2017 in review

Date:2018-01-11 00:16:05
I'll admit up front that I didn't spend as much time looking for music in 2017, so most of the list is just new releases from familiar bands (familiar to me, at least). Probably I'll bolster this list with additions from other year-end lists at some point, but here we go.

What I liked, roughly in order:

Traun - The Lilac Moon
Traun - The Black Metal Princess
Traun - Escape From Spa 9
So Dave finally released his trilogy. I’d given up on that ever happening, but I just happened to google it on a lark and there it was! He shortened the band name and rearranged and re-recorded parts from the fantastic debut, while adding in all the new tracks for the other 2 albums. The rearrangements of the original tracks sound great, as does the new material. For those who aren’t familiar, The Deserts of Traun released Part 3 back in 2003 with plans to then record and release Parts 1 & 2 after, but those plans got delayed. Dave, the man behind it, was the drummer for Estradasphere, who also played in Sculptured and Agalloch for a time, iirc. It’s an instrumental disc that spans a ton of genres (metal and not), but fans of Estradasphere will feel pretty at home with a lot of that. Different instruments or styles represent different characters, and it plays out as an epic scifi story, without any lyrics. Maybe that’s a bit of a gimmick, but it works for me and it makes the overall whole feel more cohesive despite the abrupt stylistic shifts throughout. So we’ve seen half of Watchtower’s Mathematics, Braindance released Master of Disguise, and the Traun trilogy is complete. Will 2018 be the year Spiral Architect finally releases the long-delayed sophomore disc? A man can dream.

Kreator - Gods of Violence
Kreator has evolved quite a bit over the years, but I never thought they’d be more on the melodic thrash side. Their best since Coma of Souls, IMO. Some of the lyrics are pretty inane, but man, those hooks. This one made me revisit some of their back catalog I had previously passed on. Their weird era actually clicked with me this time (Renewal, Cause for Conflict, and Outcast). Their comeback era still isn’t quite there for me (Violent Revolution, Enemy of God, and Phantom Antichrist). And Endorama is still just terrible.

Overkill - Grinding Wheel
I initially dismissed this as it’s more mid-paced and plodding than I usually like from Overkill, and the lyrics are even more blue-collar than normal for Overkill, but in the end, the infectious riffs stuck in my head and kept drawing me back.

Ayreon - The Source
The best Ayreon in a while, but not as good as The Human Equation. But might be second place for me. It took a while to grow on me, but it has in a big way.

Fleshkiller - Awaken
Extol member side project that sounds a lot like Extol. And I like Extol a lot. This is pretty great.

Howls of Ebb / Khthoniik Cerviiks - With Gangrene Edges / Voiidwarp (split)
Two of the craziest weirdo blackened death metal bands around today join forces for a split cd? Yep. Love it.

Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pacifisticuffs
They’ve taken a bit of a different direction this time out, mostly due to the change in female singers, but they still know how to make some weird, yet insanely catchy, tunes. It doesn’t touch Sing-Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious for me, but that’s a pretty hard one to live up to.

The Faceless - In Becoming a Ghost
Even mid-level The Faceless stands out from the tech death pack. I don’t like this as much as Autotheism or the untouchable Akeldama, but it’s better than Colonizing the Sun.

Leprous - Malina
Another solid effort from Leprous. I don’t like it as much as The Congregation or Tall Poppy Syndrome, but probably more than the others.

Thantifaxath - Void Masquerading as Matter
Another stellar release of weirdo black metal. It isn’t as immediately amazing as Sacred White Noise was, and I haven’t had much time with it yet, but I like it.

Vexovoid - Call of the Starforger
If Black Fast is Vektor-lite, is this Black Fast-lite? Still, neither Vektor nor Black Fast released anything this year, so this is filling a gap I didn’t realize I was missing. Their EP from a few years back, despite lacking the same level of polish, is also good.

Thinking Plague - Hoping Against Hope
I’ve never gotten into them previously, but I’m digging this one, despite the frankly crappy singer. Musically, this reminds me of some of the RIO bands of times past mixed with some Math Rock.

Schnellertollermeier - Rights
Another interesting take on minimalist math rock. Not for those who require vocals, or melody, or structure :D

Drottnar - Monolith I
More great tech black metal from these guys, but why so short?

