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Metal Stuff’s 2017 Review: The Year in Metal

The Good

It was a good year for metal releases.

I think the metal community got spoiled after last year’s “metal bubble” and the Thrash revival. Compared to the incredible amount of good music that got dumped on us anything is going to seem lackluster, but 2017 was a good fucking year for heavy music (once you accept that 2016 was a happy fluke).

Metal Stuff Top 15 albums of 2017

15) Suffer in Paradise – Ephemere

Suffer in Paradise - Ephemere

Quality Funeral Doom from Russia, this album was my “October surprise” for 2017. The synth is a little weird at first, but the contrast lends to the overall atmosphere of the album.

 

14) Loss – Horizonless

Loss - Horizonless

I actually didn’t like this album the first time I listened to it. Glad I gave it another chance – guess it’s more of a grower than a shower. Not necessarily a bad thing, albums like that tend to stand the test of time.

 

13) Nortt – Endeligt

Nortt - Endeligt

Holy fuck. This solo Funeral Doom project from Denmark never disappoints. His last album (Galgenfrist) was released 10 years ago, and the decade long wait for the new album was more than worth it. Dark, gloomy, cold, and most importantly heavy as fuck.

 

12) Belphegor – Totenritual

Belphegor = Totenritual

I’ve been stoked for this album since Belphegor released the video for “Totenkult – Exegesis of Deterioration” 2 years ago. Another album that was well worth the wait.

 

 

11) Akercocke – Renaissance in Extremis

Akercocke - Renaissance in Extremis

A lot of people didn’t like the clean vocals on the album. I’ll admit, Jason isn’t getting any younger – and time has taken a bit of a toll on his vocal chords. But as a whole, that doesn’t really take away from the album for me. The band is as sharp as they’ve ever been, and while the cleans in some sections seem a bit strained, I almost wonder if that’s intentional – because if you listen to other tracks (like the one below), the cleans are pretty fucking good. I dunno, judge for yourself.

 

10) Tie (Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black and Morbid Angel – Kingdoms Disdained)

I couldn’t choose, both bands released some quality material this year (in both cases, also significantly better than the previous release). Straightforward, in your face death metal with no bells or whistles.

 

9) Kreator – Gods of Violence

Kreator_-_Gods_of_Violence

Right on the tail end of the Thrash resurgence, Kreator dropped an excellentalbum that (like most albums released in the first half of the year) seems to have been left out of people’s top albums of the year. Why/How is beyond me, this album is quintessential thrash.

8) Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper

Bell Witch - Mirror Reaper

Probably the Funeral Doom release that received the most hype this year (for good fucking reason), the album has lived up to and surpassed any expectations I had. Mirror Reaper seemed to dance on that “invisible line” in the doom metal spectrum between Funeral Doom and Drone (not a bad thing)

 

7) Eluveitie – Evocation II

Eluveitie-Evocation-II-Pantheon

I know, I know. It’s a fucking acoustic album on a top metal albums of the year list. Since recruiting like 20 new members, it’s cool to see these guys bouncing back stronger than ever.

The band already has a full-on folk metal album in the works, and I’m as excited as a pig in shit. If the entire album holds up to the teaser single below, we’re in for a treat next year.

 

6) Mesmur – S

Mesmur-S

These guys need to cough up some merchandise so I can throw more money at them. This was another album that caught me completely off guard this year. Pure sonic embodiment of despair.

 

5) Funeris – Dismal Shapes

Funeris - Dismal Shapes

Argentinian Funeral Doom mastermind Alejandro Sabransky delivers another masterpiece. This guy just writes riffs that satisfy my addiction to heavy music. Punishingly heavy – this really is an album you need to lay down, turn off the lights, and let wash over you.

 

4) Frowning – Extinct

frowning - extinct

The sophomore release from German solo Funeral Doom act Frowning was one of the two albums I was most excited to hear this year. I’ll tell you something, Val doesn’t disappoint. This is pure Funeral Doom that doesn’t sacrifice the residual aggression and heaviness of Death Doom. I really can’t say enough good about this album, or this artist. This is what Funeral Doom is supposed to sound like.

