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 »

Jul 282018


(Andy Synn’s guest in this week’s edition of WAXING LYRICAL is vocalist/guitarist Cody Daniels of the Texas band Giant of the Mountain.)

Texas metalloids Giant of the Mountain have been a band we’ve followed here at NCS for quite some time, and our very own DGR recently reviewed their latest (and probably best) album, Nature’s Wrath, describing it as a complex and creative piece of Prog/Black Metal that “takes on a hypnotic quality as it traverses down the multitude of twisting and winding paths within each song”.

So I thought, why not keep the coverage and momentum going by getting the band’s guitarist/vocalist Cody Daniels to sit down for a few moments and pen us some thoughts on his lyrical process, his love of hooks, and the important contributions of H.P. Lovecraft and Spongebob Squarepants to the band’s conceptual evolution? Continue reading »

Jul 232018


(DGR delivered a tome of reviews so massive that we decided to serialize it throughout the week so as to avoid fracturing your spine beneath its weight.)

On occasion we find ourselves backlogged with albums that we want to write about but seem never able to find the time to do so. Sometimes this results in multiple review ideas getting tossed and never revisited,  and at other times you get posts like this one as we deseperately try to hammer out a whole bunch of reviews about EVERYTHING that we’ve been listening to.

Our own Andy Synn is particularly good at this, I, however, am not. Thus, in an effort to clean up the 11 different text files I had sitting on my desktop of half-written reviews seemingly going nowhere before I got distracted by the next thing that would wind up half-written before I made a vain effort to go back to an earlier review in order to finish that up, we find ourselves with a collection of shorter and sweeter reviews. I’ll still attempt to deep dive on the discs, but overall this is just a collection of every awesome thing I’ve been listening to that we haven’t taken the time to fully discuss yet.

In this case that means 13 different releases (rather than 11), unsorted by genre and from all varying walks of all things heavy. So, with the floodgates now fully open, let us wade forth into the rushing waters of heavy metal to recommend some stuff that perhaps might have flown by you. Continue reading »

Dec 092016

NCS The Best of 2016 graphic


(So far, our LISTMANIA series has mostly been devoted to year-end lists from other sites and print zines, but today we begin rolling out our own lists. As has become customary, we start with the first of six year-end lists that Andy Synn is preparing. Every day next week we’ll post his remaining five — along with other staff and guest lists.)

Somehow another year seems to have passed by, which means it’s almost time for my annual, week-long round-up of the year’s best and brightest (and most disappointing) releases.

For those of you unaware of how this whole thing works, I split my assessment of the year into three categories initially:

The “Great” albums, the ones which I honestly consider the true cream of this year’s crop, regardless of fame, fortune, or style.

The “Good” albums, which vary between solid (but not necessarily stunning) morsels of metallic goodness and those which (arguably) come within a hair’s breadth of greatness.

And the “Disappointing” albums of the year, the albums which, while not necessarily bad, I feel don’t live up to the standards which the band(s) have set for themselves, or which their listeners have come to expect.

Then, finally, I put together my two Top Ten lists. The “Critical Top Ten”, where I try to be as objective as possible in selecting ten of the year’s finest albums to serve as a representative sample of the best which 2016 has to offer, and my “Personal Top Ten”, which are simply the ten albums which have tickled my fancy the most over the past twelve months.

But first, how about we have a little round-up of some of the best EPs of the year? Continue reading »

Feb 262014

Although the dreaded day job is impinging on my precious blog time for the next couple of days, I did have time last night and this morning for a fast breaststroke through the fetid waters of the interhole and the NCS inbox. When I came up for air, I had managed to snag some items of interest — so many, in fact, that I’ve divided them into two posts, this one being the first.


According to a press release from Season of Mist, Misery Index (above) have finished recording their fifth album, which will be named The Killing Gods. It was recorded at Visceral Sound Studios with Scott Hull (Pig Destroyer). It will be released on May 27 in NorthAm (May 23 everywhere else, because… I don’t know why everywhere else gets it sooner). The album art has been finished, but it’s not yet available for public consumption.

“Highly anticipated” — I think that’s the appropriate cliched label for this album. In other words, I am high with anticipation. And anyone else who’s a fan of grindcore and/or death metal ought to be, too. Let’s have a little taste from their last studio album, shall we? Continue reading »

Aug 212012

It’s so damned nice to hear a relatively new band you like move from strength to strength from one release to the next, and Giant of the Mountain have done that. Their new release, Valley of the Rogue, is their best work yet, but it’s more than that. It’s an unusual and unusually good song that should open a forest of eyes.

Yes, the new release by this Texas two-piece is one song — but it’s also a nearly 20-minute long song. Although I haven’t done any scientific surveying, I’d guess that the idea of a 20-minute long song produces more groans than squeals of anticipation among most metal-lovers. And, no doubt, it takes some grapefruit-sized cojones (and ovaries) to attempt something of that magnitude. There are certainly far easier ways to go, especially if you haven’t yet so firmly embedded your place in metal history that you can do whatever the fuck you wish.

But I’m here to tell you that Giant of the Mountain have pulled it off. I suppose that a talented musician could go back through this song and syphon off riffs and motifs and figure out some way to convert it into multiple songs, but this really sounds like a work that was conceived – and works extremely well — as a unitary experience. It isn’t cleanly divided into movements, and it occupies its length naturally. It’s one fascinating head-rush of music, a chaotic symphony of the damned. Continue reading »

Jan 222011

A month has passed since we ran our last MISCELLANY post. A month between these posts is way too long. With that kind of lag, we’re even more behind in checking out new bands. We may have to run a bunch of these posts next week in an effort to catch up.

For any new readers out there, here’s the drill: NCS keeps a running list of bands who look interesting based on band e-mails or MySpace friend requests, reader recommendations, press releases, or news blurbs, and then every so often I pick a few names off the list and go listen to a song (or sometimes two). In these MISCELLANY posts, I write about what I heard and give you a chance to listen, too.

Because we don’t know the music in advance, there’s no guarantee about the results, but we’ve had good luck in the past.  For today’s installment in this series, I listened to music from Achren (Scotland) and Giant of the Mountain (The Republic of Texas) — and was blown away by both. (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »