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Distorted Sound’s Top 20 Albums of 2017

Well then, here we are, about to enter another year. 2017 has been a stunning year for our world in music and we here at Distorted Sound have had a blast covering it all. In a year that just kept on giving, deciding on our top 20 albums of the year was a gargantuan task, one in which challenged our editorial team greatly. This year saw every style of heavy music deliver quality albums; from returning titans to new-blooded bands instantly making their mark. Hardcore, death metal, deathcore, black metal, you name it the style delivered. Add in some real curveballs and you’ve got one brilliant year for rock and metal fans. Now, sit back and enjoy what we believe is our comprehensive and decisive list of the best albums this year. Presenting: Distorted Sound’s Top 20 Albums of 2017!

20. Woe To The Vanquished – WARBRINGER

The last few years have been less than kind to the WARBRINGER camp. So much so that frontman John Kevill basically had to rebuild the lineup from scratch. Despite all of this adversity WARBRINGER have triumphantly risen from the ashes to create the strongest album of their career. Woe To The Vanquished is solidly packed with anthemic choruses, frenzied riffing and infectious hooks to get your blood pumping. Taking the opportunity to utilise his knowledge from his historical studies John Kevill provides the perfect context to the musicianship which includes the 11 minute epic When Guns Fell Silent encapsulating you in the World War 1 theme.

Words: Dan McHugh

19. Finisterre – DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT

On Finisterre, DER WEG EINER FREIHEIT displayed both a grandiosity and an ability for devastating moments of emotional climax beyond anything they’ve done before. From the moment the choirs appear on album opener Aufbruch and usher in a hellish power as imposing as anything in metal this year, it’s clear that we’re dealing with a whole new animal. It utilises the stunning crescendos of post-black metal within the framework of something far more white-knuckled and savage, like Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk via DEAFHEAVEN’s elegant peaks. It’s not just a record overflowing with visceral momentum and the feeling that it’s constantly on the path to somewhere greater, but one that feels like it achieves flight itself.

Words: Perran Helyes

18. Malina – LEPROUS

LEPROUS had always been good and noteworthy for more than just their much spoken of association with IHSAHN as his former backing band, but Malina is the kind of step up that you wish for from all bands with this much potential. They’re still tremendously proggy and compositionally dexterous enough to keep the KING CRIMSON fans happy, but Malina married their ambitions to irrefutable hooks and tighter songwriting that suddenly makes the idea of them holding their own in bigger venues far more plausible. At the centre of it is vocalist Einar Solberg, whose soaring glacial falsettos adding so much drama and emotional potency to these songs make up the most sky-shattering vocal performance of the year.

Words: Perran Helyes

17. Urn – NE OBLIVISCARIS

2014’s Citadel proved an incredibly successful record for Aussie metallers NE OBLIVISCARIS and there was a lot of pressure surrounding Urn and whether the new offering would meet the impeccable standards that fans have come to expect. Thankfully, Urn delivered as NE OBLIVISCARIS have crafted a forward-thinking, progressive and dynamic third album. Soaring melodies through both Tim Charles’ clean vocals and violin, earth-shattering riffs and roars only scratch the surface in what is a evolving and wonderfully unique album from one of metal’s most exciting bands.

Words: James Weaver

16. After The Party – THE MENZINGERS

THE MENZINGERS’ fifth album was an ode to their twenties, that feeling of being too young to be old and too old to be young. Marrying the blue collar earnestness of classic Americana with a sense of urgency and punk vitality that so many of their peers lack, songs like Lookers, Midwestern States and Bad Catholics housed perfect and sincere storytelling within infectious and gargantuan melodies. This album is defined by its heart. THE MENZINGERS find the beauty in simplicity and make you nostalgic for situations you’ve never experienced, people you never knew and times you never knew you cared about. Most importantly, they write songs that you’ll be singing for the rest of your life.

Words: Perran Helyes

15. True View – STICK TO YOUR GUNS

STICK TO YOUR GUNS always had a knack for writing emotionally charged, hard hitting hardcore. It was only a matter of time before an album like True View replaced their previous record Diamond as STICK TO YOUR GUN’s best output. From start to finish True View offers the listener a moving and shatteringly thunderous experience. 56, Delinelle and Married To The Noise all boast massive chorus where as Cave Canem, Doomed By You and You Are Free are all certifiable mosh-pit-ragers. This is a fine record where not a bad song features, and every single one has a message worth listening to.

