It is January again, so as usual Lords of Metal look back to the past year one more time. Was it special, what stood out, in other words, it is time for the great numbers game we call the best of the year list.
2017 was, in many ways an unbelievable and unpredictable year. Who could have thought that Donald Trump would be inaugurated as president of the USA in January – and would still be in office in December? Who could have thought that bitcoins, those funny imaginary thingies without much proper use, would be worth fifteen times more at the end of the year than twelve months earlier.? And there are many more unthinkable events like that.
In retrospect, some things turned out to be quite predictable. It was no surprise to many that the Dutch football squad failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. And, as we found out during the counting sessions, the best record of 2017 was already known to us at the end of 2016. At least, when we reread the clairvoyant gifts of our team. Well, Tool… what can be said that has not been said already? Will there be a new record? Last year we were convinced of this, but it seems like many have lost hope we will ever see the successor to ’10,000 Days’. We have been waiting 4,000 days already – and counting. So that one was a miss. But the other predictions turned out to be spot on. Because the best album of 2017, according to Lords of Metal is ‘Gods of Violence’ by Kreator.
The German thrash metal veterans only had one serious competitor for the first spot: the equally legendary Paradise Lost. Paradise Lost. The top three is completed with another figurehead of yet another genre, death metallers Obituary. Three very experienced bands, all active for thirty years or longer. When we take the rest of the top 25, we see other old hands like Ayreon, Iced Earth, Arch Enemy, Enslaved, Cradle of Filth, Accept (a band with a five decades spanning career) and Overkill: all good bands, but also bands that justify the question “where is the innovation in metal?” and “what if these bands quit – will there be anything metal left?”. Fortunately that is an exaggeration, there is still enough fresh blood coming in (see for instance Dutch newcomers Dool whose debut ended sixth and relative new kids on the block Sorcerer, Venenum, Ne Obliviscaris, The Great Old Ones and the gimmicky Igorrr). Furthermore we have to admit that the average Lords of Metal reviewer tends to choose for the familiar and well-known names. That’s why more edgy releases that made impact elsewhere (like the albums from Bell Witch, Converge, Elder and Pallbearer) only have supporting roles in our list. Is that something to worry about? No. There is no accounting for tastes anyway and this shows once more that there is no such thing as “metal”. Even when the outside world often lumps all music with loud guitars together and suggests there is no difference between Slayer, Deep Purple, Metallica or Immortal, we can point to our yearly exercise to prove the truth is completely different. Almost all at Lords Of Metal are specialists, we do not have many generalists. This becomes evident in the personal top 15’s that more often than not are completely different from each other with hardly any overlap and with this year a record number of fifteen unique number ones. That means records that were the best according to a reviewer, but not mentioned by any other reviewer. In the end that means the records that do get more mentions are not necessarily the most innovative or extreme ones. Those few albums are equally liked by the stoner-, death metal, doom and thrash metal reviewers and as a result end up at the top of the list. We can probably write something similar next year. The only question is which bands have created a great album this year. Machine Head? Megadeth perhaps? Or a surprise comeback of the operatic metal of Therion? We take your bets now.
So with no further delay, here is 2017’s list:
1: Kreator - Gods of Violence (214 points)
The fourteenth album by Kreator was eagerly awaited and the Germans did not disappoint their fans, as Vera pointed out in her review. Therefore the top spot is deserved. Combining thrash metal with harps, st 2017. Thrash metal combined with harp, bagpipes and orchestral arrangements sounds like a recipe for a musical disaster, but Kreator comes, sees and conquers.
2: Paradise Lost - Medusa (190)
Paradise Lost has been around for quite some time, almost as long as Kreator and album fifteen in almost thirty years was one of the best Paradise Lost have made. Dennis, in his review of ‘Medusa’ was impressed by: “a melancholic cocktail with the best ingredients of ‘Gothic’, ‘Shades of God’ and ‘Icon’, served in a modern fashion and with a dirty, raw and unpolished sound” Good enough to become this year’s runner up.
3: Obituary - Obituary (132)
Sjak in his review of the eponymous ninth album compares Obituary with a fine restaurant: “(…)where you’ve eaten quite a lot of times already, but where you keep returning to because of the excellent preparation of the food that is offered. You know exactly which recipes are on the menu, but they are of such high quality that it’s almost addictive.”. In other words, hardly any surprises or signs of change at Obituary, just “high-quality drawling, blunt death metal”
4: Sorcerer - The Crowning Of The Fire King (114)
Looking at their official discography, Sorcerer is a rather young, new band. ‘The Crowning Of The Fire King’ is their second album, released three years after the debut. Still these Swedes are veterans as well, just recently started their second life. Their epic doom metal (what’s in a name?) is more than okay, Pim writes in his review that closes with the remark that the recommendation that “Any metal fan (so not only doom metal fans) should listen to ‘The Crowning Of The Fire King’”
5: Sons of Apollo - Psychotic Symphony (108)
Ending fifth is a true super band built around current and old Dream Theater members. It is no surprise that the word “prog” is the one used most in Job’s review of ‘Psychotic Symphony’. A “prog fest”, with “a tremendous amount of prog for the experienced prognerd to stay seated for a while!”