Sabrutin
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Last Active 12-09-18 10:04 am
Joined 04-05-14

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 Lists
12.31.17 Sab's fast 2017 list 08.31.17 Mountain and sea // digs of old and new
01.04.17 Sab's cute 2016 list01.01.16 Sab's lazy 2015 list
07.04.15 Toto last night

Sab's fast 2017 list

2017 was intense and lunatic, though it had its fair share of very good things to balance the hard times. This translated to me checking out new music at a lethargic pace. Let's not even talk about my reviewing pace. Anyway, here's my annual list. I managed to really pick up the pace only around... December, making it a pretty rushed year. So I'm including a lot of first impressions about stuff that I couldn't rate, because I'd still like to talk about it. The ranking for the rated albums isn't completely random but still not set in stone, though 1 had to be 1. Only positive ratings and positive impressions are included. Descriptions have been written throughout they year and especially the unrated ones didn't take much time, so the list wasn't nearly as time-consuming as it may appear. Bye, 2017.
67Il Tempio delle Clessidre
Il-ludere


Prog rock // Kicking off the list with some RPI to make sure it's a Sabrutin list. Heard once don't really remember anything in particular. // Sorry
66DeJohnette / Grenadier / Medeski / Scofield
Hudson


Jazz fusion // Leaving this one here at the bottom because I only checked a few tracks. I wasn't in the right mood for this stuff sadly. However what I heard was definitely solid and the names above are worth checking it out alone. // Can't rate
65Foo Fighters
Concrete and Gold


Alt rock // Honorable mention because it's the first FF album that I can stand in full. // Can't rate
64The Negative Bias
Lamentation of the Chaos Omega


Black metal // Can't say much about this because I heard it once and don't remember basically any of it. I didn't dislike the experience though. Also Willie digs it and nobody else is talking about it, so I'll give it a mention myself. // Can't rate
63Max Pezzali
Le canzoni alla radio


Pop // A big celebrative compilation with some new songs too. I just wanted to have Max on another list haha, and also because I may be getting into mainstream pop again. Gotta say, "Le canzoni alla radio" is a sweet song with the welcome presence of Nile Rodgers. // Can't (won't?) rate
62Lights
Skin and Earth


Pop // "Skydiving" is a gem, the "down down down" part is infectious and cute. However the album as a whole didn't seem particularly memorable. It wasn't a bad experience though. // Can't rate
61Mindfeels
XXenty


AOR // These guys love their Toto, from band name (Mindfields -> Mindfeels) to album name (roman numbers) to actual sound. However I'm afraid they lack what makes Toto so special, which is the eclectic knack for adventure. Furthermore these choruses often end up sounding inoffensive. However there are also good things they inherited. One is the excellent musicianship and the other is the really nice production job. I'll have to come back to this album to complete my judgement, but I'm not in a hurry. Still, shout-out to these fellow-countrymen. // Can't rate
60Sorrow Plagues
Homecoming


Blackgaze // eeh there's a bit too much anime in this one. It's the flashy, "happy" blackgaze kind of stuff. I don't know what to think yet. Seems folks are digging this hard though. It's certainly not terrible. The first track is a bit clunky though. // Can't rate
59Chelsea Wolfe
Hiss Spun


Doom/sludgy something // Heard it only twice. I don't feel the urge to jam it again, sorry everybody. It's cool but I didn't find it particularly exciting. It was a pleasant experience but also quite monotonous. I will return to it someday, I imagine it's a grower, but for now I don't have a true opinion. // Can't rate
58Manchester Orchestra
A Black Mile to the Surface


Indie rock // The artwork looked cool so I thought I'd experiment. Sadly I can't get into this album. I tried multiple times but there's just nothing that grabs me after the first few songs. However I really like "The Moth", I find it succesfully emotional. I also like the verses of "The Gold" and I can dig "The Maze"'s subdued nature. // Won't rate for now
57The Thirteenth Sun
Stardust


