(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.
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?
AMIENSUS – ALL 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.
ANCST – FURNACE
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 APATHY – SPLIT
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 HORDE – THE 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’AL – IN 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 ASH – THE 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.
CODE – UNDER 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 STAR – ANTIHEDRON
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.
ENTOMBMENT – ENTOMBMENT
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.
ESCHATOS – MÆRE
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 / MUTILATRED – SPLIT
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.
GODEATER – OUTERSTELLAR
Three tracks of high-quality, high-voltage Tech-Death from Scotland, available digitally for the sweet price of “whatever the hell you feel like”?
IRON FLESH – WORSHIP 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.
LOATHFINDER – THE 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?
MANTAR – THE 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.
MESARTHIM – PRESENCE
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.
NECROPHOBIC – PESTA
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 PAZUZU – FARMAKOLOGINEN / 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.
SEPREVATION – ECHOES 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.
SVARTIDAUÐI – UNTITLED
Two tracks of traumatic audio terror from one of today’s most truly vital and utterly venomous Black Metal bands. ‘nuff said.
THE INFERNAL SEA – AGENTS 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 EARTH – THAW
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.
ZAO – PYRRHIC 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?