Dec 082017

 

(We begin the rollout of our own staff’s year-end lists with Andy Synn’s selection of his favorite EPs from 2017.)

Next week is the big kick-off of my annual End of Year list-orgy, beginning with what I felt were the most Disappointing releases of the year (those albums which, for one reason or another, simply didn’t live up to their potential), followed by the Good, and then the Great, albums of 2017.

Now, unlike most lists, these particular pieces function more as a general round-up of the last twelve months, and aren’t presented in any sort of ranked or graded order.

In essence they’re designed purely to showcase (and pass comment on) the sheer wealth of albums which have crossed my path over the last year and, hopefully, to give you all a chance to catch-up on some unheard gems you may have missed, as well as stimulate some lively conversation and debate.

The end of next week will see the publication of my Critical Top Ten and my Personal Top Ten, wherein I’m going to first attempt the thankless task of whittling down all the Great albums of the year to a representative sample of ten releases which I think represent the true crème de la crème of 2017… after which I’m going to just say “fuck it”, and give you my list of the ten albums which I’ve listened to the most and which struck the strongest chord with me this year.

Sound good?

In the meantime, while you all start sharpening your pitchforks and priming your torches, I’d like to present you with a round-up of (some of) the EPs which have tickled my fancy over the last twelve months.

 

 

Of course this list, like all of them, is never going to be comprehensive. As wonderful (and handsome, and intelligent) as I am, I’m still only one man, and so – rather than just whining that [X] wasn’t included – I’d like to urge you all to add your recommendations (and maybe even a little blurb of your own) in the comments section at the end.

After all, I’m not ranking these EPs, just collecting as many as I can think of into one place for the perusal and enjoyment of our readers. And if you wanted to add to that, you’re more than welcome to do so!

Anyway… let’s begin, shall we?

 

 

AMIENSUSALL PATHS LEAD TO DEATH

 

 

Our old friends in Amiensus released their newest EP back in March, which found the band reining in some of the proggier elements of their sound somewhat in order to deliver a much more focussed, much more “classic” sounding Black Metal experience. And Islander himself was the one to review the EP for us.

 

 

ANCSTFURNACE

 

 

NCS-approved Blackened Crust collective Ancst actually released two EPs this year, with Furnace being my pick of the pair. You can check out my review of it here if you’re interested in learning more.

 

 

ANCST / KING APATHYSPLIT

 

 

Ancst also released this split with kindred spirits King Apathy (formerly known as Thränenkind), each band providing a new, exclusive track, plus a cover of one of the other band’s previous songs.

Again, if you’d like to read a bit more about it, check out my review.

 

 

ASHEN HORDETHE ALCHEMIST

 

 

Blackened prog extremists Ashen Horde issued a new 7” earlier this year, and Islander himself was on hand to premiere and review it right here at NCS.

 

 

BA’ALIN GALLOWS BY MASS

 

 

By turns punishingly heavy, gorgeously melodic, and stupendously atmospheric, the UK’s Ba’al released a fantastic EP of and doom-laden Post Metal – liberally season with blackened spices and sludgy molasses – at the start of last month, and it’s a real shame I didn’t have chance to give it the full review it deserves, as it’s most definitely the sort of thing that a lot of our readers would probably love if they gave it a chance.

 

 

CLARET ASHTHE GREAT ADJUDICATION: FRAGMENT ONE

 

 

This was one of my favourite EPs of the year (which I think I made pretty clear in my review) and, if Fragment Two maintains the same level of quality, I’d imagine that The Great Adjudication, when it’s finally completed, could well end up being one of my favourite albums of 2018.

 

 

CODEUNDER THE SUBGLEAM

 

 

For some people a return to form… for others simply a continuation of the band’s unbroken stream of quality… either way Under the Subgleam has been popping up on quite a few End of Year lists, and with very good reason.

 

 

DEVOURING STARANTIHEDRON

 

 

Antihedron is three tracks of blistering blackened fury and cold, existential horror that richly deserves to be held up as one of the best – not to mention bleakest – EPs of 2017.