Prog rock/metal // This is an interesting album but after only two listens I feel I can't judge it yet. What I can say is that the music evolves without jarring moments making it pleasant and not a show-off. Which is great. At times the music gets heavier and becomes some kind of "Opeth (the death metal one) in space" affair. It's mostly clean vocals though, and it's not particularly metallic. // Can't rate
56Sangue Nero
Viscere


Black metal // tribal black metal with a didgeridoo, it has an occult shaman-like atmosphere. Fellow-countrymen. Absolutely worth at least a spin. // Cant' rate
55Oregon
Lantern


Jazz fusion // Fusion dinosaurs (almost 50 years of activity) alive and kicking, expanding again an already gigantic discography. Proud to see an Italian joined the line-up, Paolino Dalla Porta on double bass. Heard once. Playful and soothing, though not necessarily surprising. "Dolomiti Dance"'s playfulness is soothing for the soul. // Can't rate
54Arcadea
Arcadea


Psyched out Mastodon without the focus on electric guitars // Brann goes trippy. Definitely an interesting album, closer to electronic but still sounding like Mastodon in a way. Maybe a little tedious in the long run but then again I jammed it once. // Can't rate
53Galneryus
Ultimate Sacrifice


Symphonic power metal, prog metal // Never found the time to fully subject myself to the cheese. The suffocating production isn't of any help. However, some songs seemed actually engaging ("With Sympathy", "The Shadow Within") and at times surprisingly down to earth for them like the catchy "Wherever You Are" with its simple but effective chorus. I think I'll dig this more than the previous album. Anyway, power metal aficionados jam this now. // Can't rate
52Dale Cooper Quartet and the Dictaphones
Astrild Astrild


Dark jazz, drone // I wanted to explore this more, but I didn't have the time. I heard it just once, but the first impressions are definitely positive. I feared it could have been boring but the drone elements and the unexpected presence of some vocals made it a pleasant experience. // Can't rate
51Yes
Topographic Drama - Live Across America


Prog rock // I only head the first part of the set, which is basically a live rendition of the Drama album, once. I found it pretty entertaining. Howe has still some energy to display and Davison does a great job with the vocals. Not perfect, but valuable. A couple of times I missed the original studio album, like in "White Car" that doesn't sound as magical especially the last 20-ish seconds. However as a whole I may prefer this live version over the studio original. Honestly, I think we could still get a new worthwhile album from this band if they try hard enough. // Can't rate
50Motorpsycho
The Tower


Prog rock, psychedelic // This band is ridiculous, dropping impressive amounts of quality material with ease, building a jaw-dropping discography (plus collaborations). This album is big. So big that in this tense year I couldn't digest it properly. I will definitely come back to it sooner or later. I plan to properly explore this band anyway. // Can't rate
49Rise Against
Wolves


Punk, pop-punk // I'm including this one as a honorable mention. That's because, despite Rise Against coming dangerously close to being a mediocre pop punk act, there are three songs in here that I really, really liked. These are "Wolves", "Megaphone" and "Broadcast[Signal]Frequency", the latter especially injecting some good old RA vibes in the album. For some reason two of them are region locked bonus tracks. Then we have some pop punk anthems and simply weak punk numbers that I won't revisit anytime soon. It's not all bad though: "Bullshit" has a cool reggae flavor, and the last part of "Miracle" rocks pretty well. Had the bonus tracks been put in place of stuff like "Politics of Love", this could have been a pretty decent album. // 2.5
48Drab Majesty
The Demonstration


Darkwave, they call themselves "tragic wave" // Sameness and unimpressive production don't blend well. It's a serviceable album, but I can't say more. Favorite tracks: "Kissing the Ground", "Forget Tomorrow", "Too Soon to Tell". I appreciated more the single Oak Wood that they released afterwards; I'm willing to check a new album when it comes. // 3.0 (kinda)
47Greg Graffin
Millport


Americana (I think?) // I love Graffin's voice, it's really charismatic. This is a cool album, a short and sweet (~30 minutes) ride of country and bits of alt rock. Sorry I suck at defining this one. One thing really caught my ears though, and it's the song "Shotgun": just plain catchiness done well. // 3.0
46Avenged Sevenfold
Live At The Grammy Museum


