May 302020
 

 

(In this May 2020 edition of THE SYNN REPORT Andy Synn combines reviews and streams of all the albums (and one EP) released to date by the California band Xibalba, including their latest album released just yesterday by Southern Lord.)

Recommended for fans of: Misery Index, Earth Crisis, Morbid Angel

Depending on who you ask, Death Metal and Hardcore are either mortal enemies or eternal blood brothers, divided or bound by a mutual love of pure heaviness and pulverising aggression.

Californian crushers Xibalba clearly see the two styles as different sides of the same coin, and have been paying their dues for over a decade now, producing, to date, four impressively intense albums of churning riffs, chunky breakdowns, and belligerent bellowing vocals.

But, for whatever reason, the band just haven’t had that major “break out” moment yet, which is pretty shocking when you consider how much crossover potential there is in their sound. After all, they’re pretty much the only band I could ever recommend equally and without reservations to fans of Earth Crisis or Entombed, Disembodied or Dismember, Misery Index or Machine Head or Morbid Angel.

Hopefully, however, the recent release of their fourth album, Años en infierno, should give their profile a major boost, meaning now is the time to jump onboard the hype train before you get left behind! Continue reading »

Apr 302020
 

 

(For the April 2020 edition of The Synn Report, Andy Synn has combined reviews and streams of all the releases by the California band Destroyed In Seconds, including their newest album Divide and Devour, which was released last Friday.)

Recommended for fans of: Wolfbrigade, Disfear, Trap Them

Though the story of California Crust-Punk/Thrashcore crossover crew Destroyed In Seconds goes all the way back to 2008, my own relationship with the band is only a few years old, as I’d never heard of them before one of my buddies dragged me aling to see them at the 2018 edition of Maryland Deathfest.

I’m not sure exactly what it was about the band’s performance – maybe it was their obnoxiously high energy levels despite their early afternoon slot, maybe it was their general “give no fucks, take no prisoners” attitude, or maybe it was the fun way they ripped the piss out of one of our companions for wearing a black cowboy hat in the pit – but, whatever it was, I was instantly hooked.

Hopefully, if you’re not already familiar with the band (whose third album was just released last week), you’ll be just as hooked by the end of this column, especially if you’re a fan of the sort of down ‘n’ dirty, d-beat driven sound which derives its inspirations from bands like D.R.I. and Dropdead, Exodus and Entombed, Nausea and Napalm Death. Continue reading »

Mar 312020
 

 

(For the March 2020 edition of The Synn Report, Andy Synn has combined reviews and streams of all the releases by the Australian black metal band Wardaemonic, including their newest album Acts of Repentance, which was released by Transcending Obscurity Records on March 20th.)

Recommended for fans of: Immortal, Mayhem, 1349

From its humble beginnings in the streets and suburbs of Norway, Black Metal has stretched its eldritch tendrils far and wide, resulting in new cults and covens springing up all over the world.

There is, perhaps, no better example of how the genre has metastasised and infected practically every corner of the globe than Wardaemonic, who, despite hailing from the Western coast of Australia – about as far, both in distance and climate, from the Norwegian fjords as it’s possible to get – have spent the last fifteen years establishing their own place in the ever-growing legacy of Black Metal.

The group’s fourth (and possibly finest) album, Acts of Repentance, was released just over a week ago, so now seemed like the perfect time to bring their work to a wider audience. Continue reading »

Feb 282020
 

 

(In this SYNN REPORT for the month of February 2020, Andy Synn assembles reviews of all the records released to date by the Swedish band Yuri Gagarin, including their new album, released in late January.)

Recommended for fans of: Oranssi Pazuzu, Dark Buddha Rising, Sleep

One of the many joyful elements of writing each edition of The Synn Report – beyond the simple pleasure of being able to introduce you all to new artists and albums every month – is the way in which it encourages me to switch up my listening habits on a regular basis.

