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01.06.19 Dirge - Post-Metal’s Non-Isis Best Ke09.24.18 Classic 50's Rock n' Roll?
08.19.18 Ambient Death Metal?12.12.17 Jacob Hollows' Top 50 of 2017
05.18.17 Power Electronics12.16.16 Secondhand Grief
12.17.15 Jacob Hollows' Top 50 of '1508.25.15 American Football?
12.18.14 Jacob Hollows' Top 50 Of 201412.18.14 Jacob Hollows' Top 50 Of 2014
09.19.14 Favorite Albums Thus Far09.19.14 Favorite Albums Thus Far
12.18.13 Top 50 Of 201312.30.12 Top 10 Of 2012

Jacob Hollows' Top 50 of 2017

It was a great year, with newcomers and veterans alike. I did not have a year-end list last year, so it is good to get back into the saddle again. Enjoy! Let me know what y'all think.
50Winds of Plague
Blood of My Enemy

Riding the tailcoat of a slough of awful releases, Johnny Plague and company release the best album of their careers, balancing tasteful crunch with competent technicality and just the right touch of symphonic drama.
49Gloom (USA)

Although somewhat lacking the viciousness of a great death/groove record, these Washington DC natives more than make up for it with powerful songwriting, versatile vocals, and otherworldly progressive leanings.

Although Markus Sorova’s new project’s ambitious reach exceeds its grasp, the debut album is an intimidating miasmic, churning, and dense death metal outing with an ear for psychedelic imagery.
47White Ward
Futility Report

Adding jazzy sax may seem counterintuitive to black metal, but this Ukrainian quartet does so with much gusto. While their furious black metal approach could use some honing, their experimentalism shines in great arrangement and pitch-black atmosphere.
The Mountains Are Beautiful Now

Although stuck in a bit of an identity crisis between metal and post-rock, both identities are executed evocatively and hypnotically, conjuring both the glacial winds and foreboding mountains of Iceland.
Speak Not of the Laudanum Quandary

Channeling everyone’s inner A Forest of Stars, Woods of Ypres, and Primordial. While their rookie nature rears its baby-faced head throughout, these Glasgow avant-garde black metallers take us on a cryptic journey through the foggy streets, shadowy alleys, and stark opium dens of Victorian London.
44Boris the Blade

The never-ending “Snatch” joke of a band does their best impression of fellow Aussies Thy Art is Murder and outdoes them, creating a pummeling but patient deathcore album that revels in the darkness while beating listeners over the head with it.
43Yellow Eyes
Immersion Trench Reverie

While the New Yorkers’ catalog has been hit or miss up to this point, the latest is an exercise in tortured black metal with progressive duality, and stands with “Sick With Bloom” as one of their finest.
42END (NJ)
From the Unforgiving Arms of God

With members from household names like Fit for an Autopsy, Counterparts, Misery Signals, Blacklisted, and Structures, you would expect some pretentiousness, but you won’t find it with End. Combining hardcore pace and deathcore wallop with some of the most brutal vocal performances of the year, this EP never overstays its welcome.
41John Frum
A Stirring In The Noos

Rising from the ashes of The Dillinger Escape Plan and The Faceless, John Frum creates a dissonant and eerie death metal album in the vein of Ulcerate, Gorguts, and Demilich. It will take time and experience to stand with the greats, but this is a fantastic start.
Thin Black Duke

Although far more mellow than any previous albums, Eugene Robinson and his troop of twisted troubadours create a frighteningly bluesy, but also strikingly (comparatively) melodic, noise rock album in the same grotesque way we’ve come to associate with these San Francisco noise terrorists.
39White Moth Black Butterfly

More contemplative and cohesive than “One Thousand Wings”, Daniel Tompkins fuses ambient post-rock with indie rock and pop leanings, creating an accessible sound with transcendental ramifications.
With All Their Might

Refusing to adhere to flashy technicality or pretentious atmosphere, this UK trio grooves and grunts its way to a resoundingly punishing and tastefully heavy listen.
Renaissance in Extremis

After 10 years of silence, these mind-blowing Brits create an expansive and soul-shredding album to illustrate the spiral of insanity, their blackened death metal trend of thrashy riffs and progressive songwriting in full bloom.
36August Burns Red
Phantom Anthem

