5) Ghost Bath, Starmourner (Nuclear Blast)
Moonlover quickly became one of my favorite albums of all time after its release, so of course I had to wonder how Ghost Bath was ever gonna follow it up. The answer: by continuing to utilize their atmospheric black metal sound, featuring shrieking vocals, songs that switch from furious tremolo picking to major key, all tied together by themes that embrace both spectacle and sorrow.
Suggested Track: “Thrones”
4) Elder, Reflections of a Floating World (Stickman)
I missed out on 2015’s Lore, but after hearing Elder’s fourth album I am eager to make up for lost time. Equal parts spacy, stony, and doomy, Reflections of a Floating World has you banging your head to the riffs of opener “Sanctuary” but also features dreamier passages on tracks like “The Falling Veil.” Give this a listen and maybe you’ll float too.
Suggested Track: “Sanctuary”
3) Trivium, The Sin and the Sentence (Roadrunner)
A lot of people have been saying this is Trivium’s best since Shogun, and I have to agree. The songwriting on this album is some of the band’s best, blending all they have learned into the kind of album you’d hope for: infectious screams, big catchy clean choruses, and virtuosic instrumentation. The title track is all I needed to hear to know this album was going to be great and it puts a smile on my face to include it in my end of year list.
Suggested Track: “The Sin and the Sentence”
2) Steven Wilson, To the Bone (Caroline)
Steven Wilson’s solo discography has been nothing but one stellar release after the next. This time around on To the Bone, Wilson takes the time to experiment by exploring the sounds of the 80’s pop music he grew up with. Some songs have that distinct Wilson flair like “The Same Asylum As Before” while others like the piano driven “Permanating” are more bright and poppy affairs. And of course it wouldn’t be a Steven Wilson album without some beautifully melancholic tracks such as “Pariah.” I’m admittedly a bit of a fanboy for Wilson, but releases like this one prove that there’s a reason for that.
Suggested Track: “The Same Asylum As Before”
1) Mutoid Man, War Moans (Sargent House)
War Moans is straight up the most fun, most enjoyable album I’ve heard all year. Every song is a fast, electrifying winner with punchy riffs and hooky lyrics that just wouldn’t leave my head. The only exception is the final track “Bandages”, which is instead a slow, emotional affair that makes for the perfect conclusion to Mutoid Man’s second album. If an album finishes and I let it start over, it’s probably pretty good. In this case, it’s my number one album for 2017.
Suggested Track: “Headrush”
Mastodon, Emperor of Sand
Paradise Lost, Medusa