Top 10 Albums ov 2017 w/ Richter, Joaquin Stick, and Leif Bearikson!
Listmania begins with some weird, some black, some prog, some sludge, and a whole lotta death!
This tortured piece of dissoskronk cannot be consumed on a song-by-song basis. You must put it on, lie face down and let it rip until it is done with you. (The safeword is [safeword missing].) It is so complex and adventurous that I am certain I will like it better next month than I like it now.
Black Cilice — Banished from Time
Iron Bonehead Productions | Review
Rope Sect — Personae Ingratae/Proselytes
Caligari Records | Review
Does this sneaky CD-only compilation of two shorter releases plus two bonus songs count? Yes. Yes it does. When you smash these two eps together, they make the best full length deathrock album of not only this year but maybe even the decade.
Viles Vitae — IV
Caverna Abismal Records | Review
My first love of the year; my favorite new black metal band. This ep sits somewhere between the harsh exuberance of Naðra and the dark mesmerism of Mgła. Also: I like it better than anything released by either of those bands.
The Clearing Path — Watershed Between Firmament and the Realm of Hyperborea
I, Voidhanger Records | Review
Some dissonant black/death albums have an organic, terrestrial sound. Others are less human, more stygian. This one is purely celestial. Submit to the horror of bliss.
Buioingola — Il nuovo mare
Sentient Ruin Laboratories | Review
This album came to me at a time when I was full of rage derived from chronic pain. Its explosive mashup of sludge, industrial and post-punk sounded just like I felt, and I’m not sure I would have made it to work every day without blasting this in the car on the way…
1476 — Our Season Draws Near
Prophecy Productions | Review
At first listen these songs reminded me of autumn in New England but it turns out they’re all about winter in New England so I was wrong and I apologize profusely. Lots of metal bands mellow out over time and turn into folky rock type bands. 1476 is doing it backwards: slowly but surely transforming from a folky rock type band into a metal band. (I predict 6.66% more blastbeats and death growls on their next opus.)
Botanist — Collective: The Shape of He to Come
Avantgarde Music | Review
WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE HE, HUH? WHY CAN’T IT BE THE SHAPE OF SHE TO COME, HUH? WHY DO MEN GET TO DO ALL THE COMING? AND WHY WOULD A SENTIENT VEGETABLE SAVIOR EVEN HAVE GENITALS?
Street Sects — Rat Jacket
The Flenser | Review
Have I listened to this ep nearly every day since it came out in October? Yes. Yes I have. Favorite vocal performance (and lyrics) of the year go to Leo Ashline. If you ever find yourself sitting around thinking man, my life kind of sucks, just put this record on and hone in on the lyrics and then you’ll find yourself thinking nah, I’m doing pretty okay. (Unless your life actually resembles these lyrics in any way–then you might be fucked.)
Maggot Heart — City Girls
Teratology Sound & Vision | Review
Half piss, half vinegar–all style. A good soundtrack to kicking holes in things you can’t afford to repair or replace. Favorite guitar performance (and lyrics) of the year go to Linnéa Olsson. If you’ve ever felt awash in your own toxicity, and then you try to go outside to escape yourself only to become awash in the toxicity of whatever trash-heap city you live in, then City Girls is the album for you.
10. Blood Command – Cult Drugs
Fysisk Format |
It’s my civic duty to put at least one thing on my list that everyone will hate. I’ll get that out of the way early with Cult Drugs, which I have no business enjoying as much as I do. The linked song, “(The World Covered In) Purple Shrouds”, came up on a discovery playlist and I was immediately entranced by the punky hardcore + trumpet combo. Also, as a technical writer, I’m going to have to go all in on a song that mentions owner’s manuals. Though I am upset the rest of the album is brass-less, there are still plenty of progressive elements to keep me obnoxiously entertained. It’s packed full of hooks and I’m easy to bait.
9. Dvne – Asheran
Wasted State Records |
So many bands do this stoner/psych doom thing. So many. Almost all of them are boring as all hell. Dvne gets it right by only using the good parts and not boring the shit out of you with no vocalist and that same riff for the hundredth time. There’s nothing spectacularly new here, but the Intronaut tone mixed with good prog sensibilities makes for some spectacular songs. The sci-fi themes don’t hurt the appeal either. This is good jams.
This album should be terrible. Why isn’t this terrible? Two basses, a drum, and a synth made an album about a classic Spielberg film. Who would do something so stupid? Luckily for us, it was the people behind Giant Squid. The dialogue samples are really well chopped and paced, the kitschy synth makes every song memorable, and the rest of the band makes it heavy enough to sound good to our collective metal palate. It’s a silly concept but they took it seriously and crushed it.
7. Eidola – To Speak, To Listen
Blue Swan Records
At risk of embarrassing myself again, here’s a band whose fanbase averages much younger than I am comfortable with, but they’re such a standout that they shouldn’t be ignored. It’s super proggy post-hardcore with mostly clean vocals. If any of that made you vomit in your mouth a bit, please ignore, but every song has a unique catchiness that gets stuck in my head for days.
This is my artsy-fartsy pick this year, as I wasn’t in love with Steven Wilson’s output this time around. Speaking of SW, Wake is like if he and The Ocean got together to make a black metal album, but were not fully committed to the genre change. Love the dual female vocals, love the proggy synths, love the super-long ever-morphing tracks, and then throw in some friggin flute and sax? Forget about it.
No one loves sludge. It’s a genre that has some ok bands, tolerable songs, and mixes well with other genres, but seriously, I have never met a sludge fan (for good reason). I’m sure a ton of people ignore the genre wholesale, but I implore you to give this a try, and if you don’t like it, then you will never like sludge. FINALLY, a band actually took a genre defined by dullness and made it sharp with just a tiny hardcore edge. Get pummelled into the seabed.
