Another year on the books, another year packed with excellent metal in every style. And while we didn’t see any significant trends emerge this year, you will notice if you look at our collective lists that there’s very little overlap in our picks. The new releases from the old guard, the standard bearers, and the heavy hitters of death, black, doom and beyond only make up a fraction of what’s offered here – everything else is new arrivals and recent rising stars. No matter where you find it, metal has never been so prolific or diverse, and that is great news for all you out there who are black of heart and hard of hearing. So get ready to dig in and get lost in the deepest bowels of the metal underground – when you come up for air, it’ll be 2018.

by Staff

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Seems like every year I say what a great year it was, and 2017 was no different. Despite all the bullshit going on in the world, metal stayed true and was there for me and all of its fans. This year, you’ll notice something that has never happened before on my list. Amid the usual Swedish Death metal, tech death metal, chaotic death metal and black metal, there are 3 power metal albums. Yes, THREE!!!!!! And one in the goddamn top 10! However, death metal was still the story of 2017, as the year saw the US old guard return with a vengeance. Immolation, Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Dying Fetus,  Obituary, Morbid Angel and Broken Hope  all delivered excellent records. Tech death was a particularly strong genre as well, with GiganOrigin, Inanimate Existence, and Decrepit Birth all returning to the fray. It’s not just about the familiar names, though – a lot of new acts have also found their way to my list to knock those perennial veterans out.

  1. Bell WitchMirror Reaper (Profound Lore Records). Such a profoundly despondent 83 minute descent into misery.
  2. RedemptorArthaneum (Selfmadegod). A late find, but a brilliant, cavernous,  otherwordly take on tech death metal.
  3. Falls of RaurosVigilance Perennial (Bindrune Recordings). An early 2017 release that stayed on my radar, which is a testament to its quality.
  4. DyscarnateWith All Their Might (Unique Leader). Sheer unadulterated power.
  5. AltarageEndighent (Season of Mist). 2017’s most discordant, monstrous release.
  6. Dreadnought A Wake in Sacred Waves (Sailor Records). 2017’s most enthralling and captivating release.
  7. EpochSacrosanct (Lavadome Records). Lavadome did well to pick up this excellent Belgian independent death metal monster from 2015.
  8. Ne Obliviscaris Urn (Season of Mist). These Aussies could fart on a microphone and it would be brilliant.
  9. Wind Rose – Stonehymn (Inner Wound Recordings). Epic, catchy, and brilliant Italian dwarven-themed power metal. Hooo Haaa!
  10. Dying FetusWrong One to Fuck With (Relapse Records). Still killing it on their 8th studio album. Their best since Destroy the Opposition.
  11. Wormwood Ghostlands: Wounds from a Bleeding Earth (Non Serviam). The best melodic black metal album of the last few years.
  12. Ghost BathStarmourner (Nuclear Blast Records). Fuck the haters. “Thrones” is one of the best songs of the year.
  13. NoumenaMyrrs (Haunted Zoo). The love child of Insomnium and Amorphis continues to be overlooked.
  14. EntrailsWorld Inferno (Metal Blade). Back on the year-end list where they should be.
  15. Havukruunu Kelle Surut Soi . (Naturmacht Productions). Literally a last minute addition after seeing it on so many peers’ lists and finally checking it out. A less long-winded Moonsorrow.
  16. Archspire Relentless Mutation ( Season of Mist). The techiest of 2017’s tech death.
  17. Beneath –  Ephemeris (Unique Leader). A vast improvement over the debut.
  18. Impureza – La Caída de Tonatiuh (Season of Mist). Flamenco death metal brilliance.
  19. Desolate ShrineDeliverance from the Godless Void (Dark Descent). The label’s best effort in another strong year.
  20. Sign of Cain –  To Drown and to be Drawn (Apostasy Records). Way better than Lindberg’s other 2017 project, The Lurking Fear.
  21. Temple of Void Lords of Death (Shadow Kingdom Records). Pure fucking groove.
  22. Wolves in the Throne Room Thrice Woven (Artemesia Records). A much needed return after the widely panned experiment of Celestite.
  23. Antropofagus M.O.R.T.E. (Comatose Music). Italy’s burliest and best death metal record in a year of excellent ones.
  24. Alestorm No Grave But the Sea (Napalm Records). “Fucked with an Anchor” is a contender for song of the year.
  25. Khazaddum Plagues of Arda (Self-Released). Tolkien, death metal, and keyboards – say no more.
  26. Fin Arrows of a Dying Age (Folter Records). Great, gritty-but-melodic war/black metal from Chicago.
  27. BeheadedBeast Incarnate (Comatose Music). A long-awaited follow up that delivered.
  28. Rings of Saturn – Ultu Ulla. (Nuclear Blast). A more mature and melodic album from this divisive band.
  29. Orden OganGunmen (AFM). “Gunman” and “Fields of Sorrow” were in constant rotation in my house and car.
  30. Lör – In Forgotten Sleep  (Self Released). A sprawling, epic prog/power metal record.

