2017 Mid-Year Recap: Best Albums (Staff Picks)

Ryan Falla’s Top 10

#10. Overkill – The Grinding Wheel: I dig this album particularly hard because it shows one of the most underrated thrash bands of all time going strong, decades after their inception. With a very dedicated fan base, Overkill has gone strong since the ’80s, and why shouldn’t they have such dedication? They’re an incredible band, and their 2017 release The Grinding Wheel is undeniable proof. With seriously catchy tracks and a particular Painkiller era Judas Priest-esque track, there’s a lot to love on Overkill’s latest release.

#9. Dealer – Billionaire Boys Club: We’re changing things up by including a grunge band in this list. Oakland CA band Dealer is very much Bleach-level Nirvana with fat, dirty chord based riffing and a voice that grimes in tune with the music. ‘Billionaire Boys Club’ is simple, disgustingly heavy grunge; there’s no pop or any similar detracting factors pulling from the pure grunge of Dealer. This is the purest grunge by any debuting band you’ll find in recent memory.

#8. John 5 – Season of the Witch: John 5 puts on a virtuoso clinic with his newest record ‘Season of the Witch’, another notch in his fantastic solo career. It’s not a shred-fest like many virtuoso projects which focus on fellating the guitar as much as possible. Instead we get well-crafted and dynamic songs that use the guitar as a piece of the larger puzzle, not the star of the show. It’s a humbler take on virtuoso work with many of John 5’s personal interests in classic horror taking musical form with ‘Season of the Witch’. Some of the songs are heavy, some are laid-back and others are just pure, high-energy fun. No matter what form the song takes, you can rest assured that this virtuoso album won’t assault you with track after track of wankery.

#7. Evil Triplet – Otherworld: If you haven’t had the pleasure of introducing yourself to Austin, Texas based psychedelic metal band Evil Triplet, then I suggest you become accustomed. This is a truly unique band; as if Les Claypool was trapped in an eternal LSD dream while drifting through space as he narrated his adventure via music. Not only is this album top quality, it’s fun as hell. Some of the most fun I’ve had with a record in recent memory.

#6. Beastmaker – Inside the Skull: Beastmaker might be one of the heaviest young doom bands around, and with ‘Inside the Skull’ they add more ammo to that claim. They manage to maintain the dark, creeping heaviness of doom while retaining a tempo that rests at a moderate pace as opposed to the natural crawl of doom. It’s not so much creeping doom, more so it is an overpowering and crushing flow that is very distinct from the norm. Beastmaker is the kind of heavy that keeps you head banging hard and fast; a very different feel from the typical slower pace of doom metal.

#5. Unearthly Trance – Stalking the Ghost: This is Bongripper’s long lost brother right here, Unearthly Trance with ‘Stalking the Ghost’. I personally love the extreme side of sludge metal, though it isn’t too accessible a niche genre in metal. It’s naturally atypical with its heavy use of extremely low tempo music; however, Unearthly Trance does a fantastic job of presenting sludge in a manner that toes the line between extreme sludge and doom metal. The aggression is this album is almost oppressive as it mentally pushes you in a darker, deeper state; an almost devilish meditation.

#4. Petyr – Self-Titled: This is the kind of band I’ve been waiting for for a LONG time, and I had to capitalize that because it has been a long wait. For those of you in the know, there was a little band called Witch in the mid 2000s that was the side project of Dinosaur Jr’s J Macias. They only came out with two records, and the first one is honestly the only one worth checking out (the second album is cool but not nearly as destructive as the first). That being said, Petyr takes what Witch did with their first record and turns it up to 11, a mixture of psychedelic trip jams and a unique take on stoner rock that feels very “skaterish”. It’s the kind of jams you would hear in the Tony Hawk games back on the N64. Oh, and the founder of the band happens to be Hudson Riley Hawk, the son of Tony Hawk. Yeah, you definitely wanna get into this record.

#3. Municipal Waste – Slime and Punishment: Municipal Waste is something different, an evolved form of punk. They’re too precise and expansive in their song writing to be called a punk band, yet the music is too unhinged and relentless to be simple thrash or speed metal. The best way I could think to describe this record is as a continuation of the debut record by Suicidal Tendancies. This record calls back to the early days of punk with strongly voiced political and social dissent that is both aggressive and coherent; it’s subtle enough to be taken seriously. This record doesn’t top my list only because punk isn’t one of my go-to genres, but the fact that it broke my personal five says a lot. Killer riffage and amazing songwriting make this more than just a punk record.

#2. Harlott – Extinction: This is the kind of record that makes you feel like you’ve time traveled back to the era of the genre’s roots. ‘Extinction’ is early Slayer-tier speed metal. It’s relentless and unforgiving, they don’t play around with any deteriorating modern influences. ’80s Slayer and Harlott are two peas in the same pod, the same relentless speed and anger that turns mosh-pits into murder-pits. That is ‘Exinction’ by Harlott.

1. Mutoid Man – War Moans: What a band, what an album. Mutoid Man takes modern stoner metal and pulls it to a new peak with this record, an amalgamation of so many different elements of metal melded into one it can only be described as Mutoid Man. There’s modern rock, punk, prog-metal, stoner metal, thrash; and that’s just from the one track I’m listening to as I write this. Mutoid Man flows seamlessly through different elements as the album plays through, you can try to point your finger on what they are, but you really can’t. The first thing I think of in my head is stoner-prog, yet that’s only a piece of the pie they bring you. It’s simply just Mutoid Man.

Continue on Page 3 for Rosie Walker’s picks!

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