PETE WOODS (EDITOR): TOP 20
As others will re-iterate it’s been a crazy year for good music releases and anyone who tells you otherwise is quite frankly a fool. The biggest problem has been keeping up with it all and admittedly we are probably all guilty of simply not having given some albums that we were not personally reviewing the time they fully deserved. I can think of several smashing ones that I knew I had to get back to but simply haven’t had the time. You will find these lists hugely diverse based on both this fact and personal tastes; as ever there are no right or wrong answers and it’s all quite subjective. The wealth of talent seen during 2017 might make you think who the hell is there left to release albums next year but worry ye not 2018 is already shaping up nicely. Big hitters such as Watain, Shining, Sinistro, Leaves Eyes & Corrosion Of Conformity are all poised on hitting the year running with new albums and no doubt the underground will be positively seething with stuff. Naturally we will be reporting on as much as we can fit in but in the meantime cast a look at our lists but be warned they might just put a dent in your wallet!
1: The Ruins Of Beverast – Exuvia (Van Records)
Alexander von Meilenwald has constructed a work of great depth and substance around a massive sounding canvas of blackened doom, which expands in a heady fever dream akin to ingesting musical peyote. A shamanic rite of passage in musical form.
2: Anathema – The Optimist (KScope)
Continuing narrative journey from ‘A Fine Day To Exit’ Anathema provide an enriching musical experience full of sincere and heartfelt emotion. Just like a great literary work, this one’s a real page turner. All hail Optimism.
3: Taake – Kong Vinter (Dark Essence)
Hoest never disappoints whether on album or with Taake’s savage live shows, album number 7 is no exception to the rule. ‘Kong Winter’ is one for bitter days and nights and one that sees this king truly retaining his throne, none coming close to deposing him from glacial empire
4: Godflesh – Post Self (Avalanche Recordings)
Ever since wandering into an Our Price record store and being drawn to the cover of an album called Streetcleaner in 1989 Godflesh have never let me down. Post Self is another classic album of the future and one that sees the band rejuvenated and on fire.
5: Iron Monkey – 9-13 (Relapse)
Detractors be damned, the monkey are back and throwing their shit with hateful abandon. One of the most caustic, misanthropic and embittered releases of 2017. Whatever you think, Johnny Morrow would doubtless approve!
6: Prong – Zero Days (SPV)
Sometimes all you need are a selection of songs that draw you in and simply cannot stop being played. Tommy Victor and co know all about how to grab your attention, Zero Days maybe inevitable but Prong are going to keep on banging-heads till the very end.
7: Samael – Hegemony (Napalm)
Samael’s first album in 6 years is one hell of a powerful one without an ounce of fat despite having 11 tracks and a cover. It simply doesn’t let up in the slightest and takes you on one hell of a giddy ride.
8: Vulture Industries – Stranger Times (Season Of Mist)
It’s not just Stranger Things that have been occupying us during these Stranger Times and this is the musical equivalent of being dropped into an upside down world. Bizarre and imaginative its unconventionality makes this a trip well worth taking.
9: Wiegedood – De Doden Hebben Het Goed II (Consouling Sounds)
This is rigid, tightly played and compelling black metal of the highest order. Wiegedood don’t pander to trends and fully return to a time before the light, illustrating just what drew us to this dangerous and exhilarating sound in the first place
10: The Eden House – Songs For The Broken Ones (Jungle)
Possibly the most sublime and gorgeous album of 2017. If you are looking for musical love in your life these are songs that you are going to want to pledge a life-long commitment to; broken or not.
11: Barrabus – Barrabus (Undergroove)
12: Enslaved – E (Nuclear Blast)
13: Fen – Winter (Code666)
14: Akercocke – Renaissance In Extremis (Peaceville)
15: Helheim – landawarijaR (Dark Essence)
16: Fleurety – The White Death (Peaceville)
17: Tau Cross – Pillar Of Fire (Relapse)
18: Dool – Here Now, There Then (Prophecy)
19: Earth Electric – Vol 1: Solar (Season Of Mist)
20: Tele S Therion – Luzifers Abschied (Minotauro Records)
ANDREW DOHERTY: TOP 20
1: Anubis Gate – Covered In Black (Nightmare Records).
I was already a fan of Denmark’s Anubis Gate and love their previous albums, but this one takes them to new, ethereal heights. “Covered in Black” is thoughtful, intelligent and heavily progressive without sacrificing on great song structures. The drama in each of these unique creations is immense. I could listen to this album over and over.
2: Fen – Winter (Code666)
A hypnotizing and powerful piece of work, through a range of blisteringly black, enormous and occasionally melancholic scenes this driving force of an album majestically and sublimely captures frosty atmospheres of nature and winter in all their bleak glory. Stunning from start to finish.
3: Devilish Impressions – The I (Lifeforce Records)
This exercise in painting grim pictures is Devilish Impressions’s most mature work to date. “The I” is an exploration of all aspects of darkness. From the black and deathly chaos comes epic sophistication.
4: Madrost – The Essence of Time Matches No Flesh (S/R)
This album from Californians Madrost is an accomplished mix of thrash metal with technical progressive metal. Tight structures and superb transformations make this such a great listen.
5: Loch Vostok – Strife (ViciSolum Records)
An amazingly energy-charged mélange of melodic progressive metal structures in only the way that Loch Vostok know how to do it. That’s “Strife”.
6: Farsot – Fail-lure (Lupus Lounge)
Merciless and creepy are what Farsot do. Constantly threatening, there are lush passages, but ultimately this is another psychological assault from the German black metallers.
7: Next to None – Phases (Inside Out)
I detected something interesting about these Americans when I saw them play live earlier this year. Well “Phases” captures their range and technical ability. Technical progressive metal understates the variety and sophistication of structures inherent in this album.
8: Taake – King Vinter (Dark Essence)
This ravaging, bleak, gangrenous, frost-bitten black metal has no hint of mercy but plenty of technical excellence, uniqueness and fire. It’s just what the evil doctor ordered.
9: Emphasis – Black.Mother.Earth (Geenger Records)
A post metal masterpiece with the richest of textures comes from Croatia’s Emphasis in the form of “Black.Mother.Earth”. Post metal works can sometimes be formulaic but the variety and lucidity of expression make this one so outstanding.
10. Aegri Somnia – Ad Augusta per Angusta (S/R)
Fusing Castilian folk music and lofty female vocals with avant-garde metal sounds like a step too far but this really works. The result is a series of vivid and colourful images.
11: Byrdi – Ansur : Urkraft (Troll Music)
12: Until Rain – Inure (Sensory Records)
13: Wobbler – From Silence to Somewhere (Karisma Records)
14: Ajattara – Lupaus (Svart)
15: Major Parkinson – Blackbox (Karisma Records)
16: Caligula’s Horse – In Contact (InsideOut Music)
17: Enslaved – E (Nuclear Blast)
18: Igorr – Savage Sinusoid (Metal Blade)
19: Persefone – Aathma (ViciSolum Records)
20: Mord A Stigmata – Hope (Pagan)
FRAGGLE: TOP 20
Well, this year certainly was explosive for releases. If 2015 was the year of no nonsense, straight up heavy metal and 2016 was the year of the riff (be it stoner/doom/thrash based) then 2017 is the year of the heavy! There have been some colossal releases this year which all pack a serious musical punch, be it through the riffs or the tones or the sheer weight of the music. Whilst some of the old guard may have released some decent efforts (Sepultura, Obituary, Overkill and [begrudgingly] Arch Enemy), it ultimately has boiled down to what stood out the most for me, be it heavy, hook laden or infectiously memorable. Here’s to 2018!
