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ALBUMS OF THE YEAR (SO FAR) – PART TWO

As it turns to september today, we say goodbye to what was Summer. Welcoming the colder embrace of Autumn, before Winters arrival. It made me think of just how much good music we have had so far! Previously when The Metalist was still around I devised a Part One of the Albums of The Year (So Far). After much deliberation with myself, I have come together with this list. Do with it what you will, and please tell me if I have missed something out. I’m sure it’ll be glaringly obvious!

 

 

MAY : SOLSTAFIR – BERDREYMINN (Season of Mist)

Despite the arrival of Spring often bringing with it a more positive outlook, you would be hard pressed to suggest that to Icelandic troupe Solstafir. Creating more of an autumnal album if anything, Berdreyminn was a real highlight of this month for me. Mixing elements that would make you think of a quiet, mist filled morning to a true sense of forelorn hope, it was a real surprise and no doubt a record that many will still be listening to long into the year.

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June : Goatwhore – Vengeful Ascension (Metal Blade) 

Baring their teeth, Goatwhore are a band who rarely shy away from their vicious attack. The follow up to 2014’s Constricting Rage of The Merciless, they entered the studio to record what would become Vengeful Ascension, the result would be their most accomplished album to date. Bringing elements seen from all of their works previous but now tightening the noose so to speak, all of the fat was cut and what remained were ten absolutely rock solid tracks. Creating a perfect meld of their Black Metal nuances with the Entombed style buzzsaw guitar sound. An incredible highlight for the year.

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JULY : Decapitated – Anticult (Nuclear Blast)

Firing off the success of Blood Mantra, Decapitated resolved to enter the studio. Hungrier than ever before after touring with the likes of Lamb of God made the band realise that they do have the ability to aim higher. Fast forward to July of 2017 and Anticult was revealed to the world. Personally one of my top records of the year without a doubt, the quality of musicianship and songwriting on the record is up there with the classics. Combining both elements that fans of Decapitated have quarrelled over its the perfect compromise between their more extreme past and their embracing of groove. Essential.

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JUNE : Anathema – The Optimist (K Scope)

In a month that was populated by the more noisy variety of Metal, Anathema released the absolutely beautiful The Optimist. Carrying on from where A Fine Day To Exit left off the record is a veritable smorgasbord of finesse. From the choral sections of Lee Douglas to the huge Post Rock vibes in the likes of “Springfield”. The Optimist is a cinematic trip into this lonely world and will engulf you from the moment you press play. Its been receiving some heavy rotation of my record player and will be for some time.

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AUGUST : Steven Wilson – To The Bone (Caroline International)

One of my personal favourites, Steven Wilson is a man who will forever challenge the convention. Having received the record for review a while before release, the sheer amount of depth that To The Bone presented had enough time to seep in. Despite people saying Steven has created a Pop album there are elements that have always been old haunts for the Prog mastermind. From the likes of penultimate “Detonation” or the melancholic “Refuge” there are of course strands of Wilson’s progressive DNA littered throughout the record. Though there might not be a specific concept present, the sheer scope of Steven’s ideas as limitless making To The Bone not only a worthy addition but an absolutely exceptional piece to the Prog puzzle of 2017.

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AUGUST : Leprous – Malina (Inside Out)

Moving slightly North we welcome the colder temperatures of Norway. Similarly Leprous approached their new record with a more minimalist take on things. The Kraftwerk of Prog this time brought together an absolutely astounding collection of songs that bring together the bands sound. Evolving from their previous incarnation of The Congregation, Leprous wanted to simultaneously become more ostentatious yet in a minimalist style. Malina is an achievement of the highest order and could well rival some of the years best Prog to come.

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JUNE : Dying Fetus – Wrong One To Fuck With (Relapse Records)

Not taking no for answer, Dying Fetus are the band you wouldn’t want to find yourself in a dark alley with. Breaking the silence after five years the band return to the Death Metal stage once more with their absolutely ferocious new release Wrong One To Fuck With. A visual representation of the albums sound, there is not one second where this LP lets you breathe. From the singles of “Panic Amongst The Herd” and the jelly like opening of “Fixated on Devastation“, Dying Fetus are playing for keeps. Set to come back over to the UK in the autumn, their new record will be regarded just as highly as their classics. I for one cannot wait to pit out to “Ideological Subjugation”. Like a sledgehammer to oesophagus, Wrong One To Fuck With will not be neglected.

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JUNE : Broken Hope – Mutilated and Assimilated (Century Media)

One of the underdogs in the Death Metal world, Broken Hope are responsible for so many of the Death Metal acts that are working their way up the food chain. Having fans as unlikely as Kirk Hammett himself, the band returned with their previous offering Omen of Disease back in 2013, now four years later, at last the band have returned with the The Thing themed album Mutilated and Assimilated. Chock full of riffs and enough groove to rupture the San Andreas fault, its easily one of the highlights of the year in the Death Metal world that will be seen from not only fans but bands alike.