 

 

ENTOMBMENTENTOMBMENT

 

 

Hook-heavy, riff-friendly melodic Thrash is the name of the game on the debut EP by these Texan rough-riders, and it’s one hell of a fun game to play. Check out my review for more info.

 

 

ESCHATOSMÆRE

 

 

Unconventional Progressive Black Metallers (or should that be Blackened Prog Metallers?) Eschatos certainly brought their A-game on the two tracks which make up their new EP, which bodes exceedingly well for their upcoming third album.

 

 

FROM THE HELLMOUTH / MUTILATREDSPLIT

 

 

This double-header from two up-and-coming Death Metal acts from the good old US of A makes for one hellishly fun, and fiendishly heavy, listen, with the three tracks by From the Hellmouth in particular making their way into regular rotation for me.

 

 

GODEATEROUTERSTELLAR

 

 

Three tracks of high-quality, high-voltage Tech-Death from Scotland, available digitally for the sweet price of “whatever the hell you feel like”?

What more could you ask for?

 

 

IRON FLESHWORSHIP THE NECROGOD

 

 

Iron Flesh deal in unadulterated Old School Death Metal that pulls no punches, and offers no quarter. Grim and groovy, heavy but hooky, this is the perfect snack-size portion of grimy riffs and gruesome gutturals for fans of Autopsy, Grave, and early Hypocrisy.

 

 

LOATHFINDERTHE GREAT TIRED ONES

 

 

I’d like to quote my own review here, if I may?

Loathfinder are… “a hideously heavy and gloriously grim Blackened Death/Doom band from Poland, and their debut EP, The Great Tired Ones, offers up four tracks of bone-grinding riffs, putrid vocals, and suppurating, suffocating grooves, which seem purposefully designed to ruin your day.”

If that sounds like it might appeal to you, then why not give it a listen?

 

 

MANTARTHE SPELL

Although this EP is, inexplicably, not available on bandcamp at this time (seriously, whoever is responsible for this… dumb move) it’s still well worth your time to track it down. Because Mantar are, in a word, badass.

Maybe my review would be a good place to start?

 

 

MARÉ – ABSCHIED

 

 

Are you a fan of Harakiri for the Sky? How about Heaven Shall Burn? If so then this EP is definitely for you.

And, if not… what the hell is wrong with you?

Either way, you can check out my review here if you’re interested.

 

 

MESARTHIMPRESENCE

 

 

If the phrase “Atmospheric Black Metal inflected with Psytrance and EDM elements” causes you to immediately and involuntarily vomit in disgust… then you may want to skip this one.

But if, like me, you’re a fan of Mesarthim’s uniquely “un-true” brand of cosmological blackened soundscapes, then this one shouldn’t disappoint.

 

 

NECROPHOBICPESTA

Although it’s not available to stream right now (not officially anyway) let me assure you that the latest release from the legendary Necrophobic is an absolute barnburner, and features not only the returning Anders Strokirk as vocalist (after a 20-year absence) but also the return of the brilliant guitar duo of Sebastian Ramstedt and Johan Bergebäck to the necro-fold.

 

 

ORANSSI PAZUZUFARMAKOLOGINEN / KEVÄT/VÄRIMYRSKY

 

 

 

Infamous Finnish surrealists Oranssi Pazuzu released two EPs this year, both of which showcase a much darker, more aggressive take on the band’s signature psychedelic strangeness.

The first (Farmakologinen) was a remastered re-release of their half of their 2010 split, while the second (Kevät / Värimyrsky) featured two reworked tracks from the Valionelu period which, until now, had never seen the light of day., and both can be checked out via the bandcamp links above.

 

 

SEPREVATIONECHOES OF MERCY

 

 

Channelling the very best elements of Death, Possessed, Sadus, and Atheist (to name-drop but a few), Echoes of Mercy is four tracks of some of the most scintillatingly technical, shamelessly progressive Death/Thrash I’ve heard in years. Don’t sleep on this one.

