1. Migos – Culture

2017 was the apex of the “mumble rap” movement, and while the term is an abhorrence, Migos’ music certainly isn’t. Fun, simple, catchy and, for lack of a better word, chill, Culture is an energetic and ear-catching release with plenty of contagious hooks.


  1. 2 Chainz – Pretty Girls Like Trap Music

In the same vein as Migos, 2 Chainz also released an insanely catchy compendium of bangers in the back-end of summer. With tracks like “4AM” and “It’s A Vibe,” Pretty Girls was an album built for summer that quickly became timeless.


  1. Kublai Khan – Nomad


This release is nothing short of BANGER CITY. “Antpile” might be one of the best intro tracks ever written and it only gets hotter from there. I don’t honestly know what else I can say about it.


  1. Methwitch – Piss


Piss is Cameron McBride’s first full-length album under the Methwitch moniker—but with its prodigal talent and pure evil atmos, I doubt anyone would guess. Piss is pure darkness amplified by sinister slamming elements and raunchy black metal/grind. There’s nothing more I can tell you in words that isn’t better heard with your own ears.


  1. Emmure – Look At Yourself


It’s been some time since Emmure has graced a top list of mine—and with Look At Yourself, it’s well deserved. Frankie and a new cast of cohorts return to excellent form with this release, crushing and catchy through its entirety.


  1. Spirit Breaker – Human Nature


Between writing a lengthy review and a biopic for the band and this release, I don’t have much more to add beyond the following: if you’re into metalcore, and you’re into truly captivating music that encapsulates the entirety of the human condition and the dynamism between man and nature, then you will goddamn be in to Human Nature.


  1. Lorna Shore – Flesh Coffin


This is, without a doubt, one of the most unique and grisly deathcore releases to be released in recent history—and the only reason it isn’t rounding out the top five is just because I didn’t find myself coming back to it more as 2017 wore on. With that in mind, practically no album list for 2017 is complete without this one.


  1. Varials – Pain Again


With all the voracity of their earlier efforts (post-debut and “Dead End”, I mean) and a more refined, focused flair for the furious, Pain Again is languishing and raw while still capturing catchiness and emotion.


  1. Left Behind – Blessed by the Burn


It’s only fitting that long time comrades and creators of the mosh of Varials, Left Behind, be the next entry in this round-up. Where Seeing Hell was a wild ass trip of a record, Blessed by the Burn is a much more emotionally invested and intense journey through the human condition—with plenty of fist-swinging detours along the way, of course.


  1. Loser – I’m Not the Same


I’ll say it now: I don’t like nu metal.

That said, I don’t like Loser either—I love them. This record, to me, succeeds in all the ways My Ticket Home’s unReal. Failed me; trippy, alt-infused and abundant in its irreverent reference to all things nu, I’m Not the Same isn’t the same as any other record out there.


  1. Distinguisher – What’s Left of Us


Distinguisher’s 2017 release is another instance of a band taking potential and turning it into raw power. Raunchy, unhinged and unpredictable from start to finish, this record is a must-listen for fans of just about any kind of aggressive music.


  1. Shadow of Intent – Reclaimer


With every month that passes, Ben Duerr gains more and more well-deserved notoriety. With that said, he is but one piece to the puzzle that makes Shadow of Intent such an incredible band. Symphonic, technical, and spine-splittingly heavy, it would be folly to miss out on anything this band does.


  1. I AM – Life Through Torment


Very few things capture raw Texan aggression as well as I AM do. Life Through Torment continues the steps of their previous EP, seeing them combine heavy hardcore with riff-heavy death metal in a manner that isn’t quite “deathcore,” but, in honesty, doesn’t fit any other genre quite as well. Whatever you want to call them, the point is simple: I AM happen to be damn good.


  1. Alpha Wolf – Mono


2017 had a couple big trends: comebacks, excellent debuts and—as already hinted at—the glow up. Of the latter, few bands glo’d up as much as Alpha Wolf did. Mono is nothing short of magnificent—emotional, heavy, catchy and overtly nu in its influences, Mono is even more contagious than the name might imply.


