Val’s favourite albums of 2017: It’s all about the atmosphere

Val's top 10

 

I’ve noticed a change in my music over the past year. My typical brutal jam wasn’t as present as usual. This year, it was all about the atmosphere. Let’s see what my 2017 playlist was made of.

Montfaucon - Renaissance

Montfaucon – Renaissance

“Hey Val, what are you listening to?”

“Montfaucon”

“Oh, I don’t know this band, what do they sound like?”

“Well… I… I… I don’t know.”

It’s such a stupid answer, because I’ve been regularly listening to this album since it came out in February. I know exactly how it sounds like, but still, I have a hard time explaining what it is. And I love it. I love that I can’t easily put words on this music. If I do try to describe Montfaucon‘s music, I would say it’s a symphonic mix of death, doom, and black metal. It doesn’t tell much, hn? It’s the kind of music that would be a perfect soundtrack for an elegant horror movie, Dracula-style

 

Carach Angren - Laugh and Dance Amongst the RottenCarach Angren – Laugh and Dance Amongst the Rotten

Let’s keep going in the horror vibe with Carach Angren. I’ve been one of the fans for a long time, and I was ecstatic when I read about their upcoming album. When it came out, I jumped on it and I listened to it non-stop for a month or so.

The newest addition to this Dutsch band’s discography is, to my opinion, a masterpiece. It’s a conceptual album about a young girl obsessed with her Ouija board. Every song has its own story, ghosts, atmosphere, and theatrical elements. The guys are mastering storytelling within each track, which is a reason why I love this album so much. Good storytelling and awesome music: that’s how you get a music journalist.

 

UFOMAMMUT- 8UFOMAMMUT – 8

There’s been a major switch in my music liking in 2017. Death metal had dominated my playlist for years. Everything from brutal to melo death: I looove the fast tempo, the aggressivity, and the power of death metal. But somehow, in 2017, I started more and more to listen to slower but heavier music, and doom metal has slowly conquered my Ipod.

Among the albums that have been paying on repeat is 8 from the Italians UFOMAMMUT.  I remembered seeing them live at the St-Helena Doom Fest in Munich a couple of years back and thinking: “Whooo, that’s some heavy stuff!”. This is exactly how I would describe 8 : That’s some heavy stuff! It’s the kind of music you picture yourself walking to on your way to Hell. It sounds like a ton of bricks, where each brick slowly falls on the ground one after the other. It makes your soul tremble. And I love it.

 

Auðn - Farvegir FyrndarAuðn – Farvegir Fyrndar

Two years ago, a friend of mine, Fabian, who is also designer for the FreqsTV crew, sent me a song from Auðn. I had never heard of this Islandic band before. Once I took back my jaw that had just dropped down to the floor, I listened to their one and only album on repeat. My love for them grew with every note.

Their second album is nothing but just as good as their first one. Their music gives an immersive experience with an incredible atmosphere. The band plays an aggressive and harsh black metal, but somehow, it’s also melodic and deeply emotive. I have a hard time putting words on this record. Just listen to it. It’s worth every single minute of your time.

 

Schammasch - The Maldoror Chants: HermaphroditeSchammasch – The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite

I’m among these lucky people who receive free music from labels and PR companies, which is great. Most of the albums that land into my inbox are from bands I’ve never heard of, which is even greater. I get to regularly discover new bands and sounds: some don’t quite match my taste while some go straight to my heart after the first notes.

That was the case with Schammasch. The guys have been around for a while, but somehow, our pathes had never crossed. Until The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite. The first time I gave it a spin, I squinted the whole time, fixing the emptyness between my screen and me, somehow trying to figure out what I was hearing. The tracks on this albums are unique and totally outside the box. The band falls into the black metal category, but it has a quite distinctive sound with the spoken vocals that come from another world and the strong atmospheric parts. It’s a music for some kind of dark, secret rituals.

 

Septicflesh - Codex OmegaSepticflesh – Codex Omega

Codex Omega wasn’t out yet that it was already in my top 10. I have a serious love affair with Septicflesh; their orchestral and atmospheric elements have never disappointed me. Codex Omega is no exception. The balance of heaviness, distortion, orchestra, and slower pacing is just perfect. The second CD of the album is actually an instrumental mix of songs found on the first CD. It shows the coherence of the album as a whole. You can really focus on the complexity and the power of the musical arrangements. It’s brilliant.

 

Wolfheart - TyhjyysWolfheart – Tyhjyys

Anyone that knows me can talk about my love for melo death. For the past couple of years, I’ve been obsessed with the song Routa Pt. 2 of Wolfheart, on the album Winterborn (2013). To me, this piece is musical perfection and is its own category above pretty much everything else.

Tyhjyss got the same frozen vibe, but with a slower tempo and a gloomier atmosphere. I think it has a doom-y atmsophere, especially with tracks such as The Flood, where the notes are filled with sadness. Even with no lyrics, you could feel all the emotions contain in the music, mostly melancholy. Once again, another great piece of Tuomas Saukkonen.

 

Ulsect - UlsectUlsect – Ulsect

The death metal scene (like many scenes, I guess) is, I think, over-crowded with sound-alike and not-so-original bands. Discovering something authentic is so refreshing, and it happened to me this year thanks to Ulsect.

Their self titled album stands out in the death metal bloody ocean. Their tracks are so dynamic, which makes the entire album interesting to listen to as a whole. The songs have a movement of back-and-forth of energy; the song is building itself in power and then collapses to rebuild itself back up. These shifts of power have grabbed my attention during the entire album.

 

Primitive Man - CausticPrimitive Man – Caustic

A friend of mine, who is more into heavy and power metal, gave Caustic a spin on my recommendation. After the first track, he stopped and told me that he just couldn’t handle it. That’s what I love about this album, and Primitive Man in general: it’s soul-crushing.

Primitive Man gave us what they always give us: an overwhelming hostile and uncomfortable sound. The nihilistic trio from Denver has put into music the pain of humanity, and it’s phenomenal. This is exactly how blackened doom should sound. This is it.

 

Tombs - The Grand AnnihilationTombs – The Grand Annihilation

The last place on my top 10 was the hardest to choose. I had 5-6 albums in front of me, and only one winner was possible. I ended up picking the newest baby of the New Yorkers Tombs. Why? Because these guys still don’t care about conformity and limitations of genre. Like their three previous albums, The Grand Annihilation offers a black metal flirting with the borderlines of everything surrounding it: sludge, shoegaze, ghotic, post-rock, name it. The distinctiveness of their sound makes it all for me.

 

Thanks for the great music, 2017. I’m ready for what you have to offer, 2018. Bring it on!

Valérie Blais

There can't be enough metal for Val. If she isn't exploring the obscure side of Bandcamp to find her new favourite band, she's headbanging at a local gig. Historian and journalist, FreqsTV's words are her favourite playground.

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