Kelsey Chapstick’s Top Fifteen Metal Albums of 2017
This year was so bad in so many ways that it forced a kind of manic undercurrent out of me that made me appreciate everything worth loving ten-fold. That also explains why it took me this long to finish this goddamn list—I’ve been massively stressed by forces out of my control, so the things I held dearest were important enough that I felt I should take my time, try to listen to every possible record before year’s end, and effectively order the ones that left the biggest dent on that dichotomous mindset. Though it’s my least metal year-end to date, I hope you can find something you enjoy regardless (if you haven’t already).
15. Yellow Eyes – Immersion Trench Reverie (Gilead Media)
I’ve moved away from listening to as much black metal this year, but this album managed to break my heart despite my disillusionment with the genre. A wonderful record from some very talented lads whom I hope to FINALLY catch live in 2018.
14. Ritual Howls – Their Body (Felte)
Gloomy, industrial rock infused with fuzzed-up, feel good EBM, this is one of the sexiest albums of the year. It took a little while for me to really grasp, but it’s now a mainstay in the goth dance playlists I make for everyday listening.
13. Lock Howl – Pareidolia (Independent)
The death rock album I didn’t know I needed from a one-man metal-making machine this year, but James McBain is quite the powerhouse, isn’t he? Shoutout to his other project that put out a kickass speed metal record this year, Hellripper.
12. Witch Vomit – Poisoned Blood (20 Buck Spin)
I think the name and title combo is pretty self-explanatory.
11. Pink Mass – Necrosexual (Independent)
Pink Mass are tied with Couch Slut as my favorite New York area live band, and for good reason. The self-described pansexual grind maniacs would be worth the price of admission for the show — involving leather and fishnet-clad hirsute thicc bois stapling money to each other and titillating the audience with onstage BDSM-lite — but the music backs it the fuck up. Special shoutout to the band’s own Jeremy Snevil for the brilliant cover art.
10. Unsane – Sterilize (Alternative Tentacles Records)
I wasn’t sure whether to include this album because it almost seems like cheating for a band to make basically the same record over and over and still have it kick the shit out of everything else, but then I saw Unsane at St. Vitus for the first time a few weeks ago and yeah… they deserve it.
9. The Mountain Goats – Goths (Merge Records)
The Mountain Goats are not metal and Goths is not actually goth, but John Darnielle is the most metal goth around. Bonus Pretty Hardcore points for performing this tour with a candelabra on stage.
8. Ulver – The Assassination of Julius Caesar (House of Mythology)
I know fuck-all about Ulver except I’d always assumed they were for holier-than-thou types in the scene who live to punish others with their expansive knowledge of esoteric Finnish black metal that sounds best on records made out of tree bark or some dumb shit like that, so my surprise at finding George Michael sex vibes all over this extremely un-metal album was refreshing. Anything great in equal measure for dancing, fucking, and crying is fine by me.
7. Necrot – Blood Offerings (Tank Crimes)
Filthy, gross, and all the things I wanted out of a death metal record in 2017. Endless hails to Necrot.
6. Drab Majesty – The Demonstration (Dais Records)
Dais Records is really gaining some footing with acts like Drab, and this album stood out to me as the crowning achievement of 2017 for both. Frigid, soothing, mysterious, and catchy as all hell, this album seems to cut into a very necessary and wanted current niche of cold/dark/new/whatever wave. Special mention is necessary here that they really know how to use a fucking fog machine live, and I’m the biggest slut for a spooky smokeshow.
5. Azar Swan – Savage Exile (Aufnahme + Wiedergabe)
The latest effort from one of my favorite Brooklyn bands is less hooky goth pop, more Primal Scream therapy lite and ghostly wails set atop a shattered glass heartbeat.
4. Couch Slut – Contempt (Gilead Media)
While easily settled among the best in noise rock, Couch Slut have the added benefit of Megan Ozstritis’s caustic howls and cathartic live performances to up the ante on a far too angry white dude-centric genre. Contempt is easily my favorite in the band’s catalog so far.
3. Amenra – Mass VI (Neurot Recordings)
I was introduced to Amenra via a listening party in Brooklyn right before I saw them open a Neurosis show, and they quite honestly blew the headliners off the stage (not that Neurosis were slouching that night by any means). Specific experiences this year led me to fall back in love with doom in a hard way, and this album sat heaviest on my chest in times when I needed it most.
2. King Woman – Created in the Image of Suffering (Relapse)
The siren voice of the woeful millennial femme, Kristina Ensfandiari is a goddamn saint among performers. I had the special blessing of seeing her jump on stage with Thou this year to perform Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” and it remains one of my favorite moments of the entire year. Spectacularly haunting and heavy at once, Created in the Image of Suffering is the soundtrack to a nightmare year we didn’t deserve but got anyway.
1. Godflesh – Post Self (Avalanche Recordings)
I knew this was my favorite album of the year halfway through my first listen. While a monster as a whole work, I spent significant time with several of the songs on repeat separately. “Parasite” was the first that bared its teeth to my obsession and remains the standout moment for me, though I’ve spent hours with the title track and “Mirror of Finite Light.” A hypnotically grating masterpiece, Post Self is my favorite album of 2017 and, I believe, will long stand as a classic of this decade.