(Andy Synn returns with another trio of reviews for new albums by German bands, this time focusing on releases by Fäulnis, Hexer, and Maat.)
I’m in a bit of a rush, so today’s preamble is going to be short, sweet, and snappy.
Go buy these albums.
FÄULNIS – ANTIKULT
No matter how you like your Black Metal – sullen and groovy, panzerblasty, totally hi-tech or utterly low-fi – there’s always going to be something new out there for you to discover. Whether it’s a fresh face or an established underground underdog, the sheer wealth of talent and torment on offer in the scene today is unsurpassed.
(We present Andy Synn’s review of the debut album by the Danish band Abscission.)
So how’s everyone doing today? All good? I’m only asking because I’ve been relatively off-the-radar doing musical stuff (and then recovering from the cumulative hangover) for the last few days, and so haven’t had much chance to catch up on the various comings and goings of the interweblogosphere.
Obviously that also means I haven’t had any time to do any real writing for NCS for a little while, with the result being that I’m now even further behind on my review schedule than I was last week.
So, in an attempt to get things back on track (though I’ve got a couple more shows to play this week still), here’s some of my vaguely informative ramblings about Vacuity, the dazzling debut album by devilishly dark Danish Death Metallers Abscission.
(Andy Synn focuses once again on a trio of recent or forthcoming releases by UK bands, this time selecting material from Coltsblood, Cold Fell, and The Crawling.)
As I’m off on “tour” for four days tomorrow, meaning I’ll probably be a little bit off-the-radar (or off the reservation) where NCS is concerned, I thought I might as well leave you with something relatively substantial to tide you over while I’m gone.
And what better than another edition of “The Best of British”, highlighting three more artists hailing from these green and pleasant lands?
(Andy Synn prepared this review of the new album by Ulver, which is released today.)
Have you ever wondered if Ulver’s career thus far might in fact be some elaborate joke that none of the rest of us understands? That the band have been engaged in one grand, meta-musical experiment for the last 15-20 years, seeing just how far they can take things, and how far they can push their audience outside of their usual comfort zone?
After all, frontman Kristoffer Rygg has been known to go by the pseudonym “Trickster G”, and the band even had their own label called “Jester Records” at one point, so it’s not like they haven’t given us more than a few hints along the way.
So what if it really is all just a game, a long-con, and we’re just not able to see it?
Would it really matter?
(We bring you a trio of reviews by Andy Synn, with full album streams of the music. The focus is on Cranial, Fjoergyn, and Grand Old Wrath.)
I shouldn’t have to remind you that our Germanic brothers and sisters are absolutely killing it at the moment. Heck, I already have four other albums, and an EP, lined up to review in the near future, and there’s still most of the year left to go!
But, before then, how about you click on through and check out my latest three recommendations, a mix of crushing Post-Metal, blackened avant-garde extravagance, and toothsome Teutonic Tech Death.
(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Nightbringer.)
I doubt there are many among our readers (though undoubtedly there will be some) who would disagree when I say that the Black Metal scene today is in rude health.
From those early seeds sown by a small clique of disaffected Norwegian youths the genre has grown and evolved in ways that its progenitors could never have imagined, spreading out to take root in the hearts and souls of like-minded individuals across the globe and spawning new offshoots, new interpretations and new innovations, which have stretched the boundaries of the style beyond all expectations, while still remaining true to that central tenet of “do what thou wilt”.
But for every innovator there are a thousand imitators, and I do sometimes get tired of seeing yet another bunch of earnest amateurs playing dress-up and pantomiming the actions and aesthetics of bigger, better bands, while offering little (if anything) new or inspiring of their own.
Thankfully Nightbringer are, and have always been, a cut above the rest. And every album, every song, every hellish, skin-stripping riff and vile vocal incantation, is delivered with the righteous fury and unwavering conviction of the true believer.
(Andy Synn brings us a trio of reviews of new releases by The Darkhorse, Mountains Crave, and Ancient Ascendant.)
Ah yes, it’s finally time for the first in what I hope will be several pieces collecting the best Metal which these fair isles have to offer in 2017.
As always, the three bands I’ve selected each offer a very different take on the metallic fundamentals, from the swaggering stomp of The Darkhorse, or the sweeping blackened grandeur of Mountains Crave, to the rifftastic rampage of Ancient Ascendant, meaning there should be something here for everyone (or, at least, for most people) to really sink their teeth into!
(March nears its last gasps, and Andy Synn slips in under the expiration wire with the 83rd edition of THE SYNN REPORT. The spotlight this month falls on the discography of California’s Dreaming Dead, which includes their just-released third album.)
Recommended for fans of: Death, Arsis, Horrendous
There are some bands who just never get their due. And, in my humble opinion, Californian quartet Dreaming Dead are one of them, as their proficiency in the metallic arts is absolutely second to none, and yet their status as underground underdogs has led them to fly under most people’s radar.
Often tagged, erroneously, as “Melodeath”, it would be more accurate to characterize the band as a furious hybrid of Death and Thrash Metal, with a penchant for brash, technically demanding riffage and a knack for incorporating multiple threads of moody melody without lessening the heaviness or impact of their sound one iota.
Formed in 2006 on the mean streets of LA (note: said streets may not have been as mean as portrayed on TV), the band have undergone a few line-up changes in the intervening years since then, although the core duo of Elizabeth Schall (also of NCS-beloved grindsters Cretin) on vocals/guitar and Mike Caffell on drums has remained constant throughout.
The band having just released their third album, Funeral Twilight, last month, now seemed like the perfect time to wax lyrical about them, and hopefully introduce some new listeners to their signature brand of audio extremity.
(Andy Synn reviews the new second album by Australia’s Earth Rot.)
As much as some people hate it, I find making comparisons between bands to be very useful when writing reviews, as they help me to set the reader/listener on the right path, and allow me to put them in the right frame of mind when listening to a new album.
But picking and choosing the right references to make is more of an art than a science, and inferring what other bands may have influenced a certain artist is more complex still.
Case in point, during a recent conversation about the heavy influence of Dismember and early Entombed (particularly in their cutting, buzzsaw-through-bone guitar tone) I hear when listening to Earth Rot, two of the band’s members happened to chime in to inform me that, as a matter of fact, none of them are massive fans of either group, and would all consider both Dark Funeral and Emperor to have had a much greater impact on their sound than anything from the Stockholm scene!
Like I said, it’s an art, not a science…
Still, now that it’s been made painfully clear I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, what else can I actually say about Renascentia?
(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.