There was a lot of good music released this year (there is every year really) and I just wish I had more time to listen to some stuff that was on my list and didn’t get around to. However, what I did listen to this year was more than enough to satisfy me.
This year for me was largely my ‘year of discovery’ I’d say. I took a lot of time to listen to things that I missed over the last few years and I gotta say, I missed a lot. Thanks to Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas releasing a collaboration last year, I got over my disdain for collaborations and ventured into the amazing void that is The Body’s creative effect on other artists. You Whom I Have Always Hated by The Body & Thou is a major standout discovery for me this year. But my most listened to album of 2017 is funnily enough Batushka’s Litourgiya (2016) which is… Something else. THAT would’ve changed my list for last year, but enough of that.
2017 was a great year for hardcore. If last year saw hardcore’s party side with Totally Unicorn and Every Time I Die, this year is the amazingly proficient and artistic side. Black metal as always is my preferred cup of tea but every other genre really kicked some ass this year. It wasn’t just the underground bands that released good stuff either; the mainstream bands really went above and beyond to revive themselves.
Also, you know what this list needs? Top 5 album covers or something… That’d be an idea. Here’s my Wall of Sound 2017 Year in Review
Top 20 Albums of 2017
#20. The Black Dahlia Murder – Nightbringers
I initially wasn’t going to include this album because TBDM are a lot like Amon Amarth, they make great albums but they never really break out of their box. However… I just couldn’t stop listening to it and this album is actually a huge grower on repeated listens. The new guitarist really adds a lot and Nightbringers is just so damn enjoyable, no denying it. Favourite track: ‘Catacomb Hecatomb’
#19. While She Sleeps – You Are We
Same as above, nothing new, but fuck does it get stuck in your head. Plus, this is what I really imagine hardcore to sound like; While She Sleeps are the blueprint for all the other bands that are trying but failing so hard. In all honesty, this album is high up on my most played list this year, so it deserves to be here, no doubt. Favourite track: ‘Silence Speaks’
#18. Myrkur – Mareridt
Always so excited for new Myrkur. She just kind of does whatever she wants, which is great, because most people are just going to hate it anyway. So if anything, it liberates her from expectations and just lets her music be really fucking cool. More folky than the last release, and simultaneously more brutal. So intoxicating. Also, the deluxe version of this album has six new songs or something. Ridiculous. Favourite track: ‘De Tre Piker’
#17. Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes – Modern Ruin
This is another album where I don’t believe it’s really pushing many boundaries but is nonetheless amazing. There is definitely something to be said about doing something better than anyone else, and I think Frank & Co. do in fact play some of the best punk rock in existence. I wouldn’t say Modern Ruin is overly heavy, but I can still justify breaking my lounge room when I dance to it because it’s just that great. Favourite track: ‘Vampires’
#16. Cavernlight – As We Cup Our Hands and Drink from the Stream of Our Ache
This is one of the first albums I heard when winter turned properly cold and depressing and it just became this mainstay of my year from there. All the squealing distortion and plodding, pain laden vocals at first reminded me of my obsession with Fall of Efrafa but As We Cup… is another beast entirely. It’s very ambient in its own right and became an instant classic for me… I’m in love. Favourite track: ‘Lay Your Woes Upon the Ground and Know that the End Will Soon Swallow You’
#15. Katla – Móðurástin
This album is, as you would know if you read my October album roundup, one of my favourites of the month, and now, the year. It’s so layered and textured it makes millennia old strata look like shit. Plus singing in Icelandic is pretty hypnotising; I can’t get enough of this album! Favourite track: ‘Dulsmál’
#14. Throane – Plus une Main à Mordre
October was a great month (see above) and this was one of the many that burrowed deep inside my soul during that time. Throane are really something else. They take all the best elements of post rock and black metal and cover them with a thick, disgusting veneer of gore and call it a day. It’s legitimately astounding how people who create art this mind-blowing can function in the regular world. This album is less harsh than their previous, but more depressing. Plus, all their artwork is intoxicating to behold. A masterpiece. Favourite track: ‘Et Tout Finira Par Chuter’
#13. Blood Sun Circle – Distorted Forms
Distorted Forms is, I still think, one of the best dissonant post rock albums ever created. Yeah ISIS and Neurosis exist, but Blood Sun Circle are just so… Engrossing. Maybe it’s the added layer of howling emo-ey vocals that really do it for me. Either way, this album deserves attention just for the instrumentation alone, it’s spine tinglingly abrasive. Favourite track: ‘Swarm of Bees’
#12. Celeste – Infidèle(s)
