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She Likes It Heavy

Jan 17, 2018

This is the “Best of 2017” Part 1: winners in my categories  Next week is Part 2, where I let you know my favorite album of the year!

Best Thrash
KREATOR (Germany), album - Gods of Violence
Song: Gods of Violence (0:25-6:07)
— It was Sophie’s Choice between this and Power Trip, but everyone picked Power Trip. I went for the legendary band. Chomping power riffs and anthemic heavy metal says that old people can still make badass rippin’ metal. Fuck Metallica.

Power Trip (Dallas), album - Nightmare Logic — Power Trip skips out, fists flailing, legs kicking, tongue in cheek, savage and gleefully groovy. Catchy to the extreme, but every song has its own story, powerful and just made to blast your face in.
Foreseen (Finland), album - Grave Danger — Finnish band Foreseen does a crossover style of thrash, blending in the energy of hardcore into their dirty as hell gritty thrash with tons of ripping groove that you just tighten your hand into a fist to punch the air. Blows Iron Reagan's new album out of the water in terms of crossover perfection.
Earthling (VA), album - Spinning in the Void — Earthling excels in what I love about thrash - the riffs bro, the riffs. Tempo-changing adds to their well thought-out compositions. This ain't just the straightforward thrash diddlies of yore.
Bloodlust (Perth), album - At The Devil's Left Hand — Tight, evil, hard-hitting, galloping, moshpit skipping melodies.

Best Doom
RED SCALP (Poland), album - Lost Ghosts
Song: Lost Ghosts (7:47-17:30)
— Lumbering, multi-instrumentation, crooning lovely vocalist, psychedelic and space. From beginning to end, just perfection.

Pallbearer (Arkansas), album – Heartless — The focal point of Pallbearer is the vocalist, who has been extremely influential, including bands on this list. Melodic-heavy and lyrically-beautiful. I'm a little tired of this "funeral" doom-style; I think it is getting dated. Hence, I picked Red Scalp, who blew me away.
Destroyer of Light (Austin), album - Chamber of Horrors — Crooning, moody doom that breaks into chugging riffs. Beautiful, epic song-writing
Spirit Adrift (Arizona), album - Curse of Conception — Take Over and Destroy's guitarist created this one-mand band, which is a full band now. The vocal style of Pallbearer - a bit whiny, emotional. On the slow spectrum of doom, but breaks into great riffs.
Obelyskkh (Germany), album - The Providence — When it breaks, it breaks into full headbanging riffage. Huge lead-ups.

Best Death Metal
VENENUM (Germany), album - Trance of Death
Song: Trance Of Death Part III - There Are Other Worlds... (18:40-32:34)
— Please listen to the runners-up: Vampire is the best retro Swedish melodic death; and Immolation was serious death metal. Venenum is like a death metal demon did peyote with Oranssi Pazuzu.

Vampire (Sweden), album - With Primeval Force — Vampire does this incredible job of capturing a retro style, with bite. Totally Swedish death metal with melodic mixed with heavy thrash. It is a fucking versatile album within each song, it hella swings. There is so much to headbang to here, but also a bit of folk and ballad creating a fully-rounded and thoughtful album. And they just let loose, this shit would be wild live. This is their second, more polished album, after a hiatus of 3 years.
Immolation (NY), album – Atonement — Serious fucking death metal. Lead singer does his style so well, unflinchingly rumbling guttural, so fucking hot. Versatile and groove-filled, filled to the brim with massive riffs and unusually splintered melodies. The drumming. . . fuck, the drumming.
Spectral Voice (CO), album - Visions Of Psychic Dismemberment — Members hail from Blood Incantation, but this is another style of death – falling into horror noise and the unexpected.
Necrot (Oakland), album - Blood Offerings — More speed-infused than most of my list; this rages forward, head down and horns up. But it is not unrelenting - it breaks into slower tempos and less-dense compositions. Heavy on the guitar work.
Artificial Brain (NYC), album – Infrared Horizon — Pummeling, technical, progressive death that is just fucking painful all around; and with aching melodies strung through.
Witch Vomit (Portland), album - Poisoned Blood — A formerly 2-piece, now 3-piece creating a grisly, bloody, indecipherable but somehow groovy straight-forward style of death.
Incantation (PA), album - Profane Nexus — Dense, intense, and what you expect from a death metal band - bombastic and crushing, and unafraid to slow it down.

