2017 – Top 25 albums

Places 11-25 are ordered alphabetically. Skip below for the top 10. Top EPs & Demos here.


Places 11-25 (Alphabetically ordered)

Arckanum – Den Förstfödde

Shamaatae’s swansong is a strange beast with quite unconventional song structures – several seem like weird elongated intros or snapshots from a paranoid film. Yet, that’s the magic of this album – it offers something different, yet remaining throughout an Arckanum album. An excellent farewell.

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Attic – Sanctimonious

It sounds like Kind Diamond, vocally, musically and lyrically. To be exact it sounds like good King Diamond – and the few blasting parts they incorporate work just fine. Anything that sounds like good King Diamond is bound to end up in my list.

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Cradle Of Filth – Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay

I grew up with Cradle Of Filth, I loved Cradle up to Midian, and with Cryptoriana they pulled me back in their wagon. Yes it’s a safe album steeped in nostalgia for the first four albums, but that is what I ask from 2017 Dani. The fact that it contains one of the best songs of their career (The Night At Catafalque Manor) is just the icing on the cake. [Full review in Greek here]

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De Magia Veterum – Naked Swords Into The Wombs Of The Enemy

Maurice is one of the most hyper-productive members of the scene, and De Magia Veterum is his best project for 2017. In Naked Swords lie 30 minutes of hyper-tense black metal with a mesmerizing and completely personal guitar sound. The atmosphere of extreme damnation.

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Divine Element – Thaurachs Of Borsu

Contemporary epic death metal is a term that automatically repels me. Divine Element somehow manage to become the exception to this, with their spontaneous feeling that combines technical and highly interesting guitars with a bombastic element. The album even winks to Basil Poledouris, what is not to love? [Full review in Greek here]

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Fleurety – The White Death

18 years after Min Tid Skal Komme Fleurety returned with a bizarre, seemingly disjointed album – yet somehow the result is very very good. A partial return to the black metal sound of yore, a song-writing skill that hasn’t been blunted by time, this is almost educational, in a dynamic way. [Full review in Greek here]

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Horisont – About Time

Amazing hard rock, a tour-de-force of the ‘70s with a slightly radio friendly attitude and a huge ability of writing timeless hymns like “Electrical” and the self-titled. This is the stuff that used to fill arena stadiums. The bastard child of Scorpions, Uriah Heep, Rainbow, and a host of others.

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Jordablod – Upon my Cremation Pyre

Somehow this reminded me of old Enslaved jamming with Hawkwind. It definitely has a strong aura of improvisation that brings Vikinglir into mind. A quite exotic nordic listen that flows almost seamlessly – the overall duration could be a bit shortened, but that’s why future discography exists.

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Krallice – Go Be Forgotten

I am not a big fan of Krallice. Still, their second 2017 album just clicked. Maybe due to the B&W cover, maybe due to the non-abstract title, mainly due to the absence of sophistication. This is Krallice’s best work, a tight black metal album which does not scoff at its genre – and it shiones because of it.

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Malokarpatan – Nordkarpatenland

Pagan rituals in Slovakian countryside, filtered through an ‘80s proto extreme metal lens. Malokarpatan improved hugely since the debut, and here they present us with speed metal/first wave of black metal anthems. All this under an amazing cover art. [Full review in Greek here]

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One Master – Lycanthropic Burrowing

Extreme, oh so extreme black metal, flirting with noise structures, dominated by a mania that is lycanthropic indeed. Black metal at its most ferocious which thankfully never forgets the riffs in favour of abstract destruction. Music to howl to the moon.

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Profundum – Come, Holy Death

This is how storming through cloudways and angel flesh sounds like – you can’t get smoother than that. This is the distillation of atmospheric black metal and celestial wings, a canvas on which to float eternally. The compositions are not the main focus (though they are pretty good) here; it is the sound that steals the lightning.

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Satyricon – Deep Calleth Upon Deep

Another band that returned after many many years with an album worthy of their past. I stopped listening to Satyricon after Volcano, and this is their first album since then that I listened to more than once – many times to be precise. Finally they got the song-writing right and they managed to successfully mix present with past.

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Wrathblade – God of the Deep Unleashed

Rough-around-the-edges, barbaric epic metal. Where Lunar Shadow are the Nobles in this list, Wrathblade are the Savages. Galloping riffs (there’s been done some great work at the guitar department), unpolished vocals which call to battle, Brocas Helm and Slough Feg by their side.

