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  1. 10. Mastodon- Cold Dark Place The Emperor Of Sand was a decent release, and I will be honest, I nearly put it at 10 as a double with this glorious EP. But that is the issue, this EP is so good I didn't need to second guess if or where it should have been placed. Like all great EP's, the only flaw I can think of is that I would have liked more from them in this very personal vein. 8/10 9. As Lions- Selfish Age http://www.angrymetalguy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/as-lions-selfish-age.jpg Bruce Dickinson's son formed a new band. And they are not remotely original, but they are very good pop-metal songwriters, and Austin Dickinson is blessed with tremendous pipes, not unlike his dad's, but with all his own personality. 8/10 8. Royal Thunder- WICK http://www.spinefarmrecords.com/usa/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/01/2.jpg I love Royal Thunder, and WICK might just be the bands finest work to date! It has received an excellent response from both mainstream and underground critics, which is quite surprising, as this rather heavy album doesn't try to please, with its Mastodon meets Fleetwood Mac as they clash in the american south sound and the raspy vocals of lead frontwoman Miny Parson's about as unpretty as they come. Still, a truly great album that for a little while was my sure winner for Album Of The Year title. 8/10 7. Soen- Lykaia http://www.metalinjection.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/soenlykaiacd.jpg I know very little about this band. What I do know is that Soen create beautiful songs that sound only an inch away from having mainstream crossover potential. Beautiful, soaring, delicate, this is what I love about a lot of Scandinavian music. The melancholy really suits my palate. 9/10 6. Leprous- Malina http://www.themidlandsrocks.com/wp-content/uploads/Leprous-%E2%80%93-Malina.jpg Of all the bands and albums on this list, this is my most recent first time listen. And I can imagine burning out fast on this band, because they are so addictive, there is a high chance I could overplay it. But with killer songs like Bonneville, Mirage, Malina and the killer Queen meets Muse hooks of Illuminate, I cannot quite imagine ever being completely over this record. Melodic and instantly gratifying, Leprous create a sound that lacks originality, but they make up for it instead with great vocals, stunning musicianship, and a lot of rather off kilter moments that ensure the listener is kept attentive throughout. 9/10 5. Paradise Lost- Medusa http://www.metalinjection.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/paradiselostmedusacd.jpg Paradise Lost are my favourite metal band, and I will always support them, even though I found Tragic Idol a pretty great, if verging on generic, goth metal record, and the Plague Within an almost impenetrable wall of sound, one that lacked the bands signature use of melody that helped them win over a wide audience. But whilst Medusa arguably offers more of the same, they somehow do it better. Fearless Sky, The Longest Winter, Blood And Chaos...there is a purity to this record that ensures that, whilst it remains a VERY heavy return to their doom metal roots, minor fragments of their melodic past shine brighter in the mix. In my opinion, Medusa is a high work of art and incredibly beautiful. The finest Paradise Lost album since 2009's Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us. 9/10 4. Trivium- The Sin And The Sentence http://www.hmv.com.hk/data/upload/goods_photos/2017-10-30/59f6bce474742.jpg Trivium are very easy to hate. After two albums that catered almost embarrassingly to the metal mainstream (the rather tepid, if catchy Vengeance Falls and the undeservedly maligned The Silence In The Snow), Trivium return to their best form: killer hooks, huge riffs, and experimental ambition. Songs such as Sever The Hand, The Revanchist, Thrown Into The Fire and the terrific title track hark back to their genre defining earlier efforts Ascendancy and Shogun, which helped to bridge the gap between the growingly tiresome metalcore movement and the great thrash and prog-metal bands of the eighties/nineties. Trivium, however, did not become popular without a little help from killer melodic hooks, and this album balances the poppier sound that helped them breakthrough into the general mainstream with their more ambitious side. Beyond Oblivion, Other Worlds and The Heart From Your Hate could all have been, in an alternate universe, radio hits, whilst The Betrayer, Beauty In The Sorrow and Endless Night take the shameless commercial blandness of their less esteemed material, and pump them up with adrenaline and more complex arrangements. Lead vocalist Matt Heafy has always been, in my opinion at least, one of modern metals most endearing vocalists, and with The Sin And The Sentence he gives his best ever vocals. But the true star of the album is the new drummer Alex Bent, who injects a startling amount of energy into this record. The bands finest album since 2008's masterful Shogun. 9/10 3. Taylor Swift- Reputation Few on this forum will appreciate my love for this girl. But this is exactly the album she needed to release, and lyrically she bites, croons, sulks and laughs, often at herself, to the sound of the eighties as heard by the leaders of the modern EDM movement. ...Ready For It, I Did Something Bad, Endgame and the divisive Look What You Made Me Do are killer pop songs, whilst Delicate, Gorgeous and the rather wondrous Getaway Car hark back to her roots. Album highlight for me is Delicate. 10/10 2. AFI- AFI (aka "The Blood Album") AFI are one of the defining bands of my youth. Black Sails In The Sunset, Sing The Sorrow and the wildly successful Decemberunderground have all been addictions I have joyously battled in the past, these records often never leave my player for months at a time. But the same cannot be said for the bands last two records: the underappreciated, if pedestrian Crash Love and the rather clumsy Burials. But they came back to the top with their self-titled 2017 release. Every single track is great, the entire record hums to its own tune, and the band sounds both nostalgic and revitalised by a sudden surge of new inspiration. Dark Snow, Aurelia, Snow Cats (possibly my song of the year!) and the closing slower number The Wind That Carries Me Away all stand out. But the truth of the matter is that AFI is an album full of nothing but standouts. Punkier, and even catchier, than they have been in years, there is also a return to their gothic roots that inspires me, and the end result is not only one of my favourite albums of the year, but also my favourite AFI album to date. 1. Fleet Foxes- Crack Up Fleet Foxes really delivered with Crack Up. I don't just mean they released a great album, rather, they released a true masterpiece, which is something I felt they were incapable of doing again. Three classic albums in a row. Folkier, proggier and even more emotional than they have ever been before, Fleet Foxes may never be able to top this. If You Need To, Keep Time On Me, Fool's Errand and the astonishingly beautiful Third Of May/Odaigahara are all great songs. But Crack Up has got to be consumed whole. I have had a shockingly painful year. I have suffered the worst abuse, nearly died, lost my head completely at several points and made some grave errors of judgement. 2017 has been the worst year of my adult life thus far. But I also found love (thank you John), and no album could have done a better job at soundtracking the schizophrenic nature of my year better than this. 10/10
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