December 20, 2017

Trevor Proctor's Top 25 Albums of 2017.

Love them or loathe them end of year listings are a regular feature at this time of year and if nothing else they make for interesting reading. As with 2016 this year has been exceptional in terms of releases as we've been treated to some phenomenal albums during a very productive year.
The only down side with such productivity is keeping this list to 25 - when I consider the very difficult decisions I've had to make along with the exceptional standard of some of the albums I've had to omit it's indicative of how healthy our underground is at present. As I've stated before it's so easy to be an armchair critic when reading top album listings and whether, or not, you agree with what's detailed here I hope you find something that sparks an interest. As with all posts here at The Lair of Filth all previous reviews/posts are linked as are band and label details so it's just a matter of clicking whatever grabs your attention to be brought straight to the relevant site - there are also a number of track/album streams included for your listening pleasure.

In what's now an established tradition for me I've tied three releases for the number 1 spot - three very different albums all of which are remarkable in their own way and which I couldn't split in any way, which is also why my list stops at 23. There's also a few exceptions which could well have made this list such as Morbosidad and Degial that are omitted merely as I won't get my hands on them until Christmas. 

2017 has also been another phenomenal year for The Lair of Filth, it's the second year where I've been solely responsible for selecting, writing, posting and promoting all articles and it's thankfully also another year where we've seen support for The Lair of Filth continue to grow at a very satisfying rate. Anyone who knows me personally is aware I don't have a lot of free time and a good proportion of what time I have is spent trying to further this site so it's extremely rewarding to see our support continue to grow. At the time of posting this article my top 25 singles, EPs and demos listing for 2017 has been read more times than last year's listing already and I'm both humbled and honoured by your support.

As with previous years new ties have been formed with bands, labels and promoters whilst existing alliances have been strengthened so I would like to take this opportunity to thank every band, label, artist and promoter that has supported The Lair of Filth during 2017. I would also like to thank Jude for his continued trust in letting me maintain and run the site - this trust is greatly appreciated. 
I'd also like to thank my rock, best mate and fiancee, Audrey, for sticking the abuse I've subjected her ears to during the year.

Also, and most importantly, I'd like to mention my eternal gratitude and thanks to you, the reader, for your continued support during 2017 - I appreciate every single post view very much - so THANK YOU ALL for your continued and growing support, it really means a lot.

23. Desolate ShrineDeliverance from the Godless Void - Dark Descent Records.

Fourth album from Finland's Desolate Shrine that was succinctly summed up by the press release, " Recorded during 2016 with the same core trio since 2011’s debut Tenebrous Towers, this new beast, while no less epic than its predecessors (three of the seven songs featured here are at over eight minutes long) is even more textured and tortured while at the same time highly atmospheric.   And while a track like ‘Unmask the Face of False’ may be the heaviest and slowest they’ve ever done, that doesn’t prevent ‘Demonic Evocation Prayer’ from being transfigured by hellish blast beats either. Still, as with each of their albums, Desolate Shrine’s latest full-length is to be considered like one big entity, almost like a ceremony if you will, one that demands to be experienced from beginning to end without interruption."


22. Triumvir Foul - Spiritual Bloodshed - Invictus ProductionsVrasubatlat.

Lethal second album summed up by the press release, "Additionally, Triumvir Foul's return to their original two-man lineup has allowed them to create a more focused and raw sound, fusing the atmospheres of both their eponymous album and debut 'An Oath of Blood and Fire' demo. Spiritual Bloodshed is the embodiment of the Vrasubatlatian rites – relish in the spectres of shame and disgust."

Seventh studio album by the German Pagan Black Metal band Horn, this album was inspired by the 17th century German folk song "Es ist ein Schnitter." What began, and continues, as a one man project has also assembled a live line up to take their emotive and rousing music to the stage.

20. Antiversum Cosmos Comedenti - Invictus Productions.

Another immense debut, this time from one of Switzerland's finest bands, the press release stated, "Antiversum is a nihilistic entity which creates a disturbing and storming amalgamation of black, doom, and death metal, manifesting the end of the universe and the dawn of nothingness in audial waves.... there's a clearly articulated, deathly focused finesse to everything that happens; nothing is left to chance nor masked in absurd levels of reverb. Further, this swell cannot be conveniently slotted as strictly "death metal" or "black metal" or "doom": it simply IS."

A fantastic split release featuring two of the underground's most promising bands, 'R.I.P.' was reviewed here in September. "Both Taphos Nomos and Urðun have brought their music and songwriting to a higher level on R.I.P. In both cases their previous releases were nothing short of sublime yet somehow they have both managed to take their musicianship and songwriting to a new and even better standard. Some people refer to this style of Death Metal as old school; I prefer to think of it as ageless, as long as it’s delivered with authentic passion and doesn’t rip anyone off. This is definitely the case for the music by both bands – one of the year’s best splits and one worthy of its multiple presses."

