So, it has been a quiet year for me on here; even musically, or so I thought – I am amazed at how many albums I listened to – as I felt I had only dabbled in new releases. Sometimes it is simply not having enough time, sometimes I lacked the motivation. I have still noticed how incredible this year has been for music across all genres. Though I have dipped in and out of the music scene, I have still been introduced to a considerable amount of bands, both new and old; some who astounded me, others who continued to impress. Long may that continue.
This presentation is somewhat rushed this year, but nonetheless, please enjoy my Top 20 Albums of 2017. Please discuss what your favourites were, and don’t forget to leave suggestions as to what I have missed – trust me, my ‘2017’ Playlist has so many albums that were greatly neglected.
Before we begin I would like to make a special mention to Zeal and Ardor‘s debut release Devil is Fine. It was a phenomenal album with a really interested pretense; chain gang metal, shades of witchcraft, it was awesome. Whilst it came out in 2016, the UK release was 2017, and I can’t remember when I heard it. It wasn’t on my Top 20 last year, and I realised this after writing this list. So, a special shout out to Zeal and Ardor. I listened to this on repeat when it came out so go check it out.
Anyway! Let’s get to it!
20. Blood Comand – Cult Drugs
I listened to this album moments before finalising my AotY list. I regret every second I have not been listening to this album since the second it came out. In fact, I regret not being part of the group that made it. This album may as well be called “Bangerz!” or “Just loads of bloody great whippers!“. It’s criminal it is 20th but my God, what an eclectic album.
19. Glassjaw – Material Control
Another one I listened to moments before compiling my list. There has been a long wait for this release, and I’d say that 15-year wait was paid for (not that I was waiting that long).
18. King Woman – Created in the Image of Suffering
Sometimes I feel this didn’t deserve a place in my Top 20, but there are some genuinely captivating passages on this album. It is quite dark and gloomy (see the title of the album) but there is a beauty to it. When I first heard it I said it was as if Lana del Rey fronted a doom band, which is still something I want to see.
17. Wolves in the Throne Room – Thrice Woven
Evil mate. Multi-layered and intriguing on so many levels. It made me feels cold but the expansiveness gave me room to explore. Not an album you can stick on in the car but definitely one you can put on when you’re freezing to death. Embrace this, it won’t treat you badly, but it will envelop you.
16. Elder – Reflections of a Floating World
It was this or Pallbearer and Elder had a bit more cohesion to it. That and the long instrumental sections were captivating. The songs are very long, but they are still memorable and the instrumentality is a key to this album’s success. Incredibly expansive but there isn’t a dull moment.
15. Run the Jewels – RTJ3
It’s Run the Jewels. Next…
14. Passages – Lucid
Josh Middleton (Sylosis and Architects) released a solo album last year. This album, with Craig Reynolds on drums (Stray from the Path), who also played on Middleton’s solo record, was more up my street. They cited Cult of Luna as one of the bands who it may sound like. This album is pretty huge, but the breakdown in the middle of Eternal Solar Flare destroyed me; truly broke my soul, thank you.
13. Anathema – The Optimist
Spoiler alert, there is no Steven Wilson in this year’s AotY which is unprecedented for me. Anathema, as is their talent, filled that void. This band have made some truly beautiful and emotive music that is not just soulful, but nostalgic and joyful. Anathema make music men can cry … not me though! Shut up!
It’s real good though!
12. Ulver – The Assassination of Julius Caesar
I listened to this album without knowing they used to be a black-metal band, it was Opeth all over again, apart from the fact this album is brilliant. Clearly, they listened to Depeche Mode more than Watain in recent years, but that’s okay because they made this album, which is bloody good. Sexy music.
11. Nassau – Heron
Another one I thought that I would eventually strike off the list but kept hanging around. Very short, very sweet. It is a very delicate album but one that is listenable in a variety of settings, unless you’re about to see Dragged into Sunlight.
