Jan 022019
 

 

(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Swedish group A Swarm of the Sun, which will be released by Version Studio Recodings on January 11th.)

After debating with myself for a while I’ve decided that the best way to kick off my 2019 at NCS is by… covering some minimalist, melancholy, and mostly instrumental Post-Rock where the vocals, sparingly used yet sublime, are delivered in a plaintive, cleanly-sung croon.

Who, me, contrarian?

In all seriousness though, A Swarm of the Sun’s previous album, The Rifts, was easily one of the richest, most rewarding musical experiences of 2015, so much so that I was compelled to include it in my Critical Top Ten of the year alongside other such impressive entries from bands like Sulphur Aeon, Bell Witch, and Alkaloid.

Hence you can probably imagine just how eagerly (and impatiently) I’ve been waiting for the band to produce this follow-up, which is scheduled to hit the streets (and the internet) next Friday. Continue reading »

Dec 052018
 

 

(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by In the Woods…, which was released on November 23rd by Debemur Morti Productions.)

While this will most likely be my last review before I unveil my annual end-of-year onslaught of lists and lurid opinions, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be my last review of the year, as I already have several items earmarked for further coverage during the post-Listmania come-down.

I didn’t want to sit on this article any longer though, as this particular collection of words has been burning a hole in my brain for several weeks now, and I was starting to worry that I was risking permanent damage if I waited much longer.

So here’s a few thoughts, and maybe even a “hot take” or two, about the magical new album from In The Woods… Continue reading »

Nov 292018
 

 

Last Sunday when I wrote about my imminent two-week vacation I though it was unlikely that I would be able to assemble any new-music round-ups. But for my traveling companions, yesterday was an especially lazy day, and so I found a bit of guilt-free time to explore new music.

Not a lot of time, mind you, and so I didn’t cast a very wide net over everything of interest that had surfaced since the last of these round-ups, nor was I able to choose as many songs as I usually do. But these three struck a strong chord, and I’m happy with the choices.

ROTTING CHRIST

Season of Mist uses the term “anthemic” to describe the new Rotting Christ song it released yesterday, and so it is — in a way that’s distinctively Rotting Christ. If you’re familiar with their music, you would know it’s them even if no one told you. Continue reading »

Nov 232018
 

 

Three years on from their Pears of Anguish demo tape, the L.A.-based deathrock shape-shifters Deth Crux are returning with their debut album, Mutant Flesh, set for imminent release on December 7th through the collaboration of Sentient Ruin Laboratories (U.S.) and the Italian labels Legion of the Dead and Aural Music. “Chrome Lips” is the name of the ravishing new album track that we’re bringing you today.

While we normally resist parroting what labels and PR agents write about the releases they’re promoting, sometimes the verbiage hits the nail on the head so squarely that it’s difficult to resist, and that’s the case here. There is indeed a “chameleon-like approach to post-punk” and gothic rock in the music of Deth Crux, “where beauty and ugliness, seduction and perversion, dream and nightmare interchange constantly and construct the foundation of their sound”. Continue reading »

Nov 142018
 

 

(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the debut album by Azusa, which will be released on November 16 via Solid State Records and Indie Recordings.)

Like many of you I was pretty giddy with excitement when the official Extol Facebook page began teasing some sort of new release earlier this year, only to feel a rather sharp sting of disappointment when it was revealed to be for a brand-new project named Azusa, rather than the hoped-for follow-up to the band’s excellent self-titled comeback album.

As it turns out, however, I shouldn’t have been counting my chickens quite so soon because, for all intents and purposes, Heavy Yoke pretty much IS a new Extol album. Continue reading »

Oct 182018
 

 

I think this must be a first — for five days in a row I’ve had enough time to compile a round-up of new songs. Doesn’t mean I’m anywhere close to catching up with everything I’d like to recommend, but it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Today, I chose the first four good songs I found when I began scrolling through the morass of e-mails that had arrived at NCS overnight and this morning. Not exactly the most thorough method of making a selection, but it had the coincidental benefit of presenting some pleasing variety, as you’ll see….

BLOODBATH

Chainsaw Lullaby” is a clever and amusing title, and of course it makes no secret about the meat of the sound. But before we get to this new song off Bloodbath’s forthcoming album, The Arrow of Satan is Drawn, let’s here from Anders ‘Blakkheim’ Nyström about the track: Continue reading »

Oct 162018
 

 

Happy Tuesday to one and all. This makes the third day in a row when I’ve found time to round up new songs, and the third day in a row when I’ve focused on underground bands as opposed to bigger names. It’s not that I have any kind of reflexive distaste for the music of economically successful bands whose names are a known quantity world-wide (which, like the music of bands who toil in relative obscurity, is simply a familiar mix of excellence and mediocrity). It’s more that they really don’t need one more metal blog giving them a boost. And sometimes (but not always), that feeling steers me toward bands such as those discussed below.

WHOREDOM RIFE

This Norwegian duo from Trondheim (multi-instrumentalist V. Einride and vocalist K.R.) have made a big and favorable impression on discerning consumers of metal extremity in a relatively short time, through their self-titled debut EP in 2016 and their first album last year, the fantastic Dommedagskvad, both of which were released by Terratur Possessions. Now they return with a new album, NID – Hymner Av Hat. Continue reading »

Sep 272018
 

 

(In this new edition of Andy Synn‘s occasional series, he reviews new releases by three UK bands — Crippled Black Phoenix, Famyne, and Spires.)

Despite my well-documented griping about how frequently certain sections of the UK scene seem to embrace mediocrity, there’s still a hefty amount of quality music and quality bands coming out of these green and pleasant lands these days, and today’s edition of “The Best of British” rounds up three of them for your aural delectation.

Fair warning, however, the following three albums contain a lot of clean singing so… you’ve been warned! Continue reading »

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 »