Sep 192018
 

 

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Minnesota’s Blodwar, released on September 7th and now available through Bandcamp.)

I’d like to begin this review by taking a little trip all the way back to the heady days of… the early 1990s.

It might seem odd to think about it now, but “back in the day” a hungry young band called Machine Head were hotly tipped to be the sound of the underground in the lead-up to the release of their debut album, Burn My Eyes.

Not only would this record prove to be one uncompromisingly aggressive (not to mention bastard-heavy) amalgam of Thrash, Hardcore, and Death Metal, quite unlike anything else being put out at the time, but it would also go on to become (arguably) the band’s crowning achievement and remains to this day their defining statement in the eyes of many of their fans (and even some of their detractors).

Of course we all know what happened next, with Flynn and co. jumping on the Nu-Metal bandwagon, only to fall off (and fall hard) come the turn of the new millennium, followed by an unexpected return to form in the shape of their “comeback” album, Through the Ashes of Empires… and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now whether you love or loathe the band’s increasingly barefaced attempts to court the mainstream and become “the next Metallica” in recent years, you can’t deny that it’s been a remarkably successful strategy, and paid off handsomely for them in terms of increased exposure and ever-increasing record and ticket sales.

But there will always be those left wondering what might have happened had they stuck to their guns (and their heavier roots) after the release of The More Things Change…, and it looks like Minnesota metallers Blodwar might just have the answer. Continue reading »

Sep 152018
 

 

(In this week’s edition of Andy Synn’s WAXING LYRICAL the focus is the lyricism of the German band Phantom Winter, as discussed by vocalist/guitarist Andreas Schmittfull.)

The name Phantom Winter should be familiar to most readers of our site as we’ve written about the German quintet several times, heaping a large amount of praise on their visceral brand of Blackened Sludge Metal over the years, as well as engaging in numerous discussions about their rigorously shaped and savagely delivered philosophical and socio-political lyrics.

It should be no surprise to learn then that the band’s vocalist/guitarist (and primary lyricist) Andreas Schmittfull had a lot to say and a lot of interesting insight to offer when I (finally) managed to pin him down for this edition of Waxing Lyrical.

So, without further ado… take it away Andreas! Continue reading »

Sep 142018
 

 

(We present Andy Synn‘s review of the latest album by the Italian band Void of Silence, which was released earlier this year by Avantgarde Music.)

I’ve had Italian Post/Doom Metallers Void of Silence lined up for an edition of The Synn Report for quite a while now, as it’s long felt to me like their signature combination of titanic riffs, symphonic keys, riveting vocal melodies, and ambient industrial embellishments, has the potential to really speak to a significant segment of our readership.

However a few different factors have all combined to the point where it simply made more sense to (finally) review their new album (their first after a lengthy, eight-year-long, hiatus) in isolation, particularly since, in my humble opinion at least, it’s one of the very best records of 2018. Continue reading »

Sep 122018
 


 

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

For various reasons (which I don’t plan on getting into here) it’s been quite some time since we’ve published a new set of Reviews in Haikus here at NCS.

Today’s edition is a little bit different than usual, however, as it trades-in the traditional format of featuring three albums from three different bands in favour of featuring three albums by one single artist, the prolific Black Metal poet known as Void Ritual, who has quickly (and rightfully) established himself as one of the most vital new voices in the US scene. Continue reading »

Sep 082018
 

 

(In this new edition of Waxing Lyrical, Andy Synn posed his usual questions to Daniel Neagoe of the UK-based funeral doom band Eye of Solitude.)

As far as I can gather, we’ve been writing about Romanian/British Doom lords Eye of Solitude for well over five years now, and have featured articles on their work a number of times (such as here, here, here, and here).

This, however, is the first time in quite a while where we’ve had the chance to speak to one of the band members directly – in this case vocalist/lyricist Daniel Neagoe – and learn a little more about what makes him tick! Continue reading »

Sep 072018
 

(Andy Synn brings us another of his periodic columns devoted to metal from his homeland.)

Today’s edition of “The Best of British” features a nice amount of musical variety, from a bunch of different bands at different levels of fame/exposure (although, coincidentally, two of them hail from the same place – my original home town of Manchester), all of whom released their debut full-length album at some time in the last six months.

As a result, even if you’ve heard of one of these three acts before (and with the recent press furore over one in particular there’s a very good chance that will be the case) you should still be able to find some fresh new metallic morsels here to sink your teeth into. Continue reading »

Sep 042018
 

 

(In this post Andy Synn presents reviews of three of the best black metal albums released so far in 2018.)

You could perhaps consider this article something of a rebuttal to my “Three Faces of Death” piece which was published last week, wherein I stated that 2018 seems to have been a very Death Metal heavy year so far, and that the Black Metal scene has (arguably) been lagging a little bit behind so far.

After all, while this statement is still generally true, some of this year’s blackest highlights – Funeral Mist, Ordinul Negru, Slidhr, Gaerea, Aklash, Ascension– have been more than capable of going toe-to-toe with whatever their deathly brethren have brought to the table.

It’s really just a numbers game at this point, and while I don’t see this torrent of dominating Death Metal ebbing any time soon, I’m pleased to be able to redress the balance somewhat by featuring the following three albums of blackened brilliance. Continue reading »

Aug 312018
 

 

(We present a collection of three death metal reviews by Andy Synn.)

If you’ve been paying even a modicum of attention to the digital metalsphere over the last several months then it’s highly likely you’ll have noticed quite a lot of people talking/writing about how this has been a real banner year for Death Metal, to the point where it’s starting to feel like its corpse-painted cousin, Black Metal, is really struggling to keep up.

And while there has been a solid number of truly great Black Metal albums released this year so far (with more still to come), there’s definitely some truth to this assertion. 2018 really is a great time to be alive if you’re a fan of massive riffs and guttural vocals.

So, in that spirit, here are three more ravenous recommendations, straight from my brain/fingers to your eyes/ears. Continue reading »

Aug 272018
 

 

(We have arrived at the glorious 100th edition of THE SYNN REPORT, which Andy started back in January 2011 with a retrospective about Astarte. In this month’s column, he reviews all the albums released to date by L.A.-based Ancestors, including the just-released Suspended In Reflections.)

Recommended for fans of: Yob, Devin Townsend, Anathema

Selecting what bands to include in the “Recommended for fans of” section of each of these columns is sometimes really easy, sometimes really hard, and sometimes… a little more complicated.

In the case of Progressive Stoner-Doom sorcerors Ancestors it’s really not sufficient to like just one of the bands recommended above, you have to appreciate all three of them – the gruff vocals and expansive grooves of Yob, the dynamic soundscapes and soul-stirring riffs of Devin Townsend (particularly circa-Terria), and the melancholy moods and soaring melodies of latter-day Anathema – and be keen to hear what a crossover between these artists might sound like.

You also need to be open to some calmer, more introspective experiences, particularly since their two most recent albums – 2012’s In Dreams and Time, and the just-released Suspended in Reflections – find the group pushing even further down the Prog/Post-Rock pathway.

But if all that sounds intriguing… then this will definitely be the band for you. Continue reading »

Aug 222018
 

 

(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the German duo Mantar, which will be released by Nuclear Blast on August 24th.)

There comes a moment, in every band’s career (ok, not every band’s career) when they need to decide whether to “go big or go home”.

And it looks like that time has finally come for Mantar, as The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze is easily the biggest, boldest, and most shamelessly bombastic, album of their short but celebrated career, and is practically crying out to be performed on bigger stages and in front of even bigger crowds. Continue reading »