2017 was wild. I listened to more new music than I had in years. After having more free time, I found time to dig back into the one thing I used to be completely obsessed with - radical tunes.
My list is absent a few releases that I absolutely overrated or was crazy reactionary to their initial release. I'm looking dead on at Suffocation, Eighteen Visions, Quicksand, and a few others that I trumpeted about on this very blog site early this year. I still like those releases, but they didn't hold up when put up against the stuff that did end up on my list.
I'm also missing a lot of big name releases. I honestly didn't get around to listening to Turnover's new album. I didn't dig in on Red Death. It's impossible to keep up with every cassette from bands like Diztort and whoever else is blowing up on the recently revived format. There's pretty much a zero probability that I could pretend that I listened to At The Drive-In's big return for more than 15 seconds.
Also, I love hip-hop and rap - it's all over my list of albums that I actually did listen to this year - but there is absolutely no chance that garbage Future mixtapes, a Migos album or anything with the word "Lil" in the title was worth my time. The five good Future tracks I've heard recently are not going to make for a top album of the year, sorry.
I think some things like Morbid Angel, The Cool Kids, and a few others may grow on me as I listen to them more, but I didn't get the chance to really soak them in this year or they might be on the list (or maybe not).
I guess I'm saying that an ignorant rap song, hyped cassette demo, or long-standing emo rock band isn't going to sneak into my list. What did make my list was what I did listen to this year and you'll find that it was a healthy dose of death metal, hip-hop, and hardcore. On to the list!
Substance - Hardpoint
Straight edge revivalist movement music. I remember a youth crew surge about a decade ago that brought about some amazing bands. Substance is youth crew worship and it's done extremely well. I don't know how they're being received nationally, but this EP rules.
Burial - Pre Dawn/Indoors
This is some very, very good Burial. Much more straightforward and close to the original vibe of Burial's body of work than what the producer has released in recent years. It's probably been about five years since I've liked something from Burial as much as this, if not longer.
Give - Electric Flower Cult
I always love to hear Give. Mostly, it's because they constantly keep me off-kilter with their somewhat wonky vibe of DC hardcore. It's always a bit off, but always has me saying, "Right on!"
Racetraitor - Invisible Battles Against Invisible Fortresses
I listened to a lot of Racetraitor over the years. Their return has been kind of quiet, or that's how it feels to me. Not a lot of attention pointed at their new music. This new five-song, nine-minute blast of fury is great. I don't ever listen to it just once.
.GIF From God/Vein EP
Some say this was released in early 2017, though it technically first saw the light of day on December 31, 2016. That would have been like a week after I wrote my list last year, so it qualifies for this year. Vein is amazing and I can't wait to see what they do in 2018. The .GIF From God songs were also good, but Vein is definitely operating on their own level at this point and that's a good thing.
Best of the Rest
No Warning "Torture Culture" - Wu-Tang Clan "The Saga Continues" - Dying Fetus "Wrong One to Fuck With" - Unsane "Sterilize" - All Pigs Must Die "Hostage Animal" - Artificial Brain "Infrared Horizon" - B L A C K I E "REMAINS" - SZA "CTRL" - Dizzee Rascal "Raskit" - Kendrick Lamar "DAMN."
The Top 15 Albums of 2017
15. Aosoth - The Inside Scriptures
I almost put Converge here. Almost put River Black here. Almost put Unsane here. Almost put a lot of things here. I decided to reserve this spot for a wild card. I didn't hear the new Aosoth album until late November, but it's just pummeling and good. Listen to the title track here and you'll get it (or you won't).
14. Phrenelith - Desolate Endscape
It's so heavy and so good. A lot of people prefer their sister band, Undergang, but I'll take Phrenelith over the 'Gang any day. Check out "Eradicated."
13. Burn "Do or Die"
Burn rules. They still have this frenetic 90s vibe about them even if we're diving headlong into 2018. The production is the biggest win, really letting the band's range and crunch get a full flex. Check out "Beauty."
12. Wiki "No Mountains in Manhattan"
The year was just full of great flow and pen, but Wiki is probably one of the best doing it today. The demise of Rat King was a bummer, but "No Mountains in Manhattan" does more than enough to fill that void. Wiki has a sick, slick very 90s NYC hip-hop flow. Check out, "Mayor."
