(As we do every year, we’re beginning the roll-out of year-end lists by our own writers with Andy Synn‘s six-day series of selections, which begins today and continues next week.)
Next week, as is traditional, I’ll be deploying my regular barrage of year-end lists, beginning with a round-up of what I thought were the most “Disappointing” albums of the past twelve months, followed by my selections of the “Good” and “Great” records of the year.
Now, the point of these lists, as opposed to a traditional “Top Ten” (which I’ll be finalising for the end of the week) is not to “rank” the albums contained therein (beyond the wider “Disappointing”, “Good”, “Great”, categorising) or to show-off how many albums I’ve listened to (as I’ve been accused of before) but to provide our readers with a sort of “one-stop shop” (including, wherever possible, Bandcamp links) for music which they might not have had chance to check out over the course of the year.
So, to whet your appetites a little bit, I thought I’d kick things off with an alphabetised list of the various EPs (seventeen in total) which have grabbed me by the metaphorical cojones in 2018.
ÂME NOIRE – THE TREE THAT BEARS ROTTEN FRUIT
I was very impressed by the debut from these Melbourne-based metallers when I accidentally stumbled across it in late July, and have gone back to the well for another taste of their riffy, Prog and -core inflected brand of Death Metal multiple times since then.
ANCST – ABOLITIONIST
Long-time NCS favourites Ancst put in another blistering performance on their latest EP, which provides four tracks of raging metallic Hardcore and barn-burning socio-political polemic, all underpinned by an ever-present undercurrent of blackened belligerence.
ANOMALIE – INTEGRA
Brimming with passion, overflowing with melody, and pulsing with primal power, Integra picks up right where last year’s similarly spellbinding Visions left off, and provides us with four more killer cuts of brooding metallic majesty reminiscent of both Agalloch and Insomnium at their very best.
ARMED FOR APOCALYPSE – PALM READER
American Sludgecore quartet Armed For Apocalypse are one of those bands who lots of people have heard of… but whom not that many people have actually heard. Which is a shame, as their new EP is one superfluously heavy slab of pure, untainted aggression that should please fans of everyone from Crowbar to Carnifex.
CRYPTOPSY – THE BOOK OF SUFFERING: TOME II
It may not be a popular opinion amongst certain groups of people, but I legitimately think that the current Cryptopsy line-up is one of the best they’ve ever had, and the plethora of chaotic, contorted riffs, taut, tangled bass-lines, and frenzied percussive punishment which makes up these four tracks only reinforces that belief.
DEADSPACE – MOUTH OF SCORPIONS
Whatever you want to call them – “Blackgaze”, “Post Black Metal”, “Blackened Goth-Metal” – there’s no denying that Aussie collective Deadspace can be very good indeed when they put their minds to it, and their latest EP is a great introduction (or reintroduction) to their particular brand of dark, moody, depressive Metal that’s positively brimming with both atmosphere and emotion.
FACELESS BURIAL – MULTIVERSAL ABATTOIR
It was the ridiculously OTT name of this EP (officially released today) which initially drew my attention, but it was the brutal barrage of monstrously ugly riffs and filthy, filthy vocals which earned it a place on this list (PS: you should also check out their 2017 album Grotesque Miscreation too as soon as you get chance).
HADAL MAW – CHARLATAN
After the slightly disappointing follow-up to their impressive debut album failed to set the world (and this blog) on fire, Aussie quintet Hadal Maw came absolutely roaring (quite literally) back this year with this crushingly dense and ominously atmospheric slab of complex riffage and raging catharsis, once more demonstrating why they’re one of the Southern Hemisphere’s most underrated and unstoppable acts.
HATALOM – OF SORROW AND HUMAN DUST
These guys are from Quebec which means… you guessed it… they play lightning fast, technically frenetic Tech Death that pulls no punches and doesn’t skimp on the riffs. Probably one of the least known and least exposed bands on this list, fans of Soreption, Decrepit Birth, and Beneath the Massacre should check this EP out asap.
HORIZON ABLAZE – DI INFERI
This two-track companion piece to what (spoiler alert) remains one of my favourite albums of the year may not have received much fanfare so far, but it’s definitely well worth adding to your Bandcamp wishlist, as while it errs a little closer to a “purer” Blackened Death Metal sound reminiscent of the band’s previous album, Dødsverk, it’s still replete with a host of intricate progressive embellishments that serve as a nice counterbalance to all the churning riffs and scything drums.
IRON FLESH – SCOURGE OF DEMONIC INCANTATIONS
Four tracks of Old School Death Metal performed with passion and flair. No muss, no fuss, just a seething swarm of gruesome grooves, buzzing blastbeats, and biting riffs that hack and slash like a swarm of chainsaws.
THE ISOLATION PROCESS – TWELVE
Stepping off our usual beaten path a little, the chunky riffs and haunting vocal melodies of “Neon Lights” and “End of Now” may owe more to Tool and Deftones than to any of our more “Extreme” brethren, but that doesn’t stop this EP being one captivating collection of magnificent metallic morsels.