 

3) Temple of Void – Lords of Death

Temple of Void - Lords of Death

This was the third album that caught me completely off guard and blew me out of the water this year. Dark, crushing riffs – if a “holy shit” level of heavy is what you’re looking for then look no further.

 

2) Dying Fetus – Wrong One to Fuck With

DF - Wrong one

This is another album that got a lot of beaming reviews, but failed to make most people’s end of year lists. Odd, considering the hype leading up to the album – and how well the band delivered.

1) Unleash the Archers – Apex

UTA - Apex

Favorite album of the year hands down. Hands fucking down. There’s literally nothing I can say about this album that hasn’t already been said. The musicianship is solid, and they’ve managed to capture that “American Metal” production delivering a crystal clear sonic assault directly to your ears. Brittney Slayes vocal chords are simply amazing, I’m a rather big fan of the layered harmonies on a lot of the songs. Even the concept of the album (yes, I’m a sucker for concept albums) is fucking awesome – a stone giant sleeping in a mountain is summoned by an evil sorceress to gather her sons from around the world so she can sacrifice them and gain immortality – told from the viewpoint of the stone giant. Catchy and fun while undeniably heavy and metallic, this is an album you shouldn’t miss.

Honorable Mentions:

Alestorm – No Grave but the Sea, Pallbearer – Heartless, Septicflesh – Codex Omega, Obituary – Self Titled, Myrkur – Mareridt, Electric Wizard – Wizard Bloody Wizard, Skyclad – Forward into the Past, Decapitated – Anticult, Suffocation – …of the Dark Light, Code Orange – Forever, Æther Realm – Tarot

The Year of OSDM

As predicted last year, metal moved forward from a year of thrash to a year of old-school death metal. It’s not some ground breaking revelation, that’s the order extreme metal evolved in organically.

Once you accept the fact that everything is cyclical, it makes perfect sense that the next phase of metal releases would include the original death metal pioneers.

I’d say releases by Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Obituary, Decapitated, Six Feet Under, Suffocation, and Autopsy certainly support my ongoing theory that extreme metal movements will mirror the original evolution of the sub-genres.

At this point I would like to predict a major swath of Black Metal releases next year. Dark Fortress, Isahn, Immortal, Shining, Watain, Dimmu Borgir, and Nachmystium all have material in the studio and are all expected to release albums next year – so we’ll see.

Other cool shit

There’s a new fucking Demons and Wizards album coming out next year. New Eluveitie as well.

Be excited.

Be very excited.

I don’t think there was a single bad Funeral Doom release this year. Obviously, the big story here was Bell Witch’s new album – I think there was better FD released this year, but I gotta hand it to these guys – Mirror Reaper was an excellent fucking album.

 

The Mediocre

There were bands that, by all rights, should have released some groundbreaking fucking material that just decided to coast this year.

Arch Enemy released “War Eternal Part II”, but decided to call it “Will to Power”. For fucks sake, they’ve got Jeff Loomis and this is the best thing they could come up with? Oh, and that thing when Amott said there’d never be clean vocals on an Arch Enemy album? Yeah, that’s gone. Goddamn it. I love every fucking member of this band, which is why I’m probably a little over critical, I just hate to see a super group of this magnitude cashing out so soon.

Empire of Sand by Mastodon was another one that really bugged me. “Show Yourself” was utter garbage.

Also disappointingly mediocre – TBDM, Dragonforce, GWAR, and Trivium.

 

The Bad, the Really Bad, and the Ugly

Shit went down when #rapegate hit heavy metal. Decapitated, Suicide Silence, Inanimate Existence, Twiggy (Marilyn Manson’s guitarist), Anthrax’s old guitarist Dan Spitz, Shining. I’m sure there was more. Oh yeah, Gene Simmons – that one caught me totally off guard.

