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!
Jay’s Best Metal Albums of 2017:
(Silver Lining Music)
Released December 1
Illud Divinum Insanus is MORBID ANGEL’s Cold Lake. We can forget about that abomination now. But Kingdoms Disdained isn’t simply a return to form, it’s an incredible death metal album. Steve Tucker has replaced David Vincent yet again, and he has never sounded so furious. While the release isn’t quite as magnificent as Tucker’s debut with the band, Formulas Fatal to the Flesh, and in spite of the production’s shortcomings, it’s still easily the best metal album of the year.
Released November 17
Industrial metal pioneers Godflesh have returned with an effort that rekindles the band’s raw, abrasive early days. They aren’t simply regurgitating old ideas, however. They’re repurposing that caveman brutality through the filter of frontman Justin Broadrick’s metallic shoe gaze outfit Jesu. This means it’s just as beautiful as it is barbaric. Post Self is entrancing from the get-go, and the ride is exhilarating throughout.
Released February 24
Immolation has never released a bad death metal album. The veterans have returned with another platter of their unique death metal that’s stylistically along the same trajectory they’ve been following for years. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Immolation is one of the best death metal bands of all time, and Atonement is yet another notch in its belt.
(Ipecac/Three One G)
Released August 4
Dead Cross is one of the best supergroups of all time. With members of Faith No More, Slayer, The Locust and Retox, there were expectations for an oddball heavy band. They delivered, and they made it count. Dead Cross is essentially a modern take on the eighties blasting hardcore punk bands like Siege and Lärm interpreted by Mr. Bungle. Since Mike Patton replaced original vocalist Gabe Serbian (better known for his drumming with The Locust and Retox) after the material was written, we can only expect something even better next time around.
Released June 24
Goatwhore is aging like a fine wine. As time passes, the band continues to fine-tune its songwriting and chops. Without becoming redundant, they’ve found a formula that works. The winds of extremity unquestionably blow through their music, yet the bedrock of Celtic Frost-esque rocking black metal is solidifying over time. They aren’t afraid of writing catchy music, and Vengeful Ascension is filled to the brim with some of their best hooks yet.
Released July 7
New Zealand’s Heresiarch stand out from the war metal pack by knowing when to hold back and when to let the lion out of the cage. The production maintains enough clarity to capture the distinct sounds of each component without sacrificing the songs’ filthiness. They are no less “cult” for infusing a sense of groove and melody, and they wield their music toward a much more potent end than others in their genre.
Primal Incinerators of Moral Matrix
Released November 3
One might become deaf from listening to too much music from India’s Tetragrammacide. The lay person probably wouldn’t agree that it’s music at all. While their sound is consistent with their war metal visual aesthetic, that doesn’t paint the entire picture. Their expression is that of noise, grind and death metal, as well. Their 2015 Typhonian Wormholes: Indecipherable Anti-Structural Formulæ EP was a deafening, mind-numbing outpouring of harsh noise that was resounding throughout the underground worldwide. Now with their debut full-length, Primal Incinerators of Moral Matrix, the unit is organizing its chaotic rumblings. Riffs and actually discernible; melodies wink back to the glory days of classic death metal and there’s a more clear sense of purpose and structure.
Released September 29
With Sterilize, Unsane remains as endearing and crafty as ever. They’re as evocative as ever without forsaking their brutish underpinnings. Perhaps most noticeably with a track like “The Grind,” they tightrope walk an area of immense drama without falling into the pit of the absurd. And they make it all seem so easy and natural.
V:The Inside Scriptures
Released November 17
France’s Aosoth delivers dynamic black metal with the force of a death metal band. They’re somewhat of an acquired taste, as the songs are quite long and require patience and multiple listens to properly digest and fully process, but the rewards are plenty for those inclined toward vicious black metal that’s ripe with unconventional riffs and bizarre melodies. They definitely know when to spur on spacious atmospherics and when to envelope you with suffocating malevolence.
Eroded Corridors of Unbeing
Released October 13
Spectral Voice’s Eroded Corridors of Unbeing is an absolutely riveting foray into the haunting underworld of death/doom. Considering that their personnel is nearly the entire line-up of space-obsessed death dealers Blood Incantation, their dexterity shouldn’t surprise anyone. But compared to that musical expression, Spectral Voice is far more ominous and ethereal. In their few years of existence, they’ve dropped a few demos and splits prior to this full-length. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope this isn’t just a flash in the pan. If it isn’t, we’re in for quite a ride.
Favourite Album Cover Art of 2017:
Morbid Angel – Kingdoms Disdained
(Silver Lining Music, released December 1)
Cover Artist: Ken Coleman
Best gig I attended in 2017:
June 24, 2017
Because it’s Morbid Angel.
Favourite Metal Item Added To My Collection in 2017:
I finally purchased a Necromantia shirt. If you’re unfamiliar with this legendary old school Greek black metal band, I suggest that you rectify that situation ASAP!
Most anticipated album for 2018:
Today is the Day
My 2017 in Metal:
Beyond the pleasure of listening to the wealth of interesting music that was released this year, I toured with Mayhem and Dragged Into Sunlight and then with Today is the Day and Fashion Week. I blogged about the former tour here at Hellbound, and the blog about the latter one will be published here soon.
What you’re looking forward to in 2018, metal-wise or otherwise:
Not unlike my sentiment last year, I’d like to see fewer uptight PC and SJW media outlets, pundits and fans. I’m not a “neckbeard” nor an “edgelord.” I just don’t like the ubiquitous presence of radical idiots who are the antithesis of the very essence of heavy metal. Metal should be a wild beast.
Also, February can’t come soon enough. That’s when I’ll be tracking vocals and we will be wrapping up the debut album of my own band: Trench Warfare.
2017 “Metal Person of the Year”:
This may sound like a cliche or some cheesy commentary, and honestly, this, too, can apply to any year, but I say this with the utmost sincerity. I think the metal fan is the person of the year. This music and lifestyle that we love so much simply could not exist without the support of the metal fan who sacrifices a portion of earnings toward merchandise and show tickets. That time and money could be spent elsewhere, but it isn’t.