10. Jordan Rakei – Wallflower
My mate and I bonded over this album so that’s cool, and we don’t have a lot of crossovers now … apart from Bruno Mars … he’s good, shut up. This album has its roots in jazz music, and Rakei has a beautiful voice as well as a sublime musical gift. It helped me through some tough times. Just all round feel good and certainly reflective.
9. Code Orange – Forever
Good Lord above. Do you like music that drags you into the ring, beats seven shades of sh*t out of you, kisses you on the lips before smashing your face on a concrete floor? Oh, you don’t? Probably better not listen to this album because this will leave the hardiest of men the colour of those awful plum chinos.
Big things from this band, absolutely massive. They have a Grammy nomination!
8. Leprous – Malina
I feel like in another world Leprous will be the Norwegian pop princesses our world truly deserves. Sadly I do not live there, but they are still one of the most intriguing and satisfying progressive metal bands out there. Malina sees Leprous all but relinquishes their heaviest roots whilst giving birth to a fresh originality in their compromise. Though I miss Einar Solberg’s strange harsh vocals, this new album sees the ship steered fully in its new direction, with mad staccato riffing and crazy percussions on the horizon. Take me.
7. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand
Please stop being brilliant. Whilst the last two Mastodon albums have been good, this is a return to their true form. Perhaps it’s because it returned to a conceptual nature? Who knows. But this album is deep and carries serious weight. Some argue its the best Mastodon album and, whilst that can’t be true because it isn’t called Crack the Skye nor was it released in 2009, I can certainly see the argument.
6. Can’t Swim – Fail You Again
When I first started drafting my list, instead of the albums that are above this, I was reminded of their album’s opener, and Hey Amy. Supremely catchy, emotional, evoking and an album that I would be able to show my friends without them getting offended.
5. Converge – The Dusk In Us
Here be one of the year’s most anticipated releases. With Jacob Bannon’s venture into Wear Your Wounds some may have worried Converge would suffer as a consequence. No, not at all, not a Goddamn bit. Still making waves even a quarter century into their career.
4. Employed to Serve – The Warmth of a Dying Sun
Holy Roar Records put out some great albums this year, a lot that would have made my Top 20 in another year. But this album rose above all the others. It’s heavy and angry in a similar way to Code Orange, but there’s musicality and instrumental intricacy that is very understated. The breakdown of the title track is a ruiner live, vocals that will peel the paint off walls and turn a pretty face into a gurning mess. I saw them twice in the space of a week and I’m still not sure how I can still hear (I couldn’t hear for a week after to be fair).
3. Wear your Wounds – WYW
Whilst Converge was fantastic, Wear Your Wounds hit me so much harder. Again, one of those albums that I listened to at just the right time. This album took me to wherever Bannon wanted me to go, and I came out of it a different man. Despite its emotional weight, I don’t think it is too hard to listen to and an open-minded individual should also be able to appreciate this.
2. Jamie Lenman – Devolver
Look who’s back. Look who had an awesome day festival in his name. Look who released a bloody great album. Great riffs, great vocals, great songs (I need a thesaurus). This is probably one of those albums that has “everything” in it. Perfect placement of lulls and angry highs, it is a talent to create something like this. Jamie Lenman is supremely gifted, and it shows on this album. National treasure.
1. The Contortionist – Clairvoyant
Here is another progressive metal band almost removing their heavy roots. Don’t worry though because it’s fine and this album is flawless. Wall to wall this album captivated me. It is musically clever but doesn’t show off, unless it is demonstrating how well everything works together. The vocals are wondrous but never overly explore range or supreme screaming. This album is a perfect balance, and once it has finished you immediately hit the replay album. Normally albums would do well to have flavour, but to me this album is water; pure, refreshing, can’t go more than a week without it, and absolutely imperative to my existence.
Thank you for reading this far. For anyone interested here is a collage of all the albums mentioned above.
Here’s to another great year. Be happy, be healthy and be lucky.