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Best albums and tracks of 2018

The best albums of 2018 contains about 80 albums that I listened enough to warrant them a place in this list. Scroll further down for the best tracks as a Spotify playlist and a few pickups that I missed in 2017. Hyperlinks lead to reviews.


Best albums of 2018

Excellent (9)

Summoning — With Doom We Come – symphonic epic doom metal

Ancestors — Suspended in Reflections – doom metal / psychedelic rock

Orphaned Land — Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs oriental progressive metal

Hamferð — Támsins Likam doom metal / death doom


Excellent- (9-)

Gorod — Aethra progressive/technical death metal

Slugdge —  Esoteric Malacology – technical death metal – the beginning trilogy is 10/10, among absolute best tracks of the year but unfortunately the rest of the album is only good.


Very good (8½)

Kallomäki — Roka Ukridark folk metal

Haken — Vector progressive metal

Lik — Carnage – oldschool death metal


Very good 8+

Warrel Dane — Shadow Workprogressive metal / groove metal

Doomed — 6 Anti-Odes to Lifedeathdoom metal

Stam1na — Taival – progressive metal / thrash metal

Sigh — Heir To Despair – progressive metal / avant-garde metal

Snarg — Snarg II – hardcore punk / nintendo rock

Howling void / Nyss Splitdoom metal / black metal

The Ocean — Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic – progressive metal / post metal

King Goat — Debt of Aeons doom metal


Good (8)

Asunojokei — Awakening black metal, post-hardcore and Japanese anime music

Muuan Mies — Elämmekö Unessa? – Finnish indie pop with reggae and rap influences

Hollywood Burns — Invaders synthwave – When Carpenter Brut started going soft, Hollywood Burns composed this joyous hard-hitting synthwave extravaganza. It is not the most original of albums, but the quality of the tracks is high. This is the year I also ran through nearly all Perturbator albums, but Hollywood Burns overtook them all.

Thy Catafalque — Geometriaprogressive metal / avant-garde metal/rock

Xenoverse — The Fall: Part I – progressive metal/rock

Eleanoora Rosenholm — Talvipalatsin puutarhassa – Finnish experimental indie pop

The Eternal — Waiting for the Endless Dawndoom metal / melodic metal

Kovaa Rasvaa — Pahan vaimon käsikirjahardcore punk / chaotic hardcore / metalcore

Sol Invictus — Necropolisneofolk

A Forest of Stars — Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakesavant-garde black metal

Ultha — The Inextricable Wanderingatmospheric black metal

Craft — White Noise and Black Metalblack metal – Craft is one of the most original black metal bands today, great mixture of black metal, doom and depressive tones. I particularly love the guitarists unique style but also the way the bass stands up. Just not enough killer tracks, unfortunately.

Cosmic Church — Täyttymys – black metal

Tribulation — Down Belowblackened occult metal/rock

Slægt — The Wheel Blackened occult heavy metal – initial disappointment wore off and The Wheel turned out to be a fine release, albeit I’m missing the black metal hues of the past that Being Born (Is Going Blind) still successfully employs.

Heptaedium — A M E N – breakcore


Good (8-)

Magoth — Zeitgeist: Dystopia – black metal

Jpegmafia — Veteran experimental noise rap

Omnium Gatherum — The Burning Cold – melodic death metal

At the Gates — To Drink from the Night Itself – melodic death metal

Radien — Syvyys – sludge / doom metal

Iglooghost — Clear Tamei EPIDM, trip-hop / wonky, breakcore, dubstep / maximalist 

Cryptopsy — The Book of Suffering – Tome II brutal/technical death metal

Barren Earth — A Complex of Cagesprogressive (death) metal

Amorphis — Queen Of Time – melodic metal – The c part of Golden Elk sounds like it could have been composed by Orphaned Land lads themselves, and hey some folk from the band are guesting on the album, so maybe it is! Quite a few nice symphonic touches on the album that really resemble Orphaned land, a good thing, their album is one of the best of 2018 after all. Sometimes I feel Queen of Time is a 8+ album and others sounds like another boring Tomi Joutsen era Amorphis album (7), so I settled somewhere in between.

Valkyrja — Throne Ablazeblack metal

Primordial — Exile Amongst the Ruinsheavy metal / doom metal

Converge — Beautiful Ruin – chaotic hardcore/metalcore – fierce and short, as much as I like EP’s under 7 minutes is so little. Always listening it twice helps.

Voices — Frightenedblackened melodic metal with progressive and death metal twists – Footsteps is an absolute anthem.

Rivers of Nihil — Where Owls Know My Name – technical death metal – Starts really solidly, but soon it becomes apparent that while Where Owls Know My Name is technically really solid it often reduces to chugging around with spacey melodies. I’ve heard this before.

Paperi T — Kaikki on hyvinFinnish indie rap

Mogwai — KIN – post rock – good relaxing background music but lacks a bit of memorability and louder songs.


