2017, Part 1: It's February Already?!?


Getting started on this later than usual

Created by: musclassia | 21.02.2017



1. Persefone - Aathma
2017 [8.7] - I'll see whether repeated listens make this score change, but on initial listens, my feelings are slightly muted but still very warm to it. All the things that made Spiritual Migration so brilliant are still intact, including the lush clean vocals, impressive yet tasteful technicality, excellent mix of melody and intensity throughout. However, the music isn't as memorable as that on SM, and perhaps there's a tendency to 'over-prog' things. Still, a solid addition to their still-young discography. Edit: further listens have made me warm to most of the songs I was previously uncertain over - SM is still the better album, but I now really enjoy Aathma.
2. Schammasch - The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite
2017 [8.5] - Schammasch take the tribal ambient from disc 3 of Triangle and successfully merge it with their metal side. There isn't much extreme metal, except on Chimerical Hope, but for the most part this adds more metal instrumentation, more sinister atmosphere and more menacing vocals to the already solid base from last year and in doing so create a monster of a sound. Already accomplished black metallers, Schammasch could really be onto something with this new sound.
3. Au-Dessus - End Of Chapter
2017 [8.5] - In another year filled with quality black metal, this is a solid contender for AOTY in the genre. Quality mix of different approaches that enable each song to stand distinct from the others, and each song is of high quality. From the chanting and measured atmospheric intro to opener VI, to VIII, which commences with full-on blastbeats and culminates the subsequent journey in a quality driving BM riff announced by a fierce shriek, to the epic X, with its slow epic start, melancholy first half, and masterfully developing second half, that builds upon an oscillating lead guitar line to climax with an apocalyptically heavy finale. The thing with black metal is that done competently, it typically sounds pretty good from most bands, but it can be pretty difficult to make something that truly stands out. In the absence of any genre fusion or innovations, all you can do is deliver quality songs, which is what Au-Dessus pull off here.
4. Heretoir - The Circle
2017 [8.4] - 'Depressive black metal' doesn't seem entirely accurate here, at least for the most part, as a lot of the album is much closer to the blackgaze sound, albeit executed very well. However, I suppose the outstanding album-closing title track may take some cues from DSBM what with the overt guitar melodies and downtrodden atmosphere. Vocals, both extreme and clean, are on point in this album, and songwriting is adept and varied.
5. Mastodon - Emperor Of Sand
2017 [8.4] - Perching this up here with Aathma, until either or both of them fully win me over, but I really like it a lot. It's flawed, with some flat vocal lines (albeit with an all-time best vocal performance from the band in my opinion) and more than one song that doesn't manage to fully hit the spot, but it's adventures and experimental at times, and ultimately they deliver some really cracking music that stands on its own as all-time great Mastodon material, most notably Jaguar God, a very effective slow-cum-heavy piece.
6. Progenie Terrestre Pura - oltreLuna
2017 [8.4] - I don't think this QUITE matches up to the revelatory experience that was U.M.A., but it's a pretty damn fine sophomore effort. The effective mix of black metal with electronics (less abundant earlier on than on UMA, but after halfway through song 3, they become a lot more prominent and arguably more 'in-your-face' stylistically than on the previous album) conjures up a really distinctive sound for this Italian trio, and they maximise the opportunities it affords. Giving varying front time to the riffs, the electronics, guitar leads, and on occasions string instruments add different flavours to the songs, as do the variations in tone between harsh and heavy parts to more atmospheric and introspective sections.
7. Ashenspire - Speak Not Of The Laudanum Quandary
2017 [8.4] - Sounds like the offspring of A Forest Of Stars and Primordial. The violins, eerie vocals and offputting song structures of the former combined with the Celtic folk influences and semi-regular stretches of 'epic atmospheres' inspired by the latter. Really effective sound and hugely likeable album.
8. Saule - Saule
2017 [8.4] - A relatively refreshing, powerful, and exciting combination of post-rock, black metal, metalgaze and snippets of other things. Obviously post-black and blackgaze are established genres, but this is typically lighter instrumentally than the former and emotionally darker than the latter, producing an evocative musical journey.
9. Venenum - Trance Of Death
2017 [8.4] - A really distinctive and high-quality prog-tinged death metal album. Plenty of razor-sharp riffing, blasting drums and violent growls, regularly capped off with psychedelic keyboards, and taking several detours into trippier or more atmospheric territory. Also pulls some interesting songwriting tricks, such as the stop-start riff build-up in Cold Threat.
10. Gloson - Grimen
2017 [8.3] - Some quality atmos-sludge/post-metal with a crushing sound. It has something like the 'typical' post-metal riffing style on some songs, most notably the highly effective closing track Embodiment. However, on some of the earlier songs on the album, it eschews most tendencies towards levity for a really punishing, crushing, misanthropic sound. The vocals here are closer to death metal than on most albums of this type, and on the whole they work really well.
11. Elder - Reflections Of A Floating World
2017 [8.3] - Like the last album, an extensive proggy stoner jam with songs with loose feels and a cool laid-back vibe. Just pleasant fun listening put together very well.
