Jul 012022

Recommended for fans of: Black Metal, Dark Jazz, Neo-Noir soundscapes

Romania’s Katharos XIII are a band I’ve been wanting to cover here for quite a while.

But, as you might have guessed already (especially if you’ve glanced at the “Recommended for fans of…” section above) they’re not the easiest band to write about, as their diverse yet distinctive sound is hard to compare to other bands.

Sure, I’d say fans of White Ward‘s sax-infused savagery or Deadspace‘s anguished extremity will most likely find a lot to appreciate here, and the doomy ambience and dramatic clean vocals prevalent in their most recent work will surely appeal to fans of bands like Sinistro and SubRosa, but the fact is that Katharos XIII aren’t easy to put into a box… and that’s a big part of what makes them so good.

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May 312022

Recommended for fans of: Gorguts, Demilich, Wormed

So I’ve finally found a chance to break my streak of writing about Black Metal bands for The Synn Report, and what better way to do that than with the mind-melting Death Metal madness of Artifical Brain?

And what better time to do so than now, with the band’s self-titled third album (the culmination of their ongoing sci-fi trilogy which began with 2014’s Labyrinth Constellation) due for release at the end of this week?

Those of you already familiar with the group will obviously need no introduction to their sound, and are probably just here to glean a little bit of advanced insight into what their upcoming new album has in store.

But those who are a little more, shall we say, unprepared for the oncoming onslaught of extravagant technicality, extra-terrestrial vocalisations, and extinction-level heaviness, may find themselves a little overwhelmed by what will probably – at first listen – seem like the very epitome of “organised chaos”.

Thankfully, I can reassure you that there most certainly is a method to the band’s musical madness, it just takes a little while to fully acclimatise and tune into the right frequency in order to truly get what’s going on here.

But when you do… things will never be the same again.

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Apr 302022

Recommended for fans of: Gaerea, Mgła, Dark Funeral

I have a confession I need to make. I lied to you all.

Last month I said that this month’s Synn Report wouldn’t be about another Black Metal band, since the previous four editions had all featured some form of Black Metal (though, in my defence, they were all very different takes on the genre).

But when I discovered that Canada’s Incandescence – a band about whom, I was shocked to discover, we’ve written very little over the years – had a new album out (featuring some of the best cover art of the year so far) I knew I had to break my promise.

Formed back in 2011 as a creative outlet for uber-drummer extraordinaire Philippe Boucher – known for his work with Beyond Creation, Chthe’ilist, First Fragment, and more – Incandescence now have four albums of epic, extravagant Black Metal to their name, and it’s high time you got to know their work.

So, without further ado…

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Mar 312022

Recommended for fans of: Shining, Blut Aus Nord, Dark Fortress

Ok, so this officially makes three Black Metal centric editions of The Synn Report in a row, and I swear I’ll try and change things up in April, but the release of the new album from Canadian iconoclasts Idol of Fear earlier this month meant that I couldn’t resist making them the focus of this article.

It helps that the band are an atypical example of Black Metal (some have tagged them as “experimental”, though I think that’s pushing it a bit far), as while the genre’s fundamentals are still a part of their sound they are, more often than not, incorporated and arranged in a pleasingly unorthodox fashion.

The guitars, for example, don’t hesitate to spin up some terrifically twisted tremolo melodies when they need to, but are just as often to be found strutting their stuff in a ghoulish, Shining-esque groove, or cutting loose with some strange, proggy solo work.

Similarly, the snarling vocals are delivered with a crisp sense of clarity and a wealth of cruel character, rather than just attempting to sound as evil and nasty as possible, and while blastbeats do make an appearance here and there, the overall pace of the music is far slower, and the drumming far more measured and intricate, than your average bunch of blackened blasturbators.

Combine that with an overarching atmosphere of encroaching darkness and dread (similar in many ways to the vaunted “Dark Metal” of Bethlehem) and you’ve got a trilogy of albums seemingly purpose-built to challenge your expectations when it comes to Black Metal!

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Feb 282022

Recommended for fans of: Spectral Wound, Uada, Woe

I don’t know whether it makes me a hypocrite (but, then again, aren’t we all?) but while I retain a more than healthy scepticism about any sort of so-called “supergroup” (sure, some of them are great, but most of them are just famous – and sometimes not-so-famous – musicians trading solely on their names to sell you their latest mediocre side-project) I have a lot more time for solo artists with multiple projects.

Actually, to be more accurate, I have a lot more time for those solo artists I actually like – as I am famously very picky when it comes to projects which are the product of just a single individual – which is why, upon learning that Non Est Deus was another artistic endeavour by the same person behind both Kanonenfieber and Leiþa, I knew I had to check it out.

