Oh yes, it’s time. Really, we all knew this was coming as everyone fucking does it. But the time has come for me to give to you my Top 30 Albums of the past year!
While 2017 hasn’t been as bombastic for me personally in comparison to years past, it’s still been one fucking hell of a year with many of my favorite labels delivering several tantalizing albums and many acts be it new or old making their mark upon my collection forever. From black metal to death to thrash to noise to ambitious to simple to immersive, 2017 has opened my eyes to much more in terms of music and I can’t wait to take this knowledge forward.
But with no more of my blathering, please do go down below and see for yourself my Top 30 Albums 2017! Feel free to judge for yourself, yell at me what albums I missed (Suffocation, Ne Oblivsicarus, etc.), and tell me at how shitty my list is because your taste is, of course, way better than mine!
NOTE: to listen to the album in question or a song from it click the album and band name and should you want to read my review of the album simply click the cover art.
Leave it to Sweden to produce one of the most stunning displays of black metal that we’ve seen all fucking year! From the very beginning of this album, Wormwood set the bar incredibly high and they fucking delivered for every single track of “Ghostlands”! This band encompasses so much that makes black metal great for being unrelentingly raw to gloriously melodic to embody the forest in a way that few bands could. In that, “Ghostlands” has set Wormwood to be an amazing class act that’s sure to show to the world that they’re the new Swedish band that absolutely must be heard!
Where “Part 1” to the “Black Hole Space Wizard” saga showed Howling Giant with plenty of talent and potential, it’s “Part 2” that sees this rock act taken to legendary new heights. Everything about this EP is stunning from the instrumentals to the excellent rhythms that are all but captivating. Howling Giant pulls everything off with laser precision and is something that should bring many stoner rock fans to their knees.
The Midnight Ghost Train absolutely stunned me with their sophomore album, “Cold Was the Ground”, three years ago and they went a completely different direction with “Cypress Ave.” and HOLY FUCK DID THEY PULLED IT OFF PERFECTLY!! These guys prove wondrously that not only are they true musicians but they can swap from one style to the next and making it fucking work as though they’ve been doing it for decades. The Midnight Ghost Train is a multi-faceted group that can’t be underestimated or underrated.
For years, Ende has long been one of the most interesting black metal acts that I’ve come to love. Their previous works are no strangers to my lists, and their latest offering is no different. Swarming upon the French metal scene, “Emën Etan” stands as possibly Ende’s best album to date as it’s as devastating and entrancing as one could hope from pure raw black metal. No stone is left untouched here, and Ende make it another fucking awesome album in every regard!
India has been a very prosperous country this year with its metal scene being all but immaculate, and the controversial Heathen Beast easily takes the case. Taking their style of black metal and combining it with grind, “$cam” is an extremely potent album that’s pure perfection. The sinister motivation behind “$cam” only makes this album all the more destructive as Heathen Beast maneuvers perfectly create a record that’s as hard-hitting as it is all-consuming.
Many people feel that being a pirate metal band and thus a fun one means that you can’t put together a fantastic fucking album. Well, Alestorm has done just that yet again with what can arguably be considered their best album to date! “No Grave But the Sea” is an epic and organic collection of anthems, quests, and beer that’s everything a fan of this unique act could ever ask for!
The past year has been a real treat for those of us who desire more from our death metal. Those of us who want truly exquisite experiences can find solace in brilliance such as Fragarak who takes death metal to untold heights. “A Spectrl Oblivion” sees these Indians conquer like few other bands other there with a beautiful array of death metal laced with progressive elements to make for a transcendent record that’s well over an hour long. Very rarely do we get albums like this, and Fragarak delivers the entire fucking way.
It’s very curious whenever a band comes straight out of nowhere, but when that band drops something absolutely mind-blowing it makes for a much better deal. That’s precisely what happened with Locust Leaves as their first public effort of “A Subtler Kind of Light” is the sort of thing dreams are made of. Experimental metal rarely leads to sights as great as this, and Locust Leaves shows with every passing moment that this a band that is essential for any metalhead to hear, and something that can’t be missed.