Perhaps not as successful as their last two releases, Lancaster natives showcase a new uplifting style of writing, as always showing off impressive musicianship and Jake Luhr’s “only get better with age” vocals. “Phantom Anthem” is a worthy and unique addition to ABR’s already outstanding catalog as the band remains one of the best acts in metalcore.
35Lorna Shore
Flesh Coffin

Forsaking the evasive and eerie density of “Psalms” for a more accessible listen, these New Jersey deathcore up-and-comers create an eerily crafted but astoundingly listenable sophomore LP, never compromising their unique blackened approach to the genre.
Savage Sinusoid

It’s still breakcore, baroque, and death metal. It’s still French and utterly ridiculous. I’m happy.

33Ex Eye
Ex Eye

New York quartet (including renowned saxophonist Colin Stetson) creates a genre-bending and intriguing debut that’s not quite black metal, not quite jazz, not quite post-metal but roams and haunts the spaces in between with poignant baritone sax, robust riffs, versatile drumming, and monolithic atmosphere.

Taking an almost entirely lush post-rock approach to their music, Russian experimental collective creates a sanguine but contemplative that turns away from the blackened doom leanings of 2015’s “Sorni Na.”
The Underside of Power

Combining ambivalent post-punk and soulful gospel seems odd, but is a match made in heaven for these Georgian activists, creating a socially conscious but hauntingly deep listen that reflects the racial and social tensions of the current political scene.
All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell

Comparatively more pensive than their debut, this Massachusetts trio creates a darker take on their sound with more atmospheric electronic leanings that stand in contrast to Lynn’s stunning vocals and rock-derived beats.
29Vince Staples
Big Fish Theory

I am not the biggest fan of rap, but Staples’ latest showcases superb songwriting and heart thumping beats that illustrate his social commentary on race and discrimination. The world is his fishbowl and he observes the squirming scales of modern society.
28Artificial Brain
Infrared Horizon

Brutal and technical, New York death metal unit shows off a stunningly automated and mechanized sound completely devoid of and untouched by human hands. Crushingly cold and beyond apocalyptic.
The Dusk in Us

Continuing their trend of quality mathy metalcore with an emotional songwriting style, the iconic and influential Massachusetts quartet adds another quality release to stand alongside their extraordinary discography.
26Blaze of Perdition
Conscious Darkness

A formidable black metal album with great musicianship, outstanding songwriting, and unique theme, these Polish blasphemers’ fourth full length is a humble and honest but dark search for God.
25Spectral Voice
Eroded Corridors of Unbeing

Spacy and dense, Colorado death/doom experts release an impressive debut LP equal parts grimy OSDM and churning expansive doom.

An evocative blend of death/doom and post-metal, this Finnish foursome create an experience with all of the crushing qualities associated with “metal” and the thoughtful quiet qualities of “post”, resulting in an expansive journey through things progressive and dejected.

The eighth full-length from French brutality veterans, their latest features a refined balance of blasting deathgrind, creepy samples, and enough experimentation to avoid monotony, succeeding in tasteful brutality and exciting genre innovation.
22Shadow of Intent

Honing what made “Primordial” so good, our favorite Halo enthusiasts create a captivatingly technical, eerily symphonic, and utterly bloodthirsty deathcore album with one of the best vocal performances of the year.
Relentless Mutation

Bringing back what made technical death metal so much fun in the mid-2000s while making it their own vicious blend of chaos, technicality, and crunch, Canadian tech veterans create possibly the most listenable death metal album of the year.
Dark Towers, Bright Lights

An innovative blend of atmospheric Neurosis-style post-metal and ravenous early Mastodon-style sludge metal, the result is a hypnotically dark and raw monolith of a listen. One of the bands to rise from the ashes of the mighty Omega Massif, alongside Blacksmoker and Phantom Winter.
19Falls of Rauros
Vigilance Perennial

Stepping out of the long shadow of Agalloch, Maine black metal/folk quartet creates a heavy but contemplative album, creating their own brand of melody and elegant folk inclusion.
18Full of Hell
Trumpeting Ecstasy

Perhaps not as noise-based as prior efforts have been, Yankee grind veterans release a punishing soundscape with just enough experimentation to keep us hungering for more.

