Friday 29 December 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Friendship - "Hatred"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 03/11/2017
Label: Southern Lord Records |
Daymare Recordings | Sentient Ruin

Over the course of twenty five crushing minutes, the band show they have honed their potent blend of crust, powerviolence, grind and sludge to deadly perfection. “Hatred” feels like burying your face in a bowl of razorblades while being kicked in the stomach.

“Hatred” CD//CS//DD//LP track listing:

1). Rejected
2). Regiside
3). Corrupt
4). Tortures
5). Compton
6). Grief
7). Life Sentence
8). Blue Berry
9). Execution
10). Dirtbags
11). El Chapo
12). Treason

The Review:

The dust has barely settled from my recent exposure to Friendship’s facemelting EP compilation. The Tokyo wrecking crew have wasted no time in releasing their debut LP “Hatred”, a relentless assault on the senses that cements their position as the current masters of all things short, fast and horrible.

Over the course of twenty five crushing minutes, the band show they have honed their potent blend of crust, powerviolence, grind and sludge to deadly perfection. There is a new found clarity and gut-churning heaviness to their bludgeoning onslaught. This has resulted in a marginally less raw and chaotic experience than before but still feels like burying your face in a bowl of razorblades while being kicked in the stomach.

Rejected” and “Regicide” open the record in furious fashion like a warp-speed Iron Lung. Both tracks feature carefully deployed bursts of squealing feedback like a lead instrument, particularly powerful during the cacophonous climax of the latter. “Life Sentence” and “Blue Berry” find Friendship mixing in punishing, chug-heavy sludge riffs in amongst the high octane punk mayhem that bring an intoxicating air of hardcore brutality. The bands interest in the heavier and slower side of life is most evident in the monstrous “Corrupt”, a low tempo bruiser that bristles with Eyehategod/Noothgrush sludge attitude.

A re-recorded version of “Compton” from the band’s debut EP makes an appearance at the LPs mid-point. It is significantly burlier than its predecessor and encapsulates all that makes Friendship great in two minutes. Fret-mangling noise rock riffs lead to passages of exhilarating knuckle-dragging simplicity, a perfect balance of innovation and primal no-frills punk rock.

With “Hatred”, Friendship have delivered in style on the immense promise of their early work.

“Hatred” is available here

Band info: bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: Exalter - "Persecution Automated"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/11/2017
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records

Aggressive and fairly primitive with some elements of the more extreme death metal sub-genre. Themes of oppression, injustice and warfare abound- classically thrash all the way. This is Flawlessly executed metal.

“Persecution Automated” CD//DD track listing:

1). Intro
2). Holocaust Ahead
3). Reign of the Mafia State
4). World Under Curfew
5). The Dreaded End
6). Slaughter Cleanse Repeat
7). Incarceration
8). Grip of Fear
9). Pathology of Domination
10). Clandestine Drone Warfare

The Review:

Bangladeshi headbangers Exalter return with this razor sharp slice of thrash. Following up the excellent EP, “Obituary For The Living” was never going to be an easy task, but the band have done it in style. With the album kicking off with an intro and an instrumental, you know there is no sell out for more commercial territory. You are getting thrash, plain and simple.

With many of the old school bands having introduced melody to unacceptable levels, it is nice to hear Exalter pressing forward with vicious riffs, barked vocals and straight forward aggression. This is thrash that is, I would say, a melding of Exodus, Sepultura and Sodom. Aggressive and fairly primitive with some elements of the more extreme death metal sub-genre. Themes of oppression, injustice and warfare abound- classically thrash all the way.

The likes of “World Under Curfew” will get necks snapping everywhere and when the band drop to mid paced territory for riffage on “The Dreaded End” for instance, they do so solidly and convincingly. Naturally, the band always favour pressing the pedal to the metal, whether it be on “Reign of The Mafia State” or “Slaughter Cleanse Repeat” they do so with full conviction. The band keep things sharp and focused throughout- this is a record made of songs that beg to be played live- with songs not outstaying their welcome and deft use of time changes and riffs- “Grip of Fear” being a prime example.

