Remembering The Forgotten in 2017
I wrote these comments for this same column one year ago. It still holds true today.
I’ve often commented that music industry folks rush to get their ‘year-end lists’ generated and on-line much to the detriment of the bands. In their zeal, many albums, especially from the first half of the year get missed because the albums are not ‘top of mind’ for writers in November, in their egotistical stampede to be the first to write a review. Conversely, some late year albums got missed as many people generate their albums prematurely, before the year is even over. Every year, quality albums are coming out until Dec 31 but these late releases always get the shaft by the ‘mainstream’ metal Media who claim to support Metal. Magazines and webzines cling to some arbitrary deadline and because those inconvenient releases do not fit into their neat little boxes (driven largely by commerce) those worthy albums get skipped. To summarize; early year releases get forgotten, late year releases get skipped. For shame!
I believe some sober reflection would help provide a broader representation of what also happened in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal in 2017. I’ve enjoyed a few quiet days looking back at various releases from 2017 and I’ve cobbled together a little list of albums, EP’s, reissues, covers albums, live albums and other general weirdness, that I felt deserved more attention than they got. Admittedly, many of these are not ‘brand new, full-length studio albums of all new material’, so they get left in the dust by many journalists.
My friend and colleague Adrian Begrand has so eloquently pointed out, ‘Metal fans love their lists!’ I’m no different so here is one of my lists. (listed alphabetically) I tried to think outside the Pallbearer/Mastodon/Mykur/Converge group-think box. A fun little exercise of no consequence other than maybe someone might check out one of these releases. Enjoy!
JP’s Top 30 list of releases that coulda, shoulda, woulda got more attention in 2017.
ARDUINI/BALICH-Dawn Of Ages (Cruz Del Sur)
Released: February 24th
With all the hype over the past few years about the resurgence of traditional Metal, Doom and related combinations thereof, one might think that the collaboration between a founding member of Fates Warning and the singer of one of the hottest new bands (Argus) of that popular genre would excite folks, but no. Perhaps they are another victim of having an album with uninspired cover art, a bit of a dull name, and an early release date.
BESTIAL WARLUST-Storming Bestial Legions-Live ’96 (Hell’s Headbangers)
Released: February 17th.
These once darlings of Death/Black/Metal were the next big thing in the mid-90’s only to have it all fall apart. Very few noticed this decent little live document (almost an EP at 36 minutes) recorded at the height of their powers back in 1996. The late icing on the cake of a short but influential career.
BODYCOUNT-Bloodlust (Century Media)
Released: March 31st.
Not too many people noticed their comeback album MANSLAUGHTER in 2014 but this one hit big in 2017. Despite skirting political controversy (for about 10 minutes) and despite big name guest stars (Mustaine, Blythe, Cavalera), despite a Slayer cover and a Grammy nomination, most Metal lists seem to forget this album came out.
CHROME MOLLY-Hoodoo Voodoo (EarMusic)
Released Jan 17th
After a surprise reunion album, 23 years in the making in 2013, the former major label, UK hard rockers are back with album #6. Demonstrates that this music never really goes out of style.
CRYSTAL VIPER-Queen Of The Witches (AFM)
Released: Feb 17th
Perhaps a victim of putting out an album too early in 2017, this one got lost in the shuffle. Powerhouse vocalist Marta does not get mentioned in enough in conversations about women singers. As good as any other album in this style in 2017.
CYHRA-Letters To Myself (Spinefarm)
Released: Oct 20th
The debut album by this monster super-group featuring past band present members of bands like Annihilator, Amaranthe, In Flames, Hammerfall, Dreamland and many more, had a fair amount of pre-release hype, likely based on who is in the band, but then it slipped into obscurity quite quickly.
DANZIG– Black Laden Crown (AFM)
Released: May 26th.
Celebrating 30 years as a solo artist Glenn releases his 10th studio album, 11 if ,you count the covers album. This solid album, first one in seven years (again excepting the covers album) got overshadowed by the Misfits reunion thing.
DEEP PURPLE-Infinite (Ear Music)
Released: April 7th
Celebrating 50 years and 20 studio albums, this band that arguably helped start it all but, unlike black Sabbath, has not aged well with the young, modern Metal crowd. As solid as anything they have ever done since Blackmore left…the second time.
