None of the big names came out with worthy albums, of any at all, in this 2017. Thus the 2017 playlist for me is devoid of big bands, with a single exception.
Contrarily to the usual “best of the year” playlist, this one is about what I listened this year that I hadn’t been listening before, independently of when it was out. Therefore the actual playlist on Spotify is called “Best Discoveries 2017” and do contains songs that aren’t of this year. You’ve been warned.
What’s in the playlist?
Lots of metal, as usual. But it’s not dominant, not this year. I decided to start it with a blast from the past, 1980 in this case. From the first, of the two, Fist albums, Name Rank and Serial Number is a pure New Wave of British Heavy Metal song. Unfortunately they didn’t last enough to make more straight and gritty songs like this one. Pity.
Kasabian returned and overall their album was lackluster. I nonetheless found myself listening on repeat quite often to the single, You’re In Love With a Psycho. No reference to my current girlfriend intended.
Hexvessel proved that they are playing better Opeth than Opeth do nowadays. Somewhat too dreamy, yet fascinating. Blood Ceremony from Toronto are the second “better than Opeth” in this 2017 list. Their is the 70s rock part, magical, ritualistic, while Hexvessel represent the more folk tinges. Both a nice listen.
Ulver are consistently good as they’ve been for roughly 25 years now. Can’t ever be a bad news a new album of theirs. The cover of The Power of Love is softly eerie and evocative. Speaking of covers, Street Spirit (Fade Out) and All Along The Watchtower were a constant in my year’s headphones. Especially the latter, discovered as the opening credits of The Young Pope. Do watch the show if you didn’t already, it’s a masterpiece.
A few more songs in my 2017 playlist are of big names of today’s rock: The Kills, Royal Blood, PJ Harvey (the latter with an old collaboration with Thom Yorke), Phantogram (which I discovered thanks to my girlfriend). I may be devoid of any fascination with the mainstream music but when it’s good I’m not shy to admit it. These are good indeed. Speaking of good and mainstream, St.Vincent‘s MASSEDUCTION showed all her pop sensibility along with the usual artful rock. Not her best effort ever but she is consistently worth listening nonetheless.
The Metal part
The final part of the 2017 playlist is the most metal one. Enslaved and Darkthrone latest’s albums are present, as I would have expected at the beginning of the year, along with the return of two lesser famous bands, Akercocke and Wolves in the Throne Room. The latter are persistently producing quality albums, their only issue being having started playing 10 years too late or they would be considered among the classics of the genre already. Solstafir have established themselves as the Sigur Ros of metal, without being boring though. I can’t say I dislike any of their albums so far, with Svartir Sandar holding the crown. Honourably mentions for Chelsea Wolfe‘s haunting voice, Fleurety’s return (which I reviewed already), the latest Agalloch-wannabees The Flight of Sleipnir and Succumb’s frightening music. Overall a string of good output for metal.
I want to conclude this year in music highlighting 2 bands that debuted this year and were the biggest surprises of my 2017 playlist.
Lunar Shadow debut full length was one of the biggest surprises of the year. I can hardly remember a better debut than this in the last 10 years. It does sound as a debut, it is clearly not mature, but that doesn’t subtract from the enjoyment but instead gives the album a feeling of a diamond in the rough that actually adds to the final result. Plenty of changes of tempo, progressive features for a modern heavy metal disc that could be the beginning of a prodigious career.
The second band is from my hometown, Naples. Scuorn means “shame” in neapolitan and they sing in that language their form of black/folk metal. It hardly gets more original than this. Think of them as if Negura Bunget were south italians and would decide to write an album about their country’s mythical origins. Parthenope is exactly that, with tinges of Orphaned Land primordial prowess but way darker. Another stunning debut and a hope that it won’t be the only quality product of the italian metal of these years, as it has sadly often been.