Jan 182021



I’ve grouped together many of the preceding installments in this list (all of which you can find here) by various organizing principles that made sense to me. I don’t really have one for today’s Part of the list, other than the fact that both groups here are black metal bands and both make distinctive music, albeit in markedly different ways. One made a very big splash with their 2020 album, and the other is still beneath many people’s radar screens, though they deserve more attention (and maybe this post will help produce a bit more of that).


This Finnish band just keeps getting better and better. They were a worthy choice for one of The Synn Reports last year (here), in which Andy meticulously traced their growth over three albums into becoming “masters of a scintillating brand of Black Metal which fuses the epic extravagance of their countrymen in Moonsorrow with the swaggering, riff-centric approach of Immortal and the fearless melodic mettle of Bathory“, while also making the sound something they could rightly call their own. Continue reading »

Aug 312020


(For the August 2020 edition of The Synn Report, Andy Synn has decided to compile reviews of all the releases by the tremendously talented Finnish band Havukruunu, including their newest album released earlier this month by Naturmacht Productions.)

Recommended for fans of: Moonsorrow, Immortal, Vintersorg

Black Metal, as we all know, comes in many different forms.

Punky and primal, proggy and polished, feral and fierce, mighty and majestic… and all shades and shapes in between.

And for this month’s Synn Report it’s the latter style I’ve chosen to focus on, with this deep dive into the discography of formidable Finnish foursome Havukruunu.

Three albums into their career (the most recent of which was released earlier this month) the band have, effectively, become masters of a scintillating brand of Black Metal which fuses the epic extravagance of their countrymen in Moonsorrow with the swaggering, riff-centric approach of Immortal and the fearless melodic mettle of Bathory… although, as accurate (maybe even a little too obvious) as those references are, I’d say that Havukruunu have more than made this sound their own at this point.

So fill your cups, sharpen your blades, and ready yourselves to ride the blazing Northern skies as we take a journey through the band’s bountiful back catalogue. Continue reading »

Jul 072020


Those of us who form the core staff at NCS have recently been reconsidering lots of the things we do here and how we do them. To be more precise, much of the discussion has involved what I do here and how I do them. A lot of the discussion boils down to being more selective in what we publish, and more willing to publish fewer posts every day if that’s necessary to make greater scrutiny possible.

One likely outcome of those discussions is that I will accept fewer premieres. For a while now I’ve been writing two or more premieres every day. I only agree to premiere music that I like and that I think fits the musical focus of the site, but that still leads to lots of premieres. I admit that I have a hard time saying no. One consequence of so many premieres is that I have much less time to write about music that I find on my own, including round-ups of new music and stand-alone reviews of records that we’re not premiering.

Because I’ve put myself in the position of not being able to write round-ups as often as I’d like, the backlogs grow to gargantuan proportions. I resort to gigantic Overflowing Streams collections in an effort to work through the backlogs, but even that format (in which I cut back on my own verbiage) takes time to put together, and so I wind up not even publishing those kinds of collections more than once a week (if I can even manage that).

This process of discussion and self-reflection has led me to realize another problem I’ve created for myself. Continue reading »

Jan 232018

Oslo 05072017. Photo: Marius Viken


I guess it’s not a bad time to take stock of where we are in the rollout of this 2017 edition of our Most Infectious Song list, since this is the 10th Part. With the three songs I’m adding today, we’re up to a total of 32 tracks. I had planned to finish the list by the end of this month, so we can finally close the book on last year (or mostly close it) and focus our time more exclusively on the flood of new metal that’s been coming our way in 2018. If I follow through on that plan, it really just means I’ll be calling an arbitrary halt… because I’m still just figuring this out as I go along.

I suppose if I really feel that calling a dead halt on January 31 would leave too many gems behind, I might edge into February, but on the other hand, that could become a very slippery slope. I do have 8 days left in the month, and if I knock out an average of three tracks per day, I can make it to 56 songs… which would be about 20 fewer than usual for this series. We’ll see. Continue reading »

Apr 302017


If you scroll down the posts at our site that have appeared since Friday morning, it will be obvious that I’ve lost what was left of my mind. No sane person would test the patience of even the most devoted listener by throwing so many musical recommendations into the void in such a short space of days. I suppose I ought to give you at least a short break for recovery, and so instead of packing this Sunday’s edition of SHADES OF BLACK with everything I intended to recommend, I’m saving half of it for Monday.