Good- 7½

Hegemone — We Disappear atmospheric black metal – Similar to Ultha but there’s even more inextricable musical wandering in the tracks. Condensing would be most welcome, Mara, Raising Barrows and Tengri have a lot of good stuff going on in the end. In most cases it takes quite a few minutes of mediocre material to reach the blissful end. Raising Barrows is a good entity and the end of Tengri one of the best moments of the entire year.

Oneothrix Point Never — Age of – experimental mellowly fucked up electronic

Empty — Vaciodepressive black metal – Strangely hooking, might prove to get better with time.

Satan — Cruel Magic80s heavy metal – Usually would not be to my liking at all but Satan is at best great because of solid riffs and vocalists mean enough delivery. Nearly the lone exception in 80s heavy metal department. Atom By Atom (2015) was overall a more varied and solid release.

Iglooghost — Steel Mogu EP – IDM, trip-hop / wonky, breakcore, dubstep / maximalist 

Carpenter Brut — Leather teeth – synthwave

Alex Tiuniaev — The Escapist + Moon Quartetclassical pianist – I’ve never dug into classical elegant piano music, I guess The Escapist is an alright relaxing release of that sort. Moon Quartet is genuinely an enjoyable track with more luscious arrangements, violin etc.. It is not from the short The Escapist EP, but it is a perfect addon to the end. I will certainly keep my eye open for more Moon Quartet like material.

Kriegsmaschine — Apocalypticists black metal


Okay+ (7+)

Mournful Congregation — The Incubus of Karmafuneral doom metal – could grow to be better, about 10 listens did not still unearth this giant. Unlike usually, I liked it more in the first listens, good album straight from the start.

Panssarijuna — Voiko tähän kuolla – Finnish indie rock / trauma blues – the trauma blues elements are considerably less prominent and the album is more polished than before.

Sea of Poppies — Sea of Poppies experimental harsh noise / analogue

The Howling Void — The Darkness at the Edge of Dawnmelancholic doom metal

Behemoth — I Loved You At Your Darkestblack metal / blackened death metal

Machine Girl — The Ugly Art – Electro / industrial / chiptune / darkstep / Metalcore / indie / IDM –  There’s so much different stuff but somehow all fit under Machine Girl’s output (I did not even mention the occasional hardcore punk vibes or rave/psytrance beats / glitchy stuff). It’s not an unclear album at all. I just wish it was better songwise and better sung. The post-hardcore-like screaming does not really appeal to me. A lot of aggression present, a rather enjoyable mindfuck with some really bright spots and constant variation. On some listens I can barely stand the album, on others I am absolutely entertained. Listeners who have a liking of post-hardcore or metalcore can easily enjoy it more then me.

Teksti-TV 666 — Aidattu tulevaisuus – Finnish post punk / noise rock / indie rock

Mörkö — Ulvova Tyhjyys – progressive/atmospheric/ black metal / electronic / ambient – I’ve always liked the weird side of Finnish black metal but Mörkö just keeps going all out ambient in the tracks. Especially the latter half of album is almost only ambient. I almost gave the album a better grade for its sheer strangeness. Probably the most puzzling release of this year, has some strange magic I haven’t yet managed to grasp completely. I might understand the album better in 2 years. I’m actually looking for coming back to it later to see if it has grown. The beginning of Sikiäminen promises so much that on first listen I was ready to deem it among best albums of the year.


Okay (7)

Fireproven — Future Diary – progressive metal – Good live band but the album is too long and repetitive. There’s easily over 30 minutes of 8/10 material. Good amount of promise.

Hebosagil — Metsätie / JokiFinnish noise rock – Too pleasant, where’s the mud and dirt? I gotta say I quite enjoy the new clean guitar sound though.

Jukka Nousiainen — Ei enää kylmää eikä pimeää – Finnish retro 70s jytä/purkka rock/pop –  Pretty much everything is done the right way but it is not my thing. At worst such bright 70s poprock I’m glad I wasn’t yet born in that decade. But the meandering between quiet and noisier sections works delightfully, especially Aurinko paistaa romukasaan is a successful piece. Instrumentation is well played, some lyrics border great, some are quite naive, nicely airy sounds. I can imagine Jukka Nousiainen works well live, his other band Räjäyttäjät! definitely does.

Sarr — Ávitun – black metal –  3 track ep has a good title track, then it goes very repetitive and lo-fi with little ideas and a lot of length. Side-project of Nyss.

Makrofagi — Makrofagi – progressive rock/metal – In a world where Yup, Cmx or Absoluuttinen nollapiste didn’t exist, this’d be great. Technically good, atmospheric, even a quite original progressive weird rock/metal, just does not catch flight for reasons a bit unknown. All the sudden, a language change: liikaa hitaita biisejä, sanoituksiin on vaikea samaistua, aika pimeitä tarinoita. Jumalattaressa on hieno kertsi. Hyvä suomalainen häröilymusa lienee saturoinut korvani niin että vähempi kuin mestariteos ei kelpaa. Ne ovat aina liian lähellä EP:n Aavekaupunki on valitettavasti edelleen Makrofagin paras biisi.