When the final two tracks have played out and the vicious “Clandestine Drone Warfare” has concluded, the final verdict is easy to reach: the record won't change the world and or even the thrash genre, but it would make a fine soundtrack to any one of the subjects that the band write about it- and in thrash metal, there can be no higher compliment than that. Flawlessly executed metal.

“Persecution Automated” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Friday 22 December 2017

A YEAR IN REVIEW: Ernesto Aguilar's Top 25 Albums of 2017

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Bell Witch

2017 was a fantastic year for music in general, and metal in particular. If you like other sounds, this was the year pop from Kendrick Lamar to Lorde handed in exemplary performances, and major artists went all in on Spanish-language music (not to mention actual Latin artists like Luis Fonsi, J. Balvin and Bad Bunny getting English-language exposure). We also got not one, but two, albums from avant-garde patron saint Diamanda Galas and the visceral entertainment of watching megastars fight like gladiators for relevance amid the surge of music's young lions. There have been far worse years to be a music fan, absolutely.

Paring down to the best 25 releases is no easy task. Veteran and new bands made some outstanding and highly recommended albums. Dying Fetus, Immolation and Kreator offered some impressive works and proved one can still be innovative decades into an arc. And you are seeing albums from Code Orange, Power Trip and Poison Blood on lots of year-end lists for good reason: their recordings were really great and worth your time.

If you liked the aforementioned Galas as I do this year's bubbling up of noise and just plain weird into metal, an admittedly weird music to begin with, was really stimulating. Cavernlight's "As We Cup Our Hands” and “Drink From the Stream of Our Ache," Xanthochroid's "Of Erthe And Axen: Act II" and Lorna Shore's "Flesh Coffin" are just joys in this regard… joys in a furious, metal sort of way, but nonetheless enjoyable for their tone, depth and diversity.

I listen to and write about music of all kinds, and may pick stuff you hate. That said, my metal releases this year:

25. Royal Thunder, "Wick"

Metal always has a lot of nostalgia for the 1970s, with major affinities for the arena rock of Led Zeppelin and the fathers like Black Sabbath. One of the best inheritors of that tradition is Georgia's Royal Thunder, whose bluesy, hard rocky sound is one of the more faithful homages to the old school you will hear. What vaults "Wick" into the best-of 2017 is vocalist Mlny Parsonz, whose awe-inspiring voice makes you hope Uta Plotkin gets into a studio soon.

24. Paradise Lost, "Medusa"

An all-time MVP like Paradise Lost this low on a list (but still on said list) is indicative of how great metal was in 2017. The placement of the monumental "Medusa" here is no shot; the UK's doom/goth trailblazers make consistently solid music that has, over the years, matured, but is nevertheless some of the best there is.

23. Spectral Voice, "Eroded Corridors of Unbeing"

It is as if atmospheric black metal were dipped like an ice cream cone into a thick, greasy soup of noise. Some may hate the churning of subgenres, electronics and volume. Thankfully for you, Judas Priest is coming back.

22. Succumb, "Succumb"

Virtually all the records on this list have some mammoth guitar work and riffs that are quite memorable. Succumb is not one of those bands. Instead its songs wind with at moments progressive, at other turns punk/hardcore inflected, guitars washed to the bone with noise, distortion and sheer modulation. 2017 was undoubtedly a year for sonority, with Primitive Man among the loud class. Succumb just happened to end up valedictorian.

21. Replacire, "Do Not Deviate"

The Boston band avoided the sophomore slump with a technical death metal record that is as exacting and overwhelming as anything released in 2017. From clean singing and growls to a superlative guitar attack, Replacire crafted songs that were original while being slightly familiar. And yet the quintet managed to stand out with an album that does death metal's history proud.

