1. Converge - The Dusk in Us
This is basically beyond words. No matter how prepared you feel you are before a new Converge record, it is guaranteed to blow your mind in ways you can't imagine. The start was made during the summer with I Can Tell You About Pain single, which featured an incredible b-side called Eve and gave us but a glimpse. But the full enormity of The Dusk in Us was impossible to be conceived. Converge are now in a state where they make their way as they go, daring us to follow. Groovier and noisier than ever, Converge deliver us an indisputable piece of art (as much as I hate the word) in The Dusk in Us.
The controversial return of the year! And when I say "return", I'm talking in terms of sound, of course. Well, this would definitely be No.1 for 2017 if Converge hadn't come along. This is Paradise Lost as they came to life close to 30 years ago, this is the Paradise Lost sound that played a big role to who I am musically. It's of absolutely no importance whether they picked up their root sound again intentionally in order to gain back fans (as they are blamed) or it came naturally. Cut and dry and away from any correlations, this is an epic doom/death record full of awesome riffs, substantial compositions and the much-awaited return of Nick Holmes' infamous growls. (/nostalgia)
Dreamcrash was barely a runner-up in last year's list, if you recall. As much as I had loved Beastmilk and the potential behind Grave Pleasures, it felt like something was missing from the mix. I still haven't figured exactly what that missing ingredient was in the end, but what's important is that this time Mat McNerney and co. got it just right! Motherblood is full of post-punk (it's a term that is uttered around a lot these days, although I would prefer more something like 'gothpunk') hymns, each one a highlight of its own. I never thought I'd feel this strange need to hit the dancefloor again. Really, is goth dance still a thing??
I was really thrilled to hear that these dudes returned in 2015 after a rather long absence. As big as my thrill was, for some reason The Southern Surreal just didn't cut it for me in the end (not that it was a bad album, but...you know). The Legendary Shack Shakers must have sensed my relative disappointment as they rushed to get back this year with this awesome record. After You've Gone may not be as jumpy and sweaty as their classic '00s albums, but it's full of character, inspiration and bourbon. Bluegrass, country, blues, early rock 'n' roll, jazz; everything is put to the mix. Have a taste of the Shakers if you haven't already, and be sure to check their incredible and historic back-catalogue while you're at it.
That was such a great surprise for me! Entrance, aka Guy Blakeslee's personal music project hadn't made a record since 2006; instead it had gradually transformed into the Entrance band. Yes, it was still Blakeslee calling the shots but now it was more of a regular band with a more "band jam" character to it. Still not bad, but the sheer importance of the composition and melody was lost amidst the musicians' improvisations and rehearsal jammings. Apparently, Blakeslee got tired of it as well, so he returned with Entrance after 11 years. Personal compositions, naked melodies and thrifty orchestration; and he has nothing to fear as this is strong and true material to begin with. Incredible.
If you look back to this blog, you'll see that I felt I just had to write about this record when it came out. I've known Sofia Sarri since her years in the post-rock/trip-hop legends of the Greek underground, Night on Earth in the '00s. Through the years, Sofia has grown and evolved and has developed a character of her own as an artist. Avant-garde intentions, traditional Greek music, blackmetal atmospheres; all of this and more make for an introvert and esoteric record as much as it is melodic and warm. We're watching out for her next step.
7. Crusades - This Is a Sickness and Sickness Will End
Crusades were always within this wave of melodic punk/post-punk of the last years that is a very interesting case, to say the least. This album is, in my opinion, the destination of their 6-or-7-year trip since their beginning. The Sun Is Down and The Night Is Riding In was the cause for us to notice them, Perhaps You Deliver This Judgement with Greater Fear than I Receive It was moving into new areas yet it seemed a bit out of place; but This Is a Sickness and Sickness Will End puts everything in balance and perspective. The sound may be a bit two clean and shiny for some, but the overall result exhales maturity and substance. The compositions are complete, the vocal performance is flawless. It all actually outgrows the terms "punk" or "rock" or whatever; this is good music, not to be missed by anyone.
These Finns, initially when they emerged a couple of years ago or so, in my mind they played the role of a very good Hellacopters substitute. Of course, that was a hasty judgement to say the least and I was a little late to correctly appreciate their awesome debut Sinister Vibes. Well, now I was waiting for their next step and they do anything but to disappoint. Yes, Hard Action step a lot onto the european rock 'n' roll as it was resurrected 20 years ago or so mostly by some certain Swedes. Yet, it's obvious that they have a special vibe of their own and they don't just imitate someone else. Hot Wired Beat offers high-energy rock 'n' roll full of well-placed guitar solos and the right amounts of punk attitude. The "guitar rock 'n' roll" record of the year.
9. Bloodclot - Up in Arms
This one-off more or less puts things in hardcore punk back in perspective. With John Joseph of Cro-Mags as the mastermind and behind the mic, and with (current and ex-)members of bands like Dwarves and Agnostic Front he has rounded up, this is no time for games. 2008's Burn Babylon Burn! was moving in an almost nu-metal area (with entirely different band members back then), but Up in Arms' simplicity and straightforwardness makes for anything but a poor result; on the contrary, this is something that will make it hard for you to keep away from the repeat button.
Body Count relevant in 2017?? Well, I could barely believe it when I heard they were returning in 2014, and I was surprised to see that they did have things to say in the 21st century as well. But even so, I was not prepared for the thunderstorm that Bloodlust is. Ice-T and co. have been listening to a lot of speed/thrash metal, no doubt, and the Slayer medley that they are doing in this album is anything but coincidental. Body Count revive rap metal straight from its golden period 20-25 years ago and give it a contemporary edge that cuts like a freshly-sharpened razor.
Procrastinate - s/t: My fellow crust punks from Karditsa, Greece sure took their time, but they did it all just right. Here we have a mature band as much as it is explosive. There are no drawbacks here and everything flows just perfect, be it the sound, the compositions, the artwork; maybe a bit too perfect if you ask me, and that could be a problem for some, if you know what I mean. For now, they have started to turn some heads, and that is more than enough.
Black Hat Bones - Born in a Thunder: AC/DC with a touch of Seattle anyone? Black Hat Bones are within the few most consistent rock Greek bands of today, which also makes one of the most underrated. Guitar rock music to move your body to in an album with no fillers.
Krause - 2am Thoughts: From the ashes of several bands from the Greek scene, Krause look to be focused on what they were set to do. Their noise rock is chaotic and groovy at the same time, while the intentionally dirty sound makes it all even better.
Unsane - Sterilize: This is not even close to be classified as one of the best Unsane records, but, hey, it's Unsane and they have returned. No other band in the history of music has ever had this effect on me. (/fanboy)
Tuber - Out of the Blue: Tuber keep going their own way and they have since their beginning. Post rock? Psychedelic rock? Stoner rock? Instrumental rock? They have always done it away from already set recipes, and in their second studio album they are showing that this is the way they will keep doing it.