May 192018


(In this week’s edition of Waxing Lyrical, Andy Synn posed questions about lyrics to Simon Barr, vocalist of one of our own favorite bands, Dawn Ray’d.)

We’ve been fans of UK Black Metal three-piece Dawn Ray’d for a long time now, ever since we stumbled across their debut EP, A Thorn, A Blight (which I reviewed, eventually, a little under a year after it came out).

Mixing politics and passion, searing social activism and savage blackened invective, the band’s follow-up full-length, The Unlawful Assembly, quickly became one of the best-received and best-reviewed albums of last year (including here at NCS), which is why I’m pleased to have been able to corral the band’s vocalist (and occasional violinist) Simon Barr for this latest edition of Waxing Lyrical. Continue reading »

May 142018


(Andy Synn dragged himself from his sick bed long enough to pen this review of the new EP by The Isolation Process, which was released through Bandcamp on March 30th.)

So my original plan for this week was to unleash a Black Metal focussed “dirty half-dozen” on you all as a way of clearing out some of the massive backlog which has developed over the last 4-5 months.

Unfortunately, I’m currently stricken with some sort of soul-sucking flu-bug which is sapping a lot of my energy, so, while I work on kicking that, you’re going to have to settle for something shorter and sweeter, in the shape of the new EP by Swedish Alt-Metal three-piece The Isolation Process. Continue reading »

May 122018

photo by Kieran Wakeman

(In this edition of Waxing Lyrical, Andy Synn elicited thoughts from Steve Tovey, vocalist of the UK metal band The King Is Blind.)

Raise your hand if you’ve heard of The King Is Blind?

Now keep them raised if you’ve heard their fantastic second album, We are the Parasite, We are the Cancer.

If your hand is down… well, what the heck have you been playing at? Not only did I give the album a glowing review, but I also hand-picked it as a close runner-up to Immolation in last year’s “Critical Top Ten”, describing it as:

“…one killer slab of Old-school influenced audio violence, with a Major in Riffology and a Minor in Metallic History, whose every track seems to exist solely to remind you why you fell in love with the more extreme side of Metal in the first place.”

So, with all that in mind, you can see why I decided to talk to the band’s frontman Steve Tovey about his influences (or lack thereof), his favourite vocalists, novels… and pretty much anything and everything else which feeds into his overall concept for each of the band’s records. Continue reading »

May 112018

Hundred Year Old Man

(Andy Synn delivers another installment in a series focused on recent releases by UK bands.)

There’s not going to be too much preamble for this edition of “The Best of British”, mainly because I’m currently very busy with work for my day job, work for my band(s), and work for a certain other music magazine, all of which are collectively conspiring to monopolise most of my time at the moment.

Be that as it may, however, I’m hoping there’s enough variety contained within these three albums – some of which you might say are a little bit off our regularly beaten path here at NCS – that most of our readers will be able to find something they can engage with and enjoy. Continue reading »

May 092018


(Andy Synn reviews the new EP by the Australian band Deadspace, released on April 11, 2018.)

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that, no matter how purportedly mainstream or well-known a band is, every review (or interview, or article, etc.) is going to be someone’s first exposure to them.

Of course there are always going to be those who are keen to brag about how they knew so-and-so or such-and-such before everyone else, and crap all over anyone who doesn’t share their intimate connection with what they consider the “true” underground… but I try not to let this discourage me from writing about music I think people might find interesting, regardless of whether it’s considered to be “big” or “cool” or “kvlt” (though I’m not sure if anyone even uses that last one anymore).

Because in the end, that’s what we’re all here for. To find new (and sometimes not-so-new) music we might have missed elsewhere. To seek out new bands and new recommendations, to boldly go… sorry, sorry, got a little bit off-course there… anyway, all this is just a long-winded way for me to say I hope that at least some of you enjoy what you’re about to read/hear. Continue reading »

May 052018


(The world hasn’t ended… another Saturday rises… and with it another of Andy Synn’s WAXING LYRICAL columns… with the insights provided today by Chris Grigg of the NY black metal band Woe.)