20. Introtyl, "Inside of Violence"

Music without understanding the people behind it is, we can probably agree, boring as fuck. Mexico's all-female death metal dynamos offered an EP early in the year that largely flew under the radar. Many reasons for that, surely. People ¯\_()_/¯’ing music from Mexico/Latin America or female-led metal is probably part of that, though you would probably hear lots of 'not me' to such insinuations. Coming back to it, "Inside of Violence" is affecting for its sound and its story of artists who have put in quite a journey to get here.

19. Cannibal Corpse, "Red Before Black"

Controversial for years, it is hard for Cannibal Corpse to make shocking death metal when one has been pretty much the standard by which death metal is judged. The band succeeded in lifting the bar a bit more with an album that shows off its musicianship and insane songwriting. As usual, Cannibal Corpse's storytelling is not for casual metal listeners, but its irascibility is certainly a treat.

18.  Tombs, "The Grand Annihilation"

Tombs' release was part of a larger movement that saw many bands blending sludge and black metal this year. No one in 2017 was quite as pensive as the Brooklynites, who have been doing it for a decade. Its newest offering introduces vocals that make this one an almost infernally operatic affair, while giving fans the slow-burn riffs and unrelenting rhythms they've come to love.

17. Cradle of Filth, "Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness of Decay"

The symphonic metal OGs have taken great pains to avoid categorization, but there is something about their 2017 full-length sure to please most everyone. Grand orchestration, striking riffs and prodigious vocals made Cradle of Filth's newest one of the group's better recordings in its 12-deep catalog. In a year where legendary symphonic acts like Carach Angren returned, "Cryptoriana" ably showed why Cradle of Filth is revered to this day.

16. King Woman, "Created in the Image of Suffering"

Kristina Esfandiari's doom project explored, in 2015's "Doubt," her upbringing in a cult. Now a full band, King Woman comes back to these themes in the 2017 full-length. With more contributors in the fold, the release sees Esfandiari turn in a sensational vocal performance. Here you will also experience lyrics that are vulnerable, reminding us all that, while violence scars us, betrayal cuts deeper. Accompanied by a pulverizing blend, "Created in the Image of Suffering" is nothing but sublime.

15. Elder, "Reflections of a Floating World"

Stoner metal torchbearers Elder turned lots of heads with "Lore," its 2015 album of massive chords and progressive tilts aplenty. Lofty comparisons to Kyuss and major bands ensued. Undeterred, Elder made 2017 an active year, with several recordings on the books. This one was by far the Massachusetts crew's best, taking its folky asides and dreamy stylings into its most comprehensive collection to date.

14. Pyrrhon, "What Passes for Survival"

If nothing else, this was a year for music and politics. Whether it was top-ten-dead-or-alive rapper Vince Staples, indie icons Broken Social Scene, Fiona Apple's anthem composed for the international Women's March in January, or Joey Bada$$' magnum opus "All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$," shit was not being taken from anyone in 2017. Metal, of course, has always explored oppression and resistance, and rarely have such subjects been nearly as potent. Pyrrhon presented by far metal's most socio-politically conscious record of 2017, taking on bigotry, inequality and climate change in the most fierce and uncompromising way imaginable. The result? Music as commanding as its message.

13. Heathen Beast, "Scam"

Heathen Beast brought out the punk/hardcore aesthetic to its edge on "Scam," a seriously extensive rabbit hole of social and cultural exploration of life in its native India. You might start Googling all the references and learning more about castes and income disparities in that country of 1.3 billion people. Or you may just take in the musicianship, which is stellar. Either way, metal is better because of bands like this, and "Scam," like many influential records, gives us a glimpse into lives most of us know nothing about.

