Jan 252019


(We present Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by A Secret Revealed, which will be released by Lifeforce Records on January 25th.)

I’d like to begin this review with a little aside, if I may?

The upcoming launch of the (probably terrible) Lords of Chaos movie has, unsurprisingly, sparked quite a few conversations about whether Black Metal has finally “gone mainstream” or not.

Now while I wouldn’t call it “mainstream” by any means – I fully expect this just to be another example of the popular crowd experiencing a passing fascination with a particular sub-culture, only to quickly move on to the next “in” thing as soon as it appears – I wouldn’t deny that Black Metal, and all its variants, sub-styles, and hybrid offspring, has experienced a definite upswing in exposure and awareness over the past several years.

In some ways this is a good thing. More people are discovering music that would, in other circumstances, have been well outside of their usual comfort zone, and many of these are then diving deeper into the history and importance of the genre (and, in turn, bringing new blood and new voices into it, preventing it from stagnating).

On the other hand, it’s also leading to quite a few people developing a very superficial understanding of what “Black Metal” is, one usually informed only by the most mainstream-friendly examples, causing them to misuse and misapply the term in all sorts of different ways, ranging from the simply misleading, to the downright mind-boggling.

And nowhere is this more obvious, to me at least, than in the liminal space where “Post Metal” meets “Post Black Metal”… which brings us, quite nicely to Sacrifices, the new album from German quintet A Secret Revealed. Continue reading »

Jan 232019


(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Spanish extremists Altarage, which will be released on January 25 through Season Of Mist (CD/LP/Digital) and Sentient Ruin (cassette tape).)

It’s weird to think that, sometimes, I forget exactly what albums I’ve reviewed or who I’ve written about here at NCS.

I suppose it shouldn’t be that surprising. After all, although I’m not sure exactly how many articles I write each year I know that it’s a lot… and all alongside the steadily growing demands of my day job and my own band(s).

Case in point, it wasn’t until I did a quick search of the site that I was reminded that I actually wrote about Altarage’s second album, the monstrous Endinghent, in late 2017, describing it as:

“…one of the grimmest, most gruesome albums of the year…”

And while it’s a description I still stand by, all the signs and portents suggest that The Approaching Roar is an even grimmer and more gruesome record yet. Continue reading »

Jan 192019


(In this week’s edition of Waxing Lyrical Andy Synn elicited thoughts from Soreption vocalist Fredrik Söderberg.)

If you don’t know, and love, Soreption, then you don’t belong on this site.

There, I said it. Now get out.

Of course if you’re still reading this then you’ve clearly either a) realised I was joking with the above statement, or b) are a total contrarian who has decided to carry on just to spite me.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, it was just over a decade ago when I stumbled across Soreption‘s debut EP, Illuminate the Excessive, in my local record store, and I’ve been an avid fan of the band ever since, following their progress through all the ups and downs of their career, even to the point of selecting their second album, Engineering the Void, as one of the best albums of 2014.

The band’s latest release, last year’s Monument of the End, continued their run of top-notch, high-octane Technical Death Metal mastery, so I’m particularly pleased to have been able to get hold of the group’s long-time vocalist Fredrik Söderberg for this latest edition of Waxing Lyrical. Continue reading »

Jan 182019


(Here’s Andy Synn’s review of the debut album by North Carolina’s Mo’ynoq, which was released on January 11th.)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before… but precisely what it is that separates a “Good” album from a truly “Great” one isn’t always clear. Sometimes it’s just a gut feeling, an instinctive response which tells you that this… this is something really worth shouting about.

If you’re been paying attention then you’ll quickly realise that this is exactly the same intro spiel I used for my recent review of the new Barshasketh album, recycled here with good reason.

Because not only have I frequently seen the two records compared, contrasted, and (occasionally) pitted against one another in single combat, but they also happen to quite concisely demonstrate just how razor-thin the line between being a “Good” album and a truly “Great” one really is. Continue reading »

Jan 162019


(Andy Synn reviews the new album by the Scotland-based band Barshasketh, which was released yesterday by W.T.C. Productions.)

Precisely what it is that separates a “Good” album from a truly “Great” one isn’t always clear. Sometimes it’s just a gut feeling, an instinctive response which tells you that this… this is something really worth shouting about.

Of course your subjective response(s) and reactions will always be the final arbiter of which side of things an album ultimately falls on for you, but to even come close to this line, to be in contention, is something of an impressive achievement in itself.

