Best of 2017: Runners up

This was one of the most aggravating year-end lists I’ve ever done. I don’t remember rewriting and reshuffling a list this many times, as my lack of decisiveness came back to bite me yet again. But the top 40 finally is done and ready to start splattering everywhere tomorrow. Yet there are a few records that got left behind that we still really loved and want to pay some homage. Here are the runners up.

FUOCO FATUO, “Backwater” (Profound Lore): Italian funeral doom band Fuoco Fatuo’s music sometimes feels like you’re wading into inky blackness, floating as sea aimlessly while you try to hang on to anything you can to keep yourself afloat. The band released its second full-length “Backwater” back in the spring, and while it arrived during a period where the earth comes back to life, this record launched a sense of isolation and despair that was impossible to shake. Over four tracks and 62 minutes of material, the band pulls you through guttural crunching, horrifying growls, depressing melodies, and a black curtain that shrouds your vision. It’s a titanic effort to tackle, and it’s one that should sound even better as the colder, bleaker days arrive. (April 7)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/FUOCO666FATUO/

To buy the album, go here: https://profoundlorerecords.merchtable.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/

NORTHLESS, “Last Bastion of Cowardice” (Gilead Media/Halo of Flies/Init): Every time I talk about Milwaukee maulers Northless, I describe them as heavy. It’s so silly, right? Because this is a heavy metal site. But seriously, these guys up the ante and crush just a little harder than many other bands of their ilk. Here on “Last Bastion of Cowardice,” the band’s third full-length, they aren’t just mighty in sound but also in lyrical content. Not that their past material wasn’t intellectually stimulating, but this one digs into something we all can wrap our heads around: What if a person looking for redemption falls short of that goal? Hard as the protagonist may try, making good for past transgressions just isn’t in the cards, and that story is told over powerful cuts including “Godsend,” the abrasive “The Devil in Exile,” swaggering “Their Blood Was Always Mine,” and awesome, psyche-edged “Our Place in Dirt.” (Nov. 17)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/northlessmke/

To buy the album, go here (vinyl): https://gileadmedia.bandcamp.com/album/last-bastion-of-cowardice

Or here (vinyl): http://www.halooffliesrecords.com/releases/

Or here (cassette):  http://errorrecords.storenvy.com/

Or here (CD): http://initrecords.corecommerce.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://gileadmedia.net

And here: http://www.halooffliesrecords.com/

And here: http://initrecords.corecommerce.com/

And here: http://www.initrecords.net/

KRALLICE/DAVE EDWARDSON, “Loüm” (self-released/Gilead Media): Feeling like a real dipshit now that I have this record as a runner up, and Stereogum’s “Black Market” column lists it in a tie with the other Krallice release as metal album of the year. Oh well. This was my favorite of the band’s two records, as Neurosis bassist Dave Edwardson joins them on lead vocals, adding a completely different edge to the group’s sound. Krallice’s insane black metal formula remains intact, while Edwardson’s gruff shout blasts you in the chest and knocks the breath from your lungs. The words speak of oppression in society and the plight of the smaller person from an economical perspective as they try to find a way ahead in life. The track is a cosmic blast, a vicious assault, and a menacing lash back against the forces that would assume hold us down forever. While this was released on their own digitally, the vinyl version is yours via Gilead Media. (Oct. 27)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/krallice

To buy the album, go here: https://www.facebook.com/krallice

Or here: https://gileadmedia.bandcamp.com/

OMOTAI, “A Ruined Oak” (Tofu Carnage): Sentimentality and emotion are things not often embraced by all metal fans, but those who feel that way should try on Omotai’s third album “A Ruined Oak.” This mammoth record (12 tracks, 63 minutes) follows the plight of the fallen Roanoke tribe, and the violence, sadness, and loss wrapped into this album is impossible to shake. Their molten sludge and punishing playing visits many peaks and valleys over this record, and it’s a riveting journey to take along with them. Guitarist Sam Waters and bassist Melissa Lomchambon Ryan trade off on vocals, giving the band split voices telling the story, and the band devastates and unfurls this tragic story on highlight cuts including “Welcome to Adders’ Land,” “Arms That Flood,” epic mauler “A Cruel Weight, Thy Wound,” and thunderous “Tusk Aurora” that puts a smothering finishing touch on the album.  (Oct. 6)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/omotai/

To buy the album, go here: https://tofucarnagerecords.merchtable.com

For more on the label, go here: https://www.tofucarnage.com/

EXECRATION, “Return to the Void” (Metal Blade): The folks over at Metal Blade Records are no fools. Yeah, they got a nice collection of bands that move units and help pay the bills, and they have groups that lean more toward underground fans and keep them tuned into the machine. Bringing Nordic death metal band Execration into the fold was a wise choice, and the guys rewarded that faith with a captivating, cosmic fourth record “Return to the Void,” an effort that finally exposed them to a wider audience. Over nine tracks (seven full songs and two interludes) and 42 minutes, the band takes you on a journey that explodes on “Eternal Recurrence” and spreads its gore and majesty toward burly, prog-filled “Nekrocosm,” the alien violence of “Cephalic Transmissions,” imaginative “Unicursal Horoscope,” and sprawling, bizarre closer “Det Uransakelige Dyp.” This record manages to be both brutal and plenty of spacey fun. (July 14)

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/execrationnorway

To buy the album, go here: https://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords

For more on the label, go here: http://www.metalblade.com/us/

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