Hello, metalheads! This is Terrorsquid, and I am here to countdown the 50 best metal albums of 2017. Despite what Bacchus and Spaceman may tell you, this is the definitive list of 2017’s best albums, meaning there is no Power Trip (deal with it). This year was characterized by several classic death metal bands releasing albums, an outburst of excellent atmospheric black metal from Italy, and a dearth of quality power metal. [Editor’s note: We get it, you like power metal.] A surprising majority of my favorites this year were from bands I didn’t previously know, while a few of my favorite bands released rather underwhelming albums. With so much great metal released this year, I have been consuming albums at an alarming rate to bring this comprehensive list to you. I have obviously not listened to every album from 2017, but I believe I have represented the majority of top albums here. If I forgot your favorite album from 2017, let me have it in the comments (I probably deserve it…unless your favorite album was the new Venom album). Each album is followed by a short blurb summing up why it belongs on this list, a score (using Metal Archives’s scale), and my personal favorite song in case you want to check any of these albums out. Without further ado, let the countdown begin!
Disclaimer: I am a big fan of anything epic, symphonic, melodic, and generally overblown. That means that this list will be tilted toward atmospheric black metal, melodeath, and power metal and away from classic death metal and anything crusty. I take full responsibility for triggering Spaceman with my choices, but do not regret my actions in any way.
Night Demon – Darkness Remains
We are starting off this countdown with the new album from classic metal enthusiasts, Night Demon. If you haven’t heard of Night Demon before, they play a modern version of NWOBHM, focused on simple, yet catchy riffs. They don’t do anything new but Darkness Remains is a joy to listen to and is perfect if you are craving some new music that reminds you of the 80s. Oh yeah, that solo on Black Widow is so nice.
Best Song: Black Widow
Nargaroth – Era Of Threnody
There aren’t many bands grimmer than Nargaroth. I mean, mastermind Ash/Kanwulf has had two ridiculous pseudonyms, which is so black metal. Surprisingly, Era Of Threnody is actually not that grim. The production is fairly clean, the focus is on melodic build-ups, and there is even a healthy amount of flamenco style acoustic guitars. For those familiar with Nargaroth’s past work, you know that they are infamous for being extremely inconsistent in terms of quality form track to track. Again, Ash has surprised me, releasing his most consistent album to date. If you are looking to get into Nargaroth this would be a great place to start.
Best Song: Conjunction Underneath The Alpha Wheel
Dying Fetus – Wrong One To Fuck With
There isn’t much new to be said about Dying Fetus. For over 20 years they have been playing absolutely pummeling death metal with some technicality added in for good measure. Wrong One To Fuck With is an excellent addition to their discography and may be their best album to date. Prepare yourself.
Best Song: Die With Integrity
Dawn Of Disease – Ascension Gate
Dawn Of Disease play a particularly brutal version of melodeath, and Ascension Gate is an excellent example of their style. Pummeling drums and down-tuned chugging shares the stage with catchy guitar leads, so fans of brutal death metal and melodeath will likely both enjoy this album. If you fall into either camp, check Ascension Gate out.
Best Song: Beneath The Waters (Spotify)
Wolves In The Throne Room – Thrice Woven
July 8, 2014 is a day that will forever live in infamy. I was eagerly awaiting my first listen to Celestite, the new album by Wolves In The Throne Room. But when I turned it on, I didn’t hear any guitars, drums, of black metal rasps. I only heard ambient synths. Thinking the first track was just an experimental gone wrong, I moved onto track two and was met with the same boring nonsense. In fact, the whole album was just an ambient piece of crap. I immediately went into a deep, dark depression (not really but it gets my point across). Three years later, Wolves In The Throne Room announce a new album and a return to black metal. And the peasants rejoice! Needless to say, excitement for this album was at an all-time high, but did it deliver? Mostly. Thrice Woven is absolutely Wolves In The Throne Room, but they are still a little rusty. Overall, Thrice Woven is a solid atmospheric black metal album and fans of Wolves In The Throne Room should find much to love here. Hopefully, they truly return to pre-Celestite form on the next album.
