(Andy Synn presents a collection of songs to celebrate the International Day of Happiness, which the UN has established as March 20th — today!)
How are we all doing today? Good?
I only ask because today is apparently International Day of Happiness, so we should all be feeling that little bit brighter and sprightlier as a result.
Today is also the day when the UN releases their annual World Happiness Report and, wouldn’t you know it, but our Norwegian brethren (and lady-brethren) have only gone and dethroned the Danish as the world’s happiest nation!
So, in tribute to this momentous occasion, here are five bands who help make Norway the happiest place on earth.
(Andy Synn provides this update on three bands who have been the subject of previous editions of THE SYNN REPORT.)
While I’m busy putting together the first “proper” Synn Report of 2014 (it’s coming together and I guarantee you’re going to love it) I suppose I should take the opportunity to check back in on some of our previous alumni and update you all as to what’s been going on!
To make it easy for you this one’s in alphabetical order, A, B, and C, because I know you people have trouble with anything more complex than that!
First, and most importantly, it was revealed just before the new year that Astarte mastermind Tristessa was gravely ill in hospital with a form of leukaemia. This was of course terrible for her and her family, and the outpouring of support from her fans did little to assuage the dark cloud hanging over the whole situation.
Thankfully a few days ago the following post appeared on the band’s Facebook page which, while not a complete about-turn, certainly gives us all more cause for hope:
(Guest contributor Old Man Windbreaker finds a perhaps not-so-obvious connection among the latest albums by Gojira and a group of other bands, and includes some bonus items at the end.)
A little more than a year ago, we read a piece by Andy Synn titled ‘Gojiralternatives‘, describing music by half a dozen bands as an alternative of sorts for those who are not that into Gojira’s music. Old Man Windbreaker decided to catch up to the bands featured in that list, since most of them have released a new album since the date of that article. But, Old Man Windbreaker is lazy. Hence, you have a review of the albums a full 2 months after the release of the latest album on this playlist. By the way, here are the albums on this playlist, in chronological order:
- L’Enfant Sauvage by Gojira
- Meliora by Eryn Non Dae.
- Vertikal by Cult of Luna
- Possession by Benea Reach
- Back to Where You’ve Never Been by Hacride
You might notice that Burst and Oceans of Sadness are not in this playlist. That is because they both split up; before the publishing of the original ‘Gojiralternatives‘ article, I might add. So, they will not be revisited, despite having produced amazing music. You might also notice that Eryn Non Dae. is here on this list. That is because of Double Panda. One happened to be playing Double Panda while listening to the album the first time, and One thought they sounded somewhat like Gojira at the time. This eventually led to One revisiting the other Gojiralternatives as well.
(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Norway’s Benea Reach, which is out now via Spinefarm.)
To djent, or not to djent? That is the question…
Ok, so it’s not really all that pertinent, I just mention it to start things off. Disregarding my own personal views on that particular sub-genre, I’d like to state how inaccurate it would be to call Benea Reach a “Djent” act… although I can see how they might appeal to certain fans of that particular sound.
Pre-dating the now almost ubiquitous genre by a fair few years (for context, Benea Reach were already two albums deep before 2010), the group’s pulsing, post-Meshuggah sound holds just as much of a debt to the emotive tumult of Cult Of Luna and the frantic post-hardcore dynamic of Refused, resulting in something resolutely more underground and, ultimately for me, far more rewarding.
(NCS writer Andy Synn pauses after the 30th installment of THE SYNN REPORT to take a look back at the first two years of the series.)
Ok, so we’ve now had 30 ‘official’ entries in The Synn Report. I hope that a good number of you have discovered new bands and gone out and shown your support for them, buying music, merch, gig tickets, etc.
I thought, since the year (and the world!!!) is coming to an end, it might be a good time to provide a quick one-stop summation of all the previous entries, for those of you who maybe missed a couple, or for new devotees of the site who have yet to encounter the earlier editions and the bands contained therein.
Did you know that the genesis for The Synn Report was not entirely down to me? There’s a post that I consider ‘The Synn Report: Year Zero” which was written by Islander himself, in response to my recommendation of a particular band. That post is included here, as I think it’s an important foundation stone in the genesis of The Synn Report, and because I think the band in question are utterly phenomenal.
