My Top Ten Albums of 2017

General

Hello! I hope you all had a great start into the year. In my first post of the new year, I’d like to show you my list of favorite albums of 2017. These albums all had a strong impact on me, impressed me in a special way or were just outstandingly entertaining. I don’t claim that these are indeed the “best” albums of the year, objectively, but these are the ones that I like the most. So, without further ado, here are my top ten favorite albums of 2017:


10. A Hill To Die Upon – Via Artis Via Mortis

A1aPGwg86YL._SL1500_.jpgThis album is, in my humble opinion, a Blackened Death Metal masterpiece. The album is a varied and interesting work that takes a few unexpected turns – both musically and lyrically – but remains coherent in atmosphere and tonality. An atmospheric and dark album with fantastic lyrics and interesting songwriting.

 

 

9. Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun

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The dark Neo-Folk sound which has become Chelsea Wolfe’s trademark over the years is still present on her newest album, but this time it has been dragged through mud and sludge and thrown into an abyss from which it slowly crawls out to find its way into your soul. Heavy, sometimes almost droning riffs, drenched in reverb, hard and heavy, powerful drumming, dark electronics, and Chelsea’s impending vocals singing about everything that’s not right with this world and her own personal demons fuse into intimidating walls of sound that are repeatedly broken down by moments of whispering calmness.
“Hiss Spun” is Wolfe’s most refined work to date, as it is a logical culmination of all the musical elements that characterized her previous works and an outstandingly captivating and varied record in its own right.

8. Fen – Winter

a1318273058_10.jpgFen have perfected their style of atmospheric, Post-Rock influenced Black Metal and provide us with an intriguing concept album that is progressive, musically immaculate, versatile and atmospheric.
The balance between frostbitten and furious Black Metal and contemplative, melancholic calm passages is as close to perfection as an album can probably get.
An absolutely stunning piece of music, full of melody, atmosphere and power.

7. Ne Obliviscaris – Urn

a3365015821_10.jpgAnother masterpiece by one of the most consistently fantastic Metal bands of the decade. On this album, the band further perfected their distinct sound, an intriguing mixture of Melodic Death, Black and, most prominently, Progressive Metal. “Urn” is a streamlined and coherent, yet surprising and inspiring album that everyone should listen to.

 

 

6. Boris – Dear

a3010870023_10.jpgThis album is probably one of, if not the most interesting and diverse and at the same time most coherent Drone albums I’ve ever heard. It’s also one of the heaviest. The intense atmosphere created by the slow and dark riffs and the emotional vocals is crushingly beautiful, cold and eerie at the same time. The album also has some beautiful calm, atmospheric passages that balance out the heaviness of the rest of the album perfectly and add another emotional layer to it. Incredible stuff.

5. Black Kirin – Nanking Massacre

a0550747135_10.jpgBlack Kirin blend various forms of Extreme Metal, Chinese folk music and operatic elements together into a very unique sounding and highly entertaining album. The lyrical topic of the album, the incredibly gruesome and devastating Nanking Massacre of 1937, gives it a very emotional dimension that won’t leave you untouched.

 

4. White Ward – Futility Report

a2142312175_10.jpgAn incredibly fascinating debut album on which the band melts elements of Black Metal, Post-Rock and Jazz together. The result is an impressively powerful and emotional album that is mesmerizing and continuously surprising from start to finish.
One of the best and most creative albums of the year. Go and check it out if you are a fan of experimental music!

 

 

3. Wode – Servants of the Countercosmos

cover[…] From the atmospheric intro to the acoustic guitar outro the album takes you on a highly entertaining and brilliantly written musical journey through everything we love about Black Metal (or extreme Metal in general) […].
Full review: Wode – Servants of the Countercosmos.

