Jan 272020


(We present Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Leeched from Manchester in the UK. The album will be released on January 31st by Prosthetic Records.)

There is a certain type of Metal fan – and, to be clear, it’s by no means all, or even a majority, simply a certain type – who, no matter how underground or alternative they consider themselves to be, continues to crave (consciously or unconsciously) the acceptance of the mainstream.

I’m sure you know who I’m talking about. They’re the ones who are always quick to share those “10 Ways the Metal Scene Needs to Change” articles (which always just advise becoming more like Pop and/or Rap). The ones who go crazy online for the latest big name artist engaging in a fifteen-minute flirtation with the most anaemic form of “Metal” they can get away with. The ones who believe a band’s most “accessible” album is always their best, and are willing to jump through all sorts of (il)logical hoops to explain why this shift towards a more mass-appeal sound is actually a daring display of artistic expression… and not just a cynical move designed to sell more product.

And, you know what? I get it. After all, a lot of us probably grew up as the slightly weird kids, the ones with the odd, nerdy hobbies and perpetually “uncool” music taste, simultaneously desiring and disdaining the attention and validation of our peers. And, no matter how old we are, how confident we might appear, a lot of us never fully grow out of this. We still want, on some level, to belong.

The thing is… some music is never going to belong. And a band like Leeched are simply incapable of pandering to the mainstream. They’re too ugly, too uncompromising, too listener un-friendly, to ever dream of fitting in or selling out. Continue reading »

Jan 242020


(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the performances by Cannabis Corpse, Withered, and Violated Flesh in Birmingham, England, on January 22, 2020, with video highlights.)

One of my resolutions for this year has been to go to more gigs. In fact I’ve already got several booked in for February and March, and another one to attend next week.

Sadly, however, the twin constraints of money and time mean I can’t go to every single show I’d like to, which is why I was forced to miss the Darkest Hour/Fallujah show in Manchester this week.

Thankfully, however, I’d already made firm plans to hit the Birmingham date of the Cannabis Corpse/Withered tour, which definitely helped ease the pain somewhat, especially since this would be my first time seeing Withered since way back in 2005! Continue reading »

Jan 222020


(The Texas-based death metal band Sallow Moth has followed its Deathspore EP with a continuation of the tale begun there. The band’s debut album was released on January 15th, and Andy Synn reviews it here.)

The existence of so many great one-man-bands (the multi-instrumentalist recording-project types, not the “banjo-bass-drum-harmonica” types) has always been a perplexing puzzle to me.

As someone who enjoys, and craves, the stimulation (and frustration) of collaboration when making music I just can’t quite get my head around what it must take to be willing, and able, to go it alone.

Heck, one of the reasons I’ve never gotten my own still-as-yet-unrealised Black Metal project off the ground is that I’ve never found the right collaborators/co-conspirators to work with!

But I remain immensely fascinated, and impressed, whenever I stumble across an album whose high quality can only be attributed to the efforts of a single individual, especially in cases like this one, which is giving off some major Blood Incantation/Mithras/Slugdge vibes. Continue reading »

Jan 212020


(Andy Synn pauses in his consideration of forthcoming records to look back at an album released last November by Chrome Ghost from Sacramento, California.)

To quote a very famous tv show… “time’s arrow neither stays still or reverses, it merely marches forward.”

This particular truism has felt particularly relevant to me in recent years, as it really does feel as though if I don’t stay on top of all the various new releases, week by week, that I’m going to end up missing out and falling behind in a way that I’ll never be able to recover from.

In fact, this is exactly what happens every year. There comes a point when my “to do” list reaches critical mass and has to be jettisoned so that I can start afresh. It’s unfortunate and it means some artists/albums inevitably lose out, but that’s just the way it is.

There are occasional moments, however, where it seems like time’s arrow does at least slow down a bit, allowing me to take stock and, if I’m very lucky, to look back and catch up with things that went over my head (or under my radar).

And sometimes, if I’m really, really lucky, I’m able to discover something really special in the process. Continue reading »

Jan 172020


(Here is Andy Synn‘s review of the debut album by the Austrian-German band Oceans, released by Nuclear Blast on January 10th.)

Remember a few years back when the term “Black Metal” became so “hip” that pretty much every album released was getting referred to as “Blackened” this or “Post-Black” that… regardless of what the music actually sounded like?

Well it looks like it’s the turn of “Post Metal” to be 2020’s most wildly (and wilfully) misapplied label, as it’s only been a few weeks of the new year and I’ve already encountered numerous promo emails, press releases, and reviews touting anything with the barest hint of atmosphere or quiet/loud dynamic as being part of the resurgent “Post-Metal” zeitgeist.

Of course, you know what they say, never ascribe to malice what could be explained by ignorance (or laziness), and while this misguided (not to mention misleading) use of the term “Post Metal” by various writers/reviewers does little more than betray their lack of knowledge (or their desperation to jump on the latest bright, shiny bandwagon), some of the blame must also fall on the labels and bands themselves – including the subject of today’s review – for misusing the term in the first place.

