Melissa Nestor is the bassist for Orinoco and is a concert photographer.
10. Gravebloom by The Acacia Strain
The Acacia Strain has never put out a band album. Credited as one of the pioneers in the genre of “deathcore,” The Acacia Strain has continued to put out one album after the next and typically getting better and better with each release. However, I do not feel it was as strong as their 2014 release, Coma Witch, or even their 2012 release, Death is the Only Mortal. Still, Gravebloom was the best album released in the deathcore genre in 2017.
Stand out tracks: “Worthless” and “Gravebloom”
9. Relentless Mutation by Archspire
Archspire is in the running for best guitar riffage on any album of this year. Even though I was completely in love with their prior 2 albums, they have more than sold me with the release of Relentless Mutation. They are one of those death metal bands that combine the perfect amount of melody and brutality to create one hell of a sound that has me wanting to throw all my guitars in a wood chipper.
Stand out tracks: “Human Murmuration” and “Relentless Mutation”
8. Wizard Bloody Wizard by Electric Wizard
As a band that has so much history of creating legendary albums in their genre, it seems they are always under so much scrutiny when a new album is being released. People have expectations of it topping albums such as Dopethrone which is still considered one of the greatest albums in the doom genre to this day. While this album comes nowhere near topping that, it stood out enough to me to make it into this list. They went a little different route with Wizard Bloody Wizard than their last album Time to Die, which came out in 2014. Time to Die had their evil occult flavored lyrics as always and a sinister sound to go with it, while Wizard Bloody Wizard has the same lyrical content that everyone is used to but a bit lighter in the music department. Going a bit more vintage psychedelic musically caused a lot of criticism amongst Electric Wizard, but I think it was the right move on this album.
Stand out Tracks: “See You in Hell” and “Wicked Caresses”
7. Hiss Spun by Chelsea Wolfe
Chelsea Wolfe seemed to rise to popularity out of nowhere after her release Abyss in 2015, but she has been an active musician since 2010. While her genre is somewhat difficult to nail down, she is loved by fans of many different genres from goths to the most annoying black metal elitists. I have a friend that exclusively listens to country (I know…ew…) that loved this album. One of the reasons Hiss Spun made my list is because of the accessibility and relativity to so many different genres. When Chelsea sings, people pay attention. Her voice is just so haunting, it makes people pay attention. Hiss Spun has won my favorite production quality of the year. It was recorded with and produced by Converge’s Kurt Ballou in Salem, Massachusetts. Any time Kurt Ballou and producer are used in the same sentence, there really needs to be no follow up conversation. I really loved Abyss, but think this has taken the throne for my favorite Chelsea Wolfe album.
Stand out tracks: “16 Psyche” and “Vex”
6. Emperor of Sand by Mastodon
Emperor of Sand is also a very controversial album among fans of the band. Mastodon has a history of changing sounds from album to album, but to a lot of people, Mastodon is really reaching with this one. To me, it is a balance between a call back to their more mainstream attempt of their last full length album Once More ‘Round the Sun and a return to their roots taking influence from Crack the Skye. I suggest anyone that shot down this album at first to give it another couple of listens and also look into the concept of the album.
Stand out tracks: “Show Yourself” and “Steambreather”
5. Reflections of a Floating World by Elder
Reflections of a Floating World has my favorite album opener of any album released this year. “Sanctuary” drew me into this album and didn’t let me go. Despite each of the tracks being between 8-13 minutes long, it never gets monotonous or boring. Usually on albums with only a few songs that are so long, I usually have at least one that I will skip. I can never bring myself to skip a song on Reflections of a Floating World.
Stand out tracks: “Sanctuary” and “Blind”
4. Rust by Monolord
Prior to this year, I wasn’t familiar with Monolord. I normally wouldn’t put such a “new to me” band on my end of the year list, but I have certainly gotten familiar with them over the last several months. Rust is the third full length album from these sludgy Sweden doomsters, and it is every good as the last two. I can usually pick out a favorite album from a band pretty easily, but Monolord has really made that a difficult task for fans of the band.
Stand out tracks: “Where Death Meets the Sea” and “Rust”
3. Wrong One to Fuck With by Dying Fetus
As soon as Dying Fetus released the gruesome and somewhat hard to watch music video for their single “Die with Integrity,” I knew these guys had something special up their sleeves. I’m always a sucker for the most gory and disgusting death metal videos so I tried to not let that make me play favorites when it came to putting them on my list. After listening to the album front to back several times, I realized there was no reason to play favorites. Dying Fetus earned their way to the top of many end of the year lists with an album of non stop brutality that will make you want to punch your neighbor.
Stand out tracks: “Die with Integrity” and “Wrong One to Fuck With”
2. Will to Power by Arch Enemy
It’s no secret amongst my friends and enemies that Arch Enemy is my favorite band and has the release of War Eternal, I was shocked. All of a sudden, things were up in the air for my favorite band. I was a huge fan of Angela Gassow, who had been the bands vocalist since 2000. At first, I was one of those fans who folded their arms and refused to listen to the newest album with new vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, formally of The Agonist. Finally, curiosity got the best of me, and I bought a copy of War Eternal. I let my guard down and listened to the album un-biased. I fell in love with it and reclaimed my Arch Enemy obsession. I began to look forward to the release of Will to Power. I was looking forward to the addition of Nevermore guitarist, Jeff Loomis. I have always credited Michael Amott as my favorite guitarist with Jeff Loomis not falling too far behind, so the prospect of them working together was very exciting. Will to Power is not only one of my favorite albums of the year but in my top 5 of Arch Enemy’s expansive 10 studio album catalog. My favorite live performance of the year also belongs to Arch Enemy who I saw at Concord Music Hall this past November.
Stand out tracks: “The World is Yours” and “First Day in Hell”
1. Mareridt by Myrkur
Myrkur, like Chelsea Wolfe, seems to have become huge out of nowhere, however, there are some select people that know better. I have been following Myrkur since before she went by that name. Amalie Bruun has released music since 2006 but took on the persona Myrkur during her debut EP, which was released in 2014. Since I’m a creepy weird person, some of my favorite things to do are experience music in different environments such as sitting alone in a dark room or walking through forests just on the brink of being lost. Mareridt has been my favorite album to take on my musical journeys. Influenced from everything to folk to black metal, Myrkur takes fans on a trip through the darkest depths of her mind. A couple years ago, Amalie began to have such bad hallucinations in her sleep that she would scream herself awake. Now, some people would usually be so frightened by this, they would do everything in their power to try to forget. No Amalie. She found inspiration in her horror. Mareridt is a recollection of darkest thoughts during slumber.
Stand out tracks: “Måneblôt” and “Funeral (feat. Chelsea Wolfe)”