Best Song: Born From The Serpent’s Eye
Azarath – In Extremis
Also known as “The Inferno Show”, Azarath specialize in brutal blackened death metal with the drums unsurprisingly at the forefront. Inferno is one of the best metal drummers around and shows it on In Extremis. Musically, this sounds like Inferno’s main band, Behemoth, but lacks the variety present in most Behemoth albums. A bit of experimentation would have definitely moved this album up on this list but damn, listen to those drums!
Best Song: The Slain God
Electric Wizard – Wizard Bloody Wizard
If you were expecting Electric Wizard to release another Dopethrone then you will surely be disappointed, but do not fear, for this is another solid addition to the Electric Wizard discography. Wizard Bloody Wizard is more accessible than previous Electric Wizard releases, but they don’t sacrifice any of the heaviness. Come My Fanatics…and listen to the dooooooooom.
Best Song: Hear The Sirens Scream
Woe – Hope Attrition
Woe is the first of two New York City black metal bands on this list. For those unfamiliar with the New York black metal scene, it is characterized by a gritty and depressive sound that still tends to contain a bit of melody. Hope Attrition fits this description perfectly. It is not a cheerful listen but the melodic undertones are sweet to the ears.
Best Song: The Din Of The Mourning
Alunah – Solennial
This is probably the most chill album on this list. Alunah is known for their style of doom infused with occult rock aesthetics and stoner vibes. Solennial is full of Black Sabbath style riffs with Sophie Day’s haunting vocals on top, and it sure grooves. Just sit back, relax, and the let the riffs overcome you.
Best Song: Feast Of The Torches
Asagraum – Potestas Magicum Diaboli
Asagraum is a newly formed all-female black metal band (yes, you read that right) from the Netherlands. On their debut album, Potestas Magicum Diaboli, they play a cold and grim style of black metal with the just the right amount of melody thrown in (see the tasty riff in Gospel Of Ignition). In the undeniably saturated black metal scene, Asagraum stand out with one of the best traditional black metal albums of 2017.
Best Song: Gospel Of Ignition
Warbringer – Woe To The Vanquished
Warbringer are the poster child of the new thrash sound (sometimes called neothrash), which gets them some unwarranted hate. Personally, all I hear on Woe To The Vanquished is some damn good thrash that is high on good riffs and low on experimental nonsense. This is the best Warbringer album since their excellent debut and I can’t help but headbang while listening to any song on Woe To The Vanquished. I should also note that Warbringer do a great job on “When The Guns Fell Silent”, a rare 11-minute thrash song. Warbringer’s new album is better than the 2017 releases by Overkill, Havok, Kreator, and Municipal Waste. Deal with it, thrash elitists.
Best Song: Silhouettes
Tales Of Gaia – Hypernova
The cover of Hypernova has a wizard standing atop a giant sea serpent fighting off spaceships with some kind of green magic. Spaceman, cover your ears! This is power metal with the cheese factor set to maximum. The production is crystal clear, the vocals are super high-pitched, and everything has a singalong vibe. All in all, this is just a fun power metal album, which was really needed this year. If you are a metal elitists, still only listening to Mayhem, Venom, and Darkthrone, then stay far away. For those who don’t mind a bit of cheesiness in their metal, get lost in Hypernova.
Best Song: Flamma Ardet
Pallbearer – Heartless
I am a huge Pallbearer fanboy, so my expectations for this album were somewhere beyond the moon. Initially I was a bit disappointed by Heartless, due to its tendency to favor accessibility over heaviness. However, after getting over my initial disappointment, I listened to Heartless again, judging it on a standard scale instead of the highly biased Pallbearer scale. What I found was a very respectable epic doom album with warm guitar leads and wonderful vocals courtesy of Brett Campbell. Hopefully, Pallbearer find their roots again for the next album, but while I wait I will continue spinning Heartless (but not as much as Sorrow And Extinction).
Best Song: Lie Of Survival
Dzo-nga – The Sachem’s Tale
Some people (coughSpacemancough) think that atmospheric black metal has become oversaturated and that every new band is copying one of the founders of the genre. In step Dzo-nga (pronounced ‘zone gah’) to break the alleged monotony a bit. The Sachem’s Tale takes the standard atmospheric black metal formula and adds in beautiful acoustic pieces, warm female vocals, an extremely impressive drum performance, and lyrics about Native American legends. The result is a wonderful and varied album, which is only brought down by some fairly questionable production at times. If you are looking for a new take on atmospheric black metal look no further than The Sachem’s Tale.
