2017: Most Notable and Memorable

There has been a lot of memorable and noteworthy albums I’ve reviewed this year – I kid you not, sometimes we get as many as five shoved in our faces each week. And while I do want to review every single one that comes my way, I’m really just one person taking the time to thoroughly hear and describe a release as fairly and honestly as I would expect my own band’s album to be. Now, to avoid being here all day, I’m going to list one album from each common genre that stood out for me personally. Everyone is welcome to agree or disagree.

To begin, there has been an unusual influx of technical death metal bands knocking on our door for reviews. It’s the closest thing to baroque symphonies as far as metal is concerned, and because it’s always about being instrumentally complex, my choice for the most notable album feels almost like I’m crowning a champion of a heavyweight mixed martial arts tournament – no doubt the juggernaut that viciously pummelled the others. Yes, this behemoth comes in the form of Perfect World Creation by Dark Matter Secret. Every track on that album is an instrumental story told by zigzagging shredderific guitars and forever time-changing blast beats that make you feel like you’ve been swept by a hurricane, spiralled to the bottom of the deepest ocean, and then spat up into a black hole. If you haven’t already, listen to it, it’s been dominating the top tech death charts for months. It will make you feel like your guitar playing is inadequate, but it will also keep you inspired.

The next most common genre as far as requests go is Melodic Death Metal. For me, I have long stopped listening to the famous bands of this genre and only bothered with up-and-coming bands I haven’t previously heard. Now, I’m not saying that to be mean, I’m saying that because these up-and-comers are so damn talented, yet have a hard time getting noticed in this day and age. I really do hope that every decent Melo-Death band gets signed by Nuclear Blast as soon as possible, but the album that stood out the most for me would have to be After The Sun by Trinity Site. It’s beautiful, solid, and near flawless -almost like someone came up to your average melo-death band with a pair of scissors to cut out all the boring redundant bits, and then sticky-taped the edges to make the perfect corners of a wrapped present.

Deathcore truly is a tough one. It’s evolving and slowly defining its own sub-genres. Earlier this year, many (including that Carnifex frontman) had declared that “deathcore is dead”. So this year, every time I was reviewing a deathcore band, I found myself mentioning that despite an incident from a certain band, there have been so many good albums for a year that deathcore is allegedly dead. It’s Been A Fucking Avalanche! Enterprise Earth, Aversions Crown, Oceano, Lorna Shore – and these aren’t even the most talked about. For me personally, the Deathcore band which is most memorable would be Beheading The Goddess. Technically, their EP was released last year, but considering it was smack-bang-in-the-middle of Christmas and New Year’s Eve, we can allow some wiggle room. It’s exactly as Deathcore should be, but without any redundancies. On top of that, they released a single this year which was a whole brutal step up in their sound.

I should also mention the most memorable Progressive Deathcore album. None other than Halfway Human by Within The Ruins. I understand that its very divided; some like it some don’t. Hear me out… It was a couple of days before the easter bunny would arrive and I had just finished yet another rehearsal with my blackened death/thrash metal band at the time. I was without motivation or love in my music for many reasons. Then one day, I came across the Halfway Human album and suddenly realised I was playing the wrong music in this day and age. Halfway Human had a sound that was so fresh and completely new to me. So with little regret, I left my band in search of like-minded musicians, and am now slowly recording an album with a new band. There have been many insanely good albums this year, and simply put, I don’t see Deathcore, Progressive Deathcore, or even Slamming Deathcore dying out anytime soon.

Metalcore is a tough one for a whole other reason. The sad reality is that metalcore bands will never again sound as good as they did in (let’s say) 2006 – in my opinion anyway… maybe the formula that made them so good back then has been done to death and so today’s bands are trying to find a new one. Whatever the case, I feel it’s been a bland year for the genre as most older bands are seemingly out of ideas while many new ones simply lack the edge… However, all hope is not lost though as Cranely Gardens really won me over with their House of Decay EP. The tracks ‘Seven Faces’ and ‘Rapture’ are so powerful that they are my rock when I am in need of inspiration or just having a hard day. Considering that they have shared the stage with the likes of Thy Art Is Murder so soon in their career, I’d say their flare has not gone unnoticed.

Black Metal is a no-brainer, The Great Miasma by Drakonis has been doing exceptionally well despite only having three tracks. Style-wise, it is anything but dull, yet it would appeal to the most elitist of second wave black metal fans. If they’re working on new material, I expect to be crowning them that year as well. Having listened to other black metal albums released this year, I can’t really imagine Drakonis having any serious competition. I am hoping to be proven wrong soon, but I can’t really say I’m expecting.

Suffocation, as far as I’m concerned, remained unchallenged this year as their current album rests on the podium of brutal death metal. Of The Dark Light is simple evidence to show that this band will never slow down nor lose momentum, considering they’re almost as old as my parents, this is truly awesome. Respect… This however is not to say there haven’t been any other good albums, after all, Aborted released an EP this year, and the likes of Katalepsy, Relics of Humanity, and Cenotaph were certainly not slouching, but Of The Dark Light was quite a hard act to follow.

Slamming Brutal Death Metal has been an interesting turnout. Like every other year, there have been so many albums with necropornographic illustrations of cadavers having their way with helpless victims in the most provocative manner possible. The sound is more-or-less the same by most bands, so you can imagine my surprise when I came across one exceptionally unique sounding album. Social Cannibalism by Infestation is one of few albums I’ve heard whose songs are not repetitive to the core. In the slam genre, this is practically unheard of; different vocal approaches along with diversity in the flows. If I put it on shuffle right now, I guarantee you would be able to pick out songs by name after maybe two or three listens of the album. A slam album that’s not repetitive and actually fun to listen to is pretty much an ‘enough said’ from me. If you’ve never been into slam, this is the one to try out.

The plain death metal or old school death metal vacancy now waits second last, but not least. There have been many albums, but only one really sticks to mind, and this is Screaming From The Grave by Narthraal. Even though the style was from an older era, the riffs from that album proved to be nothing less than amazing, even by today’s trends. It’s a genre to be in as few are willing to listen, and most bands in that genre are rather dull, but I would definitely rate this album the highest of old school death metal.

Still. Of all the albums that have stood out for me this year, there has been but one that really shined out even among my favourites. This is Purge and Purify by Voice of Ruin. I am not sure I can really explain what I like about them. People get angry if I say they are a better version of Lamb of God. People roll their eyes if I say it’s a new standard for Groove Metal, and people are just not sold if I say the album is flawless. But whatever, when I look back in the future at 2017, this is the one that will stand out the most for me.

Well, this is it from me. Next year, I hope to review many more albums. If possible at all, I hope to review every single album, EP, or track that comes my way. No promises, but here’s hoping.

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