Jan 312019


(The January 2019 edition of THE SYNN REPORT is devoted to the releases of the Scottish band Saor, and includes Andy Synn‘s review of Saor’s newest album, Forgotten Paths, which will be released on February 15th by Avantgarde Music.)

Recommended for fans of: Panopticon, Alcest, Dawn Ray’d

There’s been a lot of discussion recently – much of it intriguing, much of it ignorant – about what Black Metal “should” or “shouldn’t” be.

And while the whole issue, and all its many facets and factors, is far too complex for me to address here, the various conversations and arguments I’ve had with people – some like-minded, some less so – have helped crystallise in my mind that the most important thing any Black Metal artist needs… is passion.

Case in point, Saor (the solo project of one Andy Marshall) is absolutely brimming with passion and primal vitality, and each of the band’s albums (the fourth of which will be released within the next few weeks) marries energy and emotion, atmosphere and artistry, in a way that clearly comes right from the heart. Continue reading »

Jan 132019


This weekend has been similar to the last one. I didn’t try to write anything for yesterday, and that left me free to focus on choices for today. With so much time, I found many things to recommend, so many that I’m again dividing this post into two parts (shocking, I know). And it made sense to put these particular selections together int Part 1.


Roughly two years after the release of Guardians, the Caledonian metal band Saor are returning with a new record named Forgotten Paths. Along with another group of session musicians supporting him, Saor’s visionary Andy Marshall is also aided this time by Neige from Alcest (on the album’s title track, which opens the record).

Of the four songs on the new album, three are quite long, including the edited version of the track that debuted in recent days through a beautiful and mysterious music video that includes jaw-dropping vistas of the Scottish highlands (as well as appearances by Mr. Marshall and what seems to be a pair of twin witches). Continue reading »

Nov 282017

The Great Old Ones


(Greek metal writer and occasional NCS contributor John Sleepwalker attended the 5 Shades of Black show in Antwerp, Belgium, on October 21, 2017, and provides these thoughts about the performances by Saor, The Great Old Ones, Fen, Drawn Into Descent, and Sorrow Plagues. And we are most grateful to Kriss Wolf for kindly giving us permission to use her wonderful photos from the show, which appear throughout this review.)


5 Shades of Black stands as the type of an event that is a rare occasion in the lands of Greece. To the point that it seems more hopeful to dig for water in the desert than to expect names such as these to ever visit the capital city of Athens. Since the brand of old-school names is typically what tends to attract the majority of local interest, the few listeners dedicated to different aesthetics often need to travel to enjoy the related gigs of their choice. Continue reading »

Oct 052016



(Norway-based Karina Noctum returns to NCS with this interview of Andy Marshall, the man behind Scotland’s Saor, whose new album Guardians will be released on November 11. Photos by Land of Light Photography.)

When it comes to composition of both music and lyrics, do you need to have a particular mindset or do you need to be at a particular place to compose?

I don’t need to be in any particular place but I like to take my acoustic guitar with me when I’m visiting my family’s cottage in the Isle of Skye. It’s really remote and the landscape from the garden is stunning. I also get a lot of inspiration from hill walking or when I’ve been out exploring in the wild. Sometimes it just takes a film, book, or soundtrack to trigger my creative side. I usually start out with a guitar riff or melody then start adding other instruments. As for mindset, I definitely have a place in my head I go to when I’m writing Saor material. It’s total escapism. Continue reading »

Sep 082016



As usual, I’ve accumulated a long list of new songs and videos that emerged over the last 48 hours, hoping to throw many of them your way in this Thursday round-up. Alas, I’ve been scrambling to leave on a trip this morning for my day job that will take me away until Sunday night. I figured that I had time (barely) to spew praise on maybe two songs, and I picked these two, because they’ve spiked my brain like none of the others.


Andy Marshall ought to be declared a Scottish national treasure. Under the name Saor, he has crafted two wonderful albums in 2013’s Roots and 2014’s Aura. And on November 11, a third one will be released, with the title of Guardians. Continue reading »

Jan 112016



If you know about the Scottish band Saor, then you know the name Andy Marshall. (And if you don’t know about Saor, self-administer some form of harsh penance and then go listen to Aura and Roots without further dawdling.) As he has already proven with Saor, Mr. Marshall is a very talented musician. Like many talented artists, his creativity isn’t fixed within rigid boundaries — as you’re about to discover.

On February 1, Neuropa Records will release the debut album of Fuath, a new black metal project that Andy Marshall created to express other musical interests. The album bears the simple title “I“. As Andy explains:

“I am a massive fan of hypnotic atmospheric black metal, especially early 90’s stuff like Burzum’s Hvis lyset tar oss, early Darkthrone, and also modern bands such as Paysage d’hiver and Vemod.

“I wanted to create a cold, hypnotic and melancholic black metal album which tried to capture the feelings I felt listening to these bands. I always come back to these types of bands when winter comes along and I feel their sounds are perfect for this time of year, almost kind of spiritual in a way.”

Continue reading »

Jun 272015


In case you missed the announcement last week, I’ve resumed the roll-out of our list of last year’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs — a scant five months (ugh) after the last installment in the series. If perchance you don’t know what this list is about, you can find an explanation here.

Today’s two additions to the list are a bit out of the ordinary, because both songs are long. There’s a lot to be said for long-form music, but I would guess that “infectious” isn’t a word that typically springs to mind. In the case of these two songs, however, I think it fits.


Very tough choice, this one. Not the choice to include something from this band’s album Believe In No Coming Shore — that was a given (though the songs on the band’s 2014 split with Panopticon were also strong contenders) — but which song? That was the hard decision. Continue reading »