Andy Synn

Jun 172021

(Andy Synn sticks his head above the parapet once more to let you all know about three of the best British albums of the last few months)

I honestly can’t remember the last time I did one of these “Best of British” articles. In fact, this might very well be the first one of 2021 (or, at least, the first one dedicated to full-length albums).

That’s not because these fair and fertile isles have suddenly gone barren – the new Osiah, for example, is a brutal, if not exactly boundary-pushing, slab of uber-aggressive Deathcore, while the debut record from Epiphanic Truth was/is a welcome shot of strangeness – but, for whatever reason, I’ve been finding myself more drawn towards artists and albums from beyond the borders of these green and “pleasant” lands.

Rest assured, however, I’ve still been keeping my ear to the ground, so to speak, and finally found the time (and the impetus) to write about three truly excellent examples of “The Best of British” in the form of the new albums from Atvm, Boss Keloid, and Code.

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Jun 152021

(Andy Synn returns to his roots with the new album from Russian Metallic Hardcore crew Vorvaň)

To quote a hoary old cliché… the only constant in life is change.

That’s true for pretty much everything, especially people (and what are bands if not the extension of the people in them?),

Let’s face it, I’m not the same person I was five, ten, twenty years ago. My life, my circumstances, my tastes, have all changed and evolved.

But, at the same time, you know what they say… the more things change, the more they stay the same… and one thing that hasn’t changed is my love and appreciation for a good bit of merciless Metallic Hardcore, and today’s particular slab of undisputed attitude comes straight from Russia (though definitely not with love).

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Jun 102021

(Andy Synn is here again to celebrate three fascinating recent releases you may have missed)

Maybe it’s the contrarian in me, but I’m finding that even as the days get longer and the weather gets warmer (much, much warmer, in point of fact, if this week is any indicator) I’m actually listening to even more Black Metal than usual.

Oh, sure, I know the genre is traditionally associated with ice and snow and northern darkness, but I’ve definitely found that some bands – some, not all – also serve as the perfect soundtrack to burning days of blazing skies and blistering heat.

There’s just something about the seething buzz of the guitars, the ringing melodic arpeggios, the windswept howl of the vocals – something primal and elemental – that so often fits my mood during the searing summer months, which is why I’ve decided to dedicate today’s column to three artists and albums who’ve found themselves in regular rotation for me in recent weeks.

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Jun 082021

(Andy Synn turns his attention to the upcoming new album from some long-time favourites of ours, Withered, with a warning to – as always – expect the unexpected)

As some of you may know, I have a long and storied history with Blackened Death Sludge deviants Withered.

The band were the focus of the 65th edition of The Synn Report, and their fourth album, Grief Relic, was – in my opinion – one of the best albums of 2016. They were also one of the first groups to participate in my ongoing Waxing Lyrical column (which I’ll be restarting very soon), as well as one of the last bands I saw live before the whole world shut down and all shows were cancelled.

It’s always frustrated me, however, that the group’s tremendous talent has never translated into the level of attention and acclaim which they so clearly deserve… although, if I’m being honest, this may be because the band themselves seem to take an almost perverse delight in not doing what people expect and always, always, taking the grimmer, grimier path less travelled instead.

But while Verloren most definitely continues this tradition – it’s a complex, contorted, cantankerous beast of an album, make no mistake – it also has the unusual distinction of being potentially, not to mention paradoxically, the band’s most accessible and most alienating work yet.

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Jun 032021

(Andy Synn knows how easy it is to miss things when so many albums are released each month, so here’s four from May he recommends you try and find time to check out)

As the first edition of this (now officially “ongoing”) column was such a success (well, some people seemed to like it at least) I’ve made the decision to make it a regular thing.

So, for its sophomore outing I’ve chosen four artists/albums from the past month which we didn’t get around to covering properly before now (though we have featured some of them in various ways).

Don’t get me wrong, this is only scratching the surface of the various violent delights which May had to offer, but I think you’ll still be pleased with my selections, which this time around include a pair of very impressive debuts as well as new releases from not one but two former Synn Report alumni.

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May 312021

Recommended for fans of: Esoteric, Drown, The Ruins of Beverast

As I’ve been enjoying so much music from Russia lately I thought it made sense to keep to that theme by dedicating this month’s edition of The Synn Report to the dense, doom-laden discography of Abysskvlt.

A word of warning, however, the band’s three albums – the most recent of which was released just a few weeks ago – are definitely not for the faint of heart (or those with a short attention span), as each one clocks in at well over an hour in length.