12. Oceanwake - Earthen
2017 [8.3] - Some pretty darn fine post-metal, to be fair. It for the most part is on the heavier, sludgier, doomier side, not miles away from Ortega, but on the flip side there is a more melodic side to their sound, most obviously on display in the closing moments of the second of these extremely long songs, which almost sounds Agalloch-ian (Ashes Against The Grain) with its melodic guitar line against crushing riffs. In a year where not too much has stood out as far as post-metal albums I've encountered is concerned, this is one of the stronger efforts I've come across.
13. Mosaic - Old Man's Wyntar
2017 [8.3] - Really good mix of black metal, dark ambient and neofolk - whilst the lengthy (especially so for closer Silver Nights) black metal ventures are quality, the most captivating pieces for me are the ambient and/or neofolk pieces like Black Glimmer (hints of Wardruna) and Silent World, Holy Awe (reminds me of Koskinen-era acoustic Amorphis).
14. Violet Cold - Anomie
2017 [8.3] - A really fine blackgaze album. Got plenty of harsh but euphoric shoegaze-tinged black metal, alongside several other elements that light things up. A piano outro to Violet Girl, a Nightwish-esque intro to My Journey..., interesting keyboards (?) combining with delightful guitar lines to produce an overwhelming outro to the same song, the trippy synths and lush poppy intro of Lovegaze, and plenty more, all used very effectively to produce different moods. The tracks vary in style but generally not in quality, although the middle two would be my personal picks for best songs.
15. The Ruins Of Beverast - Exuvia
2017 [8.3] - A genuinely excellent venture of blackened doom that is regularly sinister, atmospheric, and dense, but rarely frantic or overbearing. Effective if sparing use of acoustic guitars, clean vocals, and even bagpipes alongside ominous, gloomy mid-tempo black metal prowls develop a really enthralling atmosphere, not all that unlike Nothing But The Whole by Emptiness, at least to this genre outsider's ears.
16. Versus The Ghost - Versus The Ghost
2017 [8.3] - Really effective ambient post-rock, delivers a delightful atmosphere and serenely beautiful music.
17. Vintersorg - Till Fjälls Del II
2017 [8.3] - Another lush black/folk/prog metal drenched in the typical Vintersorg atmosphere, carried by the rich vocals of Vintersorg and the engaging instrumentations, that bring the epic but don't overwhelm with cheese.
18. Fen - Winter
2017 [8.3] - Hitting 75 minutes, this is not a casual listen. However, it is a rewarding one, bringing most of what one would expect from Fen; the lengthy songs filled with haunting atmosphere and powerful riffs as the band shifts between atmos-black and blackgaze sounds. The album is perhaps a bit darker and more sinister compared to its predecessor Carrion Skies (except for VI - Sight, which seems more in keeping with that album's sound). I don't think it quite matches up to that album quality-wise, but it's nevertheless another good album from a band that I felt was losing their way around Dustwalker.
19. Nightbringer - Terra Damnata
2017 [8.3] - Highly entertaining flamboyant black metal. The typical sound combines a pounding mid-tempo/sometimes blastbeating low-end march with dramatic high-pitched lead guitar lines and tremolos. Pounding tom-heavy drumming, generic but effective creepy DSO-style vocals and an imposing mix come together very nicely indeed.
20. Pryapisme - Diabolicus Felinae Pandemonium
2017 [8.3] - Not sure what this counts as (cybergrind?), but whatever it is, it's highly infectious - a mix of videogame-style electronics and extreme metal blasting is hugely catchy and danceable. Fun fun fun.
21. Bathsheba - Servus
2017 [8.3] - Sounds somewhat like a violin-less SubRosa, with a bit of Obscure Sphinx in there, crushing, slow doom with some semi-regular use of sorrowful guitar melodies, all carried by very SubRosa-esque female clean vocals. It's not outstanding but it's pretty captivating, particularly the centrepiece track Manifest.
22. Sleepmakeswaves - Made Of Breath Only
2017 [8.3] - One of the premier post-rock bands currently active. Still instrumental, and still producing generally uplifting, euphoric ditties, this is I guess more of the same, but perhaps a bit more atmospheric than Love Of Cartography. Also sufficiently mixes up the generally dainty mood with blasts of heaviness (Into The Arms Of Ghosts) to keep things interesting.
23. Pillorian - Obsidian Arc
2017 [8.3] - From the primary driving force behind Agalloch comes a new project that is clearly coming from the same creative force that powered that band. Atmospheric black metal with moments of melancholy, this is however an overall harsher effort than most of Agalloch's work, with the emphasis seemingly much closer to the black side of things than the dainty softer parts. Probably the closest song to former works is the closing track Dark Is The River Of Man, which is also arguably the most memorable song from the album.
24. Samsara Blues Experiment - One With The Universe
2017 [8.3] - Lengthy stoner prog metal that took a detour through Vulture Industries territory, most notably through the vocals but also some of the structuring, which at other times reminds me a lil bit of Crack The Skye or Elder. Varied and packed with lengthy songs but thoroughly engaging throughout.
25. Oranssi Pazuzu - Farmakologinen
2017 [8.2] - Apparently a remastering of songs from a split released a few years ago, this is a quality collection of songs deftly mixing psychedelic elements into black metal, producing a weird yet very catchy sound.