Best Comeback: Morbid AngelKingdoms of Disdain. Was there any doubt Steve Tucker would save the day?

Best Concept album: Squalus The Great Fish. (Translation Loss). Former members of The Giant Squid and Peter Benchley’s Jaws?-Perfect.

Best Production:  Cannibal CorpseRed Before Black. Erik Rutan said fuck it, turned everything to 11.

Best Cover Art: Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper, Gutslit –Amputheatre.

Biggest Surprises: Myrkur – Mareridt. Amalie Bruun delivered a wonderful, electronic, trance-rock black metal opus to the mouth-breathing black metal fans who made her life miserable.   In The Woods –  Pure. Who would have thought 17 years later, the singer from Jaldaboath would join In the Woods and they not miss  a beat in one of 2017s more overlooked returns?

Disappointments: . Deepsend Records and Blast Head Records calling it a day.

Best Label:  Despite strong years from previous sinners Unique Leader and Dark Descent, this year it’s Season of Mist. As well as all of the releases above, they had killer releases from the likes of Carach Angren,  Virvum, Ulsect, Dodecahedron, Impure Wilhemina, Nightbringer, Necrowretch and Benighted. A few of these were on and off the above list many times.

Most anticipated for 2018: DalriadaNyaruto Solstice (UK) – White Horse Hill (Dark Descent), SummoningWith Doom We Come. Full length album from Kull, new project of Bal Sagoth‘s Maulding brothers.

Guilty Pleasure: GrimgottsLions of the Sea (Self Released). Slaughter to Prevail- Misery Sermon (Sumerian)


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  1. Commented by: Glenn Whitehead

    Killer list, although i don’t get Bell Witch at all.

  2. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    amped to see Tetragrammacide and Godflesh getting some love here.

  3. Commented by: F.Rini

    The Godflesh is great

  4. Commented by: Don Roberts

    you didn’t like the albums from Immolation, Incantation or Cannibal Corpse ?

  5. Commented by: ben orum

    Thanks for the Oblivion love!

  6. Commented by: M Budziszewski

    Spectral Voice and Dying Fetus would’ve been my
    11 and 12 but I didn’t really have a solid 13-15. I’d rather agonize over a limited 10.
    Didn’t finally listen to the Dying Fetus until last
    month but haven’t been on a brutal death metal kick since earlier in the year.

  7. Commented by: EmmersonBiggins

    Don’t understand the love for a band as mundane as spectral voice… You mongos be sure to check out azarath, ascended dead, tomb mold, Acrimonious, degial, lluvia (for fans of Swedish DAWN)

  8. Commented by: Glenn Whitehead

    The Spectral Voice is interesting, not quite Bestial Blackened Death, not Funeral Doom, not quite OSDM…just a huge atmospheric sound world.

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