Top 10 Albums ov 2017 w/ Link, BW, and 365 Days Of Horror!
Some Swedeath, some power, some spookz, some thrash, some sadboi, some doom, some trad, and a whole lotta fun!
Rooted in the old-school Swedish sound, Desultory made it all with this terrific swan song. Solos, riffing, mood, melodies and arcane moments… Everything is at place, carefully selected without overshadowing the elements. This is how you close a band; this is how an epitaph should be written.
With unparalled song writing, finally, this band truly captivated my heart and I believe this is their definite album. Besides the uplifting singles and the sweeping soloing, there are thrash exercises and a great ear to construct high-soaring choruses. Great job, DragonForce crew!
These guys are legends and these guys can do everything they want, including this melodeath infused thrash metal record. Many can argue they do not have the bite of the early years, but believe me that, even with the stylistic change Kreator knows what they are doing writing all these magnificent enraged melodies.
It could be a Swallow the Sun lite or a neofolk outtake to the Finnish melodic death metal sound for you. For me, it was a beautiful festivity of melancholy and a great return of this forgotten melodeath band. Myrrys nails excellently every aspect of this warm and comfortable style.
Novembers Doom – Hamartia
The End Records – Review
Bled White had crushing moments, but with Hamartia these guys won my heart to broke it into pieces. Exactly what I was looking for! Apart from the sweet death/doom elements, Paul Kuhr brings all the guns to war, with plenty of riffs and emotion to select. Cohesive and dramatic, Novembers Doom had the perfect formula this year.
Paradise Lost – Medusa
Nuclear Blast Records – Review
This record put me in trance with its sorrowful honesty. Even when it is harsh and moody, the Paradise Lost return to the pestilent death/doom territory never feels hypocrite in each second of play. It feels so real and devastating, yet still so familiar. From now, I am just going to say: Well done, Emissaries of the Dead King, you got me this year once more.
Sutrah – Dunes
Independent – Review
This one is another amazing debut. Canadian tech death masters Sutrah took me into a mystical ride full of teachings and musicality. Dense, but charming, at equal part, these guys married what I love about progressive music into a violent and spiritual death metal vacuum. OM!
This record sweats mood and groove in each pore. The metamorphic beast known as Ulver does it once more; they change styles and release a stunning album. How did they create a post-punk opus like this one? Our only task here is enjoy and not to ask too much. Hail the wolves!
Unleash the Archers – Apex
Napalm Records | TovH Radio Interview
Apex is both grandiloquent and powerful. Unleash the Archers composed a great record in which the song-writing is up at the front. Without resorting into mere technical prowess, guitars, bass and drums are intense, and the band is completed by the incredible voice of Brittney in 10 killer cuts. Nice!
Winds of Leng – Horrid Dominion
Independent – Review/Stream
Everytime I needed a shot of energy, these guys delivered the good. If you peel the extreme metal layers you will find a very concise album, straight to the core and with a meticulous approach to song writing, a feat many death metal bands are seem to forgot these days. And to think this is only the beginning for Winds of Leng…
Australia’s Contaminated started off as something that frontman, band founder, and original sole member Lachlan McPherson referred to in an interview with Horrified zine as “blatant Abhorrence worship,” which was all that I needed reading the interview to take an interest in the project. Now a full band, Contaminated have mutated past outright worship into an incredibly brutal monster of ripping chainsaw guitar attacks, shockingly fast drum assaults, and punishing low growls that stands on its own two muscular legs, a beast with its own putrid identity that manages to rip and lurch through its playing time with all of the rage and nastiness that you’d expect from the monster on the album’s cover.
9. Degial – Predator Reign
Sepulchral Voice Records
It’s almost impossible to get enough of Degial– their brand of very non-Swedish Morbid Angel and Necrovore worshipping ancient death metal insanity is not only distressingly underdone (because how many other bands sound much like them in 2017? I know of a few, but sure as hell not as many as I’d like), but is done better than anyone else, and Predator Reign may be their best album yet. When I’m talking about the best current bands in death metal, Degial regularly makes the cut, and with this album, they only solidify that impression. I am wildly excited to see them with the mighty Deströyer 666 next year, and if you can get in front of their war path, you should be too.
8. Vulture – The Guillotine
High Roller Records
After 2016’s excellent Victim of the Blade Vulture was primed to take the world by storm if only they had the songwriting chops and sheer insanity to pull it off, and fortunately for the world, these edge-obsessed Germans have absolutely managed to blow away everyone with their devastating speed/thrash debut, The Guillotine. Gorgeous leads, pounding drums, forever ripping fast tempos, and gloriously enthusiastic vocals that you have to hear for yourself bring us back to the ’80s in a way that’s as killer as it is nostalgic- instead of making me feel like Vulture are caught in the past, these Germans make me wish that evil old school speed metal would find itself as the new future. Though there are other bands doing something similar, not many can say that they’re anywhere near the level of Vulture.