Best Song: To The Great Salt Water
The Black Dahlia Murder – Nightbringers
The Black Dahlia Murder has always drawn a lot of hate from metal elitists due to the core influence in their earlier albums, but Nightbringers is pure melodeath. The addition of guitarist Brandon Ellis pays dividends on Nightbringers, as the riffs and solos are better than they have ever been for The Black Dahlia Murder. Add in Alan Cassidy’s always-impressive drumming and Trevor Strnad’s great vocals and Nightbringers is a winning combination. Nightbringers won’t make you all of a sudden love The Black Dahlia Murder, but fans of the band will likely agree this is one of the best releases of their career.
Best Song: Of God And Serpent, Of Spectre And Snake
Blaze Of Sorrow – Astri
Astri is the first of several excellent atmospheric black metal albums to come out of Italy this year. Pretty soon, Italy may not only be known for cheesy power metal and symphonic black metal, but for atmospheric black metal as well. On Astri, Blaze Of Sorrow play a particularly progressive version of atmospheric black metal and avoid the lengthy songs the genre is known for. What remains is a concise, well-written album that is ideal for people who need their atmospheric black metal fix in small packages.
Best Song: Empito
Amenra – Mass VI
Post-metal stalwarts Amenra are back after a five-year wait with Mass VI, an album full of slow build-ups and crushing crescendos. I have heard this album described as a sonic landscape and that is an accurate description. Amenra do not follow the rules and play whatever sounds good, regardless of genre. Mass VI is certainly softer and more dynamic than their previous releases, and may be one of their best yet. Mass VI is best experienced with headphones, the volume set high, and no distractions.
Best Song: A Solitary Reign
Vanum – Burning Arrow
While technically an EP, Burning Arrow was nearly as long as some of the full-lengths this year and good enough to warrant a spot. Vanum is a project comprised of members of Ash Borer, Fell Voices, and Predatory Light, among others, which may give you an idea of what type of music can be found here. This is atmospheric black metal, but Vanum opts for a gritty sound rather than an ethereal one. If you want your atmospheric black metal to be a little more direct, this may be a good place to start.
Best Song: Spring Of Life
Black Anvil – As Was
Black Anvil is the second New York City black metal band on this list. I first heard of Black Anvil from the debut album and I wasn’t really that impressed, forgetting about them for a while. So when I heard this I was pleasantly surprised. Black Anvil have reinvented their sound on As Was, keeping the gritty New York sound, but they added in clean interludes and dramatic buildups. These small changes make a world of difference and elevate As Was among the enormous crowd of black metal albums this year. I am looking forward to how they develop their sound on future releases.
Best Song: On Forgotten Ways
Lyzzard – Savage
Portuguese speed metal band Lyzzard may be new to the game, but they have certainly reviewed their history. Everything from their raw, chaotic songs to their leather jacket policy screams classic speed metal, and the music on Savage does not disappoint. Everything is to the point with catchy riffs, frenzied vocals, and an authentic 80s vibe. If Lyzzard finds their own sound for the next record, while still drawing influence from the classics, then they will surely become a force to be reckoned with in the current speed metal revival movement.
Best Song: Metalzone
Horn – Turm Am Hang
Turm Am Hang is the newest album by prolific folk/pagan black metal one-man band, Horn. When this style of metal is done well, I usually love it, but when it is done poorly it can become quite laughable. Turm Am Hang certainly falls in the category of quality folk black metal. The songs found here are icy but are warmed a bit by the inclusion of traditional instruments and folky charm. Surprisingly, the highlight of the album is the closing track, an excellent cover of “The Sky Has Not Always Been This Way”. Definitely one of the best folk metal albums of the year.
