James' Top 15 Albums of 2017
Where does the time go? 2017, another…interesting year; has come and gone. There were some great highs, painful lows, and ridiculous bizarro world headlines hitting us on the daily, but hey; at least we had some great albums released this year…eh? This list was actually pretty difficult to cut down, for a second I contemplated throwing up a Top 20 but ain't nobody got time for that [2012 memes are going to be six years old soon: uggggh].
This list is a brief rundown of some of my favorite releases from 2017, not necessarily the best of their class or genre, just the ones I cranked the loudest all year.
15. Arcadea – Arcadea
Ready for Brann Dailor, unleashed? Everyone’s favorite Mastodon singer [right? I mean c’mon] and all around drum god, has gone full space-aged prog warrior with his insane new side project, Arcadea. This album is full of gorgeous synths, funky beats and Brann singing his heart out. Enjoy!
14. Trapped Under Ice – Heatwave
After years away from the scene, Trapped Under Ice mounted one hell of a comeback with 2017’s Heatwave. Injecting a much needed dose of variety, spontaneity and most of all, fun, into the often stoic world of hardcore, Trapped Under Ice’s new record is a breath of fresh, stage diving air. If crazy fun riffs bring a smile to your face, then as Justice Tripp says: “Do It!”
13. Immolation – Atonement
When it comes to thought provoking, skin crawling death metal; the dudes in Immolation can seemingly do no wrong. Take exhibit J for instance, Atonement, the band's tenth full length album and latest dose of bludgeoning good times. After three decades in the game, how Immolation continues killing it like this is beyond me. Atonement delivers more of what we've come to love/expect from Immolation, weird time signatures, crushing discordant riffs, drum rolls for days and Ross Dolan's iconic growl. How could this not make the best of year list?
12. Propagandhi – Victory Lap
Metal heads turned punk ‘n’ roll icons, Propagandi have been veering closer and closer to their heavy roots in recent years. At times, Victory Lap, finds the band in thrash tinged, prog-ish territory; when coupled with their manic punk energy and biting socio-political commentary, all makes for a hell of a listen. You don’t have to be a leftist commie to appreciate the band’s tunes, but it’s especially relevant/cathartic if you are.
11. Municipal Waste – Slime and Punishment
Municipal Waste basically started the throwback thrash revival in the 2000's and are now bonafide thrash icons themselves. The Slime and Punishment slams so hard you'll forgive the five year wait since their last album. Catchy songs, metal pizazz, punk mayhem, and a sense of passion and urgency in their performances, all makes Municipal Waste's sixth album feel as ballistic as their debut at times.
10. Archspire – Relentless Mutation
A dizzying whirlwind of technical death metal, Archspire’s newest album was one of the most intense, “holy shit” moments of the year. The songs speed through at ridiculously fast tempos, yet every performance from every musician remains remarkably clear. If you like blazingly fast metal executed with pinpoint accuracy, Archspire are your dudes.
9. Celeste – Infidèle(s)
Celeste delivered one of the most intense performances at this years Psycho Las Vegas festival. Figures that the band would go on to drop one of the gnarliest albums of 2017 later in the Fall. Theirs is a potent mix of genres [black metal, post-metal, hardcore, complete and utter nihilism?], whatever the hell you call it, once you experience the black hole that is Celeste's insane live performance, there's no going back. Infidèle(s) may not be for everyone, but it's damn rewarding for the twisted souls who stick around.
8. Iron Reagan – Crossover Ministry
Iron Reagan kicked 2017 off with a bang, dropping an early contender for album of the year way back in February. Time has not diminished the impact of this infectious crossover thrash-sterpiece. The catchy mosh anthems on Crossover Ministry have hooks and 80’s guitar shred galore; which pretty much guarantees these killer tunes will always be in style. “Fuck The Neighbors”…4 lyfe.
