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Jon Conant's Top Ten Albums of 2017

Added 22 December 2017, 9:30 PM
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No 10:

Band: Morbid Angel
Album: Kingdoms Disdained

General Info:

Year of Formation: 1983
Record Label: Silver Lining Music

Morbid Angel is back swinging with a powerhouse of an album. A lot of folks have been critical of them in recent years, but in my mind Morbid Angel will always be an OG pioneer of the death metal genre, and this album does everything to demonstrate why. No low points, a lot of headbangers. Garden of Disdain is the choice track of the album. If you’re a death metal fan you’ve probably already heard this album, but for those of you who haven’t, you’re in for a great time. Which was probably the expectation from a band of this caliber.


 



No 9:

Band: Veins
Album: Innocence

General Info:

Year of Formation: 2014
Record Label: Extreme Metal Music

Newcomer Veins just brought a powerhouse of an album to their full length debut, and sadly most people probably didn’t notice. A young and small band from Rome, these guys found a way to blend groove/thrash/death/black metal all into one bombastic joyride full of dank riffs, outstanding vocals, and production value far exceeding what you’d expect from a young band with a small following. I expect in the coming years they will release albums that move even further up my top 10 list. Innocence is worth your time and then some. Lead single and music video Dying is a headbang and mosh inducing frenzy.


 



No 8:

Band: Kawir
Album: Exilasmos

General Info:

Year of Formation: 1993
Record Label: Iron Bonehead Productions

Another band with a smaller following graces the list, except these guys have been around since 1993 as a staple part of the Greek black metal scene. And as seasoned musicians, this album is full of excellent production (as far as pagan black metal is concerned) and incredible musicianship. What’s more, they found ways to elevate their sound beyond the typical generic presentation of folk/pagan metal that can wear thin after too long, incorporating new styles and sounds with brilliance and swagger. Album closer Orestes or middle album anchor Thyestia Deipna are the choice tracks.


 



No 7:

Band: The Black Dahlia Murder
Album: Nightbringers

General Info:

Year of Formation: 2001
Record Label: Metal Blade Records

One of the biggest names in melodic death metal dropped another amazing album? Shocking. You already know the story hear, folks. If you’ve heard it, you know it’s awesome. If you haven’t heard it, you’re going to listen, and then you’ll know how awesome it is. TBDM has established themselves as the top melo-death act in the U.S.


 



No 6:

Band: Septicflesh
Album: Codex Omega

General Info:

Year of Formation: 1990
Record Label: Season of Mist

Another band on my top 10 from Athens, Attica (Kawir being the other). What’s up with those Greeks this year? Hell of a 2017. My first love was symphonic metal, my current love is death metal, and Septicflesh has mastered both. Maybe that style won’t be your cup of tea, but it is incredibly written, stylized, and produced. A powerhouse of an album even if their 2017 band group shot looks like a cast photo from Battlefield Earth. This album is generally heavier, darker, and more metal than symphonic focused compared to previous efforts from them. Possibly their best release to date, it will no doubt pleasantly surprise metal fans that have previously been critical.


 



No 5:

Band: Fit for an Autopsy
Album: The Great Collapse

General Info:

Year of Formation:
Record Label:

Did this album single handedly save the death core genre from losing all credibility in the metal mainstream? Who knows, but it certainly is good enough to. I had only heard minimal work from Fit for an Autopsy before this, it never clicked with me. But this album is heavy, dark, poignant, and the musicianship and complexity of the writing and performances elevate the album to a level that I have no choice but to describe as progressive death core. Fucking awesome. All the songs are good. Iron Moon and Black Mammoth are my favorites, and I don’t know if I can pick between the two. I saw them open from Trivium in October, and for my money their set stole the show. They objectively gave the best performance of any band that night. I was blown away by the crisp accuracy of their performance and the live sound they were able to achieve.