Best Song: The Sky Has Not Always Been This Way (When Bitter Spring Sleeps cover)
Witherfall – Nocturnes And Requiems
Nocturnes And Requiems is a frustrating album. At times it can be the best progressive metal west of the Mississippi, but at other times I just sit there questioning what Witherfall was thinking. On their debut album, Witherfall treat us to impressive guitar acrobatics and powerful choruses, but also sleep-inducing interludes and song outros. Thankfully, the good far outweighs the bad, making Nocturnes And Requiems one of the best progressive metal albums of the year. If they can focus their efforts and cut the fat on their next record, the sky is the limit.
Best Song: End Of Time
Seven Kingdoms – Decennium
With an album cover that looks like a promotional poster for space exploration game No Man’s Sky, I knew I was in for a treat on Decennium. Seven Kingdoms specialize in a thrash-influenced power metal sound, but don’t take themselves too seriously (in one of their music videos lead singer Sabrina Valentine is wearing cheeseburger earrings). Decennium is full of excellent guitar work and Sabrina’s vocals are melodic when they need to be melodic and rough when they need to be rough. The songs on Decennium are punchy, catchy, and just a joy to listen to.
Best Song: In The Walls
Falls Of Rauros – Vigilance Perennial
Falls Of Rauros continue their string of excellent albums with Vigilance Perennial. Like the albums before it, Vigilance Perennial seamlessly transitions between black metal intensity and earthy acoustic sections. Falls Of Rauros stick to their guns and in doing so release another quality atmospheric black metal album.
Best Song: Arrow & Kiln
Ne Obliviscaris – Urn
I first heard Ne Obliviscaris through their debut album and I was instantly blown away. Their songs were unrelenting, the musicianship was tight, and everything was topped off with classy violin. A few albums later and Ne Obliviscaris is still doing their thing. Urn is full of technical melodeath with violin popping up everywhere, but they have opted for a more restrained approach this time around. Instead of constant aggression, Urn leaves room for several slower/ambient passages. While this is not a problem by itself, these passages just aren’t as exciting as they could be and I find myself waiting for the heaviness to return. Overall, this is still an excellent album, but could have been a top ten album with a little more restraint on experimentation.
Best Song: Intra Venus
Horrified – Allure Of The Fallen
Most people have heard your usual melodeath, with its slick production, upbeat guitar leads, and relatively accessible vocals. Horrified do not play this style of melodeath. They play melodeath’s ugly, doomed-out brother. The melodic leads are there, but everything is coated in a layer of griminess and the vocals are particularly guttural. If you always thought melodeath was too catchy and upbeat, give Allure Of The Fallen a try.
Best Song: Unanswered
Evil Invaders – Feed Me Violence
Feed Me Violence is pure, unadulterated speed metal. Do I really need to say anything else? Oh, I do? Um…if you don’t headbang while listening to this then you’re lying and I will find you and call you out on it. Seriously.
Best Song: Mental Penitentiary
Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars
The best way to describe Ex Deo would probably be a toned down version of Fleshgod Apocalypse. It’s death metal with tons of symphonic flair, lyrics about ancient history, and in general just kicks a bunch of ass. The only difference is that Ex Deo focus a bit more on melody rather than pure chaos, and it works in their favor. The songs on The Immortal Wars give me the feeling that I am marching into battle with the Roman Legion. If that doesn’t get you a least a little bit pumped up then there we probably need to check your pulse.
Best Song: Hispania (The Siege of Saguntum) (Spotify)
Wintersun – The Forest Seasons
The lead-up to the release of this album was an absolute dumpster fire. Jari was flamed by the media for crowd-funding to buy his own personal recording studio (or else he wouldn’t release this album) and fans were disappointed to learn that this was not the long-awaited Time II. To add to that, The Forest Seasons uses the most clichéd concept imaginable: the four seasons. Did we really need another one of those? But I will not be focusing on any of this because the music is what matters, and the music on The Forest Seasons is quite good. The Forest Seasons is firmly rooted in melodic death metal, but borrows from folk, power metal, and symphonic metal to create a truly epic album. Beautiful symphonic arrangements dominate the album and Jari’s mix of harsh and clean vocals always keep things fresh. If you are a Wintersun newbie, then this is as good a place as any to get into their work. If you are a Jari hater, then stay away (and get off Reddit for a few hours and go outside).