Heptaedium — The Great Herald of Misery – djent / electronic


Okay- (6½)

There’d be significantly more albums here and below, but I didn’t see a reason to find albums I did not like to listen them again for a fair grade.

Sear Bliss — Letters From The Edgeatmospheric black metal – When another metal veteran Amorphis made their best record of the 2000s, Sear Bliss who has always delivered so far did the opposite.

Watain — Trident Wolf Eclipseblack metal – Sworn to the dark pt II, this time with a lot less soul.


6+

Therion — Beloved Antichristsymphonic heavy metal – Listening any of the 3 albums is quite pleasing, it is the entity with not enough substance or variety that is hard to fathom.


6

Ronski & Satanic — Täältä tullaan kuolema! – Finnish occult rap – Cool concept and a good idea. Should be my cup of tea but the most important, lyrics, instead of being deep and esoteric unfortunately are half interesting and half sound stupid. The single track is very good, at least.

Møl — Jordblackgaze – Professional, loudness war, serene, bright. Møl is making me understand why some people hate blackgaze.

Kalmah — Palomelodic death metal – I can find no burn of emotion here, just casual melodeath with extremely generic melodies. I liked every Kalmah album before this. Stalker is a decent piece of a track though.

Necrophobic — Mark of the Necrogramblack metal – Mediocreness overload, it is actually hard to understand why I get no joy out of Mark of the Necrogram, I even liked it on the very first listens. Very professional record in all measurable variables.

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard / Slomatics splitdoom metal / sludge – There’s quality in here, I reckon there’s a lot of people who might enjoy this kind of slightly psychedelic, slightly stoner, slightly oldschoolish sludge doom similar to Ufomammut. I don’t. Perhaps the riffs fail to find my connection or perhaps they really are generic.


5

Khôrada — Saltprogressive metal –  There’s no way I’m listening this mess more than 1 time if it’s not a side-project of Agalloch. What a letdown. Vocals are close to incessant wailing and the song-writing is a mess. If given enough time, it might grow to be a bad album instead of very bad. I guess John Haughm was the visionary of Agalloch after all. I genuinely hope that Khôrada picks it up later, in paper they have a lot of talent.


Some albums I checked out artificially but I didn’t have enough time to properly listen them

KivirantaGammasäde
KivirantaDolce Vita
ÖverFacing Trancendence
Anaal NathrakhA New Kind of Horror
Jarkko MartikainenAina Auki
VolaApplause Of A Distant Crowd
SerocsThe Phobos​/​Deimos Suite
The Beast of NodVampira: Disciple of Chaos
Hiidenhauta1695
Thomas Erak and The Shoreline — The Whole Story
Perfect BeingsVier
W.A.I.L. Wisdom Through Agony into Illumination and Lunacy vol. II – the most demanding album this year, after over 5 listens I am still unable to place this monstrous doom slab anywhere.


Best tracks of 2018

Best tracks arranged to a playlist in quite random order.


Bubbling under

Brilliant tracks just below the first category. Except on a good day…


2017 flashback

albums from 2017 that I found out too late to make it into last year’s top list.

9+

Iglooghost — Neō Wax Bloom – IDM, trip-hop / wonky, breakcore, dubstep

9-

King Gizzard — Murder of the Universe – progressive rock / garage rock – the darkest, weirdest and most progressive of 2017 King Gizzard albums, making it the best one.

Aether Realm — Tarot melodic death metal
Caligula’s Horse — In Contactprogressive metal – Songs for No One jumped straight into my best progressive metal tracks of all time list.
Lauren Bousfield — Fire Songs – experimental idm / breakcore
Camerata Mediolanense — Le Vergini Folli – neoclassical

8+

Magoth — Anti Terrestial Black Metal – black metal

8

Perturbator — New Modelsynthwave
Aivovuoto — Dötöx Finnish rap
Saimaa — Urheilu-Suomi
– progressive rock for sportsmen
King Gizzard — Polygondwanaland – garage rock – 5 albums released 2017 and all of them quality! Polygondwanaland is a complete free download too. Not only that but it was released with a statement “This album is FREE. Free as in, free. Free to download and if you wish, free to make copies. Make tapes, make CD’s, make records.” There’s 234 different versions to date! Growth from 2017’s is 74! I also made a best of 2017 collection which I will publish later.
King Gizzard — Sketches of Brunswick East – garage rock

8-

Venenum — Trance of Death – death metal
Leprous — Malina – progressive rock / progressive metal
Earth Electric — Solar, Vol. 1 – heavy metal / doom metal / progressive
Mustan Kuun Lapset — Saatto
– dark metal

7+

Black Dahlia Murder — Nightbringers – melodic death metal

Anathema — The Optimist – post rock / alaternative rock – Anathema’s albums nearly always have individual great tracks, here it’s Endless Ways.


