Jan 122017


I know it’s damned late in the day for another post — probably past bed-time for some of our readers across the Atlantic — but I’ll be damned if I let another day go by without resuming the rollout of this Most Infectious Song series. This train must keep on rolling! (If you’d like to see the songs that preceded these three or learn what we mean by “most infectious”, go here.)

I continue to have fun picking combinations of songs for each installment. The three songs in this one are musically quite distinct, although all of them display phenomenal musicianship, but they do have a few things in common. Perhaps the most obvious one is a fascination with SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE….


I assume I don’t need to provide much of an introduction to the new Mithras album, On Strange Loops. Nevertheless, I assume I’d have to pay some wretched price if I mentioned Mithras without quoting from my friend Andy Synn’s review, so here goes: Continue reading »

Dec 152016



(Andy Synn’s week-long series of year-end lists continues with his personal list of The Critical Top Ten for 2016. Click these links to see his lists of the year’s Great Albums, the Good Albums, and the Disappointments.)

For those of you unfamiliar with how this works, I always wind-up my week-long retrospective with two lists, the “Critical Top Ten” and the “Personal Top Ten”.

Now the second one is probably pretty self-explanatory, in that it’s just a list of the ten albums I’ve loved, lived with, and listened to the most this year. It’s really just a snapshot of my personal listening habits/tastes over the last twelve months.

The idea behind this one possible needs some explaining though.

You see the “Critical Top Ten” is where I try (as best I can) to remove my own personal biases and downplay any favouritism and instead attempt to name the ten albums (unranked) which I feel honestly represent the best of the best from the last year in Metal. Continue reading »

Nov 082016



(Our man in the UK, Andy Synn, attended Damnation Festival 2016 in Leeds on November 5, and provides this report along with videos he made.)

Oh Damnation Festival how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Whereas too many other events seem content to book the same big-name crowd-pleasers, year in and year out, buttressed by an interchangeable selection of generic sound-alikes and contrived gimmicks – all carefully selected purely for their mundane mass-appeal – the Damnation team seem to operate on an unwavering ethos of only booking the bands they truly like, bands (big and small) that they truly believe in, who have something unique or special to offer.

This is how every edition of the festival features an array of bands from multiple different styles, from Death to Prog to Doom to Hardcore to Sludge (and beyond), from across the length and breadth of the underground Metal scene coexisting under one roof and why, over the years, Damnation has seen everyone from Ahab to Asphyx, Carcass to Katatonia, Mono to My Dying Bride, playing to the sort of packed crowds that are a regular occurrence in Europe, but which only rarely seem to be achievable here in the UK.

This helps make Damnation Festival’s line-up a much more interesting affair than many of their peers, as the organisers seem to operate on the principal of “if you build it, they will come”, putting their faith in the belief that the UK scene doesn’t just want to be fed the same old bands and the same old performances, time and time again. And this year was no different, with a wide variety of different acts, of different styles, on display, coupled with a bunch of exclusive performances which practically justified the ticket price on their own! Continue reading »

Nov 032016



(Andy Synn reviews the performances of Mithras and Rannoch in London on October 31, 2016, and includes some of the videos he made.)

One of my favourite things about being in a band (though, to be fair, there are lots of things I love about it) is the chance it affords me to play shows with bands that I love. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to go out on tour with bands like The Monolith Deathcult and Becoming The Archetype, and perform alongside such stupendous acts as Darkane, Abigail Williams, and Skeletonwitch (to name but a few).

And the thing is, although I still have a hefty list of bands I’d love to support or go on tour with (Living Sacrifice, Blood Red Throne, A Hill To Die Upon, Sanzu, Extol, some Swedish group called Meshuggah…), I’m happy to report that I recently got to tick off another big milestone when we opened for the mighty, mighty bosstMithras! Continue reading »

Oct 172016



(Andy Synn reviews the eagerly awaited new album by the UK’s Mithras.)

In the interests of transparency I’d like to lay all my cards on the table right away. As some of you will know I’ve been a pretty big Mithras fan for a long time now. In fact not only did I select the band for my 34th edition of The Synn Report way back in April of 2013, it also happens that I’ve struck up a friendly relationship with Mithras mainman Leon Macey in the intervening period between then and now.

On top of all that, in two weeks’ time Beyond Grace are lucky enough to be opening the London date of the band’s long-awaited UK tour in support of their new album (their first in nine years), so I can’t say you wouldn’t be justified in having a few concerns about my overall ability to be even semi-objective in this instance.

So, if you’re really that unsure of my ability to offer a clear critical appraisal this time around, perhaps it might be best to think of this less as a strict, set-in-stone review, and more just a textual primer for what to expect in advance of the album’s release this Friday.

