2017 – The Year In Review
Is it really 12 months since I sat here typing about how, on the whole, 2016 had been a bit shit?
Little did I know then that 2017 was going to be equally bollocks.
Escalating tension around the globe. More high profile celebrity deaths (including, for me, the biggest loss of all, one of my musical heroes, Chris Cornell). The utter dogs dinner being made of Brexit (whether you stand on the leave or remain side of the issue, what cannot be in doubt is that the people handling it are royally ballsing it up). The fact that Donald Trump is still allowed to use Twitter (personally I wouldn’t trust him with crayons).
But, as ever, we are here to concentrate on the bright, shining beacons that will allow us to look back on 2017 with a warm, rosy glow.
So here’s what has been floating my boat over the past 12 months….
TOP TEN EPs OF 2017
10: Deep Throat Trauma – Go Deep Or Go Home
Extreme metal meets outlandish humour to bring you a gloriously insane smorgasbord of fun. With added Gurglers.
STAND OUT TRACK: Ocliterated
9: Kinasis – Pariah
Extreme tech metal dipped in a nu metal coating and deep fried to perfection, ‘Pariah’is a release that offers up a little more with each listen.
STAND OUT TRACK: Incipient
8: We Come From Ashes – Undead
Fast, aggressive and energetic, We Come From Ashes have raised the bar once again.
STAND OUT TRACK: This Is The End
7: Triverse Massacre – Hades
Cliche free, blisteringly heavy death metal courtesy of Cumbria’s finest.
STAND OUT TRACK: Lethe
6: Footprints In The Custard – The Fanny Pee
Gloriously silly, fan inspired collection from the stupidest band ever to get semi naked on stage.
STAND OUT TRACK: Sexual Harrisment
5: Codex Alimentarius – The Infinite Growth Paradigm vs Finite Resources Mk 2
Bulging at the seams with creativity and originality, each listen reveals more of the hidden secrets within.
STAND OUT TRACK: No Return
4: Impavidus – Eradication Of Mankind
A perfect blend of brutality, power, aggression, beauty and emotion.
STAND OUT TRACK: Void
3: Fractions – Forces
Ambient metal with genuine bite and a sideline in untrustworthy owls. Fractions defy categorisation. If you like challenging music that can’t be easily pigeonholed then this is definitely for you.
STAND OUT TRACK: The Owls Are Not What They Seem
2: Gehtika – The Great Reclamation
Dark, twisted, crushing heavy and utterly insane. A fitting swansong for former frontman Mr Knight.
STAND OUT TRACK: Yggdrasil
1: Seprevation – Echoes Of Mercy
Comfortingly familiar whilst at the same time somehow sounding fresh and exciting, this is everything metal should be.
STAND OUT TRACK: Echoes Of Mercy
TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2017
10: Municipal Waste – Slime and Punishment
Pure, unadulterated crossover thrash fun.
STANDOUT TRACK: Shrednecks
9: Solitary – The Diseased Heart Of Society
It may have been a long time coming, but the third studio album from the Preston thrashers was well worth the wait. Guaranteed to make you promise to thrash forever.
STANDOUT TRACK: Architects Of Shame
8: Abhorrent Decimation – The Pardoner
Twistedly ambitious, unnervingly brutal and downright essential. And not a comedy ostrich in sight.
STANDOUT TRACK: The Pardoner
7: Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black
After 14 albums and nearly 30 years, Cannibal Corpse are still sounding as fresh and innovative as ever.
STANDOUT TRACK: In The Midst Of Ruin
6: King Leviathan – Paean Heretica
With a deliciously dark streak throughout, ‘Paean Heretica’ is stuffed to the gills with killer riffs and twisted vocals. Add in flawless production values and you have one of the most impressive debuts of 2017.
STAND OUT TRACK: The Great Congregation
5: Ward XVI – The Art Of Manipulation
Never predictable, beautifully twisted and an insane amount of fun, ‘The Art Of Manipulation’ is an incredible, theatrical journey into a sadistic heart of darkness. Possibly the most uniquely enjoyable album of the year.
STAND OUT TRACK: Blackened Heart
4: Final Coil – Persistence Of Memory
Those of you with long memories may remember Final Coil being included on my “Ones To Watch in 2017” list last year. With ‘Persistence Of Memory’, an album that is equal parts atmospheric, melancholy, haunting and blisteringly heavy, they have served to prove me right. Keep a close eye on Final Coil….
