Jan 192017


(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Deviant Process from Québec City, Québec.)

Whichever way you slice it, last year was a very good year for fans of the more technical side of Death Metal. From the weird and the wonderful, to the brash and the brutal, 2016 offered a wealth of diverse delights and hidden gems across the length and breadth of the ever-expanding Tech Death spectrum.

And one of those hidden gems was Paroxysm, by Canadian destroyers Deviant Process.

So, as yet another part of my ongoing attempt to catch up with some of last year’s most overlooked and underrated albums, here’s my succinct summation of the band’s full-length debut.

It’s awesome. Now go buy it.

What? You wanted a bit more detail than that? Fine… but never say I don’t do anything for you!

Jan 182017


(The UK-Ireland Tour of Meshuggah and The Haunted rolled through Nottingham, England, on the night of January 14, 2017, and our man Andy Synn was there — and files this report, with video evidence.)

Why do we go see live music? That’s a question which I’ve been pondering, cogitating on, and generally wondering about for many, many years.

After all, in one sense all that’s going to happen is that we’re going to hear some songs we already know, played with (potentially) more mistakes, in a venue where the sound quality is always a question mark, whilst packed in cheek-to-jowl with a plethora of ne’er-do-wells of dubious morality and questionable personal hygiene.

But, often when we go to see a band and they play TOO perfectly… the reaction is generally just as bad as if they’d played terribly. So it’s clearly not just a case of going to see a band to watch them reproduce the music from their albums wholesale.

I don’t have an answer to that question above by the way, it’s just something that’s been on my mind for a while. If you think about it, the whole process of going to see live music is a little odd after all.

Though I suppose if you think about anything too much it starts to seem a little weird.

Jan 162017


(Andy Synn prepared this review of the debut album by the Irish band Partholón.)

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this whole “Post-Metal” malarkey seems to be one of the easiest of Metal sub-genres to do – get yourself a bunch of delay pedals, mix a few churning riffs in with a plethora of gloomy, hanging chord progressions, and bob’s your creepily over-attentive uncle – but also one of the hardest of Metal sub-genres to do right.

Just ticking the right boxes in the right order isn’t enough. You have to have some sense of identity, some sort of character, to be able to stand out from the crowd.

Yes, everyone can do it. But not everyone can do it well.

Which is where Partholón come in.

Jan 132017


(Andy Synn reviews the new album by NY’s Black Anvil.)

Towards the tail-end of 2016 I conducted an as-yet-unpublished interview with Black Anvil bassist/vocalist Paul Delaney about the band’s upcoming new album, As Was (out today on Relapse Records).

During said conversation he ruefully acknowledged that the fact that the band’s members all have roots in the NYC Hardcore scene tends to unnecessarily dominate the conversation a lot of the time, often causing people to read into things, or hear things, that aren’t there, and leading interviewers to say or ask things which make it clear they’ve made certain assumptions about the band, and about their music, that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

So I had to laugh when skimming through some of the coverage of As Was on the internet recently, noting several writers/reviewers still attempting to cast doubt upon the band’s sincerity and/or integrity, with the general gist seeming to be that it’s impossible for tattooed ex-Hardcore guys to truly “get” Black Metal, which is a genre that’s solely the preserve of weedy dudes in face paint, who truly understand “darkness” (no parents?).

I mean, are we honestly still going with the whole “jocks vs nerds” stereotype?

Don’t get me wrong. I understand the urge, the need, to see and hold a style of music as “yours”. Particularly if it’s been such a formative part of your identity for so long. But to write off a band simply because they haven’t followed the same path as you is just ludicrous.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat… or to blast a beat… after all.

Jan 112017


(We present Andy Synn’s review of the latest EP by Germany’s Wolves Carry My Name.)

Honestly, at some point I will start reviewing new albums from 2017. I promise.

In fact I plan to review a certain new album by a certain gang of US Black Metallers this Friday.

But, in the meantime, I’m continuing full-steam-ahead with my attempt to catch-up on some of last year’s most overlooked gems.

