2017 Mid-Year Recap: Best Albums (Editor’s Picks)

#5. Horisont – About Time: Already five albums deep in their 11-year existence, the Swedes in Horisont have established themselves as masters of modern-day vintage hard rock. With their style of music it may seem like they’re living in the wrong decade, but they’re putting a decidedly fresh spin on the kind of music they clearly love and are most passionate and dedicated towards. Their newest effort ‘About Time’ sets the mental landscape right from the outset and takes you on an otherworldly journey you wouldn’t want to return from. The most amazingly striking feature of this album is that Horisont executes the ’70s classic hard rock sound better than most bands of the ’70s ever did, which is exactly why we can move on from those bands and listen to Horisont instead. ‘About Time’ is more than just a time machine; it’s timeless.

#4. Sepultura – Machine Messiah: Against all odds, Brazilian metal greats Sepultura have carved out a successful career for themselves even in their post-Cavalera incarnation, when not many were willing to give them as much as a semblance of a chance. This is no greater proof of this predicament than their 14th and latest album ‘Machine Messiah’. Released in early January 2017, this one will stay in rotation until the end of the year and beyond, and is by far the best album they’ve put out with Derrick Green on vocals. The songwriting is splendid, the performances on the recordings is second to none, and the songs are crushing yet progressive and diverse in true Sepultura style. But this band is still evolving, and not attempting to recycle their past work, and albums like this keep the band relevant and current in 2017, not a nostalgia act. ‘Machine Messiah’ does as much justice to the Sepultura legacy as anything they’ve ever released.

#3. Iced Earth – Incorruptible: One of America’s finest and longest standing flagbearers of true heavy metal, Tampa, Florida legends Iced Earth have lived through several different lineups, and not many bands would have survived with as many singer changes as Iced Earth have. Fronted by their newest singer Stu Block, the band released two very solid albums in ‘Dystopia’ (2011) and ‘Plagues of Babylon’ (2014), and only time will be the best judge, but their 2017 release ‘Incorruptible’ is not only their strongest Stu Block fronted effort, but might even be one of their best ever. With powerful vocal delivery, soul-soothing guitar harmonies, scorching solos and exemplarily old-school style of bass and drum work, ‘Incorruptible’ flows through fast, mid and slow paced tunes that all make an indelible impact in equal measure. While each of the ten songs is a gem, the instrumental ‘Ghost Dance’ deserves special mention, for it represents the finest 6 minutes of heavy metal to have graced the year 2017 thus far. Unlike most bands formed in the ’80s that are now well past their prime, Iced Earth still delivers the goods with pure fist-raising metal.

#2. Warbringer – Woe to the Vanquished: Thrash metal has existed for more than three decades and everything that could be done within the boundaries of this musical style has already been done. Enter Los Angeles based group Warbringer with their fifth album ‘Woe to the Vanquished’, to put a wrench into that notion. It takes special talent to successfully innovate in a genre like thrash metal while staying within its confines, and through their past four albums Warbringer honed their creativity to culminate into this new album which is certainly a step above the rest. To those who have followed this band’s career and listened to their past work, ‘Woe to the Vanquished’ comes across as the album Warbringer was always capable of making and perhaps always wanted to make but couldn’t quite do so until now. This is the first release in the second decade of their career, and with this record they have completed the metamorphosis to become a band truly on their way to greatness. ‘Woe to the Vanquished’ is what thrash metal should sound like in 2017.

#1. Power Trip – Nightmare Logic: Dallas, Texas thrash metal/hardcore crossover group Power Trip formed in 2008 and infiltrated the heavy music underground with a destructive debut effort ‘Manifest Decimation’ in 2013. It remained to be seen what direction they’d go in on the follow-up album, if they’d be able to offer anything new or different, and whether or not they’d sustain their early success and hype. Sure enough, Power Trip ticked all the right boxes with their sophomore album ‘Nightmare Logic’, which landed in February 2017 and has pierced ears, crushed skulls and pummeled minds with its unmatchably devastating tunes. They channeled more of their thrash metal roots and influences for this one, and went for a more “listenable” production style that does their music greater justice. The result is what stands as the best album the year 2017 has offered thus far. In the present day, no band instigates a violent old-school mosh quite like Power Trip does, and the songs on ‘Nightmare Logic’ have made them one of the fiercest bands on the planet. Speed, violence, heaviness, technicality. Power Trip turns everything to 11 on ‘Nightmare Logic’, and if one album had to be picked to represent metal in 2017, ‘Nightmare Logic’ would be it.

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