7. Elder – Reflections Of A Floating World
Soulful, psychedelic shred meets uplifting doom vibes? I don't know how the lads in Elder craft the epic tunes that they do, but as long as they keep putting out stellar albums like Reflections Of A Floating World, it's all good with me. The six songs on this record all hover around/above the ten minute mark, but each tune is like a literal sonic journey, filled with peaks and valleys, crushing riffs and moments of introspective beauty. After enough listens you might actually find yourself floating.
6. Godmother – Vilseledd
Twisted, spazzy, visceral math grind? Sign me the fuck up. Godmother’s second album has put these Swedish noise mongers on the map in a big way. If Party Smasher INC. be for us, who can be against us afterall? Anyone who’s heartbroken over The Dillinger Escape Plan calling it a day might take solace in knowing that Godmother exist and seemed poised to fuck things up for a good while.
5. Integrity – Howling For The Nightmare Shall Consume
Rollicking old school metal plus grimy punk atmospherics equals: Howling For The Nightmare Shall Consume; one of the sickest albums of 2017. Dwid Hellion’s voice sounds like a downpour of venom and spite; while Integrity’s guitars and rhythm section rock out like nobody’s business. This record not only sounds like, but genuinely feels like a Satanic kegger. This one goes in the 2017 time capsule for sure.
4. Mutoid Man – War Moans
When Mutoid Man takes over the world, let the record show that Metal Injection was there in the early days. On War Moans, the band continues evolving at such an alarming rate, it’s only a matter of time before they go full Metallica on us and leave this lowly metal plane for the splendor of primetime. “Bandages” is basically Mutoid Man’s “Fade to Black” while “Date With The Devil” their “Creeping Death.” So if War Moans is Mutoid Man’s Ride The Lightning, then God/Satan help us when they drop album number three/Master of Puppets on us next time.
3. Dying Fetus – Wrong One To Fuck With
Cave men of the world rejoice, Dying Fetus are back and slamming harder than ever before. In truth, the Fetus fellas never really lost a step, they’ve been consistently awesome for the past few decades; but in recent years it’s felt as if Baltimore’s death metal all-stars had started treading water. Well, Wrong One To Fuck With is flat out ridiculous and stands tall as one of the best Dying Fetus albums; ever. Brace yourselves for waves of technical death mixed with the grooviest neck snapping beats imaginable, all wrapped up under that old school Dying Fetus logo! You should definitely fuck with this.
2. Power Trip – Nightmare Logic
Killer songs. Killer tones. Killer album. Power Trip continue riding their shit hot wave of unfuckwithable-ness with Nightmare Logic, a pummeling thrash metal tour de force. The riffs, the solos, the wild ass drumming, Power Trip have caught lightning in a bottle [again!] with their second full length album. Sophomore slump be dammed, this band is pretty much unstoppable right now. If Mutoid Man just released their own Ride The Lightning, then Nightmare Logic is Power Trip’s Hell Awaits. We all know what comes next. Be ready. Power Trip FTW.
1. Converge – The Dusk In Us
Dr. Dre once said: "…try to be the king but the ace is back." That's Converge and their glorious return, The Dusk In Us, in a nutshell. Since their unofficial rebirth with their current/iconic lineup in 2001, Converge have been knocking em' out of the park with every new release; dropping nothing but album of the year contenders every goddamn time. The Dusk In Us features some of their wildest math-y grinders; as well as some of the most somber and touching moments of Converge's storied career. It's got everything your ears/soul could want. After five years of waiting, experiencing this album goes beyond mere listening, it's straight up nourishment.
SIDE NOTE: Honorable Mentions
These aren't exactly metal, but since I spent most of the year listening to these releases, I felt the need to shout them out:
Slowdive – Slowdive the shoegaze champs return!
Rise Against – Wolves punk raaawk singalongs galore.
Dreamcar – Dreamcar No Doubt dudes + AFI singer = BRO DOUBT. 80's AF.
Paramore – After Laughter Zac Farro killing the drums once again.
Rolling Black Outs Coastal Fever – The French Press EP infectious indie rock, emphasis on the rock.