Sep 212017


(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Satyricon.)

Back in 2013 it seemed as though I was one of the few people – at least of the ones I knew and regularly interacted with – who genuinely enjoyed and appreciated Satyricon’s self-titled opus.

And although, in the years since then, I’ve seen more than a few of them come to appreciate the album’s proggier, more introspective, charms, it remains a divisive and frequently (though not always fairly) criticised entry in the band’s extensive catalogue.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not also a vitally important one.

As a matter of fact, I said at the time, in light of lines like “the stage is yours / I can no longer rule”, that the album was either going to mark the end of the line, or the beginning of a new age, and that only time would tell which was true.

Well, four long, hard years later, we finally have our answer.

Sep 182017


(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Vancouver’s Archspire.)

If you’re even vaguely aware of the comings and goings of the modern Tech Death scene, then chances are you’ll have heard the names Archspire and The Lucid Collective (the band’s 2014 album) before now.

Famous (or perhaps infamous) for their shameless dedication to ludicrous speed, as well as their ability to change direction faster than a TRON light-cycle (ask your parents…), the band are (rightly) held up as an example of Technical Death Metal at its most outrageously and enjoyably OTT, with everything (and I do mean everything) turned up well past 11.

There are those, however, who believe that the Canadian quintet’s addiction to excessive velocity is a flagrant example of style over substance, and that the spitfire vocals of motormouth mic-slinger Oli Peters, impressive though they might be, are little more than a gimmick designed to disguise the group’s lack of finesse in the songwriting department.

Well, it appears that the band must have taken some of these criticisms under advisement when putting together their new album, as this is one area in particular where Relentless Mutation improves upon its predecessor in leaps and bounds.

Sep 162017


(Andy Synn is playing catch-up in a furious torrent, with brief reviews and streams of music from 12 striking 2017 albums.  Open wide… dine like queens and kings.)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again (and again)… the vast array of music now available at the touch of a button is both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you look at it.

And while I generally celebrate the fact that I’m now able to search out and discover music from all around the world with an ease that’s quite mind-boggling when you think about it, the sheer plethora of albums clamouring for my attention means there’s simply not enough hours in the day to give them all the attention they deserve.

As a consequence of this, my “to do” list has swollen to a frankly rather distressing size over the last 4-5 months, so I’ve made an executive decision to clear my slate a little bit by pulling together twelve albums, which we’ve thus far failed to cover properly here at NCS, into one collective round-up.

So, without further ado, let’s get to it, shall we?

Sep 132017


(Andy Synn provides his reactions to the new album by Gigan, which will be released on September 15 by Willowtip Records.)

Last year I wrote a column attempting to delineate the reason (or, more accurately) reasons, why I listen to Metal.

But some bands are so weird and wonderful, so damnably difficult to pin down, that they defy explanation.

So I can’t necessarily tell you WHY I like Gigan… only that I do.

And maybe, just maybe, you will too.

Sep 112017


(Andy Synn reviews the new album by the UK’s Dawn Ray’d, which will be released on October 2nd.)

Despite what some people might have you believe, Black Metal is not, nor has it ever really been, a monolith.

In fact if you look back at the early days of the scene, and in particular those responsible for laying its foundations, you’ll quickly become aware of the variety of personalities, approaches, and opinions which, collectively, contributed to the genesis of the nascent genre, while also planting the seeds for the variety of different styles and sub-genres to come.

Of course while the guiding principle of Black Metal may well be “do what thou will”, this doesn’t mean you can claim that anything is Black Metal. There are certain markers you still need to hit, certain rules you might say, that apply even here.

But within these (relatively loose) confines you’ll find a world of different approaches, different beliefs, different ideologies – from nihilism to humanism, asceticism to Satanism – all clashing and coalescing in a tumultuous display of pure passion and unflinching intensity.

Which is why, regardless of what you might think about their personalities or their politics, I have little hesitation in declaring The Unlawful Assembly to be one of the best Black Metal albums of the year.

Sep 092017


(Andy Synn is the author of this thought piece, and as always, we welcome your own thoughts in the Comments.)

I/we recently received a pair of promos here at NCS that couldn’t have been more diametrically opposed in style, Deus Salutis Meae by Blut Aus Nord and Will to Power by Arch Enemy.

