Jul 152019


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the 7th album by the solo project Arctic Sleep from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which was released on July 12th. It is a significant exception to our “rule” about singing. The cover art was created by Jennifer Weiler.)

Some of our readers may not be aware of this, but the Metal blogosphere (of which we are but a small part) is kind of like its own separate ecosystem, with all the various sites and zines and writers sharing and interacting within the same digital space, by turns feeding, and being fed upon, and occasionally coming together to copulate, exchange information, and (hopefully) create something new.

This doesn’t mean we’re all “in cahoots”, by any means. I’ve questioned and criticised the work of others just as much as I’ve been questioned and criticised in turn. But it does mean that, sometimes at least, the circle of life – or the circle of riffs, as it were – moves us all in similar ways.

Case in point, I have to give full credit to those brave lavatorial adventurers at The Toilet ov Hell for introducing me to the music of Arctic Sleep, whose latest album I’ve been listening to pretty much non-stop over the weekend. Continue reading »

Jul 132019

Zao 2018 – Photo by Jered Scott


(For this week’s edition of WAXING LYRICAL Andy Synn questioned Dan Weyandt, lyricist/vocalist of the long-running American metal band Zao.)

It’s no exaggeration to say that Zao are one of my all-time favourite, most-listened-to, bands.

I first came across their punchy, endearingly scrappy form of Metallic Hardcore/proto-Metalcore early on in my transition towards heavier music, and immediately liked what I heard.

By chance, however, I actually lost touch with the band for a while, only to rediscover them a few albums later, by which point, to my great pleasure, their sound had metamorphosed into an even more aggressive and metallic form.

Not only have a I been a major fan ever since, but the biting vocals and cathartic lyrics of Dan Weyandt have been a major influence on me as a singer/writer myself, so I am doubly-pleased to be be able to speak to him for this latest edition of Waxing Lyrical. Continue reading »

Jul 092019


(Prognathe hail from Toulouse, France, and on July 1st they released the first in a series of EPs in which they “will explore different aspects of their cave art.” In this review, Andy Synn explores different aspects of their music on the new EP, which in his opinion set them apart from the general run of grindcore bands.)

Ask any of my compatriots here at NCS and they’ll all tell you that, generally speaking, Grindcore just isn’t my thing.

Oh sure, you’ll frequently find me at Soundstage during MDF, can of Natty Boh in hand, watching (and enjoying) band after band lurching through song after song of wild, ugly riffs and stuttering blastbeats, but, most of the time anyway, if you were to ask me what makes any of these bands different from one another you’re more likely to receive a long, blank stare than a detailed summary of the history and intricacies of Grindcore as a genre/style.

That’s not to say I actively dislike it, by any means. It’s just that, with a few notable exceptions, it simply doesn’t “click” with me.

And speaking of “notable exceptions”… Continue reading »

Jul 062019

photo by Void Revelations


(For this week’s edition of his lyrically-focused series Andy Synn posed the usual questions to the man behind the powerful UK black/death/doom band Abyssal.)


In case we haven’t made it clear before, we’re pretty much all HUGE fans of Abyssal here at NCS.

Not only was Antikatastesis one of the finest albums of 2015 (with the recently released follow-up, A Beacon In The Husk, looking likely to repeat this success), but the band’s performance at this year’s edition of Maryland Deathfest was arguably the best of the entire weekend.

So, in an effort to extend our coverage of the group I recently reached out to vocalist and prime-mover G.D.C. to see if he’d be interested in contributing a few bits and pieces about his lyrical process… and here is his response. Continue reading »

Jul 052019


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new second album by the Chicago-based, sci-fi-themed death metal band Nucleus, released last month by Unspeakable Axe Records.)

If I’d been able to spend a little more time with this record before now I’d undoubtedly have included it alongside Fuming Mouth and Towering in my recent double-review, as not only does it display a similarly striking blend of old-school influences – marrying the meaty, malevolent riffosity of Morbid Angel to the proggy, proto-brutalism of Death – but it does so in a way that’s so vibrant, so visceral, and so thrillingly vital, that, even now, it still sounds as fresh as when Azagthoth and Schuldiner first set finger to fretboard. Continue reading »

Jul 032019


(Andy Synn discusses the new album by the Swedish band Oro, which was released on March 1 of this year. And you’ll notice that we dispensed with a genre reference in this introduction, for reasons that will become apparent.)

The term “Post Metal” often inspires a surprisingly strong, and strongly negative, reaction from certain members of the Metal community.

Some people feel that, as a genre-tag, it’s too nebulous and ill-defined (an opinion which, as you’ll soon see, I have some sympathy with), while others feel that the entire claim of being “Post-“ Metal reeks of an unearned sense of arrogance and superiority, as if the band (or bands) in question are putting on airs and claiming themselves to be “beyond” or “above” the rest of the Metal scene.

The truth, of course lies somewhere in between. As a development or subset of “Post Rock”, which itself reflects an attempt to reject the standard strictures and expected dynamic of guitar-led music in favour of a more expansive and expressive approach, there’s definitely still a lingering whiff of hubris surrounding the whole “Post” part of “Post Metal”, even while people continue to point out that trying to do something different with (or within) a genre doesn’t necessarily mean you think you’re too good for it.

But while “Post Rock” has developed, to my ears at least, a relatively clear and unambiguous identity, the term “Post Metal” still seems to get thrown around a little bit too liberally (and randomly) for my tastes, being used to describe bands who basically just play “Post Rock” with some extra distortion, Sludge bands who happen to have a sharper guitar tone than usual, and even Doom artists who opt for a crisper production job than might be considered traditional.

What does all this preamble have to do with Oro, I hear you ask? Well, quite a bit actually… Continue reading »

Jun 282019


(In this month’s edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn focuses on the albums released to date by the Swedish band This Gift Is A Curse, including a review of their most recent album A Throne of Ash, released by Season of Mist on June 14th.)

Recommended for fans of: Dragged Into Sunlight, Celeste, The Secret

The type of Black Metal meets Sludge meets Hardcore hybrid championed by Swedish spitfires This Gift Is A Curse has always appealed to me on a deep, dark level. I can’t necessarily tell you exactly why, but it’s true all the same.

There’s just something about the sheer, bloodthirsty intensity of the music, the absolute refusal to pull any punches or offer any quarter, that makes it impossible to resist.

It’s an ugly, nasty, nihilistic sound, make no mistake about it, but it’s also thrillingly visceral and alive. And the three albums produced by This Gift Is A Curse (the most recent of which was only released a couple of weeks back) are three of the very best examples of the style in all its grim and gruesome glory. Continue reading »

Jun 262019


(In this post Andy Synn combines reviews of two recently released death metal albums, by the Massachusetts band Fuming Mouth and the French band Towering.)

Maybe it’s my google algorithm or something, but considering that Fuming Mouth’s The Grand Descent and Towering’s Obscuring Manifestation are two of the downright best Death Metal albums I’ve heard all year, I’ve seen a real dearth of reviews for them, particularly the latter release (which has been out for almost a month now).

Hopefully this co-review will go some way towards correcting this egregious oversight on behalf of the Metal community though, and hopefully a lot of you will discover your new favourite band(s) as a result of what you’re about to read! Continue reading »

Jun 242019


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of a new album by the Moscow-based metal band Morokh.)

I originally had this album lined up as part of a double-review alongside the latest release from a band who, due to various factors, have ended up becoming this month’s focus of The Synn Report (keep an eye out for that later this week).

But, due to changing circumstances, it’s Russian Blackened Hardcore crew Morokh who are getting top billing today, and will hopefully also garner themselves a few new fans (and sales) from being featured here. Continue reading »