26. Anomalie - Visions
2017 [8.2] - I'm not sure post-black is an entirely accurate description - there's definitely black metal here, with certain elements reminiscent of Agalloch or atmos-black bands (particularly the use of violin), but I also get a melodeath feel to some songs (closing song One With The Soil brought Be'Lakor to mind). Songs vary between melancholy, anger and in certain moments, victorious triumph (Starless Nights made me think of Amon Amarth, not so much musically but emotionally). The variety and quality of compositions makes it a rather likeable listen through.
27. David Maxim Micic - Who Bit The Moon
2017 [8.2] - In recent years I've lost my appetite for instrumental metal in general; however, occasionally an album comes along that just works well enough to get me on board. This exists somewhere on the spectrum between Disperse's blend of atmospheric djent and the ambient electronics of Tycho, and is regularly as lush as that description would suggest.
28. Ghost Bath - Starmourner
2017 [8.2] - I really rather enjoyed this depressive black metal release, which I guess isn't surprising as I felt fairly positive towards Moonlover. The tracks that stood out the most to me were Celestial and Principalities, but the mix of some delightful guitar leads and BM grooves amongst all the typical components of the genre make for a pleasing result. One could complain about the vocals, which don't even seem to aspire towards lyrics, and just deliver amorphous shrieks in the background - personally, I wouldn't rate them as a positive but I didn't find them distracting.
29. Below The Sun - Alien World
2017 [8.2] - Apparently this band used to be funeral doom; you can hear aspects of that coming through in their sound, but for the most part this is post-doom not miles away from Process Of Guilt, if heavier and slower than Faemin by that band. Songs ebb and flow like post-metal, but have the intensity and lead guitar melodies of extreme doom hanging around.
30. Svart Crown - Abreaction
2017 [8.2] - Some very well-made extreme metal, drenched in sinister atmosphere and powered by hooky riffs, exciting and varied drumming, and vicious vocals. Songs ebb and flow with intent, from triumphant blast-beats and hooks to measured mid-tempo grooves suffocated with oppressive energy. A bit same-y throughout for the runtime perhaps, but packed with the kind of moments that extreme metal fans crave.
31. Drug Honkey - Cloak Of Skies
2017 [8.2] - Some satisfying industrial drone/doom metal, churning away its cold, mechanical atmosphere with pounding, repetitive drone-based riffs.
32. Bask - Ramble Beyond
2017 [8.2] - Some pretty chilled-out proggy stoner metal, with some obvious Southern USA influences in the music. Makes for pleasant background music and entertaining foreground music, it's within the same territories as Weedpecker and Elder, if more lush than the former and more compact than the latter.
33. The Great Old Ones - EOD: A Tale Of Dark Legacy
2017 [8.2] - I never was super turned onto either of their previous efforts, but this album is a really impressive display of a variety of black metal approaches, all done convincingly and excitingly. From blistering fast (yet slightly melodic) black metal (Shadow Over Innsmouth), groovier songs (When The Stars Align), against slower crawls (Mare Infinitum) and dramatic synth-accompanied marches (album highlight The Ritual), all these various stylistic takes on BM are interspersed with a number of ambient and acoustic passages that complement the metal and result in an excellently rounded record.
34. Distant Dream - It All Starts From Pieces
2017 [8.1] - Some rather solid post-/prog rock, with some of the usual post-rock tropes (particularly dynamically), but unusually prominent modern prog lead guitar playing, and some almost melodeath riffing. Well-packaged elements deliver variety, emotion, and chill.
35. Netra - Ingrats
2017 [8.1] - An interesting mix of black metal with ambient electronics, jazz, and other non-metal elements. The mixes work better on some songs than others (and even during some songs - the initially awkward transitions from BM to non-metal in Everything's Fine become more cohesive later in the song), but when it works it's very pleasing, and there are some genuinely moving parts with the piano and clean vocals.
36. Amplifier - Trippin' With Dr. Faustus
2017 [8.1] - This is the first encounter I've had with this band (narrowly missing them at a couple of festivals), and I like what I hear. Prog/psychedelic rock, in which I can certainly see the influences of bands such as Soundgarden and Pink Floyd that are mentioned on their wikipedia page. There's plenty of rock to it, although they aren't shy to go acoustic and soft, but whilst some songs feel like heavy, driving, almost metallic rockers (The Commotion), others are more mysterious and mellowed out (Supernova).
37. The Last Sighs Of The Wind - We Are Trees
2017 [8.1] - Relatively heavy post-rock/metal that delves into some more melancholy and dark emotions in the way a lot of post-rock tends to shy away from. One of the better things to come up on the wherepostrockdwells YouTube channel, which I am increasingly delving into.
38. Hark - Machinations
2017 [8.1] - Heavy stoner metal with plenty of punch and groove in its riffs, but also a good range of dynamics, from pummelling songs to smoother, more measured pieces such as album highlight Premonitions.
39. ROSK - Miasma
2017 [8.1] - A powerful, evocative, and menacing post-black release, with appropriate use of intensity, melancholy and atmosphere.
