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.
(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.
(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!
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:
(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!
(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.
(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.
(In this milestone 40th edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reviews the discography of Argentina’s In Element.)
Recommended for fans of: Darkane, Mnemic, After The Burial
It seems we’ve reached another big round number in the annals of this column, and as a result I thought I needed to do something a bit special to celebrate. Because that’s just how I roll.
So today’s artist not only hails from Argentina - receiving its first visit from The Synn Report – but they also offer all of their studio releases (3 albums and one EP) for free download over on their website! That’s right, if you like what you hear you can go straight over to www.in-element.com and download to your heart’s content. Though I’d appreciate it if some of you also bought some physical albums and/or merch, because they definitely deserve your support!
Formed in 2003 and releasing their first album in 2005, these Argentinian antagonists combine state of the art, cybernetically-enhanced melodeath with punishingly technical metalcore flourishes, vicious death metal vocals, and a glorious atmosphere of star-kissed, celestial ambience.
(In this 39th of his reports, Andy reflects upon the discography of Azarath.)
Recommended for fans of: Hate Eternal, Dark Funeral, Krisiun
We’ve had a couple of more proggy, melodic acts featured in the last few Synn Reports, so I think it’s about time we got down to something really nasty.
Polish blasphemers Azarath deal exclusively in a brand of raw, bestial, blackened death metal which has its touchstones in the unrelenting assault of Hate Eternal and Dark Funeral and the bone-grinding riff-contortions of Insision and Blood Red Throne, along with occasional flashes of wickedly evil anti-melody a la Necrophobic or Belphegor.
Formed in 1998, the only remaining original member is infamous Behemoth blast-master Inferno, but despite this, the band’s modus operandi – corrupt, brutalise, blaspheme – has never changed.
(In this 38th edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy reviews the discography of Persefone from the small nation of Andorra, including the band’s new 2013 release, Spiritual Migration.)
Recommended for fans of: Wintersun, Into Eternity, Edge of Sanity
It’s funny how things work out. Persefone had been on my list as a potential Synn Report for some time, and what with them recently releasing their fourth album it was pretty clear that I could kill two birds with one stone and link a short appraisal of it in with the usual Synn Report format. I decided pretty much straight away after finishing Part 37 that the Andorran prog-metallers were going to have to feature in the next edition, and then by coincidence a good number of our readers started mentioning Spiritual Migration as one of their albums of the year so far. It’s crazy how these things line up.
Persefone are the first Andorran artist to feature in The Synn Report, but their sound has worldwide appeal – indeed, their progressive proclivities, ostentatious keyboards, and epic song structures have a fair bit in common with In Vain, who were the subject of the previous edition of this column.
To put you in the right state of mind, a flurry of other names which have been thrown out in response to the band’s music are Dream Theater, Edge of Sanity, Symphony X, Opeth, Into Eternity, Borknagar… all prog-metal behemoths, ranging from the Power Metally inclined to the Death Metally devoted. The fact that these acts are so frequently referenced when talking about the Andorran sextet should (hopefully) give you some indication of just how highly regarded their albums – and their musical abilities – are by those in the know.
After the jump – four albums’ worth of technical skill, creative flair, grandiose ambition, and magnificent storytelling (and keyboards)…
(In this 37th edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy reviews the discography of Norway’s In Vain.)
Recommended for fans of: Vintersorg, Swallow the Sun, Leprous
Picking bands for The Synn Report is a task unto itself (I don’t just throw darts at a board, despite what you might have heard). Many factors are involved: the genre of the band (I like to keep successive columns varied if I can), the size of their discography (basically how much am I prepared to write at any one time), and the current status of the band are just a few. I recently bumped Man Must Die up the list so as to coincide with their funding campaign for their next album, I pushed Ludicra up the list when they announced their dissolution, and the last edition was written purely because I’d been putting off writing about The Funeral Pyre for far too long!
In the case of Norwegian prog-metal mobsters In Vain, the band made it into contention purely because their latest album was just released earlier this year, and has been sitting in my “To Review” pile for far too long. So it seemed prudent to kill two birds with one stone and fold a sort-of-review of their latest release into the traditional format of The Synn Report!