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+)
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).
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…
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 — Osmosi – Sci-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
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.
Over the Voids… — Over The Voids – black metal
James Elkington — Wintres Woma – singer-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
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
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.
Falls of Rauros — Vigilance Perennial – atmospheric black metal
Planeetta 9 — Koivut – Finnish metal / rock / doom
Falaise — My Endless Immensity – blackgaze
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
Brilliant tracks just below the first category. Except on a good day…
Bunch of interesting 2016 releases found too late
Downfall of Gaia — Atrophy – atmospheric black metal / post black metal
W. Iivarinen — Melankolia – Finnish metal / rock
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