Nov 252020


(We present Andy Synn‘s review of the first full-length by Exitium Sui, which will be released on November 27th by Naturmacht Productions.)

So from writing about an almost thirty-year-old band who just released their twelfth(!) album, now it’s time to pivot to a brand-new band who only came into existence earlier this year, and who are about to release their full-length debut.

As a certain modern-day TV star might say… this is the (NCS) way.

Now, despite being such a “new” band, Exitium Sui actually have a significant musical pedigree already, as mainman/multi-instrumentalist ES was previously a member of several notable Australian bands (including NCS faves Earth Rot and Deadspace) and is currently also a part of several underground European acts, most notably Lebenssucht and Humanitas Error Est (both of whom we’ve written about here before).

As a result you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that Ad Personam is a highly professional, highly polished, and extremely confident debut that deftly straddles the dividing line between Black Metal and Doom, drawing on, and drawing out, the best bits of both genres. Continue reading »

Nov 232020


(We present Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Sweden’s Dark Tranquillity, which was released on November 20th by Century Media.)

You may have noticed, over the days/weeks/months/years you’ve spent perusing our humble site, that we don’t often cover releases by the so-called “big” names (“big” by Metal standards anyway).

There’s a bunch of different reasons for this – mostly we just don’t think they need the coverage we can provide, so our time would be better spent throwing our weight behind artists who might directly benefit from it more – but that doesn’t mean there’s a blanket ban on covering “big” bands.

However, if/when we do decide to write something about a particularly notable new “big name” release, we tend to wait until after the release date to do so.

Why? Well, let’s face it, any time there’s a notable new record (like this one) on the way, there’s always such a rush to praise or condemn, to be the first to market, the first with the hottest and/or most sycophantic take, that any attempt at a more measured analysis usually gets lost in all the sound and fury.

But by waiting until the dust has settled a bit we’re able to give ourselves more time to sit with the music, to let our thoughts simmer and percolate a little longer, which will hopefully result in a fairer and more well-rounded review.

And, let’s face it, with a career spanning almost 30(!) years, and twelve albums, if any band deserves a fair and honest assessment of their work, it’s Dark Tranquillity. Continue reading »

Nov 212020


(Today we have a bonus edition of THE SYNN REPORT, with the usual month-ending one still ahead, and here Andy Synn pays homage to the extravagant discography of Florida’s Lascaille’s Shroud.)

Recommended for fans of: Edge of Sanity, Allegaeon, Scar Symmetry

Despite what it says above… this is NOT the November edition of The Synn Report. That’s still to come at the end of the month as normal.

What this is, however, is a bonus edition of everyone’s favourite discography deep-dive designed to correct a grave injustice perpetrated by this site, and by this writer in particular.

You see, several years back we began covering the work of Lascaille’s Shroud, the outlandish Sci-Fi-Prog-Death project of Florida’s Brett Windnagle, and wrote rather glowingly about their first three albums.

But then, somehow, we lost touch with the band, and it was only recently that I discovered that they’ve since produced an additional three albums, with the most recent two being released earlier this year.

As you might gather then, it’s high time for us to catch-up on what we’ve been missing, and while this may not be as comprehensive an article as some of them – Brett’s talent for extravagance means it’s not unusual to see songs shoot past the 15, 20, or 25 minute mark, and both their second and third albums are spread across two stacked discs clocking in at a total of over two hours of music – it should still give you a real feel and flavour for what Lascaille’s Shroud is all about. Continue reading »

Nov 182020



(Andy Synn prepared the following reviews of three recent and very impressive EPs.)

It’s pretty common knowledge that, for the most part at least, I’m more of an “album guy” than an “EP guy”. There’s just something about the extra effort, the extra level of commitment, involved in creating an album that makes it feel more real and more substantial in my mind (although I’m sure that’s not always true).

That being said, I can’t deny that there are certain times when an EP is exactly what I’m looking for from a band, something explicitly designed to deliver a short, sharp shock of (ideally) all their best ideas and elements in one concise, captivating package.

Which is exactly what I have here for you today, three EPs – from three tonally and stylistically very different artists – all of which are pretty much brand new (one of them, in fact, is so new that it isn’t actually released until Friday) that find each band putting out some of their best material yet while also dropping a few hints as to where they might take things next. Continue reading »

Nov 162020


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Finnish dark underlords of psychedelic drone, Dark Buddha Rising, which was released by Svart Records on November 13th.)

You know, despite existing on pretty much opposite ends of the spectrum, Drone and Grind have a weird amount in common… at least, they do from my perspective.

For one thing, both styles are – in my experience – more enjoyable live than on record (with some notable exceptions, of course), and both make a lot more sense to me when they’re mixed in with more… let’s say “traditional”… forms of Metal.

This means that if you want to get me bumpin’ ‘n’ grindin’ then you’d best inject a heavy dose of Death Metal along with it. And if you want me to embrace the Drone you’ll need to bring the Doom too.

On top of that, they both exist in that weird space where, although I understand what people mean when they use these terms, I can’t necessarily define them.

But, to paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart, “I know it when I hear it.”

Case in point, Dark Buddha Rising’s seventh album straddles the line between genres so adroitly that I still can’t tell you exactly where it lands.

My head says it’s Drone, but my heart says it’s Doom, and my guts… well, my guts just say that it’s one of the best albums of the year, and yet another career highlight from Finland’s favourite sub-sonic sorcerors. Continue reading »

Nov 122020


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the German band Beltez, which was released on October 30th by Avantgarde Music.)

