiar, be it the next in a seemingly endless line of interchangeable, lowest-common-denominator Thrash/Groove acts, or yet another generic, domestic-brand version of whatever’s currently trendy in the good old US of A.
And yet despite this, or maybe even because of it, it still pleases me whenever I get the chance to showcase a UK band capable of going above and beyond the call of duty. A band kicking ass and taking names entirely on their own terms. A band like Dyscarnate.
(In this new edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn has picked a fine day to review the discography-to-date of Finnish marvels Oranssi Pazuzu — including the band’s brand new album that’s due for release today, for which we have a full album stream for you to hear.)
Recommended for fans of: Nachtmystium, (mid-period) Enslaved, Killing Joke
After two more Death Metal leaning editions of The Synn Report, I think it’s time to take things in a… different… direction. And, if there’s one thing that can be said about Oranssi Pazuzu it’s that they’re definitely “different”.
After all, the Finnish quintet have never been your stereotypical Black Metal act and have rarely, if ever, played up to the expectations of their audience. Over the course of the last 9-or-so years the quintet have released three (now four) critically applauded albums fusing the base elements of Black Metal with massive injections of proggy psychedelia and surrealistic sonic experimentation, constantly pushing their sound in ever more unusual, unconventional directions.
With their fourth full-length album Värähtelijä set for release today, now seemed like the perfect time to suit up and take a trip out into the void in the company of these Finnish cosmonauts!
photo by Forrest Locke
(For this 68th edition of The Synn Report, Andy takes as his subject the discography of SoCal’s Seven Sisters of Sleep — including their brand new album due for release by Relapse on February 5.)
Recommended for fans of: Eyehategod, Acid Bath, Soilent Green
After traversing the parched, sun-beaten wastelands of Texas in last month’s edition of The Synn Report, this time we’re travelling West to the city of angels, Los Angeles, to catch up with inveterate noise-mongers Seven Sisters of Sleep.
For those unfamiliar with the band, here’s a warning. This is some nasty, unrepentantly nihilistic stuff, straddling the blood-crusted nexus point between filthy Sludge, groaning Doom, buzzing Drone, seething Hardcore, and grim Old School Death Metal… with more than a few splashes of venomous Grind thrown in for good measure. Suffice it to say, this is definitely not music for the faint of heart.
By the same token though, it never feels like the band have just mashed-up all these sounds into one big, messy Extreme Metal sundae. Rather their sound comes across like a distillation of each of these styles down to their shared essence, filtered and refined to produce pure Extreme Metal moonshine, that’s just as likely to make you bang your head and scream your guts out as it is to make you go blind… and scream your guts out.
Though the band have a fair few splits and EPs to their name, I’ve elected to stick just to the full-length albums for this edition of The Synn Report, in particular their about-to-be-released third album Ezekiel’s Hags.
(In Part 67 of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reviews the discography of a band who began in North Pole, Alaska — Turbid North.)
Recommended for fans of: Crowbar, Misery Index, Mastodon
Ok, cards on the table – this edition of The Synn Report is basically just an excuse for me to finally wax lyrical about last year’s Eyes Alive, an album which only just missed out on consideration for my Critical Top 10, and which I’ve been jamming repeatedly ever since discovering the manifold pleasures contained within its nine tracks of gritty, blood-pumping Death-Prog stomp and swagger.
That’s not meaning to downplay either of the band’s two previous releases. Their debut, Under the Eight, is a solid (if somewhat familiar) enough slab of heavily Pantera-influenced Death-Thrash, while the follow-up Orogeny (the album which first brought them to wider attention) ups the ante considerably, showcasing the group beginning to truly find their feet and their own sound in a whirling cavalcade of rumbling Death Metal riffs, grinding sludge-soaked grooves, and dizzying prog/tech fretboard freak-outs.
But it’s definitely on the band’s most recent album where their star truly began to shine, culminating in nine tracks of blissful metallic perfection that sound like the members of Crowbar, Misery Index, and Mastodon having one last narcotic-fueled jam at the very end of the world.
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!
(In this edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reviews the discography of Poland’s Obscure Sphinx.)