Listen to “Vendetta.”
7. Chevalier – A Call To Arms
As I said in my review of A Call To Arms, this release is a real guitarist’s album (though it’s been called a demo a lot, it’s more than thirty minutes long, and follows a conceptual storyline- certainly more involved than the average demo!) to me. The focus of the whole thing is the constant leads, solos, and loving worship of old French speed metal and USPM, resulting in a charming release of the highest order of quality. There are no catchy choruses, there are no overt hooks- the appeal of this album is in the incredibly compelling songwriting and instrumentation, and it works to an extreme. Another highlight is Emma Grönqvist‘s high vocals, mixed behind the guitars in an intentional nod to Brocas Helm; the overall result is something any heavy or speed metal fan really needs to hear. Hopefully, this will get the vinyl pressing at some point that Chevalier deserve.
6. Ironflame – Lightning Strikes the Crown
Lightning Strikes the Crown is an album that I enjoyed so much that I had to interview the sole musician responsible after finding out that, somehow, nobody had done so yet. Incredibly catchy and full of powerful choruses, gorgeous melodies, and potent riffs, Ironflame are onto something here- this is what I wish all power metal sounded like, as it manages to be one of the most ear-catching traditional releases I’ve heard in recent years (even including the barrage of amazing releases from last year!) without sacrificing powerful riffage or overproducing the vocals. A great running album, or driving, or just about anything, really.
Another band that started off as a love letter to the early Finnish scene, and another that I was extremely excited for the debut of, which probably says a lot about my general interest in that sound. Tomb Mold have, like Contaminated, evolved from their first demo to find their own sound on their debut album, but instead of going towards the raging aggression of Final Man, Tomb Mold sank further into what I called “an organic crush of decay” when I reviewed the album earlier this year. Tomb Mold are exceptional, weird, and write music so tailored to my own tastes that I couldn’t help but listen the album dozens of times this year; Primordial Malignity absolutely crushes, and I can’t wait to see what comes next with their followup to it next year. On a related note, they also released a really fucking good EP a couple of months ago that’s also well worth hitting.
I first got into Unaussprechlichen Kulten with 2014’s Baphomet Pan Shub-Niggurath, and the years between then and now left me desperate for more. Though it’s rare that a band around for twenty-odd years to manage to top themselves, UK have with Keziah Lilith Medea (Chapter X) managed not only to put out my favorite death metal record of the year, but have also put out what I believe to be their best record yet. The order of the day is insane aggression, bizarre as hell leads, unexpected trem melodies, angular rhythms, rapidfire drumming, and a lust for evil death that’s made Unaussprechlichen Kulten my favorite running Chilean band that isn’t Pentagram. If you want the full extent of my feelings on the record, as with many of my favorites from this year, I reviewed it.
3. Curved Blade – Coiled Together
Iron Bonehead Productions
What do you get when a bunch of black/punk musicians get together and write a 7″ together? Synths, that’s what. I wouldn’t have expected it either, but on Coiled Together we’re treated to one of the most beguiling pieces of gorgeous synth-filled majesty that I’ve ever actually liked- I often find extreme synths use in black metal to be very, very unappealing, but Curved Blade manage to do it in such a way that I want to stop writing music for envy at their ability to enrapture in a way that I doubt I’ll ever be able to. Mesmerizing, melodic, and atmospheric, Coiled Together has put me into a trance, and I wish that the members were together to give us more; unfortunately, my copy of the 7″ assures me that it was recorded in 2010, and given their complete inactivity as a group since then, further releases seem unlikely.
I’ll admit, I was skeptical of this one. I didn’t particularly like the 7″ when it came out, though I’ve since come around on it, and my first listen of Satan’s Hallow only impressed me enough to draw further listening; I expected this to be lost by the wayside as another decent sugary heavy metal release, and by god, I was wrong. So wrong. So very, very wrong. Every listen past those first couple has convinced me that I’m a fucking idiot for ever doubting Satan’s Hallow mastermind Von Jugel. Satan’s Hallow has everything you could ever want out of a heavy metal album- massive riffs, great songwriting, fantastic vocals, and enough catchy melodies, solos, and leads to make it stand out from the pack throughout the course of the album. Random moments from all across the album are always getting stuck in my head, and the memorability levels here (my ultimate litmus test to decide if an album is good after all- just enjoying it in the moment isn’t enough if I can’t remember it afterwards!) are off the charts. It’s a real shame that Von Jugel moved away, causing the band to break up; however, I’m confident that whenever he decides to make more heavy metal, it’ll be worth hearing. Hopefully that happens sooner rather than later, but until then, I’ll always have Satan’s Hallow.
