Published Dec 01, 2017
5. Bell Witch
Bell Witch's monolithic single-track album Mirror Reaper is a journey through a spectrum of raw emotions dedicated to late founding member Adrian Guerra.
The record ebbs and flows from heights of funereal doom majesty to drawn out spans of minimalism without ever losing the heart that propels it. Across a whopping 83 minutes, Bell Witch transport the listener to a realm painted in tones both sombre and, at times, celebratory; amidst the crowding darkness are vocals from Guerra's himself, recorded prior to his passing, instilling the music with a power that few artistic endeavours can claim.
Mirror Reaper is not only a monument to a friend, but a testament to the true power of art and its ability to transcend even death.
4. Full of Hell
That rare band that appeals to hardcore kids, punks and metalheads (see also: Converge), Full of Hell broadened their appeal to even the most stiff-necked of headbangers with Trumpeting Ecstasy, upping the inclusion of death metal and grindcore influences throughout.
The quartet got interesting experimentations out via this year's collaboration with the Body — the second in as many years — but it's clear that when the four members are more insular (with the occasional guest, here in the form of Nicole Dollanganger on the title track), something truly special happens. Just about the only thing missing from Ecstasy is an actual trumpet — or maybe it's buried somewhere in this dense, rewarding album.
3. Code Orange
Hardcore heavyweights Code Orange surpassed even their own high standards with Forever, adding industrial metal, nu-metal and alt-rock elements to the dissonant, crushing breakdowns that have become their modus operandi.
The band display masterful tension building throughout the album, using stop-start riffs that lead to enormous breakdowns, adding to the record's disturbing atmosphere. The use of glitched-out sound effects and harsh noise contribute further to the discomfort Code Orange create, serving jarring moments that lead back to brutality. Forever marks a huge achievement for the band, launching their career to an all-time high and setting them on a path to lead hardcore music for years to come.
2. Power Trip
Not since the early '90s has a thrash metal release been in the conversation for best metal album of the year, so it's no small feat that Power Trip, who have reintroduced thrash metal to listeners without having to pander to '80s nostalgia, have made an album worthy of just that with Nightmare Logic.
While the sound is undeniably thrash, Power Trip infuse the old with a touch of new by adding hardcore into the mix. The result is merciless and gruelling, but will set your fists clenching, your face contorting and your head a-bangin'. Nightmare Logic is an absolute must-hear for any self-proclaimed metal head, old-school or new.
The Dusk in Us
Converge are one of those bands from whom quality releases are simply to be expected — especially at this point in their flawless, decades-spanning career. Yet somehow, they still manage to surpass even the highest of expectations. Case in point: this year's stellar The Dusk in Us. The new offering marks the metalcore legends' ninth album to date and captures their distinct sound while highlighting their penchant for avant-garde, unorthodox touches.
Once again recorded by the band's Kurt Ballou at his GodCity Studio, The Dusk in Us features all of the chaotic intensity and vicious grit that make Converge instantly recognizable. Jacob Bannon's indignant, corrosive bark sets the emotionally raw tone right from the start with "A Single Tear," while Ballou's unpredictable, angular guitar work mesmerizes throughout the release.
Dark atmospheres and droning tones juxtapose their explosive metallic hardcore delivery and unrelenting aggression, which evince the band's ability to continually progress, hone their sound and improve with each release. The Dusk in Us is yet another gem to add to their immensely influential catalogue, and another clear example of why Converge are their own special, unparalleled entity.