Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Top 10 Mainstream Metal Albums of 2017

Mainstream is not to imply that these bands sold out, in most cases, but rather they fall some where in the middle of the road. Genres that are not extreme enough to get their own list. So things like the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Hair Metal, Power Metal, Pagan Metal all fall within this . Most of the albums were ranked due in accordance to how much I actually listened to them. In order to obtain this I referred to my Last Fm page after synching it to my iPod over the course of the year. This year I added a brief blip to help explain what factored into the ranking that might have inspired me to listen to one band more than another.

10-Beastmaker - "Inside the Skull"

On their first album it didn't feel like there was a much Sabbath worship as what goes down here. The slight Dax Riggs inflection in the vocals is now more of a Ozzy like whine. Not in the same tenor register as Ozzy, but the phrasing is similar . This time around there is more weight in the Sabbath like punch they are packing.Seems like the guitar solos have been dialed up on this album as the band gets more adventurous. I did not like this one as much as their previous album, but it is certainly good enough to make this list.


9-Hanging Garden - "I Am Become"

Goth metal is a term that makes you think of either Type O Negative or something like Theater of Tragedy. There are a few shades lighter and darker than are romantic or elegant enough to warrant that title. This gloomy band from Helsinki has returned to create some sounds that come closer to the Theater of Tragedy side of the coin. Finland seems to be the breeding ground for goth inflected metal. So these guys might be named after a Cure song , but they are less flowery than most. I suppose an ex-death metal band who now mainly works with melody like November's Doom might be a good reference point, as they do lapse back into the death metal vocals, though are more often more melodic than not when doing so. These guys offered up more solid songs than the almost disappointing Beastmaker album.


8-Steel Panther- "Lower the Bar" 

These guys are more of a parody, but in the process make some good music by mistake. It opens with a some what subtle ode to anal sex. There have more similarities of Bon Jovi  and Van Halen's more metal moments than anyone else. While they are a parody of the big hair school of metal I listened to in adolescent they are still clever song writers. The lyrics to "Anything Goes" are funny, but I am not sure this is the same level of songwriting that they show on the first song. They were fun and clever enough to beat out Hanging Garden's more morose approach when it comes to song writing and I typical go for more morose.


7-Corrosion of Conformity- No Cross No Crown

Pepper Keenan is not the original vocalist, but sang on their first full blown metal album "Blind" . It Open with a bigger sound than they had on "Blind" which lets be fair, has to be the album we weight this against. They do have more of a Metallica sound now. "Cast the First Stone" brings this to a more aggressive rock place, with blues tinged guitar solos.this album exceeded my expectations. It might not be  "Blind" , but it is still  pretty solid.and has enough soul to it's grooves to beat out Steel Panther.


6-Dool -There Then

This  album that carries the torch of the Devil's Blood in a much different way than expected, It features the former drummer and bassist from the Devils Blood, so why no buzz? Not really trying to replicate the sound of the Devils Blood. The ten minute opener is certainly less retro. It also feels a little darker and their singer has more of a modern rock radio friendly voice. The guitars don't sound like they are running through Orange Amps.Of all the albums on the list this might be the least heavy , but it makes up for it in dynamic songwriting which is why it beats out


5-L.A. Guns- the Missing Peace"

 In the early metal years, LA Guns was one of the few hair metal bands that was actually metal instead of pop with guitars. Their first two albums are awesome, and they have been hit or miss from there. This album surprised me with the fact that they sound better than Guns N Roses these days. Phil Lewis' voice sounds terrific.The opening track is more aggressive than expected. This renewed fire to their sound is why they beat out Dool.


4-Enslaved- "M"

These guys used to be one of my favorite metal bands then they drifted too far out into Opeth territory and lost some of their bite. This doesn't change the fact they are great musicians and slayed it when I saw them live. They meander into the opener, with granted cool guitar tones , but it goes to show some off the fat could have been trimmed off it. Clean vocals are the first two show. Though the scowling growl does chime in to remind you they are metal. This album is great because it finds them forgetting about the Opeth aspirations and moving back into the kind of epic heaviness that beats out C.O.C.


3- Myrkur -"Mareridt"

t first blast beat you might expect this just to be same kind of black metal that we heard on her debut full length, this is not the case. There is an even greater blending of folk and ambiance in the songs ebb and flow. There is a darker tone to "the Serpent" that builds tension , with her singing with a more sultry manner that holds a sexuality not explored in her previous work. Production wise the vocals are going through a distorted filter, but this more spacious, without feeling pretentious and overblown, however not the kind of lo-fi affair fans of black metal might prefer. This is not always black metal. Get ready for this,  sometimes this album is not metal at all.It is heavy enough to be on this list and while it is not as heavy as the new Enslaved it does have a wider range which is why I got more play time out of it and it beat out Enslaved.


2-Spirit Adrift- "Curse of Conception"

 When this album started in reminded me more of In Solitude, than the band's previous work as there seemed to be more of a longing in the wail of the vocals. Typical this album gallops along at much more of an uptempo charge than doom to lead them more in the direction of NWOBHM bands. The twin guitar harmonies further enforce this.The guitar tones are incredibly produced and make this sound like it is a lost classic from the 80s which vaults them over Myrkur.


1-Gwar - "Blood of Gods" 

 The elephant in the room becomes their strength. Blothar the new singer, is the old Beefcake the Mighty taking on a new mantel. So they promoted from within. I can deal with this better than if it was some new guy they just brought in.The new sound took getting used to even though, he did handle the vocals on the song "Nice Place to Park". So his voice is not totally alien. He has a more Blackie Lawless like metal quality. This album needed a few listens before I could connect the changes.  It with a much more straight ahead metal feel in the vein of mid 80s thrash. Each listen connected the dot a little more until it raised it sword in victory over bands like Spirit Adrift.


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