Case in point, after going from Tech to Grind to Death to Black to Prog to ‘core over the last six months now it’s time to switch things up once again with Space-Rock cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin.

Despite hailing from the metallic mecca of Gothenburg, Sweden, the five-piece are probably one of the least “Metal” artists we’ve ever featured as part of The Synn Report.

However that doesn’t mean they don’t bring their own particular style of heaviness to the table, adding a delicious dose of distortion to every juicy, psychedelic jam and fuzzed-up instrumental freak out. Continue reading »

Jan 292020
 

 

(In this SYNN REPORT for January 2020, Andy reviews the combined discography of the Russian band Minuala.)

Recommended for fans of: Martyrdöd, King Apathy, Downfall of Gaia

Despite not being much of a social butterfly, one thing I appreciate about the Metal scene is the sense of community it can foster between different people from different places and different backgrounds.

Sure, I might be a little cynical about it now and then (often with good reason), but I only have to glance at my own little “community” (which really isn’t all that “little” at all these days) to see all the ties which bind me to the people within it – from my band-mates and my old friendship circle back home, to my brothers at NCS (and our extended family), the various comrades and compatriots from other sites/zines who’ve become part of our crew, and the multitude of musicians I’ve come to know over the years.

The group featured in this month’s edition of The Synn Report was recommended to me by one of my oldest and dearest friends, who himself received it from one of his coworkers (who happens to be the ex-bassist from Fall of Efrafa). So you know who to thank if you find yourself with a new favourite band.

The band in question are Minuala, from Russia, and their music is a fantastic blend of dark, subtly blackened Hardcore, riff-driven metallic muscle, and riveting Crust/Post-Metal touches, that should appeal to fans of bands like Martyrdöd, King Apathy, Dödsrit, Downfall of Gaia, and, yes, Fall of Efrafa. Continue reading »

Dec 312019
 

 

(Here we are, at the end of December and the end of 2019, and just under the wire Andy Synn has turned in his SYNN REPORT for the month, choosing to review all the albums by the Colorado band Dreadnought, including their latest album Emergence, which was released in September by Profound Lore.)

Recommended for fans of: Madder Mortem, Ludicra, (latter-day) Opeth

Having dedicated the last several editions of The Synn Report to the nastier, gnarlier end of the musical spectrum, I felt it would be fun to end the year in something a little bit proggier.

Actually, make that a LOT proggier, as the multi-instrumental marvels of Dreadnought (whose repertoire accentuates the traditional form of bass, guitar, drums, and vocals, with added embellishments from flute, piano, mandolin, and saxophone, to name but  a few) arguably err more towards Folk, Prog, and Jazz – particularly on their earlier albums – than they do Metal.

That’s not to say that the Colorado quartet don’t have their more metallic moments, as they’re entirely capable of deploying a writhing, blackened riff or snarling shot of vocal venom whenever the need calls for it, but these harsher, heavier elements are just one small part of a rich creative tapestry which favours patient, proggy melody and indulgent artistry over instantaneous impact. Continue reading »

Nov 292019
 

 

(The month of November has nearly expired, but before it gasps its last breath Andy Synn has delivered a SYNN REPORT for the month, and in this edition he reviews and streams music from all the albums created by the German band Krater, including their latest work Venenare, released by Eisenwald earlier this month.)

Recommended for fans of: 1349, Mgła, Dark Fortress

I’m a little sick and tired of explaining it but, here it is again for those of you too slow to grasp this very simple truth…

Black Metal comes in many forms and many guises.

It can be dense and dissonant, ethereal and atmospheric, thrashy, punky, proggy… and everything in between. Sometimes all at once.

Don’t get me wrong, I still firmly believe that there are certain features, certain elements and ideals, which are fundamental (even though we can argue about what they might be ’til the cows come home) and without which you’re simply not playing Black Metal at all. But I have very little time for those whose limited vision restricts what they’ll “allow” Black Metal to be.

