Sep 042020


(Andy Synn introduces our premiere of a new cover song by the German band Phantom Winter.)

This site’s history with German sludgemongers Phantom Winter goes back a number of years now.

In fact we’ve been fans of the band ever since their debut back in 2015, and just last year I selected their stunning second album, Sundown Pleasures as one of the best records of the entire decade.

So when the band got in touch to ask me to help them premiere their impressively ugly and abrasive take on Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer” – all in service of a good cause – I couldn’t say no! Continue reading »

Sep 152018


(In this week’s edition of Andy Synn’s WAXING LYRICAL the focus is the lyricism of the German band Phantom Winter, as discussed by vocalist/guitarist Andreas Schmittfull.)

The name Phantom Winter should be familiar to most readers of our site as we’ve written about the German quintet several times, heaping a large amount of praise on their visceral brand of Blackened Sludge Metal over the years, as well as engaging in numerous discussions about their rigorously shaped and savagely delivered philosophical and socio-political lyrics.

It should be no surprise to learn then that the band’s vocalist/guitarist (and primary lyricist) Andreas Schmittfull had a lot to say and a lot of interesting insight to offer when I (finally) managed to pin him down for this edition of Waxing Lyrical.

So, without further ado… take it away Andreas! Continue reading »

Feb 282018


(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Phantom Winter, which will be released on March 2nd by Golden Antenna Records.)


Metal is, as we all know, a genre intimately acquainted with darkness in all (or at least most of) its forms.

For some bands their music is an attempt to express and expel the darkness within them in an explosion of convulsive catharsis. For others it’s a chance to celebrate and even indulge in their darkest impulses and desires. And then there are those who use their talents to explore the darkness of the world which surrounds them in all its ugliness and horror.

For German quintet Phantom Winter, however. the question appears to be less about which of these approaches they wish to take, and more about which one they wish to take first. Continue reading »

Jan 132018


(Here’s a personal list by Andy Synn identifying eagerly anticipated forthcoming 2018 albums.)


One week ago Islander published a list of upcoming albums expected to be released over the course of the next twelve months, and also solicited comments and recommendations from our readers concerning which albums (and EPs) they were most looking forward to.

Well, as successful as that endeavour was, now it’s my turn to talk up some of my most anticipated album scheduled for release in 2018. Continue reading »

Jul 172017


(Andy Synn brings us this first in a week-long series of interviews, and today’s initial installment is a discussion with vocalist/guitarist Andreas Schmittful of Germany’s Phantom Winter.)

One of the great things about being a part of a blog like NCS is being able to write about whatever bands/albums you find interesting, with little to no editorial interference, and no real pressures with regards to deadlines or being made to stick to a certain party line.

And that’s not something I take for granted.

Like the man said, “with great power comes great responsibility…”, and, for better or for worse, I have a platform here which means my voice reaches a lot further, and a resounds a little more loudly, than it would do otherwise.

And since I’m going to be rather busy this week due to a combination of day-job and band-life demands, I thought I’d take this opportunity to use that voice and draw attention to a handful of artists whose albums were, through no fault of their own, largely overlooked in the celebratory orgy of 2016’s End of Year listfest… beginning with Germany’s own Phantom Winter. Continue reading »

Jan 302017


We’re down to the penultimate day for the rollout of our 2016 Most Infectious Song list. I’m in a bit of a panic, because I’m having so much trouble deciding how to end it. There are still so many songs that I feel are deserving of a place on the list, but it also seems awkward to continue a 2016 list of any kind past the first month of the new year.

And I suppose I should remind you that because I have so much difficulty as a list-maker, I didn’t have the list completed when I began the rollout, and to an extent, I’ve been making it up as I go along. That’s why tomorrow’s ending is arbitrary, and why there is a degree of randomness in what’s on the list and what isn’t. What’s not random is my conviction that all the songs I’ve picked are worthy of the awards.


I ask you, if you can’t make an exception to our Rule about singing for the likes of Andreas “Vintersorg” Hedlund, Simen “ICS Vortex” Hestnaes, and Kristoffer Rygg, then who could justify an exception? Continue reading »

Jan 022017


(The first week of 2017 has begun, but we still have a few 2016 releases we want to write about, including the second album by Phantom Winter, which is the subject of this review by Andy Synn.)

You’re probably already aware of this, but the fact is there’s simply too much music released each year for any one man, even one as handsome and debonair as myself, to cover it all. There’s always a gem or two (or ten) that slip through the cracks.

As a result I’m going to be spending the next week or so covering some of the releases which DIDN’T make my end of year lists, simply because I:

a) didn’t have chance to give them a full and proper listen, or
b) fell so hard for them that I wasn’t sure I could trust my initial reactions.

Either way, it’s a good opportunity for me to make up for lost ground, before getting fully into the swing of 2017. Continue reading »

Sep 152014


Usually when I label one of these round-ups “Shades of Black”, I’m focusing on newly discovered black metal songs — but not always. Today, for example, there’s only one song in the collection that’s black metal. But all four songs, in addition to be strikingly good, do share a very dark and dramatic aura.


Atrum Tempestas are a Finnish band whose debut album Nêant will be released by Nordavind Records on October 13.  It consists of two long songs and one in the six-minute range, for a total of almost 32 minutes of music. Yesterday Nordavind began streaming one of the two long tracks on Bandcamp — “Quitter ceux qui étaient déjà partis” — and I’m really liking it.

The song is a work of dramatic atmospheric black metal and will probably draw comparisons to the more hard-edged works of Deafheaven as well as possibly Ash Borer and Agalloch. It’s a mix of storming guitar distortion, reverberating clean notes, and shimmering atmospheric melody accompanied by wretched howls. It’s a gripping though melancholy song, and one marked by an effective rhythm section that becomes a source of engagement all its own, especially during the wall-of-sound guitar parts. Check it out below; the album can be pre-ordered at the following Bandcamp link: Continue reading »