  1. TIE:

11a. The Acacia Strain – Gravebloom


I know ties seem like a cop out (there are three in this list, so sue me), but with as many great releases that 2017 set upon us, it’s only understandable. Gravebloom, the latest installment in The Acacia Strain’s immense discography, is beautiful in a way that only The Acacia Strain can be. Even if the band released “Model Citizen” alone, that single would have found its way into this list somehow. Now imagine nearly a dozen similar songs—that’s why Gravebloom made it this high up.


11b. ‘Sabella – Dog Daze


Following in the vein of Drake and Beyonce (to a point), Dog Daze was a surprise release that left just about everyone slack-jawed. Melancholy and moody with a gritty punch and plenty of variety, ‘Sabella continue their underground reign with one of the most dynamic and diverse displays of hardcore/metalcore/heavy music ever released.


  1. TIE 2:

10a. SPITE – Nothing is Beautiful


SPITE get a lot of hate for…as far as I can tell, no good reason. They are designed to instill hate in its purest form, and they excel. While not necessarily poetic, the group retain passion between blistering volleys of scathing riffs and bone-splintering breakdowns—appealing to the bloodlust that exists within just about everyone.


10b. Bodysnatcher – The Death of Me


Stay Sick labelmates and all-around masters of the breakdown Bodysnatcher almost barely released their debut full-length effort this year—and for a young band, they did damn well with it. Slamming, groovy and gut-torching with infernal, hellish hatred, The Death of Me is emotive and introspective all while delivering more back-breaking slams and breakdowns than you can shake a stick at.


  1. Gamma Sector – Nex Omne


Perhaps the only band to ride the glo-up train harder than Alpha Wolf was Gamma Sector. With an EP that did little to catch an ear one way or another, Nex Omne snags the listener’s ear and drags it about ten miles—or ten trillion miles—to a galaxy filled with slamming misanthropy and ruthless deathcore mastery.


  1. Falsifier – World Demise / Extortionist – The Decline

REVIEW (Falsifier) REVIEW (Extortionist)

I very nearly forgot Extortionist on this list, NOT because it wasn’t worth a top spot, but because I had thought it was a 2016 release. It’s only fitting that it share a spot with another group of extraordinarily talented friends, Falsifier. Both bands had trying but successful years—and the struggle and strength gained from it is abundant in both records. Falsifier have simply never been as polished or ruthless as they are on World Demise, and The Decline is Extortionist at their best, no question or doubt.


  1. Signs of the Swarm – The Disfigurement of Existence


Signs of the Swarm had an enormous year, laden with tours, a notable label signing, and, of course, one of the most crushing releases the year had to offer. It’s tough to summarize the intensity of the record into a couple sentences, but suffice it to say that if you had to pick a record from 2017 to rival Infant Annihilator’s contribution to 2016, this would be that record.


  1. Currents – The Place I Feel Safest


Honestly, just listen to Currents. If you haven’t been since their breakout EP, you have no reason not to be now. I defy anyone to find an album this close to an hour that keeps the listener so emotionally invested and engaged.


  1. So This is Suffering – The Palace of the Pessimist


2017 saw a lot of unique takes on deathcore—Signs of the Swarm, I AM, etc—each giving their own twist to the genre’s core infrastructure. 2017 also saw many straight-up deathcore releases, and chief among them is The Palace of the Pessimist. Shreddy, heavy and a whole lotta fun, So This is Suffering joined the Unique Leader fold and contributed to their roster 10x their respective weight.


  1. VCTMS – Vol II: Inside the Mind


Aside from being extraordinary people and a band from whom I’ve drawn much of my own influence, VCTMS are just great. Including elements of melancholy, introspective poetry and hip-hop into their jagged, jarring backbone of metalcore maraudery, Vol II sees the band reach their greatest iteration yet—with a rumor that Vol III isn’t far away either.