After all, if worst comes to worst, you can just ignore everything I’ve written here and check it out for yourself, because the whole thing is now available to stream in full! Continue reading »

Sep 222016



The new single by Mithras that we’re helping premiere today, “Odyssey’s End“, is like no other song I’ve heard this year. Given the many hundreds I’ve heard so far across a broad range of metal genres, that’s saying something. And so although I’m going to share a lot of information about the new Mithras album in this post, I have to start by expressing more elaborately my enthusiasm for this track.

Of course, I wouldn’t blame you for jumping straight to the music at any point, but you shouldn’t be reading (or do anything else) while you experience the music. Give it your full attention, and then prepare to loop right back to the beginning of it when you finish. This track requires way more than a single listen to take in all that it has to offer. Continue reading »

Mar 082016

Katatonia 2016


If you recall yesterday’s “Seen and Heard” round-up, I explained that I had fallen so far behind that I had a list of 30 new tracks from over the last week that I thought were worth exploring. And sure enough, the list has only grown, because so many other good new things popped up in the last 24 hours. So I’m starting with the four newest items and concluding with four from last week.


Yesterday brought details about the next Katatonia album, as well as a very brief teaser video. This will be their tenth studio full-length, with the title of The Fall of Hearts. It’s set for a May 20 release by Peaceville Records. Here’s the artwork (by Travis Smith, of course): Continue reading »

Nov 032013

In the last three days I saw three signing announcements for three bands who kick so much ass that they produce epidemic proportions of asslessness. It finally dawned on my foggy mind that all three signings were with the same label: Willowtip Records, based in the incomparably named borough on the left bank of Connoquenessing Creek — Zelienople, Pennsylvania. The three bands are Nausea, Mithras, and Plague Widow. In case these names are unfamiliar to you, here’s a bit of background along with more details about the new albums that are headed our way — and some music to hear from each band.


An introduction is probably unnecessary in this case, but here goes: Nausea are a seminal SoCal grind band whose earliest demos go back to 1987, yet their only full-length album was 1991’s Crime Against Humanity. They split up in 1994 but reformed in 2001, and they’ve been playing a lot of live shows in the last three years, including Maryland Deathfest and a recent European tour. The current line-up consists of original vocalist/guitarist Oscar Garcia and original drummer Eric Castro, plus two new members: Bassist Alejandro CB (Pounder, Chemical Bitches) and guitarist Leon del Muerte (Murder Construct, ex-Exhumed, Phobia, Impaled, Intronaut).

The new album is entitled Condemned To the System, and Willowtip will be releasing it on January 7, 2014. It will include both new songs and previously unreleased vintage tracks. Continue reading »

Apr 122013

(Andy Synn delivers another SYNN REPORT, assessing the discography of the UK’s Mithras.)

Recommended for fans of:  Morbid Angel, Pestilence, Fallujah

Let’s stay in the UK for a second straight edition of The Synn Report, shall we?

Tech-death before tech-death became a pissing contest between directionless shred-lords, Mithras deal in a form of technically gifted, wilfully complex death metal that successfully marries progressive ambition with stunning instrumental prowess, without short-changing the listener in either regard.

Drawing from the more imperious side of Morbid Angel’s dark death metal aesthetic as their primary influence, together with an ear for the more challenging, arty side of Pestilence’s body of work, the duo who form the core of Mithras have woven these influences into a sound entirely their own – unique, difficult, esoteric, but ultimately rewarding – one that served, in hindsight, as a precursor to the spacey death metal sound slowly gaining traction today. Trend setters and taste-makers without meaning to be, they were one of the first death metal bands I had heard in a long time to truly take the sound and do something so distinctive with it.

Their mix of raw, pummelling drum work, crippling riffage, and finger-blistering technical skills stood head and shoulders above their competitors at the time, and remains so today. This is due not only to their impressive abilities behind the kit and on the fretboard – their bio-organic symbiosis of natural progression and seamless mechanical precision is nearly unparalleled – but can also be attributed to their patient perfectionism, whose song-writing focussed just as much on atmosphere as it did on aggression. Continue reading »

Oct 032011

(Andy Synn reviews a trio of new EP releases by three NCS favorites – Mithras, Setherial, and Enslaved.)

For today you’re getting a combined review of three new EPs from three brilliant – if extremely different – bands, in one post. With each only being a 2-track release (barring the live cuts which bolster the Mithras release), it seemed only fitting to group the three releases into one column.


If you don’t know Mithras, then you have two options: 1) immediately after you finish reading, go forth and buy all their albums, or 2) wait a little while until the inevitable SYNN REPORT on them appears… THEN go forth and buy all their albums. The choice is yours.

Their complex, cosmic take on the death-metal template is wholly individualistic and utterly compelling, and this EP is no different, building from the focussed intensity and progged-out melody of their last album to give birth to two songs which, although quite different in style, express the multiple facets of the Mithras sound powerfully and eloquently. Continue reading »