Best Song: Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring)
Cradle Of Filth – Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay
For those somehow still unacquainted with Cradle of Filth, they were one of the premiere extreme metal acts of the late 90s and early 2000s, but from 2006 to 2014 they were in a major slump and many were convinced it was the end. Then, in 2015, they released Hammer Of The Witches, which hinted at a return to their former glory, but was still not quite there. Unsurprisingly, excitement for Cryptoriana was pretty high, and that excitement was completely justified. Cryptoriana is the best album Cradle Of Filth have released in over a decade and has all the gothic flair and vocal acrobatics that have been missing from their recent albums. In addition, the guitar writing has improved significantly, likely due to a stable lineup (by Cradle Of Filth standards). Consider Cradle Of Filth back!
Best Song: You Will Know The Lion By His Claw
Orden Ogan – Gunmen
Gunmen is a power metal album about the American Wild West written by a German band. Yeah, I know that is a pretty strange combination but it works better than you would imagine. Orden Ogan plays a very slick brand of power metal, focusing on catchiness over speed, and perfect production over grittiness. Metal purists may find this album a bit poppy for their tastes, but I couldn’t help getting caught up in the powerful choruses. If you prefer the lighter side of metal, this may be exactly what you are looking for.
Best Song: Come With Me To The Other Side
Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Finisterre
German black metallers Der Weg Einer Freiheit are a well-kept secret. With three full lengths and two EPs to their name prior to the release of Finisterre, they have been silently honing their sound, which is a nice mix of aggressive and melodic black metal. The riffs are dark and unrelenting, while the drumming is absolutely top-notch. The album does tend to get a bit unfocused in the middle tracks, but Finisterre is bookended by two amazing black metal tracks.
Best Song: Aufbruch
Below – Upon A Pale Horse
Below sounds like 80s Candlemass got in a time machine and ended up in 2017. Right down to the Messiah style vocals, Below copy the Candlemass sound…and they do a damn good job (maybe even better than Candlemass). Upon A Pale Horse contains seven doom dirges with prominent high-pitched vocals and slow plodding riffs to lighten your mood (or not). Take a trip back to 1986 with Upon A Pale Horse.
Best Song: We Are All Slaves
Archspire – Relentless Mutation
Relentless Mutation is easily one of the most intense and chaotic albums I have ever heard. It almost seems like every instrument is soloing all the time, yet everything still comes together into coherent pieces of music. From a purely technical standpoint, the instrumental work on Relentless Mutation is nothing short of godly and is deserving of all the praise in the world. The only thing that brings this album down are the vocals, which are admittedly an acquired taste. I haven’t fully acquired this taste yet but it doesn’t stop Archspire’s newest album from being one of the best of the year.
Best Song: Human Murmuration
A Pale December – The Shrine Of Primal Fire
A Pale December is yet another young band making waves in the Italian atmospheric black metal scene, opting for the nature-worshipping variety popularized by Wolves In The Throne Room and Agalloch. Mournful acoustic guitars intermingle beautifully with blast beats, tremolo riffs, and black metal rasps. If you are still mourning Agalloch’s split (I know I haven’t gotten over it yet), then this may be the best album to ease the suffering.
Best Song: A Lost Lineage
Manetheren – The End
The End is described as a “Concept album about a human being travelling across the lands as the world begins to end. The album in itself represents Nihility overall.” If you hazarded a guess that the music contained within was dark and depressing, then you were right. The End is an atmospheric black metal album comprised of six lengthy tracks filled with gloomy chord progressions, tortured vocals, and an atmosphere colder than their Minnesota hometown in winter.
Best Song: The Sun That Bled
Bereft – Lands
Bereft’s music could be described as the unholy amalgamation of post-metal, doom, and black metal. It is dirty and unwelcoming, but beneath that layer of grime are some quality melodies that tie it all together. Lands is a mixed bag of slow build ups, intense crescendos, black metal snarls, and the occasional Pallbearer style guitar lead. The entire album is crushing in a good way and fans of sludgey post-metal will find the most to love here.
