Dec 272017


(For the 7th year in a row, I asked our old pal SurgicalBrute to weigh in with his year-end list of favorite albums and EPs. As expected, his list (presented in alphabetical order) adds names of underground releases that haven’t appeared before in our 2017 Listmania series, including some that (gasp!) include clean singing.)


What to say?….What to say?…What to say? I mean, was it a good year for metal…of course it was…that observation is trite and tired. It’s not 1996 any more, we’re not stuck using dial-up and getting our heavy metal information exclusively from magazines. There is a constant stream of new music to be found at your fingertips if you want it, and the chances of us ever seeing another year like 2002 (one of the weakest I can remember) are extremely unlikely.

How good was it, though? Well that depends. If you were looking for something new and unique, you were probably let down a bit, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s not what makes or breaks a year. I’m not looking for anything genre-defining, I just want to kick back and listen to some killer music, and by that measure I can’t find a single thing to be disappointed about.

So, with that said, let’s get on with the list….Enjoy! \m/




Attic – Sanctimonious (heavy)

For those of you looking to scratch your King Diamond itch.







Blencathra – These Bones Became the Roots of the Forest…… (folk/atmospheric black)

The Summoning influence is there, but the music goes its own way.







Blood Stronghold – The Triumph Of Wolfish Destiny (black)

Lo-fi production hides a surprisingly melodic album.








Condor – Unstoppable Power (thrash)

Once this starts, you’ll have only one thought on your mind. Power Trip, who?







Father Befouled – Desolate Gods (death)

Going head to head with a new Incantation release, Father Befouled actually beat them at their own game.







Goatpenis – Anesthetic Vapor (black/death)

You know the drill, bullet belts and gas masks. Riffier than your average War Metal band, and far better than the name Goatpenis would imply.







Hellripper – Coagulating Darkness (black/speed)

Fast and filthy. Everything blackened speed metal should be.







Harvest Gulgaltha – Altars of Devotion (death/black)

Debut full-length of twisted, mid-tempo blackened death.







Malokarpatan – Nordkarpatenland (black)

Old-school, rural, Slovak black metal. You’ll need to listen to find out what that means.







The Necromancers – Servants of the Salem Girl (heavy/doom)

First-class chunk of pyschadelic doom metal.







Nocturnal Triumph – Into Light’s Graven Womb (black)

Grand sweeping melodies, and a haunting, mystical atmosphere.








Ordos – House of the Dead (stoner/rock)

Killer cover art, heavy stoner doom, and brutal Swedish groove.







Phrenelith – Desolate Endscape (death)

Crushing death metal that will run you over where you stand.







Possession – Exorkizein (black/death)

Old-school, riff-driven blackened death, just like mama used to make.







Ritual Knife – Hate Invocation (black/punk)

Raw, punk-inspired black metal. Not for production junkies.







Ruins of Beverast– Exuvia (black/doom)

Maintaining their track record of amazing albums, the more you listen the more it reveals.







Runespell – Unhallowed Blood Oath (black)

Nightwolf decided that releasing a new Blood Stronghold wasn’t enough. If you liked that album, check this one out as well… and vice-a-versa, obviously







Suffering Hour – In Passing Ascension (Black/death)

A merging of modern, tech/avant-garde black metal with raw and dirty death metal.







Satan’s Hallow – Satan’s Hallow(heavy/rock)

Single best traditional heavy metal album to come out this year.







Spectral Voice – Eroded Corridors of Unbeing (death/doom)

There’s still some originality to be found in Incantation worship.







Tetragrammacide – Primal Incinerators of Moral Matrix (black/death/noise)

Merciless, blistering, wall of thunder.







Triumvir Foul – Spiritual Bloodshed (death)

Massive dose of cavernous death metal.







Vaal – Geesten van de verlorenen (black)

Raw and extreme with the occasional bit of groove.








Venenum – Trance of Death (death)

Hey, all you long-time readers. Remember way back in 2011 when I told you to keep an eye out for this band? You’re welcome.







Vampyric Blood – Howling in Candlelight (black)

Gloomy and ominous black metal. What did you expect? It’s written by a guy names Lord of Shadows.









Honorable Mentions:


Rebirth Of Nefast (black)

Midnight (black/speed)

Haunting Depths (black)

Blood (Death/Grind)

Tomb Mold (death)

Byyrth (black)



  1. Cool list, I totally agree on Condor 🙂

  2. Lizardman says:

    Great list!

    The Blencathra album took me by surprise. I try not to leap for anything I see with catching album art — appearances may often be deceiving — but I was pleasantly surprised. It certainly takes influences from Summoning without being a blatant copy or Summoning worship.

    Spectral Voice killed it for me — such a goddamn powerhouse of death doom.

    • Surgicalbrute says:

      Glad you liked it!

      It’s funny you mention not judging by cover art, because I do that with albums probably way more than I should. Most of the stuff I like tends to use a certain art style, so I always home in of those first when I’m scanning music

  3. Eli says:

    Probably my favorite list so far, only has some in common with mine but plenty of (super)underground picks, which I like.

    • Eli says:

      Condor is fucking radical, but I think Butcher made a better thrash album, and Hellripper trumps them all.

    • Surgicalbrute says:

      See…I told you we’d get along 🙂

      As for who made the best thrash album, I can never judge anything to that extent. I usually have so many albums to choose at the start that I tend to use really arbitrary reasons to whittle it down to 25. Sometimes it just comes down to a coin flip about who gets to stay and who gets the boot

      • Elijah says:

        Oh yeah, I’m not qualified at all to accurately judge an album. I don’t use reason in my lists. If I did, my objective number one would be Venenum. My list is a tribute to my bias

  4. Surgicalbrute says:

    ” including some that (gasp!) include clean singing”

    I’m doing nothing but Power metal on next years list 🙂

  5. Gaia says:

    Nice to see The Necromancers and Ordos!! Ex People are recommended!

    • Surgicalbrute says:

      I actually did give Ex People a spin, and I’ll say it’s not bad. They’ve definitely got a heavy sound, but they didn’t quite click for me. I’ll give them a little more time though, and see if they grow on me a bit

  6. deckard cain says:

    Nice list again SB! Runespell’s EP too was good.

    • Surgicalbrute says:

      Thanks man…

      …I haven’t checked out the EP. Going to have to track that down

      • deckard cain says:

        It was kinda released a few months earlier, sort of a primer to the full length but powerful nonetheless. You must checkout Cult of Eibon, a decent hellenic BM debut fronted by Kawir’s current vocalist. On that note Kawir’s latest was bummer, I guess they can never top Isotheos for now.

  7. Daniel says:

    Thanks for this list, right up my alley! Really digging Nocturnal Triumph! There’s like no info on the interwebs about that band.

    • Surgicalbrute says:

      Thanks man, really glad you liked it!

      Yeah, that Nocturnal Triumph is killer. I stumbled onto them because they’re on Goatowarex, the same label as Haunting Depths, but beyond that, there isn’t a ton out there on them

  8. brklyner says:

    Great list! Need to go back to a few of these and check them out again.

  9. Glenn Whitehead says:

    Fucking awesome stuff. I’m loving the Harvest Gulgaltha sound. And Father Befouled, how did i miss that one this year, i have their debut!

  10. HighZoolander says:

    Thanks for mentioning Attic! Holy crap – it sounds like the album that should have been released right after Don’t Break the Oath, and no one would have guessed it wasn’t Mercyful Fate. That’s not a knock on Attic, because damn, I’ve been waiting for that album for a very long time, and I’m ecstatic to finally hear it!

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