Sep 292020


(We present Vonlughlio’s review of the new album by Incinerate, which will be released on October 9 by Comatose Music and features cover art by Jon Zig.)

This time around I have the opportunity to write about Incinerate, a project originally hailing from Minnesota in the United Stated, formed back in 1998. I have been a fan for over 20 years, while witnessing their changes and evolution.  Their debut album Dissecting the Angels in 2002 — that was in-your-face BDM with a raw production that worked rather well in their songwriting.

For their second album, Anatomize, it took them six more years to get it finished and released, and it was evident that the time brought about big changes in songwriting and sound, and the incorporation of a technical aspect in both. The song titles were simple and on-point, while the lyrics maintained their anti-religion sentiment. This was a great progression musically, it showcased guitarist/vocalist Jesse Watson‘s finest work to that date,  and the musicians on this release were spectacular.   This album gained a lot of attention and a lot of fans, and the release would become one of those that would pass the test of time. Continue reading »

Sep 292020


Following the release of two well-received EPs, Fire the Torches (2016) and In the Cremation Ground (2018), the monstrous Finnish death metal band Cynabare Urne are at last ready for the release of a debut album, one that harnesses the extensive experience and gruesome talents of the three performers. Entitled Obsidian Daggers and Cinnabar Skulls, it will be released by Helter Skelter Productions on October 30th, and as you can see, we’re about to bring you the premiere of a genuinely evil piece of music named “Misotheist“.

Cynabare Urne‘s ghoulish songwriting and horrifying tonal proclivities don’t lend themselves to any neat and succinct comparisons with better-known bands — witness the references made in the PR materials to a range of stylistic influences that “span Sadistic Intent to Necros Christos, classic Grave to recent Dead Congregation, early Vader to later Repugnant, and plenty of other points in between.” All those compass points are one way of trying to capture the appealing ways in which the band create multi-faceted and dynamic music, albeit without ever surrendering their adherence to dreadful power and preternatural ghastliness. Continue reading »

Sep 292020


(Andy Synn introduces our premiere of “Wind and Fog” from the new third album by the U.S. black metal band Serpent Column — and reviews the album — in advance of its September 30 release by Mystiskaos and Iron Bonehead.)

To quote the late, great, Arthur C. Clarke:

All human plans [are] subject to ruthless revision by Nature, or Fate, or whatever one prefers to call the powers behind the Universe.”

This was made eminently clear to me when, in preparation for this month’s edition of The Synn Report, I enquired as to whether we’d received a promo copy for the new Serpent Column album Kathodos.

Dutiful as ever, Islander reached out to the band’s label, who responded that they generally don’t do advance promo copies but, if we were really that interested in the band, they’d make an exception in our case… oh, and would we mind hosting an exclusive and unannounced last minute premiere at the same time?

Talk about an offer you can’t refuse… Continue reading »

Sep 282020


Just a bit earlier today I was writing about the special thrill that heavy metal addicts can experience when discovering a band who are adept at blending stylistic influences in unexpected ways, and in the new EP by the Sacramento-based duo Sarcoptes, entitled Plague Hymns, we have another prime example of that.

In the most brutally shorthand way of describing these two songs, they’re a fashioning of blackened thrash, but that label really under-represents how remarkable they are. They do indeed blaze like hellfire driven by gale-force winds, but they also feature beautifully chosen symphonic accents as well as the kind of glorious guitar-work that brings to mind bands from the forefront of classic heavy metal.

One immediate sign that these two songs aren’t your typical black/thrash rippers is their length: The first song, “The Vertigo Soul“, is almost seven minutes long, and the one we’re premiering today, “La Moria Grandissima” almost reaches the 11-minute mark. Both songs really are stupendous, and it’s our devilish pleasure to bring you streams of both of them in advance of the EP’s release on October 2nd by Transcending Obscurity Records. Continue reading »

Sep 282020


Genre gene-splicing in heavy metal, as in all forms of music, offers the potential for glorious highs and abysmal lows. When it works, the results can be electrifying, particularly when the differing strands woven together by the music would hit a whole bunch of a listener’s sweet spots individually. Pulling them all together in a way that doesn’t feel jarring but instead seems intuitive and natural compounds the pleasure in ways that just focusing on one style would not (and honestly, sometimes that pleasure derives from a feeling of pleasant surprise that the feat has been pulled off so well).

On the other hand, we are all familiar with the pitfalls of genre-splicing that has gone awry, when bands have strained to do something — anything — different, as a way of standing out from the ever-expanding pack, and the result is a Frankenstein’s monster of stitched-together parts, a forcing together of ingredients that sounds, well, forced-together.