18. Bell -  Secrets from a Distant Star - Cyclopean Eye Productions.

In September The Lair of Filth was honoured to present a worldwide track premier from this mysterious band for which the press release stated, ""From the depths of the underground comes Bell; an obscure and secretive project that is another page in the ever-expanding musical manifesto of Cyclopean Eye Productions. Bell is an insidious worm that crawls into your ears and lays it's eggs in your brain, giving rise to fevered dreams and hallucinations as the music builds layer upon layer of humming distortion, subdued percussion and ethereal floating voices. At times trance-inducing and at other times ominous, harsh and unsettling, the music engulfs you and will create an alternate state of mind.... but this is a work of art that will appeal to both fans of extreme and ambient music."

17. Kawir - Εξιλασμός - Iron Bonehead Productions.

Seventh studio album from one of the stalwarts of Hellenic Black Metal. Stunning album perfectly summed up by the press release, "Across its six characteristically cascading tracks, Kawir take a decidedly darker and more aggressive turn, racing into the fray in a manner most mid '90s (or To Cavirs, as it were) but never losing the inherently heroic aspect so crucial - and so engaging, after all these years - to their Hellenic sound. Supplementing that dark heroism is the addition of a fulltime keyboardist in Aristomache, who lends mystical light and shade to the band's surge 'n' swell. Further coloring the windswept wildness of Exilasmos are an endless supply of dramatic solos from guitarists Melanaegis and founder Therthonax."

16. Spectral Voice - Eroded Corridors of Unbeing - Dark Descent Records.

Another highly anticipated album, and yet another debut. Spectral Voice are easily one of the U.S.' most promising bands. HUGE, and justified, demand for this album on it's release will no doubt mean several future re-pressings.

15. Vacivus - Temple of the Abyss - Profound Lore Records Goatprayer Records.

Debut album from one of the U.K.'s most important bands, a band that continues its ascendancy. A full interview with Vacivus from earlier this year can be accessed here.

14. Altarage - Endinghent - Season of Mist Underground Activists.

"Little is known about this secretive death metal collective, except their origin from Bilbao, the largest city in the Basque country of Spain. In 2015, Altarage unleashed a demo simply entitled after its year of release, 'MMXV' generated massive interest in the extreme metal scene around the globe. This was followed by the debut album 'Nihl' (2016), which received high praise from critics and fans alike. Altarage return to mercilessly drag you into an abyss of nightmares and twisted meanings. 'Endinghent', in their own words, calls the doom inhabitants to reach a whole nothing. Welcome to this new dimension of sonic darkness." (From Biography of Altarage on Season of Mist)

13. Incantation - Profane Nexus - Relapse RecordsMazzar Records.

Another of the few bigger bands featured on this list, and another album that couldn't be omitted. It's easy to take a band like Incantation for granted but here with their eleventh studio album one of the Godfathers of Death Metal once again delivers the goods with Profane Nexus.

12. Father Befouled - Desolate Gods - Dark Descent Records.

Father Befouled's fourth album was reviewed here in June. "Granted, the roots of Father Befouled’s music lie within the music from the likes of Incantation but across their career they have crafted their own individual sound and have become a stalwart of U.S. Death Metal. This is a very strong album, I'd even say their strongest to date, and one that every fan of Death Metal should pay attention to."

 11. Sacrocurse - Gnostic Holocaust - Iron Bonehead Productions.

The second album from Sacrocurse was reviewed here in October. "Whilst this is the first album from this line-up it doesn’t show in the slightest as their spate of live shows together has paid very obvious dividends - there’s a level of confidence to Sacrocurse’s music with moments of balls-out swagger to be heard during the likes of ‘Jaws of Hell’ and ‘Kirie Eleison.’ Their music was succinctly summed up by the press release which stated, “Sacrocurse take all their original rudiments - bestial propulsion, immediately memorable songwriting, and mind-melted solos - and adds even more insanity and ritualism, more red-eyed and rabid than ever.” Sacrocurse are one of the hardest working bands out there and long may their ascendancy continue as it’s fully deserved - if you haven't yet discovered Sacrocurse now is the time.

10. Vesicant - Shadows of Cleansing Iron - Iron Bonehead Productions.

Yet another debut, this was reviewed here in July and given 10/10. "Across the duration of this album you’re confronted with wave after wave of extreme heaviness that perfectly complement the slower sections.... “For now, 'Shadows of Cleansing Iron' is an aural assault of the most harrowing violent proportions. Darkness and despair mixed with confusion provides the basis while moments of heroism provide the smallest glimmering hope of survival.” ‘Blood Miller’ is available to stream below and will confirm the necessity of owning this very important album."

9. Unaussprechlichen Kulten - Keziah Lilith Medea (Chapter X) - Iron Bonehead ProductionsVeins Full of Wrath Productions Crypts of Eternity Productions.