Acoustic renditions // An acoustic live EP to celebrate the Grammy nomination, "a portion of the proceeds from this digital-only release will benefit the education initiatives of the GRAMMY Museum". Everyone is in a good mood, crowd included. "Roman Sky" and "Hail to the King" have very nice renditions. The little kid asking "So Far Away" is cute. Just a cute little EP, really. // 3.0
45Clan of Xymox
Days of Black


Darkwave // A solid offering to scratch the need of a "poppy" goth album. Perhaps it's a bit inoffensive at times. Valuable anyway. Favorites: "Loneliness", "I Couldn't Save You", "Loud and Clear", "Your Kiss". // 3.0
44Sundara Karma
Youth Is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect


Alt rock? // This was my first rating of 2017. A vibrant collection of "heavy pop" that flows quite well in the full listen. Nothing too incredible but valuable nonetheless. It gives me Jimmy Eat World vibes, especially on "Happy Family" which I also feel as the song that carries the whole album. My faves are "A Young Understanding", "Flame" and "Happy Family". // 3.0
43The Necks
Unfold


Free improv, ambient // I can enjoy the wandering atmosphere it creates, and I do, quite a lot in places ("Blue Mountain" above all), but I can't help but feel like I could be listening to other music where "something more happens". I'm saying it with the least offensive intentions possible. I personally hate to feel like I'm wasting time (again, not hating this album), so perhaps this kind of stuff has natural difficulties in reaching me. I respect this album, but our relationship is situational. // 3.0
42Overkill
The Grinding Wheel


Thrash metal // Overkill means quality, even if not by innovations. This new album suffers from being overlong and sounding too familiar, both compared to the rest of discography or just comparing the album tracks. Still it hits hard and with conviction, features some sweet melodic guitar playing and a few tracks can count on a varied structure. Faves are "Our Finest Hour", "The Grinding Wheel" and "Shine On". Also the title track presents some cool vocal wails by Bobby. // 3.0
41Depeche Mode
Spirit


Synthpop // This is by no means the politics-driven disaster that people claim it is. "Eternal", "Poisoned Heart" and "So Much Love" (kindly put one after the other in the tracklist) will surely give pleasure to seasoned DM fans. I saw them live and the new songs sounded sweet. It helped me to like the album more. It's an album that you put on and flows nicely in the background, pleasant and relaxing but watch out because it can feel quite inoffensive. // 3.0
40Styx
The Mission


AOR, prog rock // It's a bit too sugary in places, but it flows well (it's a concept album) and its structure works. There are many short songs that make it feel like an adventure, as I imagine it was the idea. Favorites: "Overture", "Gone Gone Gone", "Locomotive", "Khedive", "The Outpost". // 3.0
39Maze of Sothoth
Soul Demise


Tech death metal // Read my review. More tasteful than what I expected from the band logo. Infectiously catchy and just as hard hitting. The (more) lovecraftian and anti-god cousin of Nile basically. Favorites are "The Outsider", "Lies", "The Dark Passenger". // 3.0
38Klimt 1918
Comandante


Electronic remixes // A simple EP that contains the song "Comandante" off Sentimentale, plus the electronic remixes of "Once We Were" and "La notte" (originally on Sentimentale too). For what it is, it's a respectable release. I especially like the remix of "La notte", which now becomes shorter and very bouncy. The kind of stuff that makes you happy to hear it if you already loved the originals, and man do I love "La notte". // 3.0
37Lorde
Melodrama


Pop // Cohesive and cleanly flowing, Melodrama is the album that may be reigniting my interest in poppy poppiness. It's catchy and somewhat elegant. The artwork fits the mood well. Her vocals feel heartfelt and the hooks are there even if not always pompous. The next step is making an album that stays always as gripping as the highlights are. Favorites: "Green Light", "Liability", "Writer in the Dark". // 3.0
36Virgil and Steve Howe
Nexus