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JUNE : Carach Angren – Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten (Season of Mist)

A band who are in every sense of the word unique, creating an almost pantomime style listen, Carach Angren are inventive and ingenious in their creations. Often basing an album around a specific concept, which in the past have revolved around the horrors of war, a morbid retelling of Hansel and Gretel and the Flying Dutchman. Here the trio return with what could be their most mature release to date. Bringing together their theatrical elements but bringing song writing to the fore, this time Carach Angren have hit not only the concept on the head but the music behind it too making for one of the most intriguing and appropriately haunting listens this year.

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AUGUST : Akercocke – Renaissance In Extremis (Peaceville)

Announcing their reunion last year, Akercocke played live for the first time in years at Bloodstock Festival. Following this astounding performance there were rumours that the band had begun work on a new album. Released last week, Renassaince In Extremis is one of the most out there records you’ll hear all year. Deeply rooted in the likes of Death Metal, there are elements that perhaps you wouldn’t associate a band like Akercocke having. Flirting with technicality, the record is easily the bands most proficient yet and a worthy mention for what will be a stand out record this year.

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JULY : Integrity – Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume (Relapse Records) 

A band that need no introduction, their legacy the stuff of legend, Integrity delivered their own brand of Hardcore come Heavy Metal this year in absolutely gorgeous form with their first full length in four years. Intriguing in its make up, the record moves seamlessly from Iron Maiden style “Die With Your Boots On“, ironically sharing the same name as the classic British band, the track is absolutely brilliant retaining that Punk grit that Integrity are known for. Contrasted by the far more cinematic “Unholy Salvation of Sabbatai Zevi” whose Doom influences bleed through the speakers, this is one to be listened to with the volume turned firmly up.

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JUNE : Sikth – The Future In Whose Eyes (Millennium Night) 

Reverting back into the Prog kingdom once more, following their Opacities return back in 2015 Sikth had returned. With longtime vocalist Justin Hill leaving the band, you would have been forgiven for thinking that the future of the band might have been in jeopardy. Worry not as both Mikee Goodman and Joe Rosser took the reins to deliver another landmark of forward thinking Tech Metal that was ten years in the making. Featuring Goodman’s trademark soliloquy’s and even, for the first time ever a guest appearance by one Spencer Sotelo, The Future In Whose Eyes is an absolute tour de force with scathing modern day commentary.

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JUNE : Wednesday 13 – Condolences (Nuclear Blast)

Flanking the year on a more commercial front, the ghouls were out on the creation of Wednesday 13’s brand new record Condolences. Originally skeptical, my mind was quickly and irreversibly changed. With this being Wednesday’s most dynamic release to date the hooks of “Lonesome Road To Hell” dig themselves in and DO NOT let up. Fan favourites “You Breathe I Kill” of course brought the record screaming to the front of lists and what might be an unorthodox choice actually proved to be one of the years biggest and BEST surprises.

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JUNE : Suffocation – …Of The Dark Light (Nuclear Blast)

Opening up the crypt once more, Suffocation at long last made the comeback after a four year absence since their Pinnacle of Bedlam record. What would follow would be eight tracks (and one cover) of sheer Death Metal brutality. No messing around here, the band understood exactly what they wanted to deliver with the new record and brought their signature air tight riffing come machine gun style drums forward. Not to mention the record featured vocalists Frank Mullen AND Kevin Muller for the first time ever. Its worthy of being an album of the year for “Your Last Breaths” alone.

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MAY : The Night Flight Orchestra – Amber Galactic (Nuclear Blast)

It can’t all be serious though! Whilst most of this list as dicussing the woes of the world, there are some that just want to rock and my god is that what they do. I had no idea about the sheer Dad Rock power of The Night Flight Orchestra until I heard “Midnight Flyer”, not only does Bjorn “Speed” Strid prove to everyone that he’s a versatile singer but my god does he hit some seriously high notes! Fantastic Blackmore style licks all over and bass lines courtesy of Arch Enemy’s Sharlee D’Angelo. This is what “Highway Star” would sound like in space, on acid and its fucking glorious.

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MAY : John From – A Stirring In The Noos (Relapse Records) 

Following The Dillinger Escape Plan’s decision to call it quits, John Frum was born, featuring Liam Wilson, ex-The Faceless singer Derek Rydquist and members of John Zorn to create one of the most sonically challenging records of the year. Think Gorguts meets Cannibal Corpse. The sheer scope of the record eclipses most this year, meandering guitar lines give way to razor sharp leads. Not to mention the abyssal “Memory Palace” a ten minute journey into the deepest, darkest depths of the psyche. This is one no one should miss out on.

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AUGUST : Thy Art Is Murder – Dear Desolation (Nuclear Blast)

Last but certainly not least we come to the absolute tour de force that is Thy Art Is Murder’s return with Dear Desolation. Following CJ’s decision to leave the band, the boys in Thy Art Is Murder resolved to carry on in his absence, miraculously the singer has since come back to the band. Having had time and perspective among others the band have returned with what could easily be described as their most accomplished record to date. Dear Desolation was a definite surprise for me, a band who understand their sound, their abilities and most importantly their potential. There is no competition here.

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