40. The Moth Gatherer - The Comfortable Low
2017 [8.0] - A nice one-two of catchy but heavy post/sludge metal, less focussed on the dynamic side of the genre and more on the riff side. Track 2 reminds me a lil tiny bit of A Greater Call by Cult of Luna, possibly in part due to the electronics well-utilised by this band.
41. Sólstafir - Berdreyminn
2017 [8.0] - I'm still not 100% sure how I feel about Solstafir, but I at least appreciate that they have a pretty unique sound. The natural atmosphere of their works evoke the cold, windy landscapes from which they emerged, and the vocals, whilst sometimes irritating, do complement this vibe. The post/prog elements of their sound also contribute to the distinctive style of their music, which I kinda struggle to fully describe. But this is good, similar level of quality to Otta perhaps if not quite at that level.
42. Les Discrets - Prédateurs
2017 [8.0] - Something of a departure from the post-rock/blackgaze of their past albums, there are a couple of songs here along those lines, but in general this is a lot more subdued and atmospheric, assisted by some nice use of electronics. Different songs give off vibes varying from modern Katatonia or Tiamat to Massive Attack, and the album finishes with a quiet, morose piano track. Really like this, more than their other works to be honest.
43. Pallbearer - Heartless
2017 [8.0] - Too doom for me to truly enjoy, but interesting and distinctiv prog-tinged doom, with some limited elements of post-rock in there at times. The vocals vary between Ozzy-style eerie vocals to more direct chants, with some softer croons on the melancholy, most post-rock-esque closer A Plea For Understanding.
44. In The Company Of Serpents - Ain​-​Soph Aur
2017 [8.0] - Heavy stuff. It could be longer - 3 ~10 minute tracks interspersed with 3 1-2minute long interlude pieces leaves one wanting a bit more, but what we do get served here is quite filling - the groovy stoner/punching sludge of Middle Pillar and Crucible, and the long, meandering sludge doom of Limitless Light are worth the price of admission.
45. Wolfheart - Tyhjyys
2017 [8.0] - A cut above a lot of melodic death albums these days. Some songs have folk-y guitar melodies (Call Of The Winter), whilst others have a darker vibe and heavier approach (Boneyard, and the impressive opener Shores Of The Lake Simpele), but the cheesiness is very muted on the album, and the conviction is high. Not revolutionary, but considering a lot of the stuff produced within the subgenre, it has a relatively distinct sound.
46. Katre - Encounters
2017 [8.0] - I went searching for some 2017 post-metal to go with all the 2017 post-rock I've recently listened to, and found this 'Middle Eastern post-metal' album, which sounds exactly like post-rock, with a few brief glimpses of Middle Eastern melodies. But it's very delightful and consistently delivering post-rock, so it's hard to complain.
47. Disperse - Foreword
2017 [8.0] - Not as emotional as Living Mirrors sometimes managed to be, but notably lighter and daintier, and a very pleasant, relaxing listen.
48. Lorn - Arrayed Claws
2017 [8.0] - An interesting take on the dissonant black metal sound - still a share of oppressive riffing, however there is more of a leaning towards atmosphere and space rather than suffocating nastiness. Combined with some tasty riffs and a couple of other interesting stylistic choices, a meritable release overall.
49. Pain Of Salvation - In The Passing Light Of Day
2017 [8.0] - Something of a return to The Perfect Element-era PoS, albeit with a heavier sound. Long, twisting, emotionally charged songs, not as captivating as the best the band's come out with, and like usual with this band, some parts don't really come off successfully, but a welcome return to a sound that is distinctly their own and which was previously left after only a couple of efforts.
50. Enisum - Seasons Of Desolation
2017 [8.0] - Generic but highly effective atmos-black.
51. Igorrr - Savage Sinusoid
2017 [7.9] - Nice to spend more time listening to this bizarre three-way mesh of grindcore, French classical/folk, and what I have been informed is breakcore (don't know this particular type of electronic music well enough to state from my own knowledge), coming together to deliver a concoction that is hyperactive, flamboyant, and always changing. I feel like this album may be slightly heavier than previous albums of theirs I've heard, but I can't remember those well enough to judge. Parts of it can be somewhat grating, but the sheer uniqueness of it is very compelling.
52. Wide Eyes - Paradoxica
2017 [7.9] - Part of the whole instrumental modern prog scene, featuring plenty of light-hearted guitar virtuoso and atmospherics. Does have the usual problems of instrumental prog as far as memorability, distinctiveness, and emotional grab goes, but is solidly done, without too much wanking, and a really nice feel to the whole thing.
53. Firespawn - The Reprobate
2017 [7.9] - OSDM, done without surprises but with more than enough quality to scratch the itch of anyone craving another retread of this style.
54. Immolation - Atonement
2017 [7.9] - Highly entertaining slab of death metal. Just an onslaught of great riffs and pounding songs.
55. Stone From The Sky - Fuck The Sun
2017 [7.9] - Fairly heavy post-rock/metal, done well but not especially distinctive, aside from some of the stoner metal elements in some of the riffs, and the Middle Eastern influences in a couple of the songs, such as album highlight Welcome To Trantor.
