Resident shredder George Fenton continues to not plug his band's EP for other sweet tunes (List Week 2017)
5. Retrocausal by Cleric
#FUCK. Philly experimental/avant gardel metal band Cleric released their first album in eight years like a week ago. The new Mr. Bungle without question. Layers on layers on layers of instrumentation. Give it time to marinate though. This record is definitely a slow burnered. Listen to this shit. It will blow your goddamn mind.
4. Cold Dark Place by Mastadon
So this year saw two Mastodon releases, Emperor of Sand which they hyped up a lot, and then this EP. While I loved Emperor (I’d probably place it somewhere in my top ten of the year), the consistency of Cold Dark Place from front to back made it my more favored Mastodon release of the year. While I love the heavy stuff with Mastodon, this EP offered more of the proggy/psychedelic side of Mastodon in a really fluid way. I still really like Emperor, but sometimes there were moments where the album could have had one or two more fleshed out songs, whereas this release (which I’m pretty sure is basically just a Brent Hinds release through Mastodon) had a feeling, and held on to that feeling all the way through. Though these songs were leftovers from two different Mastodon studio sessions, they make for one great release together, filled with all those spacey and ethereal elements that feel reminiscent of Crack the Skye in a way. If you’re looking for those Pink Floydy vibes from a metal band, this is it. Get a fog machine, some weird lights, through on the title track and listen.
3. Futility Report by White Ward
Has European black metal migrated out of Scandinavia and on to the eastern side of the continent? White Ward’s debut release makes me think so. The Ukrainian outfit takes the fairly trendy subgenre of metal and makes it sound so fresh. A lot of people hate on the expansion of the black metal sound, but Futility Report is easily one of the most unique records I’ve heard in awhile. It blows my mind that a black metal album exists that combines traditional elements of the genre with loungey jazz, thanks to their lead saxophone player. The album also showcases some doomy electronica on certain songs, some top production, and perfectly blends together concept within jazz and black metal in a way that doesn’t feel trite. These guys are gonna blow up in the metal world, give them a listen before they do so you claim all that underground cred. Black metal is changing, and I really like where it’s going.
2. This Old Dog by Mac Demarco
I am probably losing all credibility among my metal friends for this, but damn did the pepperoni playboy put out a crazy good album this year-- if not the best he’s ever done. Mac DeMarco’s third album featured less guitar work than his previous releases, offering instead a stripped-down sound with more simple arrangements. Usually when an artist does this, they tend to shoot themselves in the foot, but Mac’s got an ear for some groovy tunes like few others. He still channels those slacker-rock/walking-through-life-half-asleep vibes of his previous releases (and his persona in general), but the more minimalist approach on this release serves a nice show of growth in relation to his other releases. And in that moments when he does go all out (such as on “Moonlight on the River”) Mac really adds some nice trippy layering that feel refreshing in comparison to the rest of the record, but overall simplicity slays it on this one. Don’t miss out.
1. Reflections of a Floating World by Elder
Personally, I’ve never really been too into the whole doom metal/stoner metal genre. I often feel that the immense amount of repetition and droneiness makes the music a little flat for me, but the proggy-stoner-doom metal trio Elder managed to take everything the genre has to offer and make it one of the most exciting albums of the year. With the majority of the songs being over ten minutes, the album does take patience, but once it all clicks, the music will take you on a journey. And that’s exactly what a great album should be-- a journey that pulls you out of your own reality and fully immerses you in the aural experience that artist has created. On top of all of this, the artwork for this record has been one of the most striking pieces of album art I’ve seen in awhile. Elder has achieved something truly special here with this record. Though I don’t know if Reflections of a Floating World is necessarily a metal record, as it really peels back many of the layers that surround the genre for some pretty vintage prog rock aesthetics. Either way, the album as a breath of fresh air this year in the context of the metal scene.
Favorite Songs of the Year
"Duckworth" by Kendrick Lamar (from Damn)
"Happy Birthday Johnny" by St. Vincent (from MASSEDUCTION )
"Sanctuary" by Elder (from Reflections of a Floating World)
"Terryfolds" by Chaos Chaos (from the TV show Rick and Morty)
"Daisy" by Bucolic (from Rope's Wing - EP)
"Digging the Grave" by The Faceless (from In Becoming a Ghost)
"Mirror Reaper" by Bell Witch (from Mirror Reaper - Single)