11. Jacques Greene "Feel Infinite"
After the release of "After Life, After Party," I was pretty much in on whatever Greene was going to put together. His full-length is as slick as the accompanying artwork and merch visioned and delivered by Hassan Rahim. The chill, upbeat electronic party you always wanted to visit, brought to your own earbuds. Check out, "You Can't Deny," the lead single that dropped last year, it's a banger.
10. SECT "No Cure for Death"
Undying ruled. You guessed it. I mentioned that only because when someone from a band I loved has a new band, I'm going to check it out. Fortunately, this doesn't disappoint. Fast, furious, getting to the point. Don't sleep on SECT. Check out, "Stripes."
9. Glassjaw "Material Control"
This one came along late in the year and I wasn't even aware that it was dropping until all my friends started talking to me about it like I already knew. Naturally, I nodded along and then hurried home to stream it. Both a step forward and a well-anchored dive into the classic Glassjaw sound, check out "Shira."
8. Action Bronson "Blue Chips 7000"
Everything about Action Bronson is great. He's a live-action bowling ball on heavy drugs that rolls out some of the best wordplay and flow this side of 2003 and finds a great way to channel his vibe through producers who give him the perfect compliment of bouncy beats and retro-sounding distorted guitars. I have no idea how to compare this to his last full-length, but it stands up against the field in 2017. Check out my favorite jam of the year, "Let Me Breathe."
7. Joey Bada$$ "ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$"
Kendrick Lamar is sitting on the rap throne right now, but under the radar, it's Joey Bada$$ that keeps bringing the fire. The turn on his new album features a lot of tunes that aren't perhaps as "aggressive" in delivery and beat, but there's a lot of really, really good on this album. I don't think it's fair, or even a good idea, to pit Lamar and Joey against each other. Rather, they are complimentary peers bringing forward important words at an important time. Check out, "FOR MY PEOPLE."
6. Ascended Dead "Abhorrent Manifestation"
I wrote a little on this album earlier in the year, but well after the release. It flew under the radar for a long time and shouldn't have. This blackened death metal machine from the San Diego underground scorched 2017. The album features several tracks re-recorded from earlier demos the band did and a cover, in addition to several new tracks written for this release. It's unrelenting, raw, harsh, and I couldn't stop listening. Check out "Blood Thirst."
5. Thundercat "Drunk"
Everything about Thundercat is good. This album produced some fantastic moments and it's so incredibly listenable, like to a level that you can't really achieve with other artists. Plus, it's weird. Weird is a thing and it's great the way Thundercat does it. Lots of a frequencies that Thundercat operates on and they are all present on this 23-track ride. Best song, probably of any genre this year, "Them Changes." Or you could try "Jethro."
4. Lo Tom "Lo Tom"
David Bazan has been a fixture in my musical upbringing, via Pedro the Lion, Headphones, his solo work, almost as much as Jason Martin, Starflyer 59. It's not a popularity contest, because now they're together. I wrote a little about this release earlier this year and I think I called it something like "grown-ass rock" music. It was something like that. Whatever I said, this album is great. Shades of Pedro, shades of Starflyer, and so much more. It isn't a trip to the past, it's a modern twist. Check out "Overboard."
3. Bully "Losing"
Didn't write anything on this one earlier in the year, but it's like, a perfect 90s distortion-drenched trip through emotion. I don't have much else to put on this one. If you love the 90s, heavily distorted alternative rock, you should be listening to this daily. Check out "Seeing It."
2. Spectral Voice "Eroded Corridors of Unbeing"
I could spend about 300 words just digging in on their artwork for this release. It's massive and perfect. So rarely do you get an album where the layout and artwork is up to this level. And it isn't about being pretentious or excessive, it's clear that this was done because they love everything about this process. The same can be said about the music. Extremely heavy, atmospheric, occasionally doomy death metal that truly pulls you into an intense atmosphere and experience. You're not just listening to Spectral Voice. Check out "Dissolution."
1. Impetuous Ritual "Blight Upon Martyred Sentience"
For a lot of people, seeing this album at the top of the list will be a huge letdown. I'm not sure what you were hoping to find here, but Impetuous Ritual's newest, grimiest, most primeval offering is all you'll find. It's utterly dark, chaotic, and for many, unlistenable. That's pretty much exactly what they were going for, I think. Regardless, I enjoy this kind of death metal that exists on the fringes of what we can handle as human listeners. I keep hearing people say that they recorded two albums over each other and that they play recordings backwards. I'm not smart enough to know if that is true, but I can tell you that if you can bare this kind of music, it'll take your brain for a hell of a ride. Check out "Inordinate Disdain."
by Daniel Coughlin