56. Novembers Doom - Hamartia
2017 [7.9] - I've only heard Aphotic by these guys, and can barely remember it, so don't have much to compare this against. As it is, it feels like a heavier version of 00's Katatonia conjoined with Arctic Sleep in some of its cleaner moments, with heavy but not overwhelming stretches surrounding them, comprised of some galivanting riffs, tasty lead guitar, and slightly Gothic atmosphere. It's got quite a few things going on here and remains consistently alluring throughout.
57. Ayreon - The Source
2017 [7.8] - I don't know what it is about Ayreon, but I really struggle to find anything to fully like about their sound, even if all the components are in place and are done well enough. Guess there's just something about Arjen's writing that puts me off fully liking anything he does. This isn't his strongest effort but it's better than at least The Theory Of Everything. It feels heavier than most of his stuff, and it has a strong line-up of vocalists (even though the whole matter-of-fact narrative style of the lyrics is pretty tedious - kinda hard to be inspired by unimaginative description of situations in this way). On top of that the music is generally pretty enjoyable, but never truly exciting. It's the kind of thing that maybe could come together with multiple listens, but isn't really enticing enough to pump that level of dedication into enjoying it.
58. Frailty - Ways Of The Dead
2017 [7.8] - Pretty impressive Eastern melody-influenced death/doom metal, packed with trudging doom crawls married with oriental-tinged guitar leads, with bursts of death metal extremity interspersed. Long and tedious at times, but generally a fairly rewarding effort.
59. Dodecahedron - Kwintessens
2017 [7.8] - Been a while since I listened to their debut, but this feels toned down in terms of insane dissonance. There's still plenty of weirdness in the riffing style, and long stretches of full-frontal extremity. Alongside there, there's the usual slower, hookier, more atmospheric sections that come with black metal albums, plus a more proggy/djenty approach on album standout "Dodecahedron".
60. Memoriam - For The Fallen
2017 [7.8] - Heavy, mid-tempo, very headbangable OSDM full of hooky riffs and grooves, undermined slightly by the less-than-stellar vocals.
61. Cult Of Fire - Untitled
2017 [7.7] - A solid 10-minute burst of frantic melodic black metal. Song 1 is a near-constant blast-beat-driven assault, with a very hooky outro riff, whilst song 2 is more dramatic, with some keyboard flourishes and a *slightly* bigger variation in tempo.
62. The Flight Of Sleipnir - Skadi
2017 [7.7] - Starts off with a couple of trudging, uninvesting tracks of folk/black/stoner/heavy metal, but picks up a lot on song 3, which has a real Pasi Koskinen-Amorphis feel to it, between the proggy edge and acoustics. Followed up with a soothing soft instrumental and an effectively huge stoner doom closer, what starts off mediocre ultimately finishes as impressive.
63. Soen - Lykaia
2017 [7.7] - A mixture of post-2000 Tool, Opeth, Riverside and a couple of other prog bands, plus a personal touch as well. With a melancholy, it is well-made and somewhat moving, but I do feel the songs lack a real spark to truly excite or evoke feeling - it's easy to like but I find it a bit tough to truly connect with.
64. Ulver - The Assassination Of Julius Caesar
2017 [7.7] - A departure from last year's Zodiac album, this is primarily synthpop, albeit traversing from the soul of Rolling Stone to the sci-fi soundscapes of Coming Home. Some of it is more compelling than other parts (not a fan of the jazzy outro to Rolling Stone myself), but when it's on form it delivers some tasty synthy beats and captivating rich vocals from Garm.
65. Anathema - The Optimist
2017 [7.6] - Having been completely won over by Weather Systems within the past year or so, I've been very much looking forward to this. As it is, it's not at the same level as that album, but there's some nice stuff. It seems a bit more electronic/piano-leaning compared to the dainty guitars of WS, perhaps more in line with Distant Satellites on that front. Also, Lee Douglas gets more time on lead vocals on this album than previous albums, which is a great thing, and her songs are some of the best this has to offer (Endless Ways, the title track, Springfield and more). This album in general has maybe a more straightforward alt rock sound for a lot of it compared to the more 'epic' feel of WS, which does help it produce some nice stuff, but it doesn't quite reach greatness.
66. SikTh - The Future In Whose Eyes?
2017 [7.6] - I imagine SikTh are one of those bands perfectly capable of turning my opinion around, and that one day it might just click and I'll love them. As it is, I think there's plenty worth appreciating in their prog/math/metalcore sound, but the shrieky vocals are grating, the breakdown parts (?) not that interesting, and the narration parts on this album are way too long. In contrast, there's some cool riffs, impressive instrumentation, and neat hooks, particularly on The Aura.
67. Witherfall - Nocturnes And Requiems
2017 [7.6] - In the vein of the likes of Lost Horizon, particularly vocal, if perhaps heavier and darker than that band, this is some rip-roaring prog/power metal with an Yngwie Malmsteen neo-classical flamboyant tone (without quite the same guitar histrionics) topped with powerful and widely-pitched vocals, includng some emphatic falsettos. Doesn't excite me on the power metal front in the way Masterplan's self-titled and The Heart Of The Matter by Triosphere have been recently, but it's a very strong genre release.
