Feb 262024

(Andy Synn gets his teeth into the new album from Darkest Hour, out now on MNRK Heavy)

Darkest Hour have been one of my favourite bands for… well, if you want a clue as to just how long, the shop where I bought my first copy of So Sedated, So Secure as a kid has been closed for about twenty years.

Which either makes me the worst possible person to review their new album due to my obvious bias… or the best, since I know exactly what they’re capable of and am therefore best prepared to judge them accordingly.

Let’s hope it’s the latter, shall we?

Continue reading »

Feb 052018

(This is the second part of a new-music round-up compiled by DGR. You can find Part 1 at this location.)


The Kennedy Veil – Bloodletting North America Full Set Live

We ended the first part of this collection with a live music video from Rotting Christ, and speaking of live shows, let’s check in with a Sacramento death metal crew who also wound up with a recorded live show in 2017. This one is courtesy of The Kennedy Veil, whose label Unique Leader recently uploaded the twenty-some-odd-minute full set from when the band were on opening tour duties for the tech-death-packed Bloodletting North America tour, which saw them playing alongside the likes of Origin, Archspire, Dyscarnate, and Defeated Sanity. Continue reading »

Feb 242017


(Here’s Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Darkest Hour.)

Now Darkest Hour’s last album was… how do I put this delicately… a big fat disappointment.

Anodyne and formulaic to a fault, it sounded less like the thrashing melodeath maniacs we’d all come to know and love, and more like a band trying desperately to streamline and sanitise their sound in pursuit of some (arguably long overdue) crossover success.

Heck, the band pretty well said as much in interviews at the time, citing their disappointment at seeing so many of their peers garnering a tonne of mainstream (by Metal standards, at least) attention and commercial success, while they were still struggling for their “big break”, as one of the driving factors behind their shift towards a more generic, Metalcore-friendly sound on their (ultimately sub-par) self-titled endeavour.

But it takes a big man (or, in this case, a big band) to admit when they’ve made a mistake. And, although it may not say so in so many words, Godless Prophets… is not only a heartfelt mea culpa from the DC destroyers, but also just happens to be their heaviest, angriest album since Hiddens Hands… Continue reading »

Feb 112016

“Progress” by Agostino Arrivabene

(Andy Synn has been thinking… and now shares his thoughts in defense of the phenomenon of crowdfunding.)

I’m often surprised, and yet not surprised at all, at the amount of ire and controversy that surrounds the issue of crowdfunding.

On the one hand it’s seen as a way for bands to engage more directly with their audiences, to cut out the middleman, and get their music directly into the hands of their audience (whilst also, hopefully, cutting down on the oft-crippling levels of debt they would otherwise accumulate).

Yet on the other hand barely a month goes by without someone – whether an older band feeling crotchety, or a newer band trying to establish their “punk” credentials – getting their underwear in a twist over the issue, calling it “pathetic”, or equating it with “begging”, while stating that “real” bands like them never had to do that (simultaneously bolstering their own perceived credibility in the process, whilst also ignoring the hundreds and hundreds of “real” bands who take out loans from banks or friends or family in order to fund their music).

Still, I can see where both sides are coming from (to an extent anyway), even if I don’t necessarily agree with where they end up. Continue reading »

Jul 262015

Tomoya Matsuura-1


Hail and hell to all you lovely readers out there, and profuse apologies for letting a full three months go by without preparing one of these THAT’S METAL! posts. I have felt your pain and frustration through the ether, and the guilt and self-loathing that have accumulated in my head are almost too much to bear. Fortunately, there has been whiskey to comfort me in my time of need, which may also have something to do with why three months have passed without a THAT’S METAL! post. I think that’s what they call a “vicious circle”.

Anyway, in case you’ve forgotten in the mists of time what these posts are about, I collect images, videos, and news items that I think are metal, even though they’re not metal music. I have 10 items for you today.


I have my friend MaxR (Metal Bandcamp) to thank for this first item, which consists of a series of photographs taken by Tomoya Matsuura that he has entitled “Withered Plant“. Using a Scanning Electron Microscope, he photographed tiny plants in death, capturing their decay in exquisitely fine detail. One of them is above, and a few others are after the jump.

As I recall Max pointing out, many of these would make fine cover art for black metal or doom albums.  You know, in case Satan is too busy to pose for more portraits. Continue reading »

Jul 182014

I’m getting a slow blog start today. Yesterday I traveled with a friend to Oshkosh, Wisconsin (my friend actually grew up in Oshkosh), in order to attend the Gilead Fest, which starts tonight and runs through the weekend. We got in late and stayed up later, eating dinner and drinking Wisconsin brews, and I slept in.

When people asked what we were doing in town (as many did), we told them we were here for a metal festival, and they all said, “Oh,  Rock USA”. Turns out that festival began Wednesday and runs through Saturday and it’s here is Oshkosh, too. With Slayer and Rob Zombie and Korn and Five Finger Death Punch and… no, we’re not here for that thing. But it is a weird fuckin’ coincidence and explains why we had some trouble finding a hotel or motel with vacancies.

Anyway, I’m getting a slow start on the blog day. So I’m just going to throw some things at you that I came across as I was waking up. Starting with this highly unexpected piece of music from Darkest Hour: “By the Starlight”. Continue reading »

Jun 272014

Okay, maybe you’ll believe that Darkest Hour and Abigail Williams are making new albums. And I don’t actually know of any scientists who said they couldn’t do it. I mean, it’s not as if these new albums are going to open wormholes that tunnel to distant galaxies — but it could happen! They could also include 5 weight loss tricks guaranteed to give you six-pack abs while you sleep!