This was definitely my most anticipated release this year, and when I was offered the chance at an early reviewer promo, I jumped at it. Stridžie dni is one of my absolute favorite recent black metal albums, and though I didn’t expect Nordkarpenland to be quite on its level, I was still very excited. To my absolute shock, Malokarpatan have managed to jump right past my expectations and put out something even BETTER than Stridžie dni. Everything that was great about the first record has been ramped up; the songwriting, the Mercyful Fate influence, the general adoration of the early Czech black metal scene, the uniqueness (which they possess in abundance, despite the fundamental old-school worship that makes the base of their sound), and even the production are now improved, folk melodies battling over Iron Maiden leads or Tormentor rhythms in the most satisfying of ways. They even got a real drummer for this one (as opposed to the programmed drums on the debut), and can now play live, which they’ll hopefully do in my neck of the woods at some point. Until then, come with Malokarpatan to worship strange gods at a forgotten altar, and let yourself lose the modern world to embrace theirs.
365 Days Of Horror
1. Eldamar – A Dark Forgotten Past
It’s not often that an album can take you to another place, but when it does, it’s something special. Eldamar’s A Dark Forgotten Past is one of those special albums. The one-man band from Norway has created an atmospheric and ambient black metal album that is hauntingly beautiful. It makes me feel something, which may not sound like much, but it really means a lot.
2. Ghost Bath – Starmourner
Starmourner deftly blends the grating harshness of Depressive Suicidal Black Metal with tender and profound moments of beauty. Some may be turned off by either one, but I feel they compliment each other perfectly. Pop bands wish they were as catchy as some of the songs on this album and “extreme” metal bands wish they were as intense. Hey, if Starmourner is good enough for Brenocide, then it’s good enough for you.
3. 36 Crazyfists – Lanterns
I don’t think 36 Crazyfists have ever put out a bad album. Lanterns picks up right where 2015’s Time And Trauma left off as a highly-emotional bit of metalcore. It’s heavy, it’s melodic, and it’s honest. Lanterns is the type of album that you blast with your windows down as you drive down a darkened highway late at night. I was lucky enough to speak with vocalist Brock Lindow right before the album came out, so give it a listen to really understand what this album is all about.
4. Unleash The Archers – Apex
Unleash The Archers managed to do the unthinkable with Apex: They brought together heavy metal, power metal, thrash metal, and even death metal fans together in overwhelming praise. It’s rare that a band can do something like that with notoriously fickle metal fans. Solid song writing, great musicianship, a fun story, and incredible vocals make Apex a must for anyone that considers themselves a metal fan. Here’s our interview with vocalist Brittney Slayes to get the scoop on the album’s story.
5. Pallbearer – Heartless
Heartless is a soulful album that can tug at the heartstrings without the usual emotional tricks and cliches. It aches with an earnestness and an undeniable groove. It’s easy to see why Pallbearer is a band on the sharp ascent.
6. Descartes A Kant – Victims Of Love Propaganda
7. Municipal Waste – Slime And Punishment
Fun has returned! Municipal Waste always manage to put out face-ripping headbangers while avoiding repetition. Slime And Punishment is a thrashing blast that pleases old fans and serves as a jumping-on point for new ones. Stage dives and high fives all around.
8. Gnaw – Cutting Pieces
Gnaw’s Cutting Pieces is like one giant anxiety attack. The stress and overwhelming feeling of panic ebbs and flows like waves of uneasiness. Alan Dubin’s hellish voice feels like someone is squeezing my insides tightly. The next time someone says “I like everything” play them this album.
9. Heaven In Her Arms – White Halo
Lying somewhere beatween post-metal, metal-infused hardcore and screamo, White Halo from Japan’s Heaven In Her Arms is intense, yet oddly beautiful. There’s a lot of crossover appeal with this album as it straddles the line between metal and hardcore. I dig it and you should too.
10. Sabbath Assembly – Rites Of Passage
Spooky, smokey, and a little bit sexy. Rites Of Passage is the occult metal album to light your black candle to. It’s a psychedelic and entrancing ride from start to finish. You can easily lose yourself in the riffs and beautiful vocals. Also, the album art is pretty killer. Listen to our fun interview with vocalist for more insight.
Nathan Gray Collective – Until The Darkness Takes Us
Night Demon – Darkness Remains
Siberian Meat Grinder – Metal Bear Stomp