 

 

2. Leprous – Malina

Malina.jpg“Malina” shows the band moving away from almost any Extreme Metal elements that they used in the past and moving forward to a more atmospheric, more emotional, “ethereal” sound. What hasn’t changed is the band’s outstanding talent for brilliant songwriting and their love for experimentation. Odd time signatures, weird instrumentation and interesting song structures – it’s all there. But the album doesn’t come off as too technical – thanks to the focused and intelligent songwriting. While the music itself is nothing short of brilliant, Einar Solbergs distinctive crystal clear vocals remain one of my favorite elements of Leprous‘ sound. I don’t know what it is but his vocals are cold and emotional at the same time, they have something very special to them that only very few singers have.
Yes, “Malina” is less “heavy” than Leprous‘ earlier material, but that’s a great thing because it lets the band expand their sound further than ever before.
If you are looking for an album that is progressive, experimental, atmospheric, surprising, technical, emotionally touching and just overall mesmerizing from start to finish, look no further than “Malina”


1. Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Finisterre

Der-Weg-Einer-Freiheit-Finisterre.jpgFinisterre. The end of the world. The end of a journey. The end of a life. The beginning of something new? Whereto do you go when everything around you perishes? And what will remain when you are gone?
Der Weg Einer Freiheit ask questions of final importance, they mourn the transitoriness of human existence, they open doors into the darkest chambers of human nature.
On strings of fire, drums of war, they evoke a symphony of darkness and despair. These songs are drenched in pain, passion and rage. They come slowly, like dark waves of sound, until they crush around you with furious force.
“Finisterre” is an album that I have listened to countless times this year. No other album this year had an impact on me quite as this one. And no other album this year felt so … perfect, right from the first listen on. This is not only my favorite album of the year but also one of the best Black Metal albums I’ve ever heard.
The album is full of breathtakingly beautiful melodies and has an incredibly captivating atmosphere. This album is far from being your typical Atmospheric Black Metal album, though. Singer, songwriter and lead guitarist Nikita Kamprad is an absolute beast on guitar and vocals and a master composer whose talent for captivating, coherent, yet immensely interesting compositions shows on this album, more than ever before. Both lyrics and music are incredibly well written and harmonize perfectly together, creating a sense of deep melancholy in the listener.
“Finisterre” is DWEF through and through, but it is also very different from the band’s previous records in the sense that the band added more progressive elements, e.g. clean vocals, cello and almost jazzy acoustic sections to their sound.
“Finisterre” is an album that you will listen to over and over again without it losing any of its initial fascination. In my opinion, Der Weg Einer Freiheit have not only outdone themselves but also crafted nothing short of a Black Metal masterpiece with this album that proves that they stand head and shoulders above most modern Black Metal acts.


Well, that’s it. One final goodbye to 2017. 2018 will have to work hard to get as good as this year. BTW, my posting schedule will stay the same this year as it was last year: non-existent. And with that, thanks for reading, have a great year and STAY METAL!

 

 

 

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Kari Band – Kari Ongen (2017)

Reviews

Kari Band – Kari Ongen – Demo
April 26th, 2017 (Japan); Bellwood Records
EP (25 min.)
Jazz Fusion, Jazz, Progressive Rock

Lineup:
Mikio Fujioka – Guitar
BOH – Bass
Yuya Maeta – Drums

Track list:
01. Common Time’s Logic
02. Chuku
03. Ninja Groove (Ninja)
04. Djentleman
05. Jamrika
06. Snowflakes


Japanese Kawaii Metal phenomenon BABYMETAL is probably one of the most “controversial” bands in the Metal scene right now. There are probably only a few Metalheads who do not have some kind of opinion on that project. Many love it, many hate it, and that’s okay. But I think there is one thing we can all agree on: the musicians in BABYMETAL‘s backing band are some pretty talented dudes.

The Kari Band is the second project consisting of musicians who play(ed) in BABYMETAL‘s backing band after Takayoshi Ohmura’s solo project.
The Kari Band features Mikio Fujioka on the guitar, Yuya Maeta on the drums and the almighty BOH on the bass. The name Kari Band roughly translates to “temporary band” or “provisional band” and is a pun on Kami Band (“God Band”) which is the official name of BABYMETAL‘s backing band.

