“Better late than never” is the best way I can describe the world of metal in 2017. Most of this year’s early releases made little or no impact on me, and it was just within the last few months I found albums that are worthy of inclusion on this year’s top 10.
With that said, here’s what moved the needle for me in 2017.
10. Annihilator: For the Demented (Silver Lining Music)
Riff-master Jeff Waters takes over lead vocals and delivers one of the best albums in the Annihilator discography. “Twisted Lobotomy” and “The Demon You Know” prove that Waters has recaptured the sound that hooked Annihilator fans from day one.
9. Cavalera Conspiracy: Psychosis (Napalm Records)
Max and Igor Cavalera deliver the best of the four Cavalera Conspiracy records to this point, bringing the thunder with some of their best songwriting and lightning-intense riffs.
8. Bill + Phil: Songs of Darkness and Despair EP (Housecore Records)
Phil Anselmo teams up with horror movie icon Bill Moseley for six tracks that live up to the EP’s title. Moseley’s lyrics paired with Anselmo’s musical arrangements show off the duo’s talents, making for an enjoyable listen.
7. Scour: Red EP (Housecore Records)
Making another appearance on my top 10 again is Anselmo who fronts black metal supergroup Scour. Not much different from 2016’s Grey EP, Red is another instance of Anselmo showing metal fans he’s more than just the Pied Piper of ’90s groove metal.
6. Pallbearer: Heartless (Profound Love)
I would be remiss to not include something from the doom sub-genre which has become near and dear to my heart over the past few years. I was a big fan of 2014’s Foundations of Burden, and Heartless builds on the momentum generated on that release. This is a group who continues to get better each time out and might just be the next big thing in doom.
5. Suffocation: …Of the Dark Light (Nuclear Blast)
One consistent knock I hear on Suffocation is that their last few albums have shown little to no evolution in terms of musicality. However, I find Suffocation to be one of the best technical death metal bands going today, and this album showcases their superb instrumentation. Perhaps not the best jumping off point for someone looking to get into the band, …Of the Dark Light will satisfy the long-time fans.
4. Mastodon: Emperor of Sand (Warner Brothers)
A concept album with sand serving as double metaphor, coupled with an evolved Mastodon who play notes with a purpose rather than just for the sake of filling time? This album might have been my top choice had not the three following releases happened.
3. Obituary: Obituary (Relapse Records)
Self-titled albums can be taken one of two ways – either an uninspired, unoriginal collection of songs that were thrown together to satisfy the record label, or a way to showcase an artist’s integrity and accomplishment. Benefiting from a late-career renaissance after the Kickstarter-funded Inked in Blood in 2014, Obituary’s self-titled album shows fans that the Florida boys have held true to the songwriting and production skills that put them on the map almost 30 years ago.
2. Cannibal Corpse: Red Before Black (Metal Blade Records)
The tenth studio album to feature Corpsegrinder, Red Before Black is another in a long line of Cannibal Corpse releases that doesn’t disappoint. The band does not stray from the factors that its legion of fans have come to expect, and I cannot remember the last time Cannibal Corpse put out a lackluster release.
1. Morbid Angel: Kingdoms Disdained (Silver Lining Music)
Three things fell into place for me to include this record at the top of my 2017 list. First, Steve Tucker returned to the fold after an extended absence. Second, Trey Azagthoth continued to be the epitome of a death metal guitarist. Finally, Erik Rutan‘s production skills took an already dominating force in Morbid Angel and left no doubt that they are the king’s of death metal.