OK 2017 albums I didn’t listen enough, but there were some potential

Angerfist — Creed of Chaos
Insurgency — Militant Death Cult
nishaiar — UNIVERSUM
Light of the Morning star — Nocta
Mogwai — Every Country’s Sun
Resurgency — No Worlds…Nor Gods Beyond
Deserted Fear — Dead Shores Rising
Ghost — Prequelle

Perturbator – New Model

R-10983619-1507653153-4272.jpegWhen others were just learning the synthwave genre, Perturbator had already mastered the trade in 2012. I came late to Perturbator/synthwave bandwagon, having only listened Carpenter Brut for years.

Perturbator’s 2017 34 minute EP New Model is a different sound than the norm, darker, more riff oriented approach. If one can say riffs about electronic music. Not surprisingly, the main man behind Perturbator, James Kent, has background in metal, having been a guitarist in multiple black metal bands before Perturbator era.

I’m a big fan of the dark dystopia atmosphere, it supports the themes a lot better than the regular hard-hitting fast and bright 80s synthwave sound that most artists are doing. Problem is, the compositions are slightly jarred. I mean, the sections don’t always flow as smoothly as they should. And when they do, there could be more content.

Take Tainted Empire as an example, it seems to be a collection of interval sections that pop up and then go away. You’d think the great melodic part from 2-3 minutes is the beef but then the last minutes are some mech-walking like slow and doomy droning. The sung single track Vantablack almost hits the mark, but in the end is a bit of a 8/10 sci-fi movie with a brilliant start. Enjoyable, but not as good as it could have been.

Corrupted By Design has extreme head-banging groove as an intro and main theme, but the 5 minute composition doesn’t feature much else of note. The beginning track Birth of a New Model is an excellent entity and the last track God Complex, takes the groove, turns the rhythm knobs, adds some sky-soaring clean synths. A really fucking excellent 8.5 minute tough as nails entity where even the few minutes of ambient in the midst are a support column.

The new model has a lot of promise but the main functions are still a tad bit buggy. Due to bugs the user experience is sometimes frustrating but in the end New Model does the job. There’s been a vast amount of innovations that have never been taken further after the semi-successful first model. One can only hope Perturbator keeps fine-tuning and developing the sound and the next version is the definitive 2.0 Perturbator.

8/10

Best albums and tracks of 2017

The best albums of 2017 contains 60 albums that I listened enough to warrant them a place in this list. Scroll further down for the best tracks as a Spotify playlist and a few pickups that I missed in 2016. Hyperlinks lead to reviews.


Best albums of 2017

Near perfect (9+)

cover-sm

Loss — Horizonless – funeral doom / deathdoom – Horizonless by Loss is a giant of a funeral doom album. It portrays a wide dispersal of moods, shifting between beautiful, crushing and ominous. The instrumentation and sounds are all top level, even the bass guitar comes to the fore time to time.
     Horizonless seeped among the best albums of 2017 slowly. I dare to say this is my favourite doom release from the US since Morgion’s criminally underknown Cloaked by Ages, Crowned in Earth (2004).


Excellent (9)

R-10928436-1506685605-4925.jpeg

Nyss — Princesse Terre (Three Studies of Silence and Death) – atmospheric black metal – Fantastic atmosphere, riffs and use of effective repetition. Climaxes, build-ups, some melodies, backing ambience. Absolute top tier atmospheric and hypnotic black metal.


Very good (9-)

 

 

Grave Pleasures — Motherblood – death rock / post-punk – Everything that Beastmilk, who later renamed themselves to Grave Pleasures did right in the first album Climax (2013) also comes in place on Motherblood. The blasphemous lyrics, deathrock and catchy pop hooks groove together elegantly again.
     The album retains a strong base level through it’s length. Tracks like Joy Through Death dance between two worlds masterfully. It could be an eulogy or as well just a piece of dark humorous obscenity!

Hebosagil — Fortuna / Auta – noise rock / post-metal / hardcore punk – Bursting with melodies and aggression. I don’t think they’ve ever before had this many pop hooks. On the other hand, the 2nd track Auta still flirts with drone and noise rock with violently paranoid lyrics…


Good+ (8½)

 

 

Septicflesh — Codex Omega – symphonic death metal

Woe — Hope Attrition – atmospheric black metal – biggest grower of the year.

Oranssi Pazuzu — Kevät / Värimyrsky Psychedelic black metal / stoner doom – Pazuzu re-released their split with Candy Cane with the name Farmakologinen, it’s a 9+/10 album but also released a brand new great single. Värimyrsky is a welcome nod back to their old days.

Slægt — Domus Mysterium – black metal / heavy metal – I really liked the 2015 EP Beautiful and Damned so it’s really welcome to see they are as good a full-length band!

Wintersun  — The Forest Seasons – symphonic metal /progressive metal / melodic metal – Wintersun’s The Forest Seasons might be the album that has split most opinions in 2017. It currently stands at 56 % in Metal Archives which cannot be based on music alone. For the musics in this music album are mostly solid as heck.
     First three tracks (clocking over 40 minutes) are packed with memorable melodies, good songwriting and fine sounding symphonics. Wintersun is not a one trick pony solely based on power metal and melodeath. The album has a few aces up its sleeve. For example, most melodeath bands might not try their skills in black metal or melancholic doom.

