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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Luke Saunders

Another year, another long and arduous task of trimming the bloated quantity of metal releases down to the bare essentials. And while 2017 didn’t leave the impression of the past couple of years, there were still plenty of high quality albums to choose from and get excited by.

Before pressing on into the nitty gritty, I’d like to extend a thank you to my colleagues for their tireless efforts and top notch recommendations and to the loyal readership for sticking around and making it all worthwhile.

10. Artificial BrainInfrared Horizon. Profound Lore. Another warped adventure of brutal tech death. A slight change in tact didn’t halt the band from crafting another unique gem.

9. Spirit AdriftCurse of Conception. 20 Buck Spin. Nate Garrett surrounded himself with band-mates for the follow-up to 2016’s impressive Chained to Oblivion album. The injection of additional blood brought about a shift in direction yielding strong results as their hefty doom core was enlivened by ripping dual guitar harmonies and a classic heavy metal influence.

8. RedemptorArthaneum. Selfmadegod. Monstrous third LP from this unsung Polish tech death crew. A unique and punishing example of the style, executed with finesse, heft and originality.

7. Soen Lykaia. UDR. Sweden’s masters of melancholic prog metal returned with another accomplished album. Despite struggling to reach the magical heights of Tellurian, Lykaia was nevertheless a powerful statement, featuring emotive melodies, complex musicianship and crunchy riffage.

6. Exhumed Death Revenge. Relapse. The old heads of Exhumed excelled once again with another top notch display of gritty old school death and grisly melodeath coupled with potent song-writing.

5. Caligula’s HorseIn Contact. InsideOut. This mesmerizing album from the Australian prog heavyweights proved a captivating and epic conceptual turn from the band. Dazzling musicianship, soaring hooks, and deeply emotive and moving song-writing summed up a brilliant and diverse album.

4. Dying FetusWrong One to Fuck With. Relapse. The grizzled vets wound back the clock with their best and most punishing batch of tunes since 2000’s classic Destroy the Opposition.

3. Mutoid ManWar Moans. Sargent House. The most fun I had with an album all year. Mutoid Man is a unique entity and War Moans is a superb and frenetic concoction of caffeinated heavy rock, sludge, prog, thrash and even a dash of trad metal. The songs are relentlessly manic, built around infectious vocal hooks, aggressive instrumentation and shredding guitar work.

2. Chelsea WolfeHiss Spun. Sargent House. Abyss, 2015’s immaculate and devastating masterwork, was always going to be tough to top and in all honesty Hiss Spun doesn’t quite get there. But it’s still a wonderful exhibition of Wolfe’s eclectic song-writing, damaging soundscapes, and ethereal vocal melodies. The riffier doom and rock influences made for a more accessible and very addicting album.

1. Æther RealmTarot. Self-released. Æther Realm was previously an unknown entity for me, until they dropped this very special and exhilarating second LP. Tarot breathes vital life back into melodic death metal through slick song-writing, exceptional guitar work, top notch production, and careful sprinklings of black and folk influences. Majestic, aggressive, melodic, and loaded with hooks to ensure great replay value, Tarot was the cream of the crop of metal albums in 2017.

Honorable Mentions:

Venenum Trance of Death

Steven WilsonTo the Bone

TetrafusionDreaming of Sleep

Laser Flames on the Great Big NewsLaser Flames on the Great Big News

Hellripper – Coagulating Darkness

Pallbearer Heartless

Benighted Necrobreed.

Voyager – Ghost Mile

Sunless Urraca

Akercocke – Renaissance In Extremis

The Black Dahlia Murder – Nightbringers

WormwoodGhostlands: Wounds from a Bleeding Heart

Replacire – Do Not Deviate

Archspire – Relentless Mutation

John Frum – A Stirring in the Noos

Biggest Disappointments

Xanthochroid – Of Erthe and Axen: Act I & II

Suffocation – …Of the Dark Light

Shores of Null – Black Drapes for Tomorrow

The overlooked (but need to check out)

Phrenelith, Pyrrhon, Dodecahedron, Dvne, Vulture Industries, Dyscarnate



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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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