12. Dodecahedron, "Kwintessens"

Where black metal has become a category of everything and nothing over the last minute or so, what it means to make or claim black metal remains a big question. Returning after a five-year layoff, Dutch masters Dodecahedron have risen up as the gatekeepers of some of the subgenre's best qualities: fearsome vocals, relentless guitars and a suffocating landscape of darkness. "Kwintessens" is Dutch for "quintessence," an apt description for a breathtaking album.

11. Monarch, "Never Forever"

France's doom outfit Monarch released an incredible album in September, featuring a KISS cover and plenty to talk about. Long known as a five-piece tending toward sluggish arrangements and complex compositions, "Never Forever" was a departure of sorts. Although its five songs came in at over an hour, with all the glacial goodness you expect from Monarch, selections like "Song To The Void" brought a ghostly sheen to the music. As always, the band shone again with Emilie Bresson on vocals, with her performance on the "Black Diamond" cover and on "Lilith" are among her best.

10. Below the Sun, "Alien World"

Who does not love a good concept record? And 2017 featured some great takes. Few were as compelling as Russian doom band Below the Sun's spin on the 1961 science fiction novel "Solaris." In the Stanislaw Lem book, scientists on a ship studying an ocean-covered planet discover the sea itself is a single, world-encompassing organism that has been reading their thoughts and fears and can cast those ideas into material form. Basing music in the Lem classic is ambitious, but Below the Sun pull it off with masterful atmosphere, weighty soundscapes and imagination that is rare, even in this creative genre.

9. Converge, "The Dusk in Us"

I confess Converge is in my top ten largely out of peer pressure. It is rather high on many best-of lists, though it felt like a (good and interesting) 1990s-style record when I reviewed it. Extraordinary? Nope. Important? Not really. However, what Converge does well, it does lavishly. As it is, "The Dusk in Us" is an arresting return for Converge and will likely be a sturdy album even in a year or two.

8. Aosoth, "The Inside Scriptures"

Over the years, you have no doubt come to respect French black metal, which has cultivated a reputation for extremity through the efforts of groups like Mütiilation, Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega. Gone since 2013's "An Arrow in the Heart," Aosoth rejoined the living this year, embracing the hints of technical death metal it has incorporated before more fully on this six-song package. While risky – there are many instances where black/death marriages can sound like dour dumpster fires – Aosoth makes the relationship work through attention to detail and its signature intensity. The result is magic… black, beautiful magic.

7. Akercocke, "Renaissance in Extremis"

Since its 1999 debut, "Rape of the Bastard Nazarene," Akercocke has tended toward a quirky appearance (suits, really?) and intellectual Satanism somewhat reliant on postmodern liberal ideals (its debate with Christian activists is the stuff of YouTube fable). After 2007's "Antichrist," the band ostensibly broke up, wrapping a tantalizing black metal footnote. However, when a reunion and new album where announced, inquiries of where the English progressive black metal quintet would go next were abundant. The answers lie in goth, thrash and technical ministrations – all seemingly eccentric yet at home with one the last true metal iconoclasts. Although divergent from previous releases, Akercocke's latest is an honorable return to form, and better than 90 percent of the metal recordings out there.

6. Mastodon, "Emperor of Sand"

Now seven albums into its career, Mastodon is one of a handful of metal bands that can be covered by Pitchfork yet aren't abject garbage. Such a ruling was very uncertain for a second. The group saw mainstream exposure with "Once More Round the Sun," and you might have tasted the fear of Atlanta's favorite sons going into some "Black Album" territory. Never fear, for "Emperor of Sand" continues this impulse to be accessible while remaining obtusely heavy. Where there is the friendly "Stormbreather" there is also windier "Andromeda." These tensions between virtuous fidelity to metal and sinful coveting of dad rock are palatable, if not wholly a part of our narrative. Yet Mastodon manage to stay on the good side of that line in 2017, with a record that deserves all the recognition it is getting.

