Mar 272019


(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Accursed Spawn from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, which was released by PRC Music on March 23rd.)

For whatever reason we here at NCS seem to have developed a bit of a reputation, in certain quarters, as a site that solely covers Black Metal.

Of course, you and I know that’s not true (even if my next edition of The Synn Report is most definitely going to be blacker than the blackest black… times infinity), but I’m willing to accept that perhaps it sometimes looks like we feature our blackened brethren more frequently than any other members of our disparate metallic menagerie.

Still, you know we love our Death Metal too, in all its myriad forms, and to prove it I’d like to introduce you all to Canada’s latest extreme export… Accursed Spawn. Continue reading »

Mar 252019


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Whitechapel, which will be released by Metal Blade Records on March 29th.)

While we don’t always cover the so-called “big name” releases here at NCS, on those special occasions when we do we always try write something that actively adds to the conversation, rather than simply rehashing the same old tired tropes and clichés.

Of course that begs the question, is it actually possible to write anything new or insightful about Whitehcapel at this point?

After all, this is a band who have now comfortably reached that “critic-proof” level where a sufficiently large proportion of their fanbase will likely pick up whatever they put out, sight unseen, while their more committed detractors will continue to deride and denigrate the band for their ‘core roots, and nothing I write is likely to massively influence anyone from either side.

However, this presupposes that the only point of a review like this it to rate an album as “good” or “bad”… whereas I’d contend it’s just as, if not even more, important to provide potential readers/listeners with context and perspective so as to help them make their own, educated, decision(s).

Which brings us to The Valley. Continue reading »

Mar 222019


(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the British Columbia death metal band Gomorrah, which is being released today.)

While I definitely could have written about this album long before now (seeing as how the band’s representatives were kind enough to send me an early promo copy on request), I decided to wait until today to publish my review as I wanted everyone reading it to be able to listen to (and, ideally, purchase) the full record straight away.

Because while I can’t guarantee that all our readers are going to fall in love with Gomorrah (the band and/or the album) as much as I have, chances are that the band’s bombastic, blast-tastic brand of high-yield, high-octane Death Metal will appeal to an extremely wide cross-section of our regular audience. Continue reading »

Mar 212019


(We present Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by the black metal band Csejthe from Quebec City, which was released on March 13th.)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, never underestimate the power and importance of good artwork.

Honestly, it still boggles my mind to see that album art – which is, in many cases, the first thing people will ever experience and associate with your music – is so often treated as a mere afterthought, something to be skimped on or left to the very last minute.

After all, why wouldn’t you want to present your music in the best way possible? Wouldn’t you, shouldn’t you, want the visual aesthetic to match and (ideally) complement the sonic side of things?

Case in point, I was initially drawn to L’Horreur De Čachtice by the distinctive design and unusual colour palette of the album’s cover art (by Ovezt Alia), only to discover that what I’d stumbled across was some fairly ripping Black Metal from the cold, wintry wastes of Canada, which was more than good enough to justify a feature here at NCS. Continue reading »

Mar 182019


(Here’s Andy Synn’s review of the horrifying new EP by San Francisco’s Body Void, which was released on March 15th by Seeing Red Records, Dry Cough Records, and Crown and Throne Ltd.)

I’m not sure if any of you have noticed, or if it’s bothered you at all, but the majority of my writing over the last several weeks has focussed on covering a variety of big names, famous faces, and iconoclastic figures… plus the occasional up-and-coming contender… which has left surprisingly little space for the more underground or esoteric bands which NCS has generally been more famous for covering.

Does this mean I’m… whisper it… on the verge of selling out?

Hell no. It just means that I happened to have listened to a fair few artists/albums who (deservedly) have also been receiving a lot of coverage elsewhere recently, and that I felt like writing about them.

But for those of you who might have been a little concerned, fear not, as it looks like this week is going to be all about the underappreciated and the underground, kicking off with this quick smash ‘n’ grab review of the new EP from Body Void. Continue reading »

Mar 132019


(This is Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Fallujah, which will be released on March 15th by Nuclear Blast.)