Mellow ethereal prog rock // A collaboration between Steve Howe and son. Virgil sadly passed away this September, so Steve decided to release the album in his memory. It's a very mellow and ethereal listen, clearly not made to be impressive (good thing, I mean). Favorite tracks: "Dawn Mission", "Astral Plane". The cover artwork is a painting by Virgil's daughter Zuni. // 3.0
35Cold Body Radiation
The Orphean Lyre


Shoegaze, post-rocky? // The latest release by this An Autumn For Crippled Children side-project (prove me wrong!) sees M employing only clean vocals. This results in a very pretty (but still not cheerful) album that completely removes the black from blackgaze. If you are looking for an ethereal experience drenched in echoed and subdued vocals, then you are in for a treat. Personally, I feel the album as a whole ends up a bit too samey. Favorite tracks: "Sinking of a Wish", "At Sea" (bass!), "Spiral Clouds", "You Where Missin" (post-punk influence?). // 3.0
34An Autumn For Crippled Children
Morfine EP


Blackgaze // Apparently these three songs are a soundtrack to a short film and were recorded in 2015. Haunting wall of sounds with a wide breath and gentle keyboards over them, but nothing we haven't heard before. Still, it's AAFCC, meaning quality. Favorite track: "03 - Morfine". // 3.0
33An Autumn For Crippled Children
Trust EP


Blackgaze // Free EP consisting of 2 songs that got cut from the upcoming album which I imagine will be released in 2018. Really cool songs, I like the sharper somewhat emotional guitar riffs and I dig that quiter section with the sound of rain in "Forgot to Dream" (competent rhythm section too as always). However I like "1st of August" more. I liked the Trust EP a bit more than the Morfine EP. If these are rejects, then I'm curious to hear the ones that will make it to the full-length. // 3.0
32Rage
Seasons of the Black


Thrashy power metal // Catchy hooks ("Justify") and cool solos ("Serpents in Disguise"). However "Septic Bite" is... kinda bad and tuneless, I'd say. And I think the last album sounded better. It is an improvement over The Devil Strikes Again overall, but still not enough to be really great. A playlist with the best songs off The Devil and Seasons would be the best way to experience them. Anyway it's enjoyable power/thrash, fans should dig. Favorites: "Justify", "Blackened Karma", "Season of the Black", "Serpents in Disguise". // 3.0
31Septicflesh
Codex Omega


Symphonic death metal // I'm one of those who think that early Septicflesh is best Septicflesh. It took me a long while to check out Codex Omega, but I'm glad I did. I feel they've tightened their current sound, balancing the orchestra and the band's punch ("3rd Testament", "Trinity"). Sotiris' clean vocals, which I always had a soft spot for, are more effective too especially in the album's second half ("Our Church Below the Sea", "Faceless Queen"). Spiros' growl is as hellish as always. Another thing that helps the album is the production. The orchestra sounds excellent and the band has the right punch. Now, if only they could cut the chugging and add more of the melodic lines that made them special back then... My problem is that, while great songs are present, overall it's still too monotonous. (favorite tracks are the aforementioned ones) // 3.0
30Steven Wilson
To the Bone


Varied mix of pop, prog and more // A problematic album. Wilson tries to focus, which is a good thing. However the results are mixed. Some songs feel developed and very hearfelt (like the excellent "Refuge") while others sound manifactured and soulless (like the t/t). Then, there are songs that combine both, like "Nowhere Now" which sounds offensively inoffensive until the 2:15 mark where it blossoms into a colourful and very pleasant section. Overall, I feel the good/great outweights the downsides. Still, it's not what it could have been. Favorites: "Refuge" (best by far), "Pariah", "The Same Asylum As Before", "Nowhere Now" (if only for the mentioned section). // 3.0
29Angles 9
Disappeared Behind the Sun


Big band, free jazz // Creates a good landscape but gets old a bit too fast. It's fun background music, but it's not particularly charismatic. If you love your wailing free jazz, then knock yourself out. However if you tend to consider this stuff as just noise this album may not be the one to change your mind. It does try to restrain itself on occasion (the first song feels almost too much on rails), but as I said it didn't strike me as anything particularly special and it feels repetitive. Favorites: uhm, it basically gest progressively weaker for me, so the first half I guess. // 3.0
28Premiata Forneria Marconi
Emotional Tattoos


