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Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell's Top Ten Albums of 2017

Added 21 December 2017, 7:47 PM

No. 10:

Band: Wintersun
Album: The Forest Seasons

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2003
Record Label: Nuclear Blast

If you were waiting for TIME II, and missed out on this gem, don’t fret—there is still “time” to listen to this wonderful album. A concept story with four extended songs, the album is far reaching with so much depth, but supple and tangible at the same time. The album is a wonderful story telling piece that we can all relate to. Pain and despair are emotions we have all felt, as well as the charge of feelings that come from an awakening, making you feel like you can accomplish anything.

No. 9:

Band: Novelists
Album: Noir

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2013
Record Label: Sharptone Records

France has really been killing it lately with a Prog/Core mash, and this album is one of the finest examples I have heard this year. Grace, beauty, charm, fervor and aggressive refinement abound on “Noir.” It’s one of the best albums in the genre I have heard this year for sure. They have a knack for fantastical songwriting that satisfies your primal Metal needs on that heavy front, as well as songs that straight up hit your feelings like an exposed nerve, making you ache and long for more. The balance they achieve between the two is the magic that makes the album so special.

No. 8:

Band: Caligula’s Horse
Album: In Contact

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2010
Record Label: InsideOut Music

Chocked full of gorgeous melodies, and no less of sheer instrumental prowess, you won’t find a “filler” track on this mosaic of musically transcending journeys. Each track tells a separate story in the journey, and a separate feeling that lingers with you long after it has been played. They write music with the gleeful hooks of any pop-sensible band but when you peel back the layers, there is so much more there than just accessible songs with a heavy periphery. Intelligent, sophisticated, and so joyful to listen to, it’s a wonderful album.

No. 7:

Band: Kadinja
Album: Ascendancy

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2013
Record Label: Klonosphere/Season of Mist

The beauty about the Progressive Metal genre is the veritable sea of different sounds that bands can experiment with/utilize without judgement, and KADINJA have taken full advantage of this on “Ascendancy.” On their technical ability alone, the album is noteworthy. They display a seasoned musical intelligence and deep sophistication for music theory that you don’t often come across these days. But when you add in their songwriting craft and the fact that this is a debut album, you have a recipe for an album that you simply cannot pass on.

Band: With Our Arms To The Sun
Album: Orenda

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2012
Record Label: Independent

For me, this album falls somewhere within the vast and expansive genre of Progressive Music. But even with that general label in mind, it is quite a peculiar and extraordinary outing among the sea of variations you may have heard recently. It will appeal to the aggressiveness that Metal fans have always needed in their music, but as well a full mosaic of emotions that force you to challenge the conventions of life and the meaning of existence. The path they took to tell this tale through their music is full of magnificence, splendor and the pure beauty of a light that could not be extinguished—a flame eternal. If this album does not have a profound effect on you, you are just going through the motions.

No. 5:

Band: Katharos
Album: Exuvian Heraldry

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2006
Record Label: Exuvian Heraldry

You don’t often get pyrotechnics in Black Metal, do you? Well, expect to be engulfed in them here. It’s odd—the genre’s roots go back to musicians wanting no identity, and a product with muffled production value and absolutely non-stop intensity—a veritable “wall of sound” with vocal shrieks that echo their anti-religious themes, to the point of a countryside with burned-out churches that are smoldering in the cold, dark of the night moon, a relic of the past. Sure, the foundation of that sound is still present. The magnitude of their vehemence will absolutely shred you, but the sophistication of their craft will electrify an inspire you. I’ve heard a lot of Black Metal in recent years, and the genre is expanding greatly. Here is one band on the rise for sure, and a real force to be reckoned with. So far, “Exuvian Heraldry” is the best Black Metal album I have heard this year.


No. 4:

Band: YSMA
Album: Memoires in Monochrome

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2009
Record Label: Independent

It is truly difficult to find the words to bring this album to justice. “Memoirs In Monochrome” is a ravishing mosaic of transcendence that is singularly unique and as emotionally moving as anything I have heard in while. Complex timing, musicianship, rhythmic punches and use of melody and ambient passages are what bring this album to shine. Imagine being able to view all the marvels of the universe…all the clusters of brightly colored stars and gasses that exist in the far reaches of space. I see this in my head when I listen to the album. It’s an awe-inspiring work of art that you simply must hear.

No. 3:

Band: Mutiny Within
Album: Origins

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2002
Record Label: Independent

This band might be the best kept secret in American Metal, but I am really hoping that changes and soon. Their brand of Modern Metal comes with wonderous melodies, crafty songwriting, amazing guitar work, and absolutely stunning vocals. If you are longing for that outside and original Metal sound, this is your go to album. I once list faith in a lot of music coming from the USA lately, but thanks to this band and album, that is no longer the case.

No. 2:

Band: Ne Obliviscaris
Album: Urn

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2003
Record Label: Season of Mist

This is a complex work of art that has lush layers of sophisticated songwriting with all the refinement and grace that melody can offer, while retaining that hard edge of Extreme Metal music that we all love. The songs are a bit more succinct for me than some of their previous albums, and they seem to have really found that synergy here, that perfect combination of beauty and attraction that also comes with despair and wretched anger. The key to the marvel of this album is both the way these things can co-exist and the manner in which they do. It’s a montage of musical transcendence that doesn’t conform to the rules of the universe, and exists outside of boundaries you have become accustomed to.

No. 1:

Band: Persefone
Album: Aathma

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2001
Record Label: ViciSolum Productions

When you consider the genre of Progressive Metal, you know the talent required to compose and play this kind of music is rare. We all know the bevy of wonderful bands and albums that have preceded this. With that in mind, “Aathma” is surely one of the most sophisticated, beautifully heavy, and challenging albums you will ever hear. When I think about this being played live, my mind can’t comprehend how that possibly be executed. But prowess aside, it maintains an accessibility that is absolutely pleasing, and a musical experience that will take you outside of what you think you know about music, in a most sublime way. The sound that I loved from this band in the past is there, but they have challenged themselves not to rest and have taken some new directions here that show their wealth of creativity and integrity.

Ten Honourable Mentions (In Alphabetical Order):

Asira (Efference)
dEMOTIONAL (Discovery)
Fortis Amor (Fortis Amor)
Moonloop (Devocean)
Mother of Millions (Sigma)
Pyramaze (Contingent)
The Contortionist (Clairvoyant)
The Stranger (The Stranger)
The Thirteenth Sun (Stardust)
Vangough (Warpaint)

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