Andy Synn

Feb 212024
 

(Ihsahn‘s self-titled album was released last week, and Andy Synn has a few thoughts about it)

Vegard Sverre Tveitan, better known as Ihsahn, is undeniably one of the most recognisable names/faces/voices in our little, parallel Metal universe.

And while he initially earned his infamy as part of a little band called Emperor (maybe you’ve heard of them?) he has now spent almost twenty years pursuing a solo career under the Ihsahn moniker, meaning that there’s a good chance that at least some of his fanbase probably knows him more for that than for his seminal role in the early days of Black Metal.

As a vehicle for his proggier predilections, his collective catalogue under the Ihsahn banner has run the gamut from modern classics to experimental oddities, and everything in between, but there’s certainly an argument to be made that – as a self-titled summation of his career so far – on his eighth album, the eponymous Ihsahn, we’re truly seeing Ihsahn being the most Ihsahn he can be.

Which leaves just two question which need answering – what exactly is it about Ihsahn which makes the album so special, and how many more times am I going to write the word “Ihsahn” over the course of this review?

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Feb 202024
 

(Life Promised Death is out now on Lupus Lounge)

Farsot‘s 2017 album, Fail·Lure, is – in my humble opinion, at least – one of the best Black Metal records of the last ten, if not twenty, years.

Which means, of course, that Life Promised Death has a lot to live up to, especially with almost seven years of built up expectations to contend with on top of that.

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Feb 192024
 

(Andy Synn is ready to join the fight for freedom alongside French firebrands Griffon… are you?)

Aux armes! Aux armes! To the barricades my friends, to raise our flags and spit death in the eye once more!

You see, I’ve been on a bit of a Black Metal binge recently – just this weekend I attended a fantastic event in Manchester where I got to see the likes of AndraccaThe Sun’s Journey Through The Night, Abduction, Devastator, The Infernal Sea, and Ninkharsag all performing their latest releases in full – and discovering the new album from Griffon early last week has only further helped reignite my passion for the genre.

And so, like any good son of the revolution, I felt it was my duty to spread the word and enlist more names to swell our ranks and bolster our forces!

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Feb 152024
 

(Andy Synn offers some insight into A Giant Bound to Fall, out tomorrow on Transcending Obscurity)

Spanish sensations Eternal Storm have found themselves in an interesting position in the run-up to the release of their long-awaited, highly-anticipated, second album, A Giant Bound to Fall.

The group’s first full-length, 2019’s fantastic Come the Tide, was such a breath of fresh air in a segment of the scene which had, for the most part, grown rather stagnant that many outlets (including this one) declared it to be one of the best albums of the year.

But success like that can be just as much of a curse as a blessing, setting such a high bar – one inevitably raised even higher by the sheer flush of excitement engendered by a new discovery – that nothing they ever do afterwards will ever be judged to match it.

And with the not-insignificant gap between their first and second releases having raised audience expectations ever further, the question now is – can Eternal Storm recapture that same Melodic Death Metal magic from their debut or are they… bound to fall?

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Feb 132024
 

(No Name Graves was released last Friday by Unique Leader Records)

Despite the many bands who’ve done great things with it, the term “Deathcore” is still a dirty word for some.

And while personal taste is always a major factor, I do happen to think that a lot of the inherent, knee-jerk prejudice can be traced back to the way the nascent genre was originally promoted by labels and the like who saw this “brand new thing” (although we can argue about just how new it was until the cows come home) and set out to make as much money off of it as possible, quickly leading to over-saturation and exploitation (you see, there is money to be made in the Metal scene… just not really by the bands, most of the time).

As a result a lot of potential listeners were put off by the excessive, artificially-inflated hype and the seeming lack of quality-control surrounding that early glut of guttural lovin’, breakdown-heavy bands who helped popularise the scene in the short-term but who, depending on their circumstances (and their resolve) either quickly fell apart or evolved into something different in order to survive.

But while we may quibble about the relative merits of the genre’s early years, the foundations laid by its early adherents have proven remarkably resilient and served as fertile soil for many different variants to bud off and bloom, meaning that even if the Platonic ideal of “Deathcore” that you have in your head doesn’t necessarily appeal to you there’s probably a version of it out there that will.