What can I say about Celeste… Well, they’re one of the greatest modern black metal bands out there. Continuing to push the boundaries with every album and doing so in such a way that it just feels like an evolution of their sound. Infidèle(s) is so gloomy and and yet so bright. It evokes hope in its soaring riffs and subsequently crushes them when the drums begin in earnest. This album is truly a journey to behold and worth every single tear stained minute. It’s at this point in my list though because I couldn’t dedicate enough time to listening to it, so I can’t rightly say if it deserves to be higher. Favourite track: ‘(I)’
#11. The King Is Blind – We Are the Parasite, We Are the Cancer
How this band is so consistent and simultaneously inventive is beyond me. They released an album last year for Void’s sake!! And this one is just as good. Really good blackened death metal. Music that’ll make you headbang until your head falls off then it’ll switch to include some piano for your funeral. Favourite track: ‘Like Gods Departed (Plague: Acedia)’
#10. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand
Frankly, there’s no way I was going to leave this off my list. Mastodon have been creating pretty satisfactory music over the last few years but this finally feels like they’re passionate about what they’re making. Not saying their other shit was bad, but it was… Yeah, satisfactory. Emperor of Sand is as progressive as Mastodon have ever been and it feels oh so fucking good to listen to this album again and again. Favourite track: ‘Word to the Wise’
#9. Endon – Through the Mirror
Back in the days before this album, Endon created some of the most sonically tortuous music in existence. With this album, they seemed to have toned it down a bit with the straight up noise, incorporating some sort of structure and I think it serves them well. I really enjoyed their previous release MAMA but Through the Mirror is a step forward I believe. Also, it’s produced by music god king Kurt Ballou, so that’s a huge plus. As a note, my favourite track of this album has one of the most brutal and unsettling breakdowns ever written. Favourite track: ‘Perversion Til Death’
#8. No Omega – Culture
Another album found from my deep forays into every nook and cranny in the music world. Came out in May and stayed on my regular rotation all year. Hauntingly sad, the lyrics of this album will reduce you to a boneless heap of dejected sludge if you listen too hard, so just enjoy the music before delving in to deep. Favourite track: ‘Cogs’
#7. Blut Aus Nord – Deus Salutis Meæ
Don’t hold it against me, but I never really liked, nor ‘got’ Blut Aus Nord until they released their 777 trilogy. Maybe I wasn’t musically developed enough or something, but I just didn’t like them. Nowadays, I cannot get enough of them and this album is more proof why. It’s so industrially beautiful and dark, it’s hard to tell if they’re playing instruments or giant mechanical bees. It’s hard to tell if there is even vocals! To cap it all off, these really grating, grinding orgasms are split up by interesting interludes; see ‘Abisme’. This album took up a LOT of my time in October, and November… And December. It’s like drugs. Favourite track: ‘Ex Tenebrae Lucis’ & ‘Revelatio’
#6. Amenra – Mass VI
There isn’t much to say about Amenra besides maybe… Everything they do is fucking perfect art. It’s hard for me to even place them at #6 because I love this album so much but it’s the way it all works. Mass VI is just as, if not more, bleak than any other they’ve released and it’s frankly astounding in its scope. It makes time compress and distort with how entrancing it is. Favourite track: ‘Diaken’
#5. Blood Command – Cult Drugs
THIS is what I’ve been waiting for since Funeral Beach. Five whole years in agony, waiting for this bewilderingly talented band to release a new album. They did not disappoint. It’s a melting pot of pop, punk and rock in the most catchy form possible. Pop/punk/rock isn’t a great distillation of what Blood Command are, as they’re so much more unique than that. They’re hard to pigeonhole or nail down and that’s why I love them. They break all the rules and deliver utterly awe inspiring music. Favourite track: ‘Initiation Tape #1’
#4. The Body & Full of Hell – Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light
The cover of this is quite an apt visualisation of the music; totally fucking weird and also a sheer clashing and jangling of the eyeballs, be it through noise or colour. I always say (probably not to you, but other people), ‘What’s the point of making electronic music if you’re not going to make use of all that technology?’ This is exactly what this album does, and why it’s so good. It just sounds… Weird. Grating and abrasive all over, it’s the gross pop aspects of The Body with the static grind aspects of Full of Hell. You’ll probably hate it. Favourite track: ‘The King Laid Bare’
#3. Converge – The Dusk In Us
The Dusk In Us is so visceral and raw, it’s like Bannon and Ballou are playing inside your skull, chipping away at your sanity piece by little, agonising piece. I must say, from AWLWLB to now, Bannon has improved so dramatically, it’s insane. His screams sound like they were ripped from the throat of a dying rottweiler whilst his cleans are better than ever. Just everything about the band feels realised and achieved. It IS why they’re so popular I guess; they have a vision and they achieve it, no fucking around. Favourite track: ‘Under Duress’ & ‘Trigger’
