May 232022
 

(Andy Synn brings you a review of the new self-titled Hyrgal album)

In my experience, self-titled albums can often make or break a band’s career.

Let’s face it, evidence suggests that there’s about a 50/50 chance that such albums either serve to truly define a band’s distinct identity, or symbolise a total lack of ideas.

Thankfully, Hyrgal is a triumphant example of the former, and serves as a perfect jumping on point for anyone unfamiliar with the French foursome’s particularly blistering brand of Black Metal.

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May 192022
 

(Andy Synn is stricken by the new album from New Hampshire nihilists Come to Grief)

Do you know Grief?

I don’t mean that in the metaphorical, metaphysical sense of “have you experienced great sorrow and loss”, I’m talking about the band, whose four albums played a pivotal role in defining the unforgivingly brutal Sludge/Doom sound of the late 90s.

If you’re not familiar with their work, well, that’s partially our fault, as we haven’t really written about them very much (the fact that they formed, broke up, re-formed, and re-broke up all before this site even existed certainly doesn’t help) though we’ve certainly recognised and remarked upon the heavy (and I mean that in all senses of the word) influence they’ve had on many, many other bands we’ve written about over the years, including HvrtMastiffBody Void, and more.

I ask this because, as some of you might have guessed, Come to Grief is the new (well, not that new, they’ve been going since 2017) project by former Grief members Chuck Conlon (drums) and Tony Savastano (guitars), and while familiarity with their former band isn’t a pre-requisite to enjoying When the World Dies, it might help prepare you for the brutal barrage of bitterness and spite which you’re about to experience.

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May 172022
 

(Andy Synn gazes into the undreamable abyss of the new album from Blut Aus Nord)

Call me an elitist if you will (though I think my track record would prove otherwise), but it’s both amusing and exasperating in equal measure to see people whose knowledge and awareness of Black Metal is… let’s say, limited… suddenly acting like an authority on the genre simply because their favourite rock star decided they wanted to dabble a little.

Don’t get me wrong, I actively welcome new blood, new voices, new ideas – the last thing I want is for the genre, or any genre, to become creatively stagnant – but maybe try and actively learn something about the scene, and all the bands who’ve been actively innovating within it over the years, before making wild, misinformed declarations that make you sound like an ignorant jackass?

Also, let’s face it, a lot of the time when people say “best” they really just mean “most accessible”, and while “accessible” doesn’t necessarily mean “bad” (I can give you umpteen examples of bands who actively got better once they started producing their more “accessible” material) it’s also worth pointing out that just because something is easy (or easier) to listen to that doesn’t necessarily make it good either.

This album, however, is most definitely not an easy listen… but, then, anything this good rarely comes easy.

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May 122022
 

(Andy Synn is here again to serve as ambassador for some of the mightiest Metal from his homeland)

If it seems like I haven’t done one of these in a while… that’s because I haven’t.

Partially because I’ve been pretty busy so far this year and partially because, to be honest, I haven’t been massively blown away by a lot of UK bands recently.

Of course, I dare say I’ve missed out on quite a few things over the last several months, and there’s a number of upcoming albums from the home scene that I’m looking forward to hearing in the future, but for the most part I just haven’t felt particularly inspired to do many “Best of British” posts so far in 2022.

Thankfully I recently came across three excellent albums – one from the end of March, one from the end of April, and one set for release tomorrow – which, together, have done a lot to restore my flagging faith in this year’s crop of home-grown metallic morsels.

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May 122022
 

Hey everyone, Andy Synn here.

I’m sure, by now, you’ve all seen/heard the awful news about Trevor Strnad.

And while I’m not usually one for hero worship, nor am I a fan of overly-performative emotional outbursts, I felt like I needed to write and share a few things to acknowledge his passing.

Because, whether or not you were a fan of his band, he was a huge part of our scene and touched a lot of lives in his all too brief time on this earth. And all of us here at NCS are saddened by his loss.

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May 102022
 

(We may be well into May, but Andy Synn still has albums from last month he needs to talk about!)

As I stated in last week’s column, I don’t plan to make a habit of this, but April was so packed with excellent new releases by relatively unknown bands that I had to split up my usual “Things You May Have Missed” column into two parts in order to feature as many of them as possible.