1: Prong – Zero Days (SPV)
New York groove metal titans return again. Keeping the consistency up with some relentless touring and recording, Zero Days manages to bring back the magic of Prong’s earlier work but with the newer sharpness to the sound. Riffs blasting, fingers and necks snapping, anyone who hasn’t heard this release is in for a Rude Awakening!
2: Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black (Metal Blade)
In a year where the old guard of Death Metal have churned out some fantastic releases, the iconic Cannibal Corpse remain at the top of their game, proving why they are probably the most influential death metal band of the genre’s history. Ferocious, relentless, heavy as hell and brutally effective, the legends deliver once again. Nothing more needs to be said on this really!
3: Mother Of Millions- Sigma (ViciSolum)
Sigma is a masterful display of atmospheric impact. It is progressive metal at its strongest – flowing freely, creating a vast soundscape which offers total immersion. Rich sounds, expressive vocals and wonderfully dark, it is a fine release which only sets this band up for greatness!
4: Cavalera Conspiracy – Psychosis (Napalm)
Every Sepultura fan hopes that one day the axe will be buried between Max and Andreas. Until then, we have to live in hope. Whilst Sepultura may have released a solid album in the form of ‘Machine Messiah’, Max and Iggor’s latest work is the closest thing sound and feel wise to Sepultura as you can get! Heavy, oppressive, chaotic, it’s just what we wanted!
5: Power Trip – Nightmare Logic (Southern Lord)
The heaviest album you will hear this year! Ferocious riffs, adrenaline pumping groove, angry and overwhelming, Nightmare Logic will consume you. A wall of relentless riffs full of thrash metal fury, delivered with the intent to pummel you into submission, what is there to not like about this?
6: Lock-Up – Demonization (Listenable)
Grindcore titans return once more with more essential listening for those who love their music fast. Gratuitous blastbeats and buzzing riffs along with intimidating growls all provide the soundtrack to what could best be described as the express lane to hell! Buckle up and get on board!
7: Origin – Unparalleled Universe (Agonia Records)
An overwhelming display of technical mastery in the death metal genre. A mindfuck of unparalleled volume, led by sweeping leads, relentless riffs and intensity dialed up to 11. It’s the musical equivalent to a force of nature, rolling over everything in its path and leaving chaos in its wake.
8: Iron Monkey -9 -13 (Relapse)
Little needs to be said here. When this was hinted at, attention was captured and when it landed, what we all anticipated was delivered. Filthy, heavy, intimidating and downright nasty, this is Iron Monkey doing what they do best- giving the world the middle finger whilst they lay waste to it.
9: Heterochrome- Melencholia (S/R)
Iranian progressive metallers Heterochrome risk their lives to bring a truly wonderful progressive metal release which ticks all the boxes. Superbly controlled polyrhythmic shifts, intricate and rich melodies laden with flair and vocals which capture the attention all show a band who will be one to watch in the future, provided the Iranian Regime doesn’t crush them first.
10: Bodycount – Bloodlust (Century Media)
Ice ‘Mother Fuckin’ T is back again. With some big names (Dave Mustaine, Randy Blythe) adding their touch, the rap-metal pioneers strike out the way they always do- with fire and venom in their delivery. Politics, Society, Slayer… No one is safe. It may not be their self-titled release, but it’s a step in the right direction.
11: Municipal Waste- Slime And Punishment (Nuclear Blast)
12: Warbringer – Woe To The Vanquished (Napalm)
13: Alestorm – No Grave But the Sea (Napalm)
14: Danko Jones – Wild Cat (AFM)
15: Sons Of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony (Inside Out)
16: Iced Earth – Incorruptible (Century Media)
17: Serious Black – Magic (AFM)
18: Daydream XI – Circus Of the Tattered And Torn (Sensory)
19: Godflesh – Post Self (Avalanche Recordings)
20: Mr. Big – Defying Gravity (Frontiers)
GIZMO: TOP 20
I’m sure I usually start these off by proclaiming what a shit year it’s been but with some awesome music. Well 2017 has been the worst year of my life so far, due to family events rather than my own health for once. My own health has been remarkably stable, considering. I only mention it as I notice in retrospect how high some of my scores have been. The explanation is simple – in times of trouble you are wide open emotionally and that’s where music gets in. So no, I regret not one. All these albums have been there for me one way or another.
1: Procession – Doom Decimation (High Roller)
This is dark, even cynical views into the world but with a refusal to buckle or break. They burn hot like few other doom bands have ever succeeded in doing. Frankly this is peerless.
2: Fellwarden – Oathbearer (Eisenwald)
It conjures and evokes and offers an emotional journey that got to me simply and naturally. This is plainly something that had to be spoken and I for one am very glad of that.
3: Lisa Cuthbert – Hextapes (Iron Bonehead)
This is an album to sit in the silence of your own space and wrap yourself in, let it lead you where it will. Wherever you travel it will be beautiful and it will be wondrous and it will haunt you afterwards.
4: Anvil Strykez – Stealth Attack (Wolf Force Corporation)
Sounds from my teenage VHS days, beautifully, perfectly captured by a guy who probably wasn’t even conceived then. Somehow kind of life affirming and glorious.
5: Godflesh – Post Self (Avalanch Recordings)
This time perhaps updating the ‘Pure’ sound rather than the anger of A World Lit Only By Fire, once again Godflesh prove they still sound like no one else and no one sounds like them.
6: Atlantean Kodex – The Annihilation Of Bavaria (Van Records)
Showcasing all the reasons to fall in love this exceptional band; depth, intelligence, accessibility but above all songs and heart.
7: Wolves In The Throne Room – Thrice Woven (Artemesia)
Emerging from the forests where I thought they had vanished forever, WITTR meld the harsh face of nature to the most beguiling sound they have produced. Magnificent.
8: Damnation’s Hammer – Unseen Planets, Deadly Spheres (S/R)
Just a fantastic bit of driven, focussed, roaring frosted death metal. Pounding, punishing, precise but with those raw black edges and wings beating the sounds of chaos within.
9: Coltsblood – Ascending Into Shimmering Darkness (Candlelight)
This is the beast crawling from the darkness into a crepuscular light and it’s grime, tar encrusted hide glistening with unexpected, twisted colour.
10: The Obsessed – Sacred (Relapse)
Sacred is magnificent. Hard, real, melancholy, emotional and esoteric all flowing from the same impossible stream.