Pop prog? // Basically a collection of lengthy pop songs with a proggy edge and excellent musicianship. Di Cioccio's vocals aren't the best today but they still work (with a bit of studio magic I'm afraid). The only key members that remain in the band are founder drummer/vocalist Franz Di Cioccio and long time bassist Patrick Djivas (the two characters in the artwork). All in all it could have been much worse. It could have been much better too, some will say; you can't really fault them for thinking that. Favorites: "Mayday", "La danze degli specchi", "Quartier generale", "Freedom Square" (this one is instrumental and the less poppy track), "Dalla Terra alla Luna" (the album's best probably, best combiantion of prog and pop at least). Very far from an essential listen, but those who are attached to the band can't seriously hate on it, come on. // 3.0
27Aimee Mann
Mental Illness


Singer-songwriter // Smooth vocals and elegant strings accompany her "saddest, slowest and most acoustic" album, which could fit a folk pop tag too. I feel bad for not liking this as much as some of you guys, but while it's all good stuff I can't say that I truly cared for all of it. That said "Goose Snow Cone" is fantastic and one of my songs of the year. Other favorites are "Patient Zero", "Good for Me" and "Simple Fix". // 3.0
26Hyperion (ITA)
Dangerous Days


Heavy metal // The first song could make it seem a power metal album, but it's actually closer to classic heavy metal. Melodious twin guitars, prominent bass and above average songwriting. I checked this out not expecting anything really, out of curiosity (sweet colour palette in that artwork) and patriotism I guess. The first half didn't tell me that much (it did not bore me though) but, surprisingly, I ended up staying until the end. Not the most varied of albums, but it's good stuff. Favorites: "Ground and Pound", "The Killing Hope", "Hyperion". // 3.0
25Paradise Lost
Medusa


Doom/death metal, gothic elements // First things first: "Fearless Sky" is monumental, one of their best opening songs to date I'd say. All in all though, after several listens I feel the album lacks some colour. I'm glad they found the time to record such a death metal charged album, but now they must spice things up. Holmes' harsh vocals sound better than on TPW, but that album has more variety to offer. As a whole Medusa is a bit too... safe? If you love fuzzy riffs you are gonna love this one. Speaking of me... I'm sorry, but I have no desire to listen to about half of the songs anymore, though they are not bad. I'm afraid Mackintosh isn't at his most memorable here. The production is also flat. Ugh it's a good album but from this band I want more. Favorites: "Fearless Sky", "Medusa", "Until the Grave". I also have to mention "The Longest Winter" for its infectious clean verses and for personal reasons. "Acceptance woes..." // 3.0
24In Tormentata Quiete
Finestatico


Prog metal, black metal // Cult band with Italian lyrics and a knack for experimentation. It's a band that I never explored as much as I should. This is yet another case, because I heard the album just once. I liked the mixture of black metal harsh vocals and theatrical clean (male and female) vocals. The music flows well from track to track. It seems they went for a more direct approach this time, however that's not to say that this is banal, it has many layers. Well played but the production's a bit too average metal sounding. Favorite tracks: "Sole", "R136A1", "Era Carinae", "Sirio" // Between a 3.0 and 3.5, haven't rated yet.
23Once and Future Band
Once & Future Band


Prog rock with smooth jazz influence // A kind of Yes meets Steely Dan affair. Very, very pleasant filler-less album; as simple as that. Though I have to admit that the some of the vocal melodies in "I'll Be Fine" are kinda annoying. Favorite tracks: "How Does It Make You Feel?", "Hide & Seek", "Rolando", "Magnetic Memory", "Standing in the Wake of Violence". Sweet bass. // 3.5
22Satan's Hallow
Satan's Hallow


Heavy metal // Another classic metal throwback in this list. This time it's female fronted and much tighter as a whole, combined with a very serviceable length of 34 minutes. Killer vocals especially. Favorites: "Reaching for the Night", "Satan's Hallow", "Moving On", "Still Alive", "Beyond the Bells". // 3.5
21Witherfall
Nocturnes and Requiems


