After these five, and the honorable mentions to follow, it's finally time to launch into 2018 a couple of months late and give you some reviews of exciting new/upcoming music so let's get cracking on this shall we?
Following up five years after their debut EP A Conundrum on my Coffee Table their new album Frequency Illusion doesn't change a whole lot in the style but rather refines it and gives us more than twice as much music.
They've come armed with a new vocalist, Austin, who, like their old one, has quite a bit of Mike Patton in him without sounding like a rip-off. He sings, screams and shouts his way through all the complex 8 string riffs, time changes and catchy grooves across the 36 minute runtime, providing plenty of sing-a-long moments, fulfilling exactly what I wanted from a new II II II album.
Mikau came out of nowhere with this absolute banger of an EP which I listened to several times a day following its release (which isn't hugely difficult when you consider it's brief runtime), and I cannot wait for a follow up. What a perfect mash-up of hysterical screaming, white belt tendencies and Nintendo-core noises!
From the first scream of "I WAS JUST A KID" to the final screams of "SOMETHING I HATE" the EP jumps from hideously noisy breakdowns to surprisingly melodic chiptune and back again. Sometimes reminiscent of Horse The Band at others conjuring up the intense breakdowns of Me and Him Call It Us Mikau tick so many boxes in my book I half expect the members to yell "BINGO" at any given moment (too farfetched an analogy?).
When you tend to listen to hundreds of new albums a year it's easy to become jaded but as the sole Bandcamp review at the time of writing this says, this album gives me hope for new sounds within heavy music.
Then, luckily, they release albums called things like ...You Are Mostly Nowhere which makes them a lot easier to find and what a great thing that is, as I sure as hell wouldn't want to miss this masterpiece of modern metal.
As a musician a lot of albums make me want to pick up my instrument and play but only certain bands make me long for getting in a room full of people to jam out but this album makes me long for those nights spent in friends' garages, improvising and, when all else failed, leaning on the predictable combo of sweeps and blasting.
What name have crafted here is simultaneously intricate enough to appeal to mathcore/prog metal fans but expansive enough to appeal to post metal/sludge fans; kind of like a more hardcore influenced The Ocean or if Baroness listened to a lot of The Dillinger Escape Plan around the time they released Red Album. Keep those three bands in mind as well when it comes to vocals as there are bits of this album where the varied style bring each respective vocalist from these bands to mind.
That may or may not give you a clear idea of what to expect but if it doesn't just give the song above a listen, I know it's 10 minutes long (longer than two of the albums on this list) but it's quite an incredible track to be honest. If you feel like you don't have time for that you probably would've stopped reading around the time I said "prog metal" but even then I'll point you in the direction of the first track on the album on Bandcamp, as that's a lot shorter.
Trust me though, the whole album is fucking sick.
name are a three piece and said in an announcement for this album that they wanted to sound bigger than they actually were, that mission has been a resounding success! This album sounds huge, expansive and epic. Prog/math metal and post rock have had a few run-ins in the past but I've always felt like it's an underutilized combo so hopefully we won't have to wait another 8 years between name albums, although in this case the wait was 100% worth it.
So read the tag for an album I came across on Bandcamp about 5 years ago by a band called Kilgore Trout. The music was intense like power violence but vulnerable like emo/screamo so the tag made a lot of sense despite me, at the time, not being familiar with it.
What followed was a deep dive into some great music from the likes of Svffer, Portrayal of Guilt and more. Eventually, and a lot more recently, I came across a band called Ostraca, just before their album Last came out. Not realizing that this was effectively Kilgore Trout with a new name I listened to their previous material and was blown away. I had to pre-order Last.
Since I first heard "Waiting For The Crash" I knew this album would end up on my year-end list. Like a more MySpace version of Oathbreaker or a more post-y version of MySpace Ostraca have crafted themselves a glorious album of post-metal influenced emoviolence and I simply cannot get enough of it.
When I feel anxious music like this really helps as I find it incredibly cathartic but I realize it could also be experienced as emotionally overwhelming so give it a go, immerse yourself in it and allow the emoviolence to wash over you.
Fortunately for me though SeeYouSpaceCowboy released one hell of an album to make up for it and I give you the final entry on my top ten for 2017, Fashion Statements of the Socially Aware.
If MySpace, whitebelt and sass are truly making a comeback SeeYouSpaceCowboy are among the bands on the frontline, fighting the good fight, and if not, at least we're getting some kick ass music out of it. Intense breakdowns, sassy vocals (sometimes Daughters-y, sometimes Hayworth-y, always taste-y) and, in true MySpace fashion, long irrelevant song titles.
If you can listen to this album without wanting to throw shapes, you're probably not into hardcore dancing and I relate to that, but holy shit if there was ever a year I'd consider getting into it 2017 would have been a good candidate.
SeeYouSpaceCowboy have a message to deliver, one of equality and anti-fascism, but even on a surface level they're delivering the goods ten times over, especially considering that so soon after releasing Fashion Statements they've now followed it up with a split with secondgradeknifefight.
I see bright things in SYSC's future, hopefully they'll pull together an East Coast tour before I return to the other side of the Atlantic as I'd love to see if I'm compelled to karate chop the air when "Pep Talk From A Nihilist" comes on.