On the most extreme of occasions do we get acts like Tchnornobog. The mastermind behind this is the same man behind Aureole and Slow has returned yet again to deliver to us a death metal experience like none other. Horrifically psychedelic, all-consuming, perpetually disemboweling, and part of the very universe itself, Tchornbog is on a level all of its own with this record being a stand out album in every single aspect.
Taking the metal world by storm, Bell Witch’s latest effort is the culmination of everything that a talented doom metal band could ever aspire to make. A massive one-track album that stretches over 80 minutes long to make for an experience that’s not only incredibly ambitious but also very satisfying and engaging. Unfortunately, the occasion inspired by a close death fueled “Mirror Reaper” to become what it is, and for better or worse it’s made the magnum opus something that will be talked about for years alongside “Dopesmoker”.
It’s not often at all that crossover thrash can become so fucking concentrated and potent that it can become the main act for what was once considered a small side project. Iron Reagan takes their anti-PC to new heights with “Crossover Ministry” to take their anger out on much more than politics, and it makes for a fucking experience like few others!
Variety truly is the spice of life, isn’t it? Before hearing Ye Banished Privateers, my pirate music knowledge only went as far as Alestorm, but this band of thirty members brings the pirate life to our ears in exquisite detail. From the intoxicating tavern anthems to the hallows of a man visited by the devil or a man severed from his family going to the New World, Ye Banished Privateers makes an absolute beauty of an album that stands at the very top of the niche world of pirate folk!
Fusing metal and rock can be a tricky thing, but when it came to Night and their third album of “Raft of the World” there’s no superior in recent times. Everything that Night could’ve done right with this album they fucking nailed all the way as every single track from “Raft of the World” is nigh on immaculate. It’s the kind of shit that gives you new meaning in the world, and Night delivers at every opportunity given to make “Raft of the World” a classic sounding album for a modern audience.
Howls of Ebb has been a personal favorite of mine since last year, and unfortunately, their time as a band has come to a tragic end, but their last effort is no less than a true example of their dark splendor. Teaming up with the equally disturbing Kthoniik Cerviiks, this split is an exploration of death metal that’s hardly ever taken and both bands pulling it all off with exquisite precision makes the entire effort something that demands to be heard!
China isn’t exactly widely known for its rich metal scene, but much like India, there’s so much excellence to be heard! Black Kirin returns with “Nanking Massacre” to be their vicious sophomore album that’s just as musically tantalizing as their debut album, and shows that these guys aren’t a one-and-done band. They’re the real fucking deal and the exact kind of thing the metal scene as a whole can’t get enough of.
16. Kauan – Kaiho
Kauan has long been a band to look out for if you want something akin to Agalloch but with more post-rock. But for “Kaiho”, this class act ditched their moments of metal to adorn the whole of this record entirely in a thoughtful array of rock that makes you look inward whilst projecting outwards. It’s the kind of album that really plucks at the heart strings, and that makes Kauan a better band in the long haul and “Kaiho” an album that the post-rock world can’t get enough of.
Do these guys really need an introduction? They haven’t needed one for going twenty years now, and their legacy is far from ending if “Red Before Black” is anything to go off of. Taking the slightly more technical route, Cannibal Corpse slashes their way through yet another album to deliver to the world an album the likes of which lives up to the reputation that Cannibal Corpse has made for themselves over the years.
The desert has long been a place of musical meditation for me as it has special properties that bands such as Lord Buffalo can bring to life with stunning detail. Their first full-length sees Lord Buffalo taking a stoner rock route laced with folk elements, doom influences, and soaking with psychedelia to make the effort and flight amongst the cloud and cacti to remember for quite some time.