Heptaedium — How Long Shall I Suffer Here? – electronic metal / breakcore / nintendocore / progressive metal

Glanko — OsmosiSci-fi IDM – Dark toned themes with sci-fi elements. Glanko has matured and found great melody lines to accompany beats more diverse than ever. Perfect music for reading sci-fi like Dan Simmonds Hyperion quartet! You can add / remove half a point depending if you are reading sci-fi or not!

Sun of The Sleepless — To The Elements – atmospheric black metal


Good+ (8+)

 

 

Vallenfyre — Fear Those Who Fear Him – oldschool death metal with connections to Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Abhorrence. Not surprisingly, the best moments on Fear Those Who Fear Him are the slower doomier bits. The sound of the album is quite perfect for this kind of music altogether. Really powerful, far from crystal clear, yet not muddy at all. Piercing, rumbling and ferocious.

The Moth Gatherer — The Comfortable Low – post-metal / post-rock

Wear Your Wounds — WYW – slowcore / post-rock / shoegaze – side-project of Converge’s Jacob Bannon. The highs are really high if you’ve always digged the slower tracks of Converge. WYW strips down almost all heavy guitars and is quite a melancholic slowcore / post-rock / shoegaze album. Unsurprisingly the heaviest moments rank among the best.
There’s over 20 minutes of boring material in the midst of 63 minutes so I’m ranking it more for the good points than for the bad. Just skipping the last two tracks already makes it great. Still difficult to get into. 

Ayreon — The Source (album 1) – progressive rock / musical

AlNamrood — Enkar – Middle Eastern blackened deaththrash – one of the biggest growers of the year, initially I did not even like Enkar it as it does not repeat the mystic and even majestic atmospheric tricks of their 2015 album Diaji Al Joor. Enkar is quite a punk album compared to Diaji but after over 10 listens the Middle Eastern instrumentation, nuances and straightforward fierce song-writing started to really feel like a tight package.


Good (8ish)

 

 

Over the Voids… — Over The Voids – black metal

James Elkington — Wintres Womasinger-songwriter / acoustic / folk – At best Elkington channels Nick Drake’s gentle guitar virtuosity. Fortunately he is not a one-trick pony but I admit I’m a sucker for the more complicated pickings.

Ulver — The Assassination of Julius Caesar – avant-garde synthpop / experimental

Converge — The Dusk In Us – metalcore / hardcore / post-hardcore

WÖYH! — KRTKRTK – progressive rock / children’s music for adults

Janne Westerlund — There’s a Passage singer-songwriter / folk / acoustic / experimental

Au-Dessus — End of Chapter – atmospheric black metal / post-metal

The Faceless — In Becoming a Ghost – progressive death metal – Half really good (Digging The Grave, The Spiraling Void, Shake The Disease, I Am, half of Black Star), the rest is filler. Extra points from how the melodramatic intro sets up Digging the Grave. The jumpiest album start since Ghost of Perdition by Opeth!

Pryapisme — Diabolicus Felinae Pandemonium – Avant-garde metal / experimental metal


8-

 

 

Ochre — Beyond The Outer Loop – idm / downtempo / ambient

Troldhaugen — Idio+syncrasies – avant-garde metal / humour metal – Half funny, half annoying, half great. This is a true love it or hate it album, yet I am inbetween because the compositions are mostly great but vocals oft times annoyingly over freaky. The metalcore / crabcore influences aren’t that much of my liking either, some of the avant-garde elements are outrageously good and only a few outrageously annoying (the rap part of It’s Morphine Time, yet the chorus is a hilarious stadium rock sing-a-long). The album has hints of Crotchduster-like greatness. Bullseye track has the best track title of the year: I Ordered A Taxi Driver Not A Taxidermy.

Riitaoja — Täytettyjä lintuja – experimental indie rock / art rock / folk

Wvrm — Can You Hear The Wind Howl – grindcore / death metal – 10 minutes is just the right length for this kind of furious album. 6 tracks with a 3 minute doomy headbanger in the midst. Epic track length in their standards.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard — Flying Microtonal Banana – garage rock / psychedelic rock

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard — Gumboot Soup – garage rock / psychedelic rock – The rest of the 5 (!!!!!) albums they released this year I did not check properly yet. Quick check on Polygondwanaland sounds like another real quality effort. It’s concept would also be worth a mention. Here’s a great Youtube video sumup of their 5 album plan. King Gizzard is probably the most innovative rock band at the moment. Maybe one of the albums will match their 2016 album Nonagon Infinity.

Hanging Garden — I Am Become – atmospheric rock / doom metal – Blackout Whiteout was one of the biggest surprises of 2015, the first tastes of I am Become were great, yet it did not have the growth of the last album. The best bits Kouta and Our Dark Design are top class and the album does not really have bad sections either.

