Seattle Passive Aggressive Staff Top 10 of 2017 Lists

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Seattle Passive Aggressive Staff Top 10 of 2017 Lists

James Ballinger

Making a list of the 10 best records this year (like every year), is practically impossible. But I did it with as little over-thinking as possible. Here are ten records that really stuck out to me in 2017. I realize this list is diverse as fuck genre wise, but it’s honest. Music was mostly an escape for me this year, and that didn’t always translate to the heavy.

 10. Phoebe Bridgers “Stranger in the Alps”

Someone put this on at the record shop I work at, and I instantly took notice. Phoebe Bridgers comes across like someone who has been doing dark, mope-folk dipped in pop music for years. This is only her debut, and I look forward to more to come. “Smoke Signals” would be a huge hit if top 40 radio played stuff like this (and if people still listened to top 40 radio).

9. Wolves In The Throne Room “Thrice Woven”

That slow breakdown riff halfway through “Fires Rore in the Palace of the Moon” is almost list worthy on its own, but the rest of the record rules too. One of my favorite Northwest Terror Fest sets this year.

8. Bell Witch “Mirror Reaper”

Absolutely crushing one track monster that took some time to digest, and winner of the “Best Looking Record Variant That I Missed Out On” award of 2017. This band deserves every bit of success they are getting.

7. Ulver “The Assassination of Julius Caesar”

There was a “WTF” expression on my face for about 15 seconds when I first heard “Nemoralia”, but that didn’t last long. It’s a fantastic sounding pop album that doesn’t get lost in any kind of cynicism.

 6. Converge “The Dusk in Us”

Every time Converge puts a record out it’s both a familiar feeling, and yet something new and interesting. Is “warm blanket-core” a thing? Dunno, but I love this record.

5. Kendrick Lamar “DAMN.”

I got, I got, I got, I got this at number 5, and it’s the record that finally unlocked Kendrick for me.

4. Gaytheist “Let’s Jam Again Soon”

Love this band, one of their best for sure. You can read what I thought about the record earlier this year here, and my feelings haven’t changed.  http://theseattlepa.com/gaytheist-lets-jam-again-soon-review/

3. Kesha “Rainbow”

Yeah, this record is pretty high up there. What can I say; I listened to it quite a bit. I’ve always liked Kesha, and it’s no secret she’s been though hell, but she comes back hard here. Just about every song is an anthem for being broken at times, and pulling yourself out of it. It’s also a fun record when it wants to be, and showcases all her talent. Listen to her hit that high note in “Praying” and try not to get chills. She’s amazing, fuck off.

2. Mount Eerie “A Crow Looked At Me”

Phil Elverum started writing this just two months after the passing of his wife, Geneviève, to pancreatic cancer. It’s less of a collection of structured songs, and more of someone working out their grief and documenting their pain, hurt, and processing loss through music. At times it feels voyeuristic peering into someone’s soul so deeply. The reality of what’s left in your world (trash, old toothbrushes, clothes, mail, etc.) after losing someone so important to you aren’t common themes in music about loss, but it’s a part of the process and a huge part of this record. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced music make me feel the way I felt when I listened to this the first time. It absolutely ripped out my insides, took my breath away, and left me in tears.

1. Father John Misty “Pure Comedy”

To be completely honest, this record wasn’t even on my radar. I liked his stuff enough, but not enough to be really excited about a new record. I ended up getting an advance for it, and popped it in my car for something relatively chill to check out on a stressful commute on the way home from work. I was so blown away I must have listened to it 3-4 times in a row that day. It was a record I couldn’t turn off, and it stayed that way for weeks. Lyrically, it’s witty and insightful, but musically it’s one of the most brilliantly arranged albums I’ve heard. I think it’s a perfect summary of where we are right now, and will live on forever as a snapshot of a time and place that needed fixing. “I hate to say it, but each other’s all we got.”

 

Dustin Carroll

2017 was a truly tragic and horrifying year overall, but it left us with an intimidatingly large amount of excellent heavy music to wade through.

Worth the hype:

These albums are all over the top of a lot of year end lists for a reason. There’s nothing I can say here that hasn’t been said, these should be on your radar already, make sure and check them all out if not.

Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper

Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Luciferan Towers

Pallbearer – Heartless

Spectral Voice – Eroded Corridors of Unbeing

Wolves in the Throne Room – Thrice Woven

Beyond that, in no real order, here are my favorite top 10 heavy albums this year that seem to have slipped under a lot of radars:

  1. Dreadnought – A Wake in Sacred Waves

All of the best elements of nerdy prog, jazz fusion, and atmospheric metal with all of the pretension swept away, Dreadnought’s latest opus is perhaps their best yet. The written word will never really capture what this band is about; you should absolutely give this record a listen in full.

  1. Cleric. – Retrocausal

If there was ever a band more slated to take over the throne vacated by the disbandment of the Dillinger Escape Plan, it’s Cleric. Many bands make the attempt to fuse the extreme elements of metal and jazz, but few can compose such chaotic elements in such a listenable way. Seven years since the release of their last album, the band has been collaborating with Zorn in their downtime if that says anything. This album is unrelenting right out of the gate and laughs in the face of conventional songwriting and pacing, well worth repeated listens.

  1. Igorrr – Savage Sinusoid

Constantly pushing every boundary put in front of him, France’s incredibly talented Gautier Serre is back with yet another amalgamation that’s as stylish as it is outlandish. Peppering together elements of breakcore, Balkan folk music, trip hop, and extreme metal, Igorrr’s sound is truly one unto itself – no one else on the planet is creating anything like this. Completely free of any samples, the record features Serre covering most of the live instruments, including accordion, saxophone, harpsichord, mandolin, sitar, bass, and guitars, as well as manually manipulating all of the electronic beats and sounds played. Guest operatic vocals from long-time collaborators Laurent Lunoir and Laure Le Pruenec, as well as guest drumming from Sylvain Bouvier and harsh vocals from Cattle Decapitation’s Travis Ryan round out the aptly named album.

  1. Krallice – Go Be Forgotten and Loüm

Krallice’s body of work is exhausting to think about. The supergroup released two albums in 2016, and then followed that up by releasing another two records this year. Every song this band composes is a clinic of progressive-thinking extreme metal, so much so that their music is being used for teaching advanced A.I. systems how to compose metal songs (technically you could say Krallice released 3 albums this year if you want to count Coditany of Timeness). Loüm features lead vocals from Neurosis’ burly Dave Edwardson as well.

  1. Zeal and Ardor – Devil is Fine

This is such a cool record. Written and recorded entirely by Swiss-American Manuel Gagneux, the record seamlessly blends black metal’s cryptic atmosphere, soulful chain-gang spirituals, electronic ambiance, and good old devil-worshiping blues. An adventurous but surprisingly accessible record from start to finish.

  1. The Ruins of Beverast – Exuvia

To those not yet familiar with the German one-man mastercraft that is The Ruins of Beverast, this is as good a place as any in their discography to begin. Cold and calculated while still lush in texture, this is as close to traditional-sounding black metal as I really veer towards these days, as it’s far ahead of most of its peers.

  1. Monarch! – Never Forever

No one captures the soundtrack to the void quite like Monarch. Their new album sees them staying on their own course, while improving

  1. Emptiness – Not For Music

Emptiness consistently creates absolutely lush atmospherics that never feel of this world.

  1. Chaos Moon – Eschaton Memoire

This project caught my eye due to Jeff Whitehead’s grisly cover art, and by the end of the first track I was hooked. Everything I enjoy about metal music, creatively compositioned into 3 tracks clocking in at 40 minutes.

  1. Loss – Horizonless

Loss continuously prove with every album that they belong near the very top of the funeral doom hierarchy. This album is crushing, beautiful, and morose.

Top 3 Short Plays:

Thantifaxath – Void Masquerading as Matter

Fister / Chrch split

Paramnesia / Ultha split

 Honorable Mentions:

Some other high quality albums released this year.

Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Finisterre

Blut Aus Nord – Deus Salutis Meae

Woe – Hope Attrition

Big Brave – Ardor

Dodecahedron – Kwintessens

The Great Old Ones – EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy

Rosetta – Utopioid

Necrot – Blood Offerings

Tchornobog – s/t

Hell – s/t

For the adventurous:

I listened to these albums more than anything listed above but they aren’t our target demographic of heaviness. Either way, I encourage you to indulge in these masterpieces:

  1. Slowdive – s/t
  2. Ulver – The Assassination of Julius Caesar
  3. Drab Majesty – The Demonstration

 

Marisa Kaye Janke

 

  1. Circle of Salt “Suffer the Cold” 

A doomy/black prologue to the desolate winter that patiently waited to consume its inhabitants only shortly after the release of this two-track narration of frigid lamentation.

