Heavy Blog’s Top 25 Albums of 2017 (So Far)

2017. As metal in the Internet Age continues to proliferate, its identity is in constant shift. Ideas about which genres mean what, the role of politics on music, the very fabric of the financial institutions which create the scene, all come into question as the barriers between fan, musician and business man collapse. And yet, despite of what alarmists might say to the contrary, great music is still being made across a wide variety of genres, inside and outside of the metal strata. That’s why these mid year lists are important; they allow us to more carefully consider the lighthouse releases thus far released during the year and the trends which they signify. When making this list, we attempted to consider truly stand out albums, which have something interesting to say about their respective genres, the artists themselves and the interplay therein. Thus, your mileage may vary. The idea of this list is not to be definitive or exhaustive. Indeed, such an effort would be inherently doomed to fail. Instead, this list attempts to present a facet into the trends running through our community as they manifest inside the Heavy Blog staff’s “collective taste”. As you read it, consider your own relationship to the insane amount of music and the ways in which you filter it. Perhaps we can offer our own alternative viewpoint.

Death’s Door – The Month in Death Metal // May 2017

Welcome once again to Death’s Door. Wipe your feet, yada yada. Ugh. Your eternal servant of Death is tired. Why is this, you don’t ask? I’ll tell you anyway, you miserable tourists (which reminds me, no flash photography). You see, I have recently come into possession of a hellhound of the most diabolical bent. He is a dark, menacing beast who consumes rations from my stores at will, has chewed all of the bone furniture to bits, and howls like the demon he is far into the eternal night that consumes us all. Observe his ferocity:

Editors’ Picks – May 2017

This year charges on and doesn’t appear to show any signs of slowing down. As we near the six month mark (and our own Top 25 of 2017 So Far), it’s becoming apparent that 2017 hits on broader fronts than 2016 did. While the previous year was an amazing year for some very specific genres, there were others that suffered less than stellar performance. With 2017, there’s very little that’s left untouched, with great releases coming from left and right. The list below is a great example of this; it contains post rock, grindcore, jazz, psychedelic electronics, death metal, stoner and oh so much more. Each of these sub-genres have been producing great releases this year, giving 2017 the illusion of a siege. From us, the nominal besieged, a measure of elasticity is required; we must keep our ears open and listen to new places, places we might have abandoned up until now.

Best Of – Power Ballads

Power ballads are in and of their nature sentimental sap-a-thons. They also happen to be one of the staples of metal and hard rock that kept its faint heartbeat alive at a time when the form had gone out of style with the mass public, if it had ever well and truly been “in.” These songs also served as gateways into metal for many a budding metalhead along with the more accessible songs that weren’t quite pop but had those sensibilities of melody and catchiness. This list is by no means definitive but it’s ours spanning a few decades and variants worth of feels. A number of contributors have added their favorites but please do share yours with us in the comments!

Best Of – Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell was nothing if not human albeit one with otherworldly pipes and a mind ripe with the ability to form words and phrases in such a way as to simultaneously connect and befuddle listeners and onlookers. By all accounts he was a contemplative person who loved his inner circle very much but he wasn’t alone in his troubles. His imperfections, those that his fans knew about anyway, bred a certain closeness strengthening the bond they had with the performer. He was one of rock’s golden but least gilded gods. We have lost another great one but his legacy speaks for itself. We will miss you, Mr. Cornell. Our condolences from the Heavy Blog Family to yours. Read on for what our staff and special contributors feel is a sampling of some of the best work over the course of Chris Cornell’s amazingly moving career.

Best of – Brutal Death Metal

Brutal death metal has the rare benefit of being exactly what it sounds like. The differences one would expect between “regular death metal” and “brutal death metal” are manifold and, by and large, pretty predictable: guitars are more downtuned; riffs are chunkier and more visceral; vocals are far deeper and even less intelligible; the whole nine yards. As far as subgenres go, it doesn’t exactly shake up its progenitor’s foundations by a relatively large amount, choosing instead to just take everything that makes death metal an already pretty brutal genre and crank that bad boy up to 11. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the ensuing auditory carnage is not for the faint of heart, but it is for anybody that feels like extreme metal just isn’t extreme enough yet. If you’ve ever felt that way—the grooves could be groovier, the riffs could be riffier, the blasts could be blastier, the gutturals could be gutturalier—then brutal death metal is the answer to all your prayers. So without further ado, let’s dive in to what our staff considers to the be the Best Of – Brutal Death Metal!

Death’s Door – The Month in Death Metal

2017 is shaping up to be a banner year in the recent history of death metal. Quality releases abound, and we thank our infernal overlords for their bountiful provision. April, however, was a very strange month for our beloved deathly noise. Though strange may not be the best word to use here. Let’s try, maybe, weird? Yeah, weird seems right. This month we got a lot of robots. Also ingurgitation (look it up), some extreme (fucking) death, and Vampires, too. Lots to digest. But regardless of the whack-a-doodle nature of this month’s death metal output, April has been one of the best months for the subgenre in recent memory. Two album of the year contenders surfaced to wage a war of the weird against our ears, and it was a sight to behold. Good, old fashioned traditional death metal saw its fair share of releases as well, so never fear if you find yourself outside of fandom of the brutal noodle. Regardless of your persuasion, death metal is in fine health in the year of our dark lord 2017, and that is worthy of celebration.

Editors’ Picks: April 2017

Man, 2017, y’all. We realize that it’s kind of our m.o. to be proponents of the whole “Golden Age of Metal” narrative and be incredibly positive about the consistently great level of stuff that is being put out from pretty much every part of the musical spectrum, but it’s such an easy thing to do when we are so constantly bombarded with new material that utterly consumes our attention. Even in months where one of us might not have as many new albums that really impressed them, without doubt there will be another one who could barely keep up because of all the superb releases from genres they pay close attention to. This April has certainly been no different in that regard, and we have a whole slew of top-notch albums to recommend to you all.

Best Of – Stoner Metal

Well, here we are – The Weed Day. While we’ve already done a For Fans Of post for Sleep, today we’re finally going to sit down, rip a “few” bong hits and share what we believe to be the best albums stoner metal has to offer. We’re rolling up to all the genre’s classics today, of course, starting with the auditory sweet leaf that first lit it up. But we’ve also aimed to smoke our way through the genre’s hazy history with landmark albums from the past several decades, including modern classics in the making that are equally worthy of being your soundtrack for the day. So without further ado—because we know how short your attention span is today—grab your bowl, bong and/or blunt and celebrate the best music for your lazy, smoke-filled afternoon.