#2. Emptiness – Not For Music
Okay. This is where it all becomes so hard. Emptiness have created THE most interesting album of the year. It is legitimately not for music. It’s not for anyone. It’s this weird creepy whispering cross gurgling bile vocals over dodgy 80s-esque melodies or pounding black metal played at half speed. I’m glad I didn’t have to review it because I would be lost for words, or, I would have to use about 5000 just to explain it all even semi coherently. I am in actual love with this album though. It came out in January and I have consistently listened to it every week. Favourite track: ‘Ever’
#1. Code Orange – Forever
But! Forever is the BEST album of the year. It’s fucking brutal. It’s crazy. It’s unsettling. It’s perfect. Crushing and grinding your senses until there’s nothing left but frayed nerves and ragged stumps where your fingers should be. Code Orange have perfected their sound to a dynamic and artistic T. I can’t express in clear words how this album made me feel; it’s a blurry sludge of awe and fear and happiness. It deserves to have the top spot. Said so in January, obviously saying so now. Favourite track: ‘Kill the Creator’ & ‘Real’
Top 10 Songs of 2017
Last year I had a real conundrum on my hands. I thought to myself, ‘Dylonov, what about all the great stuff that you didn’t get to mention because your favourite songs are all off your favourite albums?’ So! In response to that, I decided to add ten songs NOT on my favourite albums, that are all my favourites, because that feels better to me. Plus, those albums work better as albums anyway, AND I don’t include EPs in ‘albums’ so this is kind of where those songs live also. No commentary on these. They’re all great.
#10. Godflesh – ‘Post Self’
#9. Dan Terminus – ‘Automated Refrains’
#8. END – ‘Chewing Glass’
#7. False – ‘Hunger’
#6. Sunrot – ‘Agonal State’
#5. Death From Above – ‘NVR 4 EVA’
#4. Chelsea Wolfe – ‘Vex’
#3. Aosoth – ‘Contaminating All Tongues’
#2. Nine Inch Nails – ‘Add Violence’
#1. Altarage – ‘Spearheaderon’
Top 5 Videos of 2017
I’m not sure about you, but I’m not a huge video guy. I’m not even a huge ‘singles’ guy. I regularly dislike all Mastodon singles then when I hear them in the album I can’t help but think ‘Oh it works now.’ So these are the first five videos that sprung to mind when I was writing, ergo, they MUST be good! Right?
#5. Trivium – ‘Heart From Your Hate’
I must admit, this song wasn’t even the favourite of the singles, but it always gets stuck in my damn head, and then all I can imagine is the drummer flipping his stick in that garish red light. So cool.
#4. Queens of the Stone Age – ‘The Way You Used to Do’
Was going to put this in ‘songs’ but now that it has a video, it can go here instead. However, I must admit it is pretty rewarding watching Homme’s campy antics. I think this is what rock and metal clips should be like really; just having fun, fucking around with preconceived notions of what people think you are and all that.
#3. Rolo Tomassi – ‘Rituals’
I might be biased on this video because I love this band so much, but I’m going to cover it up by saying the cinematography or whatever is really creative, as is the editing of the lenses or whatever. Whatever.
#2. Dear Hunter – ‘Blame Paradise’
Not really sure what’s going on in this video. Like, do these people know he’s a tomato?
#1. Thaw – ‘The Brigand’
Alright. I ACTUALLY really like this video. Anything that really just subverts expectations, I’m into. On top of being a great song (I haven’t listened to the album enough yet to comment on the whole thing) the video just adds to the dissonant and ethereal vide the whole package is putting out. I think it’s great.
Top 3 Gigs of 2017
Not going to write too much here, because I already wrote things! Get off my back. I WOULD have added Crossfaith and While She Sleeps in there, but the shame is they supported In Hearts Wake which were so mind numbingly boring it kind of tainted the whole thing. So my list is as follows;
#3. Perturbator – 22nd November @ The Factory Theatre, Sydney (Review Here)
#2. Fleshgod Apocalypse – 2nd June @ The Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney (Review Here)
#1. Direct Undeground Festival – 17th March @ The Factory Theatre, Sydney (Review Here)
Next Big Band to Watch in 2018
I am absolute garbage at predictions. So I’m just going to say… Fuck. Osaka Punch?
What Am I Most Looking Forward to in 2018
Okay, this is easy. I’m super stoked for new Portal! So trippy to hear their new song sounding like actual music, but hey, it’s Portal, sure it’ll be great. New Rolo Tomassi will be brilliant as well, because everything they do is mind bogglingly good and ahead of the game. They’re wizards and a wizardess. Pretty sure Behemoth are releasing new music soon, so I’m into that. Wish Vildhjarta would say something!!! But other than that, I’m most looking forward to any black metal that comes out of France and Poland; France has been delivering some crazy good stuff and Poland is burgeoning. Excited.