2017 Mid-Year Report, Part Deux: Managing the Overflow

immortal band
*there is no Immortal in this list.  I just really like the pic.

The style and format of the Nine Cirles ov… articles is such that we limit ourselves to nine entries on whatever topic it is we’re blathering about.  It’s a blessing and a curse: it really helps hone down what you want to cover but, as in the case of this week’s mid-year favorites it can really kill your groove, particularly when there’s so much awesome to cover in the first half of the year.

And man there’s SO MUCH GOOD STUFF OUT THERE.  Someone on Twitter mentioned how he dug the list for the simple reason that none of my choices would have made his list.  Now, after you pick yourself up off the floor in shock that sometimes (rarely, admittedly) social media can be a sensible and warm community, revel in the fact that this just reinforces the amount of quality out there so far in 2017.  So, you all good with a second course?  Let’s dig in…

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anathema the optimist

Anathema – The Optimist:  Anathema’s pseudo-sequel to 2001’s A Fine Day to Exit is a gorgeous mass of electronic twitches and pulses set against a backdrop of loss, longing, and memories.  Maintaining the darkness from previous album Distant Satellites but strengthening the overall tone of the album does wonders, and tracks like “Leaving it Behind” and the single “Springfield” show a band at the top of their game when crafting a beautiful melody or a chorus that resonates for weeks.  Yes, they’re no longer metal, but I’ll never pass up an opportunity to champion the evolution of this band.

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Artificial Brain - Infrared Horizon

Artificial Brain – Infrared Horizon:  2017 definitely seems to be the year of death metal: whether your preference is that classic old school sound, the scuzzy evil of newer bands or the technical progression that’s permeated the scene since the beginning there’s something out there that’s scratch your itch.  If you like them all then I humbly submit to you the latest from Artificial Brain, whose brand of technical death metal never strays into lifeless jangly meanderings, but hews closer to the spirit of bands like Gorguts.  Infrared Horizon improves on everything from their debut with unbelievable riffs, tighter songwriting and an open production that lets every roar, grunt, and squeal cut through.  I’m still crushing on “Synthesized Instinct” and so should you (reviewed here).

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Falls of Rauros - vigilance perennial

Falls of Rauros – Vigilance Perennial:  Weaving folk and black metal together in a way that doesn’t automatically make you think of Wolves in the Throne Room or other similar Northwest acts is a feat, one that Falls of Rauros have been doing since their debut full length back in 2008.  Our own Vincent said it best in his review of Vigilance Perennial: there’s a sense of grace on display in each of the songs that is both humble and humbling.  Touching on nature and ancestral heritage lyrically, the music masks this up with a warmth and light touch that balances against the heavier elements.  The great solo break in “Arrow & kiln” still stands as a highlight for music in 2017.

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Immolation-Atonement

Immolation – Atonement:  Why the hell didn’t we do a proper review for this album?! I had it in my most anticipated releases of the year, and even mentioned it in a recent Nine Circles ov… a few weeks back.  Do a quick search on Nine Circles and you’ll see our illustrious editor had it in his list, too.  And Dan covered it for our inaugural Scaling Mount Purgatory post.  I could just keep adding hyperlinks but what you need to know is Immolation is one of the few old school death metal bands who have never sat on their laurels, making albums that are not only great, but consistently better each time.  I’ll put Atonement up against any of their previous albums and call it the winner.  This is my death metal album of the year so far.

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mutoid man - war moans

Mutoid Man – War Moans:  Lest anyone forget, metal can not only be heavy, but fun.  And Mutoid Man are here to reinforce that fact.  I can almost forget that Steve Brodsky was in Cave In after having my brain explode with the blasting guitar and hooks on War Moans, an album that, like so many others on this list, just takes everything that came before and makes it so much better.  I can’t point to a favorite on this album, but lately it’s been a toss up between the insanity of “Micro Aggression” and the throw your hands up and rage chorus of “Kiss of Death.”  And that cover, man…so good.

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novembers doom - hamartia

Novembers Doom – Hamartia:  How Novembers Doom consistently gets lost in the shuffle when talking about the best death/doom bands is astounding.  My first exposure to them was on 2005’s The Pale Haunt Departure and since then every release has been a crushing statement in melancholic death.  So much of this is embedded in the somber voice of Paul Kuhr, who seems incapable of singing a sour note. Having the rare benefit (for them) of a stable lineup the songs on Hamartia (the flaw in character which leads to the downfall of the protagonist) take a darker turn than on previous albums, but seeping through the cracks is the spirit of their death roots.  Turn up opener “Devil’s Light” and settle in, because Novembers Doom will envelop you.

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Power Trip - Nightmare Logic

Power Trip – Nightmare Logic:  When the bands of your youth fail to carry the thrash torch high, you  have to turn to the young upstarts, learning from their fathers and creating music that chugs and dive bombs fully vested with the soul and power of 80s speed and thrash.  Power Trip is doing that, looking outside of the Big 4 and transmuting the quirks of bands like Nuclear Assault and Exhorder to bring a vital spark back to the thrash revival that always seems to be teetering on the edge of collapse.  Nightmare Logic is at its giddy best when barreling forth on tracks like “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Ax)” and the early Slayer recall of “Ruination” (reviewed here).

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twilight-fauna-the year the stars fell

Twilight Fauna – The Year the Stars Fell:  By interweaving his life and experiences into the environment where he grew up, Paul Ravenwood has crafted a deeply personal and challenging record in The Year the Stars Fell, and it’s one that I keep coming back to in times of personal crisis.  His unique production style mandates an active attention to what is happening, and it’s there that the myriad of secrets reveal themselves.  The addition of drums from Slaves BC’s Josh Thieler brings an immediacy and vitality to the songs in such a way that you wonder if they haven’t been there the whole time.  It’s a rare album that reaches a level of universality even as it remains so singular an experience.

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Woe - Hope Attrition

Woe – Hope Attrition:  I love the opening of Hope Attrition.  “Unending Call of Woe” kicks off with a tremolo picked series of notes, alone in the dark before being slowly joined by full and thick power chords, a primal rhythm banged out on the toms, then a harmonizing line weaving in and out before exploding into a frenzied blast of black metal.  The title of the song may leave a smirk in its double meaning, but the music most definitely indicates a calling card to powerful, dynamic album.  Chris Grigg has stated how intense the planning and demoing of the album was, and it shows in every twist and turn the album takes, displaying a dizzying array of modern black metal tropes without sinking into imitation or repetition.  More than that, it’s a scathing attack on the inhumanity and hate that’s been infecting the country, and as Vincent notes in his review, it’s a rallying cry to those in the metal scene who would stand up for what is right.

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Okay…two posts, 18 albums.  That still doesn’t touch on all the greatness so far in 2017 (where’s Wode?  Dumal?  Overkill? Progenie Terrestre Pura?  Who the $#@! are Progenie Terrestre Pure?) but I’m sure you can help me out with that in the comments, right?

-Chris


 

3 thoughts on “2017 Mid-Year Report, Part Deux: Managing the Overflow

  1. katimavik86 July 14, 2017 / 7:30 pm

    Congrats for including Woe. That one’s missing from too many mid-year summaries. For sure I would have included Wode plus Death Fortress… not sure I’ve seen that 2nd one on any list so far. There are 2 album-of-the-year candidates missing from both of your lists: Slund – The Call of Agony and Gloson – Grimen. What’s up with that?

    • Chris July 14, 2017 / 8:10 pm

      You silly goose…they’re not there because this is clearly MY list and not yours. Although I will admit dropping Wode was painful, but I figured it has enough accolades and I really wanted to highlight Farsot, which I haven’t seen talked about much and I happen to love. The others you mentioned didn’t do much for me personally, but that’s the beauty of different strokes for different folks, as mentioned in the second paragraph.

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