5) YOB, Our Raw Heart (Relapse)
If you’re looking for the song that encapsulates the experience Our Raw Heart offers, I point you to the album’s 16 and and half minute centerpiece “Beauty In Falling Leaves”. It’s a gorgeous epic dripping with emotional atmosphere as it lurches though clean passages punctuated by stomping thunderous guitar. All the while Scheidt sounds like he’s singing with everything he’s got. His soaring, howling vocals help deliver the album’s emotional punch.
Key Track: “Beauty In Falling Leaves”
4) Khemmis, Desolation (20 Buck Spin)
I missed the Khemmis train when Hunted topped lists in 2016. Fast forward to the release of the band’s third album Desolation, and I’ve had the track “Isolation” stuck in my head for days. The album is chock full of riffs both catchy and intricate and the songs have a great sing-along factor, mostly thanks to frontman Phil Penderast’s powerful, soaring vocals.
Key Track: “Isolation”
3) Panopticon, The Scars of Man on a Wilderness Once Nameless I and II (Bindrune)
Half of the album is comprised of the atmospheric black metal sound Austin Lunn has long since mastered while the other half is more along the lines of country/folk/Americana. That sounds like it probably wouldn’t and shouldn’t work, and Lunn acknowledges this, which is why the albums are divided up into I and II for those who don’t like the two different genres touching on their figurative plate. But anyone who doesn’t listen to both halves of the album are doing themselves a great disservice; The Scars of Man is equal parts melancholic and celebratory, heavy and moving.
Key Track: “Snow Burdened Branches”
2) Ghost, Prequelle (Loma Vista)
Prequelle is another enjoyable listen from Ghost that is easily accessible and includes what will go down as one of the band’s best songs. “Dance Macabre”, a catchy as hell number that got stuck in my head for over a week and still does creep up on occasion. Even people who don’t listen to Ghost or metal music have told me they think the song is good. I can’t even remember the last rock/metal song I heard that actually made me want to dance. Not headbang mind you, I mean dance.
Key Track: “Dance Macabre”