SAGAN'S TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2017
Oh 2017, I will not miss you! For me, the year has been particularly slow for shows, making me antsy to run into 2018 with all its announced upcoming tours and albums. Not all bad was 2017 though, as we were given some great records, some of them that seem set for cult status. Allow me to share my favourite releases for 2017 to finish off this year in style!
10. Dragonforce – Reaching Into Infinity
How many power metal albums can I slip into my Top 10 for 2017? Many, actually, starting with Dragonforce's latest album Reaching Into Infinity. As I mentioned in my review, this new record from this cult power band was both comforting and surprising; bringing all of their typical speed and epicness throughout and peppering it with some unexpected additions with the songs "War!" and "Evil Dead". This one could have been just another good album under their belt, but instead it elevated Dragonforce to another plane, showing that you can always add unexpected arrows to your quiver.
Favourite tracks: Judgement Day, Curse of Darkness, Evil Dead
9. Carach Angren – Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten
I don't need to explain my love for Carach Angren anymore; they constantly put on an incredible live show, and pump out album after album of bedtime story terror worthy of both the Brothers Grimm and Wes Craven. Their latest one, Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten, while maybe more disjointed than their previous works is a complex work of haunting orchestrations, bone-chilling vocals, and brutal metal. I reviewed this album prior to its release in June, and my opinion still holds true after listening to it for months.
Favourite tracks: Charlie, In The Naam Van De Duivel, Pitch Black Box
8. Galneryus – Ultimate Sacrifice
More power metal already? Yes! 2017 was a good year for the genre of glory and might, and Ultimate Sacrifice by Galneryus came in September, gracing us with a sequel to Under The Force of Courage. This one is a wild ride in typical Galneryus fashion, and my only wish is that I understood Japanese so that I could better understand the stories behind the songs, although the band has gracefully written a great summary of the story in English so that we can keep track of the action! This band is a titan of the genre, and while I still prefer Vetelgyus over Ultimate Sacrifice, this latest record deserves a place in any power metal fan's collection.
Favourite tracks: Wings of Justice, Heavenly Punishment, Ultimate Sacrifice
7. Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain
One of the first metal album releases of 2017 was Battle Beast's Bringer Of Pain. I have a special place in my heart for this band's particular brand of cosmic disco rock 'n' roll metal and Noora Louhimo's amazing voice. Bringer Of Pain has all the catchy yet headbang-worthy songs you could want, with heartfelt lyrics and even bits of tongue-in-cheek humor with songs like "Rock Thrash" and "Bastard Son Of Odin". I've been dancing and furiously whipping my hair to this album all year, and it would be impossible to leave it out of my Top 10 because just like Battle Beast itself, Bringer of Pain kicks serious ass.
Favourite tracks: Straight To The Heart, King For A Day, Beyond The Burning Skies
6. Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars
Ave Roma! How the mighty Ex Deo have returned. 2017 saw the Montrealais quintet's 3rd album, The Immortal Wars. It was my most anticipated album of the year, and it did not disappoint. In fact, it exceeded all of my expectations, which were already very high thanks to Caligvla. Most impressive symphonic parts colliding head-on with brutal death metal, and vivid recounting of one of Rome's great conflict; Ex Deo is the history teacher you wish you had. There is much to say about this impressive album, which you can read in my review of it, and it is clear why it is one of my favourites of the year.
Favourite tracks: The Rise Of Hannibal, Cato Major: Carthago Delanda Est!, Ad Victoriam (the Battle of Zama)
5. Unleash The Archers – Apex
Another big surprise for me in 2017 was my friendly neighborhood power metal band Unleash The Archers' new album, Apex. This record blew me away first of all with its storyline; it is everything a concept album should be, and it is executed to perfection. The band's recorded sound was also majorly improved by new choices of the production front when they elected to work with Jacob Hansen. He gave Brittney Slayes' incredible pipes their rightful place, and her voice truly shines on Apex. I was lucky to attend the album release show (you can read Kai's review and see photographs of the night here) in Vancouver back in June and see some of these songs played live for the first time, and it was very exciting. Apex is a brilliant album, and should set example for all fantasy metal storytelling going forth!
Favourite tracks: Awakening, The Matriarch, Cleanse The Bloodlines
4. Septicflesh – Codex Omega
This comes as my biggest surprise of 2017, because shamefully I admit that I never was a fan of Septicflesh's previous works. I listened to Codex Omega expecting it to be my only spin of it, but boy was I wrong! I have been playing this album in parts or in its entirety almost daily since it was released in September. The orchestrations are massive, much more impressive than their previous albums. It's an album filled with symphonic greatness, with a solid metal core. With Codex Omega, Septicflesh made a convert out of me. I'm excited that they will be back on 70000 Tons of Metal 2018 as I fully plan on catching their performance this year.
Favourite tracks: The Gospels of Fear, Enemy of Truth, Dante's Inferno
3. Wind Rose – Stonehymn
What do you know about Dwarven metal? First of all, you should know that yes it exists, and second, that it is Wind Rose territory. The Italian band has given us their folkiest effort yet with Stonehymn. This album, full of hefty harmonies, thundering drums and lively folk melodies is exactly what you'd expect the sons of Durin to play were they to start a metal band. Appealing to all my interests, Stonehymn has been one of my go-to records for 2017. I wrote all about what makes this album shine like seven stars when it was released in June if your curiosity calls, but even with all Tolkien humor aside, Wind Rose's Stonehymn has its well-deserved spot in my top albums of the year.
Favourite tracks: To Erebor, Fallen Timbers, The Eyes Of The Mountain
2. Magenta Harvest – ...And Then Came The Dust
While I enjoyed their previous album, I didn't expect Magenta Harvest's new album to become one of my favourite releases of 2017, yet here we are. ...And Then Came The Dust is a crushing work of the apocalypse, mixing death and extreme metal with powerful harsh vocals and devastating bass that gives it a visceral edge.
For more reasons why you should definitely give this album a spin, you can read my in-depth review here. But the conclusion is clear: Magenta Harvest's newest record is a tour de force that anyone who is into brutal music can enjoy.
Favourite tracks: The Search for the Higher Water, Flock of Reckoning, Signs of Death
1. Aeternam –Ruins Of Empires
The hour of coronation of the supreme leader of this Top 10 has arrived! This one was one of my most anticipated albums of 2017, and upon its release in February, it set the bar extremely high for any other death, symphonic or folk album competing for my attention this year. Aeternam's Ruins Of Empires held its place month after month, and is definitely the album I've listened to the most this year. It is clear why this brilliant record stole my heart (you can read all about it in my review here), and why you should give this Quebecois band a listen.
I will get to see them perform for the first time while on board 70000 Tons of Metal next month, and I expect it will be one of the highlights of this year's cruise.
Favourite tracks: Colossus, Praetor of Mercury, Sun Shield