Fourth album from one of Chile's greatest bands, this was reviewed here in May and awarded 10/10. "The execution is note perfect from beginning to end, with no filler tracks, I see Unaussprechlichen Kulten as one of the underground’s most talented groups and this album should bring them more fans and praise than ever before....from their beginning in 1999 Unaussprechlichen Kulten have brought us nothing but quality and with Keziah Lilith Medea (Chapter X) they have raised the bar higher than ever before – if you’re not a fan of this band it’s essential you give them a listen - 'Sabbatical Offering' is available to stream below.

 8. Necroblood - Collapse of the Human Race - Amor Fati Productions / Iron Bonehead Productions.

Yet another debut album, 'Collapse of the Human Race' was reviewed here in March. "Collapse of the Human Race stands as testimony to the fact there’s no doubting Necroblood have easily made the transition to full length album and the two years since their last release have been well spent, crafting this lethal Death Metal album – just give “Glorification through Destruction” a listen below and you’ll see exactly what I mean." An album that continued to impress me during the year and is still frequently played.

7. Immolation - Atonement - Nuclear Blast.

I tend to avoid releases from larger labels on this type of list but there's no way this album could be omitted. Tenth studio album from one of Death Metal's most reliable bands. Some complained about the cleaner production levels but there's no taking it away from the band, this is one of their best albums in many years.

Despite being given a very limited picture disc release at the NWN! Festival in late 2016 I've opted to include this exceptional release on my 2017 listing as it was March 2017 before the album received its full multi-format release via Nuclear War Now! Productions. 'War Metal Massacre' was reviewed here back in February. "Officially classed as an album by Nuclear War Now! Productions at just over twenty two minutes in duration 'War Metal Massacre' may be short but there’s no doubt whatsoever Holocausto has delivered one of the most authentic returns to an original sound from any reformed band in recent memory....Nobody could have predicted a return to form as good as this."

An album that seemed to come from nowhere towards the end of the year Post Self is an album easily capable of upholding the Godflesh legacy.

4. Heresiarch - Death Ordinance - Dark Descent Records.

Another debut album, this time from New Zealand's Heresiarch, 'Death Ordinance' was reviewed here in July and is available to stream below. "Black/Death Metal or War Metal, call it what you will, the end result is the same – total audial destruction that will leave an impression on you for a long time to come. Whilst Heresiarch’s output since formation has been quite limited the standard of music from the band has been second to none with music of the highest caliber featuring across all releases to date - thankfully this trait continues with ‘Death Ordinance.’ "

3. TetragrammacidePrimal Incinerators of Moral Matrix - Iron Bonehead Productions.

Another amazing debut album from one of the world's most ferocious bands, 'Primal Incinerators of Moral Matrix' was reviewed here at the end of October. "There’s neither respite nor mercy from Tetragrammacide as they punish you and your speakers with some amazing music that keeps all frequencies in the red for the duration of most of the album. Right from the start we’re treated to some drumming that defies human capabilities yet sounds fully audible and distinct; this is amidst a constantly morphing barrage of riffs and frenzied solos with an unapologetic and spiteful vocal delivery from M.Opium. ‘Cyberserking Strategic Kalpa-Terminator (Advanced Acausality Increment Mechanism)’ is available to stream below and gives you an indication of just how good this band is and it’s really this simple - they’re as talented as their music is heavy."

2. WeregoatPestilential Rites of Infernal Fornication - Iron Bonehead Productions / Parasitic Records / Vault of Dried Bones.

'Pestilential Rites of Infernal Fornication' was reviewed here back in June and made a very positive and lasting impression. "Put simply, this is one of the best albums of this style of music I’ve EVER heard, it has everything you could possibly ask for; intense demonic vocals, seriously good drumming, riffs all over the place that would make even a non-believer head bang, randomly placed solos that let rip when you least expect them and, most of all, songs that are as catchy as they are energetic. From receiving the promotional email at the end of April this album has been played at least once daily by me and I’m still enjoying it as much as I did on the first listen. 
It’s a perfect album in every way and can’t be faulted by me, with a track available to stream below  there’s enough here to start, or continue, your addiction to this unbelievably good band and also give you a good indication as to what to expect from the rest of the album."

Steeped in atmosphere and combined with ambitious vision and experimentation Exuvia by The Ruins of Beverast brought us one of the year's most inventive and original albums from one of the world's greatest bands.

1. Removed

1. Possession - Exorkizein - Iron Bonehead Productions / Invictus Productions.

'Exorkizein' was reviewed here back in April and has stayed at the top of the pile since then. A truly amazing debut album that sees the band going from strength to strength. "Across all their releases to date there’s not a single dodgy track, and Possession has pushed their skills even further with what they have achieved here – I’ve no doubt the band will continue to improve but, to be honest, if they continue to release music to a standard as high as this they’ll easily become modern day legends. Hardworking and dedicated to their art there’s no band that deserves an album as good as this more than Possession, they’ve worked their asses off to reach this moment and deserve nothing less than total support."

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