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6 albums you might have missed in 2017

Who doesn’t know the struggle? As soon as one year is over, we start stumbling upon all the great records we have missed in the previous year. Or, we had every intention to check out a certain album, but fail to do so. I am definitely guilty as charged, but as always, I did my homework and will present to you the records I missed to check out in 2017, so this is basically a special edition of the series “Gems of last year”. Be sure to check out everything that sounds appealing to you, as there are some true gems to be found here.

Neck Of The Woods – “The Passenger”
Neck Of The Woods are known to play an intriguing mix of progressive metal, thrash metal, death metal and metalcore. Despite this mix fitting well into the metal music of the present, their debut “The Passenger” nearly sounds “old school” in the sense that it reminds me of Between The Buried And Me, Opeth and Darkest Hour. You just have to love how smart their songs are and how well these guys play. Additionally, Neck Of The Woods’ music will please extreme metal fans and prog lovers alike. Just do yourself a favor and check out “The Passenger”!

Horror Dance Squad – “Leap”
Horror Dance Squad are playing a strange kind of music, but strange in all the good ways. Despite, or rather, thanks to their unique mix of dance and metalcore in the style of Bring Me The Horizon, they have managed to create an equally interesting and addictive record called “Leap”. It’s that type of music that will get you out of bed and going ten out of ten times. I get that you wouldn’t want to listen to this kind of stuff the whole day every day, but a couple of tracks of “Leap” have definitely made it to my “Conquer The World” playlist on Spotify. Make sure to check out Horror Dance Squad in case you’re in need for the right kick out of bed in the morning. Because, you know, motivation is just a myth.

Polaris – “The Mortal Coil”
I can’t say anything negative about this Polaris nor their latest record. “The Mortal Coil” is consistent from beginning to end and it sounds like a heavier Wovenwar with tech metal influences. The vocals in this band are truly among the best in the genre (seriously, don’t miss out on those delightful clean vocals!). Polaris have released one hell of a massive album with “The Mortal Coil” and I’m almost ashamed that I didn’t check it out earlier. It’s addictive, it’s heavy and it’s beautiful: basically the perfect mix of brutal and cheesy. The video below depicts just that, actually. Aggressive music and falling rose petals? Sign me up. Metalcore release of the year!

Ordo Ignis Dei – “Bibliomystikon”
Ordo Ignis Dei is once again one of those bands you can’t put a label on. The band name and the title of their first record “Bibliomystikon” suggest that this is pure black metal, so the surprise is even bigger when you start listening and you get to hear jazz, prog and dark ambient music with black metal influences as well as clean vocals. I have never heard such an intriguing mix, but it turns out to be very well-made. You might not like jazz, just like myself, but “Bibliomystikon” is still very much worth giving a listen, as this is one of the most original releases of 2017. I’m very curious to hear what Ordo Ignis Dei come up with in the future.

 

Cyhra – “Letters To Myself”
Jake E left Amaranthe last year, but continues to delight us with his beautiful voice and lyrics as a member of the brand new band Cyhra. It always seemed as if he got the short end of the stick in Amaranthe, so I’m very glad to hear him presenting his abilities as a vocalist in Cyhra. The modern hard rock/metal band is consisting of other renowned metal musicians from bands like In Flames, Shining, and Rhapsody. I wouldn’t say that their debut record “Letters To Myself” is a game changer, but there are definitely some memorable moments to be found here, and I’m always down to listening to Jake E’s voice. This album is definitely a great listen for all Amaranthe or Dreamland fans out there.

Caligula’s Horse – “In Contact”
Once again, I am attracted to a band because of the singer. I’m getting really predictable. This whole post could have also been called “Great vocals you might have missed in 2017″…
Alright, back to business. Caligula’s Horse was probably one of my favorite bands two years ago. Nowadays, I still enjoy their music, I just don’t understand my obsession with them anymore, nor my obsession with prog rock in general. That’s the main reason why I didn’t check out their latest release until recently. However, “In Contact” is, like the album art, a very colorful record that definitely deserves a mention here. Not much has changed compared to the predecessor “Bloom”: Caligula’s Horse have found their formula for success and only make slight alterations or add new elements here and there. “In Contact” is just one step further for a band that definitely knows what they’re doing.