Recommended for fans of: Cult of Luna, Tool, Triptykon
Polish Post-Prog-Doomsters Obscure Sphynx are one of those bands who you just can’t believe aren’t so much bigger than they are. Both their albums (particularly 2013’s utterly phenomenal Void Mother, which is easily up there with my all-time favourite albums) could serve as a masterclass in how to craft songs melding mood and emotion, rage and clarity, captivating song-writing and focused metallic heaviness – and both have similarly been underrated and underappreciated by the metal-loving public at large.
Well no more! It’s time to sit up and take notice, it’s time to give the devil his due… it’s time… for this band to reap the just rewards for the brilliant music that they’ve sown!
(Andy Synn presents the 65th edition of THE SYNN REPORT, reviewing the discography of Withered — who have a new album on the way.)
Recommended for fans of: Ulcerate, Krallice, Lord Mantis
Ugly. Raw. Nihilistic. Harrowing. These words — and many more besides — can all be applied to the work of bile-spewing troubadours Withered, who have so far produced three particularly stellar (if also particularly underappreciated) albums blending the raving savagery of Black Metal, with the wrenching heaviness of Death Metal, and the slime-drenched grooves of Sludge, each one bathed in a scalding miasma of acid-rain atmospherics and bleak, bitter misanthropy.
If you’ve encountered the band before, and/or have read any other reviews of their work, then I’m sure you’ll have noticed just how much of a struggle it is to adequately categorise the Georgian quartet (recently reduced to a three-piece after the departure of guitarist/vocalist Dylan Kilgore – who’s been replaced by Primitive Man’s Ethan McCarthy – as well as both long-time bassist Mike Longoria and his interim replacement Zach Harlan, with bass duties on the upcoming album being handled by a certain Colin Marston).
It’s not that the basic elements of the band’s sound are wholly unique – I, and others, have picked out references to everyone from (early) Mastodon to Morbid Angel, from Dissection to Neurosis, from Deathspell Omega to Entombed, underpinning their particular brand of Blackened Death-Sludge (or, possibly, Ensludgened Death-Black). It’s just that the resultant cacophony, this grim and godless entity that calls itself Withered, rises above these comparisons to stand defiantly on its own two feet.
Some people call them Death Metal. Some people call them Black Metal. Some people call them Sludge Metal. But whatever we all decide to call them, I’m sure we can all agree that they’re awesome.
(In this unusual edition of The Synn Report, Andy Synn brings us reviews of albums by three one-man bands.)
This particular edition of The Synn Report is going to be a bit of a strange one, as it actually contains three different bands instead of the usual, singular focus on a single artist.
Why, you may ask? Well to be honest I wanted to write about all three of them separately but, for whatever reason, was struggling to find the right angle of attack by which to approach them as separate entities.
Thus it was only when I realized the obvious fact that they each had one thing in particular in common –that each “band” is really the solo project of a single individual – that I found the necessary ideological crowbar that allowed me to finally crack this column.
So please, after the jump, enjoy the immersive instrumental cosmology of Widek, the experimental Cascadian naturalism of Stellar Descent, and the prolific sonic nihilism of Voidcraeft.
(In this 63rd edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy reviews the discography to date of Germany’s Stellar Master Elite — including their just-released third album, Eternalism.)
Recommended for fans of: Thorns, Satyricon, Aborym
The Synn Report isn’t just about covering bands retrospectively you know? In fact, frequently I’ll stumble across a band for the very first time and just feel compelled to write about them immediately (see Parts 57 and 60 for recent examples).
German grim-meisters Stellar Master Elite are another example of a band whose name has been floating around the various circles in which I wander for a while, but who – with their upcoming third album (which is being released today) – I’ve only just gotten round to checking out.
Their sound, though instantly memorable, is actually slightly hard to properly categorise. Certainly there’s a significant Blackened backbone to the band, but this is overlain with a Doomy, occult glamour and a shining skin of cyber-industrial synth work… so it should be no surprise to discover that the band named themselves after a song by legendary (if not exactly prolific) Industrial Black Metal forerunners Thorns… though it must also be said that the Germans are less chaotically aggressive overall, but far more ominously bleak in their approach!
So if you’re looking to get your grim, inhuman groove on, then you’ve definitely come to the right place!