Not only that, but while each record delivers a spine-tingling, soul-crushing, at times almost asphyxiatingly atmospheric, blend of monstrous, funereal heaviness and bitter, blackened melancholy (along with an undercurrent of eerie ambience reminiscent of sinisterly cinematic artists like Lustmord and Treha Sektori), there’s also an even deeper level of mystery underlying the band’s work, which was conceived as a way to explore Tibetan spiritual culture (particularly the pre-Buddhist tradition of Bön) through the use of traditional Tibetan instruments as well as the incorporation of lyrics frequently written and performed in Tibetan or Shangshung.

As you might have gathered then, each of the group’s albums is best experienced as a complete whole, rather than as a simple selection of tracks, so your best bet is to set aside a big block of time – trust me, you’ll need it – and maybe have someone come to check on you every seventy minutes or so, because you’re about to go on one hell of a journey.

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May 272021

(Andy Synn has decided to break the cardinal rule of our site – again – by throwing his weight, and his words, behind the new album from Portland Progressive Power Metal paladins Silver Talon)

The ability to compare one band with another – or with many others – is, in my opinion, one of the most valuable tools in a writer’s arsenal.

Oh, sure, it can be abused and misused – so can any tool – but being able to say that “band [a] sound a bit like band [b]”, or “like the bastard child of [x] and [y]” or “a more modern version of [z]” is a great way to put your reader in the right sort of mindset, and give them some useful context and perspective, to help them appreciate the music they’re about to hear and/or read about.

Still, even I’m willing to admit that it can sometimes be used as a crutch, especially in cases – such as this one – where there’s one particularly obvious comparison that would be far, far, too easy to make.

So, to challenge myself, I’ve decided to review the new album from Progressive/Heavy/Power Metal posse Silver Talon without explicitly mentioning that band at all.

Will I be able to do it? Quoth the raven…

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May 262021

(Sweden’s Dödsrit are back with their first album as a quartet – out this Friday via Wolves of Hades – and Andy Synn has the exclusive scoop right here)

The formula for mixing Black Metal and Crust Punk is so deceptively simple, but so undeniably effective, that it’s really no surprise that the past several years – the past decade, really – have seen such a major increase in bands looking to embrace this particular style and make it their own.

Of course, the crossover between the two styles isn’t a new phenomenon by any means, and stretches back even further than you might imagine, but the fact that it isn’t new doesn’t make it any less devastating in the right hands… and there’s practically no-one else whose hands I’d rather see it in than Dödsrit.

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May 242021

(Hold on tight as Andy Synn takes us for a ride with the new album from Hundred Headless Horsemen)

Finnish quartet Hundred Headless Horsemen aren’t the easiest band to pin down.

Mostly this is because the group resolutely refuse to adhere to the normal conventions (or restrictions) of songwriting or genre, going so far as to describe their uniquely unorthodox sound as “Psychedelic Death Metal”, a term which, while certainly intriguing, practically raises more questions than it answers.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a significant strain of Death Metal in the band’s DNA – though careful analysis will undoubtedly show that it’s more closely related to the Morbus Chron/Sweven offshoot than it is anything from the Floridian swamps or the Stockholm graveyards – but, whether due to natural selection or intelligent design, the sound they produce isn’t so easily classified.

Perhaps an even better comparison – or, at least, the best one I can come up with – would be to think of HHH as the Death Metal equivalent of their more “blackened” countrymen in Oranssi Pazuzu, a band with whom they not only share a love of sludgy grooves and psychotropic sounds, but also an almost pathological aversion to playing by the rules.

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May 192021

(Andy Synn continues to ferret out 2021’s hidden gems with this review of the debut album from Canada’s Présages)

You know what they say, ask three different people to describe the same band to you… and you’ll get descriptions of three different bands.

Case in point, if you glance at the bandcamp page for Pleurs, the debut album from Montreal metallers Présages, you’ll see a variety of different opinions about what sort of music the band play, from “Blackened Doom” to “Atmospheric Black Metal” to “crushing Death-Doom”, and more besides.

And while the band themselves describe their sound as “an alloy of Doom, Prog, Death, and Black” that isn’t necessarily all that helpful or illuminating when each of these terms has a slightly different meaning for everyone who hears them.

So how would yours truly describe Pleurs?

Well, you’re going to have to give that “Continue reading…” button a click to find out.

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