Into the void itself with this year’s list…..better grab a pen and piece of paper.
2017 for the most part has been a life-changing year for myself. So much has happened after the 1 year anniversary of starting this blog it feels like I’m now starting life all-over again. It’s fucking great though. I’m sure a few people are wondering why I haven’t been more ‘vocal’ about things lately. Truth be told I’m tired at trying to drive a nail through a concrete bunker wall. I haven’t given up on this by any means, I’m still working at it. But for now I’m re-assessing my priorities because bitching and whining about what he-said/she-said and then coming in with my two cents doesn’t exactly help the idea of civil online discourse especially when I drop an F-bomb every five seconds in typical black Irish fashion. If anything I add on to the ever-growing online social media dogpile that happens whenever someone says something. And may be I’m finally growing…..older…..not old. I’m still 34 for fuck’s sake. But hurtling towards 35 with a kid on the way is showing me that there’s more to life than trying to stay on top of the online bitch fest. That part has gotten old by itself. So if you don’t see me adding my 2 cents on to whatever someone says, I’m simply not giving them the attention and clicks they deserve. I say just let ‘them’ be blissfully unaware at the lack of their logic and reasoning and continue to indulge in their utopian pipe dream all while completely ignoring history.
With that said, again it’s been nothing but positive change and personal growth for me. I can honestly say as 2017 has had it’s challenges, what with hurricanes and surgeries, part-time jobs, scoring my ever first professional interview for Noisey of all places, meeting and talking to a lot of cool people (both in-person and online), etc. It’s been keeping me on my toes. Most of all I found the love of my life. My wife and I are now building our lives and expecting our very first child within the upcoming year. So I am grateful. I’m grateful that everyone has helped supported Esoterica Codex be it by spreading the word via mouth, sharing, clicking that like button and commenting on my shit as well as checking out the bands I talk about and also giving me hails. With that said….here are the top 20 jamz to help make 2017 a pretty kick-ass year.
1). Paradise Lost – Medusa (Nuclear Blast)
This should be no secret by now. Anyone who knows me personally knows how much I am a massive fan of the UK’s lords of Doom. In PL’s case, it’s the case of the old dog improving on old tricks and showing the young puppers what the to do when the master summons for thy bidding. With the exception of the other Doom Metal-related bands on this list, this album alone wiped the slate clean of shitty Sleep-worship stoner rock bands having the audacity of calling themselves “doom metal.” And a proper return to their Death-Doom roots of 1991’s “Gothic” and 1992’s “Shades Of God.” Depression never felt so euphoric.
2). Ulver – The Assassination Of Julius Caesar (House Of Mythology)
Shocked to find this artist on the list towering over the rest of the rather gloomy, subversive, and doom-laden? Well, reason why this is so high is the significance of this album and how it pertains to being the soundtrack to my life having such a dramatic change. Ulver doing Depeche Mode synth-pop with proper justice. It’s the album that has helped me at various times relax and clear my head that is swarming with obsessions over music and my blog and helped me pause for a minute and enjoy life. Not a lot of albums make me do that.
3). Drab Majesty – The Demonstration (Dais Records)
I keep coming back to this album for so-many unexplained reasons. Who knows why. For me it’s like a memory of a youthful feeling that’s so far away that trying to grasp it is depressingly out of your reach even though it’s already in your hands. I don’t know if that makes any sense. But I do know what makes sense: this album is fucking sweet. I constantly get lost in this album. Alongside Ulver, Drab Majesty are currently making the sweetest non-Metal jamz to seriously fuck with.
4). Spectral Voice – Eroded Corridors Of Unbeing (Dark Descent Records)
Hype! That’s all I hear. But then who ISN’T hyped these days? I can name some but I refuse to give those ‘artists’ the attention of time of day. Spectral Voice was the unexplained Old One that Blood Incantation was summoning with 2016’s “Starspawn.” I’m not sure what it is they were trying to summon, but it’s weird and pissed-off whatever it is.
