Nov 132015

Damnation Festival 2015


(Andy Synn provides this report on the 2015 edition of Damnation Festival in the UK.)

It’s been a few years now since I last attended Damnation Festival, the annual celebration of all things dark and metallic hosted (as always) at Leeds University Student’s Union. But this year I knew I simply couldn’t miss it, as not only were a number of my favourite bands playing (hello Sólstafir, hi there Primordial) but also two bands I’ve been a fan of since their very first albums, but whom I’d never actually managed to see live before (The Ocean, Altar of Plagues).

Oh, and some band named At The Gates. Who are apparently pretty famous or something. Continue reading »

Jul 152013

Times passes, things change, bands break up, musicians move on. And now it’s happening to Ireland’s wonderful Altar of Plagues. It’s sad news, as it always is when a band whose music you dig calls it quits. In this case, as you’ll see, the creativity of AoP will likely continue in some other form. Here’s a statement from guitarist James Kelly that just appeared on AoP’s Facebook page:

“Altar of Plagues will conclude this year.

I decided before writing “Teethed Glory and Injury” that it would be our final album. It was executed with this fact in mind. I can state it no more simply than this; it is time to move on.

We considered whether or not we would say anything at all regarding this. But at the very least, we would like to give people an opportunity to see us perform again should they care to. And so, these upcoming shows will be our final.

Our very final performance will be on October 19th, at Unsound Festival Poland. As a festival that celebrates the eclectic and the eccentric, I can think of no other place that would be more appropriate for this occasion. It is exactly the type of environment in which I have always aspired to share our work, and it will be a celebratory occasion to conclude at what I believe will be the peak of our existence as a group. Continue reading »

Apr 252013

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Ireland’s Altar of Plagues.)

“Nothing endures but change.” – Heraclitus of Ephesus

This maxim holds as true today as it ever did, and it’s one that Altar Of Plagues seem to have taken to heart with Teethed Glory And Injury, their third full-length album.

Previous records, both EPs and albums, conjured a sense of dramatic, living decay. The lengthy songs pulsed with a heartbeat of draining entropy, a shadowy warmth, and a visceral, elemental feeling of life – albeit a life in inevitable decline. But at some point even entropy has its end. Every decline reaches its conclusion. Nothingness. Nullification. Void. What comes after?

Teethed Glory and Injury is a rebirth unlike any other. This is no phoenix-like triumph, no glorious resurrection. It is a cold, malevolent awakening. A sound born from the other side of nothing. Continue reading »

Apr 232013

Within the last few days (and mostly today), seven albums I’m very high on (and have written about here) have begun streaming in full on various web sites. They shouldn’t be missed — it’s a great chance to check out the music before deciding whether to plunk down money for them.

Each of the sites where these streams are now available includes info on how to order or pre-order the albums, so I’m not going to take time to repeat that info here. I’m also not going to take the time to write about the music (though we do plan to review some of these albums) because . . . you can hear them right now! The relevant links are below, in alphabetical order.


Mar 202013

I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to go home to Seattle tonight after more than 3 weeks of grueling bullshit for my day job. I even had a couple of hours yesterday to start catching up on all the metal I missed while buried in work. Of course, I found a lot of new things. In this post are a few of the more recent discoveries.


Yesterday, Germany’s Heaven Shall Burn released  a second song from their forthcoming album Veto. Its name is “Die Stürme Rufen Dich”, which means “the storms call you” (according to Google Translate). It’s venomous, heavy-booted music with catchy melodic hooks and Marcus Bischoff’s distinctive vox spraying acid all over everything. In other words, it’s recognizably Heaven Shall Burn.

If you’re a fan of this band, I think you’ll like the song.  It’s up next. Continue reading »

Feb 132013

(Here we have another installment in UK-based Andy Synn’s occasional series on favorites of his that come in five’s.  Music is included.)

Chance and coincidence are funny little things. One of the various ideas I had noted down for these “Favourite” columns was a short insight into my own collection of non-musical metal materials, specifically the various merch (shirts, etc) I’d picked up over the years.

So when David appeared on the scene with his series of posts on Metal Culture it seemed like the perfect time to actually put this piece together, and hopefully see what items of your ‘metal uniform’ you guys particularly cherish as well!