Lantern — II: Morphosis – new wave of Finnish oldschool dark death metal in the vein of Demigod and Convulse


 

 

Kardinaalit — Primus Culpa experimental / rock / humour – Primus Culpa demo should be annoying but mostly it is actually funny. These guys also have some high class material in their soundcloud (also a lot of junk), eagerly awaiting if they piece their shit together out of humour terrains and develop their stronger tracks. At least 3-4 are already fully ready and would be a backbone of a very strong release

Enslaved — E – progressive metal / viking metal / black metal – possible grower

Eneferens — In The Hours Beneath – atmospheric rock / atmospheric black metal

Wolves in the Throne Room — Thrice Woven – atmospheric black metal

Fen — Winter – atmospheric black metal – possible grower

Vulture Industries — Stranger Times – progressive metal / avant-garde metal – The first three tracks of the album are really fucking good which is why it’s such a shame that the rest of the album is strangely mediocre to almost useless. Three other tracks do stand out a bit. Something Vile’s last half is driven by good lead guitars and heavy drum pounding, matching the beginning. Midnight Draws Near and Screaming Reflections do have great vocals and good dynamic going on but constantly slow paced pretty good compositions fail to resonate much after the beginning of the album does everything a few notches better.

Pillorian Obsidian Arc – atmospheric black metal


7+

 

 

Ne Obliviscaris — Urn – progressive metal

KANASHIMI — INORI depressive black metal / funeral doom / japanese pop influences – yes you read right, Scar of the heart is a bullseye of a track, a nicely unique dsbm sound. Then the one man project repeats it nearly all album long… Classic one man band problem really.

Havukruunu — Kelle surut soi – pagan black metal – hello Moonsorrow, these guys are pretty good in their own right too. Bullseye track: Kelle Surut Soi.

Inferno Requiem — Nüwa 女媧 – oldschool black metal / atmospheric black metal

Igorrr — Savage Sinusoid – avant-garde metal / breakcore / electronic

Skyclad — Forward Into The Past – folk metal / heavy metal – metal-observer’s review seemed to sum most of my thoughts. I just have to add the best track “Change Is Coming” is at part with almost any of their tracks and “State of The Union Now” a fresh reminder of their thrash past. Judging by the 2015 album Atom by Atom, Steve Ramsay might just leave his best tracks for his other project, Satan.

Myrkur — Maredit – black metal / indie rock / dream pop – fantastic beginning then the mediocre but well sung indie / dream pop elements come to the surface. Most of the metallish tracks are slow, doomy and boring. The blastbeating chaotic atmosphere appears too scarcely. Luckily there’s Gladiatrix.


Okay (7ish)

 

 

Falls of Rauros — Vigilance Perennial – atmospheric black metal

Planeetta 9 — Koivut – Finnish metal / rock / doom

Falaise — My Endless Immensityblackgaze

Akercocke — Renaissance In Extremis – avant-garde metal / black metal – Possible grower, ~8 listens doesn’t seem to be enough

Alfahanne — Det Nya Svarta – post-punk / death rock – One track miracle Satans Verser, probably the best rock track of the year, there’s a good mellow post-punk atmosphere but Avgrundsgravitation and Det Nya Svarta are the only tracks that completely succeed in tension. Mitt mörkär är mörkäre än ditt is weirdly catchy, I can’t quite put my hand on it, if i like it or don’t. Same catchiness goes for Även an Hund Har Sin Dag. For a while I thought the album is great until it crashed down to mediocre. I admit I might like it more if I bothered to understand more of the lyrics.

Ayreon — The Source (album 2) – progressive rock / musical

Paradise Lost — Medusa – doom metal / death doom


Okay- (6½) aka class c black metal

 

 

Fleurety — The White Death – One track miracle The Ballad of The Copernicus, few ok tracks besides it (White Death, Future Day). Special credit to the worst riff of the year in the peculiarly, chosen single track Lament of the Optimist.

Ajattara — Lupaus – black metal – One track miracle Saatanan Sinetti, few good tracks besides it (Sinä, last half of Lupaus). Most lyrics a bit stupid: Pimeä, pimeä, kuolema, kuolema blah blah blah.. Special credit to stupidest choruses of the year in Ristinkirot and Machete. Too bad as Machete is musically quite a great headbanger.

Charnel Winds — Verschränkung – Avant-garde metal / black metal

Asagraum — Potestas Magicum Diaboli – black metal


Best tracks of 2017

Best tracks arranged to a playlist in quite random order. Playlist in text-pdf format + a few tracks that aren’t in Spotify: Best_tracks_of_2017


Bubbling under

Brilliant tracks just below the first category. Except on a good day…


2016 reprise

Bunch of interesting 2016 releases found too late

9ish

Downfall of Gaia — Atrophy – atmospheric black metal / post black metal

W. Iivarinen — Melankolia – Finnish metal / rock

8ish

Blood Incantation — Starspawn – Progressive atmospheric death metal
Jpefmafia — Black Ben Carson
– underground hiphop / experimental rap / trap
Cantique Lepreaux — Cendres Célestes
 – atmospheric black metal
Ultha — Converging Sins – atmospheric black metal / post-black metal
明日の叙景(Asunojokei) — 過誤の鳥 (A Bird in the Fault) – post-black metal/post-hardcore

