Aug 312021
 

Recommended for fans of: Drudkh, Wolves In The Throne Room, Negură Bunget

While never as (in)famous or flush with accolades and acclaim as their more well-known peers (several of whom I’ve mentioned just above) Netherlands nomads Fluisteraars (“Whisperers”) are very much the connoisseur’s choice when it comes to atmospheric, naturalistic Black Metal which puts a premium on both mood and melody, yet doesn’t skimp on raw energy or riveting intensity in the process.

After producing two albums of immersive atmosphere and brooding fury in quick succession, the group reined in their activities for several years – producing just a short, two-track EP and a lengthy, single-track contribution to a split with Turia in this time – before blooming (pun intended) in their full glory once more with last year’s exceptional Bloem (easily one of the best albums of 2020).

Now operating as a duo, rather than a trio, but still clearly brimming with ideas and momentum, the band have wasted no time capitalising on the excitement and interest generated by their “comeback” (not that they ever entirely went away) and recently released their fourth album, Gegrepen door de Geest der Zielsontluiking, whose stark, simplistic artwork suggests a return to their roots might just be in the cards… but you’ll have to read the rest of the article to find out if that’s true or not.

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Jul 302021
 

Recommended for fans of: Primitive Man, Body Void, Iron Monkey

Variety, or so they say, is the spice of life. And since last month’s edition of The Synn Report was a rip-roaring Black-Thrash spectacular, I decided that this time around we’d go for a soul-crushing slow-motion apocalypse instead, courtesy of Colorada (by way of New Mexico) Blackened Sludge crew Oryx.

Since their formation in 2012, the trio – bassist Eric Dodgion, drummer Abigail Davis, and guitarist/vocalist Tommy Davis – have been churning out gut-wrenching grooves and bone-jarring jams, with every album (only three of which I’ll be covering in detail here today, due to the fact that ¾ of their hard-to-find self-titled debut was rewritten and re-recorded for 2014’s Widowmaker, with many people thus considering this their “official” first full-length) delivering wave after wave of filthy distortion and creepy, hypnotic hooks which make it feel like you’re bathing in solid, suffocating sound.

And what a sound it is… rugged and raw and unrelentingly bleak, Oryx are the sort of band whose every release should probably come with a public health advisory stating that their music isn’t suitable for anyone with a weak constitution.

Consider yourselves duly warned.

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Jul 012021
 

Recommended for fans of: Witchery, Goatwhore, The Crown

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… and again… and again… choosing the right, or wrong, genre tag(s) can make or break a review.

After all, we Metal folk can be a touchy, tribalist bunch at times, prone to writing off artists if/when they start to drift into sounds/styles we don’t approve of, and frequently guilty of pre-judging a band simply because they’re associated with the “wrong” kind of genre(s).

The thing about Virginia’s The Day of the Beast, however, is that no matter what you call them – deathly Black Thrash, thrashy Blackened Death, blackened Death Thrash – it’s difficult, borderline impossible, not to love them… they’re simply so ridiculously fun.

Don’t take that to mean “frivolous” though, as TDotB are no joke, as each of their four albums (the most recent of which was released just a few weeks ago) goes well out of their way to prove by way of a veritable orgy of ravaging riffs, galloping grooves, and vicious, venom-spitting vocals.

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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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Apr 302021
 

(The April 2021 edition of THE SYNN REPORT is all about the soul-destroying discography of Swiss/German Black Metal collective ColdCell)

Recommended for fans of: Schammasch, Panzerfaust, Blaze of Perdition

Let me be honest with you, if I ever actually stopped to think about what it takes to actually put together each new edition of The Synn Report (which is now on its 133rd edition, and shows no signs of stopping any time too) I’d probably have long since collapsed into a gibbering wreck.

After all, we’re talking about a full, in-depth (or, at least, relatively in-depth) round up of a different band’s entire discography every month, complete with embedded album streams and helpful references/recommendations/comparisons, all of which I usually leave right up until the last minute because I’m an idiot who is incapable of learning from his mistakes or planning ahead.

But fate, thankfully, can be both a kind as well as cruel mistress, and sometimes things just line up in a way that takes the pressure of deciding what band I’m going to write about off me.

Case in point, when Swiss quintet ColdCell released their fourth, and arguably finest, album last week it immediately became apparent that I simply had to write about them for this month’s edition of The Synn Report, as their particular brand of bleak ‘n’ baleful Black Metal – hauntingly atmospheric without being “Atmospheric”, harrowingly emotional without falling over the line into DSBM territory – has long struck a chord with me, and so now seemed like the perfect opportunity to give them their due.

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Mar 312021
 

(For the March 2021 edition of THE SYNN REPORT Andy Synn discusses the discography of Russia’s Wowod, whose most recent album came out back in January.)

Recommended for fans of: Rorcal, Isis, Downfall of Gaia

For this month’s edition of The Synn Report (I know, how has another month gone by so fast) we’re heading to Russia… St. Petersburg, to be exact… to touch base with a band I only recently discovered but whom I’ve been dying to write about ever since.

Over the course of three albums (the most recent of which was released back in January) Wowod have developed an impressively visceral and exceptionally weighty sound which could best be described as a simultaneously abrasive yet atmospheric amalgam of Post-Metal, Post-Black Metal, and Crust, built around a core of humongous, heaving riffs, harsh, howling vocals, and dark, desperate melodies and accented with erratic eruptions of seething tremolo, scathing blastbeats, and the occasional diversion into ominous, brooding ambience.