68. iiah - Distances
2017 [7.6] - This post-rock album oscillates in quality a little bit, starting off with the strongest music and picking up again with Gravity towards the end, but becoming slightly listless in the middle. For the most part it is subdued, tremolo-style post-rock with a fair share of ambient and a predominance towards the quieter end of the genre. It also has vague, echoe-y shouted vocals nestling in the mix, which I was not personally a fan of.
69. Loss (USA) - Horizonless
2017 [7.6] - I'm not a fan of funeral doom, but I can appreciate that this is pretty decent - interesting melodies and vibes that alternate between melancholy and sinister, and some variation in pace from death crawl to something slightly more immediate.
70. Dominia - Stabat Mater
2017 [7.6] - Not quite at the level of Divine Revolution but a massive step up from Theophania. Predominantly mid/slow-tempo Gothic metal, with plenty of morose atmosphere delivered by trudging riffs, moody guitar leads, creepy violin and cavernous growls. It can be a bit same-y given the substantial length of most-all of the songs and the restrained pace, but in its best moments it's pretty darn good.
71. Voyager - Ghost Mile
2017 [7.6] - This band has a distinctive and interesting sound - elements of the nu-prog djent guitar sound, alongside rich baritone vocals and tasteful keys for piano melodies and ambience, amongst other things. My main problem is, aside from the occasional song (A Beautiful Mistake from V comes to mind), the actual songs just aren't all that compelling.
72. Hubris - Apocryphal Gravity
2017 [7.6] - Some pleasant space post-rock (instrumental), with a good mix of guitar work, from the typical dainty playing and tremolo to more substantial lead work, to a tasteful backdrop of synthy ambience, with percussion accompaniment that varies between full kit and hands-only bongo-style drumming.
73. Funeralium - Of Throes And Blight
2017 [7.6] - Lengthy death/doom like this isn't particularly my favourite style, but I can appreciate some of the better work in the genre, and the crushing, morose, despair conjured by this monolithic (90+min) album is easy to admire and derive some level of satisfaction from. Not something I'd particularly care to listen to again, but I can definitely recommend it to those more fond of the genre.
74. Royal Thunder - WICK
2017 [7.5] - Decent and somewhat distinctive psychedelic/stoner hard rock, carried primarily by the distinctive and powerful lead vocals. Not quite at the same level as Crooked Doors, but a moving and thoughtful listen.
75. Set And Setting - Reflectionless
2017 [7.5] - A well-made, well-produced instrumental post-metal effort, that for the most part occupies similar territory to the likes of Pet Slimmers Of The Year, with a thick chugging sound. However, on some tracks, particularly opening song Saudade, it has a real black metal side to it, and a rather dissonant form at that. This does give the album some additional character to rise it above the many similar sounding bands in this genre, but it does still lack a little bit in the songwriting department to be truly special.
76. Unleash The Archers - Apex
2017 [7.5] - Power/heavy metal, with solid fem vocals not too disimilar to Seven Kingdoms', but with a richer production sound. Honestly not sure why it has such positive comments in some places, thought it was a slightly above par-for-the-course release, totally fine but nothing to go crazy over.
77. Archivist - Construct
2017 [7.5] - A post-rock/black-metal fusion album which delivers a mixture of really fine atmospheric moments and punchy riffs, alongside some clean vocals that vary from effective to remarkably iffy. The album is unusually inconsistent for the genre, but is rather good when it's at its best.
78. Saturndust - RLC
2017 [7.5] - Decent psychedelic doom - solid atmosphere-building, effective mix of different components, somewhat engaging writing, but doesn't quite hit it out the park - some parts drag and I'm not a huge fan of the vocals.
79. Seven Kingdoms - Decennium
2017 [7.5] - Very similar to The Fire Is Mine, except without the surprise factor of not having heard them before. Competent and moderately catchy semi-stripped down power metal with good vocals.
80. Mors Principium Est - Embers Of A Dying World
2017 [7.5] - Nothing surprising about this album, but it does dig out some quality songs in the likes of Death Is The Beginning, In Torment and Apprentice Of Death.
81. Wormwood - Ghostlands - Wounds From A Bleeding Earth
2017 [7.5] - A folk/meloblack album which sounds like the songs of Rohan played by a metal band. There's more to it than that, but for the most part this is something you'll have heard plenty of times before. Thankfully, it is played with conviction and composed with enough inspiration to excite, even as it becomes just one more of many extreme folk albums released from the Nordic countries.
82. False Horizon - Transition
2017 [7.4] - Decent ambient post-rock, but pretty lengthy considering the relative lack of substance. Something to idle in the background rather than immerse in as far as I'm concerned.
83. Lethe - The First Corpse On The Moon
2017 [7.4] - An intriguing project, mixing dark electronics, dreamy yet melancholic vocals, alongside muted rock/metal. Like the last album, this is a little hit and miss with how effective the songs are, but the more successful efforts such as With You generate an atmosphere of ruefulness and longing through the very effective vocals, the guitars lurking towards the back of the mix yet delivering groove and melody, and the pleasantly atmospheric synths.