DIMMU BORGIR–Forces Of The Northern Light (Nuclear Blast)
Released: April 28th
This stop-gap, but monster Double Live album sees the band prepping for their, eight years in the making, comeback album. Maybe people are tired of the Black Metal and symphony combinations, but it works for Dimmu who made a name for themselves embracing that style as far back as Puritanical. However, the first live album of their career didn’t seem to resonate with fans.
DREAM EVIL–Six (Century Media)
Released: May 26th
The once-hyped, all-star Power Metal act returns after a seven-year hiatus and for reasons unknown it flew under the radar for many, even in the Power Metal community.
GALACTIC COWBOYS-Long Way Back To The Moon (Mascot)
Released: November 17th.
This quirky, slightly proggy band, with a surprisingly stable line-up of friends, was pretty popular back in the 90’s with six solid albums in a row. They are starting from scratch 17 years later and judging on their choice of album title they know it. A welcome return.
GALNERYUS – Ultimate Sacrifice (Warner)
Released: September 27th.
Despite being on a major label, and this being an inter-connected, high-tech globe, shockingly few Metal fans know about Japan’s #1 Power Metal band. Album #13 sees them staying the course…at a frantic pace of course.
GWAR-The Blood Of Gods (Metal Blade)
Released: October 20th.
Gwar’s line-up has suffered a lot lately but somehow carried on to release album #14. It was a return to their more original comedic style after the straight-up Metal of 2013’s BATTLE MAXIMUS. Some critics (not me!) have said the band was a novelty and the joke wore off 20 years ago and with this being the first album without iconic front-man and founder Oderus/Brockie, it may add to the feeling that the band, after almost 35 years in the business, are on their last legs.
HAREM SCAREM–United (Frontiers)
Released: May 12th
One of Canada’s longest running and arguably most successful Melodic Metal bands return with a storming album. 30 years, 14 albums, still big in Japan, but in North America no one noticed.
HEVISAURUS-Mika Minusta Tulee Isona? (Sony)
Released: Sept 1st.
Still incredibly popular domestically, the costumed Dino-gods release album #8. More of a six-song stop-gap EP (with Megadeth’s Kiko as a guest!) to appease ravenous fans. Did you see the Hevisaurus movie or go to the Hevisaurus theme-park yet? The title translates to ‘What Will I Be When I Grow Up?” Answer: A rich guy in a dinosaur suit doing catchy Metal-themed kids songs! There are worse jobs…
LIFE OF AGONY-A Place Where There Is No More Pain (Napalm)
Released: April 28th
This once pioneering cross-over/sludge type band returns after 12 years, line-up intact for album #5. Once on a major label they have settled back into the trenches, but unfortunately more people seem to talk about the singers gender-transition than the actual music. I’m not the biggest fan but it seems like they get more shit than they deserve.
MADAM X-Monstrocity (EMP)
Released: November 3rd
Didn’t see this one coming! 30 years between albums makes it hard to maintain momentum. Fun and funny for those of us who remember. The Petrucci sisters are pioneers who don’t get enough credit. Fun fact: Game Of Thrones star Peter Dinklage starred in Madam’s X’s video ‘High In High School’ back in 1984. Man, has his career gone downhill since then! Cool album cover art as well!
MARYANN COTTON–Murder (Chrome)
Released: October 2nd
Why does this band, who at one point (on the debut) featured four ex-members of King Diamond, never get any attention in the Rock and Metal community? Album #3 and singer Maryann (the reincarnation of 70’s Alice Cooper and Yes, I know Alice isn’t dead yet) is one of the last true ‘Rock Stars’ on the planet, people just don’t know it yet.
M.O.D.-Busted, Broke & American (Megaforce)
Released: July 7th.
Billy Milano is back after a ten-year hiatus with album #8. Is Billy’s politically incorrect humour out of style? It seems so, with so much Metal ever-increasingly becoming a group-hug of inclusiveness, this album didn’t even make a dent.