  1. S’Efforcer – Survive}•{Discover


I remember contacting this band at the behest of Joey Lanzilotto in 2015 after hearing they had big things in the works. Fast forward to the end of 2016 when I got my hands on the band’s debut full-length to review. Since then, it’s been in nearly constant rotation, as I don’t know of any band combining progressive metal, post-metal, post-hardcore and metalcore so creatively. Make no mistake—it’s heavy—but in more ways than the standard chugs and fight riffs.


Instead of opting to try and separate my top two records for 2017, I’m going to simply include them together, un-numbered—because they both deserve the number one spot in their own rights.


Martyr Defiled – Young Gods


Yeah, it’s different—and it might not be the perfect record No Hope. No Morality. Was—but that doesn’t stop it from being almost totally untouchable. Martyr Defiled are a band which can simply do no wrong—since day one it’s been true and it’s true with their final release as well. Young Gods is metallic and marvelous all while keeping the quintessential touches of a riff-heavy deathcore album. What more do you want?

Outlaw – 688529


Most Wanted was one of my favorite releases when it came out—and it still is. Add in Eli Martinez (Rooks, Downpour, Volition) and you get nothing short of perfection. Make no mistake, 688529 is THE conceptual, groove-heavy metalcore release of the year, and quite possibly, the decade.


Honorable Mentions: Stick to Your Guns, Oceano, Save us From the Archon, Counterparts, Archspire, Big Sean, Big Sean/Metro Boomin, 21 Savage/Metro Boomin/Offset.





  1. SINK – SINK

Sink’s debut EP captures the soul-smothering despair of their Russian locale and blends it with the area’s well-known proclivity towards pure aggression. The result is a mash-up of The Acacia Strain and The Death Card era Sworn In.


  1. Easy Money – Rules of the Game


In spite of the EP’s name, Easy Money (or as the internet as a whole has taken to calling them, EZ$) don’t play by anyone’s rules. Heavy hardcore, metal, beatdown and crazy, funky jazzy interludes to give the mosh warriors a rest, Easy Money spent most of 2017 blowing up, and for damn good reason.


  1. The Willow – Ashen Queen


Imagine I AM meets The Last Ten Seconds of Life meets SPITE.

Getting chills? Because if you aren’t, your imagination is broken—and you will once you hear this EP. Largely slept on for no good reason, The Willow’s debut EP was a hidden gem among 2017’s hordes of incredible releases.


  1. These Streets – Unfinished Business


I guess this could technically be a full-length, but for simplicity’s sake, I’m putting it here. No matter how you choose to look at it, there’s no denying how rambunctious and energetic it is, combining raw beatdown brutality with sharp metallic licks and introspective, mind-warping atmosphere.


  1. Boundaries – Hartford County Misery


Boundaries took their relatively generic downtempo-turned-heavy hardcore debut’s atmosphere and did a total 180, infusing raw, passionate power and intensity aplenty to bring us Hartford County Misery, which hits like a semi-truck but with the steady, cantankerous fervor of a fucking freight train. Short, sweet and chock-full of kick-your-shit-in slams, Boundaries dropped the “un” from their unremarkable past to create an incredible experience.


  1. ZERO – You Are the Enemy

Featuring members of countless esteemed heavy acts, Zero started on a strong foot before they even released their debut EP. With a raw, metallic edge to their rusty, gritty hardcore backbone, You Are the Enemy sees the group take a more chaotic direction compared to that of No Salvation—but it still remains an incredible and solid listen, more mature and murderous than ever before.


  1. Human Error – Upon a Throne of Greed


When the minds behind Vulvodynia meet with the voice behind Acrania and gets produced by the man who brought us the aforementioned hit from Signs of the Swarm, many things are clear—but the clearest among them is that slams are imminent. With that said, Human Error do more than slam—there are moments of sprawling sonic beauty and melancholy that separate the segments of spine-splitting slamdemonium.


  1. Honest Crooks – Suffer


The follow-up to Honest Crooks’ last true EP feels long overdue. Fortunately, however, the wait wasn’t without good cause—as Suffer is an explicit reminder of just how violent and vicious Australian heavy music can be. Dark and brooding with brutalizing moments of bone-busting brutality, Honest Crooks—cheeky name aside—are simply one of the most masterfully intense heavy acts out there.