84. Benighted - Necrobrood
2017 [7.4] - I haven't heard any of their other stuff, so I don't know if the band was ever heavier than this, but as a first taste I feel like, for brutal death metal, this is relatively approachable. Still, it packs a real punch, with a barrage of tasty riffs, vocals of varying degrees of insanity, and several groovy sections/straight-up breakdowns. Nothing particularly unique but pretty entertaining on the whole.
85. Obitus - Slaves Of The Vast Machine
2017 [7.4] - As a 45min+ single track of unrestrained black metal, it does become a bit one-note and draining before it's run its course, but it's well-done for the most part, with hooky riffs, neat subtle shifts in intensity and mood, and fairly well-judged pacing.
86. Amarok - Hunt
2017 [7.3] - Ambient prog rock, soft throughout, and carried at different times by electronics, percussion, and lush Floyd- style guitar solos. It's nice, but a tad underwhelming.
87. Evocation - The Shadow Archetype
2017 [7.3] - Swedish OSDM (albeit not quite as intense as the likes of Dismember) - very entertaining but very much of its genre.
88. Asofy - Nessun Luogo
2017 [7.3] - A quirky drone release, somewhere in the same ball park as Dark Buddha Rising's Inversum, it manages a somewhat similar hypnotic effect, but with more structure and overt melodies. It also has the vocals way low down in the mix; however, they're somewhat irritating due to this. Also, some tracks are better than others - the more droning ones, and those more overtly using industrial percussion elements are the stronger pieces here.
89. Aeternam - Ruins Of Empires
2017 [7.3] - Sounds like if Orphaned Land decided to chuck some power metal into their sound. There's some melodeath riffs and growls, but for the most part this feels like Eastern-tinged power metal (Damascus Gate) or power-tinged Oriental folk metal (Colossus), particularly due to the overt flashy guitar lead melodies, keyboard frills and clean vocals. It's certainly entertaining but slightly insubstantial.
90. Kassad - Faces Turned Away
2017 [7.3] - Bookended by semi/fully ambient tracks, this one fits an onslaught of cold, dark black metal in between. The muted black of the title track is probably the most notable song here.
91. Emptiness - Not For Music
2017 [7.3] - Nothing But The Whole was a simmering stew of tension that was drenched in imposing atmosphere whilst (one or two songs aside) never unleashing into full-blown extreme metal assault. Not For Music has turned up the atmosphere and tension side of the music to 11 whilst further diminishing the metal side (save for closer Let It Fall), and adding in more non-metal elements (note the darkwave feel of Ever). This results in a package with a distinctive feel that manages to deliver plenty to appreciate; however, there is a real lack of substance at times, and the atmosphere isn't compelling enough to overcome this - nothing here matches the feel of the likes of All Is Known from the last album.
92. Neurotech - The Catalyst
2017 [7.2] - Apparently this record rounds out 10 years of prolific output from Wolf, the man behind Neurotech, under this moniker, and to be honest, this suggests that it's probably not a terrible idea. It's perfectly okay, but doesn't really add anything new to the synth metal that (IMO) peaked on Infra Versus Ultra.
93. Noumena - Myrrys
2017 [7.2] - Very typical for the genre and without the best of growling vocals, but it's a decent Finnish melodeath album from a band that seemingly fluked out a masterpiece in Absence but who still have at least some level of quality. The female vocals act as a nice counterpoint to some parts, and the Finnish folk metal feel of some songs (particularly closer Syvalla Vedessa) is rather appealling.
94. Blackfield - Blackfield V
2017 [7.2] - Typically pleasant for the band, but I do feel like half the songs sound like B-sides for Porcupine Tree; the ones that don't as much (We'll Never Be Apart comes to mind) are generally the stronger ones.
95. Cellador - Off The Grid
2017 [7.2] - Not distinctive enough or memorable enough to stand out from the previous 20-odd years of Euro-power metal, but should ably satisfy genre fans.
96. Gold - Optimist
2017 [7.2] - Slightly subdued hard rock a bit in the vein of something like Esben and the Witch. Some interesting songwriting choices and decent vocals. The short but sweet "Be Good" is probably the most impressive song.
97. Mechina - As Embers Turn To Dust
2017 [7.2] - Absolutely no surprises how this sounds, everything that's on here has featured on at least one of their previous Jan 1st albums. However, this fact doesn't preclude from the album being enjoyable, which it generally is on the whole.
98. Necroblood - Collapse Of The Human Race
2017 [7.1] - Moderately effective black-tinged death metal. Tasty guitar sound and production and hooky riffs but nothing new and nothing outstanding.
99. Black Sites - In Monochrome
2017 [7.0] - Dark, groovy heavy metal, perfectly okay but the vocals are nothing to write home about and the songs aren't all that inspiring.
100. Grima - Tales Of The Enchanted Woods
2017 [6.8] - Typical but competent and sufficiently pleasant folk-touched atmos-black.
101. Iced Earth - Incorruptible
2017 [6.8] - I don't really know what it is about Dystopia that makes it so satisfying, but both Plagues of Babylon and now Incorruptible are missing it, as this album just feels very by-the-numbers and fails to make much of an impact at all.