Prog metal // Now this is a sweet debut album. Great, varied and more or less seamless dynamic songwriting in which the instrumental showmanship fits without hindering it. Great flow too, it just feels natural to let it play from beginning to end. I'm just not super into the vocals, but eh it happens. My favorite song is "Portrait". I would say that about 4:45 into "Nobody Sleeps Here" is a convincing declaration of intents by each member but sadly the drummer passed away before the album was published; I'm even more curious to see what they do next, in a sense. Promising debut for sure. // 3.5
20Talsur
Slough Of Despond


Funeral doom metal // Strong melodies and a pleasant addition of clean vocals and mellow passages, quite atmospheric with a lot of memorable melodies. I'm really surprised, I gave this a shot on YouTube and I wasn't expecting much from an unknown bandcamp one-man act. However as soon as I heard "The Ravensong" I was sold. There is some serious good taste for melody in here. The songs range from 7 to 12 minutes but it's not fatiguing at all, thanks to the smart writing and not suffocating production. The man's English is a bit shaky but you're not going to care too much especially when he is growling it, and anyway what's most important is that the delivery feels heartfelt. As suicidal as the albums is, the music actually lifts me up and helps me relax. Favorites: "The Ravensong", "Funeral Waltz". Did I mention that it's name your price?
https://talsur.bandcamp.com/album/slough-of-despond // 3.5
19Autopsy
Puncturing the Grotesque


Death metal, doom influence // Band that can do no wrong does no wrong yet again. I love the high energy of the title track. Deaths hard, dooms hard ("Gas Mask Lust"), it's Autopsy, with inspiration. Check (Puncturing the) Grotesque. // 3.5
18Diamanda Galas
All the Way


Vocal jazz // Banshee wails over ghostly piano. Perhaps I'm giving this a bit too much praise but that formula works wonders with me. It's the tamest thing I heard from this lady, yet it's still quite wild when it wants to. It's no Plague Mass, but this "O Death" is excellent and worth the album almost alone (check that song at least!), hard to believe she is really 62, even harder to believe these are live recordings. // 3.5
17Ulver
The Assassination of Julius Caesar


Synthpop, Art pop // The album flows very well from start to finish, full of catchy hooks but also with a couple of less accessible moments like on "Rolling Stone" and "Coming Home". Ulver confirmed itself to be a project that keeps on giving, and one that I should spend more time with. Faves: "Nemoralia", "Southern Gothic", "Angelus Novus". Note that this grew off me pretty hard, it was a 4 initially. I also checked the EP they released and it was solid too though I only heard it once. // 3.5
16Novembers Doom
Hamartia


Gothic doom, death metal (sparing) // Standing strong since 1989, but I was never the biggest fan of this band. But this new album rules. Very competent and the growls are just killer (and very understandable without a lyric sheet!). Be aware that there are a lot of clean vocals though (mostly, actually). Some people don't dig them, but I appreciate them because to me they sound quite heartfelt and honest. Some people also don't dig the lyrics, and I can see why because some moments can come off as awkward. However there are sweet quotable moments too. Overall a tightly performed album with palpable emotions and no filler, though admittedly lacking in real surprises. Faves: "Devils Light" (straight death metal and a killer soloing), "Plague Bird", "Ghost" and the long and moving "Borderline". // 3.5
15Shady Bug
tbh idk


Indie rock // Very pleasant music that constantly plays with alternating loud/quiet dynamics inside unconventional structures. It works very well; it's appropriately heavy and crunchy when it needs to, and it's succesfully relaxing the rest of the time. Aptly performed and produced, it's an all killer no filler affair in its 25 minutes. Female fronted if you want to know. Favorites: "Walk Me Home", "Soft Touch", "Night Creeper", "Helpless". // 3.5
14White Ward
Futility Report


