Dec 072022

(Andy Synn dedicates what may be his last review of 2022 to our old friends in Dødsengel)

Let’s face it, I may not be great at predicting what bands are going to become big and successful… but I’m pretty good at predicting which bands are going to become great.

Of course, by the time I discovered Dødsengel they were already great – I might even go so far as to call their titanic 2012 album Imperator a “masterpiece” if only that word hadn’t been bastardised beyond repair – but I’d be lying if I said that a part of me wasn’t always hoping to see them achieve the same level of acclaim and appreciation that bands like Batushka and/or Zeal & Ardor have received in their stead.

That was, honestly, never going to happen though. Dødsengel have always been a little too weird, a little too out-there (despite their increasingly melodic, borderline gothic, tendencies and uncanny vocal charisma) to ever achieve that sort of cross-over success. But that hasn’t stopped them continuing to be great, even if they’ve had to do it in (relative) obscurity.

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Dec 052022

(Andy Synn sneaks in another review prior to his annual year-end round-up week)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… “Technical Death Metal” and “Tech Death” aren’t the same thing.

Sure, they’re related – no-one is denying that (well, almost no-one) – but “Technical Death Metal”, in my book, refers to bands that build on a more traditional Death Metal framework while adding an extra dose of technicality, whereas “Tech Death” tends to incorporate more influences and inspirations from Prog and/or Melodic Death Metal and/or Deathcore to create more of a hybrid sound with the technicality at the centre.

Of course, then there’s also “Brutal Technical Death Metal”… but let’s not go there right now.

All of this, in the end, is a long-winded way of getting round to saying that while the debut album from Obvurt is being released on a label most people probably associate more with “Tech Death” the record itself is technically much more of a Death Metal album, with all the massive heaviness and merciless aggression that implies.

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Nov 302022

Recommended for fans of: Employed to Serve, Power Trip, Misery Index

This has been a big year for Hardcore, Metallic Hardcore, and Death Metal-meets-Hardcore… and I, for one, have been absolutely loving it.

So much so, in fact, that I’ve decided to dedicate the final Synn Report of 2022 to Canadian crushers Get The Shot (whose new album, Merciless Destruction, was released just last month).

Of course, while there’s been a lot of digital ink spilled about the resurgence of Hardcore-influenced-Death Metal recently, Get The Shot clearly come at it from the opposite direction… sure, they’ve got a distinctive Death Metal side (especially on their more recent stuff) but they’re a Hardcore band at heart, which gives their howling vocals, hammering riffs, and hefty, chug-heavy rhythms a slightly different flavour to the Creeping Deaths and Gatecreepers of the world (although fans of those bands will definitely want to give GtS a shot, trust me).

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Nov 282022

(Andy Synn goes to war once more with the music of Imha Tarikat)

While you’re reading this there’s a good chance I’ll be attending a funeral for one of my oldest, dearest friends.

As you might imagine, feelings have been running high ever since his death, and each of us who knew and loved him have had to find our own way to deal with his loss.

Perhaps unsurprisingly I have been turning to music, even more so than usual, as a conduit for my emotions, and Hearts Unchained – At War With a Passionless World has been one of the albums I have returned to most frequently over the past several weeks.

Of course, I’d like to think that I’d have listened to this record just as much even without this tragedy occurring (after all, I was a huge fan of the group’s previous work and have been looking forward to this one ever since), but sometimes an album hits you at just the right moment, in just the right way, to resonate even more deeply.

And this is one of those times.

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Nov 232022

(Andy Synn gets riffy with the new album from Sweden’s Vittra)

As we inch closer and closer to the end of the year time is running out for us here at NCS, and tough decisions are having to be made about what, and who, we can cover before “List Season” officially begins.

To be clear, I’ll still be writing and publishing reviews throughout December – mostly of things that I wasn’t able to get to over the last twelve months and which I think deserve more coverage and attention – but probably not as many as usual (the next couple of weeks are going to be particularly hectic and stressful for me, for various reasons, so I intend to take a well deserved rest from work, writing, and everything else).

Until then, however… let’s all enjoy some catchy-as-covid Death/Thrash riffage courtesy of Vittra and their new album, Blasphemy Blues.