102. Fit For An Autopsy - The Great Collapse
2017 [6.7] - I tried this on a whim despite my general indifference towards deathcore, and whilst many of the genre's properties that put me off raise their head here (tedious meatheaded riffs, tired breakdowns, slightly grating vocals, all of which are sumptuously displayed in the utterly tedious Iron Moon), there is some stuff here that works a lot better for me; the Gojira-esque riffing and guitar squeals on Heads Will Hang, and the interesting percussion, atmospheric guitars, catchy riffs, and effective vocals (clean and growls) on album highlight Black Mammoth. Can't say I love the album, but there's some good stuff here amongst all the aspects that typically put me off deathcore.
103. The Night Flight Orchestra - Amber Galactic
2017 [6.7] - If you're nostalgic for well-made 80s hard rock but have exhausted all that time period offered, then I guess you can get sunk into this. Highly competent but a generic offering from a genre I'm not particularly enthusiastic about in the first place.
104. Sepultura - Machine Messiah
2017 [6.6] - Sepultura are clearly a band far removed from the sound that made them so famous; however, the current incarnation has now existed for longer that the 'classic' lineup. The output during the past couple of decades has been mixed, but the most recent album, The Mediator..., was surprisingly good. Now, it has been followed by an album which, whilst flawed, is at the very least intriguing. The extensive use of keyboards is quite a dramatic characteristic of the album, as are some of the more kitsch-y melodies, such as on Iceberg Dances. The combination of such elements with the extreme groove metal sound that typifies the band is variable in its succes, but during its finer moments is remarkably potent.
105. Blood Stain Child - Tri Odysset
2017 [6.6] - Abandoning the super-cheesy electropop fun of Epsilon, this is much closer to the the Bodom-style extreme power metal, with some cheesy electronics and J-pop vocals thrown in. It's perfectly pleasant but given how much fun Epsilon is it doesn't really match up.
106. Rise Against - Wolves
2017 [6.4] - I thought the first song was pretty promising that this might be more inspiring than The Black Market, but if anything this just continues the downwards trend. I like a lot of the songs on Siren Songs... thru Endgame, but a lot of the stuff from the last couple albums is neither musically distinctive from past work nor particularly memorable or exciting.
107. The Devil And The Almighty Blues - II
2017 [6.4] - Some semi-decent blues-y prog/psychedelic stoner rock, with some nice playing in, but also some fairly tedious stretches and relatively weak vocals. Better than Mothership but not stunning.
108. Lorna Shore - Flesh Coffin
2017 [6.3] - Has a slightly different sound for a deathcore album - some of the guitar work gives a bit of black metal feel, and generally alters the atmosphere. It's an interesting sound to begin with, but eventually the repetitive deathcore breakdowns/grooves become overbearing, and the TBDM-esque switching between growls and shrieks loses its charm. Some songs have some charm, probably most notably Fvneral Moon, but as a collective it overkills on the breakdowns and the irritating growls and doesn't have enough variety throughout to compensate for me.
109. Nailed To Obscurity - King Delusion
2017 [6.3] - Fairly unimpressive melodic death/doom with the typical sorrowful guitar melodies but with a muddied production, uninspiring percussion and pretty mediocre extreme vox.
110. Mothership - High Strangeness
2017 [5.9] - Adequate but extremely average stoner rock.
111. TenHornedBeast - Death Has No Companion
2017 [5.7] - I've been getting a bit more into drone stuff, but this is so devoid of anything a lot of the time I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be taking from it. And the few times it becomes slightly more substantial it is generally annoying.
112. Firewind - Immortals
2017 [5.6] - Starts off with the most nauseatingly cheesy type of Euro power metal, with very Jorn Lande ripoff vocals. After that it starts sounding a tad more like Firewind, but there's nothing of the charm of The Premonition, which is not even that much of a power metal album, more like a power-inspired version of heavy metal, but one of the most charming efforts in either genre within the past decade. This on the other hand is generic and completely underwhelming.



Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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Comments

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Comments: 5   Visited by: 41 users
27.03.2017 - 15:41
Paź
ex-News Man
All my favorites (Emptiness, ROSK and Bathsheba) are here... It's hands down the best list of 2017
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27.03.2017 - 16:46
musclassia
Written by Paź on 27.03.2017 at 15:41

All my favorites (Emptiness, ROSK and Bathsheba) are here... It's hands down the best list of 2017


Cheers, man! Bit behind where I'd like to be with this list (and with preparative listening ahead of gigs next month might stay that way) but appreciate the feedback
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27.03.2017 - 19:00
tea[m]ster
Au Pays Natal
Have some stuff here too, still hafta check Pillorian.
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rekt
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23.05.2017 - 01:49
hadriel
+1 on this list. Stumbled across it from the new Heretoir album and some of our fav albums from the year so far are quite similar. Gonna have to check out a bunch of the other albums on here I haven't spun yet. Cheers!
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25.05.2017 - 02:58
tea[m]ster
Au Pays Natal
What the shit! There is a new Bask album? I missed it!
Oh and Sleepmakeswaves were recently on AudioTree...check it out on youtube.
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rekt
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