5. Zeal & Ardor, "Devil Is Fine"

That there is some consternation that this is even metal at all is endlessly amusing. No, Slayer it isn't, but if we're being real, how many Slayer fans are particularly metal these days? What was once an idea that came from a 4Chan exchange associating black metal and a racial slur has emerged as 2017's most subversive metal album, pitching Black music into a style disproportionately dominated by Caucasians. Manuel Gagneux's mash of black metal influences, African-American gospel, prison work songs, techno (?!?!), blues and noise fights actively against your expectations, gets topical without getting in too deep for those who avoid such things, uses evil as an effective lyrical device for human evil, and rages far harder than "Song 9,483 About Lucifer" by Pointless Metal Act. If you love artists who will do things that make you question your music, you may enjoy what this Swiss one-man act is up to.

4. Enslaved, "E"

If Enslaved aren't Norway's best-known metal export, it is safe to say the band is currently the biggest. 25 years on, the group has built a rabid following worldwide for its dense music borne of eclectic progenitors. This go around, Enslaved continues a tradition that it has gone with in recent years: a more celestial vibe that may at turns remind you of Pink Floyd. Enslaved's discography has leaned toward more driving tracks. On "E" the sound is purposeful, paced and melodic. Rather than punishing, this is a sound you intake. And what an injection it is.

3. Myrkur, "Mareridt"

Given how much praise "Mareridt" received when it was released a few months ago, you might think it would end up recognized by year's end. Alas, no, which is surprising, considering its merger of folkloric elements, black metal and exceptional musicians is one of the more forward-thinking metal releases of the year. Some of this exclusion could be chalked up to backlash. Myrkur's Amalie Bruun has received her share of attention this year – for matters like a Decibel magazine interview distancing herself from black metal to closing down Facebook messages over death threats she was getting. However, do know the world has a lot of myopic assholes in it. The astonishing album still deserves the praise it got, and a place at the table when we're talking about the best of 2017.

2. Pallbearer, "Heartless"

Arkansas' doom powerhouse is still young in its trip, but has won over many listeners with compositions that break away from traditional themes and subtle sonic environments that beckon you in. What is unique on "Heartless" and is most striking about Pallbearer is its sophistication. Vocalist Brett Campbell gives his best performance to date, conveying passion, hope and dread at many turns. The result is an album that has gotten well-deserved year-end buzz.

1. Bell Witch, "Mirror Reaper"

No releases were as courageous or satisfying as Bell Witch's glorious return this year. After losing half of the band's creative core to an untimely passing, it would have been simple to hang it up and call it a day. Yet Bell Witch reconstituted and dug hard, examining the duality of life and death, featuring posthumous vocals from their fallen comrade, in a single, 80-plus-minute track. A passing look might consider such packaging as self-indulgence. A close listen reveals a fearless and sorrowful exposition at a universal experience. "Mirror Reaper" had worthy company, but no peer this year.

Thursday 21 December 2017

REVIEW: Malakhim - "Demo I"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 01/12/ 2017
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions

Rather than retread classic sounds or noisy metal that is in vogue, Malakhim offer a debut that harkens to the best of what you love while introducing you to what it sure to be a new favorite.

“Demo I” CD//DD//LP track listing

1. A Thousand Burning Worlds
2. The Mass of Flesh
3. The Golden Shrines

The Review:

Swedish black metal act Malakhim makes its presence felt with a debut that offers promise in a year filled with rejuvenated black metal performances. "Demo I," a debut EP filled with harsh tones, singing vocals and murky themes, manages to shake off initial iffiness to leave you wanting far more.

There is weird logic in some sectors of extreme music that suggests it is better to simply let the music do your talking and to keep as much of the backstory of the artists behind the scenes. 2017 has been dotted with those acts – bands known by alphanumeric characters, masks or nothing at all. The times it works, it is hard to quibble with success. While this lack of information can be interesting or even mysterious, however, this self-indulgence misses a fundamental part of why people bring musicians, actors or other entertainers into their lives at all: people want connection, stories, mythology and something with which they can identify. It also creates such distinctiveness to music when people understand the artist's process and the context in which the sounds were forged. The world is filled with dozens of legendary acts whose personal trials, circumstances or beliefs formed what they created.