The music in this post consists entirely of music that appeared over the last week, beginning with a new album that deserves a full review — which you’ll have to find elsewhere. What you’ll find here is a stream of the album and some pathetically brief but heartfelt praise. It comes from…


With their first album, Havulinnaan, Havukruunu proved very quickly that they were something special. Two years later, they have produced Kelle surut soi, which was released by Naturmacht Productions on April 29th (yesterday). Anyone who might have worried about a sophomore slump can perish those thoughts — they’ve managed to surmount a debut that was itself spectacular. Continue reading »

Apr 092017


Greetings again from Seattle, where the sun has chosen to shine on this Sunday. Nevertheless, I will again try to help darken the sabbath with a selection of new black metal that I hope you will find pleasing. All of this has certainly pleased me.


I hadn’t been awake for long this morning when I learned (thank you Conor!) that Naturmacht Productions had revealed the first taste of music from the new album by Finland’s Havukruunu — an album I have been very eagerly awaiting.

The song is brilliant, and so at the last minute I’ve added it to this post in a prominent position. I’m now especially anxious to explore the rest of the album, which it seems I now have in my clutches. Something will have to yield to it today… perhaps food, bathroom breaks, interaction with my spouse… one must establish the correct priorities. Continue reading »

Apr 032016

Gjendød-Demo 2016


This is Part 1 of a collection of very good new music in the orbit of black metal that I encountered over the last week. Once again, I found a lot to like — so much that I decided to divide the collection into two parts — but I hope you’ll find time to at least sample the music from each band; only two of them have previously been covered at this site. I’ve arranged the music in alphabetical order by band name, continuing into Part 2 later today.


Apart from the music in the two songs embedded below, the only thing I know about Gjendød is that the band is from Norway and that sometime “soon” the Polish label Hellthrasher Productions intends to release what appears to be the band’s first demo on CD.

The songs you can now stream are two of the four listed on the Bandcamp player for the demo — “Evig svart røyk” and “Menneskeavl”. If we could plug the energy of these songs into electrical grids, we could decommission vast numbers of power plants — though we wouldn’t do much to reduce global warming, because these tracks are hot as hell. Continue reading »

Dec 282015

Altars of Grief Side B


Welcome to Part 5 of our list of Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs for this year, as selected by me and only me from the massive list of candidates received from numerous sources, as well as my own notes haphazardly created as the year rolled along. To learn about the selection criteria and to discover the songs that have already been named to the list, go HERE.

For each of the first four installments in this series I included three songs, grouped together because they seemed to go well together. And I’ve done the same thing with this installment, though beginning tomorrow I plan to drop down to two songs per post.


In June we had the pleasure of premiering for you a fantastic track named “In Dying Light” by the Canadian band Altars of Grief. It appeared on a split release entitled Of Ash and Dying Light that also included excellent tracks by the band Nachtterror. I’ve been a huge fan of the song ever since and never had any doubt about including it on this list. Continue reading »

Sep 302015

Vastum-Hole Below


Once again I find myself awash in new songs that I’ve discovered since the end of last week, but without enough time to write about all of them. To avoid a paralyzing indecisiveness about which ones to select for this round-up, I taped a list of them to the wall, threw my head against the edge of a table to cause a bleeding scalp wound, spun around in circles like a dervish, and then checked the list to see which names had been hit with blood spray. I’m probably going to work on a different selection method in the future.


Two days ago we got a preview of the new album by Vastum courtesy of a premiere at DECIBEL. This is the band’s third album, bearing the title Hole Below, and I’m very, very eager to hear all of it — especially after listening to “Sodomitic Malevolence”.

Holy mother of calamities, is this song creepy and crushing — it sounds like a torture chamber engulfed in an earthquake. During a hurricane. While an eclipse is blotting out the sun. And when the song eventually begins to really roll, the riffs will snap your neck — and there’s a guitar solo that will sear the skin off your face. Continue reading »