Of course, there are still several things I/we didn’t get around to writing about, including AzaabBasatan, and – most notably – Dischordia, whose new album is currently sitting very high in my provisional year-end rankings.

But I only have so much space and/or time, and really didn’t want to extend this to a third part, so choices, and sacrifices, had to be made.

Still, I think you’ll be happy with the artists/albums I’ve selected for part 2 of “Things You May Have Missed” from last month, which this time includes some Prog and Hardcore influenced Post-Metal from Norway (Claimstaker), some esoteric and experimental Black Metal from Belgium (Dissolve Patterns), and a pair of bands from the good ol’ US of A, one dealing in gloomy shades of gargantuan Doom (Qaalm) the other delivering a noisesome plague of harsh Blackened Death Metal (Worn Mantle).

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May 092022
 

(Andy Synn digs deep into the foul carcass of the new album by Switzerland’s Icare)

What would you say if I told you that one of the best Black Metal albums of the year so far – or, at least, one of the strongest contenders for that particular accolade – was a forty-three-and-a-half minute, single-track record from a Swiss grind band, based on the poem “Une Charogne” by Charles Baudelaire?

Would you call me a liar? A fraud? Would you think I was insane?

Well, in the grand scheme of things you might not be wrong, but – trust me – I’m telling you the truth this time.

Of course, referring to Icare as “just” a Grindcore band barely scratches the surface of their sound – they had, in essence, already transcended such a simplistic descriptor by the end of their first album, whose unique structure and flow showcased the group’s ongoing sonic evolution practically in real-time – but the general point still stands… sometimes the best things come from unexpected places, and in unexpected forms.

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May 052022
 

(Andy Synn dives headfirst into the abyss with the new album from Feral Lord, out tomorrow)

This week is a big one for those who consider themselves fans of the more abstract, abrasive, and avant-garde end of the Extreme Metal spectrum, with new albums from HaunterCosmic Putrefaction, and Feral Lord all scheduled to hit the streets on the same day.

Sadly I was never going to have time to write about all three of them (not, at least, before they’re released), and since I fell so hard for Feral Lord‘s debut album, Purity of Corruption, last year, the choice of which of the three to devote my time to pretty much made itself.

The thing is, even though I am a huge fan of the duo’s previous work, I’m not ashamed to admit that I simply was not prepared for what they’ve created on Vires In Absoluto, and chances are – no matter what you think you’re about to hear – neither are you.

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May 032022
 

(Andy Synn presents four artists/albums which you may have overlooked last month)

Ok, I promise I won’t make a habit of this, but I discovered so many new releases in April – records which seem to have been largely overlooked elsewhere, as far as I can tell – that I’m going to have to break up this edition of “Things you may have missed…” into two parts, the first coming today, the second coming… whenever I get chance to get around to it.

For today’s post I’ve chosen some ripping Black/Death from Canada (Althotas), some powerfully melodic Death/Doom from Portugal (The Chapter), some darkly dramatic Progressive Thrash from Greece (Disharmony) and some atmosphere heavy – as well as just plain heavy – Deathcore from the USA (Null Valley).

Chances are there’ll be at least something here you haven’t checked out before, so give them a spin if and when you get chance – you might just discover your favourite new band!

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May 022022
 

(Andy Synn shares his thoughts on the new Misery Index album, scheduled for release next Friday)

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” That’s how the hoary old cliché goes, right?

It just so happens, though, that it’s very much true in this particular case, as there’s no mistaking a Misery Index album when you hear it, whether you’re listening to their more overtly Grind-influenced early work, or their more recent, Death Metal focussed records, or anything in between.

That being said, it definitely feels – in hindsight – that the band’s post-Traitors transition into being a “pure” Death Metal act reached its apex (or nadir, depending on how you feel about it) on 2014’s The Killing Gods, with 2019’s Rituals of Power suggesting a slight return towards their thrashier, punkier roots in places.

That’s why it shouldn’t be too surprising, if you’ve been paying attention, to learn that on Complete Control the Baltimore bruisers have decided to let their inner Hardcore band out to play… and I couldn’t be happier about it.

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