Aug 072023

(Andy Synn catches you up with a bunch of releases from last month you may have overlooked)

Since it’s likely I won’t have chance to write much else this week – we’re filming a new music video, for one thing, and prepping for that is taking up more time than I expected – I’d better make today’s “Things You May Have Missed” column count, hadn’t I?

I don’t think you’ll be disappointed though, not least since this bumper edition contains six, rather than the usual four, albums – several of which I have no doubt will end up making numerous appearances on lots of “Best Of…” lists come the end of the year.


The debut album from Sweden’s Blackscape – and, yes, that is Darkane‘s Lawrence Mackory on vocals, just to address the elephant in the room straight away – is a prime example of why so many of the record’s I’ve enjoyed the most so far this year have been the ones which embrace a slightly (or significantly) proggier approach… in this case, a subtly proggy combination of techy Thrash and catchy Melodeath that, for the most part, hits all the right notes (although some of them definitely hit harder than others).

Credit for this, of course, should go to band mastermind Tage Andersson, who handles all the guitars and bass on this release with impressive aplomb – tracks like “Bow To Me” and “Colonized By The Dark”, for example, really benefit from his ability to deliver both punchy, hook-heavy riffs and ostentatiously melodic leads/solos in equal measure – but both Mackory’s presence behind the mic and Thomas Ohlsson’s performance behind the kit play an (almost) equally important role in the album’s success.

Granted, it’s not the most original-sounding record you’re going to hear this year – comparisons to Darkane are, for obvious reasons, inevitable, and there’s definitely more than a little bit of latter-day Soilwork in the DNA in there too – and maybe one or two tracks (cough… “Enslaved”…) drag on a little too long, but I can pretty much guarantee that when you’re locked in and headbanging along to killer cuts like “Purified By Disease” and the absolutely outstanding title-track that you won’t care all that much about the album’s occasional flaws!


Truth be told, I am not our Grind expert here at NCS. Heck, when push comes to shove I’m not entirely sure I’m capable of formulating exactly what makes something “Grindcore” even at the best of times. But I like to think I can recognise quality whenever and wherever I hear it, and Grief Tethers is a damn good album no matter what you call it.

It helps, of course, that Atlanta quartet Clot share quite a bit in common with other bands who you wouldn’t refer to as “classic” Grind (if there is such a thing) but who still give the genre a good name, with the gloomy industrial overtones and pulsing pneumatic grooves of the likes of “Braced With Unspeakable Pain” and “Doubt the Knower” reminding me quite a bit of British bruisers Leeched at their best, while the chaotic riffage and eye-popping aggression propelling songs such as “Trauma Bound” and “Autophagia” recalls the technical terrorism of Fawn Limbs in both intensity and intelligence.

Sure, there’s occasionally the sense that Clot are being pulled in a few too many different directions all at one, but when so many of the individual songs are so good – as well as the ones mentioned above I have to give a big shout-out to the closing pairing of “Deicidal Tendencies”, whose filthy, lurching grooves are easy enough to swallow but inevitably difficult to prevent twisting your guts into gnarled knots, and “Upon the Flesh of Those With Guilt”, whose blend of nasty hooks and ominous atmosphere comes across like a Grindcore version of Zao in all but name – it’s difficult not to just get swept up in the record’s formidable sound and fury.


While Norwegian newcomers Fall of Terra haven’t exactly been inundated with reviews for their debut album, Catharsis, it’s been interesting to observe how often they’ve been referred to as a “Post-Metal” band by those who’ve written about them.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely/possibly/probably some Cult of Luna and/or Ghost Brigade in their DNA (even if it’s only really obvious in the vocals of tracks like “Battered Virtues” and “Nucleus”), but this definitely isn’t what I, at least, would call a Post Metal record.

No, if anything the moody melodic melancholy of “Sinister Shadows” and the doomy dramatic dynamism of “Traces” have just as much, if not more, in common with the likes of In Mourning and Disillusion (the former especially), with the band’s combination of gloomy grooves and gleaming melodies definitely erring more towards the more progressive/expressive end of the Melodic Doom spectrum.

I’ll grant you that, as you may have gathered from all the various names I’ve been dropping, Fall of Terra still have a way to go yet to fully distance and differentiate themselves from their predecessors and progenitors (the shameless Opeth-worship of “Karma” being the biggest offender in this regard) but there’s definitely a lot of potential here – especially when the band put extra emphasis on the crooning clean vocals – to the point where I’d definitely be interested in hearing them explore and expand on this sound further in the future!


