I am going to do reviews of my favorite metal albums from the past few years. I am a recent convert to metal music, so I am starting with 2017. This first list is coming out in October. In November I will do my 2018 top ten and then in December I will do my 2019 top ten. You can already see my lists here, but in these posts I will go into more detail about why I have chosen these albums.
10) Bufihimat – I
Rating: 4.1/5 stars
Favorite Track: Digging The Hole
Bufihimat is a Russian band that plays what I can only describe as grindy-blackened-tech-death. Their first full length album I is front-to-back discordance – it sounds like the tortured ghost of a maniacal robot came back from Hell to haunt a mental institution. The guitars are done with enough technical proficiency so as to set it apart from the often times monotone riffs heard in death metal, but not so wanky as to be unlistenable. As I said, I’m new to the metal scene, so I don’t have the expert ears of someone who has been listening to the genre all their life, but that is why I enjoy my death metal to be more technical: it adds variety that some bands seem to lack. Bufihimat does a good job of having riffs and breakdowns that stand out to someone with only an amateur level appreciation for the music. Thus, I am putting this album at #10 on my list of favorite albums of 2017.
Rating: 4.1/5 stars
Favorite Track: Apostasis
Blut Aus Nord is a French avant-garde black metal band. Their style I can only describe as atmospheric-industrial-black metal. Emphasis on the industrial aspect with this album. This album is somehow both haunting and ethereal while also being relentless and anxiety inducing. The percussion sounds like someone banging away in some industrial factory off in the distance as you walk down the streets of some dystopian hellscape that may or may not be haunted by the wailing ghosts of our authoritarian overlord’s torture victims. Therefore, I am putting Deus Salutis Meæ at #9 on my list of favorite albums from 2017.
Rating: 4.2/5 stars
Favorite Track: The Slain God
Azarath is a blackened death metal band from Poland. Blackened is another way I prefer to take my death metal. In addition to the darker aesthetic that I enjoy in blackened death metal, I also feel like blackened death metal vocalists often have more dynamic range in their vocals than a lot of straight death metal bands and that, more often, the vocals and music complement each other more. That is definitely the case with Azarath – it sounds like what the hordes of Hell would listen to as they marched into victory against God’s own host. Though I must say, I don’t think Marcin “Skullripper” Sienkiel is as good a vocalist as Marek “Necrosodom” Lechowski. This is one of the main reasons I don’t think In Extremis is as good as their previous 2011 album Blasphemers’ Meledictions, which is my favorite album from this band. That being said, this is still a good album from Azarath and that is why it is #8 on my list for 2017.
Rating: 4.3/5 stars
Favorite Track: Seething with Disdain
Dying fetus is a brutal death metal band from Baltimore, Maryland with a little more technicality than is seen in most brutal death metal and slam. As is standard for Dying Fetus, this album is a non-stop assault on your auditory sense: you get pretty much exactly what you would expect from the cover art and the album title, which is a mixture of technical guitar playing along with chugging riffs and low, guttural vocals that make you think the eponymous dead fetus is being extracted by a mutated bear that just emerged from the sewers. I don’t think I like Wrong One to Fuck With as much as their 2009 release Descend into Depravity, with the production being more raw and guitar having a little more of the buzz-saw sound I like on that earlier album, but this one still ranks #7 on my favorites from 2017.
Rating: 4.4/5 stars
Favorite Track: Svarog’s Mountain
Hate is a Polish blackened death metal band that is often accused of sounding like Behemoth. Those accusations are somewhat true, but there are worse accusations than that of sounding like Behemoth. And as is the case with Behemoth, and Azarath on this list, the Polish seem to have the market cornered on good blackened death metal. One wonders how much the atrocity-riddled history of the Polish people is influencing all this darkness coming from the country – Hate sounds like something that was spawned in the depths of Białowieża forest so vile that it would give Oskar Dirlewanger nightmares. If that is the case, at least all that pain and suffering wasn’t a complete waste: it has resulted in some good music. Thus, Hate’s Tremendum takes the #6 spot on my top ten list of metal albums from 2017.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Favorite Track: Impulse
Decapitated is a Polish technical death metal band. Anticult is an album full of progressive, thrash-influenced, and groove-driven death metal that also manages to have some level of atmosphere to it. The riffs on this album are all extremely heavy, sometimes almost bordering on deathcore levels of br00tal, but still staying within a groovy-style death metal realm. This whole album is definitely something one could get a concussion banging their head to – it sounds like an out-of-control freight train carrying the remains of a demented pagan Bacchanalia gone wrong to the raging pyre where they are to be cremated. That elevates Anticult to #5 on my list for 2017.
Rating: 4.7/5 stars
Favorite Track: Elleskudt
Myrkur is a project by Danish singer Amalie Bruun. This is definitely an odd album out on the list since it is disputed how “metal” Myrkur even is. There are black metal elements to the music, but it’s also very much atmospheric Scandinavian folk music. Either way, I enjoy it. Amalie is an amazing singer and even throws in the occasional black metal screaming section in this floating, atmospheric, feminine, and often haunting take on the black metal genre, sounding like the mournful ghost of a shield maiden come to reclaim glory for the Jutes. That is why this album ranks as #4 on my top ten list for metal albums in 2017.
Rating: 4.8/5 stars
Favorite Track: Human Murmuration
Archspire is another technical death metal band, this one from Canada. A pattern should be visible by now that when it comes to my death metal, I definitely like a bit of technicality. Archspire has this in spades – this is probably the most technical of all the technical death metal I have on this list. Mix the technicality of the guitar work with the percussive vocals and you get something that doesn’t sound like any other death metal band I have thus far heard – it sounds like a serial killer was merged with a machine while he was high on meth and is now hunting down the mad scientist that did this to him. I really enjoy this album, but I can see why they kept it at a svelte 7 tracks at 30 minutes run time: by the end, even the fret-tickling technicality, and especially the percussive vocals, can get somewhat repetitive. Archspire released a hell of a third album with Relentless Mutation, and that is why I put it at #3 on my list of favorite albums from 2017.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Favorite Track: Soul Sacrifice
Power trip is a crossover thrash band from Texas. I’m not alone in ranking their album Nightmare Logic as one of the best metal albums of 2017. This album definitely lives up to the hype. I’m not the biggest fan of thrash metal, but even I can’t deny how amazing Nightmare Logic is – every song sounds like a barbarous war anthem from a ravenous Hunnic tribe preparing to exterminate a Byzantine metropolis. That’s how pumped up this music gets me. And for that reason this album takes spot #2 on my list of ten favorite albums of 2017.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Favorite Track: Dodecahedron: An Ill-Defined Air of Otherness
Dodecahedron is a Dutch avant-garde black metal band. You may see another trend emerge in my list here: I like my black metal weird. And with Dodecahedron, weird is what you get. They’re more aggressive than the likes of Blut Aus Nord and Myrkur, but still not without the atmosphere that is important to black metal. This album is not quite as discordant as their previous self titled album, but it certainly doesn’t lack in that department, giving it an off-putting, even jarring feeling that stays throughout – it sounds like the half-rotted resurrection of a Satan-worshiping priest is trying to serenade a cannibalistic witch from the muddy depths of a frigid First World War trench in Flanders during the opening salvo of a cannonade. For these reasons I am putting kwintessens as #1 on my list of favorite albums from 2017.