Heavy Metal in 2017 by Steve Earles

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!

~ Kyle


Steve’s Best Metal Albums of 2017:

1.

Iron Mountain
Unum
(Prophecy)
Released April 1

Just the most hypnotic, original album I have heard in 2017. A devastating mixture of metal, folk, and just plain originality. A special band the world should hear more of.

2.

Venom Inc.
Avé
(Nuclear Blast)
Released August 11

The classic, Prime Evil line-up of Venom returns (with added ‘Inc.’ so as not to vex Cronos, whom I doubt is happy about this). While the Cronos-led Venom albums continue to disappoint, Avé has the classic Venom vibe, and I love it

3.

Cradle of Filth
Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay
(Nuclear Blast)
Released September 22

Inspired by classic metal and Victorian literature; simply one of the great British metal bands.

4.

A Devil’s Din
One Hallucination Under God
(Island Dive)
Released September 29

Timeless music made with love.

5.

The Obsessed
Sacred
(Relapse)
Released April 7

Wino is one of metal’s great voices, and great characters, and a great guitar player to boot. Everything he does comes from the heart. We will never see his like again, so cherish him while we have him.

6.

Moon Duo
Occult Architecture Vol. 2
(Sacred Bones)
Released May 5

Great music, really original and uplifting.

7.

Mutank
W.H.A.T.S T.H.A.T
(Boonsdale)
Released June 16

Clever release from a band that really understands thrash metal.

8.

Seven Sisters
Seven Sisters
(High Roller)
Released October 14, 2016

I bought this at one of Bad Reputation Ireland’s tenth-anniversary gigs, and they really are the most sincere ‘80s-inspired metal bands.

9.

Akercocke
Renaissance In Extremis
(Peaceville)
Released August 25

The welcome return of a truly original British metal band…should have returned with the suits though!

10.

John Carpenter
Anthology
(Sacred Bones)
Released October 20

I saw John Carpenter on tour last year, and he was truly awesome. Seeing clips from Escape From New York and The Thing on the big screen behind him and his band – magical! I expected a live album or DVD but this really shows what he and his band can do.

Favourite Album-Cover Art of 2017:

Iron Mountain – Unum
(Prophecy, released April 1)

Cover Artist: Colin Bolger

As befits such a startling and original album, it has startling and original artwork by the very talented Colin Bolger. Colin can be contacted for commissions at [email protected]

Best gig I attended in 2017:

Orange Goblin at the recent Halloween Siege of Limerick, a free festival promoted by Bad Reputation Ireland. The band are celebrating ten years of promoting metal this year, and I have to congratulate Tall John and his hard-working crew. They really have put not just Limerick on the metal map, but Ireland in general – so fair play to them, long may they reign.

Favourite Metal Item Added To My Collection in 2017:

Again, that would be Iron Mountain’s Unum album. “Horslips-meets-Mastodon” only half-covers it. Astonishing, epic and moving, what music should be, but so rarely is.

Most anticipated album for 2018:

The forthcoming double-album from Voivod. Voivod are the natural heirs to Rush, not in terms of sound (they are fiercely original), but in terms of specialness. In a just world Voivod would be bigger than Metallica.

My 2017 in Metal:

My thoughts, as the world becomes an ever-darker place and more out of our control: We should aim to control the one thing that is in our power to control – Ourselves. We can behave better, and be in charge of ourselves. Mindfulness, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy – all the tools are there, we just have to make an effort to use them.

I can also see our increasing dependence on social media, online ordering, and downloading leading to an increasing isolation, unhappiness, and loneliness in the human race. We are creating a grave new world; one of imaginary social contact on facebook, but in reality a world of trolling and ghosting. People behave in front of their devices in a way they never could in the real world. We are social creatures in reality not in the imagination; people who boost of hundreds of face book ‘friends’, in reality often have none. It will not end well. We have given our most precious possession -our identity- away to big corporations, and in return received ghosting, trolling, fake news and isolation (see John Lanchester’s recent superb article ‘Facebook: How to win 2bn friends and destroy civilisation’ in the Sunday Times Magazine for more on this.

So, that’s my observation on the way the world is going in 2017, I hope in 2018 we’ll read the signs and at least do things differently.

What you’re looking forward to in 2018, metal-wise or otherwise:

Metal-wise. I’d like to see more people support the metal scene. Illegally downloading your favourite band’s music is not support, and also, it’s more fun to get out to a gig and meet people than listen to music on your own.

2017 “Metal Person of the Year”:

Not just one person, but Tall John and the Bad Reputation team in Limerick for their hard work and tireless devotion to promoting metal bands large and small in Limerick over the past decade. Before them, hardly any bands came to this part of Ireland, now it’s a common occurrence. So, sincere thanks to Tall John and all his team.

Steve Earles

Steve Earles is author and co-author of numerous projects, including To End All Wars: The WWI Graphic Anthology, available summer 2014 (http://toendallwarscomic.wordpress.com/writers/).