Dec 142017

 

Last month we had the pleasure of premiering a full stream of This Fall Shall Cease, the debut full-length by the Belgian doom/sludge band Lethvm, in advance of its November 24 release by Deadlight Entertainment (and other labels). Today we have a reminder about the power of that album through our premiere of an official video for a track named “The Last Grave“.

The review that accompanied our premiere stream of the album included these words, relevant to the video you’re about to see and hear:

Dec 142017

 

(In the penultimate installment of his annual year-end series, Andy Synn today provides his list of the Critical Top 10 of 2017.)

Now although I say this every single year, I want to make something very clear straight away – the following list is in no way meant to be comprehensive or definitive, as it’s basically impossible for any one person to cover everything and to provide a perfectly accurate, utterly objective, list of the best albums released in any given year.

Instead, my selections for the “Critical Top Ten” (as opposed to my forthcoming “Personal Top Ten”) are meant simply to provide a representative sample of the fantastic wealth and variety of musical delights which the last twelve months have delivered, comprising a mix of big names, new faces, and cult favourites culled from across the metallic spectrum.

And though the process of whittling things down to a mere ten entries means that heaps of future classics were inevitably left on the cutting room floor (sorry Archspire fans), I’ve honestly tried my very best to be as clinical and objective as possible – checking and re-checking my own reactions and motivations, canvassing commentary and opinion on my choices from trusted sources, etc – and so I hope that what you’re about to read provides a clear and (relatively) accurate snapshot of what I truly consider to be the best and brightest (or, possibly, the bleakest and murkiest) albums of 2017.

Dec 132017

 

Soli Contro il Mondo (“alone standing against the world”) is the second album by the black metal band Nova from Veneto, Italy. It was preceded by a debut full-length in 2014 named Il ritorno (“the return”). The new album will be released on December 18 by ATMF, but we are privileged to bring you a full stream of the album today.

I first encountered music from Soli Contro il Mondo in mid-November, when two tracks from the album were then available for listening on Bandcamp — the opener “Guerra per il Firmamento” and “Contro il Drago e il Toro“. I was thoroughly captivated by both of them. In both, the drumwork is riveting, the vocals are inflamed by raw passion, and the sweeping, panoramic riffs create a sense of sublime melancholy grandeur.

Dec 132017

 

(Andy Synn’s week of reflections on 2017 metal continues today with his list of the year’s Great albums.)

So we’re officially almost at the end of my annual Listravaganza already… after today there’s only my semi-objective (but not really) Critical Top Ten, followed by my totally biased, shamelessly self-indulgent Personal Top Ten… and then that’s it. We’re done for another year.

But don’t fret, there’s still lots of albums left for you to sink your teeth into before that happens, and today’s selections represent – in my opinion at least – the absolute cream of the crop from 2017.

I will stress again, of course, that this list shouldn’t be considered comprehensive (although it is eighty goddamn albums long), as covering every single release from the last twelve months is basically an impossible task, nor is it specifically ranked in any way, beyond the fact that I think each of these albums deserves to be considered in the top tier of this year’s fulgent metallic crop.

Anyway, without further ado, I present to you… the Great albums of 2017.

Dec 132017

 

(Norway-based writer Karina Noctum reviews the new EP by Sweden’s Mist of Misery, set for December 15 release by Black Lion Records.)

I have kept an eye on Mist of Misery ever since I listened to Absence, which was released in 2016. I spent that year focused on Black Metal. I remember it was after a painful journey through lots of underground bands who were too simple and pretty basic that I finally found Absence. I enjoyed the excellent song structures, as well as how they handled the changing moods, and really liked the drumming as well.

After Absence they released Shackles of Life last summer, and a song from that EP was premiered here. The EP wasn’t reviewed, but I can blame it on me being busy and 2017 being a year where Death Metal consumed me; I was pretty much in the Neanderthal spectrum of metal things.

Now MoM are releasing a new EP called Fields of Isolation though the Swedish label Black Lion Records from Umeå, and I couldn’t let it pass without reviewing it:

Dec 122017

 

(This is the third installment in Andy Synn’s annual series reflecting on the year in metal, and in this one you’ll find his personal list of the year’s “Good” albums.)

Like most things, the year’s releases can generally be graded on a standard Bell Curve, with the majority of them occupying that vast central space we call “Good”.

