Dec 192014


(Andy Synn’s five-part retrospective on the year in metal concludes with his list of the “Personal Top 10″. Previous installments on the “Great”, the “Good”, the “Disappointing”, and the “Critical Top 10″ albums can be found hereherehere, and here.)

So this is it… it’s the Final Countdown (cue the music!)

Seriously though, I hope you’ve all enjoyed and appreciated all my lists so far, and discovered (or rediscovered) some new or overlooked gems in the process. It’s definitely as much fun for me to write the things as I hope it is for others to read them, as it allows me to collect my thoughts and really take stock of just how good each year is, and look back on all the various trends and twists that have come and gone.

My “Personal Top 10” list is exactly that, a simple representation of what I have personally (and almost uncritically) loved the most this year. Whereas I try and make the “Critical Top 10” list as impartial and honestly representative of the year as I can do, my Personal list is just a reflection of my own tastes and biases – unashamed and unfiltered.

I can tell you right now, in fact, that even if I were to expand the list to 20, only a few entries from the Critical list would probably get a look in. Some would, no doubt about it, but by and large my personal favourites differ quite a bit from what I’d objectively class as the year’s “Best” albums. Though I’d argue that many/most of these albums definitely are amongst the best I’ve heard this year.

So, without further ado, my final list of completely super-pretentious garbage for all of those unlucky enough to have been born after the 1970s!

Dec 182014


(We’re delighted once again to bring you a “best of the year” list from our friend Jacobo Córdova, the man behind the magnificent Majestic Downfall from Mexico, and a fixture in the lethal Zombiefication as well.)

I am very grateful for being able to share with all NCS readers, and for the second year in a row, what I consider to be the best releases of 2014. Once again I want to say that although I didn´t listen to everything I wish I had gotten my ears on in 2014, I certainly got to a lot of it, and my overall view of the year for Metal is quite positve.

This time, and to make it a bit different from last year, I will have other “sections” mentioning great albums that although not released this year, had something special and came to life this year (at least for me, since their dues were not paid on time). 

Sep 082014


(NCS contributor KevinP shares his latest quarterly round-up of albums that he commends to your ears.) 

We’re getting toward the end of the year and the amount of quality releases hasn’t slowed down one bit.  And there are even more to come as well (Wolfheart, At the Gates, Bloodbath to name a few just off the top of my head).  Here’s 5 more albums you should defintely check out.

Majestic Downfall/The Slow Death split

Once this is officially released on September 15th, you should be able to hear all 6 songs (3 by each band), but one listen to the Majestic Downfall track, “The Dark Lullaby”, should give you all you need to know.  The Slow Death is no slouch on this by any means.  Very good and competent funeral-esque doom.  So I don’t blather too much, start listening and see my review here [Editor's intrusion: I don't know why I'm letting Kevin link to his own review. I'm going to review this split and it's the only one you'll need to read.]

Jul 122013

(Earlier this week we asked NCS readers to share with us their lists of the best 2013 albums they’ve heard so far — and man did we get lists! More than 60 at last count, plus a bunch of interesting discussion. Our long-time supporter and occasional contributor SurgicalBrute decided to save his list for a post, and this is it, with sample music from each of his 25 picks.)

Anyone who’s ever made one of these lists knows how difficult they are to come up with. The truth is, for every one band that makes it onto a list, there’s probably another fifteen that are every bit as impressive and could have easily been chosen (which explains why some of you listed every band you could think of…seriously guys, save some albums for the rest of us ☺).

Personally, I’ve found the first half of 2013 to be extremely strong…new releases by metal stalwarts like Horna, Autopsy, and Amon Amarth…long awaited debuts by Lantern, KryptsVorum, and Sacriphyx. Hell, if things were to somehow totally tank from this point forward, I think we’d still come out ahead. Fortunately, we know that’s not going to happen, and it makes me eager to find out what’s in store for the rest of the year.

So, here’s my top 25 albums so far…Tell me what else you think I need to grab.

Jul 092013

We’re just past the halfway point of 2013, and it seems like a good time to take stock of what the year has delivered so far. As I’ve said before, I’m terrible at making “best of” lists. I overthink it, I agonize over it, I have great difficulty comparing metal across different genres. I have great difficulty choosing among albums I like even within a specific genre. When I contemplate making a “best of the year” list, my brain tends to just lock up like an engine that’s had a hole punched in the oil pan. So I’m not providing a list of my own — and I haven’t told my fellow writers that I’m doing this post, so I don’t have anything from them to share either.

No, the main point of this post is to solicit your choices. That’s more fun anyway. I mean, it’s clear that NCS readers have superb taste, because you’re reading NCS; I rest my case. It’s also clear from the comments we get that the readers at this site have diverse interests in metal and, with a few exceptions (those being the people who disagree with me), are highly intelligent. So I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with. That’s one of the best reasons to read lists of the year’s best metal — to make new discoveries — in addition to seeing confirmation of the wisdom of your own opinions.

So, in the comments to this post, please leave your lists of the best 2013 metal albums and EPs you’ve heard so far this year. Explanations or descriptions are welcome, but don’t feel you have to make time for that; a simple list is fine, too. A couple more things before you start pecking away on your keyboards or touchpads:

Mar 042013

(I bet you thought we’d finished our 2012 Listmania series. Think again. BadWolf brings us one more list.)