Deaths:

  • 1/28 – Geoff Nicholls (Black Sabbath)
  • 2/13 – Trish Doan (Kittie)
  • 4/5 – Paul O’Neill (Trans-Siberian Orchestra)
  • 5/17 – Chris Cornell (Soundgarden)
  • 7/14 – David Zablidowsky (Trans-Siberian Orchestra)
  • 7/20 – Chester Bennington (Linkin Logs Park)
  • 9/22 – Eric Eycke (Corrosion of Conformity)
  • 10/21 – Martin Eric Ain (Celtic Frost)
  • 10/22 – Daisy Berkowitz (Marilyn Manson)
  • 11/1 – Scott Wily (Vital Remains)
  • 11/7 – Whitey Glan (Alice Cooper)
  • 11/9 – Chuck Mosley (Faith No More)
  • 12/13 – Warrel fucking Dane (Sanctuary, Nevermore)

 

Black Sabbath disbanded too.

So yeah, there’s all of that. I probably missed something.

Weird fucking year.

 

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The Whole Thing With the Summer Slaughter Tour

A year has passed since last year’s Summer Slaughter tour. A pretty good year.

There’s been quite a few good albums releases, with more to come.

The new Code Orange fucking rules.

And don’t get me started on Unleash the Archer’s new masterpiece “Apex”.

That fucking dumpster fire of an album Suicide Silence released this year continues to make me giggle (tee hee). Not because I hate the band, because I hate what they did leading up to the album, and how they colluded with metalsucks and it totally blew back in all of their faces. What can I say, I love seeing people eat crow.

Which brings me to the topic at hand: this year’s Summer Slaughter lineup, and the events surrounding it.

To be fair, they’ve done some pretty cool things this year. They’ve got Dying Fetus and The Black Dhalia Murder headlining, and Origin is pretty ok. Slaughter to Prevail even has their moments. They’ve got a poll up to decide another one of the opening bands for the tour – and it’s nice to see Jungle Rot getting another shot after the whole Mayhem festival debacle.

There are bands from Relapse and Metal Blade in the running too. Unique Leader and Victory records bands aren’t really my thing, but they add variety. Not so sure about the unsigned bands, not familiar with them.

But jesus christ, look how they’re promoting it.

Having people vote for openers? Awesome! Making them vote by visiting the website of a shitty movie starring members of Asking Alexandria and the Blackveil Brides? Gross!

 

 

Now, I did learn a neat little factoid over the past year – I guess the head of Sumerian Records is the organizer of the festival. Doesn’t really change anything I said about last year’s festival – but it does add a some pretty interesting context.

The fact that they’re using the festival’s popularity to reach out to an audience (fans of the Summer Slaughter tour) who probably wouldn’t want anything to do with the movie seems like a really good business move on paper.

warped tour AS promo

Reaching out even further by promoting the movie in conjunction with the Warped Tour would follow suit – you’re (potentially) drawing fans of hard rock and (what passes for) punk. As an advertising strategy in a capitalist market, it makes total sense.

However, I do (still) have an issue with the whole shebang. The demographic audiences for the movie/the stars of the movie (and for the bands/tour).

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the majority of people attending the Summer Slaughter don’t like Andy Biersack, or his band the Black Veil Brides (assuming the attendees even know who the band is).

I don’t have to go out a limb to tell you what Andy Ballsack thinks of metalheads. I’ll let him speak for himself, here he is getting boo’d with his band as they walked onstage at the golden gods awards.

So, ah, yeah. There’s that.

Basically, my problem is the “diversification” of metal festivals in the US. In this instance, “Diversification” means appeal to fans who are in a different social class than your traditional metal fans (i.e. they have more money, because they’re not lower/working class).

