My top 25 for 2017

Date:2018-01-03 07:50:45
Notice that for the first time ever, I like more albums from Denmark than any other country, the Nordics combined match the total of albums I like from Denmark (7). Normally Sweden and Norway dominates my list, and I make no claim to Denmark being in the same league as them, but this year was good. Also, not one band from the US has made an album on the list, which is also a first, and will most likely never happen again.

1: Persefone - Aathmaa (AND / Progressive melodic death metal)
Big talent from a tiny country. Once again these masters live up to unreal expectations, and set the bar early on in the year. Ambient (Paul Masvidal from Cynic is featured on a few songs), technical, beautiful all at the same time as being a challenging and memorable listen. Phenomenal, as usual.
Prison Skin:

2: Kreator - Gods of Violence (GER / Thrash metal)
Most likely my most listened to album of the year. Kreator is unrelenting with their brand teutonic thrash, and once you get past the unwillingly funny "Satan is real" chorus (otherwise great track), you can break your neck headbanging to this monster. For most thrash bands this could be a magnus opus, for Kreator and Mille, it's just a great day at the office.
Satan is Real

3: Morild - VI (DK / Black metal)
Denmark is experiencing a surge in great black metal, and finally I feel comfortable saying that Denmark - currently - can compete with our Nordic brethren. Morild is a fantastic new band with extremely well executed trve black metal, full with atmospheric shrieking and blast beats. This 3 song EP is maybe the best true atmospheric black metal I've heard since Sigtyr.
Full EP:

4: Archspire - Relentless Mutation (CAN / Death metal)
Smack you in the face übertechnical death metal. Their best since the debut, and the first time I heard it, I felt I was being punched in the stomach. It only got better over time. Excellent.
Remote Tumour Seeker:

5: Sikth - Future in whose Eyes? (UK / Djenty progressive metal)
I was almost anxious before I heard this album, as Death of a Dead Day is one of the most stylesetting and innovative albums ever. I feared they would fall flat, but fortunately they delivered a great album that's almost as good, and stays true to their unique style.

6: Adagio - Life (FRA-US / Prog. metal)
Crowdfunded Life really took me by surprise. After David Readman, I've rapidly lost all interest Adagio, as they declined from an ambitious yet unfulfilled prog. metal band, to a formulaic power-prog band with mediocre singers. Life seems to deliver on the potential of Stephan Fortés abilities and ambitions as a songwriter, in no small part due to the vocal performance of Kelly Carpenter. The result is a great progressive album with some of the best songs of the year. Unfortunately there are few songs that doesn't feel at home, and are better left skipped. This drags it down as a whole, but I fully recommend this album if you in any way like their first two or the music of Finn Zierler, as Beyond Twilight seems to be a big inspiration.
The Ladder:

7: Enslaved - E (NOR / Black metal)
The most innovative and ever progressive black metal band out there once again delivers a fantastic album filled with Norse inspirations, great heavy and almost 70's like riffs and atmosphere not matched by anyone. With that said, I for some reason didn't listen to this as much as I normally do with Enslaved albums. But then again, Riitiir only really got some heavy rotations years after its release, and is one of their best albums for me now.
The River's Mouth

8: Voyager - Ghost Mile (AUS / Prog. metal)
Not as good as V, but still fantastic, and thankfully still in their own style. They do the mix of 80's synth pop and metal so perfectly and seemingly effortless, that I can't help but wonder if there's talk of a symbiosis in their minds. Great album.

9: Slægt - Domus Mysterium (DK / Black Metal)
Slægt is another one of those black metal bands of the new wave here in Denmark, and while Slægt are very young, they have already established a great and unique sound that is best defined as black metal infused with NWOBHM. Imagine if the early NWOBHM riffs were put into a black metal context and delivered by young guys who has a reason to be very confident in their musical and compositional abilites, and you have Slægt. If you ever heard their fantastic EP from yesteryear, Beautiful and Damned, you'll know what to expect, but do know that they have improved on pretty much every aspect of their sound.
The Tower:

10: Loch Vostok - Strife (SWE / Progressive avantgarde)
Easily the best by Loch Vostok ever. As always, they are hard to digest as they are so weird and so unique while having a harsh and progressive approach to their songwriting, that could make me describe them as avantgarde. On Strife, Loch Vostok embraces all their strengths, and focuses on them. The result is a varied album that delivers on the technical front (those drums... fuck), the weirdness factor and most importantly the melodies.

11: Leprous - Malina (NOR / Prog. metal)
From the Flame is probably the best song of the year. Leprous at their best, and nobody holds a candle to the masters of neo-prog when this is the standard. Oddly, I am not enjoying Malina as much as I have earlier releases. Something is missing, whether it be because Øystein Landsverks absence, or if I'm just not huge on the current direction with an extreme usage of their staccato riffs remains unknown to me. With that said, Leprous, on their worst of days, is still far above most bands in the genre on their best of days, and Malina is another testament to that statement.
From the Flame:

12: Myrkur - Mareridt (DK / Folk-Black metal)
With Mareridt, Myrkur further establishes what makes her unique: Atmospheric black metal with choirs and heavy influences from folklore. She has a knack for paitning sonic landscape pictures that depicts the Danish nature with flat heaths and meadows as opposed to forests and mountains. The black metal elements are put a bit on the back burner on Mareridt, which suits the music well, and it is so damn well done.