7 to 8-

Khid — Ohi – experimental rap / trap
Baptism
— V: The Devil’s Fire – black metal
Jpefmafia — The 2nd Amendment
– underground hiphop / experimental rap / trap
Saor — Guardians
– atmospheric folk / black metal
Radiopuhelimet — Saastan Kaipuu
– melurock / finnish rock
Giraffe Tongue Orchestra — Broken Lines
– alternative metal / alternative rock

Grave Pleasures – Motherblood

gravepleasuresmotherbloodcdYes! Everything that Beastmilk, who later renamed themselves to Grave Pleasures did right in the first album Climax (2013) also comes in place on Motherblood. In the get-go Climax dangled on the edge of annoyingness and hipsterness but regained its balance with a 2.5 twisting somersault. The second album Dreamcrash (2015) had the same setting but dived belly first in the short end of the pool.

It only took about 5 seconds of the first track Infatuation Overkill to get the first goosebumps. First minute confirmed the track better than anything on the previous release. It is not a void promise, the album keeps a strong base level throughout. The blasphemous lyrics, deathrock and catchy pop hooks dance together elegantly again.

Joy Through Death would work great as an eulogy, or is it just a piece of dark humorous obscenity? The way Grave Pleasures tackles them both at the same time is par none. Doomsday Rainbows is one of the many brilliant titles in their repertoire. Middle-paced track blasts off with the c-part. “and when i’m high on the mushroom cloud”…

The three tracks after Joy Through Death are a tad more average than the rest but the ending trinity is all style. Atomic Christ‘s repetitive and hypnotic rhythm reminds a bit of space rock and post-punk greats (“Whaaat is that David Tibet!?!” *Quick google*, “It is him!!” (Current 93 / neofolk legend)). Deadenders is a pure rock track with radio potential. It also works really well as an acoustic version! Haunted Afterlife is a gloomy lyric, with lovely resounding post punk sounds. It is only three minutes long and for once Grave Pleasures does not seem to take any pleasure from death. But the greatly sung melodic sorrowful chorus is such a pleasure to listen to.

Among the best albums of 2017.

8½/10

Wintersun – The Forest Seasons

Wintersun - The Forest Seasons Cover mp3Wintersun’s The Forest Seasons might be the album that has split most opinions in 2017. Their Indiegogo campaign raised 464 330 euros (!) to be spent on their new headquarters that’d allow them to reach their “true vision” in future releases. As the frontman/main composer Jari Mäenpää stated, expensive limited studio time is not ideal for the massive compositions he wants to make.

The Forest Seasons represents a rawer sound that they can reach without the top notch equipment that is planned for the eternally overdue Time II. In fact, The Forest Seasons is almost completely a bedroom recording. All instruments are recorded by Jari Mäenpää.

The only reward level of the campaign was 50 euros and the reward: The Forest Package. It includes a new album, master files + bonus track, isolated tracks of the new album, live album from Tuska 2013, First album remaster 2.0, Time I remaster 1.5, Time I master files + isolated tracks, booklets, wallpapers, photos & instrumentals.

Some have praised the album, some accused Jari Mäenpää of being a conman before even getting the rewards. The truth is still out there, but following the whole campaign from the start till the end; I appreciated the honesty that they portrayed in a making of documentary. It was a good long watch in itself (1h 25min), and obviously free in Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MscAKtZt80I.

The Forest Seasons currently stands at 56 % in Metal-archives (19 reviews). I would say this is not based on just the music.

Wintersun’s first record (2004) has a special place in my heart though it has not lasted time (no pun intended) as well as some of the melodeath albums of its … Wait for it … Time… I did not think the second album Time I (2012) was much more than alright, 7-8/10. A lot of people are accusing The Forest Seasons of having bad sounds which is so puzzling considering Time I symphonics are at worst near frigging Casio quality. At times they are great, but the base level is not what I was expecting. I can totally understand Jari wanting to have more a bombastic sound in the future.

What bothers me about The Forest Seasons

I already thanked Wintersun about their honesty BUT one has to acknowledge that they did manage to kind of conceal the fact that drums are actually programmed. They are not played by the drummer of the band Kai Hahto. Obviously they never stated anything other. The drums are luckily very well programmed. The drum sound does not bother me at all, just the fact that they weren’t openly expressing that Kai Hahto is not going to play the drums. He is a drummer a lot of people rave about after all and made a lot of appearances in the documentary. Including appearing in the booklet as a band member.

I personally feel some cheese in the lyrics could have been avoided. At times the folk/viking metal aesthetics sound out of place on an album that is strongly based on the elements and seasons. Wintersun’s phrase book of cliche fantasy literature elements could have been set a bit farther away. Clear cut example of this is the last 7 minutes of power metal and viking choirs in Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring). I enjoy the end nevertheless, it just could have been less of a cheesefest. As an undermining factor, I rarely enjoy power metal. On the other hand I find the sing-along choirs of The Forest That Weeps (Summer) totally irresistible.

