Andy Synn

Apr 132021

(Andy Synn returns to the spatial city of Hydhradh to heap praise upon the new album from Æthĕrĭa Conscĭentĭa)

If there’s one thing I can say about NCS, it’s that we are loyal to the bands we choose to cover (sometimes to a fault).

Chances are that if we like what you do then we’ll do our best to stick by you, no matter how long it takes, and try to keep one eye (or ear) open for whatever you do next.

Oh, sure, we still love seeking out strange new bands from strange new places, boldly going where other sites fear to tread (ok, that last part might be a bit of an exaggeration), but we also like to stay in touch with the various different artists we’ve (dis)covered over the years too, as it’s always interesting to see and hear how they’re developing and evolving.

Case in point, we first wrote about Prog-Black cosmonauts Æthĕrĭa Conscĭentĭa when they released their debut, the four-track sci-fi concept album Tales from Hydhradh, back in 2018, and now, a little over three years later, we’re back again with a much more in-depth look at their new record, Corrupted Pillars of Vanity, which is both bigger, bolder, and – most importantly – better than its predecessor in pretty much every way.

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Apr 082021

(Andy Synn closes out the week a little early by throwing on the new record from India’s Moral Collapse)

Let’s be honest about something – music writers, especially Metal music writers, are often an inherently insular, introverted, slightly egotistical, group. We’d have to be, after all, to think that anyone wants to read our rambling opinions in the first place!

On the positive side, these little cliques, cults, and covens that we form are often extremely supportive places, characterised by a certain level of mutual respect and empathy fuelled by our shared experiences.

On the other hand, they do occasionally engender a certain amount of “group think”, where one writer (or group of writers) publishes an opinion or analysis which, for whatever reason (often simply because people don’t want to be seen attacking or undermining their cohorts) sets the tone for everyone else going forwards.

It doesn’t mean they’re necessarily wrong, but it does often result in certain ideas and assumptions being codified as “fact” and makes it difficult for alternative viewpoints to get a word in edgewise.

Case in point, some of the hype that’s been built up around the recently-released debut album from Indian duo Moral Collapse might have you believing that this is the most mind-bending, head-spinning record since… name a band/album/date… but the truth is it’s not quite as complex or crazy as its been made out to be.

It is, however, very, very good.

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Apr 062021

(Andy Synn keeps the ball rolling with a review of the recently-released third album from Russia’s Crust)

Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, an artist will produce an album which seems like it was tailor-made just for you.

Every song strikes a chord, every track touches a nerve, and every piece of the puzzle just fits so perfectly that you’d think the band was actively capable of peering directly into your brain.

It’s always exciting, especially when the band in question has a deeper discography for you to dig into too, as was the case when I stumbled across the new album from Russia’s own Blackened Sludgelords Crust recently, as not only did I instantly fall head over heels in love with the group’s hypnotically grim and humongously groove-laden sound, I was also compelled to go and pick up their entire physical back-catalogue (along with their entire digital discography) as part of last week’s #BandcampFriday.

And while I originally intended to save writing about these guys until the end of the month (as part of the next edition of The Synn Report) I quickly realised I couldn’t wait that long to lay out just why Stoic has become one of my favourite albums of the year so far.

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Apr 052021

(Andy Synn couldn’t wait any longer to share his thoughts on the new Zao album, set for release this Friday)

For those unfamiliar with the “Ship of Theseus” paradox, this two thousand year old thought experiment asks the following question:

If an object (in this case, the infamous ship) has all its parts and pieces (first its oars, then its planks, its mast, its keel, so on and so forth) replaced as time passes, at what point does it cease to be itself?

Or is it still, fundamentally, the same object? Is there some essential soul or essence which maintains continuity, even as all the individual components wear out and are replaced?

So it’s more than a little appropriate that Zao’s new album, the second since their fantastic 2016 comeback The Well-Intentioned Virus, features a song named “Ship of Theseus” right at the start, because The Crimson Corridor showcases a strikingly different – fundamentally darker, denser, and borderline doomier – version of the band than the one you might be familiar with…

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Mar 312021

(For the March 2021 edition of THE SYNN REPORT Andy Synn discusses the discography of Russia’s Wowod, whose most recent album came out back in January.)

Recommended for fans of: Rorcal, Isis, Downfall of Gaia

For this month’s edition of The Synn Report (I know, how has another month gone by so fast) we’re heading to Russia… St. Petersburg, to be exact… to touch base with a band I only recently discovered but whom I’ve been dying to write about ever since.

Over the course of three albums (the most recent of which was released back in January) Wowod have developed an impressively visceral and exceptionally weighty sound which could best be described as a simultaneously abrasive yet atmospheric amalgam of Post-Metal, Post-Black Metal, and Crust, built around a core of humongous, heaving riffs, harsh, howling vocals, and dark, desperate melodies and accented with erratic eruptions of seething tremolo, scathing blastbeats, and the occasional diversion into ominous, brooding ambience.

It’s a sound that’s capable of both brutal intensity and intense beauty, as heavy as it is hypnotic, by turns stunningly dense and surprisingly delicate, and one I’m sure a lot of our readers are going to love.