Some of these albums are, of course, very good indeed, and there are more than a few entries here which could legitimately be argued to belong on my “Great” list… however, where there was any question or doubt I made the decision to err on the side of caution, and include them here instead.

Of course you’re also free to argue that some of the albums on the lower end of the scale might potentially have been included in yesterday’s “Disappointing” column (just as you might contend that some of those entries from yesterday deserved to be here instead) but, in general, I’ve found that even the lesser entries found here tended to be solidly enjoyable enough that I couldn’t honestly rate them as a disappointment.

But, as I said at the beginning of my EPs list last week – even though they’re separated out into three categories, my “Great”, “Good”, and “Disappointing” lists aren’t really ranked in the same way as most End of Year lists tend to be (which is why I get away with producing so many of them each year). They’re intended more as an extensive round-up of the wide variety of material which I’ve encountered over the last twelve months, so that you, our readers, can potentially discover something which you might otherwise have missed.

And, in service to that, at the very bottom of this column you’ll find an alphabetical list linking you, wherever possible, to each artist/album’s Bandcamp page. I hope that helps.

Dec 122017


Afgrund

 

(Like the good cowboy he is, DGR has stepped forward to handle round-up duty today.)

We at NCS are big fans of posts full of genre whiplash, and this roundup of things that caught our eyes and ears last week will likely be one of those. We try to always keep our giant fish net of news-and-music catching open for stuff to fall in and we like to clean it out whenever we get the chance, even though you would’ve figured that last week things should have slowed down just a bit…you would think.

However, just because it’s close to the end of the year and time for everyone to begin writing up summaries of their favorite albums of 2017, and just because our editor managed to escape from the loris horde encircling the NCS compound for a vacation, does not mean heavy metal got the hint and decided to slow down for a bit. We did here in our little comfortable corner of the ‘net, but that doesn’t mean everyone did. And so we go outside to clean off the radar dish and see what landed in the net over the past week.

Dec 112017

 

Here’s another entry in the part of our annual LISTMANIA orgy where we re-post lists of metal from “big platform” web sites and print zines — the kind of places that get a lot more eyeballs on them than festering little metal-only hovels like ours.

To justify our selection of Noisey for this part of the series, consider these statistics: Noisey is the on-line music channel of Vice Media, which began as a Montreal-based print magazine in 1994 and has expanded into a global media presence. Noisey was started in 2011 and now has 1,285,404 Facebook followers and (according to this site) receives about 966,500 unique visitors and 1,411,090 page views per day.

About one week ago Noisey published its staff’s list of “The Best 100 Albums of 2017“, but due to my ongoing vacation, I overlooked it until today. By my count, 8 of those albums are metal (down from 10 last year). Six of those appear to have made the list as a result of recommendations by Noisey editor Kim Kelly, whose by-line appears on the mini-reviews that accompany those 6 picks. The other two, by Yellow Eyes and Power Trip, are accompanied by different writers’ by-lines.

Dec 112017

 

(Comrade Aleks brings us this interview of guitarist Eduardo Ramírez Santamaría of the the Mexican band Matalobos.)

 

Here comes Matalobos – the melodic death doom band from Mexico. If you have been missing the early days of Katatonia and patiently waiting for a new Daylight Dies since their last LP, A Frail Becoming, then Matalobos can provide you some dark depressive vibes in a picturesque and pretty heavy vein.

Their debut LP, Arte Macabro, saw the light of the day only one year ago, but the men have prepared some new material – three new tracks released under the title Until Time Has Lost All Meaning welcome you to the realm of death and gloom. The band’s guitarist Eduardo Ramírez Santamaría is our guide through the realms of Matalobos.

Dec 112017

 

(“Conniption” is too weak a word, “kryptonite” is more in the ballpark [especially in the case of an album I reviewed here]. Every year Andy Synn breaches our general etiquette with this list, but after umpteen years, it’s too late to stop him.)

Every year I separate the albums I’ve heard into three separate categories – The Great, The Good, and The Disappointing – and every year Islander has a minor conniption when forced to confront all the caustic criticism and general lack of positivity going on in my Disappointing list.

It’s basically his kryptonite, so if you wanted to attack him while he’s in a weakened state… now would be the time.

That being said, I hope neither he, nor you, feel like I’m being prejudiced or unfair with what you’re about to read.

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