Which I suppose is a long-winded way of saying that that the new, self-titled, record from Barshasketh could well be the first truly “Great” Black Metal album of 2019. Continue reading »

Jan 142019


(Andy Synn wrote the following review of the new album by the Norwegian band Endolith, which will be released by Rob Mules Records on January 18th.)

Hands up who here has heard Endolith’s debut album Voyager?

Ok, I see a few people have… maybe one or two more in the back, but the rest of you… shame, shame!

Honestly, after all the effort I went through (ok, maybe not that much effort) to talk about the record and highlight the band I’m not even sure you deserve to read about their new album at this point.

But, since I’m in such a magnanimous mood (and because Chicxulub is just so damn good), I suppose you might as well read on and get to know what should, if there’s any justice, turn out to be one of the best albums of the month, if not the entire year. Continue reading »

Jan 092019


(Here we have Andy Synn‘s review of the eagerly awaited new album by Australia’s Obed Marsh, which was just released on January 8th.)

I must say, I was starting to get a little worried recently when my first two posts of 2019 focussed on a pair of highly melodic, harmony-drenched albums that ran roughshod over the site’s original (though long-since partially discarded) ethos of “no clean singing”.

Thankfully our old friends from the land of convicts and monsters… aka Australia… Obed Marsh decided to release their second album this week, giving me a chance to dunk my head once more into their bubbling cauldron of eldritch filth and fury. Continue reading »

Jan 042019

Photo by Stephansdotter Photography


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new 11th album by Sweden’s Soilwork, which will be released on January 11 by Nuclear Blast.)

One thing which you may have noticed, if you’ve been visiting NCS consistently for any length of time, is that we sometimes purposefully refrain from covering what you might think of as “the big names” in Metal.

Largely this is because we feel that our time would be better spent focussing on smaller, and less well-exposed artists, but also due to the fact that these “bigger” bands invariably receive so much attention and fawning flattery (in fact I’ve just recently stumbled across a few suspiciously sycophantic reviews which seemed like they’d been half-written before even hearing the album), that any attempt on our part to offer a more nuanced or critical appraisal would likely just get ignored and lost in the flood.

Still, every so often one of us will stumble upon a particular take or angle that they feel compelled to follow up on, which is why you’re about to read my review of the soon-to-be-released eleventh album from those stalwart Swedes known as Soilwork.

Be warned though, if you’re expecting nothing but blind praise based on the band’s name-value alone, then you might want to look elsewhere. If you’re after a more measured appraisal of the album’s pros and cons, however, then please, read on. Continue reading »

Jan 022019


(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the Swedish group A Swarm of the Sun, which will be released by Version Studio Recodings on January 11th.)

After debating with myself for a while I’ve decided that the best way to kick off my 2019 at NCS is by… covering some minimalist, melancholy, and mostly instrumental Post-Rock where the vocals, sparingly used yet sublime, are delivered in a plaintive, cleanly-sung croon.

Who, me, contrarian?

In all seriousness though, A Swarm of the Sun’s previous album, The Rifts, was easily one of the richest, most rewarding musical experiences of 2015, so much so that I was compelled to include it in my Critical Top Ten of the year alongside other such impressive entries from bands like Sulphur Aeon, Bell Witch, and Alkaloid.

Hence you can probably imagine just how eagerly (and impatiently) I’ve been waiting for the band to produce this follow-up, which is scheduled to hit the streets (and the internet) next Friday. Continue reading »

Dec 282018


(For the final edition of THE SYNN REPORT for 2018, Andy Synn compiles reviews of all the albums released to date by Veilburner, including their brand new record A Sire To the Ghouls of Lunacy, which is being released today.)

Recommended for fans of: Akercocke, Dodecahedron, Imperial Triumphant

I’ve been so busy over the last few weeks, first with a mix of work and band commitments, then with more personal stuff going into the Christmas period, that I honestly almost forgot that I still had a new edition of The Synn Report (the last one of the year) to produce.

Thankfully it didn’t take very long to select which band would be this month’s lucky recipient of my attentions, as prolific Pennsylvania duo Veilburner are releasing their fourth (and likely finest) album today via Transcending Obscurity Records, meaning that the timing really couldn’t have worked out better.

With an incredibly diverse, yet distinctive, sound – the closest true comparison I can think of is with those Avant-Garde Australian extremists in Ur Draugr, though you’ll also see that, multiple times throughout this column, I’ve tried to make references which I think will appeal to our readers – over the past four/five years Mephisto Deleterio (instrumentation) and Chrisom Inferium (vocals) have produced several hours of warped and twisted, tumultuously technical and deviously discordant Black/Death Metal which doesn’t really sound exactly like anyone, or any thing, else out there. Continue reading »