May 112021

(Andy Synn dives back into the darkness once more with the new album from Russian Blackened Hardcore bruisers Morokh)

You know what they say… once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.

And, as it happens, this is the third album from Russia in just over a month that’s instantly established itself as one of my favourite records of the year, which suggests that either someone out there is purposefully targeting me and my listening tastes… or I’m just being paranoid (or am I?).

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May 052021

(The long-awaited debut album from Italian Black/Death duo Hadit is set for release this Friday via Sentient Ruin/Caligari Records, and Andy Synn has volunteered to act as Virgil on this journey into the inferno)

After my shameless flirtation with – dare I say it – the “mainstream” (ok, not really, but you know what I mean) earlier this week, it’s high time I got back to the underground, the underdogs, and the underappreciated.

And what better way to do so than with a quick look at the long-awaited, soon-to-be-released, debut album from Italian Death-duo Hadit, whose elaborately titled new album conjures up a sound that is distinctly more occult and “old school” in demeanour and delivery than that of the band’s more popular and blast-happy contemporaries/countrymen?

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May 042021

(For his first post of the week, Andy Synn takes aim at three of last month’s most sacred cows… but is he here to slaughter them, or just give them a little push?)

Last month saw the release of several new albums from some pretty big and (in)famous names (well, in Metal terms at least) and a resultant storm of press and PR both leading up to and following on from these releases.

And, to be honest, I wasn’t sure whether it was really worth us commenting on them. After all, they’re all well past the point where write-ups and reviews are going to have any sort of major impact on album sales, and have reached a stage in their careers where the fans are going to praise, and the haters are going to hate, no matter what.

Case in point, I’ve seen people calling the new Cannibal Corpse album “boring” even as others declare that it “pushes the Death Metal genre forward” (it doesn’t, but it’s far from “boring”), I’ve read posts claiming that Gojira are either “just a generic groove-metal act” or “the greatest band of the century” (they’re neither, as it happens), and observed several sites giving the latest Vreid a perfect 10/10 score (c’mon guys, it’s good, but do you really think it’s on the level of, say, Master of Puppets or are you just spitting hype because you know it gets clicks?).

That being the case, however, I still feel like there’s a place for a more measured and “objective” analysis of each of these releases, one which doesn’t exist just to confirm the pre-existing prejudices of its readers, which is why I decided to step up to the plate, take one for the team, and attempt to bring a little bit of balance to the force, by reviewing them all myself.

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Apr 302021

(The April 2021 edition of THE SYNN REPORT is all about the soul-destroying discography of Swiss/German Black Metal collective ColdCell)

Recommended for fans of: Schammasch, Panzerfaust, Blaze of Perdition

Let me be honest with you, if I ever actually stopped to think about what it takes to actually put together each new edition of The Synn Report (which is now on its 133rd edition, and shows no signs of stopping any time too) I’d probably have long since collapsed into a gibbering wreck.

After all, we’re talking about a full, in-depth (or, at least, relatively in-depth) round up of a different band’s entire discography every month, complete with embedded album streams and helpful references/recommendations/comparisons, all of which I usually leave right up until the last minute because I’m an idiot who is incapable of learning from his mistakes or planning ahead.

But fate, thankfully, can be both a kind as well as cruel mistress, and sometimes things just line up in a way that takes the pressure of deciding what band I’m going to write about off me.

Case in point, when Swiss quintet ColdCell released their fourth, and arguably finest, album last week it immediately became apparent that I simply had to write about them for this month’s edition of The Synn Report, as their particular brand of bleak ‘n’ baleful Black Metal – hauntingly atmospheric without being “Atmospheric”, harrowingly emotional without falling over the line into DSBM territory – has long struck a chord with me, and so now seemed like the perfect opportunity to give them their due.

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Apr 272021

(It’s the end of the fourth month, so here’s Andy Synn with four killer cuts you may have missed)

As we come towards the end of the month… I take a look at my life, and realise there’s nothing left.

No, wait, sorry, that’s “Gangsta’s Paradise”. Let me start again.

