Apr 252018
 

 

(Andy Synn continues his occasional series in which he devotes attention to new releases by UK bands, here presenting a trio of reviews and music streams.)

Despite the fact that these days I exist more on the periphery of what one might loosely describe as “the scene” here in the UK, I’m still very much on a mission to talk/write about some of its best and brightest stars, and hopefully expose them to a whole new audience in the process.

And while each of the following bands has been featured here at NCS before (some more than others), this isn’t so much a case of favouritism as it is an acknowledgement that all three continue to make extremely compelling, attention-grabbing music, and their latest albums are no exception. Continue reading »

Apr 212018
 

 

(Welcome to another edition of Andy Synn’s Waxing Lyrical feature. Today he presents a very interesting discussion with Jamie Stewart of The Absence.)

Some of you may have caught my review of A Gift for the Obsessed, the long-awaited fourth album by Floridian Melodeath marauders The Absence, last month (almost exactly one month ago, in fact). And hopefully some of you were inspired enough to go check out the album on your own terms and, ideally, to pick up a copy for yourselves.

If you didn’t catch it, well, here’s another chance for you to check out what you’ve been missing, as I managed to cajole the band’s vocalist/lyricist Jamie Stewart into participating in this edition of Waxing Lyrical, where he talks about misheard lyrics, space madness, and the importance of Hip-Hop to his early musical development! Continue reading »

Apr 202018
 

 

(Andy Synn returns to his irregular series devoted to things that come in five’s, the focus of this one being metal album art.)

The phrase “never judge a book by its cover” was obviously uttered by someone who’d never found themselves stranded in a busy bookshop and frozen by indecision over which of the many, many options to spend their hard-earned cash on.

Of course while I agree with the sentiment in principle – style is no substitute for substance after all, and a shiny package is no guarantee of superior contents – the truth is that human beings are very visual creatures, and an eye-catching cover, one which hints at the themes and manifest delights contained within, can be the difference between finding a new reader and being consigned to the bottom of the bargain bin at the end of the month.

The same obviously applies when we’re talking about albums too. Yes, the move towards a primarily digital market has had an impact on the means and methodology behind how new albums are accessed and presented (though apparently physical sales have been rebounding quite a bit recently), but the importance of good album art still shouldn’t be understated. Continue reading »

Apr 182018
 

 

(Andy Synn has compiled reviews of six new releases in this mid-week post.)

 

Despite our best efforts to the contrary, there still remains a certain cadre of people convinced that there’s some sort of nefarious motive or hidden agenda behind the work we do here at NCS.

So, in the interests of clarity and transparency I’d like to begin this piece by restating a few things.

For one, you should be aware that we don’t host any ads here at the site, take in any money from bands/labels, and don’t receive any kicks for clicks. This place is entirely independent and self-funded, and it’s going to stay that way.

Similarly we’re not beholden to record labels for access or coverage, nor do we favour “big” releases over less well-known ones. We’ll write about them, sure, if we feel like we want to, but the general ethos of this site has always been to focus on less well-known and less widely-covered, bands.

And while we have built up a good relationship with certain labels/agents over the years, this has largely been based upon a reputation for scrupulous honesty. We won’t host a premiere, conduct an interview, or write a review, unless we actually like the band/artist in question, and while we always try to accentuate the positive, we’re not afraid to provide (constructive) criticism when it’s warranted.

As a matter of fact we’ve actually been blacklisted or downgraded by certain agents/agencies in the past simply because we weren’t nice enough about their bands…

Anyway, all of this preamble is really just a long-winded way of saying that the following collection of reviews hasn’t been paid for or solicited in any way. It’s just a bunch of albums I’ve stumbled across in the last few weeks/months that I felt like writing about and recommending to you all. Continue reading »

Apr 162018
 

 

(We are very happy to present the premiere stream of the new album by Claret Ash in advance of its April 30 release by Casus Belli Musica and Beverina, preceded by Andy Synn’s review.)

 

Reviewing this album has been something of a strange experience for me, since I’ve actually already written about half of it last year, when the first five tracks were released as The Great Adjudication: Fragment One.

Now though, with the addition of seven more songs (which, I suppose, collectively make up Fragment Two), the band are all set to release the complete version of The Great Adjudication next month in its full, seventy-five minute glory.

The big question of course, is whether the Australian quartet’s gamble is going to pay off, whether these additional tracks will serve to enhance and improve that initial experience, or whether their decision to split the record up into two separate sequences of songs – and then attempt to recombine them for the album proper – is going to blow up in their faces. Continue reading »

Apr 142018
 

 

(Andy Synn returns with another installment in his Saturday series about lyrics in metal, and today brings us insights from Sammy Urwin of the UK band Employed To Serve.)

 

So last week’s edition of Waxing Lyrical featured an artist who I declared to have produced one of the best albums of 2017, and so I thought… why not carry on in that vein?

So here’s your chance to learn more about Employed to Serve, whose most recent album, The Warmth of a Dying Sun, was an absolute masterstroke of metallic catharsis and furious energy, courtesy of the band’s guitarist/main song-writer Sammy Urwin. Continue reading »

Apr 132018
 

 

(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by California-based Our Place of Worship Is Silence, which is being released today by Translation Loss Records., and features striking cover art by Wrest of Leviathan.)

 

When you get right down to the beating, bleeding heart of things, a band is really just an organic machine, a biological mechanism of meat and metal, driven by electrical impulses and instinctual imperatives to procreate and disseminate its memetic ideas as far and as wide as possible.

This is something that Our Place of Worship is Silence seem to have grasped on an innate level with their vicious and hate-fuelled second album, With Inexorable Suffering, which finds the deadly duo simultaneously fleshing out their gruesome sound whilst also stripping it back to its most lethally efficient form. Continue reading »

Apr 102018
 

 

(After a hiatus, we present another edition of Andy Synn’s three-line reviews.)

 

According to my records (or vague recollections) it’s been almost ten months since the last edition of ‘Reviews in Haikus’… and this simply will not stand!

So, since I have a backlog of unreviewed albums as long as the Seine, I’ve selected three albums from our Gallic cousins which deserve some attention to cover here.

So, without further ado… Continue reading »

Apr 072018
 


photo by Unai Endemaño

 

(Andy Synn returns with another installment in his Saturday series about lyrics in metal, and today we have a fascinating and eloquent discussion by J. F. Fiar, the vocalist and bassist for the Spanish band Foscor, who has penned the lyrics for their songs, in Catalan and English, for the last four years.)

 

Foscor’s latest album, the stunning Les Irreals Visions, was a beautifully bleak, moody and multifaceted delight, and was so good I declared it one of the Critical Top Ten albums of 2017 and at one point described it as:

“…an album that is simultaneously easy to pick up, and nearly impossible to put down…”

Hopefully, like me, you’ve found it just as difficult to stop listening to and, if so, you might be interested in hearing from the band’s long time vocalist J. F. Fiar about his life, his lyrics, and everything he’s learned along the way! Continue reading »

Apr 062018
 

 

(Andy Synn was fortunate to be in attendance at the 2018 edition of Inferno Festival in Oslo on March 29 – April 1, and files this report, which we’re spreading out in installments this week. Day 4 is the focus of this post; reactions to Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 can be found here, here, and here.)

 

The fourth, and final, day of Inferno Festival 2018 was the day which held the fewest number of bands that I was really interested in, but that didn’t mean there weren’t a bunch of killer acts to see. Continue reading »