Best Noise Rock/Punk
IDLES (Bristol), album – Brutalism
Song: Exeter (33:26-37:23)
— Young, intelligent, emotionally-driven punk album with fantastic lyrics. The vocalist is a huge part of this album, grieving his mother through the songs.

Maggot Heart (Sweden), album - City Girls — Linnea Olsson was a guitarist in the legendary Beastmilk who changed their name to Grave Pleasures, who are in my "Best of Post-Punk" category. She now fronts her own noisy art punk band Maggot Heart. Melodic pop and guitar is at the forefront, her voice is sharp and sexy croons. Just four songs pack a punch.
Dead (AU), album - We Won't Let You Sleep — Australian two-piece alternative noise-rock band mixed with doom and sludge. a bit of nostalgic Pixies-style rock minimalist, some songs dive into a distorted thick psychedelic sound. It's got the energy of a middle-aged punk band. They're weighted with experience and wit.
Public Psyche (Belgium), album - No New Violence — Public Psyche has a unique take on post-punk, incorporating a less synthetic sound - post-punk mixed with krautrock and noise experimental.

Best NY Metal
EX EYE (NYC), album – S/T
Song: Opposition / Perihelion; the Coil (38:00-48:43)
— Liturgy drummer and Secret Chiefs 3 bro, creating an album that is surprising at every turn. The fact that I chose this band from the list below should say it all. Part improvisational, part jazz, part extreme, part meditative.

Buckshot Facelift (NY), album - Ulcer Island — Monstrous, meaty and mind-blowing.
Belus (Brooklyn), album – Apophenia — Dense, intense, and hella passionate shimmering black metal with an incredible raspy singer.
Belltower (Brooklyn), album – Hereafter — Wicked black metal erupting in brutal riffs, head wrenching, melody underlying.
Floods (Brooklyn), album – S/T — Debut album with roovey riff element, chugging sludge, unexpected dynamics, and erupts in cold black metal when needed. The vocalist is a treat.
Luminous Vault (NYC), album – Charismata — 2-piece supergroup, includes the bassist of Artificial Brain.
Artificial Brain, album – Infrared Horizon — Pummeling, technical, progressive death that is just fucking painful all around, but with aching melodies strung through
Krallice (NYC), album – Loüm — This is the album with Dave Edwardson. Yet another push into complex math structure, difficult and challenging, abstract and completely fucking enjoyable. Let your brain be bludgeoned.
Yellow Eyes (NYC), album - Immersion Trench Reverie — Yet another dive into melodic black metal with mind-melding tempo changes, rousing riffs. Dense and spectacular yet again.
Couch Slut (Brooklyn), album – Contempt — Tormented raw aggro noise mixed with emotional vocals, bleak and anger mixed, the vocals are difficult to come to terms with, but I like that in my face. Like fuck me, you're right. I want to hear a woman scream, it makes me pull the blanket to my side a bit more.
Pyrrhon (NYC), album - What Passes for Survival — Pyrrhon is just out there. They are brutal death and grind, angular, and drift to the unexpected. They are here to torture, and you won't know what hit you. Fucking weird, but effortlessly. Which obviously is the highest compliment.
Woe (Brooklyn), album – Hope Attrition — A blast of fury, relentlessness, with plaintive melodies. Woe has created a masterpiece of Brooklyn-style metal, the vocals is one of my favorites, extremely emotive and escalating, heating your blood.

Best Retro/Retro Doom
KADAVAR (Germany), album - Rough Times
Song: The Lost Child (49:43-55:20)
— These bands borrow from the best decade – the 70’s, infusing floating psychedelic and a vocalist with honeyed vocals. Lovely.  One of my favorite bands, and this is their best album.