Toning down the ambition from “Animale(s)”, these furious Frenchmen deliver a lethal and doomy blackened hardcore record with punishing crunch steeped in filthy sludge.
16Desolate Shrine
Deliverance From The Godless Void

Returning to the more feedback- and static-laden approach of “The Sanctum of Human Darkness” after the comparatively cleaner “In the Heart of the Netherworld”, these Finnish pessimists create a grimy and mysterious death metal album straight from the godless voids.
The Almanac

More melodic and atmospheric than “Peripety”, these Tempe, Arizona newcomers hone their sound to a heavy and hard-hitting death metal crux washed in waves of beautiful and uplifting ambience for a journey across the stars.
14Cursed Moon
Rite of Darkness

Fusing Satanic black metal and classic post-punk may seem like an odd combination, but this Los Angeles native conjures a unique witchy atmosphere, utilizing spacy synths, croaking and echoing black metal vocals, and booming percussion for an evil nostalgic throwback to the 80s.
13Fit for an Autopsy
The Great Collapse

Perfecting their own brand of churning and brooding deathcore, these New Jersey veterans take what made “Absolute Hope, Absolute Hell” so powerful and improve upon it in every way.

Sporting one of the most diverse vocal approaches of the year, this post-hardcore collective paints a frantic and chaotic portrait of depression, anxiety, and the poor soul struggling between them.
11Blut Aus Nord
Deus Salutis Meae

Returning to the industrial drone atmosphere of “The Work That Transforms God”, French experimental black metal veterans create one of the densest, most abyssal, most piercing, most liturgical and coldest albums of the year.
10Our Hollow, Our Home

Spewing out the most filler-free metalcore album of the year spearheaded by a unique vocal approach and melodic hardcore writing, these Southampton newcomers set the standard with an effectively hook-laden, tastefully crunchy LP that sports a lovely fusion of the old and new.
9Bell Witch
Mirror Reaper

Paradoxically gentle at its core, Seattle-based funeral doom duo creates a patient and melancholy album in honor of their fallen member. Taking time and effort to digest and plenty of jagged edges to absorb, this hour and twenty minute monolith is a moving tribute worth the listen.
8The Black Dahlia Murder

Setting a standard for what melodic death metal should sound like, Detroit stalwarts blend killer riffs, mind-melting technicality, fantastic vocals, and infinite replayability to brutal, accessible, and just plain fun results.
7The National
Sleep Well Beast

Using ambivalent but chaotic indie rock, Cincinnati five-piece utilize surprising variety, breathtaking lyricism, and their trademark vocals to show the ups and downs of married life—surviving each day as it comes.
6The Great Old Ones
EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy

Their most cohesive and enigmatic album yet, French post-black metallers take their chthonic methods to new heights (or depths?), conveying Lovecraft's tale of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” with bleak efficiency and crushing immensity.
5Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Luciferian Towers

I was skeptical about these Canadian post-rockers taking on explicit political themes, but their sixth full length hones the dynamics of “’Asunder…” while integrating the enormity of “Lift Your Fists…” to illustrate the downfall of corporatocracy, feudalism, and Western society itself.
4The Ruins Of Beverast

Integrating a visceral tribalism into his industrial black metal/doom sound, Alexander von Meilenwald creates the best blackened music of the year, creating a shamanistic and ancient sound unchallenged by any other release.

Stripping down their dynamic ambient post-rock to the bare beautiful minimum, Tennessee duo creates a strikingly lush, deeply moving, and distinctly sacred sound that speaks something different to each listener.
Mass VI

Noticeably more colorful than the scorched-earth campaign of “Mass V”, Belgian post-metallers add spoken word and provide moments of respite to their trademark sound. Ritualistic, agonized, and stunningly progressive, these guys show with their sixth mass they not slowing down anytime soon.
1Slow (BE)
V - Oceans

Even the most sonically immense releases have seldom been this massive. Combining crushingly slow riffs, vast oceanic ambience, and booming and tortured vocals, this Belgian duo creates an appropriately monolithic, discerningly emotional, and deeply poignant funeral doom ode to the colossal and endless oceans, quietly and humbly sneaking in to win the best album of the year.
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