Words: Eddie Sims

14. Mesmer – NORTHLANE

Releasing their fourth studio effort as a complete surprise may have been make or break for NORTHLANE, but on Mesmer, the Australian’s demonstrated their craft to wonderful effect. With their sound refined and operating at pin-point precision Mesmer showcases a band firing on all cylinders. From the enormous tones in their riffing and soaring atmospheres on Colourwave to the touching and poignant tribute to the late Tom Searle of ARCHITECTS on Paragon, Mesmer is a wonderful journey that ebbs and flows organically whilst Marcus Bridge’s vocals have never sounded better. A fantastic album from one of the hottest bands from down under.

Words: James Weaver

13. Emperor of Sand – MASTODON

MASTODON’s gift for taking personal traumas and turning them into something simultaneously moving and wildly imaginative has served them well before on albums like the dimension-hopping Crack the Skye, and on Emperor of Sand, experiences dealing with cancer and disease are channelled into a concept album telling of a man desperately seeking to escape a death sentence passed by a desert sultan. Conjuring vivid mental images of its scorching arid setting, Emperor of Sand sees MASTODON nailing a phenomenal meld of their more progressive instincts and their incredible ability for world-building with the arena-ready hooks that they’ve used to such great effect on their previous two albums.

Words: Perran Helyes

12. Gods of Violence – KREATOR

With 14 albums under their belt and a long standing history of being one of the best bands in thrash metal, it is entirely understandable why KREATOR have hit our top 20 with Gods of Violence. It’s everything a fan of the German thrashers could ask for. From crushing riffs to the anthemic choruses, the rawness of Mille Petrozza when he growls Satan Is Real and the dominating solos, it had it all. They are widely respected in the metal scene and rightly so when they can still deliver like they did with Gods of Violence.

Words: Jessica Howkins

11. The Spark – ENTER SHIKARI

Known for political themes, and cynical attitudes, ENTER SHIKARI had no shortage of material for their fifth album, The Spark. It starts and ends with instrumental tracks The Spark and The Embers respectively, both tracks are under a minute long, purely there to frame the album whilst tying into the fire theme. There is a definite theme of despair and distress. However, they’ve taken a gentler approach to their sound than before, becoming more radio-friendly than in their previous work. This evolution of their sound shows their refusal to stand still and their determination to change – be that the world or their musical ability.

Words: Dean Martin

10. The Warmth of a Dying Sun – EMPLOYED TO SERVE

The Warmth of a Dying Sun is everything you’d want in a sophomore album, taking the elements of debut Greyer Than You Remember that made EMPLOYED TO SERVE such a hot prospect in UK hardcore two years ago and just building and doing more. Their rabid scattershot nature remains but honed into much thicker and focused assaults, a masterclass in the combination of groove and absolute wild abandon. The unbelievably seamless inclusion of more expansive passages though within such violent bombardments shows not just ambition to do more than just crush but the kind of supreme control and incredible nuance normally reserved for bands like CONVERGE. EMPLOYED TO SERVE are knocking on those doors and they’re only on album two.

Words: Perran Helyes

9. The Dusk In Us – CONVERGE

Accessibility isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. Despite their frantic and definitive career, CONVERGE produced their most high fidelity record to date in The Dusk In Us, with Jacob Bannon’s vocal performance sounding crystal clear, even as he shreds his voice with his iconic, ferocious barks. Songs like Broken By Light and Under Duress are formidable tracks where as the ominous title tracks provides ample evidence of CONVERGE’s sonic diversity. The Dusk In Us is truly an epic edition to the back catalogue of one genuinely iconic band.

Words: Eddie Sims

8. Heartless – PALLBEARER

What PALLBEARER did with Heartless was nothing short of utterly stunning. The movements in the music flow seamlessly together, with clear influences from doom and prog providing a deep and interesting musical bedrock for the band to build on. With their third album Heartless, PALLBEARER were able to successfully consolidate their reputation for being a consistently excellent band, but refused to stay stagnant creatively. The crushing weight of Thorns and the effortless passages in the stand out Dancing With Madness make Heartless worthwhile alone, let alone the rest of this moving, diverse and stunning record.

Words: Eddie Sims

7. Nightmare Logic – POWER TRIP

Sometimes, all you need is thrash. Nothing fancy, no pomp and circumstance, just half an hour of blistering riffs, pounding drums and eight tracks with which to wildly headbang. In Nightmare Logic, POWER TRIP have given us one of the greatest albums to ever fit that mould. Unrelenting, uncompromising and unstoppable, the likes of Firing Squad and If Not Us Then Whom will have you throwing your hair around and air-guitaring furiously, while in Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe) they’ve created the best out-and-out metal song of 2017, hands down. The best punch to the face you’ll ever get.