STAND OUT TRACK: Failed Light
3: Vice – The First Chapter
Another of my 2017 “Ones To Watch” deliver the goods in epic fashion with a blistering slab of pure metal based around the seven deadly sins. Vice have delivered the best debut album of 2017. In any other year this would likely have been the album of the year.
STAND OUT TRACK: Lust
2: Twisted Illusion – Insight To The Mind Of A Million Faces
Topping last year’s ‘Temple Of Artifice’ was always going to be a big ask. Yet, with this gargantuan double album, Twisted Illusion somehow pull it off. With originality and quality musicianship to spare, they somehow manage to include a title track that is bombastic, operatic and, despite being just shy of half an hour long, never descends into self indulgence or outstays its welcome. Totally essential in every sense.
STAND OUT TRACK: Insight To The Mind Of A Million Faces
1: Mage – Green
Compiling this year’s list has been no easy feat – it’s fair to say that, over the course of the year, every one of my top 6 has, at some point, been in contention for album of the year. But, since I first heard it (courtesy of the pledge campaign) on Christmas day last year, this is perhaps the one that made the biggest impression. Mage have risen from the ashes of tragedy and paid tribute to a fallen brother with a flat out masterpiece. If you haven’t heard it yet (and as it’s been out since March then you really have no excuse) then stop whatever you are doing and get listening.
STAND OUT TRACK: Vultures Mass
TOP THREE LIVE SHOWS OF 2017
3: Twisted Illusion – Bloodstock Festival
There was something slightly surreal for (a very drunk) me at seeing one of my favourite bands of the moment take to the Jager stage early on the Saturday evening. As the tent began to fill out, the band delivered the kind of blistering set that only they can and were at the absolute top of their game. I wasn’t sure how they would go over,but they definitely won themselves a few new fans that day.
2: Acid Reign – Amplified Festival
At the end of what could have been a doomed first day following biblical amounts of rain, the organisers of Amplified did an amazing job of rearranging things to ensure that the show could go on. With the second stage wiped out by the weather, a makeshift stage was set up in the beer tent, and, if I’m honest, this brought about the highlight of the weekend as thrash legends Acid Reign made the most of the intimate surroundings and totally brought the house down. This was a definite “I was there” moment.And I was there….
1: Municipal Waste – Bloodstock Festival
Quite simply perfection. A no holds bar set of crossover classics saw The Waste reclaim their Bloodstock crowdsurfing record from Gojira in spectacular fashion. Proving why they are one of the best live bands out there right now, this was a joy to behold from start to finish. All topped off by the look on Simon Hall’s face as he realised what was being chanted at the end of the set….
DISCOVERY OF 2017
Bandwise, without a shadow of a doubt it has to be King Leviathan.
With their debut album fitting easily into my top ten of the year, I’m now counting down the days until I can finally worship the old gods in a live environment. But an honourable mention to Amplified Festival UK. To come through against the insurmountable odds following the torrential rain of that first day is a miracle in itself. While others may have just given up, they worked tirelessly to ensure that the event went ahead. It wasn’t perfect. Mistakes were made. But under the circumstances, they ensured that a memorable and enjoyable time was had. Here’s to a drier 2018
MOVIE OF THE YEAR
In a year where quite a few of the big names have failed to deliver, The Last Jedi was almost a very late winner, alongside the sheer unbridled fun that was Thor Ragnarok.But I can honestly say that I have not laughed out loud in a cinema as much as I did for pretty much the duration of Armando Iannucci’s deliciously dark comedy “The Death Of Stalin”.
In spite of the subject matter, Iannucci proves once again that, when it comes to mining hidden comic gold from the depths of dark political machinations, he is simply second to none.
ONES TO WATCH IN 2018
When I look back at my selections last year, it’s fair to say that quite a few of them have lived up to my predictions, with bands on the list providing a number of high quality releases (including 2 from my albums of the year list) two of them playing Bloodstock and one just missing out in the final of Metal 2 The Masses. Add in one album that just missed my Top Ten and one band who don’t seem to have stopped playing live shows all year, and it wasn’t too bad a call.
So, (again in no particular order) my picks for 2018:
Here’s to 2018. Much love to you all. Keep on supporting the music, and I’ll see you somewhere along the road in the near future.