11: Mork – Eremittens Dal (Peaceville)
12: Vassafor – Malediction (Iron Bonehead)
13: Lonely Robot – The Big Dream (Inside Out Records)
14: Memoriam – For The Fallen (Nuclear Blast)
15: Dool – Here Now, There Then (Prophecy Productions)
16: Crystal Viper – Queen Of The Witches (AFM)
17: Iku Turso – The Great Tower (Wolfspell)
18: Zifir – Kingdom Of Nothingness (Duplicate)
19: Cryo Chamber Collaboration- Yog-Sothoth (Cryo Chamber)
20: Akercocke – Renaissance In Ex
Other mentions: The Katla album still hasn’t arrived at my house so it missed out. Solstice is due any week, but ditto. And Zeal & Ardour was apparently a re-release (or would have been #1) E.P: Kapala – Infest Cesspool (the biggest racket I’ve heard in years)
FRANK ALLAIN: TOP 20
1: Elder – Reflections of a Floating World (Armageddon Record Shop)
It’s impossible not to love Elder, frankly. Three guys simply plugging in and playing stoner-tinged progressive rock/metal with a tangible joy-de-vivre and absolutely no respect for genre boundaries. ‘Reflections of a Floating World’ effortlessly switches from crushing doom, delicate post-rock, infectious hook-laden metal and pulsating krautrock with ease. If 2015’s ‘Lore’ was these guys announcing themselves to the wider stage then this record firmly cements their position as one of the hottest acts around. And I did I mention the riffs? Riffs for DAYS. Splendid.
2: Ruins of Beverast – Exuvia (Van)
The brainchild of Alexander Von Meilenwald, across 5 albums and 15 years of existence ‘Ruins of Beverast’ has become synonymous with true artistic vision and sheer compositional quality. A highly distinctive and considered synthesis of crushing doom, black metal and unique, torturous ambience, these are not record to be taken lightly. ‘Exuvia’ continues this tradition and brings a more potent production and a developed sense of ritualistic, mantric hypnotism to the table. Crushing and elegiac, it’s Von Meilenwald’s strongest work to date which really is no mean feat.
3: Slowdive – Slowdive (Dead Oceans)
They’re back – after over twenty years, a true legend of the early 90s shoegaze scene have finally reformed, dusted off their pedalboards and delivered us a long, LONG awaited fourth record. And it’s a real treat – mainman Neil Halstead’s songwriting power has not dimmed one watt over two-and-a-bit decades away and the lush, layered, addictive guitar ambiences married to A-grade compositions render this no half-arsed comeback moneyspinner. Indeed, in songs like ‘Sugar for the Pill’ and ‘Star Roving’ we have tunes easily capable of sitting alongside the band’s established classics.
4: The Great old Ones – EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy (Season of Mist)
I am a big fan of the writings of HP Lovecraft and evidently, so are this French black metal behemoth. The Great Old Ones have been putting out impressively inventive and consistent material for some time now so it should come as no great surprise that their third record (and first for Season of Mist) raises the bar even further. Dense, layered, vicious yet laced with razor-edged hooks, this is an album that truly drags you into its murky, horrific and ultimately mind-shattering world.
5: Hubris – Apocryphal Gravity (Cold Smoke)
A left-field choice perhaps but this really is a splendid, glittering slice of instrumental post-rock. Wonderfully balanced and ambience-drenched guitar play offsets against some impressively tight and inventive percussion to forge a release with real identity – sometimes a challenge in this increasingly saturated genre. Absorbing melodies and excellently layered dynamics are Hubris’s calling card and I’d strongly recommend checking this out.
6: Junius – ‘Eternal Rituals for the Accretion of Light’ (Prosthetic Records)
Another surprise package here – this third album from Boston-based ‘heavy’ alt-rock band Junius is a wondrously inventive journey across a number of subgenre styles. I’ll be blunt – it’s a metal record in all but name, the songs anchored as they are on a bedrock of weighty guitars and punishing percussion. It’s the emotive hooks however, combined with numerous subtle stylistic twists and turns mainman Joseph Martinez brings to the record that truly elevate it. Post-punk, goth, shoegaze and driving metal collide in a unique release.
7: Blaze of Perdition – Conscious Darkness (Agonia)
Sometimes, a band just ‘gets it’. These Poles have summoned up an album that really does tick the boxes from what one wants in a black metal album in 2017. There are hints of dissonance in there but it is not overdone; subtle touches of melody; layering and dynamics; most importantly however, the intensity and overall conviction is never comprised. The fact they can pen an absolute beast of a tune just helps elevate this to the very top of the black metal pile this year.
8: Bestia Arcana – Holokauston (Dark Descent)
In which a number of current (and former) Nightbringer members manage to outdo somewhat their ‘parent’ band. Remorselessly dark, relentlessly punishing and wreathed in a choking, claustrophobic atmosphere, ‘Holokauston’ is deliciously intense. Yes, there are obvious parallels with Nightbringer, however Bestia Arcana’s approach in this instance is even faster, even more cavernous and even more blackened. Utterly convincing.
9: Foscor – Les Irreals Visions (Season of Mist)
A wonderfully understated album, ‘Les Irreals Visions’ is a masterclass in the deployment of taste and subtlety within the metal genre. Ostensibly sitting within the ‘post’ black metal camp, Foscor break out of the well-established post-rock homage tropes of the genre by forging very much their own sound. Clanging chords, strident clean vocals and a predominant mid-pace drive expertly defined songs and rank this very much amongst the ‘best in class’.
10: Amenra – Mass VI (Neurot Recordings)
Speaking of ‘post’… Amenra push their bowel-loosening post-metal to even greater heights on ‘Mass VI’. Allegedly an EP (well, it’s under 50 minutes…), the songs here further cement the Belgian 5-piece as the natural successors to Cult of Luna’s crown. Surging, cement-thick guitars, spacious atmospherics and a wonderfully diverse, balanced vocal performance cap off another splendid effort from this bunch.
11: Dodecahedron – Kwintessens (Season of Mist)
12: Aosoth – V: The Inside Scriptures (Agonia)
13: Inferno – Gnosis Kardias (World Terror Committee)
14: Nightbringer – Terror Damnata (Season of Mist)
15: Vin De Mia Trix – Palimpsets (Hypnotic Dirge)
16: Artificial Brain – Infrared Horizon (Profound Lore)
17: Farsot – Fail?Ure (Lupus Lounge)
18: Akercocke – Renaissance in Extremis (Peaceville)
19: Sikth – The Future in Whose Eyes? (Millennium)
20: Venenum – Trance of Death (Sepulchral Voice)
MARK EVE: TOP 20
This year I decided to look back at what albums have been spun and listened to the most here on the Eve Country Estate. Some albums may have scored higher than albums placed above them. This may sound odd but an album can be technically super accomplished i.e. the new Ackercocke but I might not necessarily wanna play it to death or enjoy it like I do some old fashioned groove-heavy Swedish death metal. Anyway, that was my criteria for this year and remember, it’s only my opinion but therefore fact!
1: Ursinne – Swim With The Leviathan (Transcending Obscurity Records)
What a total blast this album is and my absolute highlight of 2017. Crushing, groovy and relentlessly entertaining. Whether it’s the pummelling swagger of “Devil May Care” or the wickedly heavy take on the four inspired covers on this debut, Ursinne are the clear winners for me. Jonny Pettersson’s memorable riffs & the unmistakable roar of former Bolt Thrower / Benediction / Hail Of Bullets frontman Dave Ingram ensure this album will endure more than most. Take a bow fellas….top job!
2: Henry Kane – Den Forstorda Manniskans Rike (Transcending Obscurity Records)
And speaking of Jonny Pettersson, this debut solo project by the Bristol based Swede is by far my favourite grind album for a good long while. Relentless, atmospheric and a downright hairdryer of violence set on full and pointed straight at your face. If you haven’t got this, you should be ashamed.
3: Paganizer – Land Of Weeping Souls (Transcending Obscurity Records)
Paganizer never, ever disappoint and Rogga’s lads have carved out their best album yet. Pure Swedeath mastery, groovy, memorable and just FUN.
