|2017 - Voivod's Random Best Of|
List consists of all the albums I dug AND wrote a soundoff about in 2017, plus albums with no soundoff, that I dug enough to add here. Minimum rate: 3.4 additional/supplementary lists will be published as we move towards the end of the year.
3.5 - psychedelic/punk/garage rock from Austin, Texas.
In the smorgasbord of bands and styles Austin, TX metro offers to any conceivable avail, Hundred Visions exert the kind of rock that will make you feel you are playing in an old school Quentin Tarantino film. Brutal Pueblo does not come short in terms of diversity; drone-y/noise rock passages, heavy/punk rock outbursts, vocals drenched in Beastie-Boys-tinged irony, and garage/rockabilly sensitivities, all aforementioned constituents are blended and echoed with the ferocity that modern times dictate. Favourite track: Ditch Punk's Prayer, Planet Dead Deerhorn. Stream: http://hundredvisions.bandcamp.com/album/brutal-pueblo-2
|2||Pain of Salvation|
In the Passing Light of Day
4.5 - progressive metal from Sweden.
Paraphrasing a quote from Confucius, the glory of this band and its main-man, lies not only in past triumphs, but also in rising when circumstances of entirely different context, conspire otherwise. And what a rise this is, as an essentially new band delivers an album that's up there with Entropia and Remedy Lane, although the blind emulation of mentioned predecessors, is avoided at large. Interested listeners are encouraged to track Pain of Salvation anno 2017 at the intersection of progressive rock lyricism with the atonal nihility of modern/nu metal. Favorite song: Full Throttle Vibe, for obvious and not so obvious reasons.
The Grinding Wheel
3.5 - modern heavy/thrash metal from New Jersey.
Overkill is as Overkill does and The Grinding Wheel, not better nor worse than its immediately previous affairs, is no exception. The band's take-no-prisoners ethic in performing its material is sine qua non as always. What's slightly different here is the dual-mode affiliation to downright classic and modern metal (in terms of sound) forms alike.
Faces Turn Away
3.4 - avant-garde black metal from the UK.
Every new addition in the black metal circuit set by Thorns and Dodheimsgard in the late '90s is more than welcome, especially considering the scant quantitative yield of such bands in following years. In that respect, the one-man project of Kassad encompasses the style's ambience, intensity and (industrial) coldness, with a great margin for improvement in future releases. It's really no wonder the record's prospect lured independent label Hypnotic Dirge Records to commission a July 2017 re-release. Favorite tracks: Shame, Broken. Stream/"name your price" download: http://kassad.bandcamp.com/album/faces-turn-away
Degradation Of Mankind
3.8 - sludgy thrash metal from Russia.
From the crypts of the Russian metal underground, Tanator unleash a black/thrash metal onslaught whose crossover/punk-ish intensity and sound-wise sludginess, are all but leveraging the inherent derivativeness of the arrangements. Stream: http://coldbreathofsilence.bandcamp.com/album/tanator-degradation-of-mankind-cd
|6||Breed of Bacchus|
3.8 - Grindcore from Germany.
All the samples introducing each cut of Germany's Breed of Bacchus' sophomore album, are voiced in their mother tongue, so I almost wish I was aware of the language and its slang in before, so as to appreciate the absolutely effective thrash/grind-core enclosed herein, even more. Wishfull thinking about language learning aside, Oculus has the clout to build a virtual grindcore moshpit inside your head, for the excess steam to be blown off. Favorite track: Bonapapst Syndrom. Stream/"name your price" download: http://breedofbacchus.bandcamp.com/album/oculus
3.5 - crossover thrash from Dallas, Texas.
Power Trip acquired quite a reputation for themselves with their first album as a crossover thrash allure, so their sophomore album was eagerly awaited; Nightmare Logic is not crossover thrash by the numbers, rather it comes as a pastiche of different US thrash styles (Slayer, Exodus, Metallica etc) in which well-intended groove plays a seminal part. That said, album is devoid of real stand-outs, which makes it an ideal soundtrack for extra-curricular activities, namely weight lifting. Stream: http://powertripsl.bandcamp.com/album/nightmare-logic
Beterin Beteri Var
3.6 - heavy rock from Turkey.
In their debut album whose title translates as "There is worse than the worse", Eskiz from Turkey deliver a mad-driven, vigorous slab of heavy rock that's full of diversity and little surprises along the way. At the same time however, Beterin Beteri Var is standing on the shoulders of giants like MC5, Led Zeppelin and some of their modern peers like Red Hot Chilly Peppers (see favorite track). Favorite track: Deliriyorum. The album is streaming at open.spotify.com
Visions & Creatures of Imagination
3.6 - power/doom metal from Crete, Greece.
Two years after their good debut, Greek-Cretians Doomocracy return with a sophomore album that insists on certain attributes showcased therein, while it improves on others. Band's singer offers a standout performance, with his flawless, clean and high pitch excellently communicating the gloom encountered in the lyrical content. Apart from inherent presence of doom metal, the strong affiliation to classic metal is prevalent throughout, and while it gives a sense of quaint warmth and familiarity, it is also a firm pointer of attrition in terms of originality and intensity. In the latter respect, things might get more interesting if the band branched out to more aggressive forms of metal, up the alley of Memory Garden and Solitude Aeturnus on some of their seminal instances. On the other hand, the progressive element is perceivably enhanced, with well thought, recurrent tempo shifts (i.e. Guardian Within); the keyboards decorate the arrangements
Better Than Death
3.8 - gothic/darkwave/post punk from the States.
Slick post punk/gothic/darkwave that does little to reinvent the wheel, yet its merit remains unspoiled from listen to listen. The excellently minimal arrangements that blend nicely, the brooding vocals and the drone-y texture overall, are enough feats to frequent Better Than Death, as much as follow New Today in future and past tense. Favorite track: Destiny. Stream/"name your price" download: http://newtoday.bandcamp.com/album/better-than-death
3.8 - Grindcore from Australia.
Shackles are relentless in their punk-tinged grindcore, with the jaw dropping instrumental prowess being aptly balanced with the filth of the arrangements. With its turn, the rock n' roll factor is present in the form of short-lived groove passages and/or noise rock intermissions ("Hoard the Rage", "Caustic Mess"). Even though the album is short in length with every track not spanning beyond the 2 1/2 minute mark, the repetition of riffs and patterns becomes all too evident towards the album's end, detracting some points from its otherwise undisputed merit. Stream: http://shacklesnoise.bandcamp.com/album/lifeless-paradise
3.8 - black metal from Athens, Greece.
Terminating 5 years of silence, Acrimonious have returned with an album that can be described as both a completion of the half-finished experimentations introduced in Sunyata, and an expansion of the debut album, in which cleverly composed melancholic second wave black metal was blended with discrete death metal elements. This is easily among the best albums to come out this year from the Hellenic black metal scene. Favourite tracks: Satariel's Grail, Incineration Initiator, Elder of the Nashiym, Litany of Moloch's Feast. Stream: http://wtcproductions.bandcamp.com/album/eleven-dragons
3.6 - vintage rock from Germany.
Velvet Magic's sound is that of a vintage rock outfit fleeing towards sludgier/groovier shades of heavy rock, and flowering the formed substrate with discrete doom rock elements, while maintaining an equally discrete, yet utterly perceptible progressive rock character. Devil's Witches are not likely to disrupt the retro rock ecosystem any time soon, yet they made it a fair bit more interesting. Favourite track: Mountain of the Devil's Witch. Stream: http://devilswitches.bandcamp.com/album/velvet-magic
3.8 - thrash metal from Australia.
Harlott sound like a virtual supergroup featuring members from Slayer, Heathen, Exodus, and Kreator, and that's saying a lot regarding their ability to blend US and German thrash, and their skill in devising neck-breaking metal. What cuts through the musical derivativeness that the aforementioned outfits imply, is the adoption of European death metal tremolo riffing at some instances, a trait which grants Extinction a somewhat distinct character, and imho, needs to be developed in future releases. Favourite track: album title track stands among equals. Stream: http://harlottmetal.bandcamp.com/album/extinction
Emperor of Sand
3.4 - heavy rock from Atlanta, GA.
Mastodon round up the edges of their innate deliberations, and wind up with an album that's as entertaining as it is lacking compared to its critically acclaimed predecessors. Favourite track: Show Yourself.
|16||An Erotic End of Times|
3.8 - Gothic rock/metal from Germany.
An Erotic End of Times have kickstarted their course with an album that could be easily dubbed "a soundtrack for the impending apocalypse". Equal parts gothic and metal (with specs of industrial), album's critical distinctions lie in the genre-optimal, agitating vocals, the ever fresh reenactment of all goth metal cliches, the razor-cut lyrics ("No Rights" chorus!!!), and the elaborate placement of famous samples from J. Robert Oppenheimer (on album opener "I am Become Death"), JFK etc. Favorite tracks: No Rights, Love is the End. Stream: http://aneroticendoftimes.bandcamp.com/album/chapter-one-album-2017
Mortem in Deos
3.4 - tech power/thrash metal from Australia.
Just when someone would think that the birth of new "'90s" tech power/thrash metal bands (think of Iced Earth or much much later peers like Greece's Desert Near the End) was an almost exclusive affair of that time, Evocatus from Australia come and drop their (currently) small stone in the seemingly calm waters. Firstly by means of the ultra-heavy sound production and secondly in terms of the arrangements, Aussies make a truly legitimate effort in sounding technical and fruitfully cerebral in places, yet it's difficult to pinpoint truly memorable moments. Rhythm guitars are the album's clue (along with the drumming), as their handler has gone the extra mile in mastering them, but unfortunately, the same does not entirely apply for the leads. The sole element that hints towards more extreme forms of metal are the merely adequate vocals. Band has potential! 3.3++. Stream: http://evocatus.bandcamp.com/album/mortem-in-deos-2
Coils of the Lesser Serpent
3.6 - thrash metal from Belgium.
Judging from sparse releases that emerged during the last few years, it seems that tech thrash is making a gradual come back; Deserter's debut full-length is all but a welcome addition to the fold; Drumming is insane in both feet and hands, whereas the shredding guitars are apt to follow the frenetic pace of the arrangements. The latter are not far from what bands like Aspid and Paradox have accomplished during their heyday; As "Urban Gehenna" will echo to you, tech thrash of Coil... is so fulfilling, it could stand on its own instrumentally, yet the album's dynamics, instrumental and/or vocal, are not properly underpinned by the somehow "live-less" sound production. What's for sure though, is that these Belgians are already standing out of the lot. Favourite tracks: Urban Gehenna, Carnal Carnival, Cry of the Forsaken.
No Worlds... Nor Gods Beyond
3.6 - death metal from Athens, Greece.
Resurgency have returned after five years of absence, with an album that carefully refines the pledge made by its predecessor; blast-beat death metal is still the prevailing norm, but it is somewhat more elaborate, at least in some tunes. In addition, the atmospheric lead guitars, a trait that was largely missing from False Enlightenment] are steadily off-beat with respect to the relentless pounding, offering a welcome layer of abstraction. Favorite track: Thresholds Of Infinite Pain. Stream: http://fda-records.bandcamp.com/album/no-worlds-nor-gods-beyond
3.8 - '70s rock from Sweden.
In contrast to the vast majority of Swedish vintage acts subject to the heavier/energetic tracts of psychedelic/vintage rock, Lykantropi indulge themselves and their prospective audience with a lighter, enticingly introspective sound. The eight cuts of Lykantropi, "fast" or "slow", "straightforward" or "elaborate", are all tied together with the string of minimalism and calmness that goes back to the primal moments of outfits like Ten Years After, Jethro Tull, Simon & Garfunkel, even; While songs succeed each other, they tend to blend into each other in terms of memorability, however these Swedes keep things interesting with their joyfully somber spirit, which reflects the traditions of their land, the latter carved from the harshness with which light and darkness bathes the Scandinavian peninsula, and the myth-shaping effect of the Northern Lights. Favourite songs: Black Old Stone, Julie (Old Death Whisper), Alexandra, Dödens Dans.
Shadow of Violence
3.4 - thrash metal from Orlando, Florida.
What is an undisputed given for Arakara is that they know how to thrash with the expected intensity; not only that, their axemen are gun blazing with respect to the guitar leads which densely populate this EP. So where does Shadow of Violence comes a bit short? Well, Arakara aren't too keen on concealing their influences which include both East and West Coast thrash, with the vocalist delivering a die-hard Hetfield/Billy worship throughout. Favorite track: Shadow of Violence. Stream: http://arakaraband.bandcamp.com/album/shadow-of-violence
3.6 - '60s psychedelic rock from Austin, Texas.
Dream Machine come from Austin, Texas, the town where everyone plays in a band, and on their debut offering, they deliver the '60s psychedelic rock that's bound to resonate for quite a while, with those old fashioned pairs of ears out there. Sound-wise, Dream machine aren't too keen on the heavy side of psych, but they compensate for that "loss" with proto-"hard rocking metal" grooves all too evident throughout the eleven cuts of the album, and a certain lightness that hints at those times, where everything seemed possible. Favorite song: All For A Chance, Lose My Place In Time. Stream: http://dreammachine432.bandcamp.com
3.6 - '70s psychedelic/hard n' heavy rock from Sweden.
Sweden's supply of highly relevant '70s psychedelic/hard n' heavy rock is steadily aplenty, with new outfits constantly popping out. In that respect, newcomers Ball easily rank among the latest hot entries. When it is not drenched in genuine vintage punk/rock n' roll filth (Denmark's Alucarda come in mind), Ball succumbs to dionysian, almost improvisational psychedelic/drone-y ("Satanas")/funk jams, with the deck being recursively shuffled track in, track out. Favorite track: Fyre Balls. The album is streaming at Spotify.
|24||The Night Flight Orchestra|
3.5 - '80s pop/rock from Sweden.
Slick, barely memorable upon completion of any given listening session, but desperately needed '80s pop/hard rock throwback, made from metalheads for metalheads and non-metalheads alike. Favorite track: Space Whisperer
3.5 - death/doom metal from Nashville, TN.
Having heard only this album from the band, it is immediately evident that Loss are masters in crafting abstract, brooding atmospheres, that grant their sophomore effort adequate, perpetual even, replay time. However, the abstractness also works backwards, as by the time Horizonless comes to a close, rather than humming melodies or remembering whole song structures, what truly remains is the mood the album aspires to slipstream to its sonic beholders. Favorite track: The Joy Of All Who Sorrow. Stream: http://loss.bandcamp.com/album/horizonless
The Code of the Illumination Theory
4.0 - power/doom metal from Brazil.
A completely obscure company of Brazilians embraces the arcane art of power/doom metal, and rivals the genre's council of the ancients. First half of the album's style is manifested through the enticingly wailing vocals, an oscillation between Omen's J.D. Kimball (R.I.P.) and Veni Domine's (R.I.P.) Fredrik Sjoholm. Sparse yet gritty old school metal passages provide a distraction from the dark atmosphere that the devastating doom metal dialect echoed herein, with some relatively restrained folk mumbling in the rear. And yet, what completes The Code of the Illumination Theory as a must-listen for the genre's mysts (and then some), is the sound production, which goes against the grain, by being dirty and raw, yet gracefully surrounding the arrangements. Favorite track: Promiscuous Hymns. Stream: http://archityrants.bandcamp.com/album/the-code-of-the-illumination-theory
A Birth of Loss
3.4 - progressive/thrash metal from Athens, Greece.
Hellenes Whatever End are self-dubbed "progressive doom metal", a tag inadequate to fully describe what's at play in A Birth of Loss. Doom factor is restrained with respect to the progressive metal elements, the latter eagerly leaning towards the tech end of thrash. Despite being wet behind the ears, band knows how to transform its ideas into cohesive (albeit lengthy) arrangements, and the only downside here is the fundamental differences in style between the (good per se) vocals, and the actual music, as well as the sub-optimal integration of the former to the latter in the final mix. Favourite track: Triarchy. Stream:
From Fields Of Fire
3.6 - heavy/power metal from Franklin, Pennsylvania.
Four years past their previous emergence, Argus declare anew their impetus towards classic metal, by means of firm arrangements and Balich's vocals that never dissappoint. The heavy/doom metal hybrid of Boldly Stride The Doomed, is even more abated relative to Beyond The Martyrs, with scarce passages (in numbers and intensity) having an intermittent role regarding the old school metal galloping. The album's inclination towards the aforementioned style, makes it a solid punch; however, major standout sites are excluded, save for the power/doom ballad complex "No Right To Grieve/From the Fields of Fire". Favorite tracks: No Right To Grieve/From the Fields of Fire. Stream: http://argusmetal.bandcamp.com/album/from-fields-of-fire
Raised on Decay
3.6 - thrash metal from UK.
Shrapnel have somewhat rounded the edges of the angry, coarse-grained yet cerebral thrash in The Virus Conspires; a lower-end sound texture has been adopted, while the perceivably more linear patterns arrangement-wise, also flirt with heavy/speed metal this time around. However, Shrapnel's stark impact remains almost intact, as their previous album detracts mere bits of merit from the new one.
The Moral Crossing
3.8 - folk/progressive rock/post punk from Leeds, UK.
More often than not, post-punk outfits indulge themselves and their respective audiences by reenacting the genre norms, as the latter have been differentiated within the genre's finite number of tributaries. In that respect, Autobahn's debut album falls right in place, which makes it impossible for anyone to say he/she could forsee the strides of differentiation The Moral Crossing has made with respect to Dissemble and traditional post-punk in general. The introduction to the relative neoterisms adopted by these Leeds UK lads is gradual, as the album starts off with traditional maneuvers, which progressively head towards a collage of post-punk, folk elements and progressive rock mentality. Favorite track: title track is the epitome of the previously described crossing of styles. Stream: http://autobahnmusik.bandcamp.com/album/the-moral-crossing
The Dusk in Us
3.6 - metallic hardcore from Boston, MA.
To describe The Dusk in Us in a nutshell, is to say that it is basically a by-the-numbers permutation of every summit Converge have conquered in past albums (You Fail Me, Axe to Fall, Jane Doe) augmented by their innate affiliation to the Black Sabbath of extreme metal, Slayer. On a lyrical level, Converge revisit the strife of those who must make ends meet in an ever perplexing set of harsh environments. Favorite tracks: Under Duress, The Dusk in Us, Thousands of Miles Between Us. Stream: http://convergecult.bandcamp.com/album/the-dusk-in-us
|32||Pink Cream 69|
3.6 - glam/hard n' heavy rock from Germany.
Pink Cream 69 have always been known for their especially catchy, top tier hard rocking metal, and surprise surprise, that's what their new album brings for the n-th time on the table. Germans will not reinvent their genre on their 12th album, but Headstrong sounds fresh in terms of the warm/wailing vocals floating over a gritty rhythm section and excellently tracked, pointy and optimally heavy guitars. Favorite track: Walls Come Done.
Psychedelic rock from Gothenborg, Sweden.
Hardcore from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Heavy metal from Seattle, WA.
Melodic black metal from New York, New York.
Gothic/post punk from Sweden.
Epic doom metal from Kaiserslautern, Germany.
|39||Chant of the Goddess|
Chant of the Goddess
Doom metal from São Paulo, Brazil.
Heavy metal from Falkenberg, Sweden.
|41||Theory In Practice|
Tech/death metal from Sweden.
Styx Demon: The Master Of Death
Thrash metal from Denmark.
Death metal from Berkeley, California.
The Haunting Fear of Inevitability
Grindcore from Richland, Washington.
Psychedelic rock from Australia.
Spotting Elegance In Chaos
Hardcore/mathcore from Athens, Greece.
Tales from the Wasteland
Heavy rock from Thessaloniki, Greece.
Punk/hardcore from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Post punk/post everything from Milan, Italy.
|50||The Chasing Monster|
Post metal from Italy.
Industrial/noise/doom metal from Sweden.
Gothic rock from Greece.
The Lachrymal Sleep
Funeral doom metal from Lublin, Poland.
Extreme metal from Ukraine.
Heavy metal from Burlington, Kentucky.
|56||Skog Under Jord|
Skog Under Jord
Progressive rock from Sweden.
Death/doom metal from Spain.
Heavy/speed metal from Finland.
Dungeon synth from Norway.
|60||Wind In His Hair|
Crust/black metal from Berlin, Germany.
Doom metal from from the States.
Sludge/stoner metal from Swansea, UK.
Behind the Gate
Psychedelic rock from Weinheim, Germany.
The Call Of Agony
Grindcore/sludge/doom metal from Slovenia.
Doom metal from Belgium.
Raubkatze auf 12 Uhr
Psychedelic/kraut rock from Köln, Germany.
Psychedelic/space rock from Sweden.
Death/black metal from Brazil.
Friend Of A Stranger
Neopsych/garage rock from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Post punk from London, UK.
Of Despair And Self-Destruction
Black metal from Athens, Greece.
Stream/"name your price" download: https://insanitycult.bandcamp.com/album/of-despair-and-self-destruction
Here Now, There Then
Psych/hard/gothic rock from Holland.
Den Förstörda Människans Rike
Punk/Grindcore/death metal from Sweden.
'70s hard rock from Sweden.
Blues/hard rock from Sweden.
Post Mortem Blues
Heavy/doom metal from Italy.
Wilderness Of Love
Psych/folk rock from Philadelphia, PA.
Beyond Life and Death
Dark ambient/folk from Sweden.
Seen Comin' From a Mighty Eye
Psychedelic/progressive rock from Nashville, Tennessee.
Blackened hardcore from Berlin, Germany.
Gothic/post punk from Mexico.
Thrash/groove metal from Portugal.
Thrash metal from Athens, Greece.
We Will Be Watching...
Black metal from Athens, Greece.
Darkwave/gothic/post punk from Aberdeen, UK.
|86||Iguana Death Cult|
The First Stirrings of Hideous Insect Life
Garage/punk rock from Holland.
Progressive rock from Finland.
Death metal from Portugal.
Death metal from San Diego, California.
|90||Light of the Morning Star|
Gothic/black metal from London, UK.
Psychedelic/garage rock from Sweden.
Freedom Is Free
Funk/soul/psych rock from Los Angeles, California.
Crust/hardcore from Finland.
Experimental/psychedelic rock from the States.
From the Vile Catacombs
Progressive/power/thrash metal from Germany.
Black metal from Germany.
Black metal from France.
Trails of Kozmic Dust
Heavy rock from Denver, Colorado.
Grindcore from the States.
A Guide Into Synesthesia
Psychedelic/hard/doom rock from Bordeaux, France.