Jul 122023

(Andy Synn continues his impromptu “Best of British” week with his thoughts on the upcoming new album from Rannoch)

The word “masterpiece” has been roundly, and soundly, (over) used and abused so much over the years that it’s almost lost all meaning.

But, originally, a “masterpiece” wasn’t just something of exceptional quality – it specifically referred to that piece of work which first demonstrated an artist’s mastery of their craft and, in doing so, signified their acceptance into (or, at least, their eligibility for) the highest echelons of the artistic community.

Strictly speaking, then, no band should ever have more than one “masterpiece” to their name.

So if Rannoch‘s previous album, the masterful Reflections Upon Darkness, represented the moment when they stepped into the big leagues – in terms of both talent and ambition, at least, if not fame – then what does this mean for Conflagrations?

Continue reading »

Jun 282023

Few metal bands have so captivated our attention from their beginning to the present day as the UK prog-death powerhouse Rannoch. They started strong and became even stronger; witnessing the evolution of their ambitions and their skills has been thrilling, and in both respects they reached a high-water mark in the extraordinary achievements of their last album, 2020’s Reflections Upon Darkness.

For precisely those reasons, however, there’s been some frustration among us here that Rannoch still haven’t gotten all the acclaim and attention they deserve. They run rings around bands vastly better-known than they are, but thankfully those injustices don’t seem to have sapped Rannoch’s desire. Instead, they have only driven themselves harder, and their forthcoming third album Conflagrations is abundant proof of that. It is indeed a creative conflagration, and one we hope will propel their name to the scale of attention their talents warrant.

This new album is set for release on July 21st by Willowtip Records, and it’s our privilege now to premiere its second single “Threads“, presented through an attention-riveting video. Continue reading »

May 052023

Lots of people keep wish-lists in anticipation of making purchases on Bandcamp Fridays, when more of the money will go to the labels and bands. I have friends whose lists include releases from three or more years ago, or from even older albums that have only recently become available on Bandcamp. So it’s not as if people are just now looking for things to buy, much less cloely examining releases that have launched on Bandcamp just barely in time for today.

Still, on days like this I feel a compulsion to make new recommendations, even if they might drive a lot of you (or at least your bank accounts) crazy. I should add that I noticed most of what’s below before today. I just couldn’t bring myself to do more than quickly skim the 300+ Bandcamp alerts and other e-mails that landed in our in-box since midnight last night. I picked a couple of things out of that ridiculous flood, but I have no idea what else might be frothing in there.

Obviously, I could have done much more today if I’d had enough time. So I’ll have to continue tomorrow, when maybe you’ll be tempted to add to your lists for the next Bandcamp Friday.


It’s fair to say that the rise of this indigenous black metal project into the consciousness of metalheads (or at least those with a taste for blackened arts) has been meteoric. The subject-matter themes of the music probably account for some of the attention, but the strength of the music would carry it far even if the themes were less important. It was thus a nice surprise to discover the debut of a lyric video for a new Blackbraid song a couple days ago. Continue reading »

Jul 112020


(Andy Synn brings us another installment of his interview series on lyrics in metal, and for today’s fascinating commentary we thank Ian Gillings, lyricist/vocalist/guitarist of the British band Rannoch.)

One of our primary motivations here at NCS has always been to use our platform to highlight the underdogs and the underappreciated, the bands who don’t necessarily have the support of the labels, PR, or any of the other mechanisms which help the bigger names get all the coverage they want.

That doesn’t mean we’re totally ignorant of the “the usual suspects” by any means, but there’s a special kind of joy which comes from knowing that you’ve played a small part in introducing a relatively unknown band to a wider audience – especially when their music runs rings around many of their more famous (or infamous) contemporaries.

Such is the case with UK Prog-Death powerhouse Rannoch, as while we’re not the only site to have written about them by any means, we’ve covered all their releases so far (up to and including their phenomenal second album, Reflections Upon Darkness) with such gusto that we’ve definitely helped raise their profile both at home and abroad.

So, to continue throwing our weight behind the band I invited guitarist/vocalist and main songwriter Ian Gillings to tell us a little bit about his past, present, and future as a lyricist.

A word of warning though – much like the band’s latest album, it’s a long and in-depth piece, so get comfortable… it’s time for some deep, dark reflections… Continue reading »

May 212020


(We present Andy Synn’s review of the astonishing new opus from the genre-bending UK band Rannoch, which is set for release on May 25th.)

How does one measure ambition?

How do we quantify it and qualify it? How do we analyse and assess it? How do we judge whether one band’s ambition to be the heaviest/fastest/most technical is somehow inferior/superior to another band’s desire to cross-pollinate multiple styles and sub-genres to create something entirely new?