4: Deserted Fear – Dead Shores Rising (Century Media)
These Germans deserve a much higher profile. This, their third album, is a masterclass of thrashy death metal with a perfect production. If only the new Morbid Angel record had been half as good.
5: Incantation – Profane Nexus (Relapse)
The veterans have delivered yet another unremitting monster of an album here. Incantation ARE American death metal for me and this is a career pinnacle.
6: Akatharta – Spiritus Immundus (Pulverised Records)
WTF? I don’t even like “doom” usually but there is something so haunting and so addictive about Akatharta that it sank it’s slimy hooks in me and dragged me off, half smiling and half terrified. Featuring DM Legend Kam Lee on vocals with Travis Ruvo on drums & Aaron Whitsell’s haunting riffs, this unholy triumvirate created the years heaviest album. Oh, and it’s fucking scary too.
7: Immolation – Atonement (Nuclear Blast)
No one sounds like Immolation and this is, like Incantation’s newie, a career highlight for the lads. Utterly essential.
8: Overkill – The Grinding Wheel (Nuclear Blast)
I have so much love for Overkill it’s bordering on the ridiculous. Always my favourite thrash band “The Grinding Wheel” epitomises their unsurpassed work ethic and consistency.
9: Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black (Metal Blade)
The ‘Corpse could have rested on their laurels, could’ve played safe but no, they had to release another slab of facemelting precision metal murdery! “Red Before Black” stands shoulder to shoulder with any of their previous albums and probably edges the lot in regard to savagery and malicious intent.
10: Venom Inc – Ave (Nuclear Blast)
This is the only version of Venom you need to worry about and this monolithically heavy slab of pure blasphemous heavy metal was the best British metal release of 2017. Fight me!
11: Rogga Johansson – Garpedans (Chaos Records)
12: Infernal Majesty – No God (High Roller Records)
13: Wolfbrigade – Run With The Hunted (Southern Lord Records)
14: Basement Torture Killings – There’s Something About Beryl (Grindscene Records)
15: Cut Up – Wherever They May Rot (Metal Blade)
16: Dyscarnate – With All Their Might (Unique Leader Records)
17: Kreator – Gods Of Violence (Nuclear Blast)
18: Bunker 66 – Chained Down In Dirt (High Roller Records)
19: Skinweaver – Gratification Eternal (Great Dane Records)
20: Memoriam – For The Fallen (Nuclear Blast)
Infidel Reich – S/T EP (Helter Skelter Records)
Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter (Parlophone)
Autopsy – Puncturing The Grotesque EP (Peaceville)
ANDY BARKER: TOP 20
1: Ensiferum – Two Paths (Metal Blade)
Never a band to churn out any old crap, but this time around Ensiferum surpass themselves with a varied and powerful Metal gem, delivered brilliantly in their own unique style.
2: Eluveitie – Evocation II – Pantheon (Nuclear Blast)
As much as I’m eagerly anticipating the next heavy album, this much-more folk-orientated offering is more than the perfect appetite-whetter for what’s to come, it’s a great record in it’s own right.
3: Orden Ogan – Gunmen (AFM)
Yet another step forward for a band that is surely one of the front-runners in carrying German Heavy/Power Metal onward and even further upwards.
4: Pyramaze – Contingent (Inner Wound)
Surely the Melodic Metal release of the year, just the right balance of melody and power, expertly performed by a band at the top of their game
5: Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain (Nuclear Blast)
Maybe not quite as memorable or intense as previous releases, but this is a band in transition and whilst possibly still finding their feet manage to turn out another great album.
6: Seven Kingdoms – Decennium (Napalm)
A completely new band to me, it was my surprise of the year – Full-on speed, frantic, memorable and full of energy – power metal just as it should be.
7: Horisont – About Time (Century Media)
Horisont continue to claw their way up into the higher branches of the retro rock tree with another fine example of their considerable talent.
8: Almanac – Kingslayer (Nuclear Blast)
Not quite ‘re-inventing’ Symphonic Metal as some reviews elsewhere have hinted at, but certainly putting their own expert slant on things as well as appreciating what has come before.
9: Magnet – Feel Your Fire (Soulseller)
With more than a hint of Graveyard (which is never a bad thing), surely another band destined for greatness in the retro rock genre.
10: Ayreon – The Source (Music Theories Recordings)
If I’m honest, not quite as memorable as previous releases (purely from a personal point of view), but expectations are always higher than most when it comes to Ayreon and of course this is still an undeniably expertly crafted and enjoyable piece of musical theatre.
11: Skyclad – Forward Into The Past (Listenable)
12: Wind Rose – Stonehymn (Inner Wound)
13: Avatarium – Hurricanes and Halos (Nuclear Blast)
14: Unleash The Archers – Apex (Napalm)
15: Saturn – Beyond Spectra (Rise Above)
16: Jorn – Life On Death Road (Frontiers)
17: Inglorious – Inglorious II (Earmusic)
18: Wintersun – The Forest Seasons (Nuclear Blast)
19: Serious Black – Magic
20: Crimfall – Amain (Metal Blade)
REVEREND DARKSTANLEY: TOP 20
1: The Ruins Of Beverast – Exuvia (Ván)
Alexander von Meilenwald has transcended playing mere music as his visionary constructs warp metal almost beyond recognition. With psychedelic loops, brooding riffs and mind-boggling crescendos, The Ruins of Beverast proves once again to be in a league of its own.
2: Dodsengel – Interequinox (Debemur Morti)
It’s five years since the monolithic Imperator and yet Dødsengel walk right in and sound like they just invented the whole idea of occult-ridden and dystopian black metal all over again. Stretches boundaries with effortless ease.
3: Shaarimoth – Temple of the Adversarial Fire (World Terror Committee)
Leave it to WTC to issue forth one of this year’s finest, darkest rituals. Temple of the Adversarial Fire shrugs off structure and form, preferring to hurl itself headlong into a death metal rapture that has a life of its own.
4: Beltez – Exiled, Punished…Rejected (Bret Hard)
A relentlessly intense and dense shoegaze-on-speed delight from these Germans that wraps you in its warmest and yet desperately cold pagan-tinged melodies.
5: Acrimonious – Eleven Dragons (World Terror Committee)
Frenzied black metal with mountainous riffs high enough to make your nose bleed. Eleven Dragons is an ode to classic black metal but with nuance that reveals the brilliance of this band in a very evil sort of way.
6: Aosoth – V: The Inside Scriptures (Agonia)
Aosoth are back to prove that not give a flying f*ck in any way can lead us to the true heart of what extreme music is all about. You, yes you, are merely another pathetic parasite on the hairy, unwashed arse of a world dying to scratch you away.
7: Lor – In Forgotten Sleep (S/R)
Seriously good and inventive, making so many bands sound like they’re really not trying very hard. Uriah Heep, Helloween, prog, folk power metal… I’m not selling this very well am I? Oh sod it, just go find out for yourself.
8: Inferno – Gnosis Kardias (Of Transcension And Involution) (World Terror Committee)
Inferno were a good band that has turned into a beast. Gnosis Kardias plunges us straight into the heart of the void. I’d have been happy with just the first track, but Inferno spoil us with five more.