The funny thing is, I’m actually currently in the process of getting rid of a host of shirts, to various good homes and good people, because I feel like I’ve amassed a rather unnecessary collection, many of which I never/rarely ever wear. So I’ve been winnowing through my wardrobe, selecting the ones I don’t really have a need for, and simultaneously identifying my favourites, all of which plays nicely into this column.

Ok, so we’ll go in some sort of sartorial order, shall we? Continue reading »

Dec 212012

(Andy Synn wrote this latest installment in the “Five of My Favourite” series.  He seems pretty smug, given that today isn’t over yet.)

Well since the world didn’t end (you’re welcome by the way…) how about a quick column on five of my favourite songs about… the end of the world?



Ah, what a tune. Thick and crunchy cyber-ised melodic death metal, with lyrics about the destruction of the world via the medium of a gigantic asteroid. Our inevitable destruction has never been so catchy.

‘Estimate time of impact
Calculate the fatal fact
Estimate the cataclysm
Calculate the apocalypse’

Continue reading »

Dec 152011

(This is the fourth in Andy Synn’s week-long series of posts looking back at albums released this year. Andy previously provided his lists of the year’s Great albumsthe Good ones, and the most Disappointing ones, and tomorrow we’ll have his Personal Top 10. Today, we have his list of “The Critical Top 10”. For more explanation of what all this means, plus Andy’s picks for the year’s best EPs, visit this location.)

So here’s the penultimate list of the week, the first of two ranked top-tens. This list will include the albums that I think are the very best of the best, the ones that best combine creativity, artistic ambition, song-writing, and performance. Regardless of my personal feelings and preferences, these are the albums that I think are critically superior to others. Though the ranking of them was difficult (as it always is when trying to compare artists and albums across metallic sub-genres), I’ve tried my best to give a sense about the critical and objective factors that led to each record earning its respective position on this list.

Although the potential candidates for the list were unavoidably influenced by my own listening tastes — I do, after all, only really tend to select the albums that I feel best qualified and most inspired to review – I have done my best to keep personal preference as far away from these judgements as possible, something that I hope will become clear when you see tomorrow how different the list of my top ten “favourite” albums of the year is from today’s list.

So here are the ten releases I think best represent the year critically. The ten that, ultimately, would be my choices to represent the year in metal music for posterity. Some of them have appeared quite commonly on other lists, albeit perhaps weighted differently, while others have largely been ignored by other sources thus far. Enjoy . . . Continue reading »

Jun 172011

It’s time for another edition of THAT’S METAL!, where we take time off from our usual focus on music and collect items we’ve seen recently that aren’t music, but that we still thought were metal. We’ve got four items today, all visual in nature. The last three are amazing videos, all of which have a hypnotic quality. Departing from our usual format for these posts, we’re throwing in some musical choices of our own (metal, of course) as accompaniment for two of these items. Here we go:


Chefchaoen is a town in the North African nation of Morocco, located in the Rif Mountains. It was founded in 1471 — and virtually the entire town was at some point painted in the powder-blue color of tekhelel, a natural dye made of shellfish. Tekhelel isn’t available any more, but the tradition has carried on through the centuries. The shades of blue now vary, but the effect is still striking.

As far as I can tell, there’s no law in the town which commands people to paint everything blue. The fact that people do it anyway, to keep alive something so unusual, is pretty fucking metal. More photos follow after the jump, and you can see even more of them here. Your musical accompaniment for these images comes to you from the late, great Acid Bath from an album called When The Kite String Pops (right after the jump). Continue reading »

Mar 262011

Seems like everywhere I turn these days, I run into more good metal. I ran into the music in this post yesterday and was just too damn busy to get it up on the site on a same-day basis.

Taking my enthusiasm with a grain of salt, which of course you should do because I seem to get enthusiastic so often, I will still tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed what I’m about to dish up. The first offering is music from a Finnish band of veteran musicians called Sons of Aeon. The second is yet another debut track from the forthcoming album by Ireland’s Altar of Plagues. It’s an unusually long song, but a stunning one.


Sons of Aeon (pictured above) is a fairly new metal collective based in Jyväskylä, Finland. It includes former Swallow the Sun drummer Pasi Pasanen, plus two members of Ghost Brigade (guitarist Wille Naukkarinen and  Ghost Brigade guitarist Tommi Kiviniemi on bass), vocalist Tony Kaikkonen from Code for Silence, and guitarist Tapio Vartiainen.

They have a 3-song EP in circulation that’s available for free download — and things this good don’t usually come as gifts.  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »