Feb 052016
 

NCS Best of 2015 graphic

 

(Year-end lists… you just can’t kill em’. But Andy Synn has made a habit of crowning our annual LISTMANIA series with one final offering — his selection of the last year’s top songs — and this year is no different.)

Did you REALLY think I was done with lists? Are you really that naive? Oh, how foolish are those who are most willing to be.. umm… fooled. Or something.

Yes, it’s no secret I enjoy making lists, and as such have a particular fondness for the end-of-year period here at NCS, not just because it lets me indulge my numero-erotic list-making proclivities in full (and in public, no less) but also because I sincerely enjoy reading and debating all the other lists we publish and reference and, in the process, discovering bands I’d otherwise overlooked.

The hardest list to pull together though is the list of my favourite songs of the year. Not because of any hard-fought pretence of objectivity (there’s none of that here), but because there’s simply so many options to choose from, with my initial list coming in at well over 100 entries, each drawn from albums across the length and breadth of my Great/Good/Disappointing lists of last year.

But, finally… finally… I managed to whittle it down to the ten selections you’re about to encounter.

I’m not suggesting these are the definitive “Best” songs of the year by any means, they’re just ten tracks which have burrowed their way under my skin and into my brain the deepest.

So, without further ado… Continue reading »

Dec 032015
 

Martriden-Cold and the Silence

 

(Andy Synn reviews the first album by Martriden in almost six years, which unexpectedly appeared on Bandcamp earlier this week.)

So formerly Montana-based and now Denver-based Progressive Black Metallers Martriden decided to go the Krallice route with the release of their latest album, and drop it onto Bandcamp earlier this week with little to no fanfare preceding its appearance. Thankfully for all of you, I’m a huge (borderline obese) fan of this band, so the second I spotted the message about its release I dived on it as if it were a live grenade/puppy and have been listening to it almost non-stop ever since.

What I’ve found, however, is that, for whatever reason, this is actually a pretty hard album to review. For me, anyway. I’ve written, deleted, and rewritten so many paragraphs about each track and then scrapped them totally so many times now that the version you’re currently reading bears little to no resemblance to what I originally intended when I first set out to form my thoughts into (semi)coherent sentences. Continue reading »

Nov 192013
 

(In this post, Andy Synn provides updates about five bands who have been the subject of past SYNN REPORTS (and one “proto Synn Report”): Martriden, Astarte, Anata, V.A.S.T., and Persefone.)

Wow, it’s been almost two months since the last edition of The Synn Report! Where does the time go?

In the intervening time I’ve been very busy, both with work, band stuff, and my personal life (yes, I do have one outside the site… erm, kind of…), and simply haven’t had chance to settle down and get to work on things in the more in-depth way that The Synn Report requires of me!

Don’t worry though, a new edition, with an all-new band, is on its way. In the meantime, I thought we might as well check in with a few updates from those bands we’ve featured here in the past. Continue reading »

Dec 052012
 

(NCS writer Andy Synn pauses after the 30th installment of THE SYNN REPORT to take a look back at the first two years of the series.)

Ok, so we’ve now had 30 ‘official’ entries in The Synn Report. I hope that a good number of you have discovered new bands and gone out and shown your support for them, buying music, merch, gig tickets, etc.

I thought, since the year (and the world!!!) is coming to an end, it might be a good time to provide a quick one-stop summation of all the previous entries, for those of you who maybe missed a couple, or for new devotees of the site who have yet to encounter the earlier editions and the bands contained therein.

Did you know that the genesis for The Synn Report was not entirely down to me? There’s a post that I consider ‘The Synn Report: Year Zero” which was written by Islander himself, in response to my recommendation of a particular band. That post is included here, as I think it’s an important foundation stone in the genesis of The Synn Report, and because I think the band in question are utterly phenomenal.

