As part of out 2017 Year-End Extravaganza, we’ve reached out to some of our favorite people in the metal world and asked them if they’d be interested in contributing lists of their own – 10 records, ranked (or not), metal (or not), with a sentence or two (or more, if they felt like it) about each. Much to our surprise, several actually said yes.
Eric Baker – Chaos Moon/Manetheren/Conqbine
My top 10 albums of 2017:
10. Nocturnal Triumph – Into Light’s Graven Womb
Little is known about Nocturnal Triumph. No previous releases, no identity of members, not even information regarding where they are from. And that is a wonderful thing. With the Internet, it is seemingly impossible to not find information about a band. You can go into listening to this record blind; purely allowing the music to speak for itself. The music communicates a wide variety of emotion, while delivering a relentless black metal attack. Into Light’s Graven Womb features some of the most tortured vocals and razor sharp riffs this year.
9. Drowning the Light – Varcolaci Rising
Drowning the Light’s previous offering, From the Abyss, saw the band using cleaner production, while still maintaining their visceral sound. Varcolaci Rising sees the band utilizing production more similar to older releases. These songs are extremely well written, and per the usual, Azgorh has planned out this album meticulously. To me, this recent offering is a companion to From the Abyss. Though Drowning the Light’s discography is extensive, these latest LPs are some of Azgorh’s finest work ever.
8. Vaal – Geesten van de verlorenen
An organ composition introduces and concludes this LP, and it is absolutely haunting. The bulk of the album is straight up relentless black metal. Of my chosen ten albums, this is the most hate-filled and raw sounding. If you are seeking a release that features pure aggression, look no further than this. I am hoping that Vaal will release more full-length albums in the near future.
7. Mûspellzheimr – Nidhöggr
This record is quite different than its predecessor, Hyldest til Trolddommens Flamme. Mûspellzheimr goes in an even darker, more tormented direction on Nidhöggr. The production is fairly raw, which adds to the already terror filled atmosphere. Certainly, the most horrific sounding album on my list, and one I will continue to revisit frequently.
6. White Death – White Death
Finnish Black Metal executed masterfully. Extremely scathing vocals, cold guitars, and pummeling drums. You will end up with riffs and melodies stuck in your head constantly after listening to this album, especially from the closing track “White Death’s Power.” An outstanding debut LP and one I now consider a staple in the Finnish style.
5. Whoredom Rife – Dommedagskvad
This is True Norwegian Black Metal as it should be! Would not have expected to be saying that in 2017, but here we are. Whoredom Rife’s debut EP was great, but their debut LP Dommedagskvad is even better. Superior riffs are a main focus on this record, but I must say the atmospheric pieces stand out just as much. Many bands have atmospheric parts that slow things down or ease up the intensity. That is not how Whoredom Rife delivers them; they are intense and violent.
4. Lluvia – Enigma
I have come to learn over the years that if Lord Vast has involvement with something musically, I am going to enjoy it. I was late getting around to diving into Lluvia’s latest record, but as my expectation of Vast goes, it delivers in full. Enigma is not a record you put on and just casually enjoy. It’s a total experience that you have to be completely immersed in to get the real value. Take the time to listen deeply, and you will be rewarded.
3. Horn – Turm am Hang
Turm am Hang was a huge surprise to me this year. I have been a Horn fan since first hearing Naturkraft in years past. While this record is very much different than Horn’s previous works, it comes as a welcome change. The intensity is at peak levels, and the album is the catchiest on my list. Vocals are a standout on this one.
2. Wulkanaz – Paralys
Kumulonimbus (aka Wagner Ödegård) is always busy working on music. Paralys captures some of his best work to date, from electronic parts to aggressive black metal. He displays his constant ability to dial in completely unique guitar tones and techniques on this record. Maniacal, yet extremely well thought out and written.
1. Krolok – Flying Above Ancient Ruins
I haven’t listened to an album more than this one in all of 2017. It is filled with incredible riffs and atmosphere from beginning to end. The vampiric themes are done very well, as to not come off as cheesy; rather very dark and violent. You can feel sorrow, hatred, despair, and evil in the changing moods throughout the duration. It all mixes so well that it has become an album I consider perfect in all aspects.
Nick Burks – Stonecutters
There’s no ranking order because they all rule for different reasons.
Emma Ruth Rundle & Jaye Jayle – The Time Between Us – Split EP
I saw Emma Ruth Rundle open for Russian Circles and she blew me away. Jaye Jayle is from Louisville, Kentucky and I was there for the first show. So when they put out this split I was stoked! It’s a fantastic listen all the way through.
Exhumed – Death Revenge
Exhumed knocked it out if the park on this latest release. The songs flow seamlessly into each other. Nonstop horror!!!
Immolation – Atonement
The kings of New York Death Metal always kill it. Relentless brutality from some of my heroes.
Marty Friedman – Wall Of Sound
Marty is the king! I always ask myself, “What Would Friedman Do?”
Scale The Summit – In a World of Fear
It’s their most eclectic and diverse album yet. The guest artists on this record are monster players and it’s really exciting to hear what they bring to the album.
St. Vincent – Masseduction
St. Vincent took her new album in a different direction. It’s a dark, sexy, and moody pop music.
Karl Blau – Introducing Karl Blau
This came out in 2016, so I’m late on this album. I love the two Tom T. Hall covers he does (“That’s How I Got to Memphis” and “Homecoming”). I’ve never heard anybody cover Hall, and Blau’s voice and arrangement gives Hall’s classic tunes a new life.
Decrepit Birth – Axis Mundi
Decrepit Birth always blow me away. Each record is different from the last but still sounds like DB. The vocals on Axis Mundi are more brutal and the song structure is complex, catchy, and has an emotional depth. There’s a lot of energy in DB’s music.
S U R V I V E – RR7387 EP
It’s all remixes of Survive songs by other artists. Justin K Broadrick’s remix of “Other” jams.
Jon Frum – A Stirring in the Noos
Jon Frum sounds like someone taking LSD and trying to play Gorguts riffs. It’s an incredible album. Eight tracks of genre bending madness.