 

  1. Leucosis “Liminal” 

This band evokes depressive hopelessness more than anything else in my arsenal. I sincerely love it and hate it, and love that I hate it, and hate that hopelessness is so close and accessible… or rather does Leucosis plunge darker and deeper than imaginable?  

 

  1. Bell Witch “Mirror Reaper”

Number 1 personal yoga soundtrack album of the year! See my full review here: http://theseattlepa.com/bell-witch-mirror-reaper-review/

 

  1. Wilt “S/T”

While sufficiently gritty and depraved, the cleanliness of precision and execution defies its stenchiness.

 

  1. Wolves in the Throne Room “Thrice Woven”

Hail the kings.

 

  1. Czar “Life is No Way to Treat an Animal”

See my full review here: http://theseattlepa.com/czar-life-is-no-way-to-treat-an-animal-review/

 

  1. Pillorian “Obsidian Arc”

I find in this a firm testament of laborious depression, with presence reserved in heightened control for powerful blows while ever pulsing consistently forward despite restraint courtesy the tethers of earthly existence.

 

  1. Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean “Decay and Other Hopes Against Progress”

Stellar, solid, impactful blackened sludge that immediately gripped me and continuously delivers heavy entrancement.

 

  1. Skyeater “The Maw of Time”

Hot, dry textures encapsulate luscious riffs that claw and bite through a hazy soundscape in reminiscence of the smog-ridden terrain of its origin. This record continues to warm my heart into the upcoming winter oblivion. It is meditative and extremely representative of desert atmosphere with a feeling of slow apocalyptic doom woven throughout.

 

  1. Yurodivy “Aphos”

Regardless of the fact that this densely beautiful masterpiece stood the test of time for me, never unplayed longer than a few weeks since its February release, it still takes the cake as the album I cannot, and hopefully will never be able to get enough of. It is sooooo good- cold and crisp yet rich and stormy and I love it and I never want to be without it.

 

Brian Kim

  1. Usnea “Portals Into Futility”

Dark and crushing, dripping with fuzz and feedback, Usnea crafts an undeniable sonic altar to the dark lord of doom and a brutal manifestation of Cascadian metal. 

  1. Less Art “Strangled Light”

Featuring members of Thrice, Kowloon Walled City, and Curl Up and Die, Less Art cook up a bleak and hard hitting brand of post-hardcore with a uniquely sludgy flavor. 

  1. Mossbreaker “Between the Noise and You”

Smashing together shoegaze, post-rock, post-hardcore, and grunge, Between the Noise and You is expansive, driving, and hauntingly catchy. Guest vocals from Failure’s Ken Andrews seals the deal. 

  1. Old Iron “Lupus Metallorum”

One of the best Seattle records of the year, Old Iron have created a terrifying and unstoppable beast of an album. Lupus Metallorum hits hard with unfathomable heaviness and monstrously powerful riffs. 

  1. Ladder Devils “Teenage Nuance”

With Teenage Nuance, Ladder Devils continue their streak of crafting intense and hard hitting noise rock. Tinged with hints of punk, post-hardcore, and a bit of grunge, this is a razor sharp record that’ll cut deep. 

  1. Mutoid Man “War Moans”

As the opening track to this roller coaster of insanity suggests, War Moans will undoubtedly and unabashedly “Melt Your Mind”. Nearly nonstop lightning fast shredding, neck breaking time changes, and unstoppable rhythms drag the listener through a thrashed up whirlwind of proggy, metal-infused rock and roll. 

  1. Name “…You Are Mostly Nowhere”

Seven years since their last album, Name have returned with an incredibly dynamic record that deftly smashes together tense atmospherics and crushing breakdowns. …You Are Mostly Nowhere is anchored by the bands penchant for chaotic and mathy hardcore, but showcases an evolution and growth that expands the music to epic proportions. 

  1. Bent Knee “Land Animal”

As expected, Bent Knee have created yet another stunning and masterful work of art. At times delicate and gentle, at others raw and powerful, and frequently discovering unknown places in between, Bent Knee continues to elegantly craft a unique style of art rock that effortlessly raises hairs and sends chills.

  1. Glassjaw “Material Control”

Making a return from the mysterious void, Glassjaw’s first album in fifteen years is like a focused and intensified distillation of their sounds evolution. Material Control excels at somehow embodying sonic opposites, finding space to be both crushing and driving, abrasive and melodic. Filled with frenzied riffage, flowing grooves, and anthemic melodies, Material Control is an immensely satisfying return. 

