Mar 022021


(Andy Synn wrote the following review of the new album by the Danish band Bæst, which will be released on March 5th by Century Media.)

Despite my many years writing, reviewing, and prognosticating about Metal – whether for NCS or Terrorizer or whoever – I still don’t really understand how the hype machine works.

Why does one band get big and another, doing the exact same thing (sometimes even better) not?

What makes one particular style of music suddenly explode in popularity while others seem destined to linger in obscurity?

And what, pray tell, does it take to get your voice heard over the deafening hype hurricane?

You see, ever since they released their first album (2018’s Danse Macabre) I’ve been practically yelling from the literal rooftops about how great Bæst are – easily the equal of your Blood Incantations, your Tomb Molds, or whoever else you might want to mention – and I’ve only gotten louder since they released the even better Venenum in 2019.

So, with the imminent release of the group’s third album, I think it’s high time people came round to the fact that Bæst are simply one of the all-round and undisputed best bands in Death Metal. Continue reading »

Feb 242021


(For the February 2021 edition of THE SYNN REPORT Andy Synn reviews the accumulated discography of the Polish band Sunnata, whose newest album is set for release on February 26.)

Recommended for fans of: Yob, Mastodon, Isis

Formed in 2013 from the ashes of the band’s previous Stoner Rock incarnation (some traces of which can still be heard here and there), Polish sound-shamans Sunnata have been on our radar here at NCS for quite some time now but, if I’m not mistaken, this edition of The Synn Report marks the first time that one of our main writers has settled down to actually cover them in any real depth.

So, since the band’s fourth album is set for release on Friday, now seems like the perfect time to try and get to grips with their discography, whose hypnotically heavy vibes and ritualistic rhythms blend proggy Doom and doomy Post-Metal influences with a dose of Sludge-soaked swagger and a dash of gritty Grunge to provide a tasty helping of what I’ve decided to dub “Progressive Post-Doom”. Continue reading »

Feb 232021


(In this review Andy Synn turns his attention to the new album by Illinois-based Pan-Amerikan Native Front, which was released earlier this month.)

The more I think about Black Metal (and, trust me, I spend a lot of time thinking about Black Metal) the more it occurs to me just what an astounding paradox the genre is.

Founded by a bunch of no-good Norwegian punks (though if you called them “punks” to their faces you probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the response) whose back-story has since been retold and mythologised almost beyond recognition, Black Metal was originally just one big “fuck you” to the rest of the world, a purposefully introverted and isolationist rejection of ideas such as popularity, normality, and musicianship.

And yet, somehow, despite this – or, perhaps, because of this – it’s gone on to become not only a global phenomenon, but one of the most artistically adventurous and progressive genres in all of Metal.

How did this happen? Well, for me, it’s the underlying primitivism of Black Metal which makes it such an unexpectedly universal musical language.

Whether they knew it or not, those crazy kids somehow managed to tap into something truly primal and innately human with those ramshackle early recordings, something which connected with people all around the world and which they could then use as the foundation of their own art, and as a way to tell their own stories.

Stories like Little Turtle’s War. Continue reading »

Feb 222021


(It looks like Andy Synn had as much fun writing this review of Bleeding Antlers‘ debut album as he did listening to it — and he had a LOT of fun doing that.)

Heavy Metal is, as we all know, a “no fun allowed” zone.

It’s a place for serious musicians to write serious songs about serious subjects, riddled with serious darkness, while wearing their most serious faces.

The thing is, no-one seems to have told London lotharios Bleeding Antlers that, because their debut album, Stagmata (yes, there’s even a pun in the title) is one of the most ridiculously riff-happy and unashamedly fun experiences I’ve had in a long, long time.

Don’t go making the mistake of thinking the band are a joke, however.

While the group clearly aren’t taking themselves too seriously, the music itself is more than capable of standing on its own two (or four) feet, while also answering the age-old question… what would happen if you took the catchiest bits of Candlemass, the hookiest parts of Paradise Lost, added a dash of the grim grandeur of Primordial and a touch of almost Nu-Metal-ish groove, and then laced the whole thing with a hefty helping of folk-goth glamour, Hammer-horror camp, and drunken satanic swagger?

Well, you’d have a hell of a good time, I can tell you that. Continue reading »

Feb 192021


(In this article Andy Synn reviews three recent EPs from bands based in the UK.)

