Feb 282019
 

 

(Here’s the February 2019 edition of THE SYNN REPORT, and this month Andy reviews the collected discography of the Pennsylvania technical death metal band Aletheian.)

Recommended for fans of: Death, Atheist, Extol

According to my most recent count I’ve got close to 100 potential entries for The Synn Report lined up, some of which deal with current bands whose back-catalogues I think deserve a second look, some of which look at bands who are no longer active but who are well worth checking out all the same, and some, like today’s entry, which feature bands whose situation is currently unknown.

For the February 2019 edition I’ve elected to go back in time a little bit and touch on the short, but oh so sweet, discography of one of Technical Death Metal’s most underappreciated artists, Pennsylvanian riff-wizards Aletheian.

Formed in 1997 under the name Crutch, only to change their name in 2003 following some major line-up changes, the band currently have three albums to their name, each of which err towards the more cerebral and progressive end of the Tech-Death spectrum, with a particular emphasis on complex song-structures and creative melody rather than frantic fretwork fireworks.

And while not much has been heard from the group since then, there were some rumblings a few years back that a new album was in the works, so while this may be the first you’re hearing about the band for some of you, hopefully it won’t be the last! Continue reading »

Jan 312019
 

 

(The January 2019 edition of THE SYNN REPORT is devoted to the releases of the Scottish band Saor, and includes Andy Synn‘s review of Saor’s newest album, Forgotten Paths, which will be released on February 15th by Avantgarde Music.)

Recommended for fans of: Panopticon, Alcest, Dawn Ray’d

There’s been a lot of discussion recently – much of it intriguing, much of it ignorant – about what Black Metal “should” or “shouldn’t” be.

And while the whole issue, and all its many facets and factors, is far too complex for me to address here, the various conversations and arguments I’ve had with people – some like-minded, some less so – have helped crystallise in my mind that the most important thing any Black Metal artist needs… is passion.

Case in point, Saor (the solo project of one Andy Marshall) is absolutely brimming with passion and primal vitality, and each of the band’s albums (the fourth of which will be released within the next few weeks) marries energy and emotion, atmosphere and artistry, in a way that clearly comes right from the heart. Continue reading »

Dec 282018
 

 

(For the final edition of THE SYNN REPORT for 2018, Andy Synn compiles reviews of all the albums released to date by Veilburner, including their brand new record A Sire To the Ghouls of Lunacy, which is being released today.)

Recommended for fans of: Akercocke, Dodecahedron, Imperial Triumphant

I’ve been so busy over the last few weeks, first with a mix of work and band commitments, then with more personal stuff going into the Christmas period, that I honestly almost forgot that I still had a new edition of The Synn Report (the last one of the year) to produce.

Thankfully it didn’t take very long to select which band would be this month’s lucky recipient of my attentions, as prolific Pennsylvania duo Veilburner are releasing their fourth (and likely finest) album today via Transcending Obscurity Records, meaning that the timing really couldn’t have worked out better.

With an incredibly diverse, yet distinctive, sound – the closest true comparison I can think of is with those Avant-Garde Australian extremists in Ur Draugr, though you’ll also see that, multiple times throughout this column, I’ve tried to make references which I think will appeal to our readers – over the past four/five years Mephisto Deleterio (instrumentation) and Chrisom Inferium (vocals) have produced several hours of warped and twisted, tumultuously technical and deviously discordant Black/Death Metal which doesn’t really sound exactly like anyone, or any thing, else out there. Continue reading »

Nov 302018
 

 

(In this November edition of The Synn Report, Andy combines reviews of the four albums released to date by UK devastators Spearhead, including their new album Pacifism Is Cowardice, released one week ago by Invictus Productions.)

Recommended for fans of: Vader, Witchery, Goatwhore

Pulling no punches and taking no prisoners, Spearhead have been weaponising their particular brand of Blackened Death-Thrash for almost fifteen years now, and have produced four utterly ferocious albums during that time, the most recent of which – Pacifism Is Cowardice – came out just one week ago, following a seven-year gap between records.

And while the quartet – now made up of founding bassist/vocalist Barghest, long-time guitarist Invictus, and new members Typhon (drums) and Praetorian (guitars) – clearly have a deep, abiding affection for the classic, old school style(s) of Extreme Metal, you’ll soon see/hear that their latest record in particular aims for more of an ageless, enduring sound than some sort of uninspired throwback.