9: Rebirth Of Nefast – Tabernaculum (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
Rebirth of Nefast is Wann, who has gone from Ireland to Iceland, and I can think of no better place to produce this jaw-dropping masterpiece of fret board-troubling riffs.
10: Pyriphlegethon – The Murky Black of Eternal Night (Iron Bonehead)
Frenetic and filled with battering, cold energy and a monumental, black heart. Sort of catchy like Summoning stripped of all the stuff about hobbits, dwarves and old men in pointy hats.
11: Ritualization – Sacraments to the Sons of the Abyss (Iron Bonehead)
12: Karne – Symposium of Torments (Epictural Productions)
13: Inconcessus Lux Lucis – The Crowning Quietus (I, Voidhanger)
14: Almyrkvi – Umbra (Ván)
15: Ulvegr – Titahion: Kaos Manifest (Ashen Dominion)
16: The Wake – Earth’s Necropolis (Blood & Fire)
17: Slaegt – Domus Mysterium (Ván)
18: Taake – Kong Vinter (Dark Essence)
19: Enslaved – E (Nuclear Blast)
20: Havukruunu – Kelle Surut Soi (Naturmacht)
Martin Harris: Top 20
Last year I said choosing the top 20 was very difficult, but this year has been even harder by a factor of ten at least. Every genre has had a great year and if our editor could do it and had time to collate it I could produce a top 20 even a top 50 for the different genres such has been the glut of great music this year. Some notable bands failed to make the cut this year on my list namely Kreator, Satyricon, Cannibal Corpse, Enslaved, Morbid Angel, Obituary, Suffocation, etc and some have made it and you’re probably thinking why on earth is that in my top 20! All down to personal choice isn’t it, so here’s my top 20 albums of 2017 for what it’s worth.
1:Aosoth – V The Inside Scriptures (Agonia)
Few bands come close to the unequivocal sonic terror Aosoth continually wreak upon this sorrowful planet as this album is testimony to unrelenting obliterating hatred.
2: Archspire – Relentless Mutation (Season Of Mist)
Potently complex with pulverising intensity, Archspire’s third album of algebraic technical death metal mastery is distilled into seven songs of ruthless dexterity, complete with the fastest vocals I have ever heard.
3: Nargaroth – Era Of Threnody (Inter Arma)
Black metal and flamenco guitar work shouldn’t work but it does as Ash’s creative genius continues to shatter the confines of accepted blackened norms with his epic exploration of ebonized melancholia.
4: Venenum – Trance Of Death (Sepulchral Voice)
With a heaviness that could shake the foundations of a building this German band’s debut album is monstrous, where asphyxiating soul destroying death metal is hooked to progressive experimentation with devastating results.
5: Thy Art Is Murder – Dear Desolation (Nuclear Blast)
The Australian nutters are back with their finest release to date, reining in the core elements for a more death metal based album that is punishing, technical and uncompromisingly intense.
6: Firewind – IMMΩRTΔLS (Century Media)
The guitar master, Gus G, returns with some of the finest riffs he has ever wrote via this concept album that will have you raising your fist on one song then wiping a tear from your eye the next.
7: Shores Of Null – Black Drapes For Tomorrow (Candlelight)
Bold, ambitious and completely immersive this Italian bands second album is utterly enthralling, combining extreme metal with spellbinding melodies this album is an absolute joy to listen to.
8: Abhorrent Decimation – The Pardoner (Prosthetic Records)
Stamping their mark on the UK scene this concept album is a colossal statement of intent that sees the bands musicianship and ambition take a massive leap and bring them onto the world’s death metal stage.
9: Basement Torture Killings – There’s Something About Beryl (Grindscene)
Nothing prepares you for the third album by this UK band, it is a sonic extermination via death metal with a sprinkling of grind, it is disturbing, it is unsettling, but most of all it is brilliant.
10: Rings Of Saturn – Ulta Ulla (Nuclear Blast)
This albums art work is as vivid as their music, the bands technical deathcore is a tornado of riffs, a whirlwind of drum work that detonates continually amid a pyroclastic bass onslaught yet totally controlled.
11: Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain (Nuclear Blast)
12: Slaegt – Domus Mysterium (Ván Records)
13: Immolation – Atonement (Nuclear Blast)
14: Dying Fetus – Wrong One To Fuck With (Relapse)
15: Cut Up – Wherever They May Rot (Metal Blade)
16: Dragonforce – Reaching Into Infinity (Earmusic)
17: Entrails – World Inferno (Metal Blade)
18: Harlott – Extinction (Metal Blade)
19: SepticFlesh – Codex Omega (Season Of Mist)
20: Deserted Fear – Dead Shores Rising (Century Media)
John Skibeat: Top 20
1: Hey Satan – Hey Satan (Cold Smoke Records)
Swiss (rock n’) roll, anyone? Say “yes” if you want something chock full of riff-driven, groove-laden, unctuous, blissed-out goodness. The clincher? The final track – a glorious instrumental neck-snapper – disgustingly titled “This Meat Stinks, Honey”.
2: The Darkhorse – The Carcass of the Sun Will Sleep (Attic Records)
This is one almighty smack to the craw. It’s a doom-laden, sludge-packin’ riot of sound and it’s full of meaty goodness. The quality of the hooks saw me jacking-up on The Darkhorse’s Southern-infused spirit right through the year.
3: Caligula’s Horse – In Contact (Inside Out Music)
Nothing comes close to touching this band right now for their songcraft. The hard-hitting maelstrom of emotions they generate; the addictive beauty of it all – you can’t help but be inspired.
4: Lionize – Nuclear Soul (The End Records
Energetic, soul-heavy rock n’ roll bloated with warm Hammond organ and a good dose of groove. This plays like a magical mash-up of Thin Lizzy and the Chili Peppers.
5: The Midnight Ghost Train – Cypress Ave. (Napalm Records)
This has more twists and turns than an M. Night Shylaman plot. It’s subtle, doomy and buzzing with a variety of attacks that will leave you in bits.
6: Enslaved – E (Nuclear Blast)
Even if it struggles to reach the insane emotional peaks of ‘RIITIIЯ’ or the ferocious black metal crush of ‘Eld’, it still slots easily into their increasingly unsurpassable back catalogue.
7: From Eden To Exile – Modern Disdain (Attic Records)
Over 36 rancid minutes, this Northampton quintet produce gem after gem, alternating their attack with either a co-ordinated bass and drum power move, or by firing up their range of winding, interwoven melodics.
8: Ketch – The Anthems Of Dread (Aesthetic Death)
Ketch don’t do things by halves. This is hearty, brutal fare with exotic flourishes that hint at something beyond your usual experience. Slap on your death mask, bring your weed and come get some.
9: Elder – Reflections Of A Floating World (Stickman Records)
Melodic, atmospheric, bruising and power riff-hungry, this new album is replete with reasons to make you love mood music all over again.
10: All Them Witches – Sleeping Through The War (New West Records)
Psychedelic blues hewn from the deserts and rocks of America. Strong on originality and brave in its simplicity, this album proves that here is a band who know when a light touch and a strong heart can take you places.