Black metal(core-ish?) + dark jazz // Very promising debut, I wish they could loosen themselves a bit in future releases, especially the sax guy. I'm not saying they should become a jazz band, but as it is I think their formula is a bit rigid and not as interesting as people make it sound. There is also a certain metalcore-ish feel in their black metal, though curiously from what I've seen on YouTube it seems that during live shows the vocals are closer to traditional black metal. Anyway I enjoyed the album a lot, especially the little dark jazz instrumental "Rain as Cure". Other favorites: "Stillborn Knowledge", "Black Silent Piers", "Futility Report". Cover artwork. // 3.5
13The Birthday Massacre
Under Your Spell


Mix of synthpop and gothic rock aesthetic? // TBM keeps on refining their sound, nodding to the darker imagery of the past but also finding new energy. I think this is one of their more focused albums, perhaps their most. Killer production and tight filler-less writing with interesting moments like ~3:10 into "Without You" or the electric guitar riffs swagger of "Unkind". They never sounded so fresh and confident imo, not even in WwS which is actually my favorite TBM album (for now?). There are admittedly a couple of songs that feel a bit too safe but I'm not bothered because the polished production makes them go without pain (like the bounciness of the drums in "Counterpane"'s chorus). There are some serious night club vibes in some tracks, just press play on "Endless", or check the danceable section in "Withou You". Long time fans will likely dig the Violet-like creepy vibe of "No Tomorrow" with its angry suffocated vocals.
12The Birthday Massacre
Under Your Spell


My favorite song here is "Hex", an infectious poppy banger with a stunning second half and an impressive attention to the layered details that create a big and rich sound. Finally, I'll spend a word about the lyrics of "Endless" because I love that chorus and I think fits well an album closer. // 3.5
11Satanique Samba Trio
Xenossamba


Experimental samba-influenced jazz // To my knowledge this is their most accessible release. They remind me of John Zorn's Naked City "grind jazz" in a sense, though there is no grind her. The satanique part of the name means that they want to be the "wrong" side of Brazilian music (or something along those lines). However as I said these 16 minutes are more in the vein of playfulness than ever. So give it a go really, short sweet and highly replayable. // 3.5
10Necromandus
Necromandus


Hard rock, hard prog // An unknown act that played together with Earth (the band that later became Black Sabbath) and had connections with Tony Iommi. Today, sadly only one founding member is still with us, Frank Hall. The good news is that, at least, the moniker is alive and well! Necromandus is an album stuck in another time, and it wins because of that. It's a true rocker, honest and very competently played. It's catchy hard rock from the 70s, enriched by a prog rock influence that surfaces here and there. A very special mention goes to the song "And She Smiles", one of my favorite songs of the year. If you want good vibes, check that song right now. A couple of songs don't convince me 100%, but it's a great album. Favorites in general: "Alauna", "Hymn to Her", "Gargoyles Awake", "Hardknott", "And She Smiles". // 3.5
9Merciful Nuns
A-U-M IX


Gothic rock // Cult legends deliver yet again another gothic paradise. This the goth that I really dig. This band was born from the ashes of cult classic Garden of Delight (the German one, founded in 1990), and they seem the most trustworthy source of traditional gothic rock with modern eyes. I will need to binge the discography at some point. This album is gloomy, rocking and at times even kind of danceable. Always with the libidonous and overly passionate vocals that you (or well, me) expect from gothic music. As said, a paradise for your goth needs. Favorites: "Beyond Nirvana", "Kundalini Express", "Lightwaves", "Lord Chord of the Sun". // 3.5
8Mastodon
Emperor of Sand


Prog metal // For some reason I was never that much into Mastodon, though I owned a copy of Blood Mountain. However this new album is a game-changer, and I'm now starting to dig basically everything in the discography. It's the perfect gateway album for newcomers: it has a fair share of accessible elements but it also goes back to harsher places. "Sultan's Curse", "Roots Remain", "Ancient Kingdom" and "Jaguar God" are excellent. Then there's cool details like the psych feel of "Steambreather", the trippy middle part of "Clandestiny", the uplifting 2:00 minute mark in "Precious Stones" or the sheer fun of "Show Yourself" with its infectious guitar riffs. A few minor songs prevent it from achieving more, but there's still a lot to explore. Good job with the vocals too, everyone shines. Album slaps. // 3.5
7Mastodon
Cold Dark Place