This is the third edition of Waxing Lyrical focussing on a band I handpicked for last year’s “Critical Top Ten” which… probably says something important. Though I’m not sure what. Maybe that great albums deserve great lyrics? Something like that?

Either way, Hope Attrition was a fantastic album “…as densely packed with clever ideas, razor-sharp hooks, and raw passion, as anything I’ve heard…” and Woe are a fantastic band, which is why I harassed and harangued the band’s vocalist/guitarist Chris Grigg into telling me a little about his background, his process, and his methods. Continue reading »

May 032018


(On May 18th Season of Mist will release the hotly anticipated (and thoroughly remarkable) second album by Alkaloid (which is now available for pre-order HERE), and today we are delighted to present the premiere of a track from the album as well as Andy Synn’s extensive review of the record, all of which he introduces with a bevy of comments from members of the band.)

So I originally wrote this review last month, and expected it to be published… well… then.

However, just prior to publication, we were offered an exclusive track premiere, and I was asked if I minded holding off on publishing for a little while so that things would line up better. And, of course, I said fine, because I’m nice like that.

Now the song in question, “As Decreed By Laws Unwritten”, is one of the heaviest, and most purely Death Metal tracks, on the entire album, and one of the few which fits with our site name, in that it features… no clean singing.

It’s also one of the songs written entirely by guitarist Danny Tunker, as he explains here:

“This was the second song I wrote for Liquid Anatomy. When we first started sending demos and talking about songs, we felt we needed some heavier songs. We had the title track, which is a ballad, and “Kernel Panic”, which didn’t have a heavy section yet, and another song I wrote, which was a mellotron-driven prog-ballad at that point and turned into “In Turmoil’s Swirling Reaches” later. As a result, Florian wrote “Azagthoth” and I wrote “As Decreed By Laws Unwritten”. Continue reading »

May 022018


(Here’s Andy Synn’s review of the new solo album by Ihsahn, which will be released on May 4 by Candlelight/Spinefarm.)

My, my, my… for the second week running I find myself writing about one of the “big” new releases about to hit the Metalsphere, rather than something more unknown and underground.

Clearly this means that I/we have finally “sold out”, and I expect that riches and rewards will come cascading through my letterbox any time now.

But while I’m sat here waiting for my cheque to appear… do you have a few minutes to talk about our Lord and Saviour Ihsahn? Continue reading »

Apr 302018


(Andy Synn delivers a SYNN REPORT for the month of April, reviewing the lion’s share of the discography of the New Mexico band Distances.)

Recommended for fans of: Agrimonia, Cult of Luna, The Ocean

Melding Sludge and Post-Metal with touches of Prog and Crust, Distances are one of those bands who you can’t help but think would be much bigger, and much more beloved by the Metal community, if only they were given the attention and exposure they so richly deserve.

Cerebral yet cathartic, heavy in both brooding atmosphere and sheer sonic weight, the Albuquerque quartet make music designed to hit both the head and the heart, and practically guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

So, without further ado, here’s a run-down of all three of the band’s albums – including their recently released third record, Diableries, but not their 2016 covers album Rip Offs – plus their fantastic 2015 EP Forage & Reproduce. I hope you like what you read/hear. Continue reading »

Apr 282018


(Here’s another edition of Andy Synn’s Saturday interview series in which the subject is metal lyrics.)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock like some quivering, spineless invertebrate (I might pay for that comment later), you’ll doubtless be aware of the great waves caused by the latest Slugdge album, Esoteric Malacology (which I already dubbed “a potential Album of the Year contender”).

Of course if you haven’t done so yet, you should check it out immediately, and then go back and check out the rest of the band’s back-catalogue too.

Once you’ve done that, and you’re suitably prepared in both body and mind, then – and only then – should you return here and delve into the following interview with the band’s vocalist Matt Moss, where he provides some seriously in-depth insight into both the method and the madness which together make up the band’s unique lyrical approach. Continue reading »