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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M Budziszewski



The Top 10


Undergang –  Misantropologi (Dark Descent)

It’s been my go to death metal record this year.  No other ‘old school’ death metal records quite sounds like it  (Stockholm worshipping bands not considered) or at least met it’s uniquely human ash, and fluid covered scenes of primitive malice.  I’m a fan of the more inhuman and gurgly death metal vocal, whether processed via effects or not, and David Mikkelson’s are not only naturally performed but amongst the most unique in current death metal. The drums sound as if a bag of assorted clubs, spikes and other blunt striking instruments are being dropped on to them, such is the plodding thud of each kick or snare strike.  The guitar tone is primitive like a prison riot of the 18th century. Totally unique in death metal and unmatched in griminess. It’s a complete shame I did not check out them out earlier.

Godflesh –  Post Self (Avalanche / Hospital Productions)

Godflesh are one of very few bands that can drop a record knowing that promotion will inherently occur based on merit and organic communication.  There was no hype machine ahead of Post Self. No pre-orders, or limited merch.  Justin Broadrick just dropped it like a massive bank safe in the middle of a metal industry convention.  It’s a new Godflesh record, people will know it exists.  Very much in the same sense it makes my year end list.  An inevitable and guaranteed truth.  Grindcore slowed down to the cacophony of urban existence, progressing steadily in stride with global futurism as if Justin Broadricks’ music is meant to document our shakey path forward.  Musically it’s reflective of their own Songs of Love & Hate album.  The production is far more clear than A World Lit Only By Fire album and if you happen to also listen to Justin’s JK Flesh music or soundcloud mixes then you can tell more of his love for darker, rumbly techno/dub techno is apparent on Post Self.  The species that drowned witches based on illogical pseudo science, probably nuked the planet in the 1985 of another string timeline, and still calls the pocket computers that Popular Science magazine and Star Trek promised us, “phones” is all the same with no fundamental difference or improvement outside of a compelling sense for some to pull the rest of us forward.  Godflesh has always represented this to me in their music.  Observe, and criticize the hive activity which acts in parallel to guide it forward.  Recognizing the infant era of artificial intelligence we are now in they release Post Self.

VrilThe Shadow Soul & The Black Sun (Dark Adversary)

Armband with unknown logo signifying some nefarious organization.  Wormholes and UFO’s just pasted onto a white background. Graphic designers are spitting out their fairtrade coffee.  Oh boy, somebody has bought the ancient alien theories and really thinks their ancestors’ origins are extra-terrestrial.  Which is sort of fun if you apply an Edgar Rice Burroughs or Robert Heinlein sort of misguided sci-fi context.  Seems pretty sketchy… I’m going to have to investigate this.  Musically, this is exactly the kind of black metal I’m always searching for.  Weird croaking vocals that sound like an alien is using the guy as a communication vessel. A strange melodic sensibility that isn’t grandiose but hints at a sort of awe or wonder.  Fringe without being ‘post’ or experimental, just little twists in the riffs and production that set it apart from the template of straight ahead raw black metal (like that of say, Drowning The Light).

TetragrammacidePrimal Incinerators of Moral Matrix (Iron Bonehead)

Tetragrammacide infiltrate your neuro-interface implant, and cyber-bio augmentations all from the least destroyed section of a former chemical manufacturing plant in India.  No longer independent, you are now a host bot, part of a larger hive-like network in the maximally devastating global conflict for dwindling resources, water rights, and technology driven political supremacy.  Life is a hell of a lot faster in 2101.  Take the skeletal template of serious goregrind such as Japan’s Viscera Infest, the saturated hatred for human existence of Intoliterian‘s black metal-noise barrage, and inject the compound with military developed nanobots; the unstable result is Tetragrammacide.  Earth is fuuuuuucked!

FinArrows Of A Dying Age (Folter)

I actually wrote a review of this for the site and it’s my personal favorite.  Fin capture a triumph of human survival that has run through our blood since the first man pushed a boulder onto a passing rival, a WWII fighter pilot returned from his 4th mission, or marine grunt felt the air feedback of a bullet that left a hole in the jeep door 12 inches from his head.  The riffs and chaingun rapid drumming  inspire one to want to get out and do; achieve.  A Fin record will outpace you every time but use it as the goal for which to meet.  Did I mention Fin is two guys.  Ridiculous.  Immortal if you switched the turntable speed to 45.

Slagmaur –  Thill Smitts Terror (Osmose)

Thill Smitts Terror is a marked development from their previous Von Rov Shelter, which was certainly strange and unique but I felt a bit lost trying to figure out.  Here Slagmaur offers a unique take on industrial black metal…sort of.  There’s no machine press crushing and buzzing or W.M.D. caused deformation of society.  It’s much more subtle.  Thill Smitts Terror’s take on the industrial harks back to the industrial revolution where classic old world society collides with never before whiffed chemicals and the steam powered press rhythm of a new age. The drumming is rigid and mimic a familiar industrial style.  While large and thick the drums aren’t machines relentlessly gone haywire , rather they suggest, along with the cover art, the context I described and thus come off as men pulling levers,shoveling coal, and turning gears.  The orchestral intros, outros, and sprinkles throughout really aid in setting the scene that I describe.  Thill Smitts Terror might be a particularly menacing soundtrack to a steampunk sequel of A Nightmare Before Christmas.