11: Five Horse Johnson – Jake Leg Boogie (Small Stone Recordings)
12: Gin Lady – Electric Earth (Kozmik Artifactz)
13: Her Name Was Fire – Road Antics (Raging Planet Records)
14: Mothership – High Strangeness (Ripple Music)
15: Red Mountains – Slow Wander (All Good Clean Records)
16: The Devil And The Almighty Blues – II (Stickman Records)
17: The Cold Stares – Head Bent (Small Stone Recordings)
18: Woodhawk – Beyond The Sun (Independent)
19: Volumes – Different Animals (Fearless Records)
20: The Interbeing – Among The Amorphous (Long Branch Records)
Paul Maddison: Top 20
1: Portrait – Burn the World (Metal Blade)
Forever moving forward and enhancing their craft, Sweden’s Portrait provided another slab of real metal towards the latter part of the year. Whilst many hark on about former releases, this one develops nicely. From start to finish, it was thoroughly enjoyable.
2: Night Demon – Darkness Remains (Century Media)
Night Demon deliver metal inspired by the NWOBHM and US metal, this second full length features a new line up and an approach that showed song writing development, without losing the art of hook driven metal. Expect more things from these fellas next year.
3: Cloven Hoof – Who Mourns the Morning Star (High Roller)
After a couple of under the radar releases, this one featuring George Call on vocals, and this truly delivers. When the band states that this is the album they always wanted to write for years, then you may expect something of a decent nature. This is a pretty cool release, a masterpiece for this band capable of re-igniting their stance in the scene as is proven by the amount of European shows completed of late.
4: Walpyrgus – Walpyrgus Nights (Cruz Del Sur)
This was a stunning debut from start to finish. This album encompasses US metal, power metal and everything in between. The stunning use of harmony encapsulates the listener from top to bottom. The music and song arrangements sound so nature, effortless if you like. A strong market entry and looking beyond there’s hope of more to come.
5: Vulture – The Guillotine (High Roller)
German thrash/speed, whatever you label them, Vulture are fresh, exciting and very competent at what they do. Quite simply, an energetic assault from start to end, very much living up to the term ‘speed till you bleed’.
6: Malokarpatan – Nordkarpatenland (Invictus Productions)
Not normally a field I walk in, but this Romanian bands second album has developed from the debut and mastered the art of romantic folk inspired dark art, also known as black metal! There’s many inspirational pieces that you can literally get lost within, a terrific dark journey.
7: Deny the Urge – As Darkness Falls (G.U.C.)
The album that Morbid Angel should have released many years ago! In fairness, its not a copycat but its fresh, heavy and thoroughly battering in places. As Darkness Falls is really strong death metal release that covers all bases and has some cracking arrangements filled with technical intensity.
8: Urn (Fin) – The Burning (Iron Bonehead)
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from this band. Urn’s latest black thrash assault was gnarly and as invigorating as their debut release was. Unfortunately missing our little island on tour, but hey, there’s always blackened hope. This is no nonsense evil art.
9: The Wizards – Full Moon In Scorpio (Xtreem Music)
Mixing psychedelic sounds with 70’s hard rock is always good for me, The Wizards have literally provided a belter of a release that flows effortlessly and is much more about quality than the name of the influences, of which range from Blue Oyster Cult, Dio, Horisont, and Pentagram.
10: Air Raid – Across the Line (High Roller)
This is pure passionate heavy metal. A marked improvement with their new vocalist on board, this provides balls out music that makes them sound older than what they actually are. Riffs, solos, galloping metal, raise your fist and get out the leather and bullet belt, raging with quality.
11: Power Trip – Nightmare Logic (Southern Lord)
12: Stalker – Shadow of the Sword (Napalm)
13: Masters of Disguise – Alpha / Omega (Limb Music)
14: Jenner – To Live is to Suffer (Inferno)
15: Infernal Majesty – No God (High Roller)
16: Occvlta – Night Without End (Dying Victims)
17: Lyzzärd – Savage (Fighter)
18: Panikk – Discarded Existence (Xtreem Music)
19: Dirty Grave – Evil Desire (independent)
20: Heretic – A Game You Cannot Win (Dissonance Productions)
Phil Pountney: Top 20
1: Arch Enemy – Will To Power (Century Media)
Another behemoth release from the current front runners in Swedish melodeath. Grab a copy of this, and turn it up to 11, you will not be disappointed
2: Halphas – Dawn Of A Crimson Empire (Folter Records)
Absolutely stunning, simply sublime, brutal aggressive and antagonistic in its approach to finding perfection, only just starts to describe this release, and it pretty much hits the spot of perfection on every level
3: Svartsyn – In Death (Agonia)
This really is Swedish black metal at its best and Svartsyn are delivering it as they want to. There are no keyboards to hide behind, and nothing seems to be taken for granted. There is a definite malevolency and frenzy, which is paired with blackness, and this is delivered with a certain old school charm
4: Kreator – Gods Of Violence (Nuclear Blast)
German thrash metal at its finest. Kreator need no introduction and they deliver another pummelling release which will have you banging your head till you can bang no more
5: Morbid Angel – Kingdoms Distained (Silver Lining Music)
The Americans do it again and return with an absolute brute of a release. This is pure aggression, power and demonic mastery at its finest
6: Stahlsarg – Mechanisms Of Misanthropy (Non Serviam Records)
This is a fine example of black metal at its rawest, dirtiest form, yet it is so clinical and technical in its deliverance, it is a classic in the waiting. This is definitely going to sit alongside the greats of the black arts, and Gorgoroth, 1349, Taake et al, all need to watch their backs, in fact, move over, there are some new lads in town
7: Immolation – Atonement (Nuclear Blast)
Pummelling, brutal, vicious death metal at its finest. This is a pit bull of a record and will batter and bruise you from the moment its kicks in to the moment it eventually drops you to the floor.
8: Audn – Farvegir Fyrbdar (Season Of Mist)
This is 9 tracks of sheer beauty and delivers majesty and atmosphere throughout its complete 49 minutes. With every beat that is ejected from the speakers, there is a blast of iciness and grandeur which conjures up images of white snow-capped barren landscapes
9: Suffocation – ….Of The Dark Light (Nuclear Blast)
Suffocation have sculptured their own sound and style, and thankfully, they haven’t deviated from this on this particular brainchild. Suffocation, I believe, are one of the true masters of death metal, and this will happily sit alongside all the classics in years to come
10: Taake – Kong Vinter (Dark Essence Records)
True Norwegian black metal delivered by one of the godfathers of black metal and the rest of his merry men. This has atmosphere, screams, howls and intricacy in equal measures. The whole album is a fine oil painting within the dirty raw bleak world of black metal and will not disappoint.
11: Origin – Unparalleled Universe (Agonia)
12: Formicarius – Black Mass Ritual (Independent)
13: Nocturnes Mist – Diabolical Baptism (Séance Records)
14: Belphegor – Totenritual (Nuclear Blast)
15: Wolves In The Throne Room – Thrice Woven (Artemisia Records)
16: Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black (Metal Blade Records)
17: Septic Flesh – Codex Omega (Season of Mist)
18: Satyricon – Deep Calleth Upon Deep (Napalm Records)
19: Eneferens – In The Hours Beneath (Nordvis)
20: Ne Obliviscaris – Urn (Season of Mist)
Matt Mason: Top 20
1: Atomic Bitchwax – Force Field (TeePee Records)
This album is infectious! It infiltrates via the ear canals and then spreads rapidly until this 44 year old right on leftie is houting out of my car window that I have “13, 14, 15 atomic bitches!” (Shell of a Man). This is the best album I have heard this year by a country mile .