Swedish death metal has always been something to aspire to, and recently few bands have been doing as good a job as the infamous Entrails. These guys have topped themselves with “World Inferno” as it’s everything people love about Swedish death from its vicious riffs to its classic sound that never seems to disappoint no matter who’s listening to the fiery chaos that’s constantly pouring out. And this last year showed Entrails at the top of their game at doing just that.
Six Feet Under has been yet another well-known name in the realm of death metal for quite some time, and “Torment” marks what’s easily their best album for a good while. Bringing together much of what originally drew people into Six Feet Under, the whole of this album is an absolute devastator that’s nigh on infectious with its captivating hooks and impeccable sense of musicianship that’s the product of decades of dedication.
It’s watching the evolution of a band from their very beginning that can be a real treat, and the culmination of it all can become something truly special. That’s the case with Flesh of the Stars whose third effort of “Anhilla” sees this band mature instantly to a band that must be heard! While the whole of the album is essentially one long song, this entrancing piece is the sort of this that stoner doom fans have been clamoring for and Flesh of the Stars shows exactly how it’s fucking done!
The phrase “doomgaze” isn’t exactly a common one as that sounds like a real clusterfuck if not given to the right people, but it turns out we only need one man to prove how fucking awesome it can be! Mindkult busts forth with his debut of “Lucifer’s Dream” to deliver an album full of riffs, monstrous tuning, and no less than pure greatness from a band destined to become a cult classic like few others!
With the likes of Manowar calling it a quits very soon, who will be there to carry the torch? Look no further than Vhäldemar who bust back with “Against All Kings” to show that they’re a force of pure, unadulterated heavy metal that can’t be denied! This whole album is a testament to the original spirit of the genre in a way that hardly any bands are able to embody nowadays if at all, and Vhäldemar does it in the most badass way possible.
While this year was, unfortunately, a minor drought for me when it came to folk and power metal, Lör came through in my darkest hour with a wholly engaging album that’s beyond what I could’ve hoped for. The debut effort of “In Forgotten Sleep” sees Lör bust onto the scene with grandiose power and utmost skill at this album has more talent and power than what many bands dozens of years older fail to produce regularly.
Black metal and rock aren’t commonly mixed together, but the dark act of Inconcessus Lux Lucis dares to do just that. Where it’d be fair to be skeptical about the outcome, this band has done no less than knock it right out of the fucking parking with “The Crowning Quietus”! A sinister overtone, menacing attitude, terrific riffs, and infectious vocals: all of that and more come together for “The Crowning Quietus” to show this band is a one of a kind real deal that can’t be underestimated!
Taking several pages from the legendary Celtic Frost, the Spanish act of Totengott has begun to forge their own path, and that path begins with the tremendous effort of “Doppelgänger”. This 3-track slab of death, doom, and even a little bit of thrash smashes into you like a fucking truck and continues to grind along with a plethora of crushing riffs, insane instrumentation, and a clear respect for the original inspiration.
Imagine being trapped in the grave of the desert with a sandstorm approaching you at full speed, that’s exactly what Canyon of the Skull is like and “The Desert Winter” is only their second piece of material but it’s one fucking hell of an album. Completely instrumental, doom/drone metal embodying the desert, one song over 37 fucking minutes; Canyon of the Skull has dared to do what many would shiver at the thought of. But they pulled it off splendidly immaculate.
From the instrumental genius that has powered monsters like Spectral Lore with some terrific vocals, Divine Element has made an all but triumphant return from a seven-year-long silence in the form of “Thaurachs of Borsu”. The entire record is a concept of epicness following a soldier in a fantastic setting while being plagued by war, the curiosity of human society, the very fabric of the cosmos, and fighting for a country trying to regain its homeland. In every way, Divine Element has made a true melting pot of epic proportions.
Folk metal has always been a tricky thing for me, but there’s always a few gems to come out that can entertain me to no end simply because of how captivating it is. Open Access has done just that with “Toward of Wilderness” which improves significantly over its predecessor in every way from the instrumentation to the songwriting to simply how fucking enjoyable every single song of this mystical album is to the very end.