Demon Head (Denmark), album - Thunder on the Fields — Sexy psychedelic groove, emotional epic vocals accompanied by moody melodies. Just yeah bro.
The Wizards (Spain), album - Full Moon in Scorpio — Sexy blues rock fully immersed in their love of the 70's, jamming solos, the power vocalist and song-writing is epic.
Doublestone (Denmark), album - Devil's Own/Djævlens Egn — Stunning stoner psychedelic. Frigging warm jamming delicious. Holy shit. Fuck yes, Denmark. Lyrics-rich, vocalist crooning magnificence.
Night Demon (CA), album - Darkness Remains — Magical summer night hard rock. Night Demon doesn't shy from their roots, with songs titled Maiden Hell, We Will Rock You, Welcome to the Night and so on. They remind me of Chris Black projects, melodic power and hooks, this is mullet and beer metal.
Pagan Altar (UK), album – The Room of Shadows — Pagan Altar are old dudes, around since 1978, and about 20 years actively making music. The original singer and guitarist are father and son. In 2014 they were set to release Never Quite Dead, and then Terry Jones, the singer, died of cancer. His son and some original members spent time touching up the album, the sound melancholy and nostalgic, and finally released it. There is a touch of folk, the vocalist spinning stories with a lilting vocal. The sound is reminiscent of their sound 40 years ago, and that is just badass.
Demon Eye (NC), album - Prophecies and Lies — I'm just fine with Americans taking influence from the Swedish revitalist gods, especially when the result is as perfect as North Carolina's Demon Eye.

Best Sludge
HELL (Oregon), album - S/T
Song: Inscriptus (56:20-1:01:20)
— Filthy bleak sludge, pure and distilled, shrieking through a black hole.

Sloth Herder (MD), album - No Pity, No Sunrise — Holy shit, their first fucking album; and they definitely have the Maryland influence of brutal and grind. This album shreds and pummels, from harsh disjointed sharp notes into epic fist pumping into haunting atmosphere into thick melodic sludge and a stint into grind, short as fuck songs infusing their album; and all of it results in this massive claustrophobic journey of an album.
Seer (Vancouver), album - Vol. III & IV: Cult of the Void — This is their second album, lots of unrushed acoustic, nature sounds, and when it finally explodes, the lead singer is at the helm, lush and emotional.
Céleste (France), album - Infidèle(s) — Sinister French music is the trend, and Céleste creates that dense black metal structure with hardcore, gritty doom that creates a sonic sludge sound.

Best Post-Punk
ROPE SECT (Germany), album - Personae Ingratae
Song: Pretty Life (1:02:05-1:05:58)
— Shimmering guitars and emotional vocalist, blues and doom thread through.

Grave Pleasures (Finland), album – Motherblood — Previously Beastmilk, Grave Pleasures just annihilates every post-punk sound out there. Beastmilk won my 2013 Best Post-Punk, they have converted themselves to Grave Pleasures and have released their second album. What makes this band stand out compared to other bands in their goth-influenced genre is their production value, their ability to be unrelentingly catchy but completely unique. They surprise you with how emotional their sound is, how romantic, how nostalgic for dark basement clubs.
Partisan (Belgian), album - We Have Been so Terribly Betrayed — Lyrically dark, enough for you to shiver into your black cloak. The thickly plucked guitar is melancholy; and shoe-gaze, but in the right way.
Nerve Quakes (Perth), album - A New State — Political goth mixed with post-punk and synth pop.
All Your Sisters (SF), album – Uncomfortable Skin — A local duo creating their modern take on this genre.
Public Psyche (Belgium), album - No New Violence — Public Psyche has a unique take on post-punk, incorporating a less synthetic sound - post-punk mixed with krautrock and noise experimental.

Best Avante-Garde/Experimental + 2nd BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR
THE RUINS OF BEVERAST (Germany), album – Exuvia
Song: Maere (On a Stillbirth's Tomb) (1:07:24-END)
— I always lean towards experimental; and this album is unique, ethereal, black, demonic, tribal. My brain floated in their vivid imagination. This album grows the more I listen to it.

Drug Honkey (Chicago), album - Cloak of Skies — Gritty, experimental groove, a bit of industrial vocals and epicness, death vocals, tied to a weird personality of jazz sax and psychedelic noise effects and just loud.
Gigan (Chicago), album - Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence — It is the manifestation of strange brains dreaming. There is streaming psychedelic pulsating through veins of brutal and master technical extreme. This is their 4th album.
Pyrrhon (NY), album - What Passes for Survival — Pyrrhon is just out there. They are brutal death and grind, angular, and drift to the unexpected. They are here to torture, and you won't know what hit you. Fucking weird, but effortlessly. Which obviously is the highest compliment.
Czar (WA), album - Life Is No Way To Treat An Animal — Animal-loving psychotic weirdos Czar create a bubbly electronic grind album that will soundtrack your fever dreams. FREE DOWNLOAD:
Venenum (Germany), album - Trance of Death — Won my Best Death Metal album

Behind My Vocals
New Order, Ministry, Cabaret Nocturne, She Past Away, Zanias, Sixth June, Dead Husband, Manicure