Mastodon - Emperor of Sand
Another solid outing from Mastodon. It’s more of the same from the last few discs. I think I might be tiring of them, but I’m a sucker and bought it anyway.

Archspire - Relentless Mutation
Pretty samey with their last one, but that was pretty excellent. It barely squeaks in. Pretty insane tech death for those unfamiliar.

Primus - The Desaturating Seven
Another solid outing from Primus. They’ll probably never relive their glory days, but they continue to put out solid releases despite a weaker period in the late 90s. It’s Primus, so you should know what to expect by now.

Mastodon - Cold Dark Place (EP)
Mellower than their normal fare, with a bit of folkiness to mix things up. I like it enough to buy it for completism, but it doesn’t really stand out from them.

Theory in Practice - Crescendo Dezign
More solid tech death from these veterans. Not a fan of the digital-only releases, but maybe I need to get over my CD addiction already.

Cynic - Uroboric Forms
Demo compilation from everything pre-Focus.

Exivious - Chrysalis - The Early Demos
They released their demos for a moderately high price, but I wanted to support them and I liked their Cynic-clone demos.

Sanctuary - Inception
The demo that got Dave Mustaine interested, remastered. This version is better than Refuge Denied, IMO, but that might just be the remastering talking.

What I passed on:

The Mantle - S/T
Instrumental prog/shred from Kenny G’s son. WTF? It’s fine enough, but I lose interest after a couple tunes.

Arkaik - Nemethea
More tech death. It’s pretty good stuff, reminds me of The Faceless a bit. Can’t seem to get into it for whatever reason.

Inanimate Existence - Underneath a Melting Sky
Another solid tech death outing from these guys, but not really sticking with me either.

Ultyma - Liberation
EP of semi-complex galloping thrash from Beyond Creation guitarist. Decent enough on first listen, but kind of forgettable.

Need - Hegaiamas​:​a song for freedom
Decent enough prog metal loved by the PM crowd. Nothing wrong with it, but meh.

Gorod - Kiss the Freak
EP of thrash tunes from tech death masters. Not good.

Entheos - Dark Future
Um… what? Entheos goes industrial metal/electronica?

Dark Element - Dark Element
Nightwish’s 2nd singer tries to out Nightwish Nightwish.

Bestial Invasion - Contra Omnes
I liked their debut well enough, but this one seems kind of a mess.

Crystal Fairy
New project from Omar (Mars Volta) and some folks from The Melvins and other bands I’m not familiar with. Pretty hipster-ish, but not my kind of hipster-ish.

Witherfall - Nocturnes and Requiems
Pretty good powerthrash that sounds like a combo of Helstar and Nevermore with a twist of maybe November’s Doom? It’s enjoyable enough to listen to, but doesn’t stick with me.

Pillorian - Obsidian Arc
Agalloch frontman’s new band. Sounds a lot like Agalloch. Don’t really get much from this style any more, honestly.

SikTh - The Future in Whose Eyes
Better than the last EP, but not up to par with their classics. They feel more like a Sikth clone at this point than Sikth proper. I had this on the buy list for a while, but ultimately decided I didn’t need it.

Panzerballett - X-Mas Death Jazz
Their Christmas songs are always the worst part of their discs, so not surprisingly, this is their worst disc so far. First time I passed on Panzerballett.

Novembers Doom - Hamartia
It’s good, in that way that November’s Doom is always good. I’ve come to realize that I always like their discs when they come out, but whenever I want to reach for them, I always put on The Pale Haunt Departure. I think I can pass on this one, even though it’s good.

Cleric - Retrocasual
I liked these guys back in their early days, but I’d forgotten about them. They came up on some year end lists. Reminds me a lot of early Time of Orchids, plus some Dillinger Escape Plan. I think I must be tired of the style because it’s not doing much for me.

Sons of Apollo - Psychotic Symphony
Kind of a mash-up of Dream Theater and Symphony X. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing exciting about it either.

And 1 that is borderline still, I can't seem to make up my mind:

Akercocke - Renaissance in Extremis
I’ve never gotten into them before, but they’re highly praised, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Mixed feelings on it. There’s some great stuff, but man that singer.

That's all I got this year.


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