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Yellow Eyes – Immersion Trench Reverie

I have a soft spot for these New Yorkers though their previous album was something of a letdown. Thankfully, Yellow Eyes are back with a blizzard of intelligent traditional black metal with a heart of dark folk. Alpine New York, that’s how you sound. [Full review in Greek here]



The Top 10

10. Lunar Shadow – Far From Light

This is the epic metal of the year. Lyricism, history, amazing-amazing guitars which bring to mind epic power metal’s golden era. This is overflowing with epic and romantic emotion, and brings back to mind my early Blind Guardian listens back in the ‘90s, along with AD&D modules reading. [Full review in Greek here]


9. Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun

This is the sonicalization of neuroses into voices both ethereal and full of terror, into waves of metallic noise; a bleak, black landscape in which you can immerse yourself, and let it embrace you like an uterus. This is the sound of impending doom. [Full review in Greek here]


8. Evilfeast – Elegies of the Stellar Wind

There was a time that black metal was only snow, night, forests and stars, as far as I was concerned. This is Evilfeast’s black metal, and I couldn’t be happier listening to it. This is atmospheric black metal as it should be, returning me to this younger state of spirit.


7. Resurgency – No Worlds… nor Gods Beyond

The brutal death metal album of the year as far as I am concerned. Coming out of nowhere, this riff-fest of an album worships Morbid Angel and Deicide, managing to stir completely clear of any filler compositions.


6. Urarv – Aurum

Aldrahn returns once more with a new project, this one dressed in spectacular vestments, treading many music fields, from black metal to avant-garde. His voice, as voluptuous as always, here sings, moans, growls, whistles, and reconfirms that Aldrahnian Norwegian is a pure addiction of a language.


5. Locust Leaves – A Subtler Kind Of Light

A Subtler Kind Of Light is a cryptic creation deeply rooted and devoted to heavy metal, yet an enemy of metal’s rigidity. Here lies everything from black/thrash to Watchtower-like prog. The album reeks of angles and hidden nooks, which turn it into a plateau whose complete exploration requires devotion. [Full review in Greek here]


4. Necromante – The Magickal Presence of Occult Forces

These Brazilians drank deep from the Sarcofago and Necromantia wellsprings, creating an album that writhes with ritualistic volcanic energy. Combined with the delicious vocal mis-pronunciation of English, this is a homage to very early black metal. Music to lift your fist in the face of god.


3. Acrimonious – Eleven Dragons

Eleven Dragons rearranges the chips of extreme metal in familiar yet Highly imaginative patterns. It allows an emotional immersion within it, without raising any pretentiousness walls, engulfing and easily freezing the listener’s blood. This is what apex 2017 black metal sounds like. [Full review in Greek here]


2. Black Cilice – Banished from Time

This is spectral lo-fi music, the closer thing to spirit whispers and haunted passages. This is the furthest one can get from humanity. It feels like wandering in medieval dungeons and upon the paths of the deceased, outside time. Les Legions Noires would be proud.


1. Wolves In The Throne Room – Thrice Woven

Thrice Woven made me experience again this magickal feeling that overwhelmed me when in days long past I listened to albums such as Emperor’s In The Nightside Eclipse: it bade me strap on my headphones and go out in the dark autumn night to gaze at the firmament. Black metal at its most majestic. [Full review in Greek here]

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Skáphe – Skáphe² review

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The thing about chaotic and dissonant music with highly fluid nature and unconventional song structure is that it is quite difficult to memorize as a listener, and therefore to re-visit it in its absence. Whereas more conventional music forms can be easily examined in retrospection, the category in which Skáphe’s second album belongs almost requires it (the category specimen) being present in order for the examiner to draw any kind of conclusions more profound than “this band plays chaotic dissonant black metal”. More than the elusive riffing, it is the entanglement of the different parts that ultimately forces the listener to just experience the music, rather than pack it in his mind for a later occasion. It’s like trying to force concrete meaning upon pieces of wood drifting on a stormy sea, or rather, like trying to gather all those pieces in order to build a raft but end up drowning in the hopeless process, while you could be saved (or drown without so much wasted effort) by grasping on whichever piece was most accessible at the time.