 

 

SVARTIDAUÐIUNTITLED

 

 

Two tracks of traumatic audio terror from one of today’s most truly vital and utterly venomous Black Metal bands. ‘nuff said.

 

 

THE INFERNAL SEAAGENTS OF SATAN

 

 

The Infernal Sea are one of our favourite bands here at NCS, and the massive, malignant grooves and blitzkrieg blasturbation of “Skinwalker” and “Agents of Satan” continue to fully justify our devotion. For more detail, why not consult this review by our very own DGR?

 

 

WOMAN IS THE EARTHTHAW

 

 

Three killer tracks of immersive, atmospheric – yet undeniably raw and visceral – Black Metal that should prove irresistible to fans of Wolves in the Throne Room, Weakling, and Wildernessking.

 

 

ZAOPYRRHIC VICTORY

 

 

Last, but by no means least, we have this five-track barnburner from resurgent Metalcore legends Zao, who are clearly still intent on maintaining both the creative and commercial momentum generated by their recent return to activity. Check out my review for a more detail overview.

 

******

 

So there you have it… twenty-something selections, suggestions, and recommendations, of some of this year’s most concise-yet-captivating releases.

Obviously there are going to be heaps upon heaps of artists and releases which I’ve failed to catch and failed to mention, so why not add your own suggestions and comments below?

55 Responses to “2017 – A YEAR IN REVIEW(S): THE EPs”

  1. Eli says:

    Ah the time of year where I forget all of the cool underground findings I’ve been trying to remember and fall flat on my face while trying to flex my Trve muscles.

  2. Vacuity says:

    Great choices. I could add to the list Sinmara, Thantifaxath, Skáphe, Arkhon Infaustus and possibly Forefather and Schammasch when I’m feeling generous.

  3. Benjamin Brandon says:

    I have a couple EP’s I really enjoyed this year as well:
    Abigor/Nightbringer/Mortuus/Thy Darkened Shade Split
    Grave Circles – Tome I
    Arkhon Infaustus – Passing the Nekromanteion
    Thantifaxath – Void Masquerading as Matter
    Ziggurat – Ritual Miasma

    I know i’m missing a few…

    • Andy Synn says:

      I was really interested in several of these myself but, alas, not enough time in the day!

      • Benjamin Brandon says:

        Oh I totally get that. I was going through my purchases this year for stuff released this year as well to put together a list of my favorites, and when I got to the letter O and already had 50 albums written down(almost all of which I enjoy, by the way), I knew I would be hard pressed to have the time to condense it to 10-15. Fuck, I’d have a hard time making a list as small as a top 30. The struggles of a collector with an impulse control problem….

    • Islander says:

      All of these are outstanding. A list after my own heart (though I can say the same about Andy’s list too, or at least the ones on it I’ve heard).

      • Benjamin Brandon says:

        Why thank you. I might add that this website(along with another choice few) has turned me on to a lot of the music I’ve loved and purchased this year

    • carlosjbg says:

      That Grave Circles one is amazing, I forgot to put it on my list. Looking foward for a future album.

      • Benjamin Brandon says:

        Yeah it really is. I forget how I heard about it, but I return to it all the time, and have for a while now.

  4. Luis says:

    An EP I recommend to check out is Epigram “Shadows.” It’s a solo project/concept album with melodic/black metal influence that was released a couple of month back! Check it out.

  5. riffophile says:

    Throwing in the following:

    Aversio Humanitatis – Longing for the Untold

    Lorn (I thought I read an interview where they said Arrayed Claws is an EP, not a full length, could be wrong though)

  6. doomfuzz says:

    No Coma Cluster Void???

    • Andy Synn says:

      No, because, as you probably would/should have worked out if you’d read the opening paragraphs… I clearly haven’t heard it. Because although I try to, even I can’t listen to everything.

      I am impressed it took until the sixth comment for someone to pull the old “pointless rhetorical question” trick though.

      If you’d like to recommend it, maybe even write a few words about it, that surely would have been more constructive than just going “NO [INSERT BAND HERE]!?!?”

