Josh Thieler’s Favorite Releases of 2017

9C 2017 EOY Header Image

Its been a long time since I posted anything for Nine Circles. Of all the things 2017 has been for me, it has definitely been the busiest I’ve ever been. I joined more bands, recorded drums / vocals for other bands, art for my bands and other bands, PR for my bands and others, started a record label, and a bunch of other stuff. I miss being more active with Nine Circles but it looks like the current staff has been crushing it!

Anyway, the time has come for year end list. I love reading everyone’s lists and seeing what albums I might have missed or maybe need to check out again. I hope you find some new music in here you will enjoy.

Recently, I heard from some grumpy black metal dad that making a top 50 or 100 lists is stupid. He seemed to believe that people are just cramming a bunch of releases in their year end list and don’t actually listen to all those records, or he seemed to think that after hitting “publish,” they never return to those records.

Every year, I struggle to get mine below 50 releases. I’ve been matching the number of albums on my year end list to the release year (top 15 of 2015, top 16 of 2016), but every year, its not enough. I get so stressed and become overwhelmed with guilt for cutting releases that have been on constant rotation for me throughout the year. This year, was the same. I listened to over 1200 new albums this year. Most of those I didn’t listen the whole way through or ever revisit, but for about 300 releases, I went back for multiple listens. Of those 300, there were about 80 that I listened to at least weekly. Thanks to one crotchety black metal pappy (that for some reason, people allow access to the internet and publishing privileges on their metal websites), I decided to free myself from the bonds of just listing my top 17 releases, and I listed a lot more.

I’m sure no one wants to actually read what I have to say about all of these, so most won’t have any of my stupid thoughts with them. If you want me to say more about anything, just hit me up for a beer or ask me to join your podcast or something.

For those that are interested, I created a Spotify playlist that has all the following releases that are found on Spotify:

Top 7 Favorite Singles/EPs

Call of the Void - AYFKM


Call of the Void – AYFKM released by Translation Loss Records


Title track “Are You Fucking Kidding Me” is one of my most listened to tracks of the year. Mostly because literally everything in 2017 made me scream that title internally (sometimes audibly).



END – From the Unforgiving Arms of God released by Good Fight Music


Occasionally, my head fills up with my own stupidity and I start to think that I have “evolved” beyond my “juvenile” appreciation of breakdowns. Then I hear something like what starts at 1:14 on the opening track “Chewing Glass,” and it beats the stupid right out of my head.



Misþyrming – Hof released by Terratur Possessions


I want more from this band. I NEED more from this band. One full length and a single is not enough for Iceland’s Misþyrming’s fantastic modern black metal. I bought my first ever Maryland Deathfest Ticket after seeing them and Suffering Hour on the bill.



GGUW – BEHAUPTUNGSANIMALITÄT released by Fallen Empire


I don’t understand what is happening with GGUW, but it terrifies me. I know that they apparently don’t like gravity or free will and they like “animality.” I’ve had so many nightmares to this 10 minute horror. I hope you will too.



Adzalaan – Adzalaan released by Vrasubatlat


Anything from Vrasubatlat is amazing. This is a release from a member (or members) of Triumvir Foul, Dagger Lust, Uskumgallu, Urzeit, Utzalu, and other wonderful bands.



Zao – Pyrrhic Victory released by Observed/Observer Recordings


There are few bands in this world that have had as much of an impact on me as Zao has. Zao has been monumental to me as a vocalist, a drummer, a lyricist, an artist, and as a person. Throughout their 24 year career, many of their releases have ended up on my “best of” lists. Last year, Zao dropped their first full length since 2009 entitled The Well-Intentioned Virus. While that record was my favorite release from Zao in 15 years, it came out so late in the year that it didn’t make it on my EOY list for 2016. Luckily for me, I got my hands on this banger early enough to begin to absorb and process how fantastic it is in time for 2017 list-making.

