With 2017 having some of the stiffest competition to date when it came to the choice of some of my favourites of the year, there are so many that are just as worthy of a mention so I thought that I would say a little piece for each!
Body Count – Bloodlust
Probably the most thought provoking album this year, Body Count returned with a no nonsense social commentary on the life and times of America today. This frank unfiltered look at Ice – T and co took was easily one of the highlights of March. Combining the visceral reality punch of “No Lives Matter” alongside the likes of guest appearances from Randy Blythe, Max Cavalera and Dave Mustaine, its a fun loving hard hitting record that deserves above all else to be heard this year.
Warbringer – Woe To The Vanquished
Returning revitalised and back to war front, the band brought forward an album that pits shred against history in their most comprehensive release to date. Not to mention an album that looks at all the different aspects presented in war. Classic songs.
While She Sleeps – You Are We
I’ll be the first person to tell you that I am most definitely not one for the kind of Metalcore that this Sheffield mob usually make, however this is no usual album. Coming together, While She Sleeps might well have released their finest record of their career to date. Combining the fierce aggression of Brainwashed with the quintessential melody, You Are We is a big statement of just what this band are really capable of.
Havok – Conformicide
One of the most exciting bands to emerge from the Thrash scene, Colorado’s Havok returned this year with what could be their most progressive offering yet. Combining Nick Schendzielos’ genius bass guitar twanging with the bands militant aggression, not to mention with scathing lyrical content, Conformicide was the kind of album that everyone should listen to in order to wake up from this sleepwalking we find ourselves in.
John From – A Stirring In The Noos
Very closely one of my album’s of the year, John Frum’s debut offering is quite possibly one of the most psychedelic yet deadly offerings that you’ll hear this year. Made up of past members of The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Faceless and more A Stirring in The Noms really is a real trip. From the moment that “Presage of Emptiness” faint tremolo din comes in to the monolithic ten minute “Memory Palace” right to the album’s very end. Its a release that keeps you guessing, keeps you engaged and most importantly showcases some of the absolute pedigree Death Metal that given its members past sounds entirely its own entity rather than a mishmash of previous bands. Keep an eye on these lot.
Bent Knee – Land Animal
The Adele’s of Prog, this year Inside Out were responsible for some absolutely brilliant acts but none more so than the intriguing workings of Bent Knee. Bringing elements from classic Prog with a neat twist, their Inside Out debut Land Animal was a real treat and if you’re a fusty old Prog fan like myself, you’ll love it.
Broken Hope – Mutilated and Assimilated
If there was one band that all the Death Metal living legends would list as an influence it would be Broken Hope. The band returned with their absolutely devastating offering Mutilated and Assimilated this year, a The Thing themed record that saw the band barrel out some absolutely brilliant Death Metal from start to finish.
Sikth – The Future In Whose Eyes
Returning with their EP Opacities two years ago now, the time was right for Sikth to return with a full length and after ten years, what more could have we have asked for than The Future In Whose Eyes! Incorporating new vocalist Joe Rosser into the mix, it was Sikth but not quite as you know it! Rejigged, tightened up and fluorescent, if Sikth were light years ahead of their peers in 2007 just imagine what The Future In Whose Eyes would sound like…
Integrity – Howling For The Nightmare Shall Consume
Containing one of my favourite riffs of the year “Die With Your Boots On” is a modern Metal classic ode to NWOBHM and couldn’t be more perfect in Integrity’s unabashed Howling. Bringing together elements of Hardcore, Thrash and Heavy Metal, the record is a real sonic experience that once completed just begs to be heard once more. Killer stuff, not to mention it was their first album in absolute yonks!
Cradle of Filth – Cryptoriana : The Seductiveness of Decay
Firmly on the Hammer of The Witches fan club train, I couldn’t think of how the band could better their sound then Cryptoriana came along and wowed us all once more. Gelling together on their previous outing, this is the first record in years that has seen the line up of Cradle of Filth remain stable. Retaining the Midian-esque sound, Cradle have simply upped their game once more remaining the undisputed kings of Gothic Symphonic Metal, not to mention that Richard Shaw’s solo on “Wester Vespertine” is my favourite this year.
Caligula’s Horse – In Contact
Produced beautifully, excellent executed and with an interesting concept Caligula’s Horse were on course to an absolute winner this year with their beautifully expansive release In Contact. Going into the theoretical plain of understanding as an art form, its concept might be slightly arid but riffs were reassuringly anchored. Increasing their scope following their critically acclaimed Bloom, In Contact is Caligula’s Horse beginning to understand just how exciting their potential could be and begs to be listened to this year.