  7. Bas says:

    For me Godhunter – codex narco is EP of the year (though I am not completely sure its an EP).
    To be controversial 😉 the NIN EP ‘Add violence’ is good and would be on my EP list..
    (the lp from Godflesh is much much much better though.. but thats an album)

    Thanks for the list (looking forward to the other lists).
    There are a couple of EPs there that I will check out.

  8. Darryl Steer says:

    Hang on people, has everybody forgotten Disma?
    Their EP Graveless Remains was an absolute monster.
    THAT was the EP of the year.

  9. Gipson says:

    Good list, and definitely some stuff I need to dig into here.

    Requisite list of things Andy has failed to mention:

    Kardashev – The Almanac (seriously like pos. 2 or 3 of all releases for me this year)
    Enthnor – Exhile (which came out like last week, so understandable)
    Vitriol – Pain Will Define Their Death

    And that’s it … not a lot of EPs on my radar this year I guess.

  10. ozzyzak says:

    You guys like doom? I like doom. Check out The Lecherous Liturgies by Fvneral Fvkk

  11. HighZoolander says:

    I think the one that got the most play from me this year was Vamacara – Mantras for the Manifold.

  12. rresmini says:

    Strong list. Also for consideration with ep releases this year: KRZTA, Meszaroth, Drouth, Kult Mogił, Black Harvest, Muka, Arkhon Infaustus, Coma Cluster Void, Lorn, Antigama…

  13. BillFlo says:

    Mesarthim: it truly is rare that the same song makes me laugh out loud, throw the horns, air-drum, and shake my booty, but whuduya know? Fun! (I know, metal isn’t supposed to be fun. They should have a grim emoji with like a frowny-face wearing corpse-paint.)

  14. Alec Newton says:

    I think the EP from Lobotomy Dept is one of the better EP’s of the year along with the Antigama EP

  15. Great list, but not seeing Sinmara and Aversio Humanitatis on here is like skipping “Selbst” on the years end list. But very happy to find loath finder here – seemed a bit underappreciated to me and deserves its spot!

    • Andy Synn says:

      As I said above, Sinmara was missed off by accident, and AH was just something I never managed to get around to hearing this year, since it’s pretty much impossible to listen to everything that’s out there!

      And, just to be clear, I haven’t published any of my End of Year Lists yet, apart from this one.

      As for Loathfinder, right now I can’t even remember how I stumbled across the band (I think it was the art that drew me in, once again showcasing how important good artwork can be). Glad I did though.

  16. mike says:

    Forefather’s EP was good as well.

  17. Vacuity says:

    I would also add Mourning Dawn’s Waste, although with its 75 minutes, it’s a bit of a stretch calling it an EP. Crushing black/doom combination, 3 songs each running the same 24+ minutes. Bonus being the third song is actually first two songs overlayed one over the other. Good stuff.

  18. 18342772 says:

    Agnuis Dei’s Ad Portus Serpentium just came out, and it’s maybe easy to miss since it’s by a “collective” that morphs constantly into different bands. It’s incredible, though. Totally deranged vocal performance.

  19. Bas says:

    Oh yeah.. I forgot the Rebel Wizard EP !
    Nobody mentioned it..

  20. Gaia says:

    I really got into Mendacium’s Decimating Titans EP!

  21. Buddy says:

    The new LVTHN EP “The Spider Godess” should be also mentioned

  22. Chris says:

    Um…Crypt Rot? Was probably my favorite metal release of the year…period.

  23. Bobby Is A Metal Junky says:

    Good list, Andy–I anticipate your “disappointments”, “goods”, “greats”, and all the others as well.
    Several EP’s here I myself enjoyed. Also, Devouring Star dropped new material? I was completely unaware. I must rectify that void immediately, before I post my lists of the year in the readers’ section.
    Lastly, based on these picks, and others I’ve read from your posts in the past, I’m surprised you didn’t mention Marsh of Swans or Blurring–both of those releases are marvelous.

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