As with every month, April was filled with delights, disappointments, and a diverse array of albums which we simply didn’t have time to cover.

So, in what may or may not end up becoming something of a regular feature, I wanted to dedicate today’s article to providing some short but sweet summations of a handful of high-quality records which might have flown under your radar over the past several weeks.

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Apr 222021

(The long-awaited new album from Ageless Oblivion comes out next week on Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings, and Andy Synn wants you to know all about it, and why you should buy it)

It’s a common, and widely accepted, truism that you should never meet your heroes, because chances are they’ll only disappoint you.

The same could, and perhaps should, be said about listening to the long-awaited follow-up to one of your favourite albums, an album which has become accepted by many to be a modern-day classic.

After all, there’s simply no way it could live up to or even come close to satisfying the sheer weight of expectations surrounding it.

…or could it?

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Apr 152021

(Andy Synn ventures once more towards the outer limits with Prog-Death powerhouse Lascaille’s Shroud)

As I mentioned earlier this week, when we like a band here at NCS we try our best to stick with them, through thick and thin, and keep tabs on what they’re doing.

Sometimes, however, we’re more successful at this than others, as the case of sci-fi solo artist Lascaille’s Shroud so clearly demonstrates.

While we wrote at length about each of the project’s first three albums, we somehow lost touch with them soon after that, and although my bonus edition of The Synn Report last November went some way towards making up for this (by covering the entirety of their back-catalogue, including the three albums they’d released since we last checked in with them) I still felt bad that we’d allowed ourselves to lose touch with a band we’d once been so enthusiastic about.

With that in mind, there was no way I was going to make the same mistake with Othercosmic Divinations II (which was released just last week), and it’s a good thing too, as it’s yet another impressive addition to the legacy of Lascaille’s Shroud.

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Apr 132021

(Andy Synn returns to the spatial city of Hydhradh to heap praise upon the new album from Æthĕrĭa Conscĭentĭa)

If there’s one thing I can say about NCS, it’s that we are loyal to the bands we choose to cover (sometimes to a fault).

Chances are that if we like what you do then we’ll do our best to stick by you, no matter how long it takes, and try to keep one eye (or ear) open for whatever you do next.

Oh, sure, we still love seeking out strange new bands from strange new places, boldly going where other sites fear to tread (ok, that last part might be a bit of an exaggeration), but we also like to stay in touch with the various different artists we’ve (dis)covered over the years too, as it’s always interesting to see and hear how they’re developing and evolving.

Case in point, we first wrote about Prog-Black cosmonauts Æthĕrĭa Conscĭentĭa when they released their debut, the four-track sci-fi concept album Tales from Hydhradh, back in 2018, and now, a little over three years later, we’re back again with a much more in-depth look at their new record, Corrupted Pillars of Vanity, which is both bigger, bolder, and – most importantly – better than its predecessor in pretty much every way.

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Apr 082021

(Andy Synn closes out the week a little early by throwing on the new record from India’s Moral Collapse)

Let’s be honest about something – music writers, especially Metal music writers, are often an inherently insular, introverted, slightly egotistical, group. We’d have to be, after all, to think that anyone wants to read our rambling opinions in the first place!

On the positive side, these little cliques, cults, and covens that we form are often extremely supportive places, characterised by a certain level of mutual respect and empathy fuelled by our shared experiences.

On the other hand, they do occasionally engender a certain amount of “group think”, where one writer (or group of writers) publishes an opinion or analysis which, for whatever reason (often simply because people don’t want to be seen attacking or undermining their cohorts) sets the tone for everyone else going forwards.

It doesn’t mean they’re necessarily wrong, but it does often result in certain ideas and assumptions being codified as “fact” and makes it difficult for alternative viewpoints to get a word in edgewise.

Case in point, some of the hype that’s been built up around the recently-released debut album from Indian duo Moral Collapse might have you believing that this is the most mind-bending, head-spinning record since… name a band/album/date… but the truth is it’s not quite as complex or crazy as its been made out to be.

It is, however, very, very good.

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