Best Song: In Filth
Prospekt – The Illuminated Sky
Are you a big fan of Dream Theater, but feel like they have gotten too big for their britches? If you answered yes, then this is the album for you. The Illuminated Sky takes the progressive style and strange time signatures of old Dream Theater and mixes in the tasteful guitar work and vocal style of Symphony X to create the best progressive metal album of the year. If you are salivating at the thought of that, then read no further and check this album out for yourself. If you still need convincing, Prospekt push the boundaries of metal, but not in the ridiculous way Dream Theater has been doing recently. There are no ten minute jam sessions and the guitar solos are not just there to show you how good at guitar the guitarists are. To put it briefly, this is the type of album that progressive metal needed right now.
Best Song: Alien Makers Of Discord
Lascar – Saudade
Hailing from Chile, Lascar is on the airier side of atmospheric black metal, heavily focused on creating a dark atmosphere. I first heard of Lascar after securing a copy of their highly limited demo and they have improved from each release to the next. To be honest, Saudade didn’t thoroughly impress me on my first listen through, but has been growing on me ever since. If atmospheric black metal is not your thing, this album will probably not change that, but for those who are, Saudade should be an enjoyable listen.
Best Song: Uneven Alignment
No Amnesty – Psycopathy
My pick for best thrash album of the year goes to Spanish thrashers No Amnesty. In my opinion, modern thrash is so focused on trying to be overly progressive and make a political stand that they forget what thrash is all about. No Amnesty stays away from these pitfalls and instead treats us to a no-nonsense thrash attack. The songs are blisteringly fast with an abundance of meaty riffs and chaotic solos, which is all I really need in a good thrash album. However, I was also treated to a wonderful acoustic guitar piece titled “The Prophecy” which was icing on this great thrash metal cake. If you are also a bit disillusioned with the direction modern thrash is taking, then I would highly recommend checking out Psychopathy.
Best Song: NOTLD
Fellwarden – Oathbearer
We begin the top ten with an album that seemingly came out of nowhere. When we received it, there was no information about the band (they weren’t even on Metal Archives until relatively recently), but I was instantly hooked by the wonderful atmospheric black metal I was listening to. Since then, I have learned that Fellwarden is a side-project of Fen mastermind The Watcher, which was unsurprising considering how similar the style is to Fen’s work. Coincidentally, Fen also released an album this year entitled Winter, but it pales in comparison to Oathbearer. Unlike the somewhat bloated songs on Winter, each track on Oathbearer is focused and does not outstay its welcome. Additionally, Oathbearer has a more pleasant earthy atmosphere, making is the perfect album to get lost in.
Best Song: In Death, Valiant
Lunar Shadow – Far From Light
The debut full-length by Lunar Shadow caught me completely by surprise. With their catchy songs focused on impressive guitar-work, this young German band sounds like they belong to the NWOBHM movement of the late 70s and early 80s. The only difference is the impeccable production found on Far From Light, allowing each instrument to shine through clearly. In addition to their obvious NWOBHM influence, Lunar Shadow also experiment with doom and progressive metal elements in their songs, leading to an album that is full of wonderful surprises. For anybody who loves impressive and well-written guitar leads, this album will likely be on replay for a while.
Best Song: Hadrian Carrying Stones
Blaze Of Perdition – Conscious Darkness
In the words of Spaceman, everybody and their mother is trying to sound like Mgla these days (especially bands from Poland). That may be true, but if they all do it this well then that is the opposite of a problem. On Conscious Darkness, Blaze Of Perdition have perfected the art of mixing aggression and melody. Each song is dark, slowly building up throughout their lengthy runtimes, before erupting in crescendos of pure aggression. The lyrics are well written and the powerful vocals only aid in creating a grim and suffocating atmosphere. For those who like their black metal to be intelligent, but still utterly grim, look no further than Conscious Darkness.
Best Song: Detachment Brings Serenity
Origin – Unparalleled Universe
Origin has long been one of my favorite death metal bands, so this was one of my most highly anticipated albums this year, and it did not disappoint. Their previous album, Omnipresent, was a bit of a letdown and a shift away from what Origin does best, so I was eagerly awaiting a return to form. Origin must have listened to their fans (especially those that worship Antithesis), and released what could possibly be the best album of their career. Instead of the boring chugging featured on Omnipresent, Unparalleled Universe is basically like Antithesis 2.0, with a focus on blistering fast songs, melodic sweep picking, and an inhuman drum performance. There is even another nine minute epic to close out the album in style. Origin are the true masters of technical death metal and prove that they are at the top of their game.
