Sep 092023


A lot of new music came out over the last week. All I can do today is lightly scratch the surface, like a friendly cat who touches their human companion’s skin with claws that let you know they’re there but without drawing blood — though some of the music here might feel like blood is being shed.

I got a very late start this morning, and so depended on late-breaking alerts from some of my NCS compatriots and a couple of other acquaintances rather than methodically clawing through my immense list of links and letting my own impulses determine the choices.I’ll probably be more self-directed in assembling tomorrow’s blackish column. Continue reading »

Jan 262022

(Andy Synn sharpens his knives for this incisive review of the new album from Celeste, out Friday on Nuclear Blast)

We have all long been fans of France’s Celeste here at NCS – myself in particular, as I’ve been an avid follower and collector of their music ever since their first album – and we’re clearly not alone in that, as the band’s profile has risen, slowly but surely, with each new release, culminating in this, their “major” label debut.

Of course, changing labels hasn’t actually changed the band themselves, and you’ll be pleased to know that Assassine(s) is just as aggressive, atmospheric, and addictively abrasive as the rest of their catalogue.

It does, however, raise a familiar quandary… how exactly does one categorise a band like Celeste?

Looking back over their career thus far you can see that they’ve been called a lot of different things over the years – Black Metal, Post Hardcore, Blackened Sludge, Post Metal, and so forth – none of which are necessarily wrong, even if they’re not totally right either.

But, a rose by any other name, right? After all, they’re still the same band, no matter how they’re tagged, and it seems to me that what you choose to call them says a lot more about you, the listener, than it does about them.

And, if that’s the case, then it’ll be interesting to see exactly what this review says about me once I’ve done writing it.

Continue reading »

Jan 162022


This weekend hasn’t been conducive to my NCS plans. I didn’t have time yesterday morning to post a round-up of new songs and videos, only time enough to share some artwork and news. During Saturday afternoon I plowed through a lot of new tracks and videos that mostly surfaced over the last week, and found a whopping 23 of them that I enjoyed to varying degrees.

Obviously, that’s way too many to post about, even for an OVERFLOWING STREAMS type of round-up. Some sifting was required. But sifting takes time, and for reasons I won’t bore you with it turns out that free time has been in very short supply this weekend. What to do?

Well, what I decided to do was just to say Fuck It and foist all 23 of those songs and videos upon you, with almost no commentary about the music and not even the usual links and artwork, just a small amount of info about the releases that include them. Even with that approach I’m dubious that I’ll get everything ready to go before I have to depart my computer for the rest of the day. So I alphabetized everything by band name and cut the group into two parts.

Part 2 might come tomorrow instead of later today. Sadly, I won’t have time for a SHADES OF BLACK column, though there is some black metal sprinkled through this giant collection, along with music across a big range of other sub-genres. Continue reading »

Nov 202021

Dormant Ordeal


I didn’t completely neglect NCS during the 10 recent days when I was in Iceland. I did write some premieres, though not as many as usual, and I did regale readers with tales of my Ascension Fest adventures. What I did not do was pore through the several hundred emails that hit the NCS in-box every day, looking for new music that might be worth writing about, or searching for new tracks and videos through other usual sources.

And I spent almost no time actually listening to anything other than the sounds that bombarded me at the fest for four days and nights, not for lack of interest but because I forgot how little sitting-in-my-room-time-with-nothing-to-do I actually have at festivals, especially when every other day I had to make time for a covid test.

So here I am at the end of the first (partial) week following the return home from the land of fire and ice. The thought of trying to completely catch up with all the new songs and videos that surfaced since my vacation began two weeks ago is a ridiculous one, especially because a sister-in-law and brother-in-law are house-guests this weekend. I did a little trolling through the waters yesterday, and had saved a few links from before I left, and from that I still had too much to listen to this morning. I did the mental equivalent of throwing darts, and this is where they landed: Continue reading »

Jun 162021


We’re not paid by the word around here (we’re not paid anything around here). But if we were, I wouldn’t make enough from this post to buy a cheap beer. Being short on time today, I’ve resorted to what I seem to be doing with increasing frequency in these round-ups, i.e., just foisting music and videos on you without commentary, artwork, or links.

Rest assured, however, that I’m foisting the following songs and films for a reason — because I think they’re worth your time. Or at least some of them will be worth your time, while others might not be your genre-cup of tea. I don’t expect that everyone out there will be as small-c catholic in their tastes as I am.

I did have enough time to briefly summarize the release info for the records that include the music I’ve chosen — or, regarding the first item, the artwork I’ve chosen, because there’s no music yet from that album. Continue reading »

Oct 032017


(This is Andy Synn’s review of the new album by the French black metal band Celeste. The album was released on September 29 by Denovali Records.)

Whenever I write about an album I make a real effort to try and give it some sort of theme beyond the generic “this track is good, this track is fast, this track is slow” boilerplate which seems to make up so many of the homogenous and interchangeable reviews I read elsewhere.

For me it’s all about placing an album in context. Whether it’s talking about where an album sits in a band’s discography, how it compares to the rest of its genre, or the impact that line-up changes may (or may not) have had upon the writing, there are always ways to make a review more interesting to read (and to write).

Heck, in recent months I’ve used reviews to ruminate on the issue of “selling out” and the perception of Black Metal as a singular “monolith”, to ask questions about what it is that makes a band good/bad, and to rail against people who claim that there’s “just no good new music anymore.”

But even I’ll admit that sometimes it’s enough to just say “this album kicks ass” and leave it at that. Continue reading »