Huh… seems like a while now since I last did one of these “Best of British” columns (I’m not sure exactly how long, I haven’t checked).

And while it’s not like I’ve been neglecting my “local” scene – I heaped praise upon Thundering Hooves right at the start of the year, for example – it’s probably about time to catch up with what’s going on in our ever more divided kingdom. Continue reading »

Feb 182021


(On February 7th the French solo project Nakhara released its debut album, and today Andy Synn reviews it.)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always got at least one eye/ear open for bands, artists, or projects that do things a little… differently.

Of course, different doesn’t always mean good – no matter how clever or crazy or “avant-garde” a band might be, it doesn’t really matter if the songwriting isn’t there – and a lot of what’s advertised as innovative and new often turns out to be just another slightly tweaked iteration of what’s come before with a fancy new coat of paint or a flashy gimmick.

But even if (and it’s a big “if”) most of these artists turn out be a disappointment, on some level, it’s that one in a hundred, one in a thousand, one in a million, chance of discovering something that little bit special which keeps me going.

Which brings us to The Procession, the debut release from solo Prog-Death performer Simon Thevenet, aka Nakhara. Continue reading »

Feb 162021


(Here is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Tunisian band Omination, which was recently released by Hypnotic Dirge Records.)

Like many of you (including, I would imagine, at least some who discovered the band through our site) I was first introduced to the work of Fedor Kovalevsky via 2019’s astoundingly ambitious Prog-Death opus Back to the Black Marsh, the second album from his semi-solo-project Vielikan.

Having instantly fallen head over heels for that release (which was, and remains, one of my favourite albums of that year) it wasn’t long before I decided to delve further/deeper into his previous work, which quickly led me to his other primary project, the “Post-Apocalyptic” Doom Metal of Omination, whose full-length debut, 2018’s Followers of the Apocalypse is well worth checking out if you’re after a truly gargantuan dose of gloomy grimness.

But we’re not here today to talk about the band’s past, we’re to talk about the present, namely their new album, which was released on February 05 by our old friends at Hypnotic Dirge Records.

So, without further ado, allow me to welcome you, my friends, to the New Golgotha Repvbliq. I hope you packed a change of clothes, because we’re going to be here for a while… Continue reading »

Feb 122021


(We present Andy Synn‘s review of the second album by Minnesota-based Suffering Hour, which will be released by Profound Lore on February 19th.)

It remains a true pleasure, pure and unsullied, to watch a band grow and ascend from humble beginnings towards true greatness.

Such is the case with Colorado terror-trio Suffering Hour, whose second album, The Cyclic Reckoning, may quite possibly be the first truly “great” record of 2021. Continue reading »

Feb 102021


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the heavy Swedish band Humanity’s Last Breath, which is set for release by Unique Leader on February 12th.)

In the life cycle of every genre there comes a moment of… let’s call it apotheosis… when the build-up of artistic and creative pressures can no longer be contained, resulting in a sudden evolutionary leap, a genetic divergence, when something new is born.

This does not mean, of course, that the original genre dies out, or ceases to evolve either (the very fact that the most traditional, “old school”, forms of Death, Black, and Thrash continue to exist, create, and proliferate, is proof enough of that), nor is it limited to just one time. But, no matter how long it takes or how hard people try to deny it, delay it, or defeat it, it is always… always… inevitable.

And it seems like, for Deathcore, that moment may almost be upon us. As while Välde may not be the album destined to finally redefine the genre (in all its various forms) for a new generation, the steps it takes to refine it, to distil it into its most essential, elemental form, have no doubt planted the seeds for the next stage of its evolution. Continue reading »

Feb 042021

Cult of Luna


(Andy Synn wrote these three reviews of recent and forthcoming EPs.)

It’s been a busy, busy week for me this week… but, then, when isn’t it?

It’s times like these, though, that I really appreciate the short-form, straight-to-the-point, structure provided by a good EP.

It’s a place for bands to experiment, to explore new ideas, and to formulate these little (or not always so little) slabs of perfectly proportioned form and function without having to worry about living up to the demands or expectations surrounding a “full-length” release.

Of course, one of the EPs featured here today is basically long enough to be considered an album – although I can see why, after listening to it, the band themselves declared it an EP – but all three of them manage to give a more focussed impression of each of the bands in question, while also providing an attention-grabbing primer for whatever they’re going to do next.

And so, without further ado… Continue reading »