I hate click bait with a fury hotter than the flames of hell, but I’m getting kind of bored with those “Seen and Heard” headlines. Anyway, here’s the news and snippets of music.


Yes, Darkest Hour have indeed finished recording a new album, just in time for them to hit the road on the Mayhem Festival tour, where they will be joining Cannibal Corpse, Wretched, Erimha, Body Count, and some other bands (and in what world do Emmure and Korn get higher billing than Darkest Hour and Wretched?).

Yesterday DH posted a snippet of music on a site called FuckWaitingAroundToDie. It’s all of 18 seconds long. It sounds scorching. Continue reading »

Sep 062012

(Our UK-based writer Andy Synn made the trek to Germany for this year’s edition of the SUMMER BREEZE festival, and provided us with a review of the bands whose performances he witnessed.  We’ve divided the review into two parts. In this post, Andy covers the festival’s first two days, and tomorrow we’ll have his impressions of Day 3. We’ve also collected videos of many of the performances at the end of the post.)

So… German festivals go Thursday – Saturday, not Friday – Sunday… who knew? Well apparently everyone else in the world except for us, when we booked an overnight stay in Cologne on the Wednesday night! Still, Cologne was awesome, and only a mere four hours drive away…

Anyway, on reaching the site (after a desperate last minute rush to the petrol station – seriously, make sure you fill up before you reach the Dinkelsbuhl exit guys and gals!) we joined a surprising, infuriating, queue of cars, followed by an interminable security check… time was ticking away and Be’lakor (one of my primary reasons for going to the festival) would soon be taking the stage! So with some slightly rushed stunt driving (I’m pretty certain I went down that grass verge as much sideways as I did forwards) and a breathless scramble… we made it. Just.


Justifying our desperate, occasionally slightly risky, efforts to get to the festival on time, Be’lakor were undeniably awesome. Live, the Agallochian overtones of the music come through a lot more, a melding of misty melancholy with swells of oceanic heaviness giving the band a more distinctive and individual live presence. The group’s image is a little difficult to reconcile with the music though, encompassing a host of short haircuts, laid-back Australian accents, and inappropriate t-shirts! Shame on you guys!

The next band I was dying to see also happened to be one of my favourites, my loyalty to Darkest Hour forcing me to choose them in an unfortunate clash with Glorior Belli. And though it pained me to do so, I’m glad I did. Darkest Hour never disappoint, their punky, hyper-energetic take on melodic death metal fitting perfectly with the blazing sunshine and free-wheeling atmosphere of the festival. Plus, I was still yet to see them live with either the new material or the new line-up, and both absolutely killed it live. Continue reading »

Jul 112012

(You can probably tell from the spelling in the post title that our UK-based writer Andy Synn is responsible for this post.  What do you think of Andy’s picks?  What are your favorite solos?  Leave comments!)

Greetings true-believers! Ok, so after the review-fest of “Unofficial UK Week” last week (which I swear, wasn’t intentionally timed to coincide with Independence Day) I’m easing up a bit this week. I should have a review of a truly badass new album by a certain Norwegian band for you in the next few days, and I’m slowly working on another Synn Report and a longer column or two for next week, but for now I thought I’d drop the inaugural column in what I hope to be a semi-regular series highlighting “5 of my Favourite…” things.

Today I’ve chosen to pick out 5 (ok, 6 actually, but I refuse to change the title) of my favourite guitar solos. Not of all time exactly, just five that came to mind when I was doing some random listening recently. Future iterations of the column, if it proves a success, will feature other random “5’s” in whatever order they happen to occur to me.

Enslaved – “Ground”

First off we have the defining solo in “Ground” by Enslaved. It’s a well-known fact that Ice Dale is a true guitar god, managing to rock both a killer solo and a series of iconic rock poses with a shirtless flourish. I’d swear he was the black metal reincarnation of Jimmy Page, if not for the fact that Page isn’t dead yet. Continue reading »

Jan 022012

This is Part 8 of our list of the most infectious extreme metal songs released this year. Each day until the list is finished, I’m posting two songs that made the cut. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the Introduction via this link. To see the selections that preceded this one, click the Category link on the right side of the page called MOST INFECTIOUS SONGS-2011.


Last February some impulse made me stop in my web browsing and watch a music video from a Danish thrash band called Essence. I gritted my teeth before pressing “play” because I tend to get bored by most thrash metal, both old and new. But the song turned out to be different from what I was expecting, and not just different but really good — thrash with some unusual and original ingredients in the mix, including traditional heavy metal influences.

The video was for a song called “Blood Culture” off the band’s debut album, Lost In Violence, which was released on February 25 via Belgium’s Ultimhate Records. As I wrote in an enthusiastic post about the video, what initially stopped me from hitting the “stop” button was the extended bass intro — a very cool piece of lower-register slap-and-tap flash that got my head nodding as it gained and then lost speed. At about 1:25, the song proper starts, and it’s built around some speedy, immensely catchy riffs — two main ones that, standing alone, would have been quite satisfying but when joined together elevated this song to a high level of infectiousness.

The vocals are also great (and thrash vocals are part of what usually turn me off about the genre), but what really seals the deal is what happens beginning at the 4:20 mark. Continue reading »