Jul 162018
 

 

(Andy Synn prepared this review of the new album by The Agony Scene, which will be released on July 20, digitally and in physical editions via Outerloop Records/Cooking Vinyl.)

So-called “comeback” albums can be a dicey affair. Attempts to recapture past glories can easily sound dated and contrived, while efforts to demonstrate progress and evolution can just as easily alienate the very audience who’ve been waiting so patiently for your band’s return.

It’s a difficult line to walk at the best of times, and I’ve lost count of the number of artists who’ve stumbled and fallen while attempting to navigate this particular musical minefield over the years.

However in this particular case The Agony Scene look to have succeeded where so many other have failed by producing an album which sounds like a natural extension of their earlier work – albeit one informed by a solid decade of growth and experience – as well as an exploration of fertile new pastures.

And I guess it doesn’t hurt that it also just so happens to be the darkest, most visceral album of their career. Continue reading »

Jul 142018
 

 

(In this week’s edition of Andy Synn’s series on the creation of metal lyrics, he elicits thoughts from lyricist/guitarist Enrico Schettino of the Italian death metal band Hideous Divinity.)

If you’re not already familiar with Italian blastmasters Hideous Divinity then stop whatever you’re doing now (which I suppose is reading this column) and head on over to their Bandcamp page straight away and listen to their facemelting third album Adveniens, which our very own DGR described as:

“…an atomic blast that never seems to stop expanding ever-outward from moment one, never losing momentum, and leaving nothing but ash, dust, and mutation in its aftermath.”

And then, once you’re done with that, make sure to come back here and read this new edition of Waxing Lyrical, where the band’s guitarist Enrico Schettino discusses where his lyrics come from, where they’re going, and the method behind the band’s particular brand of metallic madness! Continue reading »

Jul 132018
 

 

(This is Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Germany’s Centaurus-A, their first after a nine-year absence.)

Is nine years a sufficient break between releases to call Means of Escape a “comeback” album? Answers on a postcard, please.

Whether it is or it isn’t though, it’s still a significant enough gap that I think most fans (myself included) had essentially accepted that Centaurus-A’s impressive debut, Side-Effects Expected, was going to wind up as one of those underappreciated underground classics whose impact and influence was destined to be appreciated solely by a few lucky listeners who just happened to have been in the right place, at the right time.

And yet, almost out of the blue, the Centaurus-A machine suddenly came back online in April of this year with the announcement that news of their demise had been greatly exaggerated, and that a brand new album was set to be released very soon… a new album which eventually dropped on the 13th of June, exactly one month ago today. Continue reading »

Jul 122018
 

 

(We present Andy Synn’s review of the just-released new EP by Hatalom from Québec City, Québec, Canada.)

So I’ve decided that this week is going to be a Tech-Death focussed one for me, beginning with my review of the new Obscura disc on Monday, and continuing today with this quick run-down of the debut EP by Canadian quartet Hatalom. Continue reading »

Jul 092018
 

 

(This is Andy Synn’s review of the new album by the celebrated German band Obscura, which will be released on July 13th by Relapse Records.)

Where to start with this one?

Obviously the name Obscura should be familiar to the majority (if not all) of our readers, as the band – these days comprising creative (and somewhat controversial) linchpin Steffen Kummerer alongside guitarist Rafael Trujillo, drummer Sebastian Lanser, and resident uber-bassist Linus Klausenitzer – have long since established themselves as one of the big names of Progressive/Technical Death Metal.

What they, and you, may not be aware of, however, is that, despite all the line-up changes, intra-band friction, and media-managed drama of the last few years, Obscura have been actively engaged in crafting a ten-year long, four-album deep, conceptual cycle – beginning with 2009’s Cosmogenesis (origin), and then moving through further phases with 2011’s Omnivium (evolution), and 2016’s Akróasis (consciousness) – which is finally about to conclude with the release of Diluvium, representing not only the end of the cycle, but also the end of an era for Kummerer and co.