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Nov 172022

(Andy Synn brings you some multi-national mayhem courtesy of Inverted Matter)

There are many, many things I love about Metal.

But one of the biggest is that there’s always something new to discover, a new artist or album to uncover that you’ve previously overlooked, so it’s practically impossible to get bored or jaded (emphasis on “practically”).

Take Inverted Matter, for example.

This multinational menagerie of misfits, monsters, and mercenaries (whose ranks include Defacement drummer Marco Dal pastro – putting in yet another pulverising percussive performance here) are brand new to me, despite the fact that they released their debut album, Detach, way back in 2017.

But, better late than never, right? And now that I’ve discovered them it’s time for me to pay it forward and introduce them to some of you in turn.

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Nov 162022

(Andy Synn goes on a juicy Prog-Metal journey with the new album from Montreal’s Ashbreather)

While we’re not averse to writing about some of the bigger names in Metal here at NCS – though this year, if I’m not wrong, we’ve actually chosen not to feature several of the “big” names, due to the fact that they get more than enough coverage already – our focus is always on showcasing and supporting the work of those bands who might otherwise fly under the radar (at least in terms of the wider Metal scene).

So, in that spirit, today we’re turning to a cinematic, single-track concept album by a Canadian trio whose music is best described at “Progressive Sludge”, with a heavy emphasis on the “Progressive” part of the equation, and a penchant for throwing in some unexpected creative twists along the way.


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Nov 142022

(Andy Synn gives Dream Unending another chance to win him over with their new album)

If you know anything about us here at NCS – beyond our charm, good lucks, and our unwavering loyalty (and, yes, I am riffing on a previous intro, what of it?) – you’ll know that we’re not afraid to admit when we’re wrong.

That being said, I still stand by my decision to include Dream Unending‘s first album in my list of the most “Disappointing” albums of 2021 as, while I didn’t hate it by any means, the amount of hype around it was completely unjustified.

It wasn’t really the band’s fault, to be fair, but, from the reactions by some of the Metal Media (a lot of which seemed content to just lazily regurgitate the press materials) you might have thought that they were the first (and only) band to ever consider combining the dolorous heft of Doom with the dreamy dynamics of Post-Metal (or that Paradise Lost had never existed).

However, I am happy to report – very happy, as a matter of fact, as I always felt this project had promise, despite being so critical of their debut – that Song of Salvation is a huge step up, and a huge step forward, that just might live up to most (if not all) of the hype around the band.

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Nov 102022

Exactly what constitutes the precise definition of “Technical” Death Metal is a controversial topic at the best of times.

After all, doesn’t Death Metal – above a certain number of bpm, at least – actively require a certain amount of technical talent to properly pull it off?

And where exactly does one draw the line? After all, no-one would go around referring to Cannibal Corpse as “Technical Death Metal”, obviously, but many of their riffs (and particularly their bass-lines) are pretty finger-flensing, while Dying Fetus (to pick another “big name” out of the hat) are pretty famous for their face-melting fretwork but are arguably just as well-known for their willing embrace of bone-headed brutality.

Perhaps it’s just an age thing – maybe some of today’s “Technical Death Metal” bands wouldn’t have been referred to as such “back in the day” – or maybe there’s more to it than that.

Whatever the answer is… I don’t have it for you here. But I do recommend you check out all three of the artists/albums featured in today’s article, whether you’re a fan of “Technical” Death Metal or not.

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Nov 082022

(Andy Synn is here to host our premiere of the new album from Fell Ruin, out this Friday via Tartarus Records.)

One thing everybody knows about us here at NCS is that – in addition to our dashing good looks and stunning sexual prowess – we are loyal.

If we write about your band and like what you do then we’re prepared to wait as long as it takes to hear more from you.

Case in point, Fell Ruin‘s debut album, To The Concrete Drifts, hit me like… well… like a tonne of concrete when it was released back in 2017, so when we were asked if we wanted to host the premiere of the band’s long-gestating follow-up I immediately jumped at the chance to do so.

After all, I’ve had Cast in Oil… for a while now, and since I had already planned to review it this week it just made sense to take advantage of this offer.

A word of warning though – the band’s second album is a far different beast than its predecessor. So expect the unexpected.

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