#15. Tombs – The Grand Annihilation: In the last three years, Brooklyn NY group Tombs has established itself as the epitome of extreme metal excellence. Formed in 2007 but truly breaking through with their 2014 sophomore full-length ‘Savage Gold’ and then following up with the ‘All Empires Fall’ EP two years later, Tombs have taken themselves to the next level with their 2017 LP ‘The Grand Annihilation’. This album dives deep into the darkest musical expression Tombs has put on record till date, and does so in a pummeling and relentless manner. That said, the music is far from repetitive and that is where Tombs excel over other extreme metal bands, as each song carries its own identity while forming an integral piece of the overall puzzle. ‘The Grand Annihilation’ lives up to its name.
#14. Trivium – The Sin and The Sentence: Orlando, Florida modern metal stalwarts Trivium have been known to present a differing sound on each of their albums, but on their 2017 release ‘The Sin and The Sentence’ they’ve put forth what can be aptly described as a tribute to themselves, a summarization of their past work and an encapsulation of the various styles and sonic nuances they have experimented with over the years. The lead vocals are mostly of the clean variety, and delivered very well by frontman Matt Heafy, as are his guitar duels with fellow axeman Corey Beaulieu. The vocal and guitar work often stand out as highlights of any Trivium record but the rhythm section is equally great on this one, incoming drummer Alex Bent’s exploits in particular adding tremendous punch to each song. ‘The Sin and The Sentence’ is a fine piece of work, and there is absolutely nothing to dislike about it.
#13. Marty Friedman – Wall Of Sound: Guitar master Marty Friedman marked a return to form with his 2014 solo album ‘Inferno’, and this year he went on to prove that it wasn’t merely a one-off, and that he was really onto something for the long term. His 2017 release ‘Wall Of Sound’ is everything his fans would have expected and much more, presenting 11 delightful tracks of signature Marty Friedman guitar work, ranging in style from thrash to neoclassical to avant-garde and all else in between. Unlike many of his contemporaries, this is one guitar player who hasn’t lost his chops one bit, and instead only keeps pushing the boundaries of guitar-driven creativity, even three-and-a-half decades into a long, celebrated and still vibrant career. His latest full-length offering is anything but a mere wall of sound.
#12. Darkest Hour – Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora: One band that wasn’t quite expected to feature in this list is Darkest Hour. The longstanding Washington DC group left listeners pleasantly surprised by their 2017 release, ‘Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora’. The band signed to extreme metal / experimental heavy music / hardcore label Southern Lord, discarded most of their melodic metalcore tendencies of the past, and paid visit to their hardcore roots to come up with an absolutely crushing album. Very few albums this year grab you by the throat like this one does, as a flurry of short, brutally concise songs hits you with the force of a ten-ton hammer. While most bands as old or older than Darkest Hour are busy attempting to dilute their sound to broaden their appeal, Darkest Hour went in the opposite direction, and have done it so amazingly well that this album should get more attention and recognition than their more mainstream-sounding ones of the past.
#11. Paradise Lost – Medusa: UK gothic death-doom legends Paradise Lost have been one of the classiest bands to grace our world through the past three decades, and their output over the last five years in particular has been nothing short of magnificent. With albums like ‘Tragic Idol’ (2012) and ‘The Plague Within’ (2015) they gave fans of the sub-genre plenty to revel and bask in, and their 2017 album ‘Medusa’ sees them master an even bleaker, more miserable sonic expression. Led by Greg Mackintosh’s dark guitar melodies and Nick Holmes’ low-pitched harsh vocal delivery, this is a real monster of a record, wherein its generally slow-paced nature allows every single riff and melody to live till its last breath. No band paints a picture quite as grim as Paradise Lost does, and ‘Medusa’ goes even above and beyond what one has come to expect from the band. The masters of Northern misery have truly outdone themselves with this one.
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