Whether you are an old fan or this is your first exposure to Zao, you should love this record. In under 20 minutes, they show why they have been a respected mainstay for decades. They have helped define genres and evolved in so many ways. Everything that Zao has been in the last 20 years is fantastically displayed in under 20 minutes. Zao is back and still killing it. They are not done with us yet.



Skáphe – Untitled released by Mystískaos


If this was a full length, it would be my undisputed #1 release of 2017. My only possible critique of this 22 minute single track is that its not long enough. I don’t need to do drugs because I have Skaphe.

Now on to the big, bad list of full length records that I started long, unhealthy relationships with in 2017.

Top 50 records of 2017


dawn ray'd the unlawful assembly


Dawn Ray’d – The Unlawful Assembly released by Prosthetic Records




Nidingr – The High Heat Licks Against Heaven released by Season of Mist


God, this artwork is so cool for this Nidingr release.

Electric Wizard


Electric Wizard – Wizard Bloody Wizard released by Spinefarm Records


God, this artwork is so stupid for this Electric Wizard release. I know a lot of people feel like Electric Wizard phoned-in this record, but it is still Electric Wizard. I can’t help but love it.



Uprising – Uprising released by Tridroid Records


Tridroid Records and everything they touch is awesome. I’m pretty sure that they have some of these cassettes left in their store. If you collect cassettes, grab it. Absolutely the best packaging of 2017.

Amenra - Mass VI


Amenra – Mass VI released by Neurot Recordings


I saw Amenra earlier this year on their tour with Converge and Neurosis. Amenra are even better live. Go see them.



Elder – Reflections of a Floating World released by Stickman Records


violet cold - anomie


Violet Cold – Anomie released by Tridroid Records


This is the record I wish that Ghost Bath had written in 2017. But they wrote a different one I didn’t like. Luckily, Violet Cold filled my shimmering, atmospheric black void.

Cloak - To Venomous Depths


Cloak – To Venomous Depths released by Season of Mist


Tribulation didn’t release a record this year, but if you listened to Cloak without knowing who it was, you would think it was a new Tribulation record.

Cavernlight - As We Cup Our Hands and Drink From the Stream


Cavernlight – As We Cup Our Hands and Drink from the Stream of Our Ache released by Gilead Media


This album is beautiful and sad. I need to see this live. Migration Fest anyone?



Junius – Eternal Rituals for the Accretion of Light released by Prosthetic Records




Arkhtinn  – V released by Fallen Empire


EVERYTHING on Fallen Empire is amazing. Literally anything they put out could easily end up on my end of year list.

Pyrrhon - What Passes For Survival


Pyrrhon – What Passes For Survival released by Willowtip Records


Everyone has talked about how amazing this album is and how amazing Caroline Harrison’s artwork is for it. You all already know.

But seriously, that artwork, though.

Biesy - Noc Lekkich Obyczajow


Biesy – Noc lekkich obyczajów released by Third Eye Temple


Biesy add to the ever-growing list of Polish black metal bands that are dominating the scene.



Statiqbloom – Blue Moon Blood released by Translation Loss Records


I don’t know anything about industrial music except for Nine Inch Nails, Author & Punisher, and that’s pretty much it. But this is a great industrial record.



Vassafor – Malediction released by Debemur Morti Productions


Krallice Loum


Krallice – Loüm released by Gilead Media




Sect – No Cure for Death released by Southern Lord


This is Chris Colohan (vocalist of Cursed) singing for a band that is made up of Fall Out Boy and Earth Crisis members. It basically sounds like Cursed tried to make an All Pigs Must Die or Black Breath album. In other words, I love it.

Krallice GBF


Krallice – Go Be Forgotten released by Gilead Media


Wait….. how many releases did Krallice put out this year? Asshoooooles. ❤



Tchornobog – Tchornobog released by Fallen Empire


I don’t know what a Tchornobog is, but this record is massive. Fallen Empire kills it again.

altarage endinghent


Altarage – Endinghent released by Season of Mist


Altarage was high on my year-end list for NIHL in 2016. Endinghent is basically just NIHL Part Deux. But that’s ok. I don’t need Altarage to be anything other than what it already is. I will point out that “Spearheaderon” has the best slow-headbang/mosh part of 2017.



Sannhet – So Numb released by Profound Lore


Remember those Chicken Soup for the Soul books? This is that in record form. This record is beautiful.

irkallian oracle


Irkallian Oracle – Grave Elstasis released by Nuclear War Now


impetuous ritual blight upon martyred sentience


Impetuous Ritual – Blight Upon Martyred Sentience released by Profound Lore


Fuoco Fatuo


Fuoco Fatuo – Backwater released by Profound Lore


Is Doomgaze a thing? I think this is Doomgaze. Whatever it is, it is beautiful and colossal.

Chaos Moon


Chaos Moon – Eschaton Memoire released by Blood Music


Another one of those bands that came out of nowhere for me. This record is maddening in its genius.

converge - the dusk in us


Converge – The Dusk In Us released by Epitaph


This is definitely not my favorite Converge record, but The Dusk In Us is still fantastic. The band somehow continued to evolve as musicians and songwriters in the 5 years since they released All We Love We Leave Behind. I’ve been listening to this record for months and I am still discovering layers and intricacies that I kept missing. Converge did so much in this one album that it almost seems like they are just waving their dicks at everyone else at this point.

Also, Jacob Bannon is a fantastic vocalist. He has always been one of my favorites because he was so raw and abrasive. He always seemed to be exactly what Converge needed. But with The Dusk In Us, Jacob shows possibly the most growth in his abilities of all the band members since their last record.

Desolate Shrine - Deliverance from the Godless Void


Desolate Shrine – Deliverance From the Godless Void released by Dark Descent Records


Novae Militiae


Novae Militiae – Gash Khalah released by Goathorned Productions


antiversum cosmos comedenti


Antiversum – Cosmos Comedenti released by Invictus Productions


usnea portals into futility cover


Usnea – Portals into Futility released by Relapse Records


Rebirth of Nefast


Rebirth of Nefast – Tabernaculum released by Norma Evangelium Diaboli


Thantifaxath - Void Masquerading as Matter


Thantifaxath – Void Masquerading as Matter released by Dark Descent Records


Very highly anticipated record for me. Thantifaxath more than delivers. I’ve seen a lot of chatter about them being Deathspell Omega ripoffs.

Firstly: no.

Secondly: in what world could being compared to Deathspell Omega ever be a bad thing?

american Violate And Control


American – Violate and Control released by Sentient Ruin Laboratories


Oh hey, remember farther up in this list when I said I didn’t know any industrial bands? Well this is blackened industrial. I am in love.

Emptiness - Not for Music


Emptiness – Not for Music released by Season of Mist


I don’t know what Emptiness was thinking when they made this record. I don’t understand it at all. I don’t know why I like it, but I really, really do.

couch slut contempt


Couch Slut – Contempt released by Gilead Media


Couch Slut rules. With one EP, My Life As a Woman, Megan became one of my all-time favorite vocalists. Contempt only solidifies that. To be honest, I’m still a bit shaken from hearing her vocals for the first time. Somehow, Couch Slut is even more intense live.

Go. See. Couch Slut.



Entheogen – Without Veil, Nor Self released by Fallen Empire




Blattaria – Blattaria released by Fallen Empire


Bestia Arcana


Bestia Arcana – Hol Kauston released by Dark Descent Records




Utzalu – The Loins of Repentance released by Vrasubatlat


This record is carnal and filthy. It adds perfectly to the spectrum of depravity that is Vrasubatlat.



Jassa – Incarnation of the Higher Gnosis released by Fallen empire


Ululatum Tollunt


Ululatum Tollunt – Quantum Noose of Usurpation released by Invictus Productions


aosoth the inside scriptures


Aosoth – V: The Inside Scriptures released by Agonia Records


This is an incredible addition to the Aosoth discography. They continue to meet and raise the bar for my hopes and expectations of them.



Dodecahedron – Kwintessens released by Season of Mist


My balls and stomach dropped at just 21 seconds into “Icosahedron: The Death of Your Body.”

The Ominous Circle - Appalling Ascension


The Ominous Circle – Appalling Ascension released by 20 Buck Spin


This record is brutal. So loud. So fast. Sooooo heavy. The only reason it isn’t higher is because it sounds a little over-produced.

Fange - Pourrissoir


Fange – Pourrissoir released by Throatruiner Records


I had never heard of Fange until Nine Circes’ Josh Stewart brought them to my attention. Noisy, abrasive, and aggressive. This is THE sludge album of 2017.



Succumb – Succumb released by The Flenser


I have never heard of death metal like this. From the first second I hit play on the first track of this album, I knew I was listening to one of my favorite albums of the year. The sneering (sometimes almost hardcore) vocal delivery over top of un-polished and chaotic death metal just grabbed me in a way I didn’t know I needed grabbed. This is what it would sound like if Jane Doe era Converge had written a death metal record instead of Jane Doe.

Suffering Hour


Suffering Hour – In Passing Ascension released by Blood Harvest Records


This is the other band that made me immediately order my Maryland Deathfest ticket. I didn’t listen or ever hear of Suffering Hour until this record, but it is fantastic. Maddening, swirling, haunting death metal of the highest order.

Triumvir Foul


Triumvir Foul – Spiritual Bloodshed released by Vrasubatlat


I’ve said this already. Everything from Vrasubatlat is fantastic, and Triumvir Foul stands out even among the already impeccable roster.

spectral voice eroded corridors of unbeing


Spectral Voice – Eroded Corridors of Unbeing released by Dark Descent Records


I procrastinated writing my year end list until now mostly because I couldn’t decide if Spectral Voice or Primitive Man put out my favorite record of the year. You can see this is listed as #2, and you are reading this so you probably guessed that I figured it out. Spectral Voice is incredible. I have listened to this album so much. I’ve listened to it daily (most days I listened to this record in its entirety more than once). Spectral Voice have taken death metal and mixed it with doom metal in the most magnificently heavy way. Everything about this record is perfect.

primitive man caustic


Primitive Man – Caustic released by Relapse Records


This is the heaviest album I’ve ever heard. “My Will” has been stuck in my head for months now. I hum it constantly. I got to see songs from this album live on Halloween with Ethan close enough to whip me with his dreads. It was the heaviest show I’ve ever seen. It was exhausting. My ears were hurting even though I was wearing professional ear plugs. I was in a direct line from Ethan’s cab and it felt like I was laying on a massage chair. Primitive Man are the loudest, heaviest, and nicest, and they wrote my favorite full length of the year.

Favorites of everything else

I don’t know anything about other types of music, but I sometimes listen to non-metal things. Here are my top 10 “non-kvlt/vn-metal” releases of the year.




 The Welcome Wagon – Light Up the Stairs released by Tooth and Nail Records


Author & Punisher


Author & Punisher – Pressure Mine released by Independent




 Tyler, the Creator – Flower Boy released by Columbia Records




         Offa Rex – The Queen of Hearts released by Nonesuch Records




Iron & Wine – Beast Epic released by Sub Pop




Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life released by Interscope Records




Emma Ruth Rundle / Jaye Jayle – The Time Between Us released by Sargent House




The Menzingers – After the Party released by Epitaph Records




Kesha – Rainbow released by Kemosabe Records




Kendrick Lamar – DAMN. released by Top Dawg Entertainment


– Josh Thieler

2 thoughts on “Josh Thieler’s Favorite Releases of 2017

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