Dec 092011

(Editor’s Note: Beginning next week, we will start publishing our own lists of 2011’s best metal from NCS writers, NCS readers, and guest contributors who we invited to participate in our year-end review. Here’s Andy Synn’s prelude to what he’s got planned for us — plus the first of our year-end lists; so I guess we’re actually starting today?)

Every day next week I will be delivering one of my Year In Review columns for 2011, much in the same format as I did last year. For those of you who are newer to the site, here’s how it works:

On Monday you will get the list of the “Great” albums of the year. An aggregation of the best written, best played, and most artistically rewarding records of the year, in my critical opinion.

On Tuesday you will get the list of the “Good” albums of the year. A composite of all the albums which are undeniably solid, with a mix of great/good songs, all exceptionally strong but with slight weaknesses that stop them from being really “Great”.

On Wednesday you will get the list of the albums I consider the most “Disappointing” of the year. Now to try and mediate the inevitable flame wars and insult that will be thrown my way, let me make it clear; as things stand I very rarely, if ever, review an album I know I am going to dislike. I try and listen to, and then review, albums that are at least “Good” if not “Great”, so as to describe them and recommend them to people in a positive way.

The albums that make up my “Disappointing” list are not necessarily BAD albums, but largely they are albums from bands who should have, and could have, done better – often because they’ve done better before. At worst, these albums are distinctly average and unimpressive offerings from bands who have far greater potential. A warning though – there are a lot of “big hitters” who produced ultimately “Disappointing” albums this year.

On Thursday you will get my Critical Top Ten. These are the ten albums which I think are the best of the best, the most artistically and critically viable. They are not necessarily the albums I enjoyed the most, but they are the albums which I would recommend as the key sample of this year’s musical excellence, regardless of my own feelings.

On Friday, to finish off the week, you will get my Personal Top Ten of the year. These are the albums which have simply had the biggest emotional connection with me, the ones which I have listened to the most and which I keep going back to. Like last year these may be drawn from both the “Good” and the “Great” lists, as it’s a far more personal ranking than the more objective and critical approach I will be taking for Thursday’s list

So as a preliminary to all this I have decided to list my favourite EPs of the year and give you a quick indicator of which albums, due to various reasons, I simply haven’t had a chance to hear (or haven’t heard enough of) this year to include in any of next week’s lists.


Job For A CowboyGloom (reviewed here)

— Propulsive death metal from the new guard.

EnslavedThe Sleeping Gods/Thorn (the latter reviewed here)

— Two EPs that saw the band expanding their current sound whilst also digging up their own roots.

AtrumOpus Victum – (reviewed here)

— One of this year’s biggest, and most pleasant surprises. Scathing Icelandic black metal.

InsisionEnd Of All (reviewed here)

— Filthy, cannibalistic death metal fury.

RosicrucianBeneath The Waves (reviewed here)

— Sweeping waves of oceanic black metal.

Negura BungetPoartă de Dincolo

— Moody and mesmerising folk music filtered through a black metal prism.

DripbackInhaling The Ashes

— Filthy, grinding death metal like a punk-infused take on early Fear Factory.


All these albums have been on my list to get and experience, but I simply haven’t had chance to get a hold of them in time. In certain cases I have recently gotten hold of a copy, but haven’t had the chance to get into it to a deep enough extent. For example, I do have the new Absu album, and it’s ripping my face off as I type this, but I don’t feel like I’ve had it long enough to get into it and rank it properly. Similarly I have the new Cormorant, but haven’t had what I would consider enough time to delve into the record properly, so it would be disingenuous to include it on any of my lists just based on my own expectations and the reviews I have read here and on other sites.

So, that being said, here are the albums which WON’T be appearing on any of my lists next week…


RevocationChaos Of Forms

Sleeping GiantKingdom Days In An Evil Age



TriviumIn Waves


AnthraxWorship Music

Hate EternalPhoenix Amongst The Ashes

Lock-UpNecropolis Transparent

Blut Aus Nord777: The Desanctification

  13 Responses to “2011 – THE EPs AND THE UNHEARD”

  1. I has a sad. Was really hoping to hear your take on the new Absu.

    • Well you might just be in luck… after I publish the end of year lists I will still have a few reviews left to go. Some 2011 albums, some older. Absu might just get a look in! Just wanted to make sure I got my end of year lists in… before the end of the year!

  2. Yes! The idea of requesting an EP best-of list had been brewing in my mind for some time. Thanks Andy! Looking forward to the rest of your lists

    I would also add Shattered Skies’ “Reanimation” EPto the best of list, which I got from right here on NCS.
    You guys fucking rule.

  3. I just spent a little time trying to collect all the EP reviews we’ve posted this year in a new category called SHORT BUT SWEET, and you can find that category link on the right side of every NCS page. I may have missed some, because we didn’t start using that “Short But Sweet” post title for EPs until about mid-way through this year, which makes it a bit more difficult to search through the posts during the first half of the year for EP reviews. But now that we’ve got that new post Category, we’ll use it consistently going forward.

  4. the hell do you do so many lists.

    I only did 1 best of list with 15 bands, and ran out of synonyms for brutal after about 7

  5. I’d like to do a year end list myself… I just have to hope I pick up the albums I want most before the new year, then I have to hope I have the capacity for writing a short description of each and why I liked them… I hope I won’t be as repetitive as I think I will be, as I’m a big chorus and riff person…

    • Not being a writer, I know exactly how you feel. I found just keeping it brief seems to be the way to go. Youre not writing reviews here, just your impressions.

      As for owning albums, I used to get bogged down on that all the time. Remember theres plenty of ways to stream things on the web until you can buy them. This is about the albums you’ve heard that you think are best this year, not about what you have physical copies of. If youve streamed the new Krisium 20 times, but dont own it yet is your opinon less valid?

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