The Best Albums Of 2017
We did it! Somehow some way we just survived the year 2017 and for better or worse, it will be one to be remembered! It’s been one hell of a year and Ugh Metal would like to thank you all for your undying support even if this is your first time stumbling into the domain. Because we’re more important than the Grammys, Golden Globes and the Oscars combined, this year we are taking a page out of their book and adding one more slot to the album of the year! So without further ado here are the Klown’s and the “J’Oh-ster’s top SIX picks of the year!
The Klown’s 6
- Me And That Man- Songs of Love and Death
Had the year ended in July, the list would look slightly different. In fact, some names would have been in different placements and still remain top pick. On that note, the Klown would have had this Blues album in a higher placement. The side project of Adam “Nergal” Darski and European Blues legend John Porter was an anticipated surprise and a good one at that.
In fact, Nergal managed to reintroduce the Blues to an unexpected audience, us. The Klown hasn’t truly stopped listening to this album since its release back in late March and always welcomes it with an open ear every time a track plays on his iPod or when he chooses it voluntarily.
Favorite Tracks: “Nightride,” “On The Road, Cross My Heart And Hope To Die,” “Of Sirens, Vampires And Lovers,” “Magdalene” and “One Day”
- Kreator- Gods Of Violence
Going back to the previous statement, this is definitely one of the albums that would have been on the highest placement on the Klown’s list. Nevertheless, the Klown still loved this album. This current release from the legendary Kreator was definitely met with a lot of positive feedback and demonstrated why they are one of the masters of the Teutonic Thrash to this date.
Aside from a third of this album being a hit, the German quartet managed to create a new metal anthem for this generation in the form of “Satan Is Real.” Lest the Klown forget Kreator’s unforgettable performance as the headliner for the Decibel Magazine tour back in late March. The Klown can only hope that Millie and company can repeat it again for their future releases. *finger crossed*
Favorite Tracks: “World War Now,” “Satan Is Real,” “Totalitarian Terror,” “Gods of Violence,” “Lion with Eagle Wings,” “Fallen Brother and “Side By Side”
- Myrkur- Mareridt and Beekeeper- Slaves To The Nothing
This one was a hard one for the Klown to truly decide. The Klown didn’t get to rate the Danish black metal dame’s album but he sure ate this album up. Just from the beginning intro “Mareridt,” Amalie Bruun’s angelic clean vocals lure you in and unleash her demonic half with “Maneblot” as a perfect foil to keep the listener invested. The album, from there on, continues to keep one in a trance like a siren luring sailors to an unaware but blissful state.
The bonus of this album is it also featured additional vocals from Chelsea Wolfe in “Funeral” and, if you got the deluxe version, “Kvindelil” which is a gothic and ambient touch which would further hypnotize you and eerily soothe you.
Favorite tracks: “Mareridt,” “Maneblot,” “The Serpent,” “Crown,” “De Tre Piker,” “Funeral (featuring Chelsea Wolfe)” and “Ulvinde”
Beekeeper- Slaves To The Nothing
Beekeeper, on the other hand, is a complete contrast to that of Myrkur. Assuming you didn’t read the love letter that the Klown wrote about this band on these First Impressions alumni’s debut album, this record was just an awesome debut. The San Diegan trio does a great job immediately hooking you in with “Vargas.” The song had speed, power and Ally Levine showing off an array of vocal ranges from growls, to screams, etc. Most importantly, once you think the band slows down, they pick up the pace with “Kamel Krusher.” The Klown can already see this band getting hotter in the upcoming years and hopes that the follow up will be just as good if not better. Keep them eyes peeled!
Favorite tracks: “Vargas,” “Fictitious,” “Subservient Submission,” “Kamel Krusher,” “Picket Fence Death Night,” “Instant Death” and “Trials of the Shredder”
- Rancid- Trouble Maker
The Klown just loved this album, he didn’t spent time analyzing it. The Klown will confess that he kept listening to this album a lot more than he thought. If it wasn’t the Klown choosing the album personally, his iPod would play it just as much when it was on shuffle. It’s hard not to when the quartet sings the Ugh Metal theme songs “Ghost Of A Chance” and “Where I’m Going.”
It has all the sounds hardcore fans and casual listeners of the group are familiar with. Just because 17 tracks weren’t enough, Rancid even had a deluxe edition of the album with two more songs. Most important, this album further solidifies the quartet as a Punk titan and does a great job introducing themselves to a new crop of potential fans.
Favorite Tracks: Tracks 1-10, “I Got Them Blues Again” and “Cold Cold Blood”
2. Empyrean Throne- Chaosborne
The Klown also didn’t get the chance to rate this album but did he eat this album up. Ever since the collective gave us an incredible performance back in late May, the Klown anticipated the album’s release. Of course, first the biggest surprise was their signing with M-Theory Audio Records early in the year, and then Chaosborne followed. Once “The Twilight Order” played on the Klown’s decrepit ears, he was hooked.