On with the good stuff

In short, The Forest Seasons is a damn good album, which is all that should matter. First three tracks are packed with memorable melodies, good song-writing and fine sounding symphonics. I really like bombastic elements, so for me the symphonics are a bit too much on the background. The guitar sound could have also been more powerful at times, but it’s a minor concern except in the last track. There’s a fine amount of details and stuff happening but also a great sense of progression present. For example how the Awaken From The Dark Slumber (Spring) meanders to small climax on 4.30. Slows down and finally gets to the chorus at about 7 minute mark.

The Forest That Weeps (Summer) has a similar meandering progression, the chorus comes early but it’s still not as climactic as later in the track. Some details like “I saw the lakes that shimmer” with echoing/airy keyboard melodies create images powerfully. It’s actually stunning how the track turns melancholic in the end. It brilliantly portrays a familiar August melancholy when the summer is almost at an end. This might be the best track of 2017 & Wintersun discography.

The 3rd track Eternal Darkness (Autumn) surprises with straight to your face fierce black metallish tempo. I didn’t expect Jari, a composer known for his power metal antics, to pull off black metal so well. Also, a fitting last.fm comment about the god tier solo at about 8.20:
wintersunsolo

Not all of it is of my liking

Wintersun succeeded in black metal atmosphere but the last track Loneliness (Winter) does not succeed as a doom track as well. The atmosphere is mostly there but the track fails to resound my nerves. First explanation could be the main riff that is quite buried, and not that special. Heavy guitars are quite instrumental in creating, umm, heavy atmosphere. Now the guitars are just a backing track there. I listen to a lot of melancholic doom metal and I just don’t get the feels from Loneliness (Winter).

The 8 minute acoustic version that’s a bonus track in The Forest Package is a bit more compact and a better version too. The c-part before the final chorus with its emotional guitar leads and vocal harmonies nearly gives me chills. That’s a lot more than what the distorted version does. The acoustic guitar sound is a bit steely, I’ve heard better and more natural sounds, it is not a huge concern nevertheless.

Short sum up

Even with skipping the last track, which seems to have its fans, the album still has 41 minutes of material that I’d classify great. Can’t complain too much.

8+/10

10 Wintersun Forest Spirits Wallpaper

Vallenfyre – Fear Those Who Fear Him

vallenfyreforthosecdOldschool Death metal from Gregor Mackintosh (founding member of Paradise Lost), Hamish Hamilton Glencross (ex-My Dying Bride 2000-2014, Ex-Solstice) and Waltteri Väyrynen (Paradise Lost, Abhorrence & bunch of others).

Not surprisingly the slower doomier parts are the most memorable bits. And boy are they macabre enough! Vallenfyre has two sides really, the slow tracks and oldschool death metal, both are performed with a very crusty guitar sound.

The video track An Apathetic Grave hits the right notes instantly, with the catchy guitar leads on the chorus, joined by powerful raspy vocals far removed from the seeming apathy of the track title. The Merciless Tide took more time to fruition as the best track of the album with its slow, ominous guitar leads that weave throughout the whole track. How much more doom than this can you be:
In a second
The life I knew
Existed no more
The cold hands
I could no longer warm

Third doom track (11th on the record), Cursed From The Womb feels like the lyrical centerpiece. It took even more time to grow than The Merciless Tide with an undertone a notch more ominous too. The tempo is the slowest with plenty of air between the hits. Lovely use of repetition and heavy beat invites for serious…slow…headbanging.

The only killer death metal track of the album is Soldier of Christ. Juicy guitar leads keep popping up and finally lead to the outro which is probably the most striking individual moment of the album. Powerful articulation and slow riff create a macabre image:
Abused by the protectors
Baptised in the filth of mankind
Behind the glorious curtain
Maggots feast
On the blood divine

I admit it, I am too much of a sucker for Vallenfyre’s slow and methodical sound. Their 2014 album Splinters is very similar in really fine slow tracks (Bereft, Scabs, Splinters). On Splinters the band really found the lovely crunchy, crusty guitar sound that they utilise so well on Fear Those Who Fear Him. The sound of the album is quite perfect for this kind of music altogether. Really powerful, far from crystal clear, yet not muddy at all. Piercing, rumbling and ferocious.

Oldschool death metal usually bores me, but when you sprinkle killer doom tracks in the midst it is very tolerable indeed. Unfortunately I cannot say many of the tracks besides the mentioned rouse notable interest. Classical gig-starter Messiah and really fast and aggressive circle-pit / track Nihilist perhaps most so (simple enough for a good sing-along too “Nihilist, Nihilist, Nihilist – Nihilist, Nihilist, Nihilist”!).

It is such joy to behold how well the drummer W. Väyrynen adapts between slow and fast tracks. It is quite natural when you think of his previous history though. Vallenfyre has a fair bit of old Paradise Lost in the slow tracks and the faster ones do remind of Abhorrence (oldschool death) and Rytmihäiriö (thrash / death / hardcore punk).

Fear Those Who Fear Him is going to be found in many “best albums of 2017” lists. For people with more liking to oldschool death metal than me, you can easily add half a grade more.

8+/10