  1. Elder “Reflections of a Floating World”

With Reflections of a Floating World, Elder’s execution of lumbering sludge riffs, swirling psychedelia, and mind bending prog is as flawless as ever. Sprawling song structures unfurl and flow through vast aural expanses, peppered with searing guitar solos and brilliantly crafted transitions. Much like its monumental predecessor, Lore, Reflections has been and will continue to be on regular listening rotation. 

Honorable Mentions: 

Bell Witch “Mirror Reaper”

Brume “Rooster”

Destroyer of Light “Chamber of Horrors”

Dreadnought “A Wake in Sacred Waves”

Model Snake “Massif or Monument”

Summoned By Giants “Stone Wind”

Vultures At Arms Reach “Wake”

Year of the Cobra “Burn Your Dead”

 

Jake McCune

Artist – Release Title // ALL RECORDS OWNED AND CONSUMED DIGITALLY. 

 

  1. Lingua Ignota – All Bitches Die // Self-Released

This act deserves all the praise, and frankly couldn’t have been covered enough in 2017. Kristin Hayter is a doing great service bringing this project to fruition. A blend of dark ambiance, operatic singing, harsh noise and chilling sample-work are expertly composed to yield maximum emotional effect. – Key Track: All Bitches Dies

  1. Couch Slut – Contempt // Gilead Media

Not much is left to be said of Couch Slut’s phenomenally received sophomore effort, but boy does it actually live up to the very well-deserved hype. Aggressive rock music at its finest. – Key Track: Penalty Scar

  1. Intensive Care – Voyeurism // Survivalist 

Plodding and primitive, the stripped down noise of Intensive Care’s drum and bass combo will beat you into submission. Voyeurism is five tracks of punishing intensity, drawing on a history of early Swans or Godflesh as well as the bass-fueled destruction of musical forbearers Man is the Bastard. – Key Track: Nothing Special

  1. SeeYouSpaceCowboy – Fashion Statements of the Socially Aware // Co-Release

Where to start? That band name. Those song titles. Those break downs. The sassy sneer of vocalist Connie. This is a band approaching their history with a thin skin of self-awareness. They clearly listen to The Blood Brothers, they also clearly listen to Pig Destroyer. Somewhere in the middle they wrote one of the best records of the year. – Key Track: Jimmy Buffet Doesn’t Even Surf

  1. Qoheleth – God is the Warmest Place to Hide // Self-Released 

Most entrancing release of the year, with an individual painting associated with each track (check bandcamp). Noise-rock in the true sense: de-constructed rock music and real, hissing, breathing noise accompanied by buried, rambling vocals. A very worthy debut. – Key Track: Tombs of White 

  1. No Balls – More is More // 8mm Records

No Balls don’t write songs as much as they record instances of pure, unrelenting tension. The instrumental equivalent of having a heart attack while running a marathon and dodging a swarm of bees after ingesting an inordinate amount of cocaine.- Key Track: Pacer

  1. Friendship – Hatred // Southern Lord & Sentient Ruin 

Not to draw too hard of a comparison between the two, but Friendship put out two records in 2017 and they wasted no time taking Full of Hell’s lunch money. This is harsh, grinding, sludgy masterpiece is the band’s debut full length, released after a rousing collection of EPs. In one year, they went from relatively unknown to Southern Lord-signed, do you think you’re smarter than Greg Anderson?- Key Track: Grief

  1. Piss Vortex – Soft Reboot // Self Released 

Piss Vortex are quietly filling a void. This grind outfit from Copenhagen have the songwriting chops to rival the heavyweights of the genre, and after the 8 minutes on this record they will leave you wanting more.- Key Track: XX

  1. Alluring – Alluring // Colloquial Sound Recordings 

There was a lot of good doom released this year, truly a ton. But this record, an early release, remained one of the most engaging long-form releases throughout the entire year of stand-out records. Known more for his shoe-gazey black metal output, Damien Master of A Pregnant Light fame proves he can iterate across the board. – Key Track: Thorn and Wing

 

  1. Cloud Rat/Disrotted – Split LP // Halo of Flies 

Two of the most talented heavy bands operating in America are grind weirdos Cloud Rat and Chicago doom-unit Disrotted. Cloud Rat continue their experimental streak by writing an eighteen minute grindcore epic. “Holding The Picture” stands as one of the most engaging songs of the year. Meanwhile, Disrotted deposit another slab of sludge-fueled, down-tuned misery into the listener’s brain.- Key Track: Both of them. One for each band. 