“Sed Nomini Tuo Da Gloriam” was not only one of the Klown’s favorite songs of this album but it also gave him a bit of goosebumps just with the instrumentals alone. Frontman Andrew Knudsen’s vocals and Mike Brennan’s backing vocals were the cherries on top. Just to coerce you to listen to this album, if you fancy yerself a big Dimmu Borgir fan then this is an album you really wanna give a good listening to. And read our chat with Knudsen here!
Favorite tracks: The Full Album
- Ensiferum- Two Paths
The Klown this year gives it to the Finnish quintet as the album of the year. It was not an easy choice to make. At first it was going to be another but the Klown gives credit where credit is due. Right from the start, “Ajattomasta Unesta” began a sense of anticipation and glory. “For Those About to Fight for Metal” and its epic manly chorus immediately compliments that sensation from the previous track and gives you a surge of adrenaline from the previous built up.
The Folk overtones and sung narratives of great battles, and the ways of the warrior just give you a sense of urgency to get out there and tear open a new one on whatever it is you’re willing to tackle. The bonus tracks of this album is that the band provides alternate versions of both “God Is Dead” and “Don’t You Say.”
Favorite tracks: The Full Album
Honorable Mentions: Hellripper Coagulating Darkness, King Woman Created in the Image of Suffering, Black Anvil As Was, Cultural Warfare Future Kill EP, Varg Götterdämmerung EP, Immolation Atonement, Sicarius Serenade of Slitting Throats, Dropkick Murphys 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory, The Furor Cavalries of the Occult, Anti-Flag American Fall, The MandoShanks Cavity Search, Bodycount Bloodlust, Venom Inc Avé, Kuoleman Galleria Pimeys Saapuu Pohjoiseen, Cavalera Conspiracy Psychosis
Jenny Oh’s Top 6 Albums
All these albums fought and played bravely BUT which ones won my affection? Oh… no honey this isn’t that exclusive ‘cause my love must be spread and who isn’t a music whore now in days? Even with this extra category, picking these albums was HARD! These are the brave men and women that have won my head on headbanging this year…
#6. Kreator- Gods Of Violence
This album rang in 2017 and it’s STILL very addicting and instantly became a classic. The legendary thrashers waved their “Flag of Hate” proudly in Gods of Violence and not only appeased OG fans but also enlisted a new batch of young metalheads in to their ever-growing legion. This album was not only filled with anthems but it also harbored a lot of badass, empowering and moshable songs that promoted unity in these crazy times.
Kreator have been stirring the pits and producing killer albums for a little over three decades and still got it going on. The quartet is still bursting with an insatiable hunger to create meaningful music that will motivate you to take life by the balls. Binge on this at Spotify and get your copy here! If you missed them at the sold out Decibel Magazine Tour in 2017 read about it in the link that’s in the Klown’s section above and see what he thought about the album here!
Fave songs: “Totalitarian Terror,” “Gods of Violence,” “Army Of Storms,” and “Hail to the Hordes”
#5. Gothminister- The Other Side
Another comeback that did not disappoint! The Other Side was a great redeemer for their 2013 release Utopia because Gothminister returned to their industrial goth roots and charmed me again. Utopia felt like the Norwegian quartet took a detour and were trying to play hard ball for the sake of fitting in with the metal crowd whereas The Other Side led them back to their foundation.
Gothminister provides a great balance of goth/industrial and metal influences in this album much like their previous entry and should be made part of your breakfast! Don’t worry Utopia fans! This one still has an edge if you’re pining for it. Perhaps the J-Ohster (that’s right, I’m doing this again) is exaggerating but if you’re an avid Gothminister fan you’d understand. Gothminister provided a lot of beautiful gothic ballads and empowering tracks that will make you swoon and rise. It’s good to have them back! Cross over to The Other Side at Spotify and see how the Klown felt about it here.
Fave songs: “The Sun,” “Ich Will Alles,” “Der Fliegende Mann,” “We Are The Ones Who Rule The World” and “All This Time”
#4. Grave Pleasures- Motherblood (Century Media Records)
I found myself blasting this album over and over and over again and with each time I hit that “Play” button, it felt like I was listening to it for the very first time. If you haven’t checked out this Finnish quintet before, you will understand why they’re so critically acclaimed and created gold with their sophomore album. Grave Pleasures serves the right amount of atmospheric dread and heartache with their fresh brand of post punk/new wave.
But not all is gloom by the way! Motherblood is also filled with angsty dance anthems that will have you shamelessly dancing on a metaphorical grave all night long! Yes, the infatuation with this album will be strong. 😉 Listen to the album on Spotify and see what I thought about it the first time I decided to dance with this wild child here.
Fave songs: “Infatuation Overkill,” “Be My Hiroshima,” “Doomsday Rainbows,” and “Joy Through Death”
#3. Septic Flesh- Codex Omega
Can you believe this one ALMOST didn’t make it here!? So there was an upside to my indecision because no matter how much I tried soaking in other incredible albums, I kept coming back to this one like a lost hell hound. Codex Omega blew me away and its elegantly dark powers are so strong, it gave me a delayed reaction much like that super special brownie you, my fellow Californian, are legally munching on right now. Septic Flesh put together another powerful and dark tale in to madness that we all just want to lose ourselves in.