It’s an intergalactic stag do in a dodge charger powered by plutonium. Fuck yeah I like it!
2: Gaytheist – Let’s Jam Again Soon (Good To Die)
I love every track on here. Enjoyed their other releases but this one blends the best of noise rock, punk , post punk a la Cardiacs and sticks two fingers up to the powers that be with tongue firmly in cheek. Delightful!
3: Stahlsarg – Mechanisms of Misanthropy (Non Serviam)
I heard this album throughout the writing process and through the demos. When I finally heard it I felt the same way you do when someone presents their first born for the first time. “What will they do if I recoil in horror?” What the hell was I worried about? Stahlsarg have taken the template of their debut and added more depth, more textures and a fuck tonne of atmosphere to create a black thrash gothic masterpiece. Windmilltastic
4: Quicksand – Interiors (Epitaph)
A band that meant nothing to me. I had heard of them but Quicksand just made me think of Atreyu losing his horse whilst Limahl shouted at him. No more. This awesome slab of posthardcore opened up a whole new world for me. Just so much feeling amongst the throb.
5: Converge – The Dusk in Us. (Epitaph)
So Quicksand begat a new found appreciation of Converge. (I have to thank my buddy Benny for both bands dropping into my consciousness ) . I always dismissed Converge as a muso band. What an idiot I was. So many textures in here it is like a brawl in a haberdashery.
6: Satyricon – Deep Calleth Upon Deep (Napalm Records)
I like the cover art. I’ve had a few arguments about it , but I do. From the opening riffs of Midnight Serpent this is classic Satyricon. Stark. Huge. Frosty. With Dissonant they have added some jazz groove into the mix. Just a great modern Black Metal album.
7: Jess and the Ancient Ones – Horse and other Weird Tales. (Svart Records)
Finland’s Jess and the Ancient Ones exist in a sand filled snow globe from 1967 – 1969 . The Summer of Love is still in full swing. Everyone has flowers in their hair and only the correct coloured acid has been ingested. Jess voice is still as vibrant and lush as it ever were – Joplin meets Grace Slick she holds a lot of soul in her larynx. Jess and the Ancient Ones have yet again managed to conjure up a picture of another plane from another time and have injected that canvas with an array of colours and a soulfulness and melancholy that is deliciously bitter sweet.
8: Bloodclot – Up in Arms (Metal Blade)
If you are a fan of “Age of Quarrel” you are gonna love Bloodclot. If you are a fan of music that makes you want to dive headlong into a sweaty pit, pick up fallen brothers and sisters and punch out any sexist gropers then this is the album for you. Modern production and Nick Oliveri have added in rib vibrating bass to the frantic hardcore blast. From the get go this is a maelstrom . If there is crossover it definitely leans further towards old skool hardcore punk than metal.
9: Ufomammut – 8 (Neurot)
Ufomammut have once again created an album which lures you in before jettisoning you into orbit. Yes there is variation but the flavours mix and layer to create an enthralling gumbo rather than a chaotic hotchpotch . This is an album to get lost in. Properly lost. Tear up the map. Disconnect the sat nav and google maps and just wade into the cosmic wilderness. Your head will show you the way and your feet will follow.
10: Moonlight Desires – The Hits 1981-1985 (Infamous Butcher Records)
At first I didn’t put this in my top ten. I thought it was not cool. However this album of rocked out 80’s covers is one of my most played albums of the year. The fact that it ignores over played 80’s pop tosh and instead concentrates on tracks like Corey Hart’s Sunglasses at Night and Frankie’s Power of Love. Every one a belter.
11: Cradle of Filth – Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay (Nuclear Blast)
12: Wear Your Wounds – Wear Your Wounds (Deathwish Inc)
13: Midnight Ghost Train – Cypress Ave (Napalm)
14: Sarke – Viige Ugh (Indie Recordings)
15: Tau Cross- Pillar of Fire (Relapse)
16: Unsane – Sterillize (Southern Lord)
17: All Pigs Must Die – Hostage Animal (Southern Lord)
18: Primitive Man – Caustic (Relapse)
19: River Black – River Black (Season of Mist)
20: Less Art – Strangled Light (Gilead Media)
Honourable mentions – Dead Cross, Dead Woman’s Ditch, Vince Staples and Godflesh
Angela Davey: Top 20
1: Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun (Sargent House)
One of the heaviest releases of 2017. Chelsea Wolfe really can do no wrong.
2: Pallbearer – Heartless (Nuclear Blast)
So catchy it’s almost annoying. ‘I Saw the End’ is an anthem.
3: Full Of Hell – Trumpeting Ecstasy (Profound Lore)
The weirdest yet wonderful album of the year. Harsh noise meeting synth pop never sounded so good.
4: Amenra – Mass VI (Neurot Recordinge¬)
An instant classic – Amenra are on track to be as legendary as Neurosis.
5: Wolves In The Throne Room – Thrice Woven (Artemisia Records
Just when you think WITTR have gone all electronic, they win us all around again with this.
6: Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper (Profound Lore)
Probably the only year a single song will appear on an end of year list? 87 minutes of pure catharsis.
7: Midnight – Sweet Death and Ecstasy (Hell’s Headbangers))
Athenar knows how to write a banger of a tune. More lust, filth and sleaze from the Satanic royalty of blackened punk.
8: Godflesh – Post-Self (Avalanche Records)
Broadrick and his laptop have done it again. Oppressive, addicting, relentless misery.
9: Primitive Man – Caustic (Relapse)
This album is bloody horrible. All the most reason to love it.
10: The Great Old Ones – EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy (Season Of Mist)
Lovecraftian themed black metal – what’s not to love?
11: The Body And Full Of Hell – Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light (Thrill Jockey)
12: Zola Jesus – Okovi (Sacred Bones Records)
13: All Pigs Must Die – Hostage Animal’ (Southern Lord)
14: Wolfbrigade – Run with The Hunted (Southern Lord)
15: Blut Aus Nord – Deus Salutis Meae’ (Debemur Morti Productions)
16: Dalek – Endangered Philosophies (Ipecac Recordings)
17: Big|Brave – Ardor (Southern Lord)
18: The Bug Vs. Earth – Concrete Desert (Ninja Tune)
19 Acherontas – Amarta अमर्त (Formulas of Reptilian Unification Part II) (Agonia)
20: Archivist – Construct (Independent)
Chris Davison: Top 15
Well it’s been quite the year this year, and probably the most difficult list to write in the last five years or so. I generally stick to a top ten format, but given the sheer amount of quality that’s gone past my ears this year, I’ve decided to go with a top fifteen (!), all but one of which scored an 8.5 or more in my scoring! Lots of entries hovering just or there about, and actually only one release this year under 5/10, and a couple under 7/10. I don’t think I’ve been particularly generous this year, it’s just that the quality seems to be getting better and better of late, especially when you go looking off the beaten track.
1: Iron Monkey – 9-13 (Relapse Records)
Just…wow. The sonic equivalent of waking up in the back of 1989 Vauxhall Cavalier with a raging hangover, no one saw this coming. For all the bands that have followed in the shadow of Iron Monkey, only Iron Monkey could really do their sound justice. A deranged, frothing-at-the-mouth rampage through the darkest recesses of the psyche, “9-13” just pushed all the opposition out of the way, slumped down on your sofa and drank all your beer. A belligerent bully of an album that’s equal parts stare-down and elbows. Essential.