5). FIN – Arrows Of A Dying Age (Folter Records)
If I can pin-point on a US black metal band that does the old-school sound with justice and no bullshit Euro-worship gimmicks, it’s Chicago’s very own sons of darkness, FIN. They totally capture the days of all of us here in the States listening to Painiac/Sombre Records releases and then throwing our North American take on that. It’s deadly, it’s an agressive, manic, pissed-off middle finger to everything that is false. It’s old-school, it’s melodic, and yet it’s a perfect snapshot of how black metal in 2017 SHOULD sound like as opposed to it trying to be something it’s not which is ‘post-modern. Fucking yuck. Support for FIN is total support for US Black Metal showing what the fuck it can do when it properly flexes it’s muscles.
6). Haunt – Haunt (Independent/Self-Released)
Truly the most disgusting and NECRO fucking black metal record of 2017, and quite possibly some-time. Haunt is like if you dug up the corpse of Mayhem’s Dead, Euronymous and Bathory’s Quorthon, put them in some dank, wet basement with a 4-track recorder to capture the spirit of what once was. But enhanced the cold and grave-like atmosphere with a weird digital/white noise edge to the guitar riffs and overall sound. Taste the grave dear readers, it’s been waiting for you.
7). Loss – Horizonless (Profound Lore Records)
The lords of US Funeral Doom are back with their second album and all the pain and misery in the world. There isn’t words enough to justify just how this album overshadowed the entire Doom Metal genre of 2017 at the right moment and at the right time. Prepare to suffer.
8). Immolation – Atonement (Nuclear Blast)
The classiest band in Death Metal are back with a new record with their old-school logo from their classic 90’s albums. Fuck yes.
9). Chaos Moon – Eschaton Moon (Blood Music)
Comprising of members from Krieg, Skaphe‘, Conqubine, Esoterica, Martrod, etc. this album is a beautiful example of how to do modern-day atmosphere correctly for a U.S. black metal band. Also included is the nightmarish artistic visions of Jef Whitehead who help paints the hymns to the end-times. Extremely fitting for 2017.
10). Forgotten Kingdoms – Crowned In Forlorn Darkness (Tour de Garde)
If there was one thing I thought would never come back to bring some form of joy in my more mature years, it was the worship and appreciation of the dark ambient snyth work of Norway’s Mortiis – or as it is now officially called “Dungeon Synth.” And out of all the Dungeon Synth material I have listened to in 2017, this one hit a mark that nobody else did. Where most other DS projects and artists are doing their best to frolick thru the shire to take the ring to Mordor, Azgorh channels the dark ambient synth of old-school Beherit and stretches it out to an entire demo-length. Highly fukking recommended.
11). Integrity – Howling For The Nightmare Shall Continue (Relapse Records)
Integrity goes black metal? That’s what a low of people have said, but not really. But what I do know that this is by far their best fucking album since 1996’s “Humanity Is The Devil.” It’s an album that showcases all of not only their strong-points but how the band is still able to think outside of the proverbial Hardcore/Metal/Punk box and show what REAL crossover music CAN be.
12). Full Of Hell – Trumpeting Ecstasy (Profound Lore Records)
Returning from the mines of that rusted out area of Central Pennsylvania, FoH come blazing back with another fucked-up mixture of Grindcore/Death Metal/Hardcore/Noise/Electronic and god knows what else that managed to sneak into their young but lively and thriving mixture of genres.
13). Spirit Adrift – Curse Of Conception (20 Buck Spin)
I wish I could put this album higher than where I’m putting it. It’s just that goddamn good of a fucking classic/traditional Doom Metal album. Again, no stupid fucking Sleep-stoner worship. No ramblings about smoking pot when though the riffs on this album ARE dank as fuck. Nope, just a side-project of the boiz in Arizona’s Gatecreeper laying down some of the best riffs/melodies outside of the like of Greg McKintosh of Paradise Lost and Kirk Windstein of Crowbar. Don’t worry….it’s more traditional/epic Doom Metal than in it is Sludge-y NOLA-style. Do not miss out on this.