P.S.: I skipped the annual favorites post this time around. The main issue is that I don’t have a lot of releases to talk about. In case you’re curious, though, I do have some favorites posts from summer 2017:

2017’s most impressive releases so far – Part 1
2017’s most impressive releases so far – Part 2

Honorable mentions (reviews):
The Contortionist – “Clairvoyant”
Dreamgrave – “Monuments” (EP)

Gems of last year: Anaal Nathrakh – “The Whole Of The Law”

Do you know that awesome feeling when you discover a new band and already know that you adore them twenty seconds into the first song? I usually need some time to get into a band, but with Anaal Nathrakh, it was love at first listen. I was completely overwhelmed by their speed and their inexorable bestiality, and then that guy stopped screaming like a pig started singing almost… beautifully … and then came a stupendous, melodic guitar solo: The first song by Anaal Nathrakh that I ever listened to is called “Of Horror, And The Black Shawls” off their latest release The Whole Of The Law and I still get goose bumps every time.

Anaal Nathrakh are bordering black metal and grindcore and play music that is way too weird to listen to on a daily basis but that is equally addictive. They only sparingly make use of melodic elements, but when they do, they manage to bring any song to the next level. Like the aforementioned song, tracks like “Extravaganza!”, “Of Being A Slave” or “Depravity Favours The Bold” all contain some kind of musical element that makes them unforgettable, be it dramatic synthesizers, high clean vocals or divine soli.

There is something strangely satisfying and almost soothing about extreme music, especially black metal. Whoever claims that black metal is just noise hasn’t experienced the great impact that great black metal has on you when you feel empty, angry and also somehow lost.

Some bands know what they are doing – Anaal Nathrakh go beyond that. They sound as if they don’t care at all about impressing anyone but ironically managed to create a highly impressive record with The Whole Of The Law: Unlike with many other black metal bands, there is a lot of talent in this band. It is pure evil at its best and definitely a band you should check out if you love extreme metal.

New tracks worth checking out: July 2017

The Contortionist – Absolve
Ah, The Contortionist. I still remember listening to them for the very first time when I received the promo for their 2014 release Language. Already one minute in, I knew that I would adore that album, and I still do. It is safe to say that The Contortionist are amongst the most exciting acts in progressive music, and they continue to please their fans with this new track. “Absolve” is the second track off The Contortionist’s new record Clairvoyant out on September 15. Same as on Language, they continue to play intricate, yet very calming, ethereal music. Trust me, you need this band in your life, and you definitely need to throw this new track onto your playlist.

Hallatar – Mirrors
Hallatar’s debut album No Stars Upon The Bridge is one of my most anticipated releases of 2017. Equally, I was really excited to listen to the first song off the new record. The band is featuring Juha Raivio of Swallow The Sun, Gas Lipstick of HIM and Tomi Joutsen of Amorphis, so if you know these bands, you probably can imagine how “Mirrors” might sound like. It is the darkest shade of dark, powerful, and, similarly to Juha Raivio’s previous project Trees Of Eternity, hauntingly beautiful.

Arch Enemy – The World Is Yours
Unlike many other Arch Enemy fans, I am really happy with the band’s new work with vocalist Alissa White-Gluz. She brings her own influences as an artist into the band while trying to stick to the classic Arch Enemy style without sounding fake. After the last album War Eternal, the first one with White-Gluz, Arch Enemy is about to release their new, highly anticipated album Will To Power and “The World Is Yours” is the first taste of the new record. There is not a lot to say about Arch Enemy, only that they deliver every single time, period.

Ne Obliviscaris – Intra Venus
Ne Obliviscaris is one of those insanely good bands that everyone and their mama lose their minds when they announce anything new. Long ago, the Australian prog band released the first track off their new record URN due in October. People lost their minds. I lost my mind.
One thing I have always loved about this band is that despite the fact that very instrument has a place to shine, the music never sounds overdone or too much. These guys probably just can’t write bad songs. However, let’s wait for the entire record and for now, we can enjoy this beautiful new track called “Intra Venus”.

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