This post has been a long time coming. Heavy Blog has been around for almost 10 years now, and in that time we’ve grown in every possible way. The breadth of music that we cover has grown. We’ve launched new initiatives, such as the podcast Noyan and Eden have made their own. We’ve recruited more writers and, crucially, the quality of our writing has continued to improve year-on-year. While there are a number of fantastic blogs out there, such as Angry Metal Guy, Toilet Ov Hell and Arctic Drones to name a few, we like to think we offer something a little different from a lot of other outlets. That may be through a slightly different perspective, our more fleshed out articles, or our penchant for writing in a fairly long and more creative style. And while we’re not trying to toot our own horn too much here, we like to think that we do a pretty good job and that the readership which has grown along with us appreciates these facets which make Heavy Blog what it is.
With this in mind, we thought it would be really cool to come up with a Heavy Blog Yearbook for 2017, a look back at some of the articles from last year that we’re most proud of. It’s an opportunity for the blog to say “Hey internet, this is who we are, this is what we do, this is what 2017 meant for us. I hope you like it.” It’s an opportunity for us, as writers, to reflect on why we do what we do, and why we love it despite the hundreds of unpaid hours we put into making this thing tick. It’s an opportunity for you, our beautiful readers, to get what you (hopefully) love most about us – well-written articles. It’s an opportunity for everyone to look back on a great piece they might have missed during the year, and it serves as a marker that we can return to in years to come. Now, without further ado, we present to you 30 of our favourite articles from 2017 as chosen by us. These articles are presented in order of category, not quality, and you’ll find a short summary of the piece, why we liked it, and a link to the full article. We hope you all like it and, if so, we’ll make sure to do one for 2018 as well.
Eden’s 2017 in Review
The obvious place to start is with The Machine, Editor in Chief Eden, and his 2017 in review. In typical Eden fashion, he talks about the meaning of time and why such articles are necessary. He then explores whether the Golden Age of Metal™ has come to an end, which trends from 2015-16 persisted and which didn’t, how the way we consume music and support artists is continuing to shift, and how the blog has been going since our change in direction in 2015.
Deep Dives & Editorials
Deep Dives are our flagship long-form column that encompasses any longer article that tackles any musical subject we deem to be interesting enough to warrant deep analysis. It’s where we branch out, throw word counts to the wind and dive into the music we love and the trends we see emerging.
Harsh Vocals: A History
First up we have a few historical pieces, kicked off by Andrew’s history of harsh vocals. They’re one of metal’s most distinctive features, and Andrew explores 10th Century myths, odd beginnings in the 1960s, and how harsh vocals evolved through the 80s. It’s a cool, well-researched piece on something you don’t see explored very often.
The Metal Explosion: 1983 – 1984
Speaking of well researched historical pieces from Andrew, we have his article on the metal’s explosion in diversity and popularity between 1983-84. As he puts it himself, it “seems absurd to state that metal journeyed from NWOBHM to death metal in only two years, but that’s precisely what happened” – and you can read all about it below.
Heavy Rewind – 1987: The Year in Metal
In another retrospective that really winds back the clock, we have Bill’s look at the influential releases from 1987. With coverage ranging from Guns N’ Roses and thrash metal to Napalm Death and Bathory, we see a great cross-section of bands and styles explored in this trip down memory lane.
Djent Was a Genre Full of Great Debuts and Little Else
Newcomer Josh entered the salt mines with his debut article for the blog, penning one of our most controversial posts of the year. The headline says it all as he posits the likes of TesseracT, Monuments, Uneven Structure and more failed to live up to their potential, with no band off limits. He claims only one band has delivered on a consistent basis in a genre which appears to be stagnating, and a lot more is needed, soon, if djent is to be seen as anything other than a flash in the pan.
Nielsen’s 2016 Music Industry Report: A Bullshit-Free Guide
Next up we’ve got some more analytical pieces looking at trends emerging in the scene. The year started with Nick’s bullshit-free guide to the 2016 Nielsen Music Industry Report. Whilst Nielsen tries to paint a rosy picture, Nick unpacks the spin to explore whether the vinyl resurgence is sustainable, how threatening Youtube’s rise is, streaming’s growth and the future of rock music.
I Feel It Coming – How Streaming is Changing Music Consumption
No discussion on music streaming is complete without getting Scott’s thoughts on the matter. He wrote his B.A. thesis on music streaming, so he knows what he’s talking about, and he dives into how streaming is changing music consumption, how the industry compares streams with physical sales and what the future holds.
Decibel’s Toxic Nostalgia – Exploring the Magazine’s Narrow View of Modern Death Metal
Editors Scott and Jon teamed up on this one to look at how Decibel’s nostalgic coverage of veteran death metal bands is stunting the growth of younger, fresher, and more interesting bands. Whilst the likes of Dying Fetus and Suffocation continue to hog the headlines despite middling releases, the wonders of Ingurgitating Oblivion, NYN, Necrot and more are either ignored or forgotten. Strap yourselves in for a long one, because they went all-in here.
Luminiferous Aether: Science Fiction and Metal in 2016
Up next is a Heavy Blog classic, Eden diving deep into the intersection of two of his greatest passions: metal and science fiction. In his inimitable style he starts with classic tracks from Metallica and Iron Maiden, before looking at the likes of Cynic, Cult of Luna, Haken and more. If there’s one piece here which sets Heavy Blog apart, it’s this one.
Dispatches from the Port Phillip Bay Area – Into the Pit of Australian Thrash Metal
Another Josh piece, this time he’s looking at something a little closer to home. We’ve long been banging on about how Australia has one of the most exciting scenes in the world, particularly in the progressive space. Here, Josh highlights that Melbourne is home to some standout thrash bands such as In Malice’s Wake, Harlott and more. Great piece with insights from the bands themselves, if you love thrash then this is a must-read.
Reading Between the Merch Lines: Literature and Metal
We finish up our deep dives with a couple of more miscellaneous articles. First, we have this concise piece from Lincoln, which looks at literature’s role in the music of Lotus Ash, Cobalt and Ahab. Short, sharp and to the point, this is a topic we can definitely see ourselves exploring further in due course.
The Fleeting Nature of the Music Industry (And Some Advice)
Last, but not least, we have Joe’s look at the music industry, what it means, and the way it has changed. Another shorter piece, the beauty is in the simplicity as he lays out some simple words of advice for how to make the most of being a music fan and listener.
Interviews and Loose Ends
Heavy Blog’s Interview with Michael Gagen
This time last year I was interviewing some of Australia’s foremost musicians, and by far the most interesting responses came from Michael Gagen (hazards of swimming naked, Echotide, ex-Arcane). Michael was extremely generous with his time, and we discussed his music, his creative process, crowdfunding, the Australian music scene, and much more.
Land Animals: How Bent Knee’s Fierce Eclecticism, Emotional Honesty and Work Ethic are Paying Off
From Michael and I in the world’s South-East to Nick and the lovable Bent Knee in its North-West, we’ve got your interview coverage sorted. Here, Nick explores the story behind their recent albums, their key influences, where they fit into the scene, and more. Theirs is a star on the rise so you wouldn’t want to miss it.
Genre Genesis 8/25/17 – Converge, “Under Duress”
Spearheaded by Simon, Genre Genesis is probably our favourite column. It’s only a couple of instalments in, but it’s where the significant others of Eden, Nick and Scott lay bare their thoughts on a song of Simon’s choosing, and state what subgenre they think it belongs in. In the first instalment, they try to decipher Converge’s “Under Duress” to hilarious results.
Now for the meat of any good music publications: reviews. We’re not going to go into too much detail on what these are about – that’s pretty self-explanatory – but whilst they may not be as distinctive as our deep dives there are still some gems in here. Whether it’s Eden talking about the Roman Empire, Jon taking us through the grieving process, or Matt being fucking hilarious – here are our favourite reviews from 2017.
Ulver – The Assassination of Julius Caesar
Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper
Septicflesh – Codex Omega
Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun
Ground Patrol – DRIFT
Coutoux – A Hell on Earth
Feral Chaos – Feral Chaos
Reptilian Civilian – It’s Impossible That Reptilians Don’t Exist
Year in Review
This is a post we intend on coming back to in years to come, and so it makes sense to end with our favourite albums from multiple genres. Our recurring columns have been a hit, and so here are our posts wrapping up the year that was in death metal, black metal, post-rock, and more.
Death’s Door 2017 in Review
Kvlt Kolvmn 2017 in Review
Doomsday 2017 in Review
Jazz Club 2017 in Review
Post-Rock Post 2017 in Review
Wave // Breaker 2017 in Review
The Metal Industry’s Top 25 Albums of 2017
We end with a couple of lists. Firstly, we have the aggregate ‘metal industry’ list that Nick has been compiling for the last couple of years. In it, we outline which outlets we extracted end-of-year lists from, how we aggregated them, and what the top 25 looked like. Then most of the editorial team analyze the trends and patterns evident, what they mean, and the direction music journalism is headed towards.
Heavy Blog’s Top 25 Albums of 2017
Of course, this yearbook couldn’t be complete without our very own Top Albums of the Year post, so here it is! Whilst different staff have differing opinions on which order these albums should have been ranked in, we all agree that the releases mentioned here were amongst the best in their respective genres. We pride ourselves on our diverse taste and think we’ve got another banger list in what was a fantastic year for music.