So, with that in mind, perhaps the real question you should be asking yourself right now is… can this record possibly live up to those lofty expectations, and truly deliver the ending which this saga deserves? Continue reading »

Jul 072018
 

 

(In this episode of WAXING LYRICAL, Andy Synn interviews himself, in his capacity as lyricist/vocalist of the UK band Beyond Grace.)

Those of you who know me well – and even some of those who don’t know me that well – will probably be aware of my love of words. That’s partially the reason I write for NCS after all, to share and communicate my thoughts and ideas through writing. It’s also why I wanted to make this column a regular thing, because I know a lot of writers and lyricists feel the same way, and put a lot of thought and effort (and depth) into their work, which often goes unappreciated.

Today’s edition, which I’m shamelessly hijacking for my own purposes, is a bit of a special one, as it’s precisely one year since the release of our debut album, Seekers, and we’ve decided to commemorate this by unveiling a brand new (ish) version of “Demiurge”, featuring guest vocals by Adam Cook of A Hill To Die Upon, which can be downloaded for free from our Bandcamp page right now.

So if you’d like to check this out, and learn more about the way I write (for Beyond Grace at least) then please, click on! Continue reading »

Jul 062018
 

 

(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Immortal on the day of its release by Nuclear Blast.)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll no doubt be aware that the release of a new Immortal album – the band’s first since 2009’s All Shall Fall, as well as their first since the now well-documented and more than a tad acrimonious split with their former frontman Abbath – is what we in the business like to call A Very Big Deal.

You’ll also likely have seen a plethora of different reviews, comments, and op-eds being published either decrying it for not being “Immortal enough” due to its lack of Abbath, or else praising it to the heavens for being “a return to the band’s roots”, with lines being drawn and camps being formed on either side of this divide.

And while, if everything’s gone right, at the time of reading this you’ll hopefully have found a way of listening to the album for yourselves, I still thought it might be worth publishing my own thoughts on the matter, and asking, “can’t we all just get along?” Continue reading »

Jul 022018
 

 

(As we reach the mid-year turning point, Andy Synn highlights a baker’s dozen of releases from the year’s first half to which we haven’t previously paid sufficient attention but recommend now.)

How did you all like that utterly pretentious/portentous title? Originally I was going to give this piece a much more mundane header, but then I thought “hey, I’m trying to get people’s attention… so why not go with something eye-catching?”

You see, we’re now officially in the second half of 2018, and, despite our best efforts and our best intentions, we’ve still failed to cover a significant percentage of the multitude of Metal albums released over the last six months.

Now I’m not a fan of those “Best of the Year So Far” lists (though others at the site seem to view them more favourably) but, in an effort to make at least some small recompense for this terrible dereliction of our duties over the preceding 182 1/2 days, I decided to put together this column highlighting thirteen different records which you might otherwise have overlooked. Continue reading »

Jun 302018
 

 

(This Saturday’s edition of Andy Synn’sWaxing Lyrical series presents thoughts about lyrics from Joseph Martinez of Junius, whose most recent album, Eternal Rituals For the Accretion of Light, was released by Prosthetic Records in 2017.)

There’s a certain argument (not that it’s one I agree with) that proggy Post-Rock/Post-Metal collective (and celebrated Synn Report alumni) Junius don’t really “belong” here at NCS.

After all, their music is certainly far from “extreme” (though it does have its heavier moments), and the vocals are almost entirely clean-sung, meaning that the band’s whole existence essentially runs counter to the site’s original ethos.

But the truth is that NCS has grown far beyond its original remit, and the fact that we often cover lighter, more melodic fare is balanced out by the way in which we also give coverage to bands and artists who are leaps and bounds heavier and more abrasive than anything the site’s original founders could have predicted.

Personally I’m proud of the way in which we’ve broadened our scope, while still retaining our focus on quality and integrity as two of the key values in all the music we feature, just as I’m proud to have been able to convince Junius frontman/vocalist/lyricist Joseph Martinez to participate in this latest edition of “Waxing Lyrical”. 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 »