And what of those bands whose central ambition is simply to be the best that they can be and to write the best songs possible? Are they any less worthy than the band who just wrote an hour long, single-track, Prog-Metal odyssey?

All these questions, and more, were floating around my head while listening to the exceptional new album from Rannoch. Continue reading »

Apr 292020


(Andy Synn wrote the following introduction to our premiere, in video form, of a song off the new album by the UK’s Rannoch, which is set for release on May 25th.)

Every band is, ultimately, the sum of their influences. But it’s what they choose to do with them that makes all the difference…

Some bands (I’m sure we can all name a few) have built their entire careers out of essentially just imitating one or two key influences as best they can. Whereas others seem to think that the key to success lies in mushing together as many different influences as possible in the hopes that the resultant concoction of musical beige will be blandly appealing to a large enough number of people to guarantee their success.

But, thankfully, there are always going to be bands whose ambitions aim beyond these limited horizons. Bands who expect, and demand, more from themselves, and their music, and who seek to use what they take from their influences, however much or however little, as a foundation upon which to build something all their own.

And it’s these ambitions which drive Reflections Upon Darkness, the upcoming new album from Prog-Death alchemists Rannoch, whose first single, “The Dream”, we’re both pleased and proud to present to you today. 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 »

Sep 172015

Flag of Great Britain


(Andy Synn puts the spotlight on new releases by a trio of British bands.)

As I’ve said a few times before, I’m occasionally called to task for a perceived lack of “support” for the British metal scene, either because I’ve said something to criticise whatever flavour of the month band is currently riding high on a wave of second-hand riffage and easily-digestible snack-sized song-bytes, or simply for having the sheer gall to write for an American website instead of a UK one (conveniently ignoring the fact that I also contribute regularly to London Metal Monthly and, somewhat less regularly, Terrorizer magazine).

The thing is, for purely selfish, self-promoting reasons, I probably SHOULD spend more time shucking and jiving for every bunch of jokers with even a little bit of scene-cred in the hope that those good vibes will rub off on either of my own bands… But I’m not going to. I like to pretend I have at least an iota of integrity after all.

Ultimately I just want to write about the music that I love, regardless of arbitrary issues of national pride or scene loyalty. It just so happens that despite being sent numerous links to different bands from all around the UK, a lot of what I hear simply doesn’t connect with me, or live up to what I consider my own critical standards. For better or worse, that’s just the way it is (though please don’t stop sending links my way).

But when I actually DO find a band I love from the UK, I am MORE than happy to throw my support behind them, for whatever good it may do. Hence why you’re about to read the first of two separate collections bringing together some of the very best metallic offerings that have come out of the British scene this year… with today’s entry erring strongly towards the Death Metal side of things.

So, let’s get started, shall we…? Continue reading »

Aug 062015

Rannoch Locust-final 1


In November 2013, a band named Rannoch from West Midlands in the UK released their debut album, Between Two Worlds, via Eulogy Media. It inspired one of our writer Andy Synn’s most enthusiastic reviews ever (here), a review that included sentiments such as these:

“Every so often an album comes along, pretty much out of nowhere, and absolutely blows you away – sometimes with its technicality, sometimes with its songwriting, and sometimes with its sheer audacity. Rannoch’s Between Two Worlds blew my mind in every one of these ways, and more….

“This is a truly stunning debut. Superfluously skilled, terrifyingly talented. Captivatingly composed and perfectly performed. It’s a near masterpiece of progressive death metal that pays tributes to its predecessors whilst defining its own clear sense of identity, bridging the gap between two worlds – the old, and the new, the modern and the classic, the artful and the antagonistic.”

Today we have the pleasure of bringing you a brand new video for one of the songs on that album — “Age of the Locust”. We’ll borrow a few more of Andy’s words about the music: Continue reading »

Nov 182013

(Andy Synn reviews the forthcoming debut album by the UK’s Rannoch.)

Every so often an album comes along, pretty much out of nowhere, and absolutely blows you away – sometimes with its technicality, sometimes with its songwriting, and sometimes with its sheer audacity.

Rannoch’s Between Two Worlds blew my mind in every one of these ways, and more.

Do you like Darkane? Opeth? In-Quest? Ihsahn? Bands who take the traditional weapons of heavy metal warfare and stretch them to their breaking point, and beyond? Are you looking for a band capable of melding devastating groove, mesmerising 8-string acrobatics, fluid, rumbling bass lines, and progressive nuance into one cohesive whole?

Then this is the album for you. Continue reading »