Monday, December 31, 2007


2007 was a good year for metalheads everywhere. We got to see two of the genre's most respected and beloved bands, Carcass and At the Gates, reunite to take the stage once again, as well as witnessing the reformations/comebacks of several other untouchable names (Immortal, Emperor, and how many others?). Death metal became controversial again (Tipper Gore, rejoice); while the old guard rallied 'round the sound they've been living for this past quarter century and released a slew of quality records (hats off to Obituary, Immolation, and Cannibal Corpse), we witnessed the beginning of the agonizingly slow death of metalcore and the rise of deathcore - brutal death metal (d)evolved past recognition into brodude breakdowns, pit ninjas, br00tality, and the overwhelming popularity of someone named BREEEEE.
Black metal spiraled out of control into a chaotic mass of jagged riffs,
philosophical hatred, and ugly, ugly discord thanks to reclusive French
Black Legionnaires Deathspell Omega and Blut aus Nord, was pushed to its absolute limit and sacrificed to Satan by Watain, Glorior Belli, Aura Noir, and Caina, was broken down into the soil and re-imagined entirely by Wolves in the Throne Room, Negura Bunget, and Drudkh, got kicked back to the 80's and dirtied up nice by Darkthrone, was taken outside and beaten down by noisemongers Anaal Nathrakh, got thrashed to hell and back by Bestial Mockery and Impaled Nazarene, and lost its ravishing grimness entirely in favor of the soft, dreamy shoegaze ambience of Alcest, Celestia, Mortifera, Amesoeurs - hell, anything that Neige touches turns to dark, shimmering gold.
It was a good time for those who walk the doomed path, as well; Electric Wizard, England's kings of all that is distorted, put down the bong and stepped down from their dopethrones once again to deliver an instant classic in Witchcult Today. Candlemass reformed sans Messiah, and, aided by Rob Lowe of Solitude Aeturnus's formidable pipes, unleashed a doomed masterpiece of their own, and recently announced a headlining springtime tour with Daylight Dies, who are themselves due to drop another album come 2008. Drone, sludge, funeral, death-,avant-garde, and traditional doom flourished; youngsters like Coffins, Monarch, Bloody Panda, and dozens more shook up the music scene while the retro-doomy wailing of Witchcraft, Black Cobra, The Sword, and Wolfmother had metallers on the fence and hipsters banging their heads almost hard enough to mess up their asymmetrical bangs.
Folk metal polka-d its way into the limelight, thanks to veteran hummpa-mongers Finntroll and Korpiklaani and the overwhelming popularity of Wintersun. Stellar 2007 offerings from the former two bands, as well as from Ensiferum, Tyr, Eluveitie, Turisas, Folkearth, Moonsorrow, and tons more cemented the tiny subgenre's place in many a hesher's heart, whilst enigmatic woodsmen Agalloch garnered heaps of critical acclaim for their neofolk-y, black/doom-tinged take on sorrow. Paganfest 2008 promises to raise more awareness and even more horns as Ensiferum, Turisas, Tyr and Eluveitie take the Western World by storm. Lai lai hey!
I'm sure all sorts of things went down across the board in other genres - tech-death had a good year, BTBAM and TDEP both released midfuck-filled albums of proggy techy spazzy grindy goodness, progressive fans got wind of that Dream Theater/Opeth tour and are now able to die happy, noise/grind/experimental freakouts were everywhere, and power metal? I'm sure the three dudes who still dig this stuff are more than content with the new Elvenking and promises of yet another Manowar live albums or six. Nu metal, metalcore, and whatever the fuck you call shit like Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet for my Valentine, Killswitch Engage, and the like are still hanging in there, much to my chagrin, but really, who can find the time to bitch about offal like that when there's a new Primordial album to be devoured?
On a more serious note, it's important to remember those who have left us this year. Metal hearts across the globe wept for another fallen brother as Decapitated's talented young drummer Vitek passed after a tragic accident that also put their band's singer, Covan, into intensive care. Kevin Dubrow of Quiet Riot OD'd on cocaine and lost his life at age 55. Six years have passed since Evil Chuck Schuldiner succumbed to brain cancer, and it's been three since Dimebag Darrell was gunned down in cold blood by a crazed fan. Rest in peace, brothers. Metal fans are some of the most dedicated, passionate people in the world, and we stick by our own- we won't forget you.

So without further ado, my own personal Top 10 (and more) list for 2007.

Top Ten Metal Albums of 2007

Drudkh - Estrangement
Another beautiful piece of woodland art from Ukraine's proud sons. -hypnotic, captivating black metal steeped in melody and folklore.

Wolves in the Throne Room - Two Hunters
Dense, multi-layered compositions, rife with fast tremolo picking and melodic parts, supplemented by clear female vocals and ambient soundscaping yet blackened beyond belief and positively ritualistic in their execution.

Svartsot - Ravenes Saga
A heady brew of Korpiklaani, Amon Amarth, Bolt Thrower, and Eluveitie - pure folky goodness with a strong dose of melodic death.

Krohm - The Haunting Presence
With The Haunting Presence, Krohm has joined the hallowed ranks of those who dare to think beyond a blaze in the northern sky and past the freezing moon. Haunting, cold, and utterly desolate, they will drag you down into the depths of despair and show you what evil really is.

Peste Noire - Folkfuck Folie
Another flash of brilliance from Neige & Co. A distorted paen to the sickness of human sexuality sung to the tune of raw-edged blakc metal and acoustic guitars.

Primordial - To the Nameless Dead
Breathtaking. Emotional. Dark. Essential.

Moonsorrow - V. Havittey
A masterwork of maturity and musical strength; two songs of blackened, doomed folk metal heaviness that take you on an epic journey from which only the bravest shall ever return.

Watain - Sworn to the Dark
Satan is all his glory. This is Satanic black metal with no pretense, no posturing, no posing - just pure fucking armageddon.

Coffins/The Arm and Sword of a Bastard God - split
Beyond heavy, beyond crushing sludgy deathy doomy nihilism that'll pulverize your skull.

Deathspell Omega - Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum
They have taken an already ugly, hate-fueled genre and twisted and corroded it into something that shames mere chaos – too evolved to be pure black metal, too savage to be anything but.

Honorable Mentions (because a Top 15 is just silly)
Ensiferum - Victory Songs
Rousing, epic battle chants from one of the genre's best.

Neurosis - Given to the Rising
Neurosis does not make bad albums. This is a great one.

Electric Wizard - Witchcult Today
Doomed to greatness.

Fueled by Fire - Spread the Fire

Darkthrone - F.O.A.D.
Nocturno Culto and Fenriz will ALWAYS be cooler than anyone else, SO YOU CAN FUCK OFF AND DIIIIEEEEE!

Best Not-Quite-Metal Albums of 2007
Souvenir's Young America - An Ocean Without Water
Post-rock/metal at its finest. Well-crafted, expansive and tinged with pure beauty and emotion, but still fuckin' heavy.

Alcest - Souvenir's D'un Autre Monde
Beautiful, shoegazing post-black metal. Neige is a genius.

Gentlemens Pistols - s/t
Swaggering, Hedrix-heavy 70's influenced rock'n'roll sure to make the girlies scream and the boys sprout chest hair.

Agnostic Front - Warriors
Solid, honest old-school NYHC from the masters.