2: Memoriam – For the Fallen (Nuclear Blast)
Karl Willets and co. Bring us good, hearty old school death metal that manages to bring the spirit of Bolt Thrower, mix it with the punk attitude of Benediction, and finish it off with impressive song writing chops. For the longest time of the year, I thought that this was going to romp the album of the year, but…
3: Jagged Vision – Death is this World (Fysisk Format)
At the time of my review, I gave this album an eight out of ten. Since then, it’s been on such heavy rotation that it must have developed its own gravity by now. Swaggering Norwegian metal and hardcore elements packed with riffs so infectious that not even hospital grade antibiotics can touch it.
4: Morbid Angel – Kingdoms Disdained (Silver Lining Music)
Now we can pretend that the frankly terrible “Illud” album was nought but a fever dream. Kingdoms is the album that should have followed “Gateways”; a thunderous, imperious return to form for the Tucker-era band. Absolutely magnificent return to form.
5: Haemorrhage – We Are The Gore (Relapse Records)
The Spanish stalwarts have been ploughing their particular furrow for longer than most, and with their latest release, they’ve proven themselves to be the current undisputed masters of Necroticism inspired metal.
6: Obituary – Obituary (Relapse Records)
Obituary – Obituary is Obituary being Obituary. Think Obituary, then magnify everything that makes them great: from the Tardy vocal and drum assault, to the Morbid Tales guitar tone and thunderous bass, it’s another impeccable release for the Floridians.
7: Pale King – Monolith of the Malign (Soulseller Records)
A brilliant, brilliant album. Cavernous, weird and angular death metal that doesn’t particularly care if you like or not – but give it a go, and you’ll be hooked by the hypnotic sound.
8: Fen – Winter (Code 666)
Their finest release; a sprawling epic built on complex themes, mature song-writing and some impressive drumming. Are Fen now the UKs finest blackened metal band? I wouldn’t bet against it.
9: Paradise Lost – Medusa (Nuclear Blast)
The rebirth of Paradise Lost continues, with their most metal album since Gothic. It now seems such a long time since Paradise Lost tried to be Depeche Mode that it’s almost like a bad dream. I much prefer this version.
10: Suppressive Fire – Nature of War (Lost Apparitions Records)
I said in the review, “…it’s a bit like an extremely hot chilli – it’s powerful, raw, but won’t be to everyone’s taste”. Well, it was to my taste: raging unapologetic thrash with the rough bits left in.
11: Doom Side of the Moon – Doom Side of the Moon (Mascot)
12: Entrails – World Inferno (Metal Blade)
13: Ereb Altor – Ulfven (Hammerheart Records)
14: Exhumed – Death Revenge (Repapse Records)
15: Vallenfyre – Fear Those That Fear Him (Century Media)
Spenny: Top 10
So, 2017 is drawing to an end, and I am now approaching 50, with over three and a half decades spent listening to hard rock and metal. So, having spent enough money in my life on music, be it gigs, merch, on vinyl and tape, and then CD (and no, not back to vinyl again you hipster twats!) to get a third world nation out of debt, when the esteemed editor wants me to distil a whole year of listening to new music in between the classics, what do I chose? Here you go:
1: Alunah – Solennial (Svart Records)
I rarely use the word “beautiful” to describe music, but this nature inspired album truly deserves this accolade. Bittersweet as the last time with founder and creative powerhouse Sophie Day at the helm, it is simply beautiful.
2: Devil – To The Gallows (Soulseller Records)
Lo-fi excellence from a band that have no agenda but to entertain. Buy it, rock out, enough said.
3: Kadavar – Rough Times (Nuclear Blast)
Years ago, this Germanic trio set sail on the good ship retro; these days, they have shouldered any upstarts aside and are surely grasping the tiller and steering the now decade old movement forward. Sublime.
4: Clouds Taste Satanic – The Glitter of Infinite Hell (Kinda Like Music)
Four years, four albums, each better than the last. The modern day equal to Goblin or Carpenter, this is cinematic instrumental doom laden brilliance, just waiting for a film to adorn and enhance.
5: Twelve Boar – No Forgiveness (Self released)
Angst-ridden shoe-gazers beware! The hard rocking, booty shaking Twelve Boar will slap you in the face with an ale soaked beer towel and insist on you having fun, and kick your arses if you don’t join in. You have been warned.
6: Lamina – Lilith (Raging Planet)
Debut album of the year without a doubt. Sounding the way that so many experienced stoner/doom bands wished they could, this is a band to watch.
7: Solar Sons – Retrograde Motion (Self released)
No label support, no kick-starter, and existing in a town where Little Mix is considered high art! This Prog-tinged trio deserve your support.
8: Beastmaker – Inside The Skull (Rise Above)
Old school doom with the added bonus of exception harmonies. What’s not to like?
9: The Obsessed – Sacred (Relapse)
Whether fronting Hidden Hand, Saint Vitus, Premonition 13, as himself, with Conny Ochs, or any other heading, Scott “Wino” Weinrich demands your attention. This latest release is no exception, so get buying the album now, and get the band playing the UK, drug busts permitting!
10: Atragon – I Necromancer – (Self released)
With epic sludge being at a premium this year (some excellent EPs by the like of Greenhorn excepted), and Crowbar still touring their excellent ‘The Serpent Only Lies’, these four Scottish stoners showed what could be done with a combination of drug debt and will. One of the best acts of Bloodstock 2017, hit up their bandcamp page and help them clear their bills!
Honourable Mention: Church of the Cosmic Skull – Is Satan Real – Kozmik Artifactz: I know this came out late 2016, but my copy only arrived after the deadline for that year’s reviews, otherwise the otherworldly harmonies of this band would have propelled them to the top echelons of the list.
Stuart Carroll: Top 10
1: Gary Numan – Savage (Songs from a Broken World) (BMG)
…and I thought ‘Splinter’ was a great album. ‘Savage’ is a hook-laden, heartbreaking, industrial masterpiece.
2: Paradise Lost – Medusa (Nuclear Blast)
Stripped-down and back to basics this may be, but PL deliver the goods with crusty and doomy majesty.
3: Akercocke – Renaissance In Extremis (Peaceville)
Concerning demons of a different type, Akercocke return triumphantly with a thoughtful and exhilarating record.
4: Row Of Ashes – Let The Long Night Fade (Third I Rex)
Dynamic and powerfully tense exercises in despair and anger. This packs a mighty punch.
5: Crystal Fairy – Crystal Fairy (Ipecac Recordings)
Noisey and perverse alternative goodness from this exciting supergroup hits all the right spots.
6: The Black Capes – All These Monsters (Dark Tunes)
Heavy, but catchy gothic rock to heartily sink your teeth into.
7: Sincarnate – In Nomine Homini (Hatework)
Raging blackened death metal from Romania featuring a Gregorian choir. What’s not to like?
8: The Peacocks – Flamingo (Concrete Jungle Records)
Switzerland’s finest once again prove why they are the only punkabilly band worth listening to.
9: Mavradoxa – Lethean Lament (Hypnotic Dirge Records)
A slow-burning, but mighty slab of nature obsessed, folk influenced black metal from this American duo.
10: Goldfrapp – Silver Eye (Mute)
After the somber balladry of 2013’s ‘Tales of Us’, this is a return to electronic form.
With Thanks to Leon Shaw for banner design.