 

 Jeffery McNulty

 

  1. Me Infecto “Carbon and Silicon”

Me Infecto are probably the longest running two-piece in Seattle. They took some time off however and this is their first record to come out after they got back in action in 2016. I feel like there is a huge gap comprised of people who came up in Seattle’s heavy music scene while they were on hiatus and those people would do well to check out Me Infecto, long one of my favorite powerhouses in town.

 

  1. Ty Segall “Ty Segall”

The first time I heard Ty Segall I was like, “FUCK THIS!” and I switched from KEXP to KIXI in protest. Sounded like the dude never tuned his guitar. Earlier this year I was ranting to my buddy Kaanan and he laughed and said, “I think it’s hilarious you hate him so much!” Then I heard this record and I had to eat both my feet cause this thing’s so goddamn good.

 

  1. All Pigs Must Die “Hostage Animal”

Uncompromising in theme and execution. I cannot wait to finally see these guys in 2018.

Any year APMD puts out a record you can bet it will end up on my top ten list. Is it better than the last one? Hard to say really. Who cares? This is killer.

 

  1. Gaytheist “Let’s Jam Again”

I’ll repeat myself, I love anything Jason Rivera is involved in (check out the now defunct High Praise for more goodness) but there’s something about how downright bad-ass Tim and Nick are as a rhythm section… add some really smart lyrics and amazing song titles and we have a winner! Again!

 

  1. Voycheck “Fucking Professional”

I’ve known both Jake and Chas for a very long time now; they are both super nice, talented individuals and their team up with Jimmy and Jeremy is spot fucking on! I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to hear these riffs see the light of day in the form of these kick ass songs. These dudes take the Steve Albini working man’s credo to heart and that should give you a good idea of what they sound like. Heavy progressive noise rock circa 1989. The good stuff.

 

  1. Beastmaker “Inside the Skull”

Been rocking this one as my “I gotta ride the fuggin bus” record. This puts the proper don’t-mess-with-me-look in my eyes as I nod my head to these heavy as fuck riffs. Every once in a while a band comes along that hits the stoner-doom thing just right. Are they inventing anything new? Nope? Do I care? Nope.

 

  1. Thomas Andrew Doyle “Incineration Ceremony”

I’m just going to quote my review from earlier in the year: “This music is darkly expansive, and epic. Quiet then loud and sometimes it has moments that sound like John Williams is getting beat on the head with Alfred Hitchcock’s cane. Other times it’s harkening back to Coil or early Burial….The songs can be listened to separately, they each have their own microcosm, but taken in as a whole they begin to describe something sinister about the underlying universe.” The soundtrack to my fever dreams.

 

  1. Dryland “Dryland”

So good! Caught them at Rat City Recon this year and they were a big stand out for me. I said as much when I met them outside their van and they kicked me down a CD. Let’s just say it got stuck in our car’s CD player. Nothing I like better than heavy bass and drums backing chunky, driving guitar riffs and Dryland holds it down all night long. They lyrics are exceptional, it’s nice to hear some stories being told for once. Great job Bellingham!

 

  1. Couch Slut “Contempt”

Couch Slut are my favorite band in the whole world right now. Their last album “My Life As a Woman” was a super sludgy Brooklyn style slap in the face. It sounded like early Ed Hall with the lovechild of Bliss Blood and David Yow singing for them. This new record is recorded much cleaner and took some getting used to, but it was engineered by their current and former guitarists Kevin Wunderlich and Amy Mills so they definitely knew what they were doing. I miss Amy’s guitar playing a lot. That being said their rhythm section, comprised of Kevin Hall (bass) and Theo Nobel (drums) is so much tighter in these new compositions, almost like Jesus Lizard but not quite as groovy. Megan Osztrosits’s vocals are, as ever, cathartic and unhinged. The pain that is being projected into the lyrics is so intense, I really relate to them. They sound like what’s going on in my head half the time… the rest of the time it’s all unicorns and rainbows.  

 

  1. Bison “You Are Not the Ocean You Are the Patient”

This is the one that got me for most of the year. The only thing that shook this outta my headphones was when the new Couch Slut came out. At first the vocals threw me for a loop, they are super aggressive and (dare I say) Black-Metalish compared to their guitar tone, but after seeing them live I understood what they were going for. Heavy circular riffs for days. I love this record so damn much…

Lots of N/W albums this year! Shout-outs to Old Iron, Eye of Nix, Norska, X Suns, Wounded Giant, Isenordal, Pink Muscles… the list goes on! All great records it’s just these are the ones that got stuck in my head this year.