2016 is over when I say it’s over!!!

Jan 052017


(Andy Synn reviews the latest album by the band Zao.)

Remember when the word “Metalcore” actually meant something? Those halcyon days when it referred to bands mixing the breakneck emotional intensity of Hardcore with the prodigious sonic power of Metal, rather than being a watchword for formulaic, anodyne angst-merchants desperate for their fifteen minutes of dubious fame?

NoCleanSinging remembers.

And so, it seems, do Zao, who returned at the tail-end of 2016 with what could very well be the best thing they’ve ever released.

Jan 022017


(The first week of 2017 has begun, but we still have a few 2016 releases we want to write about, including the second album by Phantom Winter, which is the subject of this review by Andy Synn.)

You’re probably already aware of this, but the fact is there’s simply too much music released each year for any one man, even one as handsome and debonair as myself, to cover it all. There’s always a gem or two (or ten) that slip through the cracks.

As a result I’m going to be spending the next week or so covering some of the releases which DIDN’T make my end of year lists, simply because I:

a) didn’t have chance to give them a full and proper listen, or
b) fell so hard for them that I wasn’t sure I could trust my initial reactions.

Either way, it’s a good opportunity for me to make up for lost ground, before getting fully into the swing of 2017.

Dec 282016



(Andy Synn delivers the last monthly SYNN REPORT of 2016, and reviews the discography of the British band Fall of Efrafa.)

Recommended for fans of: Neurosis, Amenra, Downfall of Gaia

Taking in elements of Crust Punk, Post-Metal, Post-Rock, Drone, and Hardcore, and spitting out a captivating conglomeration of pulse-pounding riffs, cascading melodies, and harsh, gritty vocals, Fall of Efrafa were, for a time, one of the most vital and visceral acts in the UK.

The band’s three albums, Owsla, Elil, and Inlé together form a conceptual trilogy inspired by the 1972 literary classic Watership Down (whose author, Richard Adams, passed away peacefully at the grand old age of 96 just a few days ago), with the quintet channelling their political, religious, and social philosophy – particularly their opposition to theocracy and blind faith – through the themes of Adams’ seminal novel.

Following the release of their third album the group disbanded, having completed the work for which they originally came together. In this way, and in many others, Fall of Efrafa were just that little bit different from most bands out there. They had a goal, they had a vision, and chose to both begin and to end things entirely on their own terms, leaving behind an impressive (if still under-appreciated) legacy of passion, ambition, and uncompromising integrity.

Which is why I chose them for this, the eightieth edition of The Synn Report, which I’m also dedicating to my friend Charlie as a testament to her excellent musical taste.

Dec 252016

Rearview Mirror


(Andy Synn steps in for this Sunday’s look back at metal releases from the past.)

Christmas Day, for many, is not just a time to spend with family and friends (or whatever fictional deity you prefer)… it’s a time for reflection, a time for looking back and taking stock. So I suppose it’s only fitting that we publish another one of our Rearview Mirror pieces today.

This time around it falls to me to take you all on a journey into the misty depths of days gone by, all the way back to the fabled year of two thousand and ten, to discover the wonders of the first (and, so far, only) album by French philosadists 11 As In Adversaries.

Dec 232016



(Andy Synn has pounced with alacrity upon the just-released Prelapsarian by Krallice and prepared this timely review.)  

Oh you poor, deluded fools… did you really think we were done with reviews, simply because we’re currently mired in the depths of Listmania? And did you really think that I was done writing, just because my week-long list-stravaganza, was finally done?

Perish the thought.

In truth I’d actually intended to get more writing done this week, but I ended up being busy practically all day (and all night) Tuesday, and somewhat hungover on Wednesday… so this is my first real chance to sit down and get my brain back into gear. Worry not though, as I have at least one more review, and this month’s edition of The Synn Report, planned for next week.

But, in the meantime, let’s cast our eyes (and ears) over Prelapsarian, the latest dose of extravantgarde extremity from the ever-prolific Krallice.

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