2017 Part One: Musicianship

Dec. 19, 2017


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For those not familiar with how we do things here at Metal Trenches, we split the year up and provide a Top 10 for each of our 3 categories. This particular list is for albums that went beastmode when it comes to shredding and/or drumming. Be sure to also check out the other lists this week for Innovation and Enjoyability.  

10 Muto See Details for Muto

Late addition that totally earned it. Onryō turned things around in a big way for me with just 14 minutes of music. This album brings together elements of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Ion Dissonance, Psyopus, and Sigh into a brutal, mathy deathgrind EP that completely blew me away.  Buy this thing.  It will knock you on your ass.  FULL REVIEW

9 In Passing Ascension See Details for In Passing Ascension

Colorado's Suffering Hour reports a broad range of influences on this album from Inquisition and Mgla to The Chasm and Dead Congregation.  True to that eclectic list, In Passing Ascension unites more modernized, complex tech death like Ulcerate with darker and uglier blackened acts like Adversarial and Abyssal.  The result is a highly emersive experience; one that engages intellectually with its impressive progressive structures, but also marinates the primitive lower brain in a repugant stew of baser instincts.  FULL REVIEW

8 A Stirring In The Noos See Details for A Stirring In The Noos

John Frum is the heavily hyped new technical death metal project from members of The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Faceless, John Zorn.  I really enjoyed every aspect of this album, which takes approaches popularlized by Gorguts into a different realm entirely.  As Old Dirty Dan puts it, "The band focuses on crafting songs with a psychedelic and somewhat unnerving atmosphere, and they defintely succeed.  John Frum is what I'd imagine Neurosis would sound like if they played death metal."  FULL REVIEW

7 No Pity, No Sunrise See Details for No Pity, No Sunrise

This debut full-length recording from blackened, technical grinders Sloth Herder continues on with the chaotic, mangled sound of groups like Sepetus, Dendritic Arbor, Immortal Bird, and Lord Mantis rolled into one.  The guitars are a mindf#$k on their own,and the drumming is no less important to the equation with its molestation of the kit and primal energy; but it is the nauseating vocal delivery that really brings the most repellent qualities forward.  FULL REVIEW

6 Ascension See Details for Ascension

Old Dirty Dan and I both had a really hard time pulling ourselves away from Ascension.  This, sadly, largely ignored album from French progressive tech deathers Exocrine absolutely kills in in terms of riffs.  The band expertly execute hooks of all shapes and sizes, whether it be your standard tech death brutality or the more melodic, multi-part opus towards the end.  ODD put it best in his original review: "Exocrine is what would happen if Dying Fetus and Necrophagist fucked on a MIDI keyboard and had a child that grew up to write Star Trek Fan Fiction. And if that isn't worth a listen, I don't know what is."  FULL REVIEW

5 Impuritize See Details for Impuritize

Reaping Asmodeia don't get the same nods for creativity as some of the other albums on this list, but that is never at the expense of showmanship. This Minneapolis technical death metal band serve up riffs that are damn tasty whether you rate them in terms of sheer speed, pristine technique, or variation of timing and style.  I'm also impressed at how, similar to Aborted,  they so brilliantly walk the tightrope between more core/djent influenced bands in terms of tone, use of melody, and production while still maintaining an elitist-pleasing level of brutality.  There is not a bad song on this album.  FULL REVIEW

4 Sessions See Details for Sessions

Sessions is just an all-around impressive piece of work. This conceptual album nails the ebb and flow of a patient's mental health with it's ever-shifting patchwork of textures and pacing. The Summoned are masters of both composition and performance when it comes to executing impossibly technical arrangement that progressively change in emotional tone over the course of the album. I am very excited at the prospect of hearing more in the future.  FULL REVIEW

3 Kwintessens See Details for Kwintessens

I added this album to my priority review queue as soon as Season Of Mist dropped the first single on their YouTube channel. Tilburg black metal band Dodecahedron walk a similar line to groups like Blut Aus Nord, Deathspell Omega, Leviathan, Imperial Triumphant, but the end result is something I would argue is very different.  Kwintessens is truly a devouring beast.  Rarely is chaos so densely concentrated.  This entire album is an unpredictable descent into the underworld; one that makes you question every decision you've made as well as what terrors lay before you.  FULL REVIEW

2 Do Not Deviate See Details for Do Not Deviate

Do Not Deviate and Kwintessins came out the same week.  It was better than Christmas.  But where Dodecahedron bring smoldering caverns of black metal, Replacire deliver a truly refreshing fusion of technical death metal and clean sung progressive metal.  The frenetic, jazzy influences work their way through compositions in a number of ways, channeling everything from The DIllinger Escape Plan and BTBAM to Dream Theater.  I am very excited by this band.

1 Infrared Horizon See Details for Infrared Horizon

New york technical, progressive, and brutal death metal band Artificial Brain are recieving massive critical acclaim for their latest sci-fi concept album, Infrared Horizon; and it's for good reason.  I hear elements of sped-up thrash, grinding death, and jazz-influenced brutality all force-fed down the gullet of highly progressive song-structures.  From both a performance and songwriting standpoint, this is easily the most technically proficient album to come out so far in 2017.  Period.  Constantly traversing a razor-thin line between amelodic brutality and lush, progressive melodicism; this album is simply unmissable.  FULL REVIEW