Nov 192022
 


Enslaved

It’s lamentable how little music I’ve written about today. Last night I engaged in an old tradition I’ve rarely observed since covid began marauding in March 2020, i.e., drinking in person with co-workers I usually see only on computer screens. I’m out of practice, and so forgot where the off-switch was, leading to… too damned much drinking.

On my ferry ride home I was thinking about how I would begin today’s column, knowing that I had about three-dozen links to new songs and videos I’d selected out of what I noticed over the last week, and knowing I’d never make it through all that. Fueled by whisky, I wrote this:

Imagine yourself seated across a table from a wizard, or rather what seems like a wavering mirage of a table, alternately expansive and as narrow as a rat’s tail. He buries his hands in a bowl of spiky glittering baubles and throws them at your face. Pleased with your wide eyes and the rivulets of blood coursing down your face, he chortles and beams. The pain and the exhilaration, now you feel alive!, he proclaims. And then black tentacles begin to sprout from his robes and writhe in your direction.

Reading that this morning through eyes almost pasted shut by the goo of sleep, I wonder how the hell that metaphor sprung to mind. The spiky baubles represented all the new songs and videos, I know that much, but the rest of it? The ways of whisky can be mysterious….

Anyway, I don’t feel so great this morning, and the day is rapidly flying by, so what follows is all I’ve been able to accomplish. Maybe these songs will leave you wide-eyed and bloodied. One can only hope. Continue reading »

Aug 282022
 

I had a lot of uninterrupted listening time over the last couple of days. For this column, that proved to be both a blessing and a curse — a blessing because it enabled me to wade through a broad swath of new music, a curse because what I found that I wanted to recommend after a lot of winnowing was still A LOT. So, today’s collection may test your endurance.

Coincidentally (or maybe not so coincidentally), there’s a lot of sheer dazzling madness in this collection. I tried to interweave some less insane but still gripping experiences, but it’s nevertheless likely that if you do make your way through everything here, your head will be spinning for a long time after. Today’s music also demonstrates why I called this column “Shades” of black, because there’s not much black metal orthodoxy here.

ENSLAVED (Norway)

I was dubious about the idea of starting the column with a new Enslaved song, because they’re rightfully famous and don’t need any help from us, and because I’ve not fallen in love with their more recent releases to the extent I did with earlier ones. But those doubts were in place before I listened to this new single. After hearing it I thought, how can I NOT begin with it? Continue reading »

Oct 032021
 

 

I’m playing catch-up, as usual. I had hoped to get this humongous round-up of new songs and videos (and one news item) posted yesterday, but the day didn’t work out as planned. Should you choose to go through everything (and you damned well should), it will take a while, because there are 15 items here, divided into two parts. And on top of that I still hope to pull together a SHADES OF BLACK post.

I’ve again alphabetized the selections by band name. There is singing to be found, especially in Part 2, as well as many candidates for my year-end list of Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. To get this done I’ve again limited my own verbiage to just brief scattered comments, without artwork and missing some of the usual pre-order links.

AQUILUS (Australia)

I don’t have any music to share for this first band, merely the long-awaited news (and yes, a 10-year gap between albums qualifies as “long-awaited”) that Horace Rosenqvist has a new Aquilus album named Bellum I set for release in early December by Blood Music. That’s so exciting that I thought it was worth including the news, which I usually never do when there’s no music yet. Also, the cover art by Julius von Klever is great. Continue reading »

Sep 272021
 

(Andy Synn takes some time out of his busy schedule to celebrate some short but sweet releases by a variety of big names and new faces)

One unfortunate result of the endless scramble to stay on top of the relentless torrent of new album releases is that the humble EP often gets a little overlooked.

Which, obviously, is a real shame, because a good EP can often be just as fulfilling as an album in its own way, especially when a band uses it as an opportunity to explore a different side of themselves or to create something that works within the constraints of the format to tell a complete and fully realised story.

So while I’m working on a number of different full-length reviews (as well as the next edition of The Synn Report) I thought I might as well take a few moments to jot down a few quick reviews for some of the EPs I’ve enjoyed the most over the course of the year so far.

Continue reading »

Aug 062021
 

 

Over the last few days my NCS comrades (well, mainly DGR) have been shoveling links at me for new songs and videos, in anticipation that I would put together a round-up by today — which is a Bandcamp Friday. Most of those links were for music by bigger-name bands. The thought was that I could also add more obscure names, and that the allure of the bigger names might help introduce the lesser-knowns to more fans.