Goatmoon –  Stella Polaris (Werewolf / Hells Headbangers)

In the pantheon of the Goatmoon discography Stella Polaris truly feels like a natural progression from all that came previous.  Every element of strength the band has contained since the beginning is present.  Stella Polaris is pulls back some of the melancholy, and artfully integrates the folkish instrumentation from previous album Voitto tai Valhalla such that it doesn’t come off as parts separate from the black metal core.  Goatmoon’s gift of writing effortlessly epic and frost bitten songs pervades through all of Stella Polaris.  Combined with the crystalline production, and brisk run time of about 28 minutes, Stella Polaris makes for one of the bands best albums both technically and musically.

Sanguine RelicBitter Reflection In Luminous Shadows (Skjold / Perverse Homage)

2017 seemed to be the year for this style of obscvure home/tape recorded lo-fi black metal.

Often written and produced by one-man but mixed under the influence of a bottle of reindeer blood blended whiskey.  Although black metals roots were made just the same and worshipped for it, it seems now the same techniques are open to heavy criticism and dismissal.  ‘It’s been done’, ‘It’s taken too far’, ‘It sounds like they are playing on another floor of the house but the mic is next to a hot air vent’.  But this is black metal and atmosphere is a whole slide in the powerpoint presentation of the genre.  Ok, so there’s plenty of demo quality tapes in circulation and on hard drives the world over so If it’s down to the riffs and ‘songs’ then Sanguine Relic has risen to the forefront justifiably.  In fairness, even on headphones it took several listens for me to penetrate the tape fog and hear the echoed and hissing riffs for themselves.  Like some entity from beyond they drift and dither between a dark realm and our reality.  Fear and perturb set in because you know you’re being targeted with no understanding as by what or when it may choose to envelop and pull you in.

White Death –  White Death (Werewolf / Hells Headbangers)

Goatmoon has expanded their sound to include more folk influence and melodic maturity.  White Death it seems really liked the fastest song on Goatmoon‘s Finnish Steel Storm and set forrth to sharpen their aim like that of the Finnish WWII sniper that is band’s name-sake.  Razor thin vocals and freshly manufactured barbed wire for riffs.  Songs such as “Immortal Hunter of the Moon” and “Warpath” are too well written for them to be dismissed simply as Goatmoon Jr (even though I name them three separate times in this write up).. Musically it’s a savage town pillaging with a drunken party amongst the corpses after.

2017 Favorite EP’s, Splits, 7in, Demo releases

(No ranking involved)


Heinous – Four Under The Floor (Independant)

Heinous’ previous releases were pretty competent gore-grind reminiscent of all the grossly vile masters…ok maybe just early Dead Infection.  The band logo gives that away.  Four Under The Floor sounds like a different band replacing filthy but typical grind riffs with simplistic metallic hardcore riffs and jumping the shark with effects driven vocals that sound like waste treatment plant field recordings.  Finally something that suits my need for the marriage of heavy grind sickness, and cold street reality that I crave ever since In Disgust left the scene.  Please release one of those 15 minute, 19 song rippers for me in 2018.  


Blood Tyrant / Departure Chandelier – split 7” (Nuclear War Now)

If the rules here at TOTD expressly allowed for a year to cover December to December I would have included Blood Tyrant’s late December 2016 album, Aristocracy of TwilightBlood Tyrant has really exploded in the black metal world and “Dark Decree” is a highlight of their short discography.  Departure Chandelier’s track is their best and only offering since 2011’s debut which I checked out but glossed over because of the out of place blue collar hardcore style vocals.


Lampir – Demo II (Perverse Homage)

I missed out on the batch of Perverse Homage tapes that included Lampir’s second demo.  It’s lo-fi, thin brittle guitars, and very simple riffs. I’m a fan of the emphasised kick drum that sounds like a rubber mallet thwacking a huge plastic storage container.  As a production jerk it’s these details that sets one record apart from the other.  And If you can’t tell already I side with these aesthetics over the clinically massive, epic, over-stuffed black metal that seems to make most other’s year end lists.  Equally trendy, but i prefer this stuff.


Ritual Decay – Incendiary Provocation (Flesh Vessel)

It’s a shame this EP is to be both the band’s beginning and end.  For the sick logo alone I wish they

would stick around.  The cover is a collaboration with two killer new-ish artists whose commishioned work I’m seeing on quality releases with increased frequency.  Warhead Art contributed the center eye-arm symbol having also done design work for Diocletian, and Caveman Cult.  Sebastian Mazuera drew the dense and penultimately brutal logo.  Ritual Decay back that logo the fuck up with equally dense and storming death-thrash.  Frankly, I don’t know how much more of thier attack one needs beyond these tightly ferocious three tracks.  They actually burn more intensely than can sustain there own existence.  A victim of their own ‘Incendiary Provocation‘ (…yep).


Forgotten Kingdoms Crowned In Forlorn Darkness (Tour De Garde)

Perfectly minimal dungeon synth I imagine soundtracking the parts in A Song of Fire & Ice when Bran wanders the crypts bellow Winterfell.  Vocals like damp whispered warnings from ancestral sarcofogai. Melodramatic, haunting with a pinch of menace, and wonderfully campy synth tones.  Everything I enjoy about this subgenre.

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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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