  1. Degrader – From the Inside Out


Degrader’s debut (which also feels like eons ago) came out of left field and turned me—and many others—on their ass. From the Inside Out, while much-anticipated, continued to do the exact same thing. Heavy in unexpected places and moody, melodic and catchy in others, Degrader continue to be another band putting the east coast on the map—much as the next band on the countdown do.

  1. Downswing – Dark Side of the Mind


While there were many strong and successful releases this year, none really started what I’d call a movement—none, except for Downswing. “Swingstyle” and the “East Coast Trash” slogans spread like wildfire, as did the band’s raunchy style of hardcore. Dark Side of the Mind launched the band right to Rise Records status, and again—rightfully so, as the band’s debut EP is nothing short of magnificent.


  1. Mercy Blow – Coup de Grace


Mercy Blow are goddamn heavy. That’s where it starts and honestly, it doesn’t take much more to compel the listener to give them a shot. Where they’re heavy, however, they are in an incredibly unique fashion. Few artists can inspire rage the way this act can, and Coup de Grace is proof. If you’re trying to see red and inflict bodily harm, there is no better elixir than this EP.


  1. Apate – Spit You Out


Another band taking sharp and sinister metalcore and infusing abundant nu-influence, Apate may have taken their sweet time with their debut EP, but it was worth the wait. Fun, catchy and a little funky at parts, the band take the shock value of Darke Complex’s Widow EP and infuse it with some overt Korn worship and enough 90s vibes to spark nostalgia.


  1. Temple of Athena – The Prophecy of a Sacred Sun


Come to think of it, I don’t think there’s been a straight deathcore release on this EP list yet. Temple of Athena change that. With Dan Basri being what I would consider 2017’s best new vocalist, and the remainder of the band equally talented, there’s no reason not to sleep on this crushing and quick release.


  1. Devthbed – The Atlas


Another Fuentes mix-job, The Atlas sees California’s Devthbed grow and mature into a conceptually creative and top-shape group of musicians. With some moderate Deftones influence and still some gritty, grisly breakdowns to keep fists flying, The Atlas isn’t as aggressive as the band’s debut, but its certainly more well rounded.


  1. Gravemind – The Death Gate


Technical. Heavy. Conceptual. Progressive. Australian. That’s about what you need to know going into The Death Gate—the rest is better experienced than pre-read.


  1. World of Pain – No Utopia

World of Pain’s Endgame was a strong full-length, but it lacked the cohesive strengths that No Utopia so prominently boasts. More focused, less filler and just as raunchy, No Utopia has my second-favorite intro of the year and enough beatdowns to make Mayweather vs McGregor look like a pillow fight.


  1. Sleep Waker – Lost in Dreams


First and foremost, I have to show some love to my home-state homies, Sleep Waker. However they could be from the middle of the Ukraine and still be this high up on this list—their locale has nothing to do with how incredible this release is. Metalcore with an atmospheric vibe and some sharp leads to contrast the brute-force breakdowns, Sleep Waker are a special and unique band—to both the Midwest and the world.


  1. Denihilist – Sacrification


Just as evil as you’d expect or hope, Denihilist continue to prove that under any name, any label, any style, they’re some of the most purely sacrilegious dudes in the deathcore/heavy metalcore scene. Catchy on “Bohemian Grove” and cruelly abusive throughout the entirety of the EP, this is one release that many more people should have been making noise about.


  1. Revenant – Osculum Est Mortis


With members of several extant and extinct deathcore bands to bolster your interest in this monster of an EP, Revenant broke into the game very early in 2017 and didn’t stop moving for one second during their inception. With a powerhouse single following Osculum’s oppressive debut, Revenant take blackened atmosphere and mash it up with insane blast beats and immense breakdowns that are joined by lacerating leads—in other words, not an album to take lightly.


  1. Deadland – Dismal


Even with a name that might make you think “wow, I can already tell this band tries too hard,” the fact is you aren’t ready for what Deadland bring to the table. The bastard child of Yuth Forever and Traitors—complete with that Florida fury we know and love—Deadland are a band bound to explode in 2018.