When I read about this project I had certain ideas about what kind of music this band might play on their debut. Considering the style of BABYMETAL, I expected a melodic and rather fast paced progressive Metal album. Well, I was not really close.

“Kari Ongen” is a Jazz Fusion album, stylistically similar to Nova Collective, who also released their debut album this year. The sound is a fusion between traditional Jazz and Progressive Rock, occasionally going into a more metallic, djenty direction, reminiscent of projects like Animals As Leaders.

This EP is labeled as a demo, but actually sounds like a fully realized, coherent album to me. While the songwriting, though very competent and interesting, isn’t extremely innovative for the genre, what really stands out here is the musicianship. BOH is a beast of a bassist – he already showed that in his work with Babymetal but here he finally gets the chance to really go for it. Mikio and Yuya are absolute masters of their instruments, as well. Also the guest musicians on the classical Jazz instruments, the wind instruments and the piano, do a great job.

As a whole this EP is a fantastic Jazz record by some insanely talented musicians – dynamic, entertaining and relaxing. I can’t wait for more from these guys.


You can listen to this album on Spotify.


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Attalus – Into the Sea (2015)

Reviews

Attalus – Into the Sea
June 2nd, 2015 (USA); Facedown Records
LP (78 min.)
Alternative Rock, Post-Rock, Progressive Rock, Post-Hardcore Punk

Lineup:
Evan King – Guitar/Vocals/Bass/Additional Keys & Instruments
Seth Davey – Lead Vocals/Keys
Chris Sierra – Drums/Vocals
John Sierra – Guitar

Track list:
01. The Ancient Mariner
02. This Ship is Going Down
03. Sirens
04. Desolate Isle
05. Man, O Shipwreck
06. Step Out
07. Albatross
08. The Breath Before the Plunge
09. Into the Sea
10. Coming Clean
11. O the Depths
12. Voices from the Shore
13. Safe
14. The Greater Tide
15. Death Be Not Proud
16. Message in a Bottle


“Into the Sea” by US-American Christian Rock band Attalus is one of my favorite albums of all time. Period.

Both lyrically and musically, there are only a few albums that never cease to amaze me, no matter how many times I listen to them. To achieve that, an album has to be diverse but coherent, emotionally touching, and musically interesting. If the album is a concept album, that’s always a plus.
This album has all of this.

“Into the Sea” is a 78 minute/16 track concept piece about the relationship between God and man, about His grace and mercy, about life and death. The overall theme is the metaphor of the seemingly endless and deep ocean.
Musically, Attalus play a highly versatile blend of Alternative/Post-Rock with influences of Post-Hardcore Punk, Progressive Rock and a little bit of chamber music. The vocals range from beautiful clean singing to shouted parts and sometimes even Sprechgesang (“spoken singing”, don’t know if that’s an accurate term in English).

The album is like the ocean – sometimes calm and harmonic, sometimes raw and raging, but always in motion. Attalus‘ music is also a prime example of “epic” music in the true sense of the word: it’s telling a story. The music is not just a background soundtrack for the story told by the lyrics, it is a part of the narration, it corresponds perfectly with the lyrical content and gives it depth and weight.

While quantity isn’t always a good thing in albums (Metallica‘s latest LP, for example, is far too long for what it has to offer, in my opinion), in the case of “Into the Sea” the almost 80 minutes feel like half of the time and are absolutely appropriate for the depth of the album’s content, in my opinion.

As with all concept albums, the best way of listening to it is doing it in one sitting from start to finish, but the songs also work perfectly on their own.

If I was sent to a lonely island today and were allowed to take only one album with me, I think it’d be this one.


You can listen to this album on Spotify.

band homepage: Attalus


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