The Greek quartet is one of the few recognizable bands that oozes the perfect amount of sophistication and unrelenting brutality. Septic Flesh returns to their niche by upping their theatrical game again in Codex Omega and will remind fans of their 2008 masterpiece Communion. Once you crack open this one, it will crawl into your brain and flow into your veins and then BAM! You are praising this album. HALLELUJAH! Listen to the entire album on Spotify, and get see what I thought about it the first time here. AND join us at the Brick By Brick on Feb. 23 to see them and get your tix here!
Fave songs: “Dark Art,” “Our Church Below The Sea,” “Dante’s Inferno,” “Trinity” and “Martyr”
#2. Myrkur- Mareridt
My goodness, what I can say about this beaut? The first time I played this album, I was smitten. Amalie Bruun did it again. She made me fall to my knees and praise the old and new gods for bestowing a siren like her on to this mortal world! I’m sure anyone that listened to this album will second my previous statement. Bruun ordains a sublime union between the old school Norwegian black metal sound and harmonic vocals and melodies which is something she always expertly executes. Bruun maintains her grace whether she’s delivering a haunting but angelic note or a fierce battle growl.
What made Mareridt more rewarding was that Myrkur not only collaborated with another rising songstress, Chelsea Wolfe, Bruun let loose and dipped into other influences such as instrumental atmospheric tracks, Doom, and beautiful folk pieces. Myrkur continues to reign supreme in metal and every time I played this album, it was like hitting a black metal nirvana. I can’t wait to see what Myrkur will do next and I’m curious as hell to see what other influences this band will choose to play around with. Binge on this album on Spotify and see what I thought about it the first time here!
Fave Songs: “Maneblot,” “Crown,” “Elleskudt,” and “Ulvinde,”
#1. Me And That Man- Songs of Love and Death
I NEARLY forgot about this Blue beauty and look where she ended up! Did you ever expect to see a Blues album in a metal countdown? Well, A. New Year new me and B. expect the unexpected which is a mantra we applaud Adam “Nergal” Darski. Darski FINALLY sent The Satanist packing…oh? Did I ruffle your feathers? Nothing against my buddy The Satanist, it’s just that it’s been too much of it ya know? My buddy was chained to the spotlight for too long and burned out from the overexposure! My crispy comrade earned himself a much needed rest which is something I’m sure Nergal would agree with.
On that note, Nergal got that artistic itch and dabbled with something different and tossed himself in to a whole new territory. Nergal wiped his corpse paint off, grabbed his black cowboy hat and leather jacket and simply became Adam, the elusive outlaw that will charm you with the Blues. Darski joined forces with renowned British/Polish blues star John Porter, and together they created a real and powerful magick.
Me And That Man really captures the spirit of the Blues and with each song, they produce tracks that anyone can feature in their personal soundtrack of their lives. Aside from dominating their acoustics, and sharing soulful vocals, Darski and Porter also know which heartstrings to pluck. This duo forged a powerful manifesto the average Joes and Janes will feel understood by because Songs of Love and Death tackles the highs, the lows, and wanderlusts of life.
Darski broke out of the metal pigeonhole and did what he wanted to do. He and Porter took me on an exciting night ride on their bikes that made me wish it would never end. Songs of Love And Death will show neutral people what a “satanic” metal musician can really do, and even then I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. The talented Mr. Darski and Mr. Porter reintroduced a classic and underrated genre to a fresh new crop of fans while creating a newfound appreciation for it. Did you ever imagine metalheads traveling in droves to a Blues show? Didn’t think so. Will I continue to indulge in this album like I’ve been doing so since its release? Till kingdom come! Will I continue to swoon over these two cowboys and always follow them? You bet! 😉 Will you also be the one for them? Well listen to the album on Spotify and see what the Klown thought about it here.
Fave Songs: “Magdalene,” “Of Sirens, Vampires, and Lovers,” “My Church Is Black,” “Cross My Heart And Hope To Die,” and “Voodoo Queen”
These fought the good fight and man it was so HARD! But alas, I shall honor them here and there is an 88% chance I totally forgot to add some more…Sowwy 😦
Beekeeper- Slaves To The Nothing, Ensiferum- Two Paths, Cradle Of Filth- Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness of Decay, Empyrean Throne- Chaosbourne, Russkaja- Kosmopoliturbo, King Woman- Created In The Image of Suffering, Immolation- Atonement, Sicarius- Serenade of Slitting Throats, Satyricon- Deep Calleth Upon Deep, GWAR- Blood of Gods, Cavalera Conspiracy- Psychosis, Wintersun- The Forest Seasons, and Carach Angren- Dance and Laugh Amongst the Rotten.