The Haunted – Strength In Numbers
The sonic equivalent of a lingering finger on a bandfacer, The Haunted’s Strength In Numbers wins hands down for sheer aggression this year. Bursting back onto the scene in August, “Tighten The Noose” and “Brute Force” take absolutely no prisoners. Compiling the best elements of their metallic Hardcore with quintessential Gothenburg style riffing, when The Haunted are at their most feral is when the band excel. Sadly however, despite being well and truly in the moment when the record plays, the songs weren’t quite memorable enough to weave their way into my end of year list.
Akercocke – Renaissance In Extremis
Doing away with the likes of Satanic mantra and sexual lyricism, Akercocke might lyrically be a different entity but Renaissance In Extremis is Progressive Death Metal brilliance. The perfect stepping stone between Cynic and Death, this is intellectual songwriting at its finest. Churning a maelstrom of atmosphere in the dour “Familiar Ghosts” or the Iron Maiden style “Unbound By Sin” right up to their finale of “A Particularly Cold Septemeber” s emotive solo, you couldn’t ask for better musicianship, shame about the vocals.
Sons of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony
Returning this year with the supergroup of all supergroups’s Sons of Apollo made a meteoric statement with their debut. Made up of Mike Portnoy, Derek Sherinian, Billy Sheehan, Bumblefoot and Jeff Scott Soto, not only have the band eschewed any of their past players but have created a beautiful, transcendental Prog Metal masterpiece that deserves equally as high praise.
Trivium – The Sin And The Sentence
Dividing fans somewhat with previous release Silence In The Snow (personally, I loved the record) Trivium’s experimentation with sound hadn’t ceased. Announcing the band would be releasing a brand new album this year it begged the question of what exactly it would sound like. Incorporating new drummer and ex-Brain Drill sticksman Alex Bent on drums, The Sin And The Sentence could well be the most comprehensive Trivium release so far. Bringing the thundering seven strings of Shogun, the melodic tropes of In Waves and even the Metalcore standards of Ascendancy. Critics and fans alike revered the album as a fantastic return to form.
Glassjaw – Material Control
Doing an “Avenged Sevenfold” and dropping Material Control out of thin air with only a week’s warning, Glassjaw knew what kind of game they were playing. Releasing second single the Flannel Shirt flattening “Shira” the week before their new album, it was easily one of the highlights of December. Personally having missed the Glassjaw boat first time round, I was quick to jump on this record and my god am I glad that I did. Genius songwriting, with unfiltered passion pushed Glassjaw into one of my most surprising and listened to releases of December.
The Faceless – In Becoming A Ghost
With potentially the worst social media track record going, The Faceless have had somewhat of a tough year. Hard to believe that it has been five years since the release of their idol touting Autotheism, the band announced that In Becoming A Ghost would just slip into 2017. Despite some fans irking over the inclusion of both “Black Star” and “The Spiralling Void” alongside some instrumental tracks and a cover, there hadn’t been much material that has surfaced, however the material that was new was some of the best work The Faceless have put together, lets just not take as long next time eh lads?
Loathe – The Cold Sun
Bubbling away in the metallic underground, Loathe are fast becoming the band to check out this year. With influences ranging from Meshuggah to Grime, the band are easily one of the most exciting to come out and The Cold Sun was just an example of what sights this band have got in their crosshairs. Given their explosive live performances, I would imagine that we will be hearing a lot more from these lads very soon.
Iron Reagan – Crossover Ministry
The often forgotten brother of Tony Foresta’s sister project Municipal Waste, Crossover Ministry has to be one of the most fun, straight up Hardcore riff server’s of the year. From “Fuck The Neighbours” to the biting pessimism of “A Dying World” this is a band that are equal amounts pissed off as they are here to have fun. Not to mention Kurt Ballou’s woodchipper production shines through once more!
Ghost Bath – Starmourner
An intersting choice this one, following in the black gaze vein of Deaf Heaven, Ghost Bath combine some of the most beautiful melodies with some truly shrill vocals that bring to mind being trapped in an asylum. Yet the juxtaposition of the two makes for such an interesting listen, it simply demands a replay to see what the hell is going on in Starmourner, definitely 2017’s wild card.
Solstafir – Berdreyminn
Straying further from their more Black Metal roots, Solstafir brought out my quintessential “morning” record this year. The serene sounds of Berdreyminn have been one of the biggest surprises for me with its release this year. Creating the same vibe as you would hear in a soundtrack its a peaceful experience that I would recommend to anyone.
So there you have it! Those are just some of my Honourable Mentions that I think you could might dig too. Let me know what has been spinning for you and if there are any similarities, anything I might have missed! I’d love to hear them.