  1. InVoker – Resist


A departure from many of their previous efforts, InVoker take on a more pointed instrumental vector for a more focused and conscious political message. Groovy, gritty and heavy—just in a different way—Resist charges head first into the listener’s head, breaking everything in its path in the process.


  1. Eavesdropper – Only the End


This was a much-needed surprised to round out 2017. In a year already packed with stellar releases, Eavesdropper came out of left field with Only the End, a short release that manages to make a monstrous impact in a brief time. If you’ve managed to sleep on this band, ‘tis the season to wake up.

  1. I, Detest – Volume One


Jon Huber.

I could stop there, but the truth is that there’s much more to I, Detest then their legendary frontman. Every aspect of this band is simply magnificent and heavy enough to move mountains. Slams? Check. Chaos? Check. Punchy breakdowns and sick riffs? Check and check.

  1. Hollow Prophet – Hellhole


This is another one where I could just leave it at “Ben Duerr with the guys from Acrania/Slaughter to Prevail and Within Destruction.” But again, the terrific trio are more than the sum of their parts. The group’s brutality knows no bounds—but, like everything else, it’s best to witness it for yourself.

  1. Culture Killer – Culture Killer


Culture Killer have done more in their brief tenure than many bands achieve across decades—including sparking a worldwide movement to exterminate filth. While it was sad to see them hang up their numbers, it was THE way to end a career. The band’s self-titled EP is a monster, effortlessly blending death metal and heavy hardcore in a fashion that practically defies explanation. Always pushing boundaries on all fronts, Culture Killer forever.




Top Three Split Eps

3. Jesus Piece/Malace at the Palace

2. Kraanium/Analepsy – The Kraanalepsy Split

  1. Depreciator/The Color Nothing – Null//Void


Lets make this clear: if I wasn’t a stingy asshole and put split EPs with regular EPs, this would be number one. I’ve never heard anything quite this crushing—or at least crushing in this way—so it’s definitely not one to sleep on.



Top three singles.

“Punishment” – Desolate

“Mr. Knowitall” – Animal

“VOID” – Wicked World


Top Five Disappointments:

  1. Eminem – Revival

So, as a lifelong Eminem fanboy, this was…atrocious. Not just because I wanted it to be good, but because it shows no spark of the Eminem/Slim Shady/Marshall Mathers I fell in love with in elementary school. That said, it’s definitely established itself as something you need to listen to for yourself to pass judgement.


  1. Asking Alexandria – Asking Alexandria

I’ve nothing against the band’s change of direction—but I do hold the incredibly bland nature of the album against the group. Even when I wasn’t into it, Asking Alexandria always had an edge that kept me at least interested…until now.


     3. My Ticket Home – unreal

It isn’t that this record was bad, or that it wasn’t the next logical step in their direction started on Strangers Only—its just that, personally, this record was a monstrous swing and a miss. It seemed too focused on re-capturing 90s nostalgia and creating errant weirdness and not focused enough on really allowing My Ticket Home to make a truly authentically them sound. While still worth checking out—especially if you hunger for 90s nostalgia—it certainly left me wanting much more.


      2. Loathe – The Cold Sun

I wanted to love this record so much. I anxiously anticipated the day I’d get the review promo and when it came…I was flabbergasted. Loathe seem entirely too satisfied with sub-par production and going out of their way to be eerie, weird, creepy, odd—whatever—and, in the process, give the listener maybe 12-15 minutes of solid material throughout an entire full-length that’s double that. I’m not angry, Loathe. I’m just disappointed.


     1. Northlane – Mesmer

I think I’ve ranted enough about this album on social media to explain that this should be no surprise. But before you write it off, let me state the following:

I don’t dislike Mesmer for the new vocalist. I don’t dislike it for the change in direction. I don’t dislike that isn’t “br00tal” anymore. I dislike Mesmer because it’s one of the most boring and lethargic albums to come out of this year and years before it. Void of any energy or edge or hint of that “get-up-and-go” that—while largely absent on Node still showed up a little—made the band the powerhouse they were.

Note the tense.