Moving onwards, Skáphe’s sophomore album, “Skáphe²,” is a fine example of music created first and foremost to be impressed by the audience. It is a hazy, feverish entity, resembling a journey through paradoxically articulated catacombs and dream-forms, like a host of feathered serpents crawling upon the dried riverbeds of infernal streams. Just take a look to the excellent cover art to see what I mean. Elusive guitar riffs fade in and out with spectral eloquence, nevertheless not forgetting the black metal imposing majesty when things call for all-out assault. The album is mostly wandering in its character, guiding the listener through otherworldly vistas, but guide gives quickly way to adversary when menace is transmuted to concrete evil. The vocals of D.G. (Misþyrming, Naðra) are crushing with high-quality growls, peaking when they turn to ghostly howling (as in the almost psychedelic middle part of “VI”). The voice in many a part tends to transmute in shriek riffing, and vice versa, creating an organic fluidity between the two instruments. Rhythm section leans towards creation of framing volume, rather than taking the lead. The sad thing is that as with the Skáphe debut, none of the lyrics are available, and this time, we cannot even meditate on descriptive song titles, tracks being named just arithmetically (“I”, “II”, etc).

“Skáphe²” is a beautiful beast of an album. It stands way beyond and above the snoring boredom that characterizes most of the albums of this chaotic type, blazing as dark incense inside the listener’s mind during its 35 minutes of duration, guiding the audience in a grotesque journey through occult lands of non-Euclidean geometry. It is the audio equivalent of fever mentality, and thus it certainly is not an easy album to tackle, yet it rewards with an experience that keeps calling the listener back to it, more so because this experience is inaccessible outside the record per se. An excellent specimen of contemporary black metal.

Tome of the Unreplenished – Innerstanding review

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Cypriot black metal: not a widely-used term. To be honest, up until now I was not familiar with any BM bands hailing from the neighboring country. However, the time has come for one to occupy my interest, namely the one-man project Tome of the Unreplenished, its debut album Innerstandingout through I, Voidhanger records. The man behind the band is Hermes, concerning whom not much is known, besides the fact that he participates in the (also Cyprian) Necrosadist and RCO bands. Graced with a beautiful-yet-a-bit-”digital”-for-my-tastes cover artwork and a band logo which does not predispose the listener to black metal content, “Innerstanding”‘s music genre is not overtly apparent. Nevertheless , it is a music genre that fits elegantly with the framework of I, Voidhanger’s latest releases, a framework shaped by them (and perhaps shaping them as well, in an interactive way). I don’t know if one can term a strict “Voidhanger subgenre” per se on the present, but I get the feeling that it is a thing on the verge of being structured.

Innerstanding” can be classified in the genre of atmospheric black metal that is of introspective/reflective quality, characterized by a cinematic attitude of sonicspaces creation. That is a thing evident in the Tomhet-esque intro “Anima Mundi”, gradually evolving in the next 3 tracks, and reaching its climax in the instrumental triad of tracks on the second part of the album. To achieve this, the compositional medium used is melodic and extensive riffs, imbued with an exploratory and wandering soul. A reluctant tour-de-force of the night-sky, and an animistic world-view (one can reason from the Emanation of the Purest Essence” lyrics). Traditional black metal riffing is scarce, mostly giving way to blooming atmospheric guitar streams. Mastering and mixing expands the ensemble, providing lots of space and a sense of majesty. Minimalism does not thrive in this album.

The infrequent use of vocals keeps up with the musical approach of the band; vocals here are mostly low-profile narrative recitations, which are not clearly distinguishable from the core instrumental music – they can be considered as one more layer of riffing. This is a fact that in my opinion has not been well-implemented; the album could be quite effective as a wholly instrumental one, or otherwise, vocals could take a more active role. The slightly indolent way in which they [vocals] are embedded in the music ends up lukewarming them, as far as I am concerned. Moving onwards, atmosphere is the album’s strongest quality, especially in moments where fast-paced leads intertwine with distorted ambience (throughout “A monument in time” for example). Listen to the wonderful “The Processional March” finale, whose roots can be traced to Summoning, Elysian Blaze, and bands in between.

In “Innerstanding”, Tome of the Unreplenished have provided a more-than-decent debut album. A record instrumental in its core, it is recommended for those into vividly sonicspacing atmospheric music. This is not a grim or ominous album, neither I think that this what Hermes’ aimed for. An honest addition to the I, Voidhanger roster, Tome of the Unreplenished follow on the steps of Spectral Lore, Mare Cognitum, and Midnight Odyssey.