With those observations as a prelude, it will come as no surprise that the subject of today’s premiere — Boston-based Lord Almighty — are a band who pull from different genre wellsprings, and achieve a union among them that in my humble opinion is hugely successful. Continue reading »

Sep 282020


I finished my hike through a grand forest yesterday, more than three miles. My wife and her friend didn’t even have to drag me to the finish, though the fact that we had an hour break for lunch is the only reason I made it. I slept like a dead man last night and, to use an old idiom, was all “stove up” (google it) when I staggered out of bed this morning.

Confronting a massive list of new songs that could have been fodder for this post, I decided to make it easy on myself and just use a quartet that Andy Synn recommended to me late last week. This was a bit of a shot in the dark, since I hadn’t yet listened to any of them, but not completely in the dark since Andy has decent taste. On the other hand he’s not completely disinterested, because he performs with one of these bands. But that’s where I come in, to bring some objectivity to bear (through the waves of muscle and joint pain).


Wonderful cover art on this one, credited to the band’s sole instrumental performer on this release, Viktor Jonas, based on the original artwork “Grappling for the Lost Cable” (ca. 1866) by Robert Charles Dudley. It’s for a single called The Shipbreaker’s Song, with a B-side track named “The Sunken Place“. And yes, our own Andy Synn wrote the lyrics and performed the vocals on these two songs. Continue reading »

Sep 272020


As regular visitors to our site know, I didn’t post anything yesterday, which was the result of me sleeping in (sleeping way in) and then having to devote hours to my fucking day job, which sometimes views Saturdays and Sundays as just more work-days. I’m not going to post a SHADES OF BLACK column today either. I decided to goof off yesterday after I finished with work, and this morning I’m going on a hike.

You have no way of knowing how unusual this is. The only hiking I’ve done since March has been between the front door of my house and the mailbox, and between my computer and the refrigerator or bathroom. I get winded going to the mailbox and back. Only a blob of mercury on an undulating surface would be less “in shape” than I am. But my spouse, who hikes with a friend several days a week for hours at a time, has finally talked me into going with them this morning. I think she worries that as a result of muscular atrophy, my skeleton is the only thing that keeps me from dissolving into a puddle of fleshy goo.

So I’m going to hike. How far I get before my wife and her friend have to begin dragging me like a sack of cement is a question I can’t answer. We’ll have to see. Continue reading »

Sep 252020

Mr. Bungle by Buzz Osborne


(Gonzo brings us another Friday selection of new songs.)

We talk a lot at NCS about how utterly fucking wild this year has been. As September winds down and we all welcome the fall (that’s autumn, not the imminent collapse of society), it seems like the metal community is pulling out all the stops to close out the year – familiar faces releasing some of their strongest work in years, newcomers putting out amazing debuts, and unexpected surprises materializing out of seemingly nowhere.

This week is no exception to any of that. It’s a glorious mix of old, new, and “holy shit these guys still make albums?” Continue reading »

Sep 252020


(In this post Andy Synn reviews three albums being released today or in the near future — by Deftones, Enslaved, and The Ocean.)

As anyone who’s been following this site for, ooh, more than five minutes, will know, we tend to aim our collective focus at the more underground and/or underappreciated albums and artists out there.

Not because we have to. Not because we think it makes us “cool” (trust me, we’re not cool). Not even because we’re trying to make some sort of point or big statement. It’s just because we want to, and because it’s generally more fun to write about these sorts of bands than it is to regurgitate the same generic platitudes you can see/read everywhere else about bands who already have more than enough exposure.

That being said, sometimes we like to turn our attention to some bigger game, and bigger names, because… well… because we feel like it, basically. Which is why you’re about to read my short, but sharp, take on three artists/albums who’ve already received a fair bit of praise elsewhere but whom I think deserve a slightly more critical (dare I even say, objective?) assessment.

Think of it as my attempt to restore some balance to the force, as it were. Continue reading »

Sep 252020


Par-Delà Noireglaces et Brumes-Sinistres, the new album by the French band Crépuscule d’Hiver, is a time machine for the mind. It brings back memories of the more mysterious and fantastical strains of black metal from the ’90s, and also sends the imagination looping much further back, into a medieval age — or at least a long-lost age we romantically imagine it might have been, where even in blood, suffering, and death there was glory to be found, and an appreciation of elegance to be treasured.

The album is substantial in its length and tremendously elaborate in its experiences, produced by a combination of medieval black metal and dungeon synth, among other ingredients. It combines the talents of the band’s alter ego Stuurm, who is the composer, guitarist, keyboardist, lyricist, and principal vocalist, and NKLS, whose contributions as bassist and drummer play a vital role in the music’s overall success. In addition, credit must be given to an array of guest vocalists and guitarists — Hexēnn, Aker, 
Wÿntër Ärvń, Vettekult, and Spellbound — whose carefully chosen contributions make a richly multi-faceted album even more spellbinding.

The album is being released today by Les Acteurs de L’Ombre Productions, and it’s our pleasure to present a full stream of all the music, with our own thoughts about each of the seven songs. Continue reading »