Addressing the obvious elephant in the room up-front, what most people will immediately notice about this album is the higher-pitched, more emotive snarl of new vocalist Antonio Palermo, which straight-away presents quite a contrast to his predecessor’s guttural grumble.

But while I’m sure that Palermo’s sharper, more Hardcore-inflected bark (and, even more controversially, occasional use of clean vocals) will have certain reactionary-types screaming “METALCORE!!!” like poor Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (google it), once you get past the vocal switcheroo you’ll find that Undying Light isn’t a major departure for the group (despite the actual departure of long-time guitarist Brian James).

At the same time, however, that doesn’t mean it’s a simple carbon-copy of what’s gone before either. Continue reading »

Mar 112019


(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of Devin Townsend‘s new album, which will be released on March 29th by InsideOut Music.)

As much as we like to think of ourselves as being a cut above the average consumer of “popular” music, the truth is that the Metal scene is just as vulnerable to the same trends and biases, the same prejudices and predispositions, as any other style of music.

One of the most obvious (and most egregious) is our collective tendency to buy into the pervasive “cult of personality” surrounding certain artists, and become unwilling/unable to offer or accept even the slightest criticism of their work, sometimes to the extent of responding to even the mildest suggestion of fault with the sort of overblown outrage that serves mainly to remind people that the term “fan” is derived from the word “fanatic”.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that there’s no requirement that if you like a band/artist that you have to like everything they do.

But, as long as it’s done well, with honesty and integrity, you should at least be able to respect it.

Which, coincidentally (or not), is exactly the position I find myself in with Empath. Continue reading »

Mar 062019


(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Venom Prison, which will be released on March 15th by Prosthetic Records.)

So this weekend just gone I had the pleasure of seeing Bryan Adams playing to a packed out arena full of people, performing tracks from across his fourteen(!)-album back catalogue with all the verve and vitality of a man who has built his career, and his life, around a simple love of music.

On the surface, of course, the former’s uplifting pop-rock anthems have very little in common with the hideously abrasive assault of Venom Prison, whose second album is arguably an even more aggressive, no-holds-barred barrage of Death Metal fury than their first, but I find it interesting all the same to see how the basic building blocks of both artists’ music – guitars, bass, drums, vocals – are basically the same, yet the execution and end result are so strikingly different.

One thing that the two do have in common, however, is that their music undeniably comes straight from the heart (pun intended)… although in the case of Samsara it does so in a much more bloody and brutal way than anything which the (in)famous groover from Vancouver has ever released! Continue reading »

Mar 042019


(On this day, when Icelandic Sinmara have revealed a full stream of their new album in advance of its March 8 release by Ván Records, we present Andy Synn‘s review of the record, along with that stream of all the music.)

For such a (relatively) small, but (undeniably) influential, scene, Icelandic Black Metal seems to already have more than its fair share of disciples and detractors, elitists and evangelists, all ready and willing to monopolise any conversation about the various merits of the bands involved with self-righteous, navel-gazing discussions about who is “true”, who is “false”, and who deserves to be praised or punished for conforming to/transgressing against the unspoken rules of what is, or isn’t, acceptable in Black Metal.

Which is one reason why it’s going to be ever so interesting reading, and hearing, the reactions to Sinmara’s highly-anticipated and long-awaited second album. Continue reading »

Mar 012019


(Here’s Andy Synn‘s review of the new album by Misery Index, which will be released on March 8th by Season of Mist.)

Where exactly does one start with a band like Misery Index?

From their humble (well, relatively humble) Death-Grind beginnings, the band have grown into a veritable Death Metal institution, one with five (soon to be six) full-length albums and innumerable EPs and split releases to their name, not to mention a not-insignificant amount of critical and cultural influence under their belt, all of which makes it difficult to find something new to say about the ongoing work of Messrs. Netherton, Jarvis, Kloeppel, and Morris.

But while it may be difficult to find a new angle from which to approach the band’s music these days, that doesn’t mean that the band themselves have run out of things to say, and their newest album continues their long-established tradition of raising their fists and kicking against the pricks as loudly, and as angrily, as possible. Continue reading »