2017: Discoveries In Music, Part I
At this point, it feels like there are more bands than people out there. There are definitely more releases, in every genre, than hours in the day. Not even the most reclusive hermit on a boatload of speed (hanging out with that dude would be a blast!) will hear every metal and metal-adjacent album and EP that came out this year. The best we can do is keep our ears open and hope something good falls into them once in a while.
The end of the year brings out the best-of lists, and ours will be up on Invisible Oranges at some point this month; there is only room for 20 albums there, and we've been posting our other favorites of 2017 across social media each day since Thanksgiving. However, there are some releases that slip through the cracks, whether it's because they come from an unfamiliar source or were just lost in the shuffle of a particularly busy time period during the year. One of Blood & Spirit's guiding principles is being a voice for the underground, no matter the outlet. What little exposure we might bring to a band (or movie, TV show, book, etc.) that we feel deserves the spotlight is our way of acknowledging the value they bring to us. So, yes, this is a very drawn-out way of saying: here are some releases that caught our ear in 2017 that maybe aren't quite top 20-ready, but are worth your time.
Cleveland just knows misery better. This noisy sludge trio have been around since 2006, but we only just heard then this year, with the release of their third full-length Acceptable Level Of Misery. Drawing a direct line to genre stalwarts like -(16)-, American Heritage and early Mastodon, DeathCrawl hit the sweet spot with flashes of southern metal, noise rock and modern Midwest death/doom (if you miss Coffinworm, don't sleep on these guys). Vocalist Jason Luchka has a secret weapon in his ability to hit the soaring, tortured clean-ish notes as well as the familiar sludge roars. Someone sign them, already!
A one-man homage to the glory days of NWOBHM, Haunt is the brainchild of Trevor William Church, guitarist/vocalist for Fresno classic doom upstarts Beastmaker. While his other duties are more preoccupied with the Pentagram/Black Sabbath end of things, Haunt sits firmly in early Eighties England. Debut EP Luminous Eyes revels in twin guitar riffing, classic solos and big vocal hooks. While Church is obviously more at home with a guitar than behind the kit, his rhythm section is serviceable and provides a decent foundation for the catchy songs he's come up with. If he ever decides to add a few players to the lineup, an opening slot on tour with Angel Witch is waiting.
While most metal fans are a passionate bunch, South Americans take the proverbial cake, set it on fire, and stuff it into a sacrificial goat. They're always at the front of the stage, headbanging like there's no tomorrow. That fervor extends to the bands, too; particularly the thrash and black metal scenes, which have been going at a relentless pace for nearly three decades. Cobra, from the capital city of Bogota, are as good a representative as any. They've been cranking out modern, death-tinged thrash since 2002, and might have their best effort yet with this year's Sin Dominio del Tiempo. Cobra definitely have an affinity for Kreator, especially in frontman Adrian Manrique's snarled vocal delivery, but there are elements of both classic and extreme Euro-leaning metal woven throughout the album. It's a natural evolution, and one of countless examples of a thriving metal culture somewhere outside of our own.