 

 Matt Scherer

  1. Bison – You Are Not the Ocean You Are the Patient (Pelagic Records)

Really thought this Vancouver band was dead after falling off the face of the face of the earth for a few years, which is why this was such a welcome surprise. It has the stoner thrash element of the band’s previous releases, but with way more ragged noise rock thrown in. This whole album feels like one giant testament to being a tired, broke and aging hesher.

  1. Grizzlor – Destructoid (Hex)

It was a damn good year for noise-rock and my vote for the best up-and-comer goes to New Haven’s Grizzlor. 28-minutes long, Destructoid is brief, nihilistic and utterly hilarious. My favorite track is “Too Many People”; a cathartic anthem to traffic so bad that makes you want to rip your steering wheel out of your dashboard.

  1. Sannhet – So Numb (Profound Lore)

Sannhet’s latest dials back the black metal of the band’s past and delivers one of the most haunting and achingly beautiful post-rock records you’re likely to ever hear. To make instrumental music with this level of emotional depth is quite an achievement, as they weave complex stories without ever uttering a single word.

  1. Unsane – Sterilize (Southern Lord)

Often imitated, never duplicated NYC-noise rock legends Unsane’s eighth album also happens to be their best album in years. With noise rock having resurgence in the underground metal community, Unsane’s bone scraping riffage and pounding rhythm section is more relevant than ever. A top-notch album from start to finish, Sterilize is a not so subtle reminder that they pretty much wrote the book on this shit.

  1. Old Iron – Lupus Metallorum (Good to Die)

I reviewed this record on the Seattle PA website earlier this year, so if you want to read how I feel about it you can go here: (http://theseattlepa.com/old-iron-lupus-metallorum-review/) but having spent a little more time with it I can tell you this album has only gotten better with time, with some surprising melodies buried within it that have only opened up after repeated listening. It also sounds amazing live, as evidenced by their awesome and hilarious Halloween show at the Victory lounge.

  1. Norska – Too Many Winters (Brutal Panda)

Long known as the band “with that guy from Yob”, Norska’s extremely long waited follow-up to their self-titled EP is a massive leap forward in every way for the band. Their total kitchen sink approach to classic doom and noise rock is super refreshing and helps move them out from under the shadow of their Oregon-doom contemporaries.

  1. Meteor – Inner Demon (591309 Records DK)

In addition to being a metal fan, I also love Synthwave and the best album this year came from Medellin, Colombia-based artist Meteor. Meteor’s latest album showcases some incredible variety. Each track is a standout and will make you feel like you’re living in a different 80’s movie. This is excellent workout music and is my album of choice when walking home through downtown Seattle late at night. Those who like synth or electronic music need to check this out ASAP.

  1. Spirit Adrift – Curse of Conception (20 Buck Spin)

Retro doom is big right now and although bands like Pallbearer and Khemmis have carved out their own niches with excellent recent albums, Spirit Adrift’s latest tops them in my opinion. Mournful and soulful, but also completely kick-ass, this album will inspire you to break out the invisible oranges. Spirit Adrift was originally a side project from Gatecreeper front-man Nate Garrett, but Curse of Conception was his first time recording with a full band. Well, whatever he’s doing, it’s working. More of this please.

  1. Thundercat – Drunk (Brainfeeder)

Decidedly not metal, but it’s hard not to enjoy the smooth adult contemporary/R&B stylings of bassist Thundercat. Songs tackle serious topics such how awesome it would be to be a cat and being stuck some girl’s “friend zone” because he plays too much Diablo. There are some great special guests on the album as well including Kendrick Lamar and Wiz Khalifa, but the best track showcases yacht-rock legends Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald. Aptly named, Drunk provides a great backdrop for a relaxing evening with friends and cocktails.

  1. Elder – Reflections of a Floating World (Stickman Records / Armageddon shop)

This band has been getting serious acclaim in the mainstream press (Rolling Stone put it in its top 5 metal releases for this year as well) but in this case, all praise heaped on this Boston trio certainly well earned. Somehow, they are getting better with each album and Reflections of a Floating World is easily their best and most ambitious album to date. Retro without sounding dated, Elder provides a fresh take on traditional heavy psych and 70’s proto-doom in a breezy (seriously) 64 minute album that will likely go down as a modern day classic.

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