It’s a sound that’s capable of both brutal intensity and intense beauty, as heavy as it is hypnotic, by turns stunningly dense and surprisingly delicate, and one I’m sure a lot of our readers are going to love.

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Feb 242021
 

 

(For the February 2021 edition of THE SYNN REPORT Andy Synn reviews the accumulated discography of the Polish band Sunnata, whose newest album is set for release on February 26.)

Recommended for fans of: Yob, Mastodon, Isis

Formed in 2013 from the ashes of the band’s previous Stoner Rock incarnation (some traces of which can still be heard here and there), Polish sound-shamans Sunnata have been on our radar here at NCS for quite some time now but, if I’m not mistaken, this edition of The Synn Report marks the first time that one of our main writers has settled down to actually cover them in any real depth.

So, since the band’s fourth album is set for release on Friday, now seems like the perfect time to try and get to grips with their discography, whose hypnotically heavy vibes and ritualistic rhythms blend proggy Doom and doomy Post-Metal influences with a dose of Sludge-soaked swagger and a dash of gritty Grunge to provide a tasty helping of what I’ve decided to dub “Progressive Post-Doom”. Continue reading »

Jan 292021
 

 

(In this first Synn Report of 2021 Andy Synn assembles reviews of all the albums by the Swiss band Stortregn leading up to their forthcoming fifth album Impermanence, which will be released on March 12th by The Artisan Era.)

Recommended for fans of: Naglfar, Necrophobic, Obscura

The proliferation and seemingly endless sub-division of genres can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on how you look at it.

Some people (myself included) often find it useful to break down existing/evolving genres into more specific sub-styles to help categorise them for potential listeners. But others find the endless proliferation of new sub-styles and sub-genres to be pointlessly confusing and counterproductive.

The truth is, of course, that genre terms and genre boundaries are amorphous and permeable and often change over time, especially when it comes to what counts as “extreme” Metal.

Case in point, the music of Stortregn (who hail from Geneva, Switzerland) straddles the boundary between Melodic Black Metal and Melodic Death Metal – influenced as much by the seminal chill of Dissection and Dawn as it is the agile melodic menace of the early Gothenburg scene (particularly Dark Tranquillity and At the Gates) – while also, especially on their more recent records, adding a razor-sharp technical edge to their sound.

But don’t just take my word for it. With the group’s fifth album set for release in March (which I’m sure we’ll be reviewing in full closer to the time) there’s no better time than the present to delve into their discography. Continue reading »

Dec 302020
 

 

(For the final SYNN REPORT of 2020, Andy Synn reviews all the rcords in the significant discography of the unorthodox German black metal band Maladie.)

Recommended for fans of: Solefald, Sigh, Dødheimsgard

Well, it’s the end of the year as we know it and I feel… well, to be quite honest I’m not sure how I feel.

After all, it’s been a very strange (not to mention challenging) twelve months for most of us, with this site being one of the very few constants capable of brightening the bleak monotony of daily life in 2020.

So, I thought to myself, why not end the year with a feature on a band who are, in their own way, just as strange, and just as challenging (though far more rewarding)? Which is why you’re about to read my in-depth analysis of the still-expanding discography of the multi-headed metallic entity known as Maladie.

Musically-speaking the band’s sound is rooted in Black Metal, sure… but it’s also wilfully Avant-Garde, wickedly Progressive, jazzily indulgent, turbulently Technical, and everything in between, running the gamut from strafing blastbeats to swirling saxophone to groove-heavy riffs to grandiose synths, all topped off with a cacophonous chorus of shrieks and snarls, barks and bellows, sonorous croons and high-toned harmonies delivered in a polyglottal mix of English, French, Spanish, German, and Latin!

As complex and chaotic as all that sounds though, Maladie aren’t afraid to deploy hooks and/or heaviness to keep their listener(s) engaged, and – as a result of the band’s kitchen-sink-in-a-blender approach – there’s a good chance that there’ll be something here to appeal not just to fans of the three bands mentioned above (Solefald, Sigh, and Dødheimsgard) but to people who love Satyricon, Sear Bliss, Arcturus, Ne Obliviscaris, Vintersorg, In Vain, Ihsahn’s solo work, and more. Continue reading »

Nov 302020
 

 

(This is Andy Synn‘s SYNN REPORT for November 2020, and this month he lines up reviews of all the albums by California’s Vampire Squid.)

Recommended for fans of: Cattle Decapitation, The Red Chord, Slugdge

Being in a Metal band and not taking yourself too seriously, while also treating your craft and your audience with the respect they deserve, is a difficult line to walk – but not an impossible one.

Matter of fact, some of my favourite bands are dead serious (and highly professional) about what they do while also being fully aware of the innate absurdity of using the medium of Metal to bellow barely decipherable lyrics about historical atrocities or struggles with mental illness or scorn for global politics… or any one of a hundred other deadly serious, and seriously dark, issues.

And while lyrically Southern California Tech-Grind crew Vampire Squid may be slightly less serious than some – most of their songs are based around the classic Death Metal themes of blood, guts, and dismemberment, albeit with a suitably briny twist – musically speaking they’re cut from the same creative cloth as bands like The Red Chord and The Faceless, marrying the angular technicality of these groups with a rabid intensity reminiscent of Cattle Decapitation and Benighted, all topped off with a dose of the complex-yet-catchy songwriting style of their mollusc-based brethren in Slugdge (with whom they also share a love for pun-tastic song titles).

But, hey, if all that sounds too good to be true then why not see/hear for yourself and join me on a free dive into the crushing depths of the band’s discography for this month’s edition of The Synn Report? Continue reading »