Feb 162023

(Andy Synn turns his attention once more to long-time NCS favourites Hexer)

To say that Hexer have been on a journey over the course of their career might be considered a cliché, but it would be true all the same.

Beginning with the otherworldly aura of their debut album, the aptly-named Cosmic Doom Ritual, the band then turned their eyes towards the psychic mindscape with the hallucinatory Realm of the Feathered Serpent, and now – on album number three – they’ve shifted the focus of their gaze towards the depths of the abyss.

So let’s see what might be gazing back, shall we?

Continue reading »

Oct 222020


(Although Andy Synn hasn’t completely recovered from his recent debilitating injury, he’s well enough to continue forging ahead with reviews, and brings us three more today.)

Continuing with my Sisyphean task of attempting to cover each and every album which I don’t think has received enough attention or acclaim over the past several weeks and months, today I’m both pleased and proud to present the Progressive Death Metal delights of Cellar Vessel, the crushing Cosmic Doom of Hexer, and the alchemical Black Metal assault of Skáphe. Continue reading »

Apr 212017


(Andy Synn returns with another trio of reviews for new albums by German bands, this time focusing on releases by Fäulnis, Hexer, and Maat.)


I’m in a bit of a rush, so today’s preamble is going to be short, sweet, and snappy.

Go buy these albums.



No matter how you like your Black Metal – sullen and groovy, panzerblasty, totally hi-tech or utterly low-fi – there’s always going to be something new out there for you to discover. Whether it’s a fresh face or an established underground underdog, the sheer wealth of talent and torment on offer in the scene today is unsurpassed. Continue reading »

Jul 202014

artwork by Bryan Proteau

Part 1 of this report is here; Part 3 is here.

I thought the first day of the Gilead Fest in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was a blast, but holy shit, yesterday’s performances were off the charts. By “holy shit” I mean that shit before which you prostrate yourself and utter miserable prayers of thanks. And by “off the charts”, I mean dismembering, skull-splintering, bowel-perforating, synapse-severing, and occasionally entrancing.

The weather here in Oshkosh remains gorgeous.  In between sets, the lure of the outdoors was irresistible (and would have been even if the lure of nicotine and tar hadn’t been part of the equation). Even during the sets, a soft breeze flowed through the windows of The Lady’s Parlor across the hall from the ballroom where the bands were performing, and it wafted through the open doors into that space like a balm from… Gilead.

The sunny disposition of the crowd continues to match that of the weather. It’s a chill group, like a reunion of old friends, even when the old friends had never met each other before. I had almost as much fun talking to people I’d only known over the internet before this weekend (including Adam Bartlett of Gilead Media, who made this whole wonderful thing happen) or had never met before, even over the ether, as I did listening to the music. And the event itself continues to run smoothly, like the well-oiled gears of a vast noise-making machine. Continue reading »

Feb 112014

Here we have the 26th Part of our list of 2013′s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the three songs I’m announcing today, click here.

Three parts left after today, and then I’ll be done. In this part I’ve collected three songs that you could fit under the heading of black thrash. They’re fast, they’re corrosive, and they’re hot as hell.


A certain kind of purist will object to my selection of this next song by Philadelphia’s Hexer. It comes from a self-titled album released by Gilead Media in 2013, but that album was a remastered re-packaging of two EPs that the band originally distributed on cassette in 2011. But I found the song on the album and that’s good enough for me.

For a complete discourse on the infernal joys of Hexer, plus an album stream, you can visit my review at this location. In a nutshell, it’s a romping blast of hellfire and brimstone, with the kind of riff mastery that will cause foaming at the mouth. Fans of black thrash should not miss it.  Continue reading »

Sep 272013

I have a bad habit of yawning by the time I reach the second or third track of most recent thrash releases. Unlike many seasoned metalheads I know, I didn’t grow up on the old gods of thrash, I do not worship at the altar of Slayer or Metallica, and though I’ve explored the field after getting into metal through other pathways, my tolerance for the genre remains limited. I enjoy an ass-burning riff as much as the next person, but the idea of writing songs that sound different from each other seems to be a foreign concept to many current-generation thrash bands, and I’ve always had trouble appreciating the “classic” thrash vocal style.

But what I’ve discovered in recent years is that I didn’t dig deep enough into the darker corners of thrash before convincing myself that it would always fall low on my own list of genre preferences. What I’ve discovered is a strain of thrash that ignites a fever in the blood. What I’m talking about is the infection of black metal within the thrash blood stream. It’s not a recent scourge — the disease sprang to virulent life long ago — but I’ve only discovered its appeal recently. The self-titled debut album of Philadelphia’s Hexer is a very fine recent example of that virus.

This new album is not entirely new. It collects six songs from two 2011 EPs that the band distributed locally on cassette, but they’re now getting a remastered, professionally packaged vinyl/digital release by the reliable Gilead Media label. And the 36 minutes of music the album contains are anything but dull: Hexer is a romping blast of hellfire and brimstone, with the kind of riff mastery that will cause foaming at the mouth.

Continue reading »