Dec 182017


(For the fourth year in a row, Neill Jameson (Krieg, Poison Blood) kindly accepted our invitation to share with us his list releases from the past year that meant the most to him. It comes in two parts; we’ll have Part II for you tomorrow.)

2017 was a really great year for music, a year that comes only once every ten years or so for me. Nearly every subgenre had at least one recording this year that I could see listening to in a few years time. That’s always been something that perplexes me regarding this time of year: how many of the records on some people’s top 175 of the year are actually going to stay in their lives beyond a few bylines during the year it was released? With so much shit being pressed into these massive lists, not to mention the literal thousands of releases that don’t make the cut, how much time do we really give these records, to let them sink in, and to really look at them as the benchmarks of the ending year?

In the end none of these lists mean much beyond the bands (hopefully) being proud of what they accomplished and our own ego stroking, as writers, to basically force our tastes onto you. What matters is what you get out of a record, even if your favorite didn’t make anyone’s list. Who gives a fuck as long as it’s a meaningful record to you. Here’s what records ended up being meaningful to me this year:

Dec 182017


Ekstrophë is the name of an album-length compilation by six black metal bands, some of whom haven’t been heard from in years and some of whom have created outstanding 2017 releases already: Devouring Star (Finland), Flagellant (Sweden), Arfsynd (Sweden), Ibex Angel Order (Netherlands), Dødsengel (Norway), and Chalice of Blood (Sweden). Each band has contributed one song to the album, and they are all tied together with ambient passages created by Norway’s Black Majesty and the Temple of Erythran Current.

Hints about this collaborative effort surfaced earlier in the year, but today we can provide details about its release through Terratur Possessions, as well as a full stream of all the music.

Dec 182017


(Comrade Aleks conducted the following interview with the two founding members of the Finnish death-doom band Ordog, who are at work on a new album.)


There are five bands in the metal scene who work under the name Ordog (which means “devil” in Hungarian), and there’s one death doom band against four others who play (or played) black metal stuff. This Ordog was born in Tornio, a Finnish town placed not far from the Swedish border. The band has been active for 12 years and it has grown from a duo to a five-man-strong crew. Despite anything they have continued to develop, to change, to move further.

Although I at first missed Ordog’s latest effort, The Grand Wall, (it was released almost a year ago), I made the decision to get in touch with the guys and learn how soon they plan to return with new stuff. Aleksi Martikainen (vocals, keyboards) and Valtteri Isometsä (guitars, bass, drums, vocals) were bloody swift and provided me answers in a few days. Hah, The Grand Wall is their fastest album, and not without reason…

Dec 172017


On Friday night I returned to Seattle after a very nice vacation that lasted nearly two weeks. Thanks to the efforts of my NCS writer comrades, I was able to keep my promise to my spouse that I wouldn’t blog (much) while on vacation. And as a further bonus, the loris horde didn’t burn the NCS compound to the ground while I was gone, though I did notice what seem to be the bones of a few small children strewn behind their barbed-wire enclosure that weren’t there when I left. That seems like a fair price to pay if it avoided an assault on our headquarters.

As I try to get my head back in the game, I count 14 days remaining in 2017, and I thought I’d give you a preview of what lies ahead at NCS before the year dies and we cremate its remains. And because I detest posting anything here that doesn’t include music, I’m throwing in one new song after that.

Dec 162017


The history of UK-based Metal Hammer magazine can be traced back to 1983. At its peak, it was published in 11 different languages around the world, with a monthly circulation of over 1 million. Near death at the end of 2016 due to the collapse of its then-owner Team Rock Ltd, the publication was rescued when former owner Future Publishing re-purchased the magazine (and preserved the TeamRock name). Its Facebook page currently boasts more than 2 million likes.

We haven’t located current print or digital subscription numbers, but it seems obvious that Metal Hammer qualifies for the part of our annual LISTMANIA series in which we re-publish year-end lists by substantial print zones and “big platform” web sites, even though we haven’t included it in previous years.

Dec 152017


(Andy Synn’s annual week-long look-back at the year in metal comes to an end today with his “Personal Top 10“, and if you’re puzzled about how this list compares to yesterday’s Top 10 list, read on.)

Well, now that we’ve got all the serious, semi-professional stuff out of the way, I can relax a little bit and focus on the ten albums that have made the biggest mark, or had the biggest impact, on my listening habits over the last twelve months.

This time around it appears my tastes have been largely dominated by Death Metal, with surprisingly little Black Metal sneaking its way into my favourite releases of the year. There’s also quite a bit of melody, particularly towards the top half of my list.

But overall I’d say that the key factor uniting pretty much all my selections here is… riffs. Big, ballsy, heavy as hell riffs, bang-your-head-until-it-bleeds riffs, brimming with red-hot hooks and electrifying power.

I decided not to include any “Honourable Mentions” this time around, mainly because there were just too many names (Satyricon, Hideous Divinity, Fell Ruin, Blaze of Perdition, to name but a few) to choose from and, instead, elected to focus solely on the ten records that have left the deepest and most lasting impression on my eardrums this year.

Dec 142017


(Vonlughlio has brought us the premiere of a full stream of the debut album by the Pittsburgh technical brutal death metal band Abolishing the Ignominious, with his words of introduction.)

It’s been a while since I did a small write-up for NCS but I could not pass the opportunity to talk about the band Abolishing the Ignominious and their upcoming debut album Vociferous Obsolescence released via Coyote Records.

One I could not pass up the opportunity is the identity of the band’s members: The group consists of Joseph Luciano (ex-Animals Killing People, Andromorphus Rexalia, Injurious, Disgruntled Anthropophagi, Manipulated Calamity), in charge of drums, bass, and guitars, and Eston Browne (ex-Animals Killing People, ex-Humanity Falls, ex-Gigan, ex-Merciless Mutilation) in charge of vocals and lyrics. Both musicians are very talented and I have been a fan of their work in the other projects mentioned above.

Dec 142017


Stereogum easily qualifies as one of the “big platform” web sites whose year-end lists of metal we perennially include in our LISTMANIA series. Of course, the site appeals to an audience of music fans much larger than devoted metalheads, but its staff includes a talented and tasteful group of metal writers who among other things are responsible for the site’s monthly “The Black Market” column, which has been a great source of discovery for extreme music for five years running now.

It follows that Stereogum‘s annual metal list is one I especially look forward to seeing every year, and the 2017 edition appeared a couple of days ago. It again includes a ranked list of 40 albums.

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.

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