Ah, that most glorious time of the year for music writers – year-end season is upon us once again! 2017 was a tumultuous year, but even so, it was a damned good one for heavy metal, and Team Hellbound had a cornucopia of great albums to choose from.
Here, we turn the page over to our individual staffers to discuss their favorite records of the year, give their hottest takes on the state-of-the-heavy-metal-union in 2017, and tell the world what they’re looking forward to for 2018.
As always, every member of Team Hellbound would like to extend our warmest thanks to each and every one of you who continue to read our site, and we wish you all a very metal Christmas and a headbanging new year.
Hails, horns, happy holidays, and ho-ho-ho from Hellbound!
Laura’s Best Metal Albums of 2017:
Released August 25
If you dug into Hellbound’s collective top ten this year, you’ve already been exposed to my ravings about the latest Leprous album. I could temper that positivity by noting that Malina wasn’t exactly the extreme metal/prog fusion I was hoping for after The Congregation. But really, Malina reminded me that not getting exactly what you want can be a wondrous thing.
Released September 1
With Paradise Lost’s last release being a live album, I approached Medusa tentatively, unsure which direction the band would take next. Listening to Medusa, I hear a band moving forward by embracing their past. On this 2017 release, Paradise Lost is a matured version of the doom band that was, without completely rejecting that ‘awkward’ phase of the late 90s/early 2000s.
Released March 31
Intellectually, it seems a little ridiculous to accept an album from a Law & Order: SVU detective / Hollywood actor as a legitimate metal release. But Ice-T the rapper / Body Count frontman is a different beast. Listen to this album – “No Lives Matter” especially. If you’ve already heard it, then listen again – really listen. That message! Those rhythms!! Those riffs!!!
This one almost flew under my radar, and I’m so glad it didn’t. Hamartia isn’t a dramatic departure from prior Novembers Doom albums, but that’s part of its appeal – it captures a band demonstrating true mastery of their craft.
Released March 24
I fall in the camp of preferring the doomier over the proggier Pallbearer and I first registered Heartless as a mild disappointment. Yet the album kept drawing me back, and after hearing and seeing the band deliver this material live, its quality finally began to sink in.
Emperor of Sand
Released March 31
This year I went through a couple of bouts of music video watching, which is how I was first introduced to Emperor of Sand. “Show Yourself” is a catchy song but it’s a near-brilliant video and reminded me to check out the rest of the album, which didn’t let me down.
In This Moment We Are Free – Cities
Released October 20
Anneke van Giersbergen has a glorious voice, and though I was saddened she wouldn’t be joined by Marcela Bovia in Vuur after all, I knew this release would still earn points from me on vocals alone. Listening on those terms delayed my recognition of the songs’ strength. This is the catchy, heavy prog metal album the band promised.
I was intrigued by Moonspell / Fernando Ribeiro’s decision to not sing in English on this album. Thematically, it makes sense as 1755 draws on Portugal’s history, but it’s not a common move for a band more than 20 years into their career. For international listeners the Portuguese lyrics allow Ribeiro’s voice to meld with the rest of Moonspell’s performance and arrangements in a rare way, highlighting elements of the band’s musical identity that might otherwise go unrecognized.
Released October 13
I’m still coming to terms with E‘s opening track, but the rest of the album is pure Enslaved-ish joy.
Released March 17
Solennial was my introduction to Alunah. First dipping into the album, I heard something akin to SubRosa but then Alunah emerges as a distinct and delightful musical entity.
Favorite Album Cover Art of 2017:
Elder – Reflections of a Floating World
(Stickman/Armageddon, released June 2)
Artist: Adrian Dexter
Decrepit Birth – Axis Mundi
(Nuclear Blast, released July 21)
Artist: Dan Seagrave
Feral – Forever Resonating in Blood
(Horror Pain Gore Death, released November 3)
Artist: Christopher Control
Best Gig I attended in 2017:
Anciients, Dead Quiet & Astral Witch – August 16th, Hamilton ON @ This Ain’t Hollywood
Small intimate venue, good folks and stellar performances from two bands I hadn’t seen play live before and one I had.
Favourite Metal Item Added to my Collection in 2017:
My clear vinyl copy of Pleiades Dust by Gorguts, including a 60 x 60 cm poster. Normally I’d have more reservations about splitting one epic length track across two sides of an LP, but this album deserves the enlarged artwork and lyrics the vinyl release provides.
Most Anticipated Albums for 2018:
Orphaned Land, Corrosion of Conformity, The Atlas Moth, Daylight Dies…
My 2017 in metal:
In my world, 2017 was the year of Canadian metal. Each year that passes, I need to do less digging to find quality metal from this country. Bandcamp plays a huge role, making it relatively easy to find and listen to new releases from heavy Canadian bands. Add to that the many bands actively promoting their work, gaining attention through effective PR (DIY and otherwise) and playing live. And it seems like more and more Canadian artists are gaining international as well as nation-wide attention. If I’m having trouble choosing a Canadian top ten this year (I am) it’s because there are just so many Canuck releases I want to include.
I saw fewer shows in 2017 but spent more time at the computer and behind the mixing board – editing and managing Hellbound and co-hosting/co-producing Kill Eat Exploit the Weak on CFMU. Instead of attending a metal festival this year, I went west to a metal conference and, with partner-in-crime Adam Wills, got to meet up with a couple west coast Hellbounders before heading home – an unusual treat.
On the Hellbound front, I’ve been fortunate to continue to work with talented and loyal veterans while bringing some new blood to the site. In particular, our live coverage has (re-)expanded in 2017 (thanks, Elena and Greg!) and we introduced a new YouTube channel and video interview series (thanks, Gene and Todd!).
What I’m looking forward to in 2018, metal-wise or otherwise:
For Hellbound: having our great year carry into the coming months and beyond.
For me: seeing Leprous live again. And hopefully Vuur. And getting back into the metal festival game.
2017 “Metal Person of the Year”:
All the bands and other metal folk who did something good for the world in 2017, including but most definitely not limited to:
Allfather, for donating the proceeds from sales of their “Inherit the Dust” single to humanitarian charity Help Refugees.
Bandcamp for designating a day on which they’d donate their share of sales proceeds to the American Civil Liberties Union. Add to that the 400 or so bands and labels that agreed to do the same.
Doomed and Stoned for releasing Doomed and Stoned in Texas on Bandcamp to raise money for the Houston Food Bank in the aftermath of hurricane Harvey.
GODHUNTER for donating the proceeds from sales of their Codex Narco release to Planned Parenthood.
pageninetynine and Majority Rule, who re-formed to head out on a consciousness-raising tour and to help out local grassroots organizations dedicated to civil rights, LGBT rights, youth rights, immigrant and refugee rights, and reproductive rights and justice.
Revolver magazine for raising funds to pass on to Hope For The Day, an organization committed to suicide prevention efforts.
All Hellbound’s contributors and readers/viewers for keeping the metal love alive.