One thing I’ve noticed this year is that a lot of the best Black Metal albums of 2023 have been coming from bands with a relatively low profile – with Somniate just being the latest example of this particular phenomenon.

The Czech quintet’s distinctive twist on Black Metal puts a real emphasis on eerie emotion and sonic sensation – comparisons to the likes of Schammasch (especially circa-Contradiction) and the shape-shifting sonic extremity of latter-day Merrimack would certainly be valid, though by no means comprehensive – without sacrificing the searing intensity and fierce urgency of the band’s firebrand delivery.

Whether we’re talking about the intricate interweaving of tonal textures and ingeniously proggy percussion (indeed, the drum work across the entire album is an absolute pleasure to listen to) which underpins “I Am Here and You Are Distant”, the sheer electrifying energy of “A Lamb at False Dawn”, or the sinister, slow-burn strangeness of “Black Soundless Sugar”, each of the album’s six tracks offers its own distinctive and unpredictable delights (with the contorted riffosity of “Non-You” being a personal favourite).

At the same time, however, the record as a whole is tied together by multiple deeply-woven threads of malice and melody, deftly balancing the band’s more unorthodox and experimental ambitions with a sense of cathartic character and hooky heaviness that makes for a truly captivating – yet also subtly challenging (and I recommend giving the lyrics a proper reading to get an even more intimate understanding of the album) – listen, from the very first note to the last.


I’ve seen the new album from Danish trio Tongues referred to as a Black Metal record, a Death Metal record, and even a Doom Metal record, by various different listeners. But the truth is, if you just step back and take a proper look at/listen to Formløse stjerner, that they’re actually a little bit of all these things, with a different emphasis on different elements appearing at different times and from different angles.

Take opener “Elder Fire”, for example, whose dark, dissonance-edged opening bars definitely err towards the doomier end of Black Metal, only for the churning, almost punky verse riffage and glass-gargling vocals to give the song much more of a Death Metal flavour, before ultimately transitioning towards a mournful melodic finale that practically weeps doom-laden desolation.

Similarly, “Awake in the Macrocosm” swiftly positions itself somewhere between the dissonant side of the Death Metal scene and the more artfully abrasive end of the Black Metal spectrum, and then goes on to swing back and forth between these two extremes – with a slight tendency to favour the latter over the former – for the next eight minutes, whereas “Mouth of the Deep” puts an even greater emphasis on twisted, technical riffage and off-kilter rhythms for the most part, only to switch direction half way through and embrace a weirder, more unsettlingly atmospheric approach that goes on to build towards the track’s blisteringly blackened climax.

It makes sense then that people could easily be confused as to how to categorise this band/album (heck, the record’s fifteen-and-a-half minute finale weaves and winds its way between Doom, Death Metal, and Black Metal so seamlessly that the lines between the different genres quickly blur into nothingness) but that’s ultimately one of its biggest strengths – every time you listen to it you’re bound to get something new out of it!


There’s no question in my mind that (along with Somniate‘s second album above) the captivating, creative, and compellingly cinematic “comeback” album from Wyrgher will go down as one of the best Black Metal albums of the year.

From the ecstasy-inducing blastbeats and eloquently contorted riffs that drive outstanding opener “Dormant They Drift” all the way through to the final fading note of the grimly grandiose title-track, this is the sort of Black Metal album that adjectives like “Progressive” and even “Technical” were made for, due to its constantly shifting dynamic and effortless ability to upend the status quo.

At the same time, however, there’s no question that Panspermic Warlords is capable of being as devastating as it is devious – as the nigh-on non-stop assault of “Solar Harvest” proves – nor is it lacking in cruelly catchy hooks (as demonstrated by the devilishly dark grooves of “Destroyer of the Promethean Path”) or piercing, malevolent melodies (“The Weeping of a Blazing Rock”) either.

But it’s the superior songwriting – the eloquent ebb and flow between almost overwhelming excess and eerily understated ambience that characterises “Supreme Leader of a Dying Star” being a perfect example – coupled with some seriously impressive instrumental abilities (not only are both the guitars and drums overflowing with creative energy, but both the bass and synth embellishments serve to widen/deepen the group’s sonic palette even further) that really makes this album stand out from the crowd.

Multi-faceted, multi-layered, and many-angled, this is the sort of album that you learn to unlock and appreciate a little more with each listen, while never getting tired of the way that it spikes your adrenaline levels each and every time.


  1. Couldn’t agree more. Both Somniate and Wyrgher are fantastic

  2. Wyrgher is a nice find. I had indeed missed them.

    I really liked some of Fall of Terra, but less so other parts particularly where they mellowed and clean singing took over.

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