|Cloak's best of 2017|
A list of some of my favourite records of the year, with some (hopefully) decent descriptions of why I enjoyed each record. No particular order.
From the Unforgiving Arms of God
This may be a short record, but it was one of the most relentless and pummelling metalcore releases that came out this year. Very similar in style to Knocked Loose, but actually good.
You're Not You Anymore
I only really got into these guys this year, but after listening to their past few albums I was excited to hear they had a new record coming out this year. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary, but simply another solid release from one of the most consistently good bands in the hardcore/metalcore scene at the moment.
I'm sure this will be on many people's best of 2017 list. This album takes Chelsea Wolfe's sound down a much darker and louder route, with sludgy, heavy guitars and amazing production courtesy of Kurt Ballou.
I first got into Glassjaw when I was 15, and I never expected to hear them put out another full-length, but here we are in 2017 and they have done just that. This album continues down the experimental route they were going with Coloring Book. The production makes the album sound massive, and each song is a fantastic slab of post-hardcore.
This album seemed to go by quietly on here which I was surprised by, given the amount of hype caused by their debut. Mixing metal with ska and reggae, these guys go down a similar route to Twelve Foot Ninja where they throw tonnes of genres into a blender and see what comes out, and this record is just as strong as their first album was.
This record didn't seem to get as good reception here as it did everywhere else. Whilst I'm not going ape shit about it, it has left me with a sore neck on multiple occasions listening to it. Bleeding in the Blur was also a massive throwback to 90's alt-metal, which I love.
Doom metal has had a good year here in 2017, with Pallbearer's 3rd release matching the high quality of their last 2 records.
All Is In Sync, and There's Nothing Left to Sing
I like Erra, but Jesse's vocals on this album are probably the best they've ever been. Sweet post-hardcore reminiscent of early Saosin and for all the right reasons.
Some of the most bad-bitchin', low-riding, face pummelling, beer-chugging heavy rock music you'll hear this year. Don't sleep on this one.
|10||All Pigs Must Die|
If you want to give yourself a migraine, I highly recommend listening to this record as it's probably the best reason to get one.
Are you ready for some Well-Intentioned Virus leftovers? Because Zao have some of those for you. Even this B-sides EP is better than most of the stuff they've released in the past decade prior to The Well-Intentioned Virus.
The Dusk in Us
After a 5 year wait, Converge have finally followed up All We Love We Leave Behind with the superb The Dusk in Us. Converge continue to refine their more melodic sound on this record with very pleasing results.
|13||Full of Hell|
Another new discovery for me this year, it's hard to think of many bands that are more savage than this, besides maybe Nails and a few others. Trumpeting Ecstasy shows the band exploring a more death metal-oriented side, but it's still a chaotic and brutal sound.
Reflections of a Floating World
This band continues to evolve in all the right ways. They started off as a slightly-above-average Sleep clone, but with each passing release they brought in new sounds to combine with their psychedelic stoner sound. On this album, they've gone full on prog-rock, with all the songs being between 8 and 12 minutes long, and every one being amazing.
This album is a fairly standard procedure for Enslaved, it's what you've come to expect, although that doesn't mean this is a mediocre record. Even a fairly predictable Enslaved record is still far better than most of their contemporaries (*coughOPETHcough*)
Much like Enslaved, this album isn't anything particularly new for Paradise Lost, and I'm concerned that the band will start to wear thin on this sound over the next few records. Either way, this is still a fine, solid record and shows the band going down even doomier territory than their last album.
|17||The Great Old Ones|
EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy
I'm a big H.P. Lovecraft fan, so when I heard there was a sludgy black metal band that drew inspiration from his work, it obviously perked my interest, EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy is a haunting, bleak, grandiose record which sets the tone perfectly for the Lovecraft-inspired lyrics and storytelling.
Moving in a somewhat softer direction than they're known for, Leprous' fifth album was still no slouch. The first half of the record does play it a bit safe, and some may be turned off by how the vocals seem to be hogging the limelight, but the excellent second half makes up for that and overall the album still flows very nicely.
After releasing Here be Monsters last year I was surprised to hear that Motorpsycho was releasing another record this year, but this record is huge. For some listeners it could be too long, but there's so much to enjoy on this album that I hardly noticed the length whilst listening to it. Great melodies, lots of exploration and fantastic musicianship.
This band is my "I was into these guys before they were known" band. I've listened to them since their first record, Moments From Ephemeral City. On their fourth album, Caligula's Horse develop further on their fantastic mixture of old and new prog music. The instrumentation is impeccable and the vocals are sublime. A must-listen for any fan of prog.
Despite the minor line-up changes and drama that happened in this band, they have come back with another strong release here in 2017. Dabbling somewhat into technical death metal, the limelight seems to also be more focused on clean singer and violinist Tim Charles. Whilst that may be a turn-off for some, the album is still very solid and well produced, and the band still works in some beautiful melodies into the extreme and technical sound that they are known for.
Kauan is one of those bands to listen to on long journeys. Their last record, Sorni Nai, was a concept record describing the events of the Djatlov Pass incident. This time, they're taking a softer, more personal route, both with the music and the lyrics, but still manage to create some gorgeous atmospheres throughout.