The problem is that the pile of links has grown to gargantuan proportions, which has made it tougher for me to insert as many other discoveries as I might want and still write up some thoughts about everything. Ah well, there’s always tomorrow. Here’s the A-to-Z deluge I have for today, in alphabetical order.

ARCHSPIRE (Canada)

Prepare for relentless high-speed bludgeoning and crazed fretwork mania as a big rabid mastiff barks in your face at equally high speed. Exhilarating! Continue reading »

May 072021
 

 

The usual insanity of our in-box reached a fever pitch overnight, because it’s another Bandcamp Friday. That fever has been building all week in anticipation of the day, with the typical flood of new music reaching typhoon proportions. I’ve diverted some of that flood into this collection, a baker’s dozen of new songs and videos that range from the dreamy to the decimating, and includes both the re-surfacing of old gods and the emergence of promising new names – but without the usual artwork or my usual wordy reflections. Not everything is available on Bandcamp, but where it is available there, I’ve included links.

Mother’s Day is also on Sunday, but thankfully that doesn’t seem to have added to the torrent of releases. In catch-up mode, I’ll continue recommending more new music that day and on Saturday (if you don’t keep swimming, you drown). By the way, for those of you who don’t live in the U.S., “Mother’s Day” does not stand for Motherfucker’s Day, so most of you won’t have any reason to celebrate.

Continue reading »

Jan 042021
 

 

Well, here we go again: For the 12th straight year I present my list of the preceding year’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.

I’m going to dispense with repeating the operative definition of what I think makes a song “infectious”; if you’re encountering this series for the first time, go here to see that. But I will remind you what I do to compile the list, and why I currently have no idea how long it will be, or precisely when the rollout will end — which has been true in nearly every other year when I’ve done this. Continue reading »

Sep 252020
 

 

(In this post Andy Synn reviews three albums being released today or in the near future — by Deftones, Enslaved, and The Ocean.)

As anyone who’s been following this site for, ooh, more than five minutes, will know, we tend to aim our collective focus at the more underground and/or underappreciated albums and artists out there.

Not because we have to. Not because we think it makes us “cool” (trust me, we’re not cool). Not even because we’re trying to make some sort of point or big statement. It’s just because we want to, and because it’s generally more fun to write about these sorts of bands than it is to regurgitate the same generic platitudes you can see/read everywhere else about bands who already have more than enough exposure.

That being said, sometimes we like to turn our attention to some bigger game, and bigger names, because… well… because we feel like it, basically. Which is why you’re about to read my short, but sharp, take on three artists/albums who’ve already received a fair bit of praise elsewhere but whom I think deserve a slightly more critical (dare I even say, objective?) assessment.

Think of it as my attempt to restore some balance to the force, as it were. Continue reading »

May 242020
 

 

At the risk of overwhelming our visitors (a constant risk around here), I have again found so many new songs I’d like to recommend that I thought it best to divide today’s column into two parts, and will do my best not to become too verbose so that I have time to finish Part 2 in time to post it today — because Monday is going to be loaded with new things too.

ENSLAVED

I haven’t tried to find out how Enslaved’s new single is being received among fans and the metal press. I, for one, think it’s fantastic, and would rather not spoil the feeling by coming across some grim cur who’s sour about it. Not because I actually think anyone is entitled to be sour about it, but metalheads being metalheads, it’s inevitable. Continue reading »

Mar 262020
 

 

If you’re okay with this, I’m just going to continue pulling together big batches of new songs, with only brief introductions. Not that I would know one way or the other what you think. But please trust me — I’m not having to bend over backwards to find so many songs and videos to recommend. As it always is, even when I’m including more rather than less, you’re still seeing only a fraction of the new music that fires me up.

I did make one exception to my usual rule of not publishing news if it’s not accompanied by music, because Enslaved is always in a special category. After that, the bands are listed in alphabetical order. There are a couple of exceptions to another rule in here too.

ENSLAVED (Norway)

The news is that Enslaved have completed a new album named Utgard, but that they and their label Nuclear Blast have decided to postpone the release until the coming fall. The first single, and an accompanying video (filmed in Iceland), will be released on May 22nd. Continue reading »