Three months into 2013, here’s another top 10 about 2012. These are my favorite articles to write every year, and also the most difficult. 2012 in particular was a musical gauntlet. The more promos we get here at NCS and at the other sites I write for, the more metal I listen to, the more I need non-metal records to give myself a break. It’s an infinite feedback loop.

I thought this would be an easy article. So many of my favorite artists in my favorite genres released albums in 2012 that I anticipated the article would write itself. Needless to say, things did not turn out that way. Old favorites like Marillion and Titus Andronicus released middle-of-the-road records. At the same time, I developed a tremendous appetite for hip-hop. One version of this list was entirely populated by rappers, which would have necessitated another top 10 list.

Also, so many metal labels released more-or-less rock records that I debated including them. In the end I opted not to: you know who Graveyard are, and they don’t need me for a cheerleader (seriously, though—listen to Graveyard).

In the end, these ten albums made the cut more-or-less based on play counts alone. They all share certain qualities with my favorite metal albums: intense sound, aggressive or melancholy delivery, vocals. You could call those things the core of my taste. Perhaps they’re also at the core of yours.

Feb 042013

(In this post, Colorado-based writer and guest NCS contributor Mike Yost (whose own blog is here) shares a duo of infectious songs from 2008.)

I have a mind that refuses to be linear.  My spasmodic thoughts love to jump around from past to future to present.  I wanted to contribute to the blog on the most infectious songs of the year, but my head has recently been stuck in 2008.  So, I shall share with the throng of NoCleanSinging readers some of my favorite, most infectious metal songs of that year.  These pandemic tunes are sure to burrow themselves into your brain and inject slimy pulsating egg sacks which hatch a multitude of ravenous squirming larva that devour your mind from the inside out, eventually crawling out of your blood-soaked ears.

This is not an exhaustive list of contagious canticles, so stay tuned for more (as soon as my brain jumps to another year).  And be sure to turn those speakers up.  If the music isn’t knocking over skyscrapers, mountains, or deities, then it’s not loud enough.


Jan 242013

With one or two possible late-arriving exceptions, our 2012 edition of Listmania has finally drawn to a close. Or to put it differently, since we’re approaching the end of 2013′s first month, I decided it was time to wrap this up and move on.

Our 2012 series of lists proved to be another extensive one: We published almost 50 lists with accompanying commentary. Some of these were lists that appeared at other “big platform” web sites or magazines — places with large audiences, most of which cover musical genres well beyond metal. We also published our own staff lists, of course. But the largest group of list posts came from guest writers — NCS readers, band members, and fellow bloggers. Plus, we also received many lists in the comments to THIS POST.

In this article I’m collecting links to all of the 2012 list posts that we published. But in this year’s wrap-up we’ve got an extra treat: NCS reader, commenter, and occasional guest writer Old Man Windbreaker has created a synthesis of all those lists, assigning point values based in part on how often an album appeared, in an effort to create a composite ranking of 2012′s best albums based on the lists published at NCS.

As you’ll see, this required a shitload of work, and I’m really grateful to the Old Man for this vast labor of love. His explanation of what he did, and the results, come right after my collection of links to the 2012 lists we published. Thanks again to everyone who contributed to 2012 Listmania and to everyone who made time to read what we pulled together.

Jan 212013

‘Sup dog!

(NCS reader and frequent commenter Old Man Windbreaker, who hails from India, helps us wrap up our Listmania series with a big-ass list of his favorite 2012 listening.)

Greetings. Over the length of this text, you shall be subject to Old Man Windbreaker’s self-indulgent eccentricities, primarily because you allow it. Here is a list of lists of One’s memorable listening experiences from 2012 (and the past couple of weeks). Furthermore, the items in the lists are provided with Bandcamp streams or Soundcloud playlists or YouTube playlists [Lists]. Note that One said “listening experiences”, and not “albums” or “music releases”. Quite a few of the entries are composed of mutiple releases. Anyway…

Feast your eyes and ears upon the list-yness!

But, in case you don’t want to read One’s commentary for some reason, here is a summarised list of Old Man Windbreaker’s favorite listening experiences of 2012, in no particular order after the top 3:

1. Portal of I by Ne Obliviscaris
2. Cognitive by Soen
3. Rengeteg by Thy Catafalque
4. Beastwars and Tower of Skulls by Beastwars
5. Griseus by Aquilus
6. Gods of Eden by Gods of Eden
7. Utilitarian by Napalm Death

Jan 202013

(Here’s the fourth and final part of TheMadIsraeli’s multi-part rollout of his list of 2012′s best metal. Sample songs are at the end of the post. And you can find the first 16 albums on his list herehere, and here. Despite the numbering, the albums are presented in no particular order.)

Finally, the end of my LP’s of the year.  These are, for me, the albums that blindsided me with how good they were.  Mostly new bands that came out of nowhere are here.

17. Infant Annihilator –  The Palpable Leprosy of Pollution

An album that dare I say is deathcore’s resurrection.  Infant Annihilator brought a titanic atom bomb impact with a style of technical deathcore that just destroyed everything in its wake.  I can’t wait to see what these guys do next.

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