13: Thantifaxath - Void Masquerading As Matter (CAN / Black Metal)
The weird as fuck Canadians are back with their unique brand of black metal on a new EP. Psychedelic black metal with abstract compositions making nods to classical music in certain passages. Thantifaxath should be experienced, not described, as that is almost impossible.
Ocean of Screaming Spheres:

14: Eclipse - Monumentum (SWE / Melodic Hard Rock/Metal)
If you know and like Eclipse, this is no surprise. Contagious hard rock melodies that makes no excuses for what they are. Not as good as Armageddonize, but damn good in its own right.
Never look back:

15: Impureza - La Caída de Tonatiuh (FRA-ESP / Death metal)
Flamenco-death metal in Spanish... from France? There is some solid homage paid to the heritage of two of the members of the band, which can be heard in the heavy influences from Flamenco music, which is incorporated into the riffs and song structures. Very well done and never becomes a schtick that was tacked on to make them stand out. Great stuff.
Sangra Para Los Dioses:

16: Subterranean Masquerade - Vagabond (ISR-NOR / Folk-Prog. Metal)
A more folky, proggy and rocky approach to the klezmer-metal hybrid sound than Orphaned Land. Great stuff, and inexcusably overlooked. Especially when we consider that Kjetil Nordhus of Green Carnation fame is the singer.

17: Caligulas Horse - In Contact (AUS / Prog. rock)
Just a solid progressive rock album, but this time around I really feel like the music fits Jim Greys exceptionally pleasant vocals great. The Hands are the Hardest is one of my favorite songs of the year:

18: Anubis Gate - Covered in Black (DK / Prog-Power)
This is the Anubis Gate album I've enjoyed the most since Torben Askholms departure from the band. They finally found a sound that makes them stand out again, and I give them a warm welcome back in my heart, after a series of albums that did little for me.
The Combat:

19: Solbrud - Vemod (DK / Black metal)
Another Danish black metal band. Just great atmospheric black metal.

20: Hallatar - No Stars Upon the Bridge (FIN / Doom metal)
Funeral doom in the most literal sense of the word as you can get. Juha Raivio lost his partner in 2016 to cancer, and wrote music to some of her lyrics as a therapeutic approach to dealing with this blowing loss. The result is an emotional and heartfelt album, which is by far its biggest strength. Doom metal the way it was supposed to be.

21: Need - Hegaimas: a Song for Freedom (GRE / Prog. metal)
At first listen, this blew me away. Fantastic vocals and intricate compositions made for a wonderful coctail of music. It didn't grow on me as much as I'd hoped, but it's still a fantastic progressive metal album.

22: The Petulant - Dictum (DK / Death Metal)
Straight up death metal debut album by members of Sacrificial and Crocell. The riffs are groovy, sometimes even melodic or blackened and some nice techy touches here and there. The solos are outstanding.
My Caesar:

23: Portrait - Burn the World (SWE / Heavy metal)
Sometimes a trio is all it takes to make solid metal. Classic heavy metal that just kicks ass. Burn the World is my first encounter with Portrait, but it kept me hooked a lot during the fall with their speedy riffs and energetic high pitch riffs. Think Mercyful Fate and late Judas Priest.
Burn the World:

24: Theory - The Art of Evil (DK / Prog. metal)
One of the best pure progressive metal albums of the year, and a great debut. Niklas Sonne from Defecto sings on this one, and his voice could not be more suited than here (a shame he is already gone). Classic prog ala Dream Theater and you will most likely find no surprises musically. Just very well made.
The Art of Evil:

25: Benighted - Necrobreed (FRA / Death metal-grindcore)
I've always found Benighted to be bland death metal with nothing special to offer. The clichés just bored me to tears. But this time, the pig squeals, excessive blast beats and unrelenting tempo and energy just clicked for me. I went back to their previous material, and it still bore me. Go figure...

Honorable mentions in no particular order
Moonspell - 1755
One Desire - s/t
Knight Area - Heaven and Beyond
Ten - Gothica
Ghost Iris - Blind World
Secret Sphere - The nature of time
Rage - Seasons of the black
Soen - Lykaia
Overkill - The Grinding Wheel
Once Human - evolution
Hour of Penance - cast the first stone
Nightrage - The Venomous
Labyrinth - Architecture of a god
Pyramaze - Contingent
Avatarium - Hurricanes and halos
Vintersorg - Till Fjälls del II
Toxik - Breaking class (ep)
Harlott - extinction
Suffocation - ... of the dark light
Unleash the Archers - Apex
Ad cinerem - shadows of doubt
Nightbringer - Terra Damnata
Beast in Black - Berserker
Ghost bath - Starmourner
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