As it turns out, not only is Non Est Deus a predictably excellent slab of sleekly savage, mercilessly melodic Black Metal – one that’s not afraid to groove, or gallop, as the situation dictates, while also being willing to throw in the occasional unexpectedly esoteric curve-ball just to keep you on your toes – it’s also actually an older and more prolific project that either of the other two, having already released both The Last Supper (2018) and There Is No God (2019), with a third album, Impious, set to be unveiled this Friday via Avantgarde Music and Noisebringer Records.

All of which, obviously, makes Non Est Deus a prime candidate for The Synn Report, so let’s cut to the chase and get to the music, shall we?

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Jan 312022

Recommended for fans of: Celeste, Dodecahedron, Imperial Triumphant

Let’s get this out of the way – Plebeian Grandstand‘s fourth album, Rien ne suffit was one of the best releases of last year, and the only reason it didn’t make an appearance in my “Critical Top Ten” was because… well, I only had so much space, and I’d already included several Black Metal (or Black Metal related) selections!

However, that raises an oft-contentious follow-up question – are Plebeian Grandstand a Black Metal band?

Quite a few people would say no – some because they believe that the band’s unique brand of enigmatic extremity lacks the “purity” of true Black Metal, others because they feel like calling them “Black Metal” is actually too restrictive, and fails to properly capture who the band are and what they do.

They’re both kind of right, to be honest, because while Black Metal is undeniably a massive part of their identity, their sound is also a wickedly harsh hybrid of Hardcore, Mathcore, Grindcore, and Sludge… along with an increasingly prominent electro-industrial undercurrent which has only added to the growing volatility of the band’s sound as they’ve mutated and evolved.

Luckily for you, you don’t just have to take my word for it, as this particular edition of The Synn Report gives you access to all four of the group’s albums, meaning you can make up your own minds!

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Dec 312021

Recommended for fans of: Agalloch, Alcest, Wolves In The Throne Room

It’s not just the end of the month, but the end of what’s been a difficult twelve months for most of us, so what better time to get introspective and immersed in the rhythms and cycles of the natural world as we transition from one year to the next?

With three albums now under their belt, VVilderness – the scintillating solo-project of Hungarian vocalist and multi-instrumentalist vvilder – have been exploring the musical boundary between light and dark for a number of years now, each harsh yet haunting composition rich in both bitterness and beauty, atmosphere and energy, rugged metallic riffage and spellbinding melody.

And though the band’s sound is based in Black Metal, such is their embrace of other elements and influences – from dreamlike Doom to gloomy Shoegaze to brooding Folk – that what they create will likely appeal to a much wider audience, if they’re willing to give their music a chance.

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Nov 302021

Recommended for fans of: Wake, Fawn Limbs, Ion Dissonance

Italian quintet Noise Trail Immersion are a perfect example of how the words we use to describe artists can have a big impact on how they’re perceived by potential listeners.

Case in point, you’ll often see them described as a Mathcore band – that’s apparently why Metal Archives won’t feature them – but that overly-simplistic designation fully fails to capture the totality of their sound, which is just as much an amalgam of chaotic Black Metal, Blackened Grind, and Dissonant Death Metal (and more).

But however you choose to describe them, with four albums under their belt – the most recent of which was released just last week – Noise Trail Immersion are long past due a major feature here at NCS, which is why I’ve chosen them for this edition of The Synn Report.

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Oct 292021

Recommended for fans of: God Dethroned, Bolt Thrower, Sulphur Aeon

Let’s not beat around the bush, eh? Where Fear and Weapons Meet, the third album from Ukranian Blackened Death-dealers 1914 is one of the best albums of the year.

Maybe you’ve already heard it (after all, it came out last Friday) or maybe this article will be your first encounter with the band – either way, whether you’re a grizzled old veteran or a fresh-faced rookie, what you’re about to read will hopefully give you a good feel for the group’s distinct blend of blackened fury, deathly intensity, and doomy melody, as well as a greater appreciation for their dedication to, and dramatisation of, the many different faces and facets of “the war to end all wars”.

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Sep 302021

Recommended for fans of: Isis, Sumac, Old Man Gloom

The central thesis of this site has always been to primarily focus our attention and efforts on the underdogs, the underrated, and the underappreciated of the Metal scene.

Of course, exactly who qualifies for this is somewhat debatable, especially when it comes to the regular retrospective provided by The Synn Report, where we’re just as likely to go to bat for a “big” name whose work we think has been undervalued or unfairly maligned as we are for a relatively unknown band whose merits have gone unsung for far too long.

Today’s edition definitely leans more towards the latter than the former, as while Portuguese trio Redemptus aren’t an entirely unknown quantity, they’ve definitely been dwelling below the radar for far too long in my/our opinion, and it’s high time that more people were made aware of the group’s abrasively aggressive and asphyxiatingly atmospheric blend of sludgy Hardcore and punky Post-Metal.

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