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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Ustalost – The Spoor Of Vipers (Sibir Records)

ustalost

Stumbling upon this album by chance, I was entranced by the medieval-esque cover art, as well as the band logo which strongly reminded me of something that I could not pinpoint. Upon first play of the intro guitar riff my interest was more than piqued. Still, as the songs kept succeeding each other I was aware of a semblance, which was finally made concrete: Ustalost’s music is of a quite similar vein with Yellow Eyes. It was soon revealed that the only band member is Will Skarstad, the New Yorkers’ guitarist and frontman, while the Ustalost logo proved to be quite similar to an inverted version of one of the cathedral windows that grace “Sick With Bloom’s” cover. All the puzzle pieces satisfactorily placed, I was able to return to the album, which had me quite intrigued after the first spin.

The mind behind Ustalost and Yellow Eyes being the same, there are certain similarities between these two bands’ music that are easily grasped: vocals are obviously of a similar hue, passionate and howling; guitar riff logic is dominated by a turbulent pattern, ripe with angst and fury (though here the former eclipses the latter, much more than in Yellow Eyes –  a thing probably done willfully, since the band’s name means «fatigue» in Russian), yet not with much expansive variety; the guitars remain within certain frames (though I think that they are a bit more complex than the Yellow Eyes ones), as riffs leak from one track to another, creating a cohesive whole, at the expense of individual song character. While the dark majesty of the De Mysteriis-like first riff is not met again in the album, atmosphere is plentiful in here. Guitar turbulence is entwined with tremulous, fragile and starry ambient keyboard melodies, while the bass, being much more evident than in Yellow Eyes, adds a tone of warm volume that builds up the mystique. While the overall album is of a mid-tempo essence, leaning towards the creation of a feeling of futile wandering through seas of despair, there are some blastbeat moments which create small beacons of exodus: whether they lead towards salvation or oblivion is up to the listener.

The spoor of vipers that is referenced in the title could well be linked to the album guitar work: they are the tracks of the quite addictive guitar riffs that, like vipers in their nest, criss-cross the record. And as a nest, the album is best viewed as a whole, and not as independent songs; even the track titles (I to VI) are supportive of the single-entity idea. It may sound repetitive in certain moments, especially to one who has listened to Yellow Eyes, yet it stands well next to the main band albums, as a less edgy, and somewhat more complex version of them. A solid release, especially debut-wise, which will hopefully turn a tad darker on the next step (yes, I am still haunted by the album’s intro guitar riff).