All of which, I suppose, is just a long-winded way of saying that if you approach The Sun and the Cold expecting something in the vein of Isis, Neurosis, Cult of Luna, etc, then you’re going to be very, very disappointed (and probably a little confused too).

But if you go into it expecting some highly polished, hyper-modern (and ridiculously catchy) Melodeath then you’re far more likely to enjoy the experience! Continue reading »

Jan 162020


(In this post Andy Synn reviews the new album by San Diego, California’s SHRIEKING, which was released on January 8th.)

The Metal scene is, or at least it can be, a very nerdy place indeed.

And that’s fine! I’m basically a massive geek myself, and so are a lot (probably most) of the people I know who are into Metal.

Whoever it is behind solo Black/Death Metal act SHRIEKING is very clearly a nerd of the highest order too (and I mean that as a compliment), as their new album, Let the Galaxy Burn, is an unabashed tribute to the wicked world of Warhammer 40K, in all its ridiculously grimdark glory. Continue reading »

Jan 142020


(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Italian band Nero Di Marte, which is set for release on January 24th by Season of Mist.)

As someone who occasionally dabbles in releasing music himself, I’ve often pondered when exactly the “optimum” time to release an album is.

After all, put something out too early in the year and you risk being forgotten about by the time all the December “End of the Year” lists roll around, but put something out too late and you’re probably going to struggle to get yourselves into contention for the summer festival season.

Nero Di Marte clearly have good reasons for deciding to release their new album right at the start of 2020 however, as Immoto is such a dense, intricately layered piece of work that it’s likely to take their audience the rest of the year to fully unpick and unpack everything it has to offer! Continue reading »

Jan 072020


(This is Andy Synn’s review of the new album by the Czech band Baestien, which was released on December 6th by Alerta Antifascista Records.)

As you may have noticed (or maybe not, I don’t know how much attention people really pay to my comings and goings around here) I’ve been reasonably absent from NCS for the last couple of weeks.

The reason for this is quite simple, as I decided to take some time off to relax and recharge over the Christmas/New Year period, and in fact spent the last week enjoying the sights and sounds (and, especially, the flavours) of Prague in the Czech Republic.

And while I’m probably going to continue being relatively quiet here for the foreseeable future (I’ve got vocals to record, as well as a fair bit of work to catch up on at my day job), I couldn’t resist giving a quick write-up to Ritual, the latest release from Czech quartet Baestien, which I fortuitously stumbled across the day after I returned home. Continue reading »

Dec 312019


(Here we are, at the end of December and the end of 2019, and just under the wire Andy Synn has turned in his SYNN REPORT for the month, choosing to review all the albums by the Colorado band Dreadnought, including their latest album Emergence, which was released in September by Profound Lore.)

Recommended for fans of: Madder Mortem, Ludicra, (latter-day) Opeth

Having dedicated the last several editions of The Synn Report to the nastier, gnarlier end of the musical spectrum, I felt it would be fun to end the year in something a little bit proggier.

Actually, make that a LOT proggier, as the multi-instrumental marvels of Dreadnought (whose repertoire accentuates the traditional form of bass, guitar, drums, and vocals, with added embellishments from flute, piano, mandolin, and saxophone, to name but  a few) arguably err more towards Folk, Prog, and Jazz – particularly on their earlier albums – than they do Metal.

That’s not to say that the Colorado quartet don’t have their more metallic moments, as they’re entirely capable of deploying a writhing, blackened riff or snarling shot of vocal venom whenever the need calls for it, but these harsher, heavier elements are just one small part of a rich creative tapestry which favours patient, proggy melody and indulgent artistry over instantaneous impact. Continue reading »

Dec 272019


(As Mr. Synn will soon explain, the following list is something other than what you might expect from the title of the post, but lots of good music nonetheless awaits you.)

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that the word “Best” is in scare-quotes in the heading, and there’s a reason for this… that title is a bald-faced lie.

Hell, it’s hard enough doing a “Best” list every year (and I purposefully dodge that with my split Critical/Personal lists), so the idea that I, or anyone, would be able to provide anything NEAR a definitive list of the ten (seriously, just ten?) best albums of the last decade is pretty ludicrous.

I’m not even sure where I’d start? Probably After? Vertikal? List? Maybe Death Mask or Vile Luxury? Definitely The Destroyers of All and Kwintessens, at least. And then there’s Bilateral, Ode to the Flame, On Strange Loops… actually now that I’ve gotten started this might have been easier than I thought…

Anyway, all this preamble is just a long-winded way to say that I’ve decided to go in a slightly different direction for this article, and pick out ten albums from the last decade – one per year – which I think deserved far more attention.

Think of it more as a selection of some of the more “unsung” or underappreciated bands/albums of the last ten years. Continue reading »