I was wondering how early was too early on this. I'm glad someone bit the bullet-belt and started the thread.
With mediocre to poor albums from Satyricon, Anathema, Taake, Enslaved, Ensiferum, and Jyrki 69 (from my beloved 69 Eyes) there were great bands who didn't make the list this year. However, here are the releases that rocked the halls of Castle Requiem this year:
Requiem's Top 10 Albums of 2017
10. Paradise Lost - 'Medusa'
Ultimately a very disappointing album due to the sense that it feels deliberately engineered to sound retro, mixed with run-of-the-mill bland riffs. Yet, there are positive points here. Nick Holmes' voice, which has lulled me to sleep since adolescence, is engaging, and there is the Paradise Lost flavour that remains. Still, compared with 2015's 'The Plague Within' this really turned me to stone.
9. Eluveitie - 'Evocation II'
I think this gets overlooked a lot. Chrigel and his band of interchangeable minstrels had lots of line-up dramas recently, but this is actually a great semi-acoustic/folk album. It's a lot better than 'Evocation I'. Anna Murphy's replacement singer sounds so uncannily like her that it's a bit creepy... Still, this is too long with too many tracks, like most of this band's albums.
8. Eldamar - 'A Dark Forgotten Past'
Amazing Tolkien inspired one-man-band, this follow up album doesn't quite reach the heights of the glorious 'The Force of the Ancient Land', but it's not far off. The synth sounds are just incredible, and that synth female voice is straight out of Beleriand. Still, it gets a bit samey and it's a one trick pony for sure. It's just a great trick, though. Such atmosphere.
7. God Dethroned - 'The World Ablaze'
True Belief got me into these guys, and this is my favourite album of theirs. The intro is so evocative with that melody and the radio/wartime voice. Oh man. The rest of this album has an excellent atmosphere that puts it up there as one of the great war themed albums in my opinion. I'm really impressed. I'm convinced.
6. Ex Deo - 'The Immortal Wars'
Speaking of wars. These Ancient Rome loving loons have put out their best album so far. 'The Rise of Hannibal' is the anthem to end all anthems. I love Ancient Rome, I love songs about Ancient Rome, and I love Maurizio Iacono. Stirring material that brings to life the grandiosity and tragedy of the Roman Empire. Hail Caesar.
5. Hallatar - 'No Stars Upon the Bridge'
With the tragic death of Aleah Stanbridge after the release of Trees of Eternity's only album, Swallow the Sun mastermind Juha Raivio, together with Tomi Joutsen from Amorphis and Gas Lipstick from HIM, created a dark and authentic expression of his grief. It still has many secrets to reveal to me at this point - and I don't own this yet - but this is shaping up to be one of those moments in time where art and the tragedy of life merge to transcend mere music.
4. Cradle of Filth - 'Cryptoriana - The Seductiveness of Decay'
The second Cradle album with the two new guitarists, this doesn't quite meet 'Hammer of the Witches' for me, but it's close. It's really guitar based, with riffs and solos all over the place - it's genuinely breathtaking on that front. As a lifelong fan of Dani's lyrical excursions, I tend to find the narrative here a little vague and undefined, which annoys me a little bit considering how amazing his lyrics are on last year's Devilment album. The title is pretty shite too. I wish he would avoid these silly plays-on-words ('Thornography' anyone?). For a Victorian themed album there's precious little to do with the Victorian era or the atmosphere I associate with it. Overall, though, this is in the top 50% of Cradle albums, which makes it pretty special to my gothic ears.
3. Septicflesh - 'Codex Omega'
My favourite band of the last five years and in my top 5 bands of all time, but I have to admit this album hasn't done it for me like the last four have. In fact, this is the first Septicflesh album since 'Sumerian Daemons' to not top my end of year list. All the ingredients are here and sonically it sounds amazing, but there are some 'b grade' riffs here that shouldn't have passed muster. The first two tracks need to go, and for me the album only kicks into gear with track 3: 'Portrait of a Headless Man'. Other songs like 'Faceless Queen' and 'Our Church Below the Sea' are brilliant (for the most part). It's definitely their weakest album since 'Revolution DNA'. I don't say all these things lightly, and I've played this album to death. It still makes number 3, but this band should be at number 1 for me. 2014's 'Titan' absolutely slays this album.
2. Wintersun - 'The Forest Seasons'
A-mazing. I pointed and laughed at Jari and Wintersun like everyone else. Even though I own the debut and 'Time 1', I never really loved them, but I love this album. I LOVE this album. The production is perfect, and the development of the songs - anthems more like - is staggering. Track 2 'The Forest That Weeps (Summer)' is my song of the year. It brings my fist to the air, tears to my eyes, and fills my heart with glory. That Tolkien-epic choir!! The whole album is stunning. Brilliant lyrics too, and I encourage everyone to read their booklets as the songs play through. I didn't think Jari could do it, but he's the real deal. This was my album of the year until I heard...
1. Moonspell - '1755'
As for this album. Their last release, 'Extinct', was good, but not great, and I wasn't sure what to expect with this. As it turns out, it sounds like the follow-up to their demo collection 'Under Satanae'. It has energy, groove, melody and a bit of ferocity that just transcends. The theme of the Lisbon earthquake that levelled the city in 1755 is present in the lyrics (all Portuguese with English booklet translations) and the music (with that Portuguese combination of European sounds with Ottoman inspired melodies). This band HAS NEVER SOUNDED BETTER. "The day rises in Portugal". Every song is a hit. 10/10. Album of the year.