What is it about the German Black Metal scene which makes it such a hive of activity and vitality?

Far from the cliched, mechanistic precision which so many still hold as their primary preconception of the country, in my experience it’s awash with bands as emotive and progressive as they are corrosive and aggressive, from the creative complexity of Bethlehem to the ever-evolving darkness of Ultha, from the introverted intensity and extroverted extremity of Infestus and Imha Tarikat to the keening catharsis of Der Weg Einer Freiheit and the gloomy grimness of Farsot… and beyond.

With their last album, 2017’s Exiled, Punished… Rejected, Cologne quintet Beltez took their listeners on an emotional roller-coaster of pitch-black fury and white-hot anguish, which firmly put their name on the map.

But, as good as that record was, A Grey Chill and a Whisper is another beast entirely, one which finds the band expanding their creative vision, adding new shades to their emotional palette and new shapes to their mental architecture, and stretching their skills and their songwriting like never before. Continue reading »

Nov 092020

artwork by Alexandra V. Bach


(In this post Andy Synn presents a listing of recommended black metal albums (or at least blackened ones) for each of the last 10 years, focusing on records and artists that he hasn’t written or read enough about.)

Wonder of wonders, Kerrang (yes, it’s still around) recently published a list of “The 13 Best Black Metal albums of the New Millenium” and… it was actually pretty solid?

I know, I was (pleasantly) surprised too!

And it got me thinking that, since I recently celebrated my tenth anniversary as a writer for NoCleanSinging, now might be a good time to publish my own thoughts on how the black (or, at least, “blackened”) arts have evolved, and endured, over the last ten years.

As far as possible I’ve tried to stay away from the biggest/most notorious names and focus more on those artists/albums which either I didn’t manage to cover myself, or which I feel didn’t get enough wider coverage/attention overall, but that doesn’t mean this article should be interpreted as an attempt to prove who is more “kvlt” (because it’s certainly not me).

What this is is simply a way of celebrating the art of Black Metal, in all its endless vitality and variety while also bringing some much-needed attention to some bands who richly deserve it. Continue reading »

Nov 052020


(Here’s another installment in Andy Synn‘s long-running series of reviews devoted to releases by bands from the UK, where he’s based.)

Oh, what big plans I had for this week. I was going to write so much more for the site, about so many different bands/albums, some new, some old, that it was going to take most of you another whole week just to get through it all.

But, as it is wont to do, life got in the way, with work pressures and some last-minute setbacks in preparation for filming our next music video taking up more and more of my time (and adding more and more stress) with every passing day.

Still, things have slowly started to ease off now, meaning I’ve got just enough time to sneak in a brand new entry of “The Best of British” for you all to enjoy going into the weekend. Continue reading »

Oct 302020


(In this Synn Report for the month of October 2020, Andy Synn assembles reviews of all the albums released by the French band Dysylumn, the most recent of which appeared earlier this month via Signal Rex.)

Recommended for fans of: Schammasch, Sinmara, Blut Aus Nord

I know, I know, this is the third time in a row where The Synn Report has zeroed in on a band playing some form of Black Metal. And, I promise, next month’s edition will break the pattern. But I honestly couldn’t let October pass by without taking the opportunity to completely immerse myself in the pitch-black back-catalogue of French duo Dysylumn, whose latest album was released earlier this month.

If it helps matters, the band’s earliest works erred much more towards the Blackened Death Metal side of things  albeit with a heavy, borderline hypnotic, atmospheric presence on top of all that, so this edition of The Synn Report is still set to be strikingly different to the ones which preceded it.

But what I’m really looking forward to here is an opportunity to chart the band’s evolution from their imposing Black/Death early output through to their more atmosphere-intense, poisonously “progressive” Black Metal of their more recent work, as it’s only be understanding where they came from that we can truly appreciate what they’ve become. Continue reading »

Oct 282020


(This is Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Iceland’s Sólfstafir, which is due for release on November 6 via Season of Mist.)

Once upon a time, in the distant town of Reykjavik, a group of Black Metal loving, cowboy hat wearing, Post-Rock playing urban vikings decided to form a band.

Calling themselves Sólfstafir and drawing from a broad spectrum of influences – ranging from Nirvana, Neurosis and U2 to Ulver, Enslaved, and Explosions in the Sky – the group soon began to make waves, both at home and abroad, but it wasn’t until the release of 2009’s sublime, spine-tingling Köld, which expanded the band’s sound into even grungier, proggier, and more atmospheric territory, that they truly came into their own.

Two years later they followed this up with what is widely considered to be their magnum opus (and one of the few modern double-albums where every song is is a winner), Svartir Sandar, cementing their status as one of the most unique, dynamic, and creative Rock/Metal bands on the planet.

But then… something changed. Slowly but surely they began to soften their edges and smooth out many of the rougher, more interesting textures which had defined their sound. And although the more sombre vibe of 2014’s Ótta still made for an emotive and engaging listening experience for the most part, by the time 2017’s Berdreyminn rolled around things had become, barring a few stand-out moments, pretty bland overall, even as the group’s fame and fortune continued to rise.

The thing is, it seems like even the band themselves must have been feeling like they’d lost their way a little, as the press materials and interviews for their new album explicitly refer to a desire to return to the style and spirit of their early days… which brings us to Endless Twilight of Codependent Love. Continue reading »