Words: Elliot Leaver

6. Mareridt – MYRKUR

The album title might be the Norwegian word for ‘nightmare’, but MYKRUR’s second effort is anything but. At times haunting and atmospheric, at others abrasive and merciless, the woman christened Amalie Brunn takes you on a journey of wonder and spectacle, from the harsh waters of Maneblot to the delicate strains of Crown and a truly devastating duet with CHELSEA WOLFE on the sumptuous Funeral. This is a delight for anyone into everything from EMPEROR to ENYA and the best thing is that you know MYRKUR’s best work is still to come. A truly magnificent record.

Words: Elliot Leaver

5. Eternity, In Your Arms – CREEPER

CREEPER’s debut album felt like an event. With all of the buzz built from three fantastic EPs behind them, and with the elaborate mythology created for it combined with the unpredictable movements of the band in the run-up to its release, expectations were huge, and so for it to not just live up to those but surpass them was a wonderful thing to behold. There’s a level of songwriting craft on Eternity, In Your Arms that is simply beyond most bands of their ilk. Down Below and Hiding With Boys move through gothic-Broadway bridges, Misery and I Choose to Live are show-stopping power ballads, and rampaging storms like Room 309 still manage to reach conclusions where they’re able to segue seamlessly into country songs. They’ve brought theatre back into alternative’s public consciousness in a way that holds true heart and sincerity. The world is theirs.

Words: Perran Helyes

4. Nightbringers – THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER

Throughout their career THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER have became synonymous for being one of the most consistent bands in death metal. Despite a few lineup changes in recent years which they have seemingly taken in their stride only growing even formidable in the process their latest release Nightbringers provides some of their most feverishly intense work to date. With an abundance of high tempo complexity, and signature vocals courtesy of Trevor Strnad you will be so engrossed by the sheer prowess on show that the 33 minute duration will fly by in what feels like a matter of moments.

Words: Dan McHugh

3. The Sin and the Sentence – TRIVIUM

At this point in their established career, we weren’t expecting any surprises with TRIVIUM’s eight studio effort. And whilst The Sin and The Sentence didn’t offer any curveballs, the album showcases a band coming full-circle. Fusing together aspects from across their decorated discography, TRIVIUM crafted a record that demonstrates a band at their very best. The riffing from Matt Heafy and Corey Beauliue packs a punch, with Beauliue demonstrating some of his best lead play to date, and new boy Alex Bent feels right at home behind the drums. Throw in the return of Matt Heafy’s growled vocals and the sound is just enormously heavy. Refined, focused and just thoroughly enjoyable to listen to, The Sin and The Sentence is TRIVIUM at their very best.

Words: James Weaver

2. You Are We – WHILE SHE SLEEPS

WHILE SHE SLEEPS have been flying the flag for UK metal for some time now and on album number three, You Are We, there was great anticipation as to whether the band can ascend to the next tier within heavy music. And the band achieved just that. Forging an independent route this time round, WHILE SHE SLEEPS have never felt more connected with their legions of fans and You Are We delivered another barrage of anthems. From the explosive opening in the title track, the enormous chorus on Hurricane and the sheer emphatic nature of Silence Speaks just scratching the surface, You Are We is wall to wall of quality from the Sheffield mob. They are the voices of an independent generation.

Words: James Weaver

1. Forever – CODE ORANGE

At the beginning of 2017, CODE ORANGE released our number one album of the year, Forever. To award it first place was one of the easiest decisions our team has made, because despite having so many brilliant albums come out after its release, 2017 being a goliath for the metal scene, Forever stood tall and was continuously lapped up and returned to. Forever is angry, intense and it is raw. It was created with attitude and an inspiring passion from CODE ORANGE to be able to be exactly who they want to be. Hardcore is meant to be a genre that really hits your core and makes you unravel in your head, you don’t just sit there and feel nothing when you listen to it, and the reason why Forever is so good is because it makes you feel everything. Forever is the epitome of intense raw emotion and why having an attitude can be a good thing to have.

Words: Jessica Howkins

There you have it! What did you think of our choices? We’ve had a fantastic time here at Distorted Sound bringing you all the best metal throughout 2017 and we can’t wait to see what 2018 brings. See you in the new year!

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