Which brings us, nicely, to The Last Ten Seconds of Life.

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Feb 122024
 

(Moon Healer is out on 23 February on Metal Blade Records)

2024 looks set to be an interesting year for comebacks, and few of those, I’d imagine, will attract as much interest – or generate as much divisive discussion – as the long-awaited new album from resurrected Death Metal revenants Job For A Cowboy.

That’s right, I said “Death Metal” rather than “Deathcore”, because it’s high time we all acknowledged that, whether you like them or not (and I’m sure there are many who don’t) the band haven’t been “Deathcore” since the release of Genesis way back in 2007.

Not only that, but in the years preceding their hiatus – culminating in the challenging technicality and churning intensity of the career-defining Sun Eater – it became clear that the band were more interested in pushing their sound in an increasingly unorthodox and unpredictable direction, rather than giving in to any outside pressures to conform to anyone else’s ideas of who they should be.

And although it’s now been almost (but not quite) a full decade since they last saddled up, there’s no question that on Moon Healer these cowboys have continued to ride even further down the proggy path laid out by its predecessor.

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Feb 082024
 

(Andy Synn praises the new album from this German quintet, out Feb 16 on Lifeforce Records)

So far this week I’ve covered a moody “Doom-gaze” album and an ostentatiously melodic piece of bombastic Prog Rock by an ex-Death Metal band… and I’m worried people might be starting to think I’ve gone soft.

Well, to make up for it, here’s a few thoughts about the bleak ‘n’ blistering new album from German Blackened Sludge crew Praise the Plague.

Are you happy now?

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Feb 062024
 

(Andy Synn embraces the upcoming swansong from Chapel of Disease, out this Friday)

A lot of people, including yours truly, will tell you that Chapel of Disease‘s 2018 album, …And as We Have Seen the Storm, We Have Embraced the Eye, is one of the best Death Metal albums of the last decade.

And even those who don’t agree with that statement generally have to concede that it’s definitely one of the most unique Death Metal albums they’ve heard in a long, long time.

But the band’s upcoming fourth album (the final recording of the group’s original line-up) is neither of these things.

Because it’s not really a Death Metal album at all.

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Feb 052024
 

(Andy Synn finds himself enchanted by the debut release from Ohio’s Modern Witchcraft)

As I’ve mentioned several times, it’s difficult (read: impossible) for us to keep up with every new band that comes out and every new release they come out with.

Heck, it’s not exactly easy, either, keeping track of all the bands we already know about, especially when they decide to change their names – which is the case with Modern Witchcraft.

Previously known as Close the Hatch (whose 2020 album, also entitled Modern Witchcraft, was a low-key favourite of mine that year) I had pretty much given up hope of ever hearing anything from these guys again until, out of the blue, I stumbled across the video for “Corpse Painter” a little over a week ago.

Some part of me immediately recognised that particular mix of moody percussion, brooding bass, and reverberating guitars… and when those instantly identifiable vocals kicked in I knew exactly who this must be, regardless of what they were calling themselves now.

And I also knew, as soon as the song finished, that I’d be writing about this record as soon as I could.

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Feb 022024
 

(Andy Synn has a few words to share about four albums from last month you may have overlooked)

Here we are… one month into the new year… and we’ve already fallen behind.

Of course, that’s nothing new. As I’ve said before (several times, in fact) it’s impossible for any site, let alone any individual writer, to keep up with everything that’s released week after week (which is one reason I don’t trust anyone who claims that they’ve somehow listened to literally hundreds of albums every month – they may have heard them, but I doubt they really listened to them the way they deserve), so even at this early stage it’s no surprise that there’s so many artists and albums we haven’t been able to write about.

To be quite honest though, this is less and less of an issues these days – simply by accepting the fact that there’s always going to be stuff we’re not going to be able to cover, while also acknowledging that we’re definitely going to be featuring some stuff here that other places, and other people, won’t cover, we’ve gotten over our fear of missing out and embraced the idea that our value comes not from covering everything but from providing an interesting and distinct perspective of our own on what we do write about.

So, with that in mind, here’s four artists/albums from January – some of which you may already have been aware of, some of which you may not – that we (or, at least, I) felt compelled to pen a few extra words about so that they didn’t get overlooked following what was, after all, a very packed month of new releases!

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