4. White Ward – Futility Report
Debemur Morti Productions
I had this spot reserved for my favorite black metal release of the year, but had the hardest time figuring out what that should be. I have really enjoyed every spin of Fen’s Winter, I really like Klabautamann’s prog BM, but in a three-way battle, White Ward wins by a nose. Probably because I am a sucker for sax metal. There’s absolutely no stagnation through the entire 40 minutes, every single experiment works, and I am in love with the overall tone.
I don’t get how a debut LP can be this good. There’s an insane level of maturation in this blackened doom. It’s so damn patient, letting songs develop organically and never force-shifting your attention to get oohs and ahhs. On top of it all, it just resonates all those emotional chords, making good music great. No matter the speed, the intensity is turned all the way up. It’s a strong start for a young band. Here’s to hoping the momentum continues.
2. Ne Obliviscaris – Urn
Season of Mist
NeO really stands alone in their realm of heavy prog. The complementing dual vocals, the emotion-manipulating violin, the quick-footed drumming, and obviously, the crushing guitar leads all combine to make a really earnest, theme-driven album. Their voice as a band is unmistakable. Just listen to that chorus in “Intra Venus” and tell me it doesn’t affect you in any way. I won’t believe you if you say it doesn’t. Urn is exactly what I am looking for in prog metal, and shockingly, no one else out there is getting close. Is it better than Citadel? Probably not, but it’s still one of my favorite albums this year.
1. Elder – Reflections of a Floating World
Strongest riffs in their game. Period. Each of the 6 tracks has its own flavor, and all of them go through countless evolutions over their long run-times. This thing is just packed with energy, good vibes, and much too much fun. During every spin (and there have been many) I find something new to love about Reflections. Underneath the lush front-and-center riffs are subtle guitar inflections and perfect tones, drum rhythms that are always changing but never lose the time, and keys that are incredibly subtle but add so much effect. There are hundreds of bands trying to do what Reflections does; I have listened to a lot of them, and I wish they’d all stop. Elder has won. The game is over.
2017 has been a rough year, both in the grand scheme and for me personally. Recent weeks in particular have had me on the verge of tapping out like I was in a figure four leg lock. I’m doing my damnedest to persevere and it is in no small part due to this album. Curse of Conception is the most catchy, singable, headbangable and invigorating album of the year. As long as I can hear the end of “Spectral Savior” I will make it through the day.
Power Trip | Nightmare Logic
Southern Lord | TovH Radio Interview
If Spirit Adrift got me through days, then Power Trip made me confront them. Nightmare Logic is pure fire and fury, from the pit starter opening riff of “Soul Sacrifice” right through the ripping solo of “Crucifixation.” Oh, and can we talk about the best song of the year and our new thrash anthem? SWING OF THE WAAAAOOOOOHHH!
Spectral Voice | Eroded Corridors of Unbeing
Dark Descent Records | Review
Blood Incantation made a big splash in the underground last year with their debut LP Starspawn (including this bear’s list last year), so seeing as how they’re 3/4 BI guys, expectations were somewhat high for Spectral Voice’s debut. It should probably come as no surprise that they absolutely delivered on their promise, bringing with them a veritable swamp of murky riffs, vomit-tastic vocals and some otherworldly moments of musical mayhem. Death metal reigned in 2017, and Spectral Voice was the king.
Venenum | Trance of Death
Sepulchral Voice Records | Review
I knew I liked the cut of Venenum‘s jib as soon as I heard the string and piano intro, and my love for this weirdo death metal has only grown with time. This album throws more curves than Rich Hill, routinely zigging instead of zagging, slowing (and speeding up) unexpectedly, and even boogieing a little. It’s a bit all over the place and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Tomb Mold | Primordial Malignancy
Blood Harvest Records | Review
Tomb Mold are what would happen if…uh…tomb mold became sentient and listened to a lot of Finnish death metal. The result is an absolutely filthy sounding debut stuffed with bouncing, off kilter guitars, gut churning vocals and Bloodborne references (which death emtal needs more of, obviously).
Necrot | Blood Offerings
Tankcrimes | Review
This is that shit I do like. Necrot don’t dabble in any of the stranger sounds of the recent death metal underground. No, this is straight ahead, no bullshit death metal, possibly played in a cavern with instruments forged from the guts of lost travelers.
Old school suffocating death was my jam in 2k17. It spoke to me and my lust for the end times like never before, and one of the most soothing voices from that crowd was Phrenelith. Nothing calms the soul quite like gurgling vocals and meteorite heaviness.
I’ve always enjoyed Pyrrhon but could never quite get into them like many of the other Walter Skronkites around here. Thankfully the release of What Passes for Survival has shown me the light, and has done so with slinky, wiry instrumental prowess, impressively wide ranging vocals from the Sexiest Dude in Metal, and the most memorable songs that the band have written to date (MAKE ME THE SERVANT I WAS BORN TO BE).
I’m pretty that at one point in the past few months I proposed to this album. It answered back in Demilich belch, so I don’t really know if it said yes or no, but I do know that I still love it. This the Undergang we all know, but everything here is tightened up. Songs rarely last over 3 minutes and the whole thing isn’t even half an hour, and it helps to elevate Misanthropologi above anything else they’ve done previously.
I recently told our very own Lizard that this album still owns my butt. It’s true. I’m still borderline amazed every time I listen to this album, whether it’s how quickly riffs dance from shimmering but warped beauty to unrelenting heaviness or just the audacity to include weird semi-surf segments in the middle of a death metal song. In Passing Ascension is a death metal Stone Cold Stunner. Hell yeah.