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Mar 292021

(Our man Andy Synn has been busy recently, but not too busy to help catch us up with a bevy of new (or new-ish) albums from the first quarter of 2021)

We’re now at the end of March and I can officially say that the stream of new releases, re-releases, and surprise releases, has finally gotten the better of me and I have fallen well behind on my “to review” list.

Sacrifices will, inevitably, have to be made, and some things I intended to write about will either have to wait until an opening appears in my schedule somewhere down the line or, in the worst case scenario, have to be content with appearing in one of my year-end round-ups.

But I’m not going to give in to the inevitable without a fight, which is why, in a desperate effort to provide some interesting coverage, commentary, and – in some cases – criticism about a bunch of records (some dating back to January, some only just about to hit the streets) I’ve decided to pen a few thoughts about six different albums – three Death Metal, three Black Metal – which I’ve been meaning to write about for quite some time.

So, without further ado…

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Mar 252021

(Andy Synn ventures forth once more into the multiverse of madness to experience the kaleidoscopic thrills and spills of The Beast of Nod, whose new album is out tomorrow in all known dimensions)

One thing I absolutely hate, with the burning passion of a thousand exploding suns, is parody bands.

They’re (almost) never funny, nowhere near as clever as they think they are, and generally just rely on lazy, lowest-common-denominator tropes to get by. Hell, even the best of them barely rise above the level of “children’s entertainers with guitars” a lot of the time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against bands having fun (as I hope to demonstrate with this review), nor am I ignorant of the fact that, well, Metal (particularly the more OTT and “extreme” forms we all know and love so well) is, frankly… a little bit ridiculous.

I mean, c’mon, a significant number of bands spend most of their time trying out “out-gore” one another with ever more biologically implausible (and borderline indecipherable) lyrics, while another extremely large contingent likes to rant about the evils of organised religion while dressed up like undead wizards!

With that in mind, then, there’s definitely something to be said for bands who, while still taking their craft seriously, are fully aware of the genre’s inherent absurdity (but, then, isn’t all life absurd, really, when you get right down to it?) and don’t try and shy away from it or act like they’re ashamed of it but, instead, choose to openly embrace it in all its shameless, everything-turned-up-to-eleven excess.

And if there was ever a band who exemplified the preposterous potential of Metal, not as a weakness but as a virtue, then it’s those shameless sci-fi Tech-Death troubadours who call themselves The Beast of Nod.

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Mar 242021

(Andy Synn continues to seek out the best new bands and boldly go above and beyond with the new record from Nanga Parbat)

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that discovering, and falling in love with, a brand new band is one of life’s great joys.

This is especially true when that band absolutely knock it out of the park with their first try.

Such is the case with Downfall and Torment, the debut album from Italian Progressive Death maestros Nanga Parbat.

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Mar 232021

(Andy Synn takes time out of his busy schedule to catch up with an album he’s been dying to write about for some time, namely the debut album from Disso-Tech upstarts Klexos)

So here’s the thing… originality is overrated.

Don’t get me wrong, when something does come along which truly moves the needle, shifts the paradigm, or [insert zeitgeist-y term here], I’m usually right up there with everyone else, marvelling at how brilliant it is and wondering how no-one thought to do… whatever it is… before.

But originality isn’t, or shouldn’t be, everything – being original doesn’t necessarily make you good, for one thing – and the way it’s often fetishised has led me to encounter some very odd people/statements online over the years (for example, did you know that since Gorguts exist that any band who plays in 4/4 or uses standard song structures no longer counts as “real” Death Metal?).

Let’s face it, we’re all, ultimately, the sum of our experiences, our influences, and our environment. This is especially the case if you’re a musician, because who you are as an artist is largely shaped by the music which inspires you. Not just in the way it colours and dictates your listening preferences, but in how it actively alters how you listen to and understand – and, in turn, create – music.

Which I suppose is a long-winded way of getting to the point and saying that while Apocryphal Parabolam, the debut album from Lexington, Kentucky’s Klexos may not be a wholly original affair, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still have a certain spark of something – call it inspiration, call it individuality – which makes it well worth listening to.

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Mar 182021

(Andy Synn returns to the fray after a hectic week with a review of the upcoming new album from Hatalom)

With so many albums, EPs, and other releases coming out, in an almost unending flood of new music (not that I’m complaining, mind you) it can be easy to lose track of what’s going on. And with so many bands forming, reforming, going on hiatus, and making a comeback, it’s also hard to know everyone’s status and when (if ever) to expect new material.

Thankfully, as a part-time, semi-professional writer/reviewer/critic (delete as appropriate) I’m generally able to keep one eye open, and one ear to the ground (though not necessarily at the same time) for news and updates about artists we’ve covered here before, which is why I’ve been carefully tracking the writing, recording, and release schedule of Occhiolism, the debut full-length from Canadian Tech-Death crew Hatalom, ever since its nascent existence was first made public.

And with the album set to hit the streets (and the net) tomorrow, now is probably a good time to check out my review of their first EP, Of Sorrow and Human Dust, from 2018, as not only does it provide a useful primer as to what, in general terms, to expect from the band, but it also provides some key context for all the ways in which the band have developed since… something which I’ll say more about after the jump.

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