Here we are once more! Welcome to the second and final part of album endorsements for 2017, wherein my jaded opinions collapse, replaced by stints of approval. There’s no point in dragging this out, so let’s kick this off from the Bavarian parts of Germany!
10. Der Weg Einer Freheit – Finisterre
One of the most praised German black metal bands of late, I became a follower of Der Weg Einer Freiheit in 2015 when “Stellar“ was released. “Finisterre”, although possessing the same blistering black metal soundscapes, is a much more progressive album than its predecessor with an elaborate, philosophical concept. I appreciate dramatic narratives when fused with extreme metal, the two work well together, and this album is a shining example of that.
9. Leprous – Malina
I think I might have a crush on this band. Leprous’ music is sizzling, fresh, playful, educated, but most of all, it’s catchy. They’re one of those bands, where I can listen for the fun of it and immerse myself in the mature songwriting. “Malina” isn’t as “prog” flashy like previous works but instead focuses on a stripped down, alternative rock sound with lots of sampled electronica and of course the golden, emotive voice of Einar Solberg. A refreshing listening experience.
8. Akercocke – Renaissance In Extremis
I’ve yearned for the return of Akercocke since their extended hiatus. The comeback album does not disappoint! They might have ditched the overly satanic, sharp-dressed men approach in favor of a more sobering, realistic visual representation of themselves, but rest assured the music hasn’t lost any of its darkened potency. Slightly more progressive, the Brits unleash some of their most challenging tracks to date mixed with their acknowledged canny brutality and moments of black metal bleakness. Well done Sirs, well done!
7. Woe – Hope Attrition
This album is featured on this list, for many of the same reasons as with Der Weg Einer Freiheit. Black metal has become a caricature of itself, it’s a challenge to navigate to the bands who actually have substance. Woe’s form of black metal, as practiced on ”Hope Attrition”, has significance because it is steeped in cold-realism. I’m in awe of the aggression that is put into use on a track like “Unending Call Of Woe”. Their songwriting isn’t the most advanced but the arrangements invoke extremely frenzied black metal atmospheres, minus any of that cartoonish, corpse-paint evilness.
6. Rebirth Of Nefast – Tabernaculum
Having a leading role in the creation of the much-revered Icelandic black metal sound, has left sole Rebirth Of Nefast figure, Wann, crafting his solo debut for a near decade on the side. The result is esoteric and possessive black metal with a strong doom element attached. I cherish this album greatly; the tracks are lengthy and deeply engaging music rituals eclipsing all supposed trve black metal releases of the new millennia. Tragically, this release will most likely go largely unnoticed. Highly recommended!
5. Steven Wilson – To The Bone
I have a problem with people uttering opinions based on nothing. So does prog virtuoso Steven Wilson on his latest solo album “To The Bone”. I like the lyrical themes that are being worked on here, especially the internet and communication technology angle that is found on some tracks. Musically this is leaning more towards pop music but with the obvious progressive and layered tendencies, but there’s still a healthy dose of experimentation. So much greatness to be found, so much musical prowess, “Pariah” and “Song Of Unborn” in particular are astounding tracks.
4. Mastodon – Emperor Of Sand
Is there a next big band in rock and metal? If so, Mastodon could qualify as being one. “Emperor Of Sand” is perhaps the final crowning achievement for the band, it’s such a comprehensive album that traces all eras. From labyrinthine prog and stomping brutality to soaring choruses and conceptual grandeur, I could not ask for more from the four guys sharing this epic musical heart. An important band with purpose.
3. Pallbearer – Heartless
This one has been spinning alot, hell it might deserve a higher ranking than number three. Despite witnessing a rather underwhelming live performance, the Arkansas quartet’s third longplayer stands as a crucial evolutionary strain in both progressive and doom metal music. Incredibly daring and yet so confident in execution, it’s a no-brainer as to why “Heartless” is featured in so many “best of 2017” lists.
2. Code Orange – Forever
I guess you’ve heard about them, right? If not, you haven’t been on the internet much this year. Normally not my kind of thing, the forward-thinking hardcore sounds of Code Orange have floored me countless times since the release on “Forever”. It’s such a mind-boggling album, full of diversity and bringing back that edgy heaviness which doesn’t feel like a rip-off or autopilot. The album is a rollercoaster full of emotions, compelling shifts and charismatic vocal delivery. Music with nerve!
1. Converge – The Dusk In Us
This one came in late but surprisingly got most airtime at the EMV lair! When you’re close to a burnout, being a music listener, where so much seems plastic and few releases really move you, “The Dusk In Us” comes in and shakes me out of my comfort zone. A swirling detonation of progressive music in the form of post punk rawness, hardcore muscle, gothic epics and immense grooves. The album does a great job in capturing the stark reality surrounding us nowadays. I should dig deeper into this band!
Mission accomplished. See you in 2018!
Extreme Metal Voyager digital domains: