Best of 2017: Some stuff Dan liked this year!

9C 2017 EOY Header Image

Hey y’all, it’s been a minute! More accurately, it’s been about 221,000! Over the last four months, when I haven’t been watching the world rapidly start to resemble a toilet overflowing with diarrhea, I’ve been slaving away at my first semester of nursing school. Which has meant that finally, after a solid 2-3 years in a row of telling myself, “I’m gonna listen to less music this year,” I actually did listen to less music this year! My best estimate is…probably 165 albums? Maybe 170? Still a bunch, but down more than a hundred from each of the last couple of years. MISSION [SORTA] ACCOMPLISHED.

On the other hand, this puts me in something of an odd position when it comes to picking my “Best of 2017.” I didn’t listen to as much music. I deleted my Twitter and reduced my overall social media presence by, conservatively, 75% — which, by the way, was a fucking AMAZING life decision that I recommend all of you try — so I had neither a steady stream of albums-you-must-hear-or-you-will-be-shunned crossing my radar screen, nor the urge to seek out even more obscure albums that I could shun others for not having heard. Oh, and also, most of my favorite albums this year were from outside the metal genre. Me putting this list together and claiming it to be THE BEST OF 2017 would be a little delusional.

So, that’s why I’m not doing that. Okay fine, I’ve made a list and ordered it — alphabetically, because EAT IT, BIG RANKINGS — but that’s it. This is just some stuff I listened to and happened to really enjoy this year. Authoritativeness be damned. (Or left for the folks over at Last Rites.) Let’s jump in.

A note before beginning:

This list is going to focus on the metal portion of this year’s listening. (And perhaps, in some cases, the metal-adjacent.) So, even though Ulver put out my favorite album of the year in any genre with The Assassination of Julius Caesar, you’re not going to see that thing in this post. Same with Anathema. Same with…I dunno, Steven Wilson, or The War on Drugs, or other contributions from pretty-blatantly-not-metal artists. If time permits, I’ll do a year-end Rainbows in the Dark recap. (Maybe.) But this is my metal list, and it shall be kept metal. Now, all that said…

Continue reading

Best of 2017: Zyklonius’ List

9C 2017 EOY Header Image

Another trip around the sun, another stellar year for metal, with a wealth of riveting riffage, pulverizing beats, blood-curdling growls and blazing tremolos. Verily, this is an era of abundance, where it is impossible to stay on top of the deluge of top-shelf metal released every week. Best of all, quality seems to go hand in hand with quantity. If there ever was an antithesis to the contemporary temptation for instant gratification and disposability, every album I included in my mid-year stocktaking exercise ended up on my end-of-year list, having continued to impress and astonish me as time went by, testament to the spectacular songwriting, boundless creativity and killer riff delivery of the bands that conjured up these stunning works of art. And just when I thought things could not get any better, both seasoned veterans and hungry newcomers arrived, bearing gifts of seismic impact. I hope the following releases enrich your life, even if only with a fraction of the effect they had on me. Now, dig in! Continue reading

Initial Descent: June 18 – 24, 2017

Tyrannosorceress
Tyrannosorceress – photo courtesy of Kathleen Kennedy

Another week, another dollar…er…another day, another dollar. Yea whatever, you get the idea, another week has slipped by us and here we are on the best day of the week with tons of new metal to soundtrack whatever it is you’ll be doing. Tyrannosorceress kicks us off in style with their black metal debut Shattering Light’s Creation, never mind the name just dig in…pronto. Next up is Ex Eye from the experimental, jazzy and seemingly otherworldly supergroup of sorts, Ex Eye, and if you happen to be in the market for something different this is the one to fit that bill. Moving along, everyone’s favorite industrial/noise/black metal group american return with their second full length Violate and Control and put quite simply — it’s a pulsating beast of an album. Filling out the opening slots is France’s Skelethal with their classically inspired yet crushingly heavy death metal debut Of the Depths… So there you have it with the top slots, keep diving for so much more that could have easily been at the top of this list. But, we can only fit so many you know? Anyway, until next week… Continue reading

Album Review: Ex Eye – “Ex Eye”

Ex Eye - Ex Eye

There’s a power to naming things.  Labeling, categorizing, putting things into some kind of identifiable framework helps us to make sense of our thoughts and feelings.  When something defies easy categorization it can challenge us to reconfigure that framework; putting the work in yields a greater pleasure than what came before.  Ex Eye, the new group put together and anchored by saxophonist Colin Stetson, seeks to challenge our perceptions of metal with their debut Ex Eye and succeeds in creating a enveloping, dense work of instrumental music that doesn’t sacrifice once facet of its sound for another.   Continue reading