Picking up Malakhim's debut demo, which is shrouded in the mystery that has been a thing this year, you may at once be fascinated by what is a strong first outing. Where it begins to sound like a lot of other black metal or grindcore, you almost crave more detail to appreciate this particular effort past a name that bears little identity.

There are a few bits we know, such as players having been with Swedish black metal bands Wormlight and Ancient Wisdom (not to be mistaken with Austin act Ancient VVisdom). We also know the quintet was formed in 2016. And listening to its debut record, you get a number of influences, including noise, in its black metal sound.

The first recording begins with "A Thousand Burning Worlds," a track that highlights the gifts of the five-piece. Its abrasive rhythms and classic elements make this opener familiar enough to draw you in, but yet unique enough to make you appreciate the density for all it is. A return in metal to more corrosive energy saw a renaissance in 2017, with established and emerging acts like Primitive Man, Septicflesh, Full of Hell and Ledge among those to deliver volume and blasts of guitar far beyond the expected. Malakhim honors that movement from its start and into the song "A Mass of Flesh," where guitars hammer you repeatedly and the distorted vocals careen over the mountainous drums and bass. The double-ax assault continues into the final cut, "The Golden Shrines." Without revealing much, it is said that Malakhim is a seasoned group, and that experience comes across clearly in both songwriting and maturity in approach. Rather than retread classic sounds or noisy metal that is in vogue, Malakhim offer a debut that harkens to the best of what you love while introducing you to what it sure to be a new favorite.

At just three songs and a shade over 15 minutes, Malakhim's first offering is powerful. What's more, "Demo I" is a spectacular preview to what may assuredly be a legendary 2018 for the new crew.

"Demo I” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

A YEAR IN REVIEW: Charlie Butler's Top 25 Albums of 2017

25. Kenoma – “The Tides Will Prevail”

Kenoma are firmly focused on the metal side of the post-metal equation for the most part of “The Tides Will Prevail” and manage to create huge, enveloping sound constructions reliant on intricate interlocking guitar parts rather than a phalanx of effects pedals.  The albums extended gestation period has produced an absorbing set of finely honed post-metal behemoths.

24. No Funeral / Livid – “Split” 

The combination of these two bands on one mammoth slab of wax is a marriage made in hell. No Funeral and Livid are definitely acts to check out now if you like it slow, heavy and desolate.

23. Aseethe – “Hopes of Failure”

“Hopes of Failure” is sparse and minimal yet packed with detail and intricacies, like Yob and Unearthly Trance stripped of their psychedelic tendencies to let the raw oppressive riffs do the talking.  Aseethe have crafted a slow-burning masterpiece that reveals more with each listen. Every spin increases the pull of its hypnotic spell and leaves you with no option but to submit to its crushing power.

22. War Brides – “Regrets”

Chicago bruisers War Brides raid the vaults of the noise rock greats to create a compellingly ugly debut LP in the shape of “Regrets”. It is a quick and dirty shot of addictive mayhem, channelling the nastiness of its influences to fine effect and offers hints of evolution into a stranger beast over the course of future releases.

21. Space Witch – “Arcanum”

The band still sound like a collaboration between Bongripper, Hawkwind and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to create the ultimate sci-fi B-movie soundtrack, but  this latest release sees them develop their cosmic barrage further out into the void., they showcase a leaner, meaner Space Witch that still push the boundaries of heaviness but with a more streamlined attack.

20. Norska – “Too Many Winters”

“Too Many Winters” is a captivating collection of powerful doom steeped in Norska’s unorthodox and compelling personality.

19. Stinking Lizaveta – “Journey to the Underworld” 

Stinking Lizaveta’s new album “Journey to the Underworld” finds the band in deadly form, crafting music that is seriously weird and complex yet still delivers an addictive riff high.

18. Divide and Dissolve – “Basic”

Divide and Dissolve in full flow is like a huge slab of noise reminiscent of UK low-end warriors Bismuth and the sadly departed Palehorse.  The band’s distinct racket is simultaneously skeletal and super dense, with most of the tracks consisting of slow-motion pounding drums and an oppressive wall of discordant distortion.  “Basic” is a powerful record in every sense.

17. The Oxford Coma – “Everything Out Of Tune” 

 “Everything Out Of Tune” is a breath of fresh air at a time when heavy music is becoming ever more reliant on recreation of past glories. The Oxford Coma delivers a welcome blast of vital strangeness while still riffing harder than most of their peers.

16. Wren – “Auburn Rule”

15. Helpless – “Debt” 

Every track on “Debt” is imbued with a captivating air of spontaneity and weirdness, delivered with a terrifying level of intensity.

14. Cranial – “Dark Towers Bright Lights”

Cranial have honed their Earth-shattering attack to razor-sharp perfection and expand the scope of their music to galactic levels of grandeur.  The band are a relentless riff engine, churning out a constant flow of thick sludge, like Neurosis channelling the almighty crunch of early Mastodon. “Dark Towers / Bright Lights” does not break down any musical barriers but it is poised to blow your mind with its dark intensity.

13. Grizzlor – “Destructoid”

“Destructoid” is a record that fully lives up to its title. Grizzlor have served up a sumptuous platter of riffs that effortlessly lays waste to the opposition.

12. Coltsblood – “Ascending into Shimmering Darkness” 

Coltsblood refine their unique brand of bleak, bludgeoning doom to punishing effect on “Ascending Into Shimmering Darkness”. This is a mighty collection that marks out the band as one of the most underrated heavy acts in the world.

11. Cloud Rat / Disrotted – “Split” 

This is an awe-inspiring release from two incredible bands who can seemingly do no wrong at the moment and continue to deliver an embarrassment of heavy riches in 2017.

10. Hark – “Machinations”

9. Friendship – “Hatred”

8. Drunk In Hell – “s/t”

Drunk In Hell have delivered what is easily the most horrible release of 2017. Seven years of accrued filth and sludge has never sounded so good.

7. Unsane – “Sterilize”

 This is a flawless collection of bile-soaked missives that set the standard for riff-heavy, ugly noise rock in 2017

6. The Ditch and The Delta – “Hives In Decline”

The Ditch and The Delta’s sound is a killer blend of fret-mangling math rock and stoner doom aggression. They strike a perfect balance between complexity, melody and no-nonsense gnarly heaviness.

5. Cloud Rat / Moloch  - “Split” 

4. In The Company Of Serpents – “Ain Soph Aur”

 “Ain-Soph Aur” is a heavy experience on all levels. The band have dialled back the volume and slowed the tempo from previous releases which has unexpectedly resulted in increased impact. This album is  towering achievement from In The Company Of Serpents. It is a fine addition to an already distinguished discography and an inspiring work that sets the standard for heavy music in 2017.

3. Pallbearer – “Heartless”

“Heartless” is an incredible achievement from Pallbearer, a set of huge songs that consolidate the best elements of their previous releases while moving into fresh sonic territory. This is the album that should see the band make the transition into stadium-bothering all-time greats, and deservedly so.

2. Boris – “Dear” 

From the opening track, “D.O.W.N. –Domination of Waiting Noise–“, Boris conveys punishing volume so effectively that your ears will ache at practically any level.  Every note and every layered vocal has been obsessed over, placed perfectly in the mix, and acts as a distillation of twenty-five years of intense collaborative synthesis.

1. Converge“The Dusk In Us”

Today, with random acts of violence, anger and pessimism dotting our timelines, maybe Converge just now seems like a soundtrack to our contemporary apocalypse