So there we go, after the jump there’s a tiny entry on each band from each edition of The Synn Report, with a short genre description and a re-iteration of the “Recommended for fans of:” section. Which ones did you miss? Which ones should you give another shot to? Click each one to be linked to the appropriate article, where you’ll find the full write-ups and sample songs from each release! Continue reading »

Jun 082012
 

(Here’s a bit of news from Andy Synn about two bands we’ve praised at NCS in the past.)

While I am beavering away on another full edition of The Synn Report (and also endeavouring to tweak the format a bit to find a balance between the original form and what it has become since it was started) I thought I’d drop you all another update on 2 bands, one a former Synn Report alumnus, the other a proto-Synn Report band whose write-up on NCS not only inspired me to start the column, but is also partially responsible for getting me the gig in the first place.

BENEA REACH

Norway’s Benea Reach, a band of whom I expect huge things in the upcoming years, have a new album (Possession) all but ready to be released and have put together a track sampler over on their Soundcloud page. Consecrated disciples of the Cult of Luna, their new album promises to be a collection of proggy atmospherics, oceanic post-Meshuggah dynamics, and raging, hardcore-derived belligerence. Just what the doctor ordered.


Continue reading »

Jul 072011
 

OK, time to court some (albeit minor) controversy. To compare and contrast with the “Wintermoon Wednesday” piece on post-millennial black metal by Tr00 Nate (unseen at the time of this writing) over at TheNumberOfTheBlog, I’ve decided to list my own picks for the prize.

I’ve left out the obvious choices, so no Satyricon or 1349 – even though the former have transformed themselves post-2000 very successfully, courting both success and controversy in equal measure, while the latter have pushed their hyper-blast style beyond the breaking point, only to discover a new lease on life through their exploration of gnarled, twisted atmospherics.

No Rotting Christ? Or Samael? Nope. I love both of them, but they both had long pre-millennial careers and spent much of the post-2000 stage of their careers exploring less focussed, less black metal sounds — although both have recently released masterful examples of their own focussed and distinctive brands of black metal.

I have left out records which are perhaps less “purely” black metal — records for which a strong case can be put forward that they belong more as “blackened” examples of another genre — so there’s no place for Altar Of Plagues or Withered, both great bands in their own right. No Akercocke either, the sheer weight of their crushing death metal heft disqualifying them for this list.

I have also by choice left out artists/albums I have covered recently. Therefore, no Iskald (though The Sun I Carried Alone IS one of the best black metal albums of the last ten years), or Elite (see HERE for my thoughts) or The Axis Of Perdition (HERE), even though I’d argue that each of them has at least one example under their belt of near perfect post-millennial black metal.

So who have I chosen? Well look upon my choices dear reader, and despair… Continue reading »

May 262010
 

Sometimes when we listen to metal, we just want to get mentally pulverized. Sometimes we want to get lost in something sweepingly complex that requires serious attention. Sometimes we want to be transported by something that’s beautiful as well as powerful.

Rarely, we find music that accomplishes all those objectives at once. Martriden‘s latest album Encounter the Monolith pulls off that hat trick.

One of our faithful readers (the always astute Andy Synn) recommended Martriden to us, and man are we glad he did.

This music (released in February) puts us in mind of a Pacific storm surge assaulting a rocky coastline. Waves of “symphonic” black metal crash with explosive force against jagged stone (as at the outset of “The Three Metamorphoses”), and then the wave-front recedes in passages of relative calm, and the band shifts into prog-metal instrumentals reminiscent of Opeth.

The intensity builds again to full force as storm clouds roll inexorably overhead, heavy rain batters down (with Meshuggah-like pummeling, as on “Heywood R. Floyd”) and megatons of power explode with brute force.

And then at times, as in the beginning and middle of “Death and Transfiguration,” and unexpectedly in other songs, we can imagine the storm passing and glorious rays of sunshine piercing the clouds, when quiet instrumental passages take over or clean guitar leads emerge with soaring melodies.  (more effusiveness follows after the jump, plus a song to stream . . .) Continue reading »