NACHTMYSTIUM – RESILIENT
While I’ve always been a huge fan of the music of Nachtmystium, the irresponsible, often reprehensible, actions of Blake Judd have always made it difficult to justify throwing my support behind his work (at least from a blogging perspective). I really do hope that, following his most recent stint(s) in rehab, he’s changed and is serious about making amends for his past mistakes, as the three tracks (and one intro) which make up Resilient showcase a much more introspective and melancholy side of Judd’s musical persona which I’d be intrigued to hear more of going forwards.
PROGENIE TERRESTRE PURE – STARCROSS
Although I loved PtP’s debut U.M.A., the records will show that I was much more lukewarm about their second album, oltreLuna, and I’ll admit that I haven’t really gone back to it very often (if at all) over the last year. Thankfully, starCross is a different matter entirely, blending blistering blackened intensity and ominous electronic atmospherics to provide a much darker take on the band’s signature sound.
SEPREVATION – INTO THE BLACK
With five stunningly savage tracks of Death-injected Thrash-Grind, the longest of which just scrapes over the three-minute mark, this EP goes right for the throat (and the eyes, and the kneecaps) without mercy or restraint, so if you’re looking for something mid-way between Cannibal Corpse, Rotten Sound, and early Sepultura, then this should be right up your proverbial alley!
TAKEN BY THE TIDE – REVENGE
Having sadly gone on hiatus not long after its release, this may well be the last we get to hear from this particular gang of Death/Djent degenerates, but that shouldn’t stop you all from jamming the hell out of caustic cuts like “The Organs Are Mine” and “Anfang Extinction” (to name but a few), and enjoying the band’s impressively intricate blend of menacing melody, tortured technicality, and abrasive, angular riffage to your black heart’s content.
TOMB MOLD – CERULEAN SALVATION
This two track EP (available now digitally and on… ugh… cassette) is the perfect Death Metal chaser to follow-up the band’s critically-acclaimed second album, Manor of Infinite Forms, as it provides the same levels of untrammelled ferocity and songwriting panache as its bigger brother, but in a much more compact and concise form.
So there you have it… a healthy heaping of music which I’m sure will be new to at least some of you. And, of course, if there’s anything you think I’ve missed (which, obviously, there will be) and/or which you want to add your own recommendations for (even if it’s something from the list above) then please feel free to do so in the comments below!
Before anyone else jumps all over me… I just realised I forgot the new Benighted EP which, even if I wasn’t the biggest fan of it, is definitely worth checking out.
“I really do hope that, following his most recent stint(s) in rehab, he’s changed and is serious about making amends for his past mistakes”
Not if that shit he just pulled with the Judas Iscariot “reissues” is any indication.
…moving back to the subject at hand. I’m honestly stunned how many of my year end picks ended up being either EPs or Demos. It’s got to be more than half
Ugh, well that is shit. Although, let’s be honest, not HUGELY surprising.
Glad to discover the first row of your year-end lists ! Very interesting picks into, many of them being passed under my radar. So I’ve to check them out asap (except the Benighted EP ” Dogs Always Bite Harder Than Their Master” which I already listen to. A real killer opus).
Many tanks Andy.
You’re welcome, as always. And I’m doubly disappointed that I forgot the Benighted EP, as a buddy of mine did the artwork and has been posting about his various commissions this year all this week, so that should have reminded me!
MY best EP was:
LAST BREATH by EZKATON
Maybe I’m the only one who really took notice of (and enjoyed it), but the new Unanimated EP Annihilation was one of my most played EPs this year. For a band that hadn’t been heard from for almost a decade after the release of their last album In The Light of Darkness, it was an extremely pleasant surprise to see them come back and release something that showed they still had it in them to release quality melodic black/death metal.
I’ll add that to my list of “things I’ve missed but need to check out”.
I expect that list to be MUCH longer by the end of the week.
ANOMALIE / FACELESS BURIAL / HORIZON ABLAZE / TOMB MOLD / PTP / Âme Noire!
This list deserves to be listed as a list on a year-end list OF best of lists!
The Meads of Asphodel have just put out an EP and it’s stunning. C’mon guys!
Good list, lots to check out, I really enjoyed Dues Vermin – Monuments To Decay E.P. this year, looking forward to all the rest of the lists to come, excited to find out about all the excellent music I’ve yet to hear, keep up the good work !
Although I have great difficulty permanently suppressing the unbearable nostalgia of Lord Worm probably every time I listen to Cryptopsy, I do think their EP was extremely good (it’s on my own EP’s list of the year).
I was surprised that you didn’t have Claret Ash on here–were you disappointed?
If you haven’t checked them out yet, add Rotten Sound, Quantum Hierarchy, Deadwood Lake, Geryon, and The Odious Construct to your list.
Dang it Bobby, you’re right… I loved that Quantum Hierarchy EP and totally missed it off the list.
The Odious Construct I also have, but haven’t been able to give it a proper listen yet (I think DGR has covered it though).
As for Claret Ash… I ended up treating the two EPs as a single album on my “Great” list and also included it here as a recommendation too!