It might not seem like a big deal, but there are some cultural differences that make this a much bigger change that it sounds like. I’m not saying there aren’t “well-to-do” metalheads – but by and large since it’s inception metal has been made by blue collars for blue collars. And when you change that demographic, you change the art.

summer slaughter 2017

Using the credibility and dedication of established metal fans as a platform to provide a watered down, pale imitation of extreme metal so that “joe evreybody” can enjoy it (and pretend they’re edgy and non-conformist) is exactly the opposite of what transgressive art is supposed to be about.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Suicide Silence Pioneer “Mediocrecore”, Experience Worst First Week Sales of Their Careers

I really hate to say I told you so.

Fuck that, I love saying I told you so. I fucking called this a month ago.

Actually, if anything, it was worse than I thought (Whitechapel only did 50% as well as their previous album, Suicide Silence soared around 30%). Apparently diminishing returns is a thing in real life. Who knew?

The critical acclaim for this album is completely non-existent.

Unless you count Metalsucks, who seem genuinely surprised the album sales didn’t set some sort of fucking record.

I don’t feel particularly bad for the band – they’re reaping what they sewed. Insulting the majority of your fanbase while you’re in the middle of selling out will get you exactly 30% of the sales you’re looking for.

I do, however, feel bad for the mindless drones who read metalsucks like it’s the fucking bible and worship at the altar of Suicide Silence. Like this kid.

whineyelistdeuche

Who literally unblocked me the day after Suicide silence went on record bashing metal fans at their shows as patch wearing weirdos for the express purpose of quoting the band to insult me (before promptly blocking me again). It was magnificent. But now that the band’s eating crow, who will think of things for people like him to say?

Also, I’ve heard a lot of people saying bad things about the band for talking shit about other deathcore bands. I would like to offer an alternative viewpoint here – the single greatest thing about Suicide Silence’s PR campaign for the new album is the fact that they were talking massive amounts of shit about deathcore bands.

Now, I shit on deathcore bands all day long. So, in my opinion, knowing that even deathcore bands can’t resist shitting on deathcore tickles my irony bone to no end. And that, dear reader, is a silver lining worth noting.

Bear with me here, it gets better. The deathcore scene (as well as the tail end of the metalcore scene) is almost single-handedly responsible for the negativity towards “metal elitists”. It’s been inflated by the metal media, and Metal Sucks is a perfect example of this. I’ve written a few articles dealing with this in the past, and the contradictions inherent in the “elitist dichotomy”. This viewpoint is expanding on the premises outlined in those articles.

You’ve got a metal news website (metal sucks) who is notorious for propping up the elitist controversy, participating in a bland (and played out) PR campaign for a band from a scene that germinated the whole elitist dichotomy. The metal news website (who never misses a chance to bash elitists) is openly promoting a deathcore band who is doing exactly what they (the site and the scene) pretend to hate.

In other words, they’re virtue signaling a hatred for elitists while openly supporting elitist behavior.

Is there a term in the English language that describes this phenomenon? Oh, wait a minute…

hypocrite

Fucking textbook.

Also, Suicide Silence obviously wasn’t being original or groundbreaking. The thing about being an original, groundbreaking artists – it’s like being rich. If you’re rich, you don’t have to tell other people you’re rich. If you’re a creative, groundbreaking artists, you don’t have to explain it to people.

In fact, in both cases – the fact that you need to tell people implies exactly the opposite.

Hiring a one trick pony producer who lost all cultural relevance to metal 20 years ago (and then writing in a style of music that played out and died 20 years ago) isn’t brave, or groundbreaking – it’s exactly the fucking opposite.

Puke.

 

Suicide Silence are NOT Employing a Failed Marketing Strategy For Their New Album

This is Not an Introduction

Suicide Silence are obviously musical pioneers. As the lead singer so eloquently pointed out in an interview – some people just can’t see the inherent virtuosity of dumbing down your music.

virtuosity

They obviously understand metal fans, and what drives them. It’s not like there was a scientific study that proved metal fans (like classical music fans) are innately attracted to grandiosity and technical prowess in music.

