Mar 242017

 

(This is Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Germany’s Heretoir.)

“Post-Black Metal” is a funny old term. Its relatively amorphous nature means that no-one can really fully agree quite what it refers to, or quite what its defining characteristics are as a (sub)genre.

But, to my mind, in order to be considered “Post Black Metal” a band has to have at least some actual Black Metal in their sound (yes, I know that, strictly speaking, “Post” implies after/beyond, but no-one expects a Post-Metal or Post-Rock band to NOT have any Metal/Rock in them, do they?).

It’s not enough to just have a little bit of blackened DNA left over in your system, or just to count certain bands among your influences… if your music doesn’t contain at least some of the sonic markers of Black Metal, then why even bother referring, even obliquely, to it at all?

The reason I’m saying all this is that there are a lot of bands out there, particularly in these Post-Alcest years, who could be considered as Post- “Post Black Metal” at this point, and a full 666 degrees of separation removed from the genre from which they (supposedly) derive their sound.

And while there are those who still think/act like using the words “Black Metal” gives whatever they’re talking about a certain amount of instant credibility, the truth of the matter is that the over-use of terms like “Black Metal” and “Post Black Metal” has not only diluted their meaning in a frankly rather unhelpful manner, but also led to many otherwise worthwhile artists being judged (and found wanting) by a wholly inappropriate set of standards.

So please, don’t think of The Circle as a “Post Black Metal” album. It’s not. But if you judge it on its own merits, by what it is, rather than what you think it should be, I think you’ll find that it really is a great album on its own terms.

Mar 222017

 

(Andy Synn reviews the fourth album by New Jersey’s Fit For An Autopsy.)

It’s a little-known fact, but we actually quite like Deathcore here at NCS… at least, when it’s done well.

After all, our purview has always been to write about Metal, in all its forms, regardless of style or sub-genre. As long as it’s good, as long as it has the passion, the power, and the energy we’re looking for, we’ll write about it.

It doesn’t matter if the band is big or small, new or old, mainstream or underground. Black Metal, Death Metal, Prog, ‘core, or Post-… if the quality is there we’ll do our darnedest to cover it.

Which leads us, nicely, to the new album by New Jersey noisemongers Fit For An Autopsy.

Mar 212017

 

(Andy Synn attended the performance of Devin Townsend, Tesseract, and Leprous in Nottingham, England, on March 18th and files this report.)

Despite the fact that this site is called “No Clean Singing” we’re actually big fans of clean sung vocals here… well, in the right circumstances anyway.

No, the site’s moniker originally stemmed not from a blanket hatred of clean singing, but from Islander and co’s growing dissatisfaction with all the bands shoehorning clean vocals into their songs in a desperate attempt to appear more “accessible”, and therefore more marketable, at the cost of both their overall intensity and their underlying integrity.

I personally have a lot of love, and a lot of respect, for bands on the heavier end of the spectrum who are able to integrate and incorporate clean vocals into their sound in a way that feels totally natural. After all, it’s generally a lot more difficult to hold onto a melody and to hit all the right notes than it is to simply scream your lungs out atop a parade of blastbeats/breakdowns/bombastic riffs (not that I’m attempting to downplay the skill and strain involved in being a good screamer/growler).

So when a show like this rolls around, featuring three bands whose singers are all capable of knocking it completely out of the park (and practically into orbit) with their clean singing abilities, you’d best believe that we’re going to write about it.

Mar 202017


Photo by Stig Persson

(Andy Synn presents a collection of songs to celebrate the International Day of Happiness, which the UN has established as March 20th — today!)

How are we all doing today? Good?

I only ask because today is apparently International Day of Happiness, so we should all be feeling that little bit brighter and sprightlier as a result.

Today is also the day when the UN releases their annual World Happiness Report and, wouldn’t you know it, but our Norwegian brethren (and lady-brethren) have only gone and dethroned the Danish as the world’s happiest nation!

So, in tribute to this momentous occasion, here are five bands who help make Norway the happiest place on earth.

Mar 162017


Cthulhu” by François Baranger

 

(To commemorate the anniversary of H.P. Lovecraft’s death, Andy Synn has assembled a playlist of great tracks inspired by the great man.)

 

The influence that the work of H. P. Lovecraft has had upon the Metal scene can’t be understated, with everyone from Metallica to Morbid Angel taking lyrical (and musical) inspiration from his work.

Now yesterday just so happened to be the eightieth anniversary of Lovecraft’s death and, in true NCS fashion… we completely failed to acknowledge it.

However, it’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon, and what is dead can never truly die, so here are a bunch of songs/albums which pay tribute to the author’s lasting legacy of eldritch, inhuman horror.

Mar 142017

 

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by the multinational group Archivist, which was released near the end of February.)

Clocking in at a formidable sixty-eight minutes in length, Construct is the second album from Austrian/English/German collective Archivist, consisting of ten intricately composed tracks of audacious, atmosphere-drenched Post-Black/Post-Metal/Post-Rock proggery designed to infiltrate and stimulate both the body and the mind.

True, occasionally the band’s ambition slightly outstrips their execution, and the album as a whole doesn’t quite have the same sense of coherence as their self-titled debut, but the sheer scope of its sound, coupled with the band’s impressive ability to seamlessly transition between breathy, ethereal ambience and searing metallic catharsis, makes it one incredibly compelling listen all the same.

Mar 102017

 

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Boston-based Replacire, which will be released by Season of Mist on March 17, 2017.)

How do you like your Death Metal? Old-School? New School? Proudly Uneducated?

How about Prog, how do you feel about that? Positive? Negative? Oddly ambivalent?

How about a band which mixes the pummelling intensity of Dying Fetus with the proggy eccentricity of Leprous, along with shades of both Yattering and The Faceless?

Sound good?

Mar 082017

 

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Boston’s Junius, followed by a full music stream.)

One thing I’ve observed over the years is how often people conflate the statement “I don’t like this” with the judgement that “this isn’t good”.

Sometimes it means that someone has decided that just because they don’t like something, that means it can’t be good… but it also often means that people get offended when you say you don’t like something, because they immediately think you’re saying it isn’t any good.

Which, obviously, isn’t necessarily the case.

Why am I saying all this? Well, it’s because even though I definitely do like this album (a lot), I don’t quite like it as much as 2011’s Reports from the Threshold of Death.

But… that doesn’t mean it isn’t just as good.

Mar 072017

 

(Andy Synn combines reviews of three 2017 albums by German metal bands.)

You know who’ve been absolutely killing it over the last few years? The Germans. Those guys (and gals) definitely know their Metal. From the Thrash to the Prog to the Black to the Death… and every permutation in between… our Germanic brothers and sisters have produced a significant number of my favourite albums over the last couple of years.

And, so far, it looks like 2017 is going to be no different, as the year has already seen a number of high-quality releases from across the metallic spectrum, some of which I’m highlighting here today, and some more of which I’m going to bring you in the next week or so.

So, let us begin, shall we?

Mar 032017

 

(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Portugal’s The Ominous Circle.)

Let’s be clear about one thing straight away. As band names go, “The Ominous Circle” is… not great.

Oh, it could undoubtedly be worse, and I’m sure that, when growled with sufficient gravitas from the stage, it probably sounds nice and evil, but when you consider that other, equally valid names might be “The Terrible Triangle” or “The Sinister Parallelogram”, well…

But, as the saying goes, a rose by any other name would still be as horrifically heavy, and I’ll be damned if these guys don’t deliver the goods on Appalling Ascension.

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