Prog metal // A more emotional take on their recent sound. "North Side Star" might just be my favorite song of theirs post Blood Mountain, when it picks up the pace it's just so satisfying. The atmospheric t/t is also excellent, especially the final climax with its almost evil feel. The two remaining songs are tight and catchy. An EP of 4 killer songs, and the price was nothing (like €6). // 3.5
6CapaRezza
Prisoner 709


Hip hop, alt rock // Like many fellow countrymen, I find in Caparezza the only hip hop artist that I can truly grow interested in for entire albums. There are many reasons. His voice is different from our average "tough rapper guy", he is much easier to take seriously. Then there are his lyrics (that range from political to very personal), that twist and turn and seamlessy quote many different things while always remaning infectious for the ears. Another big point of interest is the music that follows Capa's voice, the "alt rock" tag isn't just for show: he often rocks out. But it doesn't stop at that, make no mistake this is not a rock album. Many layers make for a rich sound that could very well work as a stand-alone, taking hints from different genres. Furthermore, when the instruments are played it's with competence. I mean, one of my favorite things about Prisoner 709 -hip hop album- is the bass playing that appears in some songs.
5CapaRezza
Prisoner 709


My biggest complaint is that some songs don't excite me nearly as much as the rest. Favorites: "Prisoner 709", "Confusianesimo", "Il testo che avrei voluto scrivere", "Una chiave", "Ti fa stare bene", "Migliora la tua memoria con un click", "Larsen", "Sogno di potere", "L'uomo che premette". // 3.5, likely a 4.0 buried inside
4Botanist
Collective: The Shape of He to Come


Experimental black metal // Botanist is a black metal band that chose the use of the hammered dulcimer as their trademark characteristic. However the result is still fierce and at times unsettling like in the final part of "The Reconciliation of Nature and Man". The great harsh vocals are accompanied by many church-like chants and a couple of songs are completely clean. Add a naturalistic atmosphere and a clear production, and you obtain an album that is as blissful and relaxing as it is black metal at its core. The "main" songs are lengthy but develop well throughout. Favorite tracks: "The Shape of He to Come", "The Reconciliation of Nature and Man". // 4.0
3Led Bib
Umbrella Weather


Jazz fusion, free jazz // This is a big one, in every sense. It lasts for 1 hour and 15 minutes, yet it's one of my most played albums of 2017. It's filled to the brim with memorable moments; it never really loses steam even though the first few listens can be a bit too much to take as an entirety. The music walks a line between playfulness and seriousness, without forgetting a dose of weirdness here and there. It's an album that shifts between being tense and dramatic and being playful with absolute ease. I can't pick a favorite track, it's such a solid listen. // 4.0
2Maxophone
La Fabbrica delle Nuvole


Prog rock // Read my review. 42 years later Maxophone is alive and kicking. A very intimate and contemplative kind of progressive rock that borrows elements of symphony (drummer plays violin too), folk and pop. Also it has some bangin' riffs. "Nel fiume dei giorni i tuoi capelli" is a great example of the album's dynamics, going from very intimate and contemplative melodies to rocking riffs (check the instrumental t/t for more riffs, or also "Perdo il colore blu" especially from 1:20 onwards) and closing with a symphonic gentle finale, all under 4 minutes of running time. Yet in the same album you can find the medieval vibes of "La luna e la lepre" and the mystical atmosphere of "Estate '41". My favorite song has to be the longest one "Il matto e l'aquilone", especially because of the extremely memorable progression from 2:00 onwards, especially what the vocals do from 2:15 to 2:30 before giving way to an instrumental interlude.
1Maxophone
La Fabbrica delle Nuvole


Excellent material from start to finish, really. Maybe there's a slight dip in quality with "Il passo delle ore", because that song comes very close to pop, but well it's a great pop song anyway (cool lyrics and pensive atmosphere!). Tasty bass too and great production. // 4.0. Not necessarily the highest of these 4s but I found an emotional connection with it throughout the year. It has to be my AOTY. // "Ma come era lunga e breve l'estate..."
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