So there we go, after the jump there’s a tiny entry on each band from each edition of The Synn Report, with a short genre description and a re-iteration of the “Recommended for fans of:” section. Which ones did you miss? Which ones should you give another shot to? Click each one to be linked to the appropriate article, where you’ll find the full write-ups and sample songs from each release!
(Andy Synn has music recommendations for Gojira fans . . .)
So with this being unofficial Gojira week here at NCS, I thought I’d try and continue the theme a bit, while also branching off in my own direction.
What you’ll find here are five bands, some of whom we’ve covered before, who I think will appeal to a good number of you Gojira fans out there, for a variety of reasons.
Now I’m not trying to say any of them is better than the French eco-behemoths, nor am I trying to replace them in your affections. Instead this column exists for two reasons:
1. I know that Gojira are one of those bands who captivate even the most casual of metal fans. I know several people myself who aren’t obsessive metal-explorers like myself and instead have a much more varied taste in music, but who nevertheless carry a pretty impressive torch for the band. So for these people I wanted to bring some attention to other bands who might suit them, who they might otherwise not have time to investigate for themselves.
2. I also know that many of us (myself included) have a real appreciation for Gojira, but don’t LOVE them unconditionally, as many do. Now while that does make me the perfect (cough…) candidate to critically appraise the band from a pretty objective standpoint – hence why you might find find my reviews a little more critical, in some ways at least, than others – it also makes me feel like I’m missing something. I know exactly how good the band are, and there are songs I do love, even albums, but for some reason the band and I are just not getting to the stage where I can put a ring on it. SO for those like me who “get” Gojira, but don’t “GET” Gojira as much as others, here are a few alternatives that might just fill that empty hole.
(Here’s a bit of news from Andy Synn about two bands we’ve praised at NCS in the past.)
While I am beavering away on another full edition of The Synn Report (and also endeavouring to tweak the format a bit to find a balance between the original form and what it has become since it was started) I thought I’d drop you all another update on 2 bands, one a former Synn Report alumnus, the other a proto-Synn Report band whose write-up on NCS not only inspired me to start the column, but is also partially responsible for getting me the gig in the first place.
Norway’s Benea Reach, a band of whom I expect huge things in the upcoming years, have a new album (Possession) all but ready to be released and have put together a track sampler over on their Soundcloud page. Consecrated disciples of the Cult of Luna, their new album promises to be a collection of proggy atmospherics, oceanic post-Meshuggah dynamics, and raging, hardcore-derived belligerence. Just what the doctor ordered.
(Andy Synn provides this review of the albums-to-date released by Norway’s Benea Reach.)
Recommended for fans of: Meshuggah, Extol, Isis
With the Second (well, eighth) Coming approaching, it seems fitting to return to The Synn Report with an edition focusing on one of the few bands to do post-Meshuggah metal right, deftly side-stepping the trends and tribulations of the “djent” scene and managing to create something distinctive and brimming with character. Indeed, this could be because although Meshuggah might be the obvious comparison, it’s also a limiting one, which barely even scratches the surface of the various influences that combine to give birth to Benea Reach’s roiling, storm-tossed sound.
I’ve heard a variety of words used to describe Benea Reach’s nervous, energised sound. “Sludgey”, “doomy”, “melodic”, “atmospheric”, and more, have all been thrown around at various times, attempting to capture the band’s mutant, amalgamated noise. Genre descriptions such as “metalcore”, “progressive metal”, “math metal” and “post-sludge” all apply in certain respects, making the Meshuggah comparisons perhaps more misleading than your initial assumptions might lead you to expect. The post-sludge, bruising metallic-hardcore aesthetic of the much-missed Burst is as fitting a comparison as Sweden’s poly-rhythmic metal messiah’s, as is the light-and-shade, life-and-death dynamic of the now-departed Isis.
What these bands all have in common is a massive, Richter-scale-bothering rhythmic foundation on which can be built towering monuments of ageless, terrible glory.