Feb 192018


(This is Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Sweden’s Necrophobic, which will be released by Century Media on February 23, 2018.)


There was a time, way back in 2009, when the constant kvetching and complaining about what constituted “real” Black Metal – mostly fuelled by a bunch of obnoxious elitists online desperately trying to portray themselves as the true heirs to a half-baked ideology cooked up by a bunch of disaffected Norwegian teenagers – started to take a real toll on my ability to appreciate it.

More and more it seemed that, despite being long associated (in my mind at least) with creative freedom and primal emotion, the Black Metal scene was becoming just as ignorant, insular, and cluttered with impotent keyboard warriors and perpetual adolescents, as any other.

Thank God Satan for Necrophobic then, who swept in at just the right time to help reignite my passion for the genre.

Feb 122018


(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Virginia’s Grethor, which is out now via Edgewood Arsenal Records.)


As the old saying goes, “too many cooks spoil the broth”. And the same could be said of influences too.

But while every Tom, Dick, and Harriet out there seems to be dead set on mashing together as many different styles and sub-genres as possible, often in a desperate attempt to maximise their appeal and marketability, there are still some bands – call them purists, call them elitists, call them whatever you will – whose primary goal is not to be all things to all people, but simply to be the best that they can be.

Blackened Death Metal demons Grethor are one such band.

Feb 082018


(We present the premiere of a new two-song EP by the Serbian duo All My Sins, which is now available on Bandcamp, preceded by a review of the release by Andy Synn.)


There are some people out there who would have you believe that there are only really two types of bands – “innovators” and “imitators”.

But this is a vast, and misleading, over-simplification of how things really are.

The truth of the matter is that most bands will never be the next Mayhem/Opeth/Meshuggah… or whoever… but that doesn’t mean their music doesn’t have value.

In fact I’d contend that it’s more important to be distinctive, rather than “innovative”, in your chosen field, and that the willingness and ability to truly pour your heart and soul into your music, to twist and tweak established facets and features into something that truly represents your vision, is the most vital thing of all.

Feb 052018


(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by the UK band Conjurer, which will be released on February 23rd by Holy Roar.)

I want to begin this review with a confession – I am extremely envious of Conjurer’s ongoing (and hard-earned) success.

I’m not jealous (that actually means something slightly different), nor do I feel that their success is in any way undeserved. In fact I hope I’ve contributed to it, in my own small way, by covering several of the band’s live shows and their EP, here at NCS.

But I do think that, if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, being in a band and seeing someone else do so well will always arouse some feelings of envy. It’s an entirely natural reaction, and not necessarily a bad thing (unless it turns bitter), as it should in turn push you to do better, to think bigger, and to work harder.

However, apparently it’s something we’re not supposed to talk about since it so clearly runs counter to the whole “brotherhood of Metal” concept that we’re meant to at least pay lip-service to.

There’s one thing I definitely don’t envy though, and that’s the excessive hype and fawning flattery which I’ve seen Mire receive elsewhere on the internet.

Feb 022018


(Andy Synn introduces our premiere of a song from the new album by Horizon Ablaze, which is set for release on February 17.)


When I was asked to select a song from the fantastic new Horizon Ablaze album, The Weight of a Thousand Suns (out Feb 17th), to premiere here at NCS, I really did have to think long and hard about it, as literally every single one of the record’s eight tracks is worthy of celebrating.

However, seeing as how the band chose to lead off with “Insidious” – the album’s proggy, moodily melodic final track – as the album’s first single/video, it only seemed to make sense (not to mention appeal to my love of poetic symmetry) to pick the album’s blistering opener as our gift to you all today.

Jan 312018

Redemptor 2016


(We present the January 2018 edition of THE SYNN REPORT, in which Andy compiles reviews of releases by the Polish band Redemptor.)


Recommended for fans of: Decapitated, Anata, Rivers of Nihil

If you’ve been paying attention at all recently you’ll have caught the name Redemptor as one of the bands featured in my Personal Top Ten of 2017, and may also have noticed that I promised to deliver a Synn Report on the group as soon as possible.

Well, today is that day.

Over the course of three albums and one EP the Polish quintet have steadily evolved their sound from the Schuldiner-esque strains of their debut album None Pointless Balance to the angular hooks and merciless precision of 4th Density and The Jugglernaut, with the process finally culminating in the gargantuan grooves and captivating atmospherics of last year’s utterly crushing Arthaneum.

Jan 292018


(This is Andy Synn’s review of the new album by the California band Ion, which is now available on Bandcamp.)


To say that I have been anticipating the release of this particular album would be a rather glaring understatement. The band’s self-titled debut was so good that I declared it to be my number one album of 2014, and while things have been relatively quiet for the Californian triptych since then (barring a series of irregular live appearances), its manifold metallic delights have remained in steady rotation ever since.

You can therefore possibly imagine my shock to find that their sophomore album, A Path Unknown, was released suddenly and without fanfare on Bandcamp yesterday.

Jan 262018


(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Norway’s In Vain, which is being released today by Indie Recordings.)

If you’ve been paying attention to the Metal blogosphere over the last few months, chances are that you’ll have stumbled across either (or both) of the new singles from Norwegian Prog-Metallers In Vain, released in advance of their new album Currents (out today on Indie Recordings).

What might surprise you, however, is the revelation that these two tracks are. arguably, the worst on the album.

Jan 232018


(Andy Synn wrote this review of the new album by Crow Black Sky from Cape Town, South Africa.)


If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years of writing about music (and that’s a big “if”), it’s that you should never completely write a band off, as they can always surprise you.

Such is the case with South African quartet Crow Black Sky, whose debut record, 2010’s Partheion, proved to be a not-unenjoyable slab of highly melodic, keyboard-inflected Black Metal in the vein of Kolossus-era Keep of Kalessin and early Dimmu Borgir which, despite its obvious merits, largely failed to set the music world on fire, and was soon lost in the shuffle.

Eight(!) years later, however, the band have returned with a new sound, a new outlook, and a brand new album which completely blows its predecessor out of the water.

Jan 212018


(Andy Synn presents our first Rearview Mirror post in many moons. For those who may have forgotten, the column is a rare instance in which we look at metal’s past rather than its present and future.)


Even though we’ve been running these “Rearview Mirror” columns for quite a while now it appears that this is only my third contribution to the series.

Whether that’s simply because I’ve been too busy, or because I like to have a rest on the seventh day (make of that what you will…), the fact remains that this particular corner of NCS has largely been left to Islander (and occasionally DGR) to run.

But today it’s my turn behind the wheel, and I’ve decided to take this opportunity to highlight one of the most overlooked albums in the discography of the legendary Testament!

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