14). Old Tower – Spectral Horizons (Vinyl re-issue of demo via Tour De Garde)
I would have given this spot to Fief, another excellent DS artist but I felt this was the closest that could come next to the high mark that Forgotten Kingdoms hit. This is about as close as one wants to get to actual old-school Mortiis-worship without being called ‘worship’ or the dreaded ‘rip-off’ label. As it stands, Old Tower are one of the torchbearer’s to a newly-founded sub-genre that sure to stay around for quite some time.
15). Impetuous Ritual – Blight Upon Martyred Sentience (Profound Lore)
Metal fans didn’t get a new Portal album this year, so this will perfectly do and take the crown for the Cavernous-sounding Death Metal album of 2017. It’s a spiral down into the abyss itself. WEEEEEEEEE!!!!
16). Chis Stapelton – Traveller (RCA Studios)
Here is 2017’s “Wild Card Album.” I know what you are thinking, so there is no need to say it. I do that for you; what the fuck is Chris Stapelton doing surrounded in this list of Metal and god-knows-what-else. And an album from 2015 of all things? Well in case any of y’all start to forget, you’re favorite blogger IS a long haired/bearded/tattooed Florida man from the great state and bayous of Louisiana. With a newly-found family that extends up to the hills of South Carolina. That said, I AM going to be a little bit of a loud-mouth redneck minus waving the confederate flag( unless you get some white wine in me 😛 ). I’ve always preached to never forget your roots under any circumstances. And if you wanna know where I tend to get my highly opinionated and middle finger to everything politically correct…..well now you know. Besides, I enjoy me some good-ol’ shit-kicking redneck jamz. Good shit to drive around to while giving your finger to ‘the man.’
17). Rope Sect – Personae Ingratae/Proselytes (Iron Bonehead Productions)
2017 has been a quiet year for Post-Punk/Death Rock. With the exception of the latest Grave Pleasures album, it seems like the end-of-the-world party soundtrack has ended and now the hangover and reality of a world truly teetering to it’s end times madness is coming into fruition. Nobody said it was going to be pretty. And so isn’t Rope Sect. This compilation of both of their 2017 releases shows that may be it time to stop partying and start getting down to serious business.
18). Drowning The Light – Varcolaci Rising (Dark Adversary Productions)
I was a bit late to this one this year. This is one of a limited handful of black metal releases this year that managed to stick around. Azgorh of DTL/FK is on a fucking roll this year with not 1 but 2 releases that I feel are a culmination of the best parts of his music/career in a very long time. Considering how much this dude puts out, it’s great to see that there is more of a filtering process. That’s not a slur or sign of disrespect either. I just feel that the gentleman is getting better even though I still enjoy some of his older material. Can’t wait to see where he goes from here.
19). Necrot – Blood Offerings (Tankcrime Records)
Death Metal the way it’s supposed to be fucking play. End of discussion. Total fukking support!
20). Undergang – Misantropologi (Dark Descent Records)
Last but not least and rounding out this year is Denmark’s Undergang. I caught them in Tampa live at The Brass Mug this past summer for the support of “Misantropologi” and it was pure fun. That’s really how I can sum up Undergang is just a no-thrills fun death metal band to enjoy live.
HONORABLE MENTIONS (more jamz that you should seek out and give no-less of total fukking support to):
Convulsing/Siberian Hell Sounds – split (Art As Catharsis Records)
Future Terror – We’re All Fucked (Black House Industries)
Poison Blood – s/t (Relapse Records)
Tchonorbog – s/t (Fallen Empire Records)
Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper (Profound Lore Records)
Power Trip – Nightmare Logic (Southern Lord Records)
The Lurking Fear – Out Of The Voiceless Grave (Century Media)
Kreator – Gods Of Violence (Nuclear Blast)
Artificial Brain – Infared Horizon (Profound Lore Records)
And that about rounds up this year as far as the jamz go. Until next time, keep on jammin’ in the free world.