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The Best Metal Albums of 2017

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #98. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.

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Your best source for what’s new, undiscovered and unholy in metal.

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Battle Jacket – \?ba-t?l\ \?ja-k?t\
noun 

1. A denim or leather jacket or vest, usually covered with sewn patches embroidered with the names/logos of killer metal bands.

2. Unwinnable Monthly’s metal column, your best source for what’s new, undiscovered and unholy in metal.

Tis the season for new records, seeing that The Faceless just debuted In Becoming a Ghost, their first new album since 2012’s Autotheism. HOT TAKE: it’s pretty good and it has a flute solo! It’s also the season to talk about the very best metal albums of the year, so here’s ten of the very best metal records released in 2017, along with a bunch of other great bands and songs to check out in this month’s playlist. As always, tell me what you think on Twitter, I’m @Lynchtacular.

Listen now to the Unwinnable Best Metal of 2017 Playlist

UNWINNABLE METAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2017
Zeal & Ardor – Devil is Fine
SPIRITUAL BLACK METAL BLUES
What started as a racist dare on 4Chan evolved into one of the most refreshingly unexpected metal records in years. Led by avant-garde musician and artist Manuel Gagneux, the band combines black spirituals from the era of American slavery with black metal conventions, throwing keyboards and electronics into the thoughtful arrangements as well. The result is a full-throated expression of metal that works so well, it’s surprising no one tried it sooner.

WATCH: “DEVIL IS FINE”; LISTEN: “BLOOD IN THE RIVER” (LIVE, STARTS AT 1:35); LISTEN: FULL ALBUM

BEST METAL OF 2017
Converge – The Dusk in Us
CROSSOVER HARDCORE DOOM GOTH MATH
The new Converge record has it all: crushing math, creeping goth, hardcore, thrash metal and that’s just the first half of the album. I can’t think of another band’s ninth studio LP recorded 27 years after they formed that kills so hard.

WATCH: “A SINGLE TEAR”; LISTEN: “THE DUSK IN US”; LISTEN: “EYE OF THE QUARREL”; LISTEN: FULL ALBUM

Pallbearer – Heartless
MELODIC NEO SLUDGEDOM
Heartless showcases classic metal/rock arrangements that drive this jammy record, from the hooky opener “I Saw the End” to the heaving 12-minute-plus closer, “A Plea for Understanding.”

WATCH: “I SAW THE END”; LISTEN: “THORNS

Dead Cross – Dead Cross
HARDCORE AVANTE AGGRO
Part hardcore, part thrash and all weird, this unlikely supergroup of Retox/The Locust bassist Michael Crain and Retox guitarist Justin Pearson, ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo and Faith No More/Fantomas singer Mike Patton unleash the kind of music our parents called dangerous.

WATCH: “SEIZURE AND DESIST”; WATCH: “OBEDIENCE SCHOOL

Black Anvil – As Was
NEW WAVE BLACK
Torchbearers of the New York Black Metal scene, Black Anvil rearticulate the extremities of long-established black traditions with well-tempered songwriting, experimentations with clean vocals and elements of hard rock and classic metal.

LISTEN: “AS WAS”; LISTEN: “ULTRA”; LISTEN: “MAY HER WRATH BE JUST”; LISTEN: FULL ALBUM

Mastodon – Emperor of Sand
PROG SLUDGE ROCK
Atlanta, Georgia’s finest return to their concept record roots with Emperor of Sand, combining the brawn of Leviathan with the prog of Crack the Skye, while still trying to perfect the three-minute metal song.

LISTEN: “STEAMBREATHER”; WATCH: “SHOW YOURSELF”; LISTEN: FULL ALBUM

Cormorant – Diaspora
BLACKENED HEAVY PROG
Diaspora finds the SF Bay Area quartet charting dense but catchy territory, mixing hissing snarls and howls with clean vocal harmonies and riffs aplenty across four songs that clock in over a whopping 60 minutes of awesome.

LISTEN: “THE DEVOURER”; LISTEN: FULL ALBUM

Elder – Reflections of a Floating World
HEAVY PSYCHEDELIC JAM
Each of the six tracks on Elder’s Reflections of a Floating World features surprising depth and complexity.  This is definitely not just another doom or jam band.

LISTEN: “BLIND”; LISTEN: FULL ALBUM

Decapitated – Anticult
TECHNICAL DEATH
The crushing precision and drive on Anticult shows why Decapitated are still one of the world’s elite death metal bands almost 30 years on. Their sound is just as technical and relentless as ever and even grafts strains of melody into the mix.

LISTEN: “IMPULSE”; WATCH: “NEVER

Alluvial – The Deep Longing for Annihilation
INSTRUMENTAL PROGRESSIVE DEATH
We end this year’s Best of Metal list with one of 2017’s first releases, an absolutely shredding instrumental collaboration between much loved guitarists Keith Marrow and Wes Hauch (The Faceless, Conquering Dystopia, Black Crown Initiate). State of the art production meets state of the art guitar acrobatics, setting the bar sky high for whatever 2018 will bring us. Happy New Year, and see you on the other side, brother!

LISTEN: “COLONY”; LISTEN: FULL ALBUM

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Casey Lynch is editorial director of Square Enix where he works on Tomb RaiderDeus ExHitman and more. His first metal show was Anthrax, Testament and Metal Church in 1987. Djent with him on Twitter @Lynchtacular.

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