Following on from the first ten of my A-Z 2017 favourites, here is the second part. As the title says, this is my favourites – not necessarily the best records of the year, but the ones I enjoy or connected with the most. Feel free to tell me what I missed, why I’m wrong, or whatever else. There’s only so many hours in the day, and not all of them can be spent listening to records, sadly.
It’s easy to forget just how challenging early extreme metal was back in the 80’s. The sounds of bands like Hellhammer, Sodom, or Repulsion might be taken for granted now, but when they first emerged, they were truly shocking. It’s rare now to come across something that not only captures the sense of musical extremity of those bands, but also the unorthodoxy; the way they did not care for genres or convention, but set out to create something original of their own. New Jersey band Pink Mass manage it though on their new record Necrosexual, a startlingly fearless mixture of early black metal, death, grind, and crust that does not care for genre norms or making the listener comfortable, and is all the better and more dangerous for it. And that’s to say nothing of the way they challenge the non-musical norms of extreme metal. Previous album Slvt Kvlt was good, but this is fantastic.
Label: Blackened Death Records
This is an album that will make a lot of people unhappy. Kill All Men (Starting With The White Ones) is the first album from Olivia Neutered John, the satirical porno-grind project of Pope Richard, and whilst that’s a genre normally known for its poor perceptions of women and anyone who isn’t a straight white male, Kill All Men flips the usual practices of the genre on its head. The record mixes sexualised topics with the kind of gore that’s part way between Cannibal Corpse and Castrator, placing women in positions of power. It’s backed up by furious, straight to the point blasts of grind, making Kill All Men a rush of furious energy, that often masks its serious points with crude humour.
Label: 783 Punx
There’s a lot of shit to get depressed about these days. Each morning seems to bring some new disaster on the news, and the world is turning in to an ever-more hostile place for those who are minority groups. As such, it’s heartening to hear bands taking an active stand against all the racism, sexism, and prejudice that is becoming more prevalent. On their new split, hardcore/crust ragers Herida Profunda and London-based powerviolence group Hello Bastards deliver a short, sharp blast against hate, and against those who stand idly by when cries for help are met only by silence.
As I’ve noted elsewhere recently, the problem with most so-called comedy bands is that they aren’t actually all that funny, and rely on offensive or shocking “jokes” to mask a lack of decent songs. Wrong Shade Of Orange by solo act Mad Spanner makes no attempt to hide its absurd sense of humour – I mean, just look at that cover – but the thrashy punk/grind on the album is strong enough to stand on its own. However, the humour is of the kind that won’t be to everyone’s taste, and can be – to me – rather hit-and-miss. That said, there’s still more than enough here to have kept me entertained.
The main problem with most “comedy” bands is that they simply aren’t funny. This is often further compounded by the fact that most bands who try to be funny forget to write worthwhile songs, so that even if the jokes fall flat, at least there’s a solid base of riffs to fall back on. England’s Raised By Owls differ from most comedy bands in that they’re actually genuinely funny; and even if they weren’t, their grindcore is more than strong enough to stand on its own. Combining a very British sense of humour – which should be evident from the title of The Great British Grind Off alone – with varied, impressive grind, this album is a winner on all fronts.
Label: Blackened Death Records
You’ll probably be unsurprised to learn that Shit Clit Split isn’t the most sophisticated of listens. Featuring one-man act Shiteater from the UK, who play old-school, disgusting death metal, and US grind/crust/powerviolence band Clit Eastwood, this is a split for those who don’t take their lyrics too seriously, but still want to hear killer riffs. The contrasting styles of the two bands play off well against each other, and there’s a lot of energy and fun to be found here, but its inherently OTT lyrical nature is both its greatest strength and biggest weakness.