Jan 262022

(Andy Synn sharpens his knives for this incisive review of the new album from Celeste, out Friday on Nuclear Blast)

We have all long been fans of France’s Celeste here at NCS – myself in particular, as I’ve been an avid follower and collector of their music ever since their first album – and we’re clearly not alone in that, as the band’s profile has risen, slowly but surely, with each new release, culminating in this, their “major” label debut.

Of course, changing labels hasn’t actually changed the band themselves, and you’ll be pleased to know that Assassine(s) is just as aggressive, atmospheric, and addictively abrasive as the rest of their catalogue.

It does, however, raise a familiar quandary… how exactly does one categorise a band like Celeste?

Looking back over their career thus far you can see that they’ve been called a lot of different things over the years – Black Metal, Post Hardcore, Blackened Sludge, Post Metal, and so forth – none of which are necessarily wrong, even if they’re not totally right either.

But, a rose by any other name, right? After all, they’re still the same band, no matter how they’re tagged, and it seems to me that what you choose to call them says a lot more about you, the listener, than it does about them.

And, if that’s the case, then it’ll be interesting to see exactly what this review says about me once I’ve done writing it.

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Jan 242022

(Andy Synn would like to tempt you all with a taste of the new album from  Slowbleed)

We all have our guilty pleasures, right?

Case in point, I’ve recently been enjoying a fun little show by the name of Dishmantled (hosted by the inimitable Titus Burgess) which tasks two chefs to recreate a specific dish… after it’s been blasted at them by a cannon.

It’s a ridiculous premise, obviously, but what makes it even more ridiculous is that the contestants are blindfolded during the first stage of the competition, meaning they can’t see what’s being blasted at them, they can only touch and taste whatever they manage to scrape off the walls.

There’s lots of reasons I like the show (it’s short, undemanding, and undeniably entertaining), but it also reminds me of what writing about music can feel like sometimes – blindly groping around trying to guess what different influences contribute to a band’s sound in the hope that you can then communicate this to your audience.

So, in that spirit, please join me on an audio-culinary journey as I try to suss out exactly what ingredients make up this particularly piquant platter of meaty Metallic Hardcore from Californian crossover crew Slowbleed.

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Jan 202022

(Andy Synn provides another well-deserved exception to our usual rules with the new album from SOM)

What with it being a new year, I suppose now is as good a time as any for a little history lesson.

Long story short, back when Islander (and his two collaborators, whose names have long-since been stricken from the records in some sort of pseudo-Stalinist purge) first started this site the name was intended as something of a two-fingered salute to all those bands who, whether pushed into it by their management or simply because they were desperate to be popular, jumped on the “harsh verse, clean chorus” bandwagon.

Unsurprisingly, a lot of people – including our beloved overlord – were pretty pissed off that so many bands were willing to sacrifice their integrity and identity just to fit in with current trends… and so NoCleanSinging was born.

Of course, the name has always been somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and there’s no actual rules about what sorts of vocals that we’re actually allowed (or forbidden) to include… heck, if you take a minute to look at just some of the bands we’ve covered over the years – Chrome Waves, Katatonia, KloneBrutus, Borknagar, Boss KeloidProtest The Hero, A Swarm of the Sun, Junius… – you might even conclude that we actually love clean singing. At least when it’s done well.

And it’s the latter name from that list which leads us into the album I want to talk about today, as while SOM is made up of several ex-Junius members (along with musicians from Caspian and Constants) and shares several sonic similarities with that group, their second album, The Shape of Everything, finds the band stepping out of that particular shadow and fully coming into their own.

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Jan 192022

(Andy Synn would like to enlighten you about the new album from Washington’s Swamp Lantern)

One of the great joys involved in being a music writer – and I’m sure many, if not most, if not all, of my fellows would agree – is discovering a band and then watching them grow into their full potential.

Case in point, when I reviewed Swamp Lantern‘s debut back in 2020 I immediately felt that this was a band who had “it”, even if they didn’t quite have a handle on exactly what “it” was.

Their second album, however, takes that hard-to-define x-factor and improves on it in pretty much every single way, offering up an even more refined and robust version of what was already a pretty riveting sound, with a stronger sense of identity, a clearer creative vision, and a more instinctive grasp of flow and dynamic.

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Jan 182022

(Andy Synn kicks off another week with a review of the new album from Hungarian hellions Fragda)

Conventional wisdom – if there is such a thing – would tell you that the two worst times to release a new album are the beginning and end of a year.

After all, December is usually dominated by lists and round-ups, and January often finds people desperately trying to catch up on what they missed in December… so no band in their right mind should be planning to release anything in these particular months, right?

Apparently a lot of artists didn’t get this particular memo however, as not only was the tail-end of 2021 absolutely packed with albums, but the start of 2022 has also been remarkably busy with new releases.

And, no, I’m not just talking about the new Wiegedood and Fit For An Autopsy albums.

So, for the rest of the week (and likely next week too) I’m going to endeavour to showcase some of you may have missed in what has, incredibly, already been an unexpectedly busy month, beginning with this spine-breaking slab of ultra heaviness from Hungary’s Fragda.

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Jan 132022

(Andy Synn takes a look at the new album from Fit For An Autopsy – out tomorrow on Nuclear Blast – to see what the future holds the band)

Love them or loathe them – and it should be pretty clear what side of the equation we fall on here at NCS – there’s no denying that Fit For An Autopsy have been on a nigh-unstoppable roll for the past several years.

But I’m here to tell you that, as good as both The Great Collapse and The Sea of Tragic Beasts were (the latter especially), Oh What The Future Holds makes them seem like a mere practice run in comparison.

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Jan 122022

(For his first album review of 2022 Andy Synn selected a record more than a decade in the making)

Hands up if you enjoyed Zao‘s latest album, The Crimson Corridor, last year?

I did, obviously, since I chose it as the #1 pick on my “Personal Top Ten” list, and I’m guessing that quite a few of you did too.

Well, if you’re looking for something on a similar wavelength – something which combines the bruising bite of Metalcore (or Metallic Hardcore, if that term offends you) with the moody dynamics of Post-Metal – then the long-gestating new album from Indiana’s Trenches should be right up your alley.

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Jan 102022

(Andy Synn officially kicks off his 2022 coverage with a look at the debut album from uiv)

At last, it’s time to take a look/listen at what the new year has for us, and I’ve decided to get things started with a short-but-sweet review of the debut EP by mysterious underground Death Metal dissophiles uiv.

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Jan 062022

(Andy Synn puts one final bullet in the corpse of 2021 with one last edition of “Unsung Heroes”)

I suppose it’s about time to stop looking backwards and start looking forwards at what the upcoming year has to offer us.

However, before that, I thought I’d take this chance to do one last “Unsung Heroes” post about three bands – all of whom were new discoveries for me – that I think you all need to check out, if you know what’s good for you!

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Jan 052022

(Andy Synn continues his desperate attempt to cover everything he missed last year)

One thing I’ve been trying to get across with these “Unsung Heroes” posts is just how varied and versatile “the scene” is.

Case in point, today we’ve got a triptych of grungy, melodic grooves (Blind Tendril), blast-driven brutality (Carthage), and angst-ridden artistry (Dreamwell), which should provide something for a wide variety of tastes… and maybe even tempt some of you to experiment with something you wouldn’t usually listen to.

Who knows? All I can do is put the music in front of you. Whether you give it a chance or not is entirely your choice!

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