All the controversy surrounding Jesse Lacey aside, this album is still a great end to a band that I have enjoyed for quite a few years. A lot of the music is a throwback to the 90's/early 2000's, and whilst the vocals can sometimes lack in emotion, the album is chilling, dark and very crestfallen.
Chilling, haunting and hugely atmospheric, Fen's fifth album Winter is an almost perfect blend of black metal and post rock. The album is very long and requires some resilience to listen to all the way through for some, but overall is a shining example of how to produce a fantastic atmospheric metal record.
Two Parts Viper
Another new discovery for me this year, but this album is a load of fun to listen to, and it was a nice surprise as a fan of the Chariot to see Josh Scogin was still doing music. Incorporates blues rock elements into the sound they established on their first record and does so rather well.
The Place I Feel Safest
One of the best (and probably the most brutal) technical metalcore records I've heard this year. The musicianship is crisp, the lyrics are extremely well written and the music is well varied.
I was looking forward to this album for quite a while, and it definitely didn't disappoint when it dropped. The band continues to evolve, bringing a greater amount of technicality to their sci-fi inspired deathcore sound, and Mark Poida does an amazing job as a frontman.
|28||Shadow of Intent|
See above, only halo-themed.
Arcane Roots have gradually been softening their sound since their first full-length, but they still have just as much raw emotion on Melancholia Hymns as they have ever done. Rewards with multiple listens.
Andorran metallers Persefone continue to impress on their fifth album, Aathma. The band continue to reduce the technicality in favour of a more melodic, progressive sound. The first half of the record is somewhat uneven, but the second half picks up and doesn't hold back right to the end. A very worthy addition to their lengthening discography.
The Assassination of Julius Caesar
On The Assassination of Julius Caesar, Ulver release one of the best pop albums of the year. Obviously inspired greatly by 80's synthpop, it's hard to believe that this former black metal band is the same group, but Ulver's career represents one of the strongest complete stylistic makeovers.
Propagandhi deliver the goods as usual on Victory Lap, with increased thrash metal influences. The lyrics are still very much angry, left-anarchist material (which appeals to my inner card-carrying SJW cucktard), and instrumentally it collects the best of all their previous material and moulds it together.
|33||Pain of Salvation|
In the Passing Light of Day
After 3 albums which weren't as well received by critics, Pain of Salvation make an impressive return to form with In the Passing Light of Day. Definitely the heaviest record since Scarsick, Daniel Gildenlow's vocals are still very much the centrepiece of the band's sound, but with the most emotion he's had in a long time, which is unsurprising given his recent life-threatening health issues.
Yet another new discovery for me this year, but again a real treat to discover and listen to. Progressive death/black metal reminiscent of Enslaved, written and performed extremely well. It's especially nice to see this band has four albums under its belt and is going independently, which is very respectful.
Probably the strongest supergroup release this year (with the exception of the END EP), whilst it may not be the most original sound in the world (mostly a combination of Opeth and Tool), it's the best of the sounds of both those aforementioned bands, with gorgeous vocals to top it all off.
|36||August Burns Red|
The Chevelle of metalcore delivers all the right goods on their 7th full-length. Whilst they don't change up their core sound that much, they work enough small tweaks into each song to make this album sound just as good as the best of their previous outputs. Vocal performances are a highlight as usual, as well.
|37||Make Them Suffer|
It's hard to believe that Make Them Suffer have effectively reinvented themselves on all three of their LPs. Neverbloom was an unforgiving and relentless combination of deathcore and symphonic black metal, whilst Old Souls took their sound in a more melancholic direction. Here on Worlds Apart, they turn their focus on atmosphere, dialing back the technicality of the guitar work to allow for some gorgeous synth work and female vocals. That being said, the harsh vocals here are still great, possibly at their strongest, and the instrumentation works with the sound of the rest of the record.
While TesseracT may not have impressed as much on their last output, this side project with Chimp Spanner (AKA Paul Ortiz) and Katie Jackson is a very enjoyable 80's synthwave project, and unlike most vaporwave, doesn't make me cringe to hell and back.
An interesting direction for Disperse, with mixed but mostly good results. Whilst some songs just sound like a more technical version of The 1975, there is some seriously good stuff on here. Also the addition of ex-Monuments drummer Mike Malyan is a real bonus, as the drumming is seriously tight.
Much like Make Them Suffer, The Contortionist seem to be constantly evolving with every new release. Clairvoyant shows the band veering deeper into progressive rock territory, with catchier choruses and more use of synths. Whilst it doesn't impress as much as their best work, it does reward with repeated listens, and still excels the bands weakest effort, Intrinsic.
|41||Fit for an Autopsy|
The Great Collapse
Yet another deathcore band that has improved significantly on their sound in 2017, Fit for an Autopsy look to european juggernauts Gojira for influence musically and lyrically on their fourth effort, with many songs talking about topics such as environmental and social issues.
Godless Prophets and The Migrant Flora
After seemingly falling into the pit of mediocrity, Darkest Hour have come back with this savage beast of a record this year. Kurt Ballou's production has made the drums sound massive, and the music is an evident nod to Darkest Hour's best work, whilst also looking towards the future.