#5. Power Trip – Nightmare Logic: Dallas TX group Power Trip marked a strong arrival onto the scene with their 2013 full-length debut ‘Manifest Decimation’, but really honed down their skills and production values, and transitioned from the thrash/hardcore punk crossover style of that album to a more straightforward, more hard-hitting brand of thrash. The result is ‘Nightmare Logic’, undoubtedly one of the most devastating pieces of music to pierce our eardrums in 2017. Not since the glory days of Cliff Burton era Metallica has one come across a thrash band with such raw intensity and venom, but most crucially, these qualities of the band have been captured brilliantly with crystal clear production and a perfectly balanced mix on ‘Nightmare Logic’, making it a standout album that’s as destructive as it is listenable.
#4. Warbringer – Woe to the Vanquished: The “new wave” of American thrash has come and gone, but Los Angeles quintet Warbringer is still standing. Their own internal turmoil of past years has not broken them but instead has only metamorphosed them into a unit stronger than they’ve ever been. Their previous four albums garnered fans all over the world but invariably left a feeling that this band could do better as a creative force. And then, out came ‘Woe to the Vanquished’ in 2017, the one album Warbringer was always capable of making, the one album they were seemingly progressing towards through the past 12 years of their existence. While older thrash bands keep repeating and recycling their own work cash in on the nostalgia and continue to get more attention, Warbringer has released what is without doubt the best thrash album to have surfaced in a long time. Their modern-day take on an age-old genre is refreshing, compelling and ground-breaking.
#3. Enslaved – E: Norwegian progressive extreme metal masters Enslaved have hardly put a foot wrong in their 25-year career, and they have delivered yet again with their 14th full-length, simply titled ‘E’. The greatness of any new Enslaved album may be predictable by now, but what’s definitely not predictable is the music itself, as the band continues to live up to their reputation of pushing their creative boundaries and broadening their horizons with every songwriting effort. For a band that started out as black/viking metal in the early ’90s, Enslaved has developed remarkably in the clean-singing department in recent years, so much so that they do it better than bands that have done it for their entire careers. This is very much evident on ‘E’ as keyboardist Håkon Vinje puts forth a brilliant clean vocal performance once again, but extreme metal fans need not worry because Grutle Kjellson’s harsh vocals are also equally prominent. Enslaved’s prog tendencies are at their peak here as they indulge in some long, dynamic compositions on this 6-song, 50-minute album. This one is, quite aptly and simply, Enslaved with a capital E, and is the best progressive as well as extreme metal album of 2017.
#2. Horisont – About Time: Swedish group Horisont have doused the world around them with their delightfully pristine take on classic hard rock and metal for almost ten years. They have remained prolific yet never came across as stale. Their fifth full-length ‘About Time’ was released in 2017, but you would be forgiven to assume that it came about four decades earlier, had you not known the release date. This group has clearly soaked in a whole range of classic rock influences like a sponge, because they are capable of writing gems like the album that is ‘About Time’, and creating the songs that decorate this masterpiece seem to come as second nature to these musicians. It is near impossible to pinpoint a single band you could compare Horisont to, which is the beauty of the sound they have made their own. ‘About Time’ is nothing less than a time-traveling trip into a bygone era, and is one of the most powerful slabs of music to have graced us in 2017.
#1. Mutoid Man – War Moans: Brooklyn, New York power trio Mutoid Man formed in 2012 and was initially recognized as a side project featuring members of Converge and Cave In, but rapidly carved out their own identity with the 2013 debut EP ‘Helium Head’ and the 2015 full-length ‘Bleeder’, and in 2017 they left no stone unturned in stamping the authority of the Mutoid Man name. Their second LP ‘War Moans’ arrived this year and formed a vice-like grip straightaway upon anyone and everyone who gave it a listen, only strengthening it several fold with every subsequent listen. Combining elements of thrash, hardcore, prog and math rock with sprinklings of many other styles and sub-genre, ‘War Moans’ boasts the organic feel of a typical power trio but at the same time defies the simplicity of Mutoid Man’s three-piece setup with song structures and sonic patterns so rich, dynamic and complex. With 12 instantly mesmerizing tunes, this one is a winner from start to finish, and simply does not fade away till the very end. Vocalist/guitarist Stephen Brodsky puts in the absolute best recording performance of the year bar none, as do drummer Ben Koller and bassist Nick Cageao on their respective instruments, and together, they have created the best album of 2017. ‘War Moans’ triumphs over all else that surfaced this year in the world of heavy music.
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