I will be honest with you: For the most part, the first half of 2017 consisted of me passing a lot of time in the library trying to study, then studying all I should have studied during the last two years in three weeks, exams and sleeping a lot. Apart from that, it also consisted of me singing in several basements and attics, singing on bigger and smaller stages and screaming at people. There has not been much room for even more music otherwise. However, I’ve been catching up and today, I am very happy to present my top picks of 2017 so far. The following releases really impressed me. This does not mean that they will necessarily reappear in my yearly favorites – I can’t know which of these albums I will actually listen to for a longer period of time – but for now, I have really been enjoying them. So if you are still on the hunt for new music, feel free to check out these awesome releases!

Unleash The Archers – Apex
Release date: June 2, 2017
If you are into traditional heavy metal and melodic metal with a little twist, you will adore this record. Unleash The Archers play a very refreshing mix of those genres and aren’t afraid to add some power and folk metal elements on top. The songs on Apex are very well-written, but also catchy enough to remember and to sing along. Apex is also one of those albums that you listen to once and don’t really get excited about it until you listen more closely. I remember not even liking Brittney Slayes’ vocals at the beginning until I realized that she is a total badass and absolutely unique. I already know that this record will appear in my yearly favorites! Some of my favorite tracks are “The Matriarch”, “Cleanse The Bloodlines” and “Apex”.

Slug Comparison – IIa (EP)
Release date: May 27, 2017
I’m a sucker for great vocals, probably because I sing myself. I also really love good, short songs. Sometimes it’s just that simple. And for that, I quite enjoy Slug Comparison’s music, Doug Harrison’s solo project after playing and singing in the progressive rock band Fen. Slug Comparison’s sound is fresh, diverse and innovative, but not too fancy. Additionally, I could probably listen to Harrison’s vocals all day – as a singer, he’s definitely up there with Jim Grey or Tommy Karevik for me. His latest EP, IIa contains three new songs: “Let Some Light”, a beautifully arranged (mostly) acoustic song, the more energetic “Exactly What To Do” and the mellow, almost ballad-like finishing track “Becoming”. IIa still has Slug Comparison’s signature sound while offering something new as compared with the debut album. I’m already looking forward to IIb!

River Black – River Black
Release date: July 7, 2017
River Black was founded by guitarist John Adubato and drummer David Witte of Municipal Waste after the breakup of their former project Burnt By The Sun. River Black is their debut album, and what an album it is! There aren’t many bands out there that combine thrash, death metal and hardcore so effortlessly. Every track is overflowing with energy and fury. However, River Black manage to keep their songs versatile and musically challenging. For example, “#Victim” is a very interesting track when it comes to rhythm. I also love “Jaws” and “Honor” for their hardcore influence. The song “River Black” even contains some string passages, which shows that this band is not afraid of using whatever elements suit their songs best, no matter the genre. If you like classic thrash metal and hardcore, but feel the need to listen a more modern interpretation of these genres, give River Black a try!

That’s about it for now. Keep an eye out for part 2!