Ah, that most glorious time of the year for music writers – year-end season is upon us once again! 2017 was a tumultuous year, but even so, it was a damned good one for heavy metal, and Team Hellbound had a cornucopia of great albums to choose from.
Here, we turn the page over to our individual staffers to discuss their favorite records of the year, give their hottest takes on the state-of-the-heavy-metal-union in 2017, and tell the world what they’re looking forward to for 2018.
As always, every member of Team Hellbound would like to extend our warmest thanks to each and every one of you who continue to read our site, and we wish you all a very metal Christmas and a headbanging new year.
Hails, horns, happy holidays, and ho-ho-ho from Hellbound!
Adam’s Best Metal Albums of 2017:
Released March 24
The final track of Heartless, “A Plea for Understanding,” brings everything I love about Pallbearer together: a mix of of the familiar doom sounds and feelings, but with glimpses of hope. Vocalist Brett Campbell continues to grow with his best performance to date – including a massive live performance that I was able to witness in person this year.
Released August 25
Leprous beautifully meld frantic guitar, pulsing drums and bass tones underneath the beautiful, flowing vocals of Einar Solberg – all while writing some of the most interesting metal this year. One of the best progressive metal releases since their last album, The Congregation.
Released September 15
Mareridt is an album full of contrast: “Måneblôt” features soft, haunting vocals one moment and screeching black metal vocals the next; “Crown” is a slow, atmospheric track that could have come from a movie score, while “Elleskudt” has a folky-black metal vibe. All in all, Myrkur has put together one of the most dynamic releases of the year.
In This Moment We Are Free – Cities
Released October 20
Catchy, emotional and beautifully layered, Vuur’s debut album, In This Moment We Are Free is a journey with stories inspired by cities all around the world. Anneke van Giersbergen has put together a great backing band – but of course, it’s Anneke herself that really shines. Delicate yet powerful, Anneke continues to be one of the best voices in metal today.
Zeal and Ardor
Devil is Fine
Released March 1
Their own description summarizes this album better than I ever could: “Django sacrifices a goat on stage while intimidating slave chants roar and screeching guitar riffs burn in the background. Then the rhythmic chain rattling evoking a satanic summoning makes way for the eerily familiar melodies of Norwegian black metal.” Easily one of the most interesting and unique albums to come out in recent years.
Released September 22
Emperor of Sand
Released March 31
Released October 20
Released May 19
The Assassination of Julius Caesar
(House Of Mythology)
Released April 7
Favorite Album Cover Art of 2017:
Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper
(Profound Lore, released October 20)
Artist: Mariusz Lewandowski
Best Gig I attended in 2017:
I’m going to cheat and split this up into 3 separate pieces:
Best gig I photographed: Metallica – Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON. Finally got the opportunity to shoot them and there’s no other metal band that can put together a show on the same scale as Metallica.
Best metal performance: Pallbearer – Lee’s Palace, Toronto, ON. A crushing performance and Brett Campbell’s vocals have improved dramatically over the years.
Best non-metal performance: Tanya Tagaq – Supercrawl, Hamilton, ON. Tagaq and company put together a 45+ minute set of improvisation that needs to be experienced. One of the most intense performances that I’ve ever seen.
Favourite Metal Item Added to my Collection in 2017:
Warning – The Warning Albums (5xLP, Svart). Finally, an official pressing of Watching From a Distance is available and this set is as beautiful as the albums that are contained within.
Most Anticipated Album for 2018:
A new Augury album!
My 2017 in metal:
My trend of not seeing as much live metal as I used to continued again this year, but thankfully co-hosting the metal show over at cfmu.ca (93.3FM – McMaster campus radio) ensures that I’m keeping tabs on what’s happening in the metal world.
While I love that underground metal continues to thrive, some of the thoughts and ideas that continue in metal are really bothersome to me. Whether it’s the “no safe-spaces” camp (really?), the “metal shouldn’t be political, but I’m saying something political” cop-outs or those that believe that hateful art is ok because of freedom of speech, it seems that metal continues to divide people as much as it brings them together. I really believe that these attitudes will get drowned out and die off over time, but in the meantime, it helps me filter out bands/musicians/people so that I can spend my time supporting those that add some much needed positivity to our daily lives.
What I’m looking forward to in 2018, metal-wise or otherwise:
Heavy metal travelling! No festivals in 2017 means that it’s time to scope out a festival or two to hit up in the new year.