Sep 132018
 

 

When my NCS comrade Andy Synn made the Belgian band Marche Funèbre the subject of his 44th Synn Report almost five years ago, reviewing their debut EP and first two albums, he recommended them for fans of My Dying Bride, Eye of Solitude, and early Paradise Lost. He wrote: “Desolate and depressive, ominous and oppressive, their often lengthy, drawn out songs are simultaneously draining and invigorating – at times they hit with instant impact, at others they build slowly and insidiously, insinuating themselves into the darkest corners of your mind.”

Since then the band have released one more album, 2017’s Into the Arms of Darkness, and a pair of splits. And now, to celebrate their tenth year of life as a band, Marche Funèbre have recorded a new four-song EP that will be released on October 14th by GrimmDistribution and Cimmerian Shade Recordings. Death Wish Woman is its name, and what you’re about to hear is its title track — and if you’ve never heard this band before, you’re in for an electrifying surprise. You might be in for an electrifying surprise even if you have heard their music before. Continue reading »

Sep 122018
 

 

Heavy metal’s fascination with the occult has deep roots and shows no signs of weakening. It is manifested in many ways, not all of which can be reconciled into some philosophically consistent gestalt, running the gamut from sorcery and witchcraft to elaborate schools of satanism, from the Dark Lords of Middle Earth to the horrors conceived by Lovecraft.

To this day, the embracing and channeling of evil cuts broad swaths across metal genres (white magic fell before the power of black magic within heavy metal in its infancy), though how we should understand the concept of “evil” and why it’s such a persistent feature of metal are subjects beyond the scope of this post. The subjects are on my mind simply because they had something to do with why I chose the following five new songs for this round-up, all of which appeared (in many instances without warning) over the last 24 hours.

CIRITH UNGOL

The first bolt from the blue took the form of the first studio recording by these Kings of the Dead since the release of Paradise Lost in 1991. It’s a single named “Witch’s Game“, which was recorded for inclusion in the forthcoming animated movie The Planet of Doom (more info about that here). The B-side of the single is a live version of “Doomed Planet” as performed at Germany’s Hammer of Doom festival in 2017. As you can see, it comes with stunning cover art by Michael Whelan. Continue reading »

Sep 072018
 

 

It’s been one of those weeks, one of those weeks when for various reasons I just haven’t had time to compile any round-ups of new music. Unfortunately, it also happens to be one of those weeks when a ton of new songs and videos have premiered (in addition to those we’ve premiered ourselves). I’ve picked a couple handfuls of those, and divided the collection into two parts. This one includes better-known bands, presented in alphabetical order. The next one will include more obscure names.

ARSIS

James Malone sports a shaven head in the Arsis video that appeared overnight, but still screams like a banshee and is obviously still capable of cooking up some tasty riffs, while the people around him help put the spurs to this galloping, groove-some new song and spice it up with a bit of occult aroma, too. Speaking of which… Continue reading »

Aug 272018
 

 

(We have arrived at the glorious 100th edition of THE SYNN REPORT, which Andy started back in January 2011 with a retrospective about Astarte. In this month’s column, he reviews all the albums released to date by L.A.-based Ancestors, including the just-released Suspended In Reflections.)

Recommended for fans of: Yob, Devin Townsend, Anathema

Selecting what bands to include in the “Recommended for fans of” section of each of these columns is sometimes really easy, sometimes really hard, and sometimes… a little more complicated.

In the case of Progressive Stoner-Doom sorcerors Ancestors it’s really not sufficient to like just one of the bands recommended above, you have to appreciate all three of them – the gruff vocals and expansive grooves of Yob, the dynamic soundscapes and soul-stirring riffs of Devin Townsend (particularly circa-Terria), and the melancholy moods and soaring melodies of latter-day Anathema – and be keen to hear what a crossover between these artists might sound like.

You also need to be open to some calmer, more introspective experiences, particularly since their two most recent albums – 2012’s In Dreams and Time, and the just-released Suspended in Reflections – find the group pushing even further down the Prog/Post-Rock pathway.

But if all that sounds intriguing… then this will definitely be the band for you. Continue reading »

Aug 162018
 

 

Here’s the second Part of our Thursday round-up, which digs a little more deeply into the underground than Part 1, and which is more heavy on very heavy death metal (as well as some Grade A grindcore), with a big change of style at the end.

RUIN

To begin, I’ve chosen Track #5 from the upcoming Human Annihilation album, which is the forthcoming second full-length by the California death metal band Ruin. Their debut album Drown In Blood from last year was a ravaging implement of sonic torture, and it sounds like this one will be quite good as well. Continue reading »

Jul 312018
 

 

(In this edition of THE SYNN REPORT for July 2018, Andy reviews all the albums recorded to date by the California rock band Boy Hits Car.)