NOCTURNAL RITES–Phoenix (AFM)
Released: September 29th
Another mid-level Power metal band comeback with an album 10 years in the making. Some mild initial buzz but dissipated quickly after stylistic changes alienated some of the few remaining loyalists. Power Metal band #27 to call their comeback album ‘Phoenix’ or ‘Phoenix-Something’
PRIMUS-The Desaturating Seven (Prawnsong)
Released: September 29th
The first album in six years (excluding that weird Chocolate Factory soundtrack remake thing) and in their usual bizarreness, the band features an album entirely inspired by and a tribute to, a 1978 children’s book called ‘The Rainbow Goblins’ by Ul De Rico. I actually had that book as a kid so this seems pretty neat to me, but probably went over the heads of most people still waiting 25 years later for ‘Tommy The Cat, Part II’.
RADIATION ROMEOS-Radiation Romeos (Frontiers)
Released: June 2nd
It might be a bit of a stretch to name your new band after two words in a song you sang in another band almost 30 years ago, (Atomic Playboys) but it is really nice to hear Parry singing again. Solid, competent Melodic Metal with simple, heartfelt lyrics.
RASKASTA JOULUA–Raskasta Joulua IV (Spinefarm)
Released: Nov 17th
Raskasta Juolua (Heavy Christmas) Europe’s very own version of TSO put out release number eight. I can forgive the Metal media for passing this one over, as it is too focused on a regional market and four week holiday season to make an impact. Think about this….TSO’s last Christmas album was released in 2004 and Raskasta Juolua started in 2004. Coincidence? Is the planet too small for two Heavy Metal Christmas operas? This gives Marco Hietala something fun to do while he is waiting for Tuomas Holopainen.
SANCTUARY-Inception (Century Media)
Released: Sept 24th.
For all the amount of on-line grief for the untimely and premature death of Warrell Dane, not many are mentioning this superb package at the end of the year. Dane recently said he liked the versions better on this CD better than the ones of Refuge Denied. High praise indeed.
SCORPIONS-Born To Touch Your Feelings (Sony)
Released: Nov 24th
The band that invented and arguably perfected the power ballad, put out a monster compilation loaded with rare and unreleased tracks. Great value for fans. Not afraid to showcase some newer ballads, this collection buys them some time while Mikkey Dee settles in, Klaus heals his voice and the band figure out their next move.
SIX FEET UNDER-Torment (Metal Blade)
Released: February 24th
People thought he was nuts 25 years ago when he left Cannibal Corpse but here we are with studio album #12 (sixteen if you count the Graveyard Classics covers series). I read a number of journalists say this was going to be the Year Of Death Metal but oddly this never turned out to be, as SFU continue to be a Death Metal whipping boy for some reason.
Released: February 24th
It could be the littlest thing that has an album under fly undetected under the radar. Holland’s best-selling, longest running, Death Metal band celebrates 30 years with album #13. An odd title and an early year release meant that this album, as good as any other they have done, got skipped by many.
SNOW-At Last (Escape)
Released: July 14th
A real treat for old-school, late 70’s , early 80’s, LA Hair Metal dudes. Legendary in LA, people still scratch heads about this band wondering why they never made it. Even I admit it sounds a bit dated 37 years later but a cool curio for those old enough to remember and who don’t want to dish out the big money for the original, 1980 EP on vinyl. Tons of bonus tracks and a bonus Live CD to boot. I wondered why they called the band, ‘Snow’? There isn’t any winter or bad weather to speak of in Los Angeles. Seems odd to me.
TANKARD-One Foot In The Grave (Nuclear Blast)
Released: June 2nd
It boggles my mind when a new album by Tankard, the most prolific thrash band of all time, one of the original Big Four of European thrash, goes unnoticed. The only one of the Germanic Big Four that didn’t have a major misstep in the 90’s (or constant line-up changes) churned out album #17. Maybe no one noticed because it came out on the same day as the new Roger Waters album which charted in the Top 10 in over 20 nations . Yes, that must be the reason.
THE 3rd ATTEMPT-Egocidal Path (Dark Essence)
Released: December 1st
The second album by this all-star, Norwegian, Black Metal super-group, (they would laugh at such a notion) featuring a couple dudes from the largely dormant Carpathian Forest, seemed to fall between the cracks. Maybe too “Rock’ n’ roll” for BM purists and too Black Metal for non fans, this one kills and Tchort still rules.
Thanks for reading!