Happy New Year to all … and as we all welcome in 2018, I take a look back at what an incredible year 2017 has been for loud music!
In addition to Jo’s recent Facebook posts of 2017’s Top 10 Albums according to Loud-Stuff (go check them out and please leave a ‘like’ and comment if you agree, or even if you don’t!), I’ve put together an article featuring a selection of releases that I have personally had on frequent rotation since their release over the last few months, but hadn’t been featured here on the Loud-Stuff website, yet are definitely worthy of mention. Some of these bands released debut albums in 2017 and are acts to keep an eye on, whilst some are already well-established, yet they all share one thing in common – great new releases that are well worth a listen and hopefully worth a purchase too!
Latest Release: The Mortal Coil
Release Date: October 2017
Label: Cooking Vinyl (plus other distro)
Formed in 2013 and having since released 2 EPs, Polaris have been doing the rounds in recent months on the increasingly popular ‘react’ videos on YouTube, to much fanfare, including ‘TruantReacts’ who has been rallying these guys of late. I have since had the opportunity to review their debut album ‘The Mortal Coil’, the article of which will be published later this week so do keep your eyes peeled for that one. The review will provide further detail, but I was so impressed with Polaris’ video for ‘Lucid’ that I had to include it here in this feature ahead of publication.
Though currently distributed via a selection of small independent labels, I would be very surprised not to see this band sign with a bigger label that can help further promote them to their target audience before the release of a second album. Personally, I’d love to see them touring with the likes of Veil of Maya or Born of Osiris, though that would be assuming they’d have to join Sumerian Records for that to happen outside their native Australia & New Zealand. It’s early days yet, but Polaris are already in my ‘watch this space’ list and hopefully there will be more to come from these lads from down-under.
VIDEO: ‘Lucid’ [Official Video]
Band: The Apocalypse Orchestra
Latest Release: The End Is Nigh
Released: May 2017
Label: Despotz Records
Another debutant and currently my favourite band on the Despotz Records label, this is Medieval inspired, Druidic Funeral Doom with mostly clean vocals and rich, layered guitar refrains. The themes are typically medieval both instrumentally and lyrically – i.e. songs of darkness, religion and even monks performing flagellation as absolution for their sins.
Having been a fan of ‘Funeral’ for a number of years, a band synonymous with use of modal scales and exclusively clean vocals, it’s been 12 years since they released my favourite album (‘From These Wounds’ – 2006) and 10 years since their follow-up album (‘As The Light Does The Shadow’ – 2008). Since that time they’ve produced another good album (‘Oratorium’ – 2012) and I’ve been yearning for another band to record a Funeral Doom album with mostly, if not exclusively, clean vocals, so it’s extremely satisfying to hear The Apocalypse Orchestra filling that void.
The Apocalypse Orchestra come highly recommended to any fans of highly atmospheric Funeral Doom such as ‘Funeral’ and ‘Shape of Despair’ (particularly the album ‘Monotony Fields’ – 2015).
VIDEO: ‘The Garden Of Earthly Delights’ [Official Music Video]
Latest Release: Codex Omega
Release Date: September 2017
Label: Season Of Mist
An already well-established band with an impressive back-catalogue dating back to the early 90s and synonymous for pushing themselves creatively whilst taking full advantage of technological advances in production with each new album they release. Their latest effort is no different and has been played on rotation multiple times over, ever since release. Much deserving of its high praise, ‘Codex Omega’ features atmospheric, powerful instrumentation and production of mammoth-like heaviness, complimented by darkly majestic Horn & String arrangements that adds an air of dramatic bombast.
2017 was a good year for North American fans, having been treated to Septicflesh supporting Fleshgod Apocalypse on their US tour, a live line-up that I would have loved to see had there been a UK leg planned. Sadly it wasn’t to be, although Septicflesh are gracing these shores this month – if you have the opportunity, go see them!
VIDEO: Portrait Of A Headless Man [Official Video]
Band: Despite Exile
Latest Release: Relics
Release Date: November 2017
Label: Lifeforce Records
Another personal recent discovery, though they’re not brand new act since this is their third album. I was instantly hooked on their complex Deathcore sound, with its mega-tonne-heavy production and cascading Melodic Death Metal riffs fluttering away over the top of its aggressive undercurrent. Their style is predominantly raw and brutal, yet bizarrely leaves me feeling uplifted by the intricate guitar work and harmonics, yet juxtaposed against painfully honest & often cryptic lyrics. Since release, the critical feedback has been largely positive and with good reason. If you’re looking for some modern Metal with plenty of intensity, be sure to give Despite Exile a listen!
VIDEO: ‘Relics’ [Official Video]
Latest Release: Savage Sinusoid
Release Date: June 2017
Label: Metal Blade Records
In the words of Monty Python, “and now for something completely different” – the genre-bending, delightfully creative and just plain bizarre musicality of Igorrr has to be heard to be believed. Founding member and producer Gautier Serre combines a number of influences, including Baroque, Breakcore & global Folk music, fuse with blisteringly chaotic Extreme Metal at its core. Laure Le Prunenec, aka Rïcïnn, also plays are large part in the writing and recording process. Some readers may remember Laure from a Loud-Stuff review of Lïan, her debut solo album in June 2016, which can be read here.
Having a number of similarly oddball album releases under their belt, this year’s outing was Igorrr‘s most creatively adventurous and diverse to date – you only have to look at the list of instruments, styles and animals (yes, there is even a pet chicken involved!) to see they’ve really pushed the boundaries even further with this record.
Along with the album itself, I thoroughly recommend watching their video diaries filmed throughout the recording and production process. It’s ever so fascinating and provides an interesting insight into how the material came together – having watched the diaries first, it really added to the listening experience when finally getting the chance to listen to the entire album.
In addition to a bizarre audio output, their new music videos are equally “out there”, as are their live shows. Certainly not a band selling themselves on accessibility, anyone willing to see beyond the musical chaos that lies on the surface and delve deeper into the creative psyche of Igorrr’s material will really notice the underlying subtleties of their work – it’s fun picking up on something not heard before on each play-through, adding to the replay value.
VIDEO: ‘ieuD’ [Official Video]
VIDEO: ‘Savage Sinusoid’ [Making Of – Parts 1-3]