Andy Synn

Aug 312023

Recommended for fans of: Black Tongue, Fit For An Autopsy, Nightmarer

While the term “Deathcore” is still a dirty word to some of our readers – they might not always be able to define it, but they know they hate it when they hear it – I think we’ve managed to make a pretty good case over the years as to why the real cream of the crop is just as worthy of your attention and acclaim as in any other genre.

And when it comes to the creme-de-la-creme of the Deathcore scene, the bands who have not only played a part in defining what the genre has become over the last ten years or so, but also helped push the boundaries of what it can be, no conversation is complete without Humanity’s Last Breath.

Sure, the group’s sound on their eponymous 2013 album seems almost quaint now when compared to the absolute monster they’ve developed into – with their recently-released new album taking their more progressive, dynamic, and atmospheric approach to new heights (and even more crushing depths) – but to understand how the band (originally more of a solo project of mastermind Buster Odeholm, but recently expanded into an eight-legged musical murder machine including vocalist Filip Danielsson, drummer Klas Blomgren, and guitarist Tuomas Kurikka) got to where they are now we need to go back to where they came from.

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Aug 292023

(Andy Synn rekindles his long-standing love affair with Canada’s Cryptopsy)

It’s an unfortunate truism that life often forces us to make difficult choices.

Paper or plastic? Ketchup or mustard? Which one of your children would you save in a house fire…

Ok, so that last one is (thankfully) much more rare, but my point is that some decisions often seem impossible.

Case in point, next week sees the release of new albums from two of Death Metal’s heaviest hitters and techiest titans, aka Dying Fetus and Cryptopsy.

But chances are I’m only going to get chance to write about one of them prior to their shared release date.

Of course, the more perceptive amongst you may have already worked out which record I chose to cover, but I want you to know, all the same, that the decision wasn’t easy…

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Aug 242023

(Andy Synn gazes into the abyss once more via the medium of the new album from Blut Aus Nord)

Why, you might ask, am I reviewing the new Blut Aus Nord album?

After all, you can already hear it for yourselves in full here, or simply wait until its official release tomorrow and form your own opinions.

Perhaps it’s because I just like to hear the (proverbial) sound of my own voice as I share my opinions online.

Perhaps it’s because I feel like I have something of interest to offer in my analysis that might help illuminate the album a little more.

Or perhaps it’s because, after listening to Disharmonium – Nahab so many times over the last few weeks this is the only way to purge these horrific visions from my mind.

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Aug 222023

(Andy Synn continues his long-standing love-affair with Massen and their upcoming new album)

As much as I enjoy dissonance and discordance in my music, it remains true – even at the most extreme end(s) of the spectrum – that melody often plays the most important role in an artist’s output.

And why shouldn’t it? After all, melody is one of the prime (and one of the most primal) ways in which we communicate an emotion. Melody isn’t just about catchy hooks, it’s about telling a story.

But, perhaps just as importantly, melody can also tell you a lot about a band’s history as well – where they come from, how they became who they are – and explains so much about why, for example, Melodeath bands from Finland or Black Metal bands from Sweden sound different from their compatriots from other countries.

It should be no surprise then that, beneath their fiery mix of furious Melodic Death Metal, folk-infused Black Metal, and potent protest Punk, melody plays a key role in the sound of Gentle Brutality, the new album from Berlin-by-way-of-Belarus band Massen.

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Aug 152023

(Andy Synn would like to draw your attention to the debut album from Lithuania’s Cunabula)

Common wisdom would tell you never to judge a book by its cover.

And while that’s true, I can’t begin to tell you the number of times an eye-catching album cover – such as the gorgeous one which adorns The Weight of Sleep – has drawn my attention and acted as the catalyst for me to check out (and subsequently review) a band’s new record.

Of course, it’s important that the band in question have the music and songs to back it up… and Cunabula definitely do.

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Aug 102023

(Andy Synn reviews the debut album from The Circle, out 18 August)

While we try our best here at NCS to keep up with everything that’s coming out, the truth is we’re easily distracted by shiny things and loud noises, so we don’t always catch every new release before it comes out.

But we do try our best, at the very least, to keep an eye on bands and artists we’ve written about before – case in point, check out The Circle‘s first EP, Metamorphosiswhich I reviewed here back in 2021 – to see how they grow and develop over time.

So how does the band’s new album, Of Awakening, compare to their debut?

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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.

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Aug 022023

(Andy Synn presents a killer collection of British Black Metal to tantalise/traumatise your ears)

As I may have mentioned a few times already, my experience of 2023 so far has been that the proggier side of the spectrum has been producing a lot of the most interesting and impressive albums of the year.

Sure, I know there’s been a lot of digital ink spilled about the health and fertility of the Death Metal scene as well but, to my ears at least, most of it has erred more towards just “good” rather than “great”, with a lot of the praise seemingly confusing “quantity” for “quality”.

But we also shouldn’t count out our more blackened brethren either, as there’s been a slow but steady drip-feed of absolutely fantastic Black Metal albums coming out over the last six-seven months too, and today’s edition of “The Best of British” features three more examples that could well throw some discord into your end of year lists come December time.

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Jul 312023

Recommended for fans of: Mastodon, Baroness, Byzantine

As I’ve mentioned several times already,2023 has been a pretty Prog-friendly year so far, with lots – if not most – of the year’s best bands and albums showing off their proggier proclivities over the last seven months.

Case in point, the new album from New York sludge-slingers Somnuri found the band really pushing the boat out and digging their proverbial oar into even proggier waters, and has been receiving widespread applause and acclaim from pretty much everyone who’s heard it as a result.

But to really understand and appreciate their newest album we need to go back to their first record, because it’s only by going back to look at where they came from that we can properly appreciate just how much progress they’ve made over the years.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

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