 



No 4:

Band: Kublai Khan
Album: Nomad

General Info:

Year of Formation: 2009
Record Label: Rise Records

Do you like metalcore/mosh metal? No? Well too fucking bad because this album absolutely crushes. I have liked Kublai Khan’s previous efforts, but this one takes it to a new level. If you can’t stand their genre, there’s nothing for you here. If you are open to it, prepare for a thrill ride that will make your neck sore. I don’t know how I can possibly pick a favorite song off this album. Maybe the opener Antpile, which is 1:12 long, has some of my favorite riffage on it, and only features the lyrics “shit” and “son of a bitch.” Beautiful. But if I HAD to choose one song, I’d go with B.C. The music video is dank, the last 45 seconds are ultra-dank, and I can’t wait to see them perform it live/get my head ripped off in the mosh.


 



No 3:

Band: August Burns Red
Album: Phantom Anthem

General Info:

Year of Formation: 2003
Record Label: Fearless

In a top 10 chock full of Satan and Pagan death, why not throw in a (kind of) Christian band? I have always maintained I will give a band a fair chance regardless of lyrics and themes if the music and presentation are good. It’s no secret that ABR has been one of the most consistent and well liked bands in their genre for a decade+ now, and for good reason. Phantom Anthem is no different. While you do hear all the usual heavy metalcore riffs you’re used to from ABR, they also fold in some proggier/melodic based lines that work really well, but, they do it in such a way that the album still feels complete, connected, and metal. As always, they have not compromised on their devotion to harsh vocals. JB Brubaker gives one of his most incredible lead guitar performances, but that’s a tough comparison since he knocks just about everything he does out of the park. The weakest part of this album is The Frost, a song most modern/younger metal bands could only dream of writing. Brent Rambler continues to be an unsung hero of rhythm guitar. What an album. Dangerous and Coordinates and my choice picks, but you can’t go wrong with anything on Phantom Anthem.


 



No 2:

Band: Dyscarnate
Album: With All Their Might

General Info:

Year of Formation: 2004
Record Label: Unique Leader Records

After a 5 year break where they took time to find a new bassist (which paid off), Dyscarnate is back swinging with THE death metal album of the year and one of the greatest metal albums I have ever heard. This album changed the way I perceived and hear metal. I have never heard a band take death metal riffs and fold in modern groove, rhythm, and djent/bassy feel the way Dyscarnate has. This is one of the freshest sounds in the industry right now, and is something I think has potential to influence a whole new wave of bands. The vocals on With All Their Might are superb beyond superb, with layer upon layer of darkness and atmosphere, seeing split duties between guitarist Tom Whitty and new bassist Al Llewellyn. Complete with one of the top drum performances of the year from Matt Unsworth, this is an album you CANNOT MISS. If metal is going to find a way to truly grow and evolve as a genre without compromising on being heavy, this album is a step into the future.


 



No 1:

Band: Trivium
Album: The Sin and The Sentence

General Info:

Year of Formation: 1999
Record Label: Roadrunner Records

The decidedly best album of 2017. No other band this year summarized better what it means to be metal in the mainstream, and as someone who would like to see metal grow in popularity, I’m through the roof. It has brutal harsh vocals, the best clean vocals we’ve EVER heard from Matt Heafy, the heaviest/most death metal influenced guitars in years, and the best drum performance of the year from their new drummer, Alex Bent. I was never hugely into Trivium before, they were always just a touch too thrash and generic for me, and clean vocals like we hear on In Waves borderline ruin them as band. After the tragedy that was Silence in the Snow, I think most folks wrote Trivium off. But, when The Sin and The Sentence music video first dropped with no warning or news of a new album, most people recognized this was going to be special. And it was. My personal favorite track is Thrown Into The Fire, but there is not a bad track on this album. I did not like The Revanchist much, but it has received raved reviews so we’ll just chock that up to my personal taste. Massive, massive kudos to Matt Heafy for bouncing back from blowing out his vocal chords, doubling down on being a metal band, and releasing the showstopper that is The Sin and the Sentence.


 

Edited 18 January 2018
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