Top Ten of 2017: Matt Hollenberg and Nick Shellenberger of Cleric

Founded in Philly in 2003, Cleric resides in the circle of bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan and Car Bomb – elite musicians playing avant-metal that wows on both a cerebral level and a gut level. Cleric’s brand of metal is marked by dark, cinematic atmospheres and free jazz-informed forays, bursting through a base of highly technical, mathy shred.
On Retrocausal, released December 8, Cleric has pushed its style to new heights. Meshuggah-esque hypnosis, doomful synths, spastic skronking, and blastbeats weave together into highly unpredictable, kitchen-sink epics, many surpassing the 9-minute mark. An ominous vibe, straight off a movie screen, underlies everything; lurking in the shadows are mysterious samples and field recordings evoking deep sea and outer space.
None other than John Zorn is a fan and collaborator who lent his talents to Retrocausal. Elder statesman of musical freedom, a man whose massive body of work incorporates jazz, classical, metal, klezmer, film scores, and more, Zorn guests on Retrocausal’s closer, “Grey Lodge.” Cleric’s relationship with Zorn began in 2013 when he invited the band to work with him on his ongoing Masada project, and continued with his tapping guitarist Matt Hollenberg to join his band Simulacrum (along with John Medeski of Medeski, Martin, and Wood).
In addition to Zorn, Retrocausal features guest appearances by Mick Barr (Krallice, Orthrelm, Ocrilim) and Timba Harris (Secret Chiefs 3).
Ghettoblaster caught up with Cleric’s Matt Holenberg and Nick Shellenberger to run down their favorite releases of 2017. This is what they were digging.
Matt Hollenberg
Stinking Lizaveta, Journey To The Underworld
Artificial Brain, Infrared Horizon
Ex Eye, Ex Eye
Origin, Unparalleled Universe
Krallice, Loüm
Brian Marsella, Buer: Book of Angels 31
Blut Aus Nord, Deus Salutis Meae
Converge, The Dusk In Us
Yowie, Synchromysticism
Pyrrhon, What Passes for Survival
Nick Shellenberger
Brandon Seabrook, Die Trommel Fatale
P.O.S., Chill, Dummy
Krallice, Go Be Forgotten
Bjork, Utopia
Monotrope, Unifying Receiver
Open Mike Eagle, Brick Body Kids Still Daydream
Kelly Moran, Bloodroot
Pyrrhon, What Passes for Survival
Perfume Genius, No Shape
Chelsea Wolfe, Hiss Spun
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