The former is a return to the oppressive, industrialised soundscapes of The Work Which Transforms God and Mort, whose purposefully unsettling nature practically epitomises the idea of “art for art’s sake”, while the latter is a collection of shamelessly catchy, if predictably formulaic, tunes, designed with one eye firmly on increasing the band’s popularity and mainstream (in Metal terms at least) appeal.

And though the two bands/albums have very little in common on the purely musical side of things, their very nature means they can still be compared as representing the two polar extremes of the modern-day Metal spectrum.

Sep 072017


(Here is Andy Synn’s review of the new album by the Finnish band Raster Density, which was released in May of this year.)

It’s been something of a banner year for the Technical side of the Death Metal spectrum so far, with new releases from both established luminaries (Decrepit Birth, Origin, Inanimate Existence) and up-and-coming acts (Replacire, Enfold Darkness) grabbing hype and headlines for their furious fretsmanship and shameless dedication to crushing complexity.

And while this torrent of technical tumult doesn’t show any signs of abating any time soon – with new albums from Archspire (which I should be reviewing next week), Fleshkiller (aka Extol 2.0), and The Faceless (which, yes, I have heard) all on the horizon – the sheer array of impressively OTT offerings clamouring for our attention means it’s inevitable that some bands will slip through the cracks.

Which, until now at least, had very much been the case with Finland’s Raster Density.

Sep 042017


(In this post Andy Synn combines reviews of three recent EPs, with music streams of course.)

Phew, time really flies doesn’t it? I mean, somehow it’s already September and although we still have a huge number of releases to look forward to before the year’s end, I find my mind already turning towards the upcoming Listmania with an equal mix of anticipation and trepidation.

Thankfully that particular furore is still a little way off and, although work is keeping me pretty darn busy at the moment, I should be able to fit in quite a lot of reviews and features before the time comes for our annual wrap-up.

So, without further ado, get ready to wrap your earholes around three short, but succulent morsels of Thrash, Death, and Death-Thrash courtesy of Entombment (USA), Iron Flesh (FR), and Seprevation (UK).

Sep 022017


(Andy Synn is now lobbying the Oxford English Dictionary for recognition of a new word.)

In case you didn’t know, yesterday saw release of the brand new album by Symphonic Death Metal titans Septic Flesh (yes, I’m still spelling it as two words).

Now while I’m not planning on reviewing it here (that honour will, in all likelihood, fall to DGR), I will say that Codex Omega feels like a big step up from The Great Mass and Titan, the latter of which in particular suffered (in this author’s opinion at least) from a noticeable lack of balance between the “Symphonic” and the “Death Metal” aspects of the band’s sound, with the lion’s share of the effort put into the orchestration, while the drums and riffs (or lack thereof) were treated very much as an afterthought.

And as Codex Omega is such a big improvement on its predecessors in this regard, I felt it might be high time we all got together to discuss the costs/benefits inherent in “symphonisizing” (a word I’ve just invented) your sound.

Aug 312017


(In this August 2017 edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reviews all three of the albums released to date by the German black metal band Fyrnask, the most recent of which was 2016’s Fórn.)

Recommended for fans of: Altar of Plagues, Leviathan, The Great Old Ones

It doesn’t seem like a full month has passed, does it? I swear it feels like only yesterday I was putting the final coat of paint and polish on the 87th edition of The Synn Report, and yet here I am again, scrambling to get #88 finished.

Heavy on atmosphere, yet equally heavy in terms of metallic venom and visceral aggression, Fyrnask neatly sidestep the introverted navel-gazing that afflicts much of the “Post-“ scene by virtue of a single-minded focus on ravenous creative expression and pure, primal catharsis.

Over the course of three impressively multifaceted and multilayered albums, the most recent of which, Fórn, came out just last year, Fyrnask mainman Fyrnd (who handles all instruments and vocals) has continued to explore and expand his sonic palette, incorporating a wealth of exotic instrumentation and esoteric ambience into the mix, although the foundation of the band’s sound remains grounded in bloody and raw-boned Black Metal.

So if you’re looking for something which offers both an instant spark and a deeper, longer-lasting burn, then please… read on.

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