Damned Industrial’s Top 20 Albums of 2017
20. Volt 9000 – Deformer (Electric Bat Records)
Once written off as an 8-bit ohGr copycat, Volt 9000 succeed in obliterating that comparison with an industrial album full of old-school, mechanized sound design alongside post-industrial grooves. Melodic, dark and dangerous, Deformer is Volt 9000’s strongest release to date, more focused and energetic than previous albums.
19. Grendel – Age of The Disposable Body (Infacted Recordings)
Grendel has come a long way since the Inhumane Amusement and Prescription:Medicide days; his latest album Age of The Disposable Body is a testament to an artist seeking to both grow and challenge himself musically. Dark, melodic, and energetic are words that jump to mind immediately when listening to Grendel’s fifth LP. There’s a wider range to VLRK’s musical weaponry here and where previously, Grendel’s output was largely suited to the dance-floor, this new album is more versatile and equally suited to headphone listening.
18. Godflesh – Post Self (AVALANCHE RECORDINGS)
A surprise release in 2017, certainly from my perspective, Godflesh’s second comeback album since 2014’s excellent A World Lit Only By Fire, was forewarned by mainman Justin Broadrick as being less metal. And he wasn’t joking (does he ever?). Although the album initially starts out with typical Godflesh heaviness, it soon progresses into different sonic territory, with textures and atmospherics playing a pivotal role in how the album resonates. The end result is supremely dark and truly frightening on occasion, making for a cold yet thrilling listening experience.
17. Grave Pleasures – Motherblood (Century Media)
Perhaps a more suited transition from Beastmilk to Grave Pleasures than previous album Dreamcrash, Motherblood is the sound of a band that has embraced the impending doom of the apocalypse and decided it will dance its way to death. Glorious in execution and superfluous in style, Grave Pleasures live up to the hype and surpass expectations with an almost perfect album of dark, post-punk tinged death-rock. Outstanding.
16. Drab Majesty – The Demonstration (Dais Records)
Goth was far from dead in 2017; in fact it was alive and well in the capable hands of Deb DeMure and his Drab Majesty project. Produced by Josh Eustis, the album saw the band develop the sound on their debut to a more realised vision – everything sounded bigger and more involving. A captivating album of 80’s tinged gothic melodies and new wave energy.
15. Horskh – Gate (Audiotrauma)
Characterised by an unrelenting and cataclysmic energy, Horskh’s Gate equally astonishes in the fact that this is a debut album. Confident and complete, the French band embraces various mainstream electronic genres in seeking to add more and more energy to their industrial onslaught. Vitriolic. Apocalyptic.
14. Statiqbloom – Blue Moon Blood (Translation Loss Records)
Oppressively dark in the best way possible, Fade Kainer didn’t hold back one bit with Blue Moon Blood. The dirty old school industrial grooves wallowing in a bleakness master-crafted by Kainer to defeat personal demons; Blue Moon Blood’s notable Skinny Puppy influence notwithstanding, this album was absolutely essential listening in 2017.
13. Legend – Midnight Champion (Artoffact Records)
The wait was exhausting and expectations were equally extreme yet, while Midnight Champion did deliver some very special songs (Children of the Elements, Frostbite, Scars), the overall dominance of downtempo, lethargic tunes alongside some curiously chosen guitar tones overshadowed what could have been a masterpiece. A stunning album nonetheless, so close to greatness.
12. Ulver – The Assasination of Julius Caesar (House Of Mythology)
A possible candidate for surprise release of the year, Ulver’s embrace of pop melodies and electronic music on The Assassination of Julius Caesar had jaws dropping and heads scratching equally. Intriguing lyrics set to catchy synthpop tunes, this album was musical, intelligent, intriguing, puzzling and a damn good trip.
11. Eye Steal – Burning Out (NGP)
A future classic in the field of flawed debut albums? Definitely maybe. Burning Out is a gut-wrenching emotional rