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08.12.20 Listening to the The Caretaker's EATEOT02.05.20 SgtShock's 2019
12.31.19 SgtShock's Decade04.19.19 SgtShock is on an album
12.31.18 SgtShock's 201812.12.17 SgtShock's 2017
12.20.16 SgtShock's 2016 List04.23.16 Closed Room Dramas
12.14.15 SgtShock's 2015 List10.03.15 Rec me more like these!
12.13.14 Yet Another Best Of 2014 List11.15.14 Snowpiercer: Fav Movie Of 2014
10.19.14 Post-metal Influence On Metalcore 02.26.14 Compliment Someone Above You
12.18.13 Yet Another Top 10 For 201306.04.13 My Top Ten Drummers

SgtShock's 2017

2017 has been the most difficult and rewarding year of my life. Here's my top eleven albums. Why not cut it down to ten and listen to something other than metal? Idk, who gives af and why do we bother making lists that no one's gonna read anyways?
11Ghost Toast
Out of This World

The end of this year was the first time I had to actively search for a new place and I was hella unprepared for how much work goes into it. I hated scrolling through listings till my brain went numb, feeling shitty because I have no credit even though I’m 27, and driving across town to visit homes while pretending to know shit-all about what a “good place” is supposed to look like or be worth.

On that note, it’s pretty obvious from this album’s title that Hungarian outfit Ghost Toast wants to take you to another place. With a healthy dose of eclectic instrumentation, progressive stylings, and a penchant for changing up their sound each track, this was an engaging listen for me from front to back. I could see why some could say it’s sound is dated. After all, instrumental prog is nothing new, and this band is pretty much Indukti or any other group from the late 2000’s Tool-o-sphere. but for someone like me who loved that when I was younger, it gave me a warm sense of nostalgia.
End of Chapter

Considering it’s my dream job, I was super-pumped to finally getting the chance to teach at the college level this year. There was something terrifying about having all of those expectations and fears, going in. What if I end up hating it and all these years in college were wasted? What if I suck and 125 freshman laugh me out of the room in the first five minutes? What if two students get in a fist-fight arguing about politics or religion and it comes down on me? Luckily, none of those things happened. In fact, the last day I had several students come up and talk about how much they loved my class -- and for the first time in too long, I allowed myself to relax and feel proud of something I accomplished.

After being paid to blab for hours every week, it’s both strange and cathartic to come across something that bears little explaining. End of Chapter is just an awesome slab of blackened, post-metal goodness. Check it out if that sounds up your alley.
9Oranssi Pazuzu

Drums have been a huge passion of mine for awhile, and getting to play in a band this year meant I got to share my creative energy with others. Sometimes writing, recording, performing, and practicing were the only outlet for me that could take my mind off of all the shit that kept me down. The singer has to move across the country at the start of next year, so it will be challenging to keep things going at the same speed they are now, but I’m so grateful for the music and memories we made in 2017.

When your band contains people from drastically different musical backgrounds, writing coherent music together can feel like herding cats at times. I imagine chimerical bands like Oranssi Pazuzu experience something like too. This year, they continued their brand of weird-ass black metal with an EP that sounds like a jazz musician who dropped acid and wandered into an abandoned fairground at night.
8The Great Old Ones
EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy

Being busy sucks. It really does. Be it looming deadlines, endless page requirements, mountains of readings, or just trying to pay bills, I constantly felt underwater this year and it seemed like I could never get ahead. There were times that I couldn't physically bring myself to look at my schedule face all the shit I had to do because I was worried I’d break down and lose my grip. While I’m sure some of you reading this have way busier lives with way bigger responsibilities, it was super hard for me to deal with the constant feeling of impending doom that seemed to accompany every obligation I had.

TGOO’s latest release is a fantastic example of how music in this genre should be mixed. Every instrument sits in the perfect spot on this record, and although the album constantly takes dizzying turns, it holds together just well enough to keep you along for the ride. This record 's sense of feeling powerless in the face of something inscrutable was very relateable for me.
7Ne Obliviscaris

Of course, being busy meant I didn’t have as many chances to see some of my favorite bands perform this year. Among the bands I didn’t get a chance to see, missing Neurosis and Converge bummed me out the most. However, I did manage to catch Ne Obliviscaris a few weeks back and they blew me away. This album is probably their weakest offering so far, but it’s still damn good.
6White Ward
Futility Report

For some reason I settled on making white nationalist online communities my target area of study. Why would I do that? I don’t know, masochism? Anyways, while it’s a very interesting topic, it’s been tough on me to actively search for, read, watch, and analyze that stuff.
While my YouTube recommendations list has probably been forever scarred from watching all that crap, I have YouTube to thank for showing me Futility Report a few months back. The black metal sections on this may not be special enough on their own to warrant attention, but the fact that the jazzy lounge sections fit so well is really quite impressive. Also, that bass tone… hnnngggghhhh
5Shroud Ritual
Five Suns

Despite having friends and family who were there for me this year, depression has a way of making you feel isolated and worthless. Numerous times, I remember my significant other telling me that they felt powerless to help me out when it would flare up really bad. Probably the heaviest time was when she told me that she frequently worries I won’t be there anymore when she gets home after work. I reassured her, “I’m not gonna just up and leave you like that” -- to which she responded. “No, I mean I’m worried you’re going to kill yourself”. That was especially rough for me, and to this day, I feel like I still haven’t fully grasped what I felt when she told me that.

Shroud Ritual is a solo instrumentalist project that mixes various forms of metal (mostly black) with well-executed progressive elements. Each track is unique, and the inspired drum parts and killer solos on guitar and bass really make this a stand-out.
The Circle

The combination of having my mental health hit rock bottom and seeing the way it affected the people around me made me realize that I had to do something about it. It took a lot of willpower but I brought myself to sign up and go to a few different types of therapy this year. I’m still a mess, but I’m trying to work through it.

Before this record, I considered Heretoir to be another derivative blackgaze project with a few cool instrumental interludes peppered through their past works. I am happy to say I have since changed my mind upon listening to this record. There are some fantastic moments on here, and even though I’ve replayed it to death, the ending half of Laniakea Dances still blows me away every time I put it on.
3No Funeral

Like many users, I do a large amount of my music listening in the car. Be it the weather, time of day, or just state of mind -- sometimes a song that comes on fits so perfectly with that moment that you can’t help but be in awe. Nonexistent turned an otherwise boring 45 minute drive across the state into a deep, peaceful, and introspective experience. I don’t listen to a great deal of ambient music, so for all I know, this record is nothing special, but it just clicks so well for me. It sounds like visiting an abandoned cathedral, floating through space.
The Great FIsh...

Sometimes the best thing to listen to when I’m down is something fun and carefree. I recall listening to this on my long walks across campus and grinning like an idiot. It’s just so delightfully campy. The goofy synthesizer leads/vocals, the whole Jaws thing they’re going for -- I could see why somebody else might hate it but I find it so endearing.That being said, it’s far from toothless.The heavy sections are charged with a crunching ferocity, and on top of that, the production gives the whole thing a rusted, barnacle-encrusted exterior that fits it so well. I really wanted to do a review of this but never found the time.
Savage Sinusoid

Breakcore, baroque music, tremolo riffs, blast beats, opera singing, and sitars. The fact that Gautier takes these seemingly disparate elements and combines them into something so fun and enjoyable is really just inspiring to me on so many levels. When I felt paralyzed by my anxiety and depression this year, the sheer amount of authenticity and creativity on this record helped me break out of that rut. This is so cheesy that I’m saying this about a metal album of all things, but it honestly helped me realize that getting the most of what you want out of life means sometimes letting that creative side of you take over, and tearing down our own self-constructed, personal prisons. For me, that is what this record embodies, and that is why chose it as my personal AOTY. Also, the chicken noises.
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