So gird your loins, brothers and sisters, and follow me once more into the breach! Continue reading »

Oct 262018
 

 

(In this month’s edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy takes on the discography of New Jersey’s Cognitive, including their newest record, which is being released today by Unique Leader.)

Recommended for fans of: Suffocation, Cryptopsy, Cattle Decapitation

Despite being commonly tagged as “Technical Death Metal” in most reviews, features, and press releases, New Jersey crushers Cognitive have always leaned much harder towards the “Death Metal” side of the equation to my humble ears.

Don’t get me wrong, over the course of seven years and three full-length albums (the most recent of which is set to be released today via Unique Leader) the band’s roster has contained some seriously technically talented individuals, all of whom have been capable of unleashing some searing sonic shred on their respective instruments.

But, ultimately, the key feature which has united all the band’s members and albums is an unwavering commitment to blistering brutality, with nary a hint of compromise or restraint along the way, which makes them perfect candidates for this month’s Synn Report. Continue reading »

Oct 012018
 

 

(In this edition of THE SYNN REPORT for September 2018, Andy Synn reviews all the albums released so far by the Californian black/death band Valdur, as well as their new full-length scheduled for detonation on October 19th.)

Recommended for fans of: Impaled Nazarene, Incantation, (early) Immortal

By sheer coincidence the last several editions of The Synn Report have covered bands who tend towards the more melodic, the more ambient, or the more accessible end of the metallic spectrum.

Which makes it high time we delved into something a little harder, and a lot nastier, doesn’t it?

Hailing (aptly enough) from Mammoth Lakes in California, Valdur’s fluctuating line-up has often been veiled in a shroud of obfuscation, with several of the band’s members operating either unacknowledged, unnamed, or under a carefully crafted pseudonym, over the years.

But while the group’s roster may have changed, their core-line-up, and their commitment to their uncompromising and unrelenting brand of grim and gritty Black/Death Metal, has remained remarkably – even rabidly – consistent, over the course of five (soon to be six) savagely Satanic, ravenously riff-heavy, albums.

And with their newest release, Goat of Iniquity, set for release on the 19th of October, now seemed like the perfect time to go for a deep dive into the filth and fury of the band’s back-catalogue. 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 »

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 »

Jun 292018
 

 

(Andy Synn delivers a SYNN REPORT for the month of June, focusing on the discography of the Icelandic band Kontinuum — including their new album, set for release next week.)

Recommended for fans of: Sólstafir, Foscor, Katatonia

It may surprise you to learn (or it may not) that there’s no strict plan or grand design which guides the production of The Synn Report each month. Each entry is largely dependent on my own ever-shifting whims, and, at this point, there are some bands who I’ve been meaning to write about ever since the column started but who, for various reasons, have kept getting pushed back and postponed. Still, I’m sure I’ll get to them eventually…

Every now and then though there’s a certain amount of method to my madness, in that I’ll sometimes try and line up a new entry to coincide with the release of a band’s new album, so that I can mix and match the review and retrospective formats into one (hopefully) cohesive whole.

Such is the case with today’s edition, as Icelandic post-progsters Kontinuum are set to release their third album, No Need to Reason, next Friday, meaning that now seemed like the perfect time to introduce you all to their intricate, atmospheric blend of brooding swagger and moody melancholy. Continue reading »

Jun 012018
 

 

(Andy Synn delivers a SYNN REPORT for the month of May, focusing on the discography of the Colorado band band Wayfarer.)

Recommended for fans of: Agalloch, Panopticon, Oak Pantheon

One of the great things about writing The Synn Report over all these years is how much variety has been involved since its inception, with the collected entries (now nearing a cool one hundred) covering a wide swathe of the Metal landscape as well as a solid proportion of the globe.

Heck, in just the last ten entries we’ve had entries from Norway, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Canada, Poland, and the USA, featuring a mix of Black, Death, Sludge, Thrash, and Post-Metal, and I have plan to visit many more countries and a variety of other genres (and sub-genres) going forwards.

This month’s entry however, as well as being a day late, just so happens to mark the second entry in a row hailing from the good ol’ US of A (Denver, Colorado, to be exact)… and next month’s might just end up making three in a row if things carry on the way they are doing… but I think you’ll find that the strength of the music on offer easily justifies this decision to stick around in the putative “Land of the Free”. Continue reading »