Best Song: Unequivocal
Spirit Adrift – Curse Of Conception
Only a year after releasing their first album, Spirit Adrift treat us to another traditional doom treat. Curse Of Conception is all about the almighty riff, with each song hosting an array of crunchy and memorable leads. Soaring vocals float effortlessly above the guitars making for a wholly satisfying listening experience. Spirit Adrift aren’t reinventing the wheel but their wheels sure are nice. Anybody with a passing interest in any of the non-extreme metal genres is sure to find much to like on Curse Of Conception.
Best Song: Earthbound
Enisum – Seasons Of Desolation
This is our final atmospheric black metal album from Italy on this list, and it could not be more deserving of a top five spot. Despite being Italian, Enisum are firmly rooted in the Cascadian black metal camp, with a sound very similar to that of Wolves In The Throne Room and Alda. While a black metal album at heart, Seasons Of Desolation shines most when mixing in beautiful acoustic guitars and clean female vocals. Add in a particularly interesting and varied drum performance and you get one of the best albums of the year. The tone of the album is perpetually grim and often gut-wrenching, but this is a journey that should not be missed. Admittedly, there is a bit of inconsistency in the quality from song to song, but these missteps are minor and are far outweighed by the many truly great songs.
Best Song: Dead Star
Anomalie – Visions
Before hearing this album I had never heard of Anomalie, despite the fact that this is their third full length and I am a huge post-black metal fan. Needless to say, it is a shame it took me this long to discover them because Visions is an excellent album. Much like Harakiri For The Sky (who shares members with Anomalie), Anomalie write guitar-centric black metal that is simultaneously depressing and uplifting. The chord progressions are all well-crafted, constantly creating the tension necessary for this style of music. The guitars are backed by a great performance on drums and some truly anguished vocals, making Anomalie a force to be reckoned with in the post-black metal scene along with Harakiri For The Sky, Deafheaven, and Ghost Bath.
Best Song: Vision V: Starless Nights
Wolfheart – Tyhjyys
First of all, anyone who can correctly pronounce the name of this album should get a prize. Wolfheart should also get a prize for releasing the best melodeath album in a while. With the likes of Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, and Amon Amarth aging poorly, there has been a lack of quality melodeath, but Wolfheart is here to fix that. Tyhjysys is full of ferocious and melodic riffs, unrelenting blast beats, and monstrous vocals. Aside from the acoustic intro track, this album is absolutely unrelenting, forcing the listener to headbang for over 40 minutes straight. Tyhjyys is a breath of fresh air in the melodeath genre and is fully deserving of its number three spot (despite what Bacchus and Spaceman may tell you).
Best Song: Boneyard
Serenity – Lionheart
In a relatively weak year for power metal, one album stood tall, delivering song after song of fist-pumping metal. Heavily influenced by Kamelot, Serenity plays no-nonsense power metal, eschewing the tendency to get overly progressive as is the case with many power metal bands these days. The riffs are interesting, the choruses are catchy as hell, the solos shred, and the symphonic elements are perfectly executed and never overbearing. There is not a single weak song on Lionheart, and even the intro and interlude tracks are beautiful and set the stage for the tracks to follow. Basically, this album emphatically checks all the power metal boxes and will satisfy any craving for catchy and epic metal anthems.
Best Song: United
Pure Wrath – Ascetic Eventide
For those of you who are unacquainted with Pure Wrath (I don’t blame you), it is a one-man atmospheric black metal band from Indonesia of all places. But don’t let the tropical locale fool you; Ascetic Eventide sounds like it came straight from the northern reaches of Europe. Each song is simultaneously cold and majestic, never failing to command your full attention. Tremolo riffs and blast beats coexist perfectly with strings and acoustic sections, resulting in a varied and organic listen. With his debut album, Pure Wrath mastermind Ryo has crafted the one of the best atmospheric black metal albums of recent years and the best album of 2017.
Best Song: Clouds Retiring
Elder – Reflections Of A Floating World
Mountains Crave – As We Were When We Were Not
Beneath – Ephemeris
Divine Element – Thaurachs Of Borsu
Fen – Winter