*By Tyler Hammer
I am probably the only person who writes about music that decided to wait until 2018 to release their best of list of 2017 but I did it. It was insanely hard to limit this section and this is limited to strictly metal acts. 2017 brought some crazy releases from new and older bands but I decided to stick to newer/underground releases. If you’re into more extreme metal you probably checked out the new Morbid Angel or Dying Fetus records among others already so no point in mentioning those. Hope you enjoy reading and as always check out the bands listed below.
10. Black Cilice – Banished From Time
Cloaked in mystery and playing music akin to the early styles of black metal, Black Cilice may come off as a typical run-of-the-mill black metal band. Rather simplistic in songwriting this band is able to create a mood and atmosphere that is hard to produce and come off genuine. The vocals are pained wails as opposed to the typical scream or shriek that you would hear. These vocals mixed with some excellent tremolo riffs and cavernous production creates an interesting release that offers the listener more upon multiple listens. Black Cilice are able to satisfy my desire for raw black metal while offering more than what most of the bands in this genre can bring.
9. The Body – A Home on Earth
The Body are a two piece sludge/noise/drone band from Portland who are constantly releasing music and bringing new sounds with each release. With their collaborations over the last few years and their most recent full length No One Deserves Happiness we have seen a departure from their iconic downtuned guitar and drum style they are known for. With A Home on Earth we see a return to their roots with slow churning drums layered with thick guitars and heaps of noise. The production is fairly lofi in regards to their most recent releases, but doesn’t detract from the atmosphere they are trying to create. Tracks like Die By Ourselves and Plague incorporate more noise and samples than other songs, but the majority is drums and guitars. It’s refreshing and fulfilling as a long time fan to listen to A Home on Earth. This release harkens back to their monolith sophomore release All The Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood, which first convinced me to pay attention to everything they have to offer. A Home on Earth cements my opinion, you should be paying close attention.
8. Incinerated – Lobotomise
Australia comes through with some intense face smashing grind. This band is the definition of brutality, not a second is wasted in its near 18 minute run time. The biggest comparison in sound is Mortician and that could even be extended to songwriting as well. Originally started with a drum machine, we see Christoph (Internal Rot, Roskopp, Doubled Over, etc) filling in on that role and he brings it. Production wise this album is perfect with a huge emphasis on extremely low tuned guitars and guttural vocals. It may seem messy at times but this is how grindcore should be; Brutal and not for cowards.
7. Chaos Moon – Eschaton Memoire
Hailing from Philadelphia, Chaos Moon are a great example of what modern black metal can be. If you follow this genre at any level you might know how varied it can be, with the latest trend in the last 5+ years to be an incorporation of post rock and shoegaze. Chaos Moon are able to bridge the gap between a lot of those styles, combining melodic elements with production that focuses on atmosphere while still retaining the grit of older styles. Guitars, bass, and keyboards fill the listener with captivating harmonies and riffs while the drumming compliments the music with creative fills and powerful blasts. The album is orchestrated so the songs almost merge together to create what seems like one songs as opposed to many. Chaos Moon are able to rise above trends, avoiding overused tropes and images to create a solid album front to back with compelling songwriting and solid production.
6. Artificial Brain – Infrared Horizon
If any band could capture the sound of attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion then it is Artificial Brain. While this band is very technical in their playing the songs are jam packed with catchy melodies and riffs. This is a band that clearly worked hard on writing solid songs as opposed to a trying to impress with playing ability. The drummer works with the songs as opposed to outshining the rest of the band and there are lot of fun production tricks in songs like Mist like Mercury and Estranged From Orbit. To top it all off you have some of the best “gurgle” style vocals that are rarely seen in death metal. Hopefully the next album comes sooner than later as this band gets more impressive as time goes on.
5. Full of Hell – Trumpeting Ecstasy
Full of Hell has been around since 2009 and it’s been interesting following them over the last 4 or 5 years and seeing how they have progressed. With Trumpeting Ecstasy we see them reach their heaviest sound yet. The band has reduced it’s hardcore influences even further, now incorporating a more death metal sound. Blasts are plentiful on here where with older albums they seemed to be more of an afterthought. There is more experimentation with elements like samples, noise and female vocals which give the album a depth to it as opposed to a typical grindcore album. Every release we see the band get heavier and I cannot imagine what the next release will be like.
4. Tetragrammacide – Primal Incinerators of Moral Matrix
India and South East Asia have had a huge influx of black and death metal bands creating some of the most twisted sounds in recent years. Tetragrammacide are one of those bands. Their previous EP Typhonian Wormholes was nearly 20 minutes of absolute chaos but we see a huge leap in production on this new album. Luckily they don’t lose any intensity with the more polished sound. Furious blast beats and disjointed near constant tremolo riffs bombard the listener, only giving solace in short interludes that keep the listen wondering what is coming next. With song titles like Cyberserking Strategic Kalpa-Terminator (Advanced Acausality Increment Mechanism) and Intra-Dimensional Vessel of Were-Robotics, N-Logics and Assorted Lattice Intelligences it’s hard to tell what is coming next with this band. While I was looking forward to something more raw as seen in previous releases the focus on songwriting has paid off tremendously and keeps your attention at all times. This is an album that keeps you on your feet the entire time it is playing.
3. Contaminated – Final Man
Australia churns out another top notch band with Contaminated. Here we have grotesque death metal with a timbre reminiscent of the HM2 style guitar tone that was popularized by Swedish bands in the 90s. The biggest difference is that Contaminated takes what those bands and their copycats do and amps it up to 11. The emphasis with this band is speed, with blasts and dbeats hammering your ears constantly. When they go slow, they drag you under the mud and grime often times prolonging the riffs and building enormous tension in the song. As far as death metal goes, it doesn’t get more brutal than this.
2. Spectral Voice – Eroded Corridors of Unbeing
Spectral Voice is death/doom at its finest. Dense and atmospheric but still able to rip your head off at any moment. 5 tracks in nearly 50 minutes and every moment is engrossing. This style of metal tends to be boring at times with bands lingering on riffs for far too long, unable to move the songs forward; with Spectral Voice that is not the case. They build tension with slower riffs and then grab you with powerful double bass and blast beats. The leads and melodies are catchy, especially when it comes to the clean guitar tone which cuts right through the grim atmosphere. A perfect blend of depressive doom with head crushing death metal.
1. Tomb Mold – Primordial Malignity
Tomb Mold have quickly become one of the best death metal acts in the last couple years. With their demo The Bottomless Perdition you had a solid Scandinavian style death metal band. Within a year we see them release Primordial Malignity which took that sound and infused it with a more modern twist. Riffs are more technical, tempos are faster, and production is top notch. The vocals and drum come through the mix just right with chaotic solos slicing through the thick guitars and bass. With 8 songs in over thirty minutes once this album starts it does not stop, barraging the listener with cacophonous filth. This is not an attempt at emulating an older style of death metal, but an evolution of what that style can bring to the modern scene. With this band still in it’s infancy it’s easy to say that whatever is next for this band will be something to check out.
2017 was a fantastic year and there are countless bands that I haven’t been able to check out fully to even consider on the list. 2018 will undoubtedly bring just as many incredible releases.