Germany’s Krater clearly share a similar view, as their back catalogue is a testament to evolution and expanding vision, beginning life as a more “classic” second-wave style band but swiftly developing into something far darker, far heavier, far more technical, and far more atmospheric, than their more primitive origins might have predicted. Continue reading »

Oct 302019
 

 

(In this October edition of THE SYNN REPORT Andy Synn compiles reviews of all the releases by the UK death metal band Vacivus, including Annihilism, an album just released by Profound Lore.)

Recommended for fans of: Incantation, Teitanblood, Sulphur Aeon

Despite my current status as an all-seeing, all-knowing, font of metallic wisdom (…cough…) I still find it difficult to say which bands are going to get “big”, and why some of those bands do when others don’t.

Take UK death-dealers Vacivus, for example. Despite receiving a wealth of critical praise for their work over the last few years, the quintet have yet to have that one “breakout” moment that might put them on the fast track to stardom.

Quite why this is I’m not sure, as the band’s blending of guttural growls and gut-churning riffage, all tinged around the edges with a touch of murky atmosphere and poisonous blackened melody, instinctively hits all the right notes to appeal to an impressive cross-section of extremophiles.

So if you’re a dedicated disciple of Death Metal overlords like Incantation, Immolation, and Morbid Angel, a lover of more modern upstarts like Sulphur Aeon, Blood Incantation, and Tomb Mold, or the sort of person who enjoys wallowing in the Death/Black hybrid horror of bands like Abyssal, Portal, or Teitanblood, you owe it to yourselves to check these guys out. Continue reading »

Sep 302019
 

 

(For this month’s Synn Report, Andy delves into the discography of the German band Implore, including their latest full-length, just released by Century Media.)

Recommended for fans of: Nasum,Trap ThemAncst

Sometimes the self-imposed restrictions I’ve put in place around this column do make things a little difficult.

Case in point, simply picking three bands for the “Recommended for fans of…” section above proved to be a surprisingly difficult task, as Implore’s sound could potentially appeal to a wide range of listeners.

At their heart the quartet are a belligerent Death/Grind act, but this description doesn’t tell the full story, as while the speed and structure of the tracks recalls Grindcore godfathers like Nasum and Rotten Sound, and their meaty, Swe-Death guitar tone is equal parts Grave and Dismember, there’s also a distinct Crust/Hardcore element that would appeal to fans of everyone from Earth Crisis to Martyrdöd, as well as a touch of blackened spite reminiscent of Anaal Nathrakh at their grindiest, and some hook-heavy riffs and melodies that aren’t a million miles from At The Gates or Darkest Hour at their punkiest.

But Implore don’t actually sound exactly like any of these bands when all is said and done. They just happen to hit that sweet spot where fans of these bands, if they’re open-minded enough, will be able to appreciate what they do, no matter whereabouts on the Metal spectrum they come from. Continue reading »

Aug 302019
 

 

(In this August edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn writes of all the albums released by the California band Wrvth, including a review of their most recent album, No Rising Sun, released on August 23rd by Unique Leader Records.)

Recommended for fans of: Fallujah, The Faceless, Bosse-De-Nage

It’s always sad to see a band hanging up their boots just as it seems like they’re hitting their stride. Such is the case with Californian Technical/Progressive/Post-Death Metal crew Wrvth (pronounced “Wrath”, not “Ruth”) who released their fourth and final (and finest) album just last week, before all going their own separate ways.

Beginning life as a much more straightforward Technical Death/core group and operating under the lengthier sobriquet of Wrath of Vesuvius, it wasn’t until 2015, when the band changed their name, upgraded their sound, and released their career-redefining eponymous album, that they really came into their own, having developed a new approach that was simultaneously both atmospheric and aggressive, chaotic and cathartic, ambient yet angular, and which they would go on to refine to near perfection on this year’s No Rising Sun. Continue reading »