And the majority of metal fans certainly aren’t weirdos. Observations to the contrary have never been the subjects of academic study (by people like Deena Weinstein), or noted by the artists themselves.

wierd-kid

Suicide Silence’s Methods are NOT Transparent and Gimmicky

They’re certainly not using the “Metallica Defense” to justify the musical direction they’re taking on the new album.

And Suicide Silence are totally above playing the elitist card. They’ve obviously gotten some very sound advise from their producer, who is a vital part of the network of metal news we metalheads rely on.

metal-news-cycle

It’s not like Whitechapel tried the exact same thing last year (Elitist bashing on Metal Sucks), or made a video called “The Elitist Ones”. And I’m pretty sure it didn’t backfire spectacularly, giving them their worst album debut since 2008. They certainly didn’t receive less than half the first week sales of their previous album..

How could Suicide Silence fail utilizing a winning recipe like that? Isn’t doing the same exact thing one of your professional peers did last year the definition of pioneering?

The SS crew couldn’t be admitting that deathcore is stagnating. Or that the next step (for deathcore) is it’s inevitable decline. And it’s certainly not 10 years too late for a genre with so much diversity to expand. If it was, it would have progressed to the phase referred to by sociologists as “crystallization”, where a metal genre becomes embedded and rigidly defined. And if that was the case, we’d see a bunch of fucking deathcore clone bands playing the exact same song (exactly like what happened to hair metal).

But that’s not the case, right guys? Like, other metal bands weren’t noticing the crystallization of Deathcore (and praying for it’s inevitable demise) 7 years ago? Right?

Suicide Silence Definitely Knows Who Listens to Their Music. 

Suicide Silence is obviously not commercially inflated faux metal from a genre that predominantly caters to 16 year old girls (that warrants comparisons to nu-metal). So, it’s safe to say the introduction of clean vocals couldn’t possibly have anything to do with pandering to young girls that want to seem edgy, right? It’s about branching out as artists, right?

Diagram displaying Suicide Silence’s Definition of “Death Metal Elitist/General Metal Elitist (Patch Wearing Weirdos)

 

Q: Where can you find Deathcore fans, Death Metal Elitists, and “General Metal Elitists” (Patch wearing wierdos)?

A: The Gathering of the Juggalos, of course.

ss-juggalo

I’ve been wondering where all the deathcore fans, death metal elitists, and patch wearing metal elitist weirdos hang out. Metal Elitists are well known for their love of the Insane Clown Posse. It just goes without saying.

Or maybe Suicide Silence is referring to the ‘elitist ones’ Whitechapel encountered at the Warped Tour. Because that’s another place to find metal elitists of all sorts.

warped-tour

Yeah, that must be it.

Suicide Silence have obviously got marketing to their fans down to an art – nay, a fucking science.

I just wonder what the head of Sumerian Records thinks of all of this? What would he do? What would he say? What did he have for breakfast? What does the inside of his anal pore taste like?

Could he impart some transcendental wisdom on par with these pearls of enlightenment from the mouth/keyboard of Ross Robinson?

ross-robinson

What is the relevance of mentioning the head of a record label known for it’s metalcore and deathcore associations in a Suicide Silence article detailing the inevitable downfall of deathcore? Are producers and record labels counting on controversy to keep their names on the mouths of the general public as a form of life support for a dying genre? What is the meaning of life?

Musical Pioneers

I’m sure Suicide Silence will find innovative new uses for the dotted crotchet on the new album – perhaps in multiple songs. They’ll probably revolutionize deathcore by employing some sort of “down-tuning” (drop A, or something equally as innovative and unique).

I’ve been hearing a buzz about a new musical convention referred to as a “breakdown”, perhaps they will blow our minds by indulging in one or two on the artistic masterpiece coming out later this month. Maybe they’ll really let loose and use gang vocals – how fucking cool would that be?

If your (original) lead singer’s death is the most interesting thing about your band, the sky is the fucking limit.


(Still better than Doris)

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