Recommended for fans of: Tool, Incubus, Leprous

I don’t know about you, but the changing of the seasons always has a notable effect on my listening habits.

Now, I’m not saying that I suddenly start jamming Peruvian pan-pipe music or Eastern European techno as soon as the flowers start to bloom, but there are definitely certain bands or certain styles of Metal which I find myself listening to more often in Summer, and some albums/artists who tend to get spun more often at the heart of Winter…

Case in point, the bouncing grooves and blissed-out melodies of Boy Hits Car always seem to make their way back into rotation whenever the sun begins to shine, as their upbeat energy and heartfelt, hippy-ish vibes just fit perfectly with the longer days and clearer skies of the Summer months.

Try not to be put off by the fact that the band’s music is generally described as “Nu-Metal” though, as the group are far sharper, and far smarter, than that label might suggest, and tend more towards the artsy, rather than the angsty, to the point where several tracks make liberal use of slightly more esoteric instruments like twelve-string acoustic guitar, flute, or tabla drums, as a way of expanding the Californian quartet’s creative and sonic palette. Continue reading »

Jul 242018
 

 

Like their countrymen in Ulver, the Norwegian band Manes have traveled far from the kind of music that first drew so many to their side. And it hasn’t been an uninterrupted trip. The first releases in the mid- and late-’90s, which revealed an atypical kind of black metal that soon attracted a fanatical following (many of whom continue to seem fanatical to this day), ended in a hiatus, and when Manes surfaced again with 2003’s Vilosophe, they had become exponents of a very different sound, which led to much gnashing of teeth and tearing  of hair.

Even that journey also seemed to come to an end in 2011, despite the release three years later of Be All End All.  But Manes are now returning again, with a new album whose intriguing title is Slow Motion Death Sequence. It’s scheduled for release by Debemur Morti Productions on August 24th, and as an introduction to what it holds in store, we are helping to premiere a video (the band’s first one ever) directed by Guilherme Henriques for a track called “Endetidstegn”, which opens the record. Continue reading »

Jul 032018
 

 

In early August of last year, thanks to a recommendation from Rennie of starkweather, I discovered a song called “Legacy” by a solo project named Vorean. As I wrote then, I found it “little short of astonishing”. Rennie likened it to the sound of Florida’s Solstice, with a hint of black metal. It reached out almost immediately and seized me by the throat with the first instances of a bleak, twisted melody, and then erupted into an electrifying rush of hyper-speed riffing and blazing drum fire, with Vorean crying out in scalding howls.

That track displayed a lot of very impressive guitar work and a lot of compositional talent as well, becoming melodically memorable as well as just downright jaw-dropping in its execution. And part of what made the track — and the whole album from which it came — so astonishing was that it was the work of a single individual from Powell River, British Columbia (Ryan C. Schmeister) who had just turned 19 years old at the time of its release. Continue reading »

Jun 302018
 

 

(This Saturday’s edition of Andy Synn’sWaxing Lyrical series presents thoughts about lyrics from Joseph Martinez of Junius, whose most recent album, Eternal Rituals For the Accretion of Light, was released by Prosthetic Records in 2017.)

There’s a certain argument (not that it’s one I agree with) that proggy Post-Rock/Post-Metal collective (and celebrated Synn Report alumni) Junius don’t really “belong” here at NCS.

After all, their music is certainly far from “extreme” (though it does have its heavier moments), and the vocals are almost entirely clean-sung, meaning that the band’s whole existence essentially runs counter to the site’s original ethos.

But the truth is that NCS has grown far beyond its original remit, and the fact that we often cover lighter, more melodic fare is balanced out by the way in which we also give coverage to bands and artists who are leaps and bounds heavier and more abrasive than anything the site’s original founders could have predicted.

Personally I’m proud of the way in which we’ve broadened our scope, while still retaining our focus on quality and integrity as two of the key values in all the music we feature, just as I’m proud to have been able to convince Junius frontman/vocalist/lyricist Joseph Martinez to participate in this latest edition of “Waxing Lyrical”. Continue reading »

Jun 192018
 

 

(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Colorado’s Khemmis, which will be released on June 22nd by 20 Buck Spin in North America and by Nuclear Blast everywhere else.)

I’m more than happy to admit that I’m a very late joiner to the Khemmis train.

Oh, sure, I’d heard the name around, I knew they were pretty well liked and that there was a fair bit of hype building behind them, and had even caught a glimpse of their eye-catching artwork here and there, but – for whatever reason – I’d just never found the time to actually listen to one of the band’s songs/albums.

Thankfully, their brilliant performance at this year’s edition of Maryland Deathfest made me an immediate convert to their cause, and I’ve spent the time since then immersing myself in the band’s back-catalogue and catching up on everything which I’ve been missing, just in time for Desolation to drop into my inbox with a resounding (digital) boom. Continue reading »