2017 Crew Review – John, Writer/Reviewer

What an outstanding year for heavy music! There was no way I was going to be able to easily choose just one album for this, so in a typically non-committal way, I have chosen ten (and a bunch of others as a further cop-out).

Gun to my head choice for my favourite at the moment? Employed To Serve’s The Warmth Of A Dying Sun. You’ll find it in the list below…

Most Americana infused heavy-psych: All Them Witches – Sleeping Through The War (New West Records)

This album featured heavily during summer road trips this year. A slight detour from their previously jam-heavy recordings, Sleeping… is more focused and actually quite poppy whilst still retaining All Them Witches’ blues-soaked riffing and clever lyrics.

Most gut-wrenchingly beguiling and hauntingly beautiful: Amenra – Mass VI (Neurot Recordings)

Amenra’s sixth Mass of hardcore/sludge/post-metal is as hard-hitting musically and emotionally as the previous five and is maybe their best album yet. Roll on their show in Glasgow’s Saint Luke’s in February 2018.

Most lived up to expectations: Converge – The Dusk In Us (Epitaph Records, Deathwish Records)

New Converge is always something to look forward to and The Dusk Is Us lived up to the high expectations that had built in the five years since All We Love… by continuing their delve into darker, doomier tones but managing to still sound deadly and energetic.

Most socially conscious black metal: Dawn Ray’d – The Unlawful Assembly (Halo Of Flies Records)

Fighting the good fight on The Unlawful Assembly, Liverpool’s Dawn Ray’d provide a very welcome and refreshing take on black metal with their strongly anti-fascist stance and lyrics. Undoubtedly the best black metal album of 2017 and this was their full debut.  Definite ones to watch.

Most epic sci-fi adventure: Dvne – Asheran (Wasted State Records)

Huge riffs, a spot-on blend of clean and screamed vocals, a bass that does not stop grooving and drumming to match Brann Dailor are all encompassed by a conceptually complex and cavernous album. Yes, please.

Most fuzzy riffed stoner prog: Elder – Reflections Of A Floating World (Armageddon Shop, Stickman Records)

Elder’s excellent follow-up to 2015’s Lore is a masterfully done heavy-psych influenced stoner-rock album filled to the brim with slick licks, melodic moments and prog leanings. Elder also do a great job of making Reflection…’s six lengthy songs compact and intelligible.

Most in-yer-face metallic hardcore: Employed To Serve – The Warmth Of A Dying Sun (Holy Roar Records)

The Warmth Of A Dying Sun was my most listened to new album of 2017, it’s an absolute beast. Code Orange may have had a lot of the hype and attention this past year, especially Stateside, but the unflinching Employed To Serve released a better album, were more impressive live and they definitely deserve to go on to bigger things.

Most fist-pumpingly catchy and fun: Mutoid Man – War Moans (Sargent House)

On War Moans, Mutoid Man managed to improve on their full debut Bleeder and made an insanely enjoyable, technically dexterous and crushingly heavy second album. Plus, they got Marty Friedman in to contribute some guitar work, what more do you want?

Most razor-sharp speed metal: Power Trip – Nightmare Logic (Southern Lord Recordings)

Fast, aggressive and momentous thrash. ‘Nuff said.

Most triumphant return: Quicksand – Interiors  

In a year that saw the long-awaited return of At The Drive-In, Glassjaw and Quicksand, it was the latter that has been away the longest and that released the most assured, evolutionary and familiar album.

Honourable Mentions: A few more heavy albums that floated my boat this year and on another day could’ve made the cut into the Top 10:

  • All Pigs Must Die – Hostage Animal
  • Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper
  • Body Count – Bloodlust
  • Code Orange – Forever
  • Couch Slut – Contempt
  • Full Of Hell – Trumpeting Ecstasy
  • Helpless – Debt
  • Living Colour – Shade
  • Lo-Pan – In Tensions
  • OHHMS – The Fool
  • Pallbearer – Heartless
  • Telekinetic Yeti – Abominable
  • Telepathy – Tempest
  • With Our Arms To The Sun – Orenda

Biggest album disappointment:

Perhaps not surprising given their last couple of mediocre albums and string of poor live performances, but Electric Wizard’s Wizard Bloody Wizard was still a disappointing album with an even worse sleeve. Electric Wizard have now been so easily surpassed by other bands (even those that they’ve influenced) and this year’s album shows that they are stuck flogging a dead horse.

Best bands that I discovered in 2017:

Dawn Ray’d, Alpha Male Tea Party, Helpless and Telekinetic Yeti were all new to me in 2017. 

Gigs of the year:

  • Meshuggah – O2 ABC
  • The Dillinger Escape Plan with Ho99o9 – QM, Glasgow (Glasgow farewell show.)
  • Gojira with Code Orange – O2 ABC, Glasgow
  • Inter Arma and Celeste – Audio, Glasgow
  • Bossk and OHHMS with Dvne – Audio, Glasgow
  • Melt Banana with First Temple of the Atom – Stereo, Glasgow
  • Frontierer, Employed To Serve and Jambinai at ArcTanGent Festival 2017, near Bristol
  • Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – The SSE Hydro, Glasgow (Cave had the not insubstantial crowd hanging on his every word from start to finish.)
  • Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Gendo Ikari, Dark Habits, Endless Swarm and Boak – Audio, Glasgow
  • Wolves In The Throne Room with Aluk Todolo – Saint Luke’s, Glasgow

Worst things of 2017:

Again, another year with too many musician’s deaths to mention, but Chris Cornell will be sorely missed. Continuing issues with misogyny, fascism and other shitehawkiness within metal, especially from online ‘fans’.

Things to look forward to in 2018:

2017 saw some truly brilliant releases through Holy Roar Records and 2018 is already shaping up nicely with the label going from strength to strength: Rolo Tomassi have really found their stride on the tracks previewed from their forthcoming album, Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It, sounding more lethal and streamlined than ever.

Conjurer will release their much-anticipated debut album and if lead single “The Mire” is anything to go by, this will an absolute ripper of an album; and Holy Roar’s new signing Boss Keloid will unleash their proggy sludge follow-up to 2016’s Herb Your Enthusiasm.

Then there’s the potential of a new Tool album at some point, but I won’t be holding my breath, along with new albums from Portal, Mammoth Grinder, The Atlas Moth and Dawnbringer in the first few months of the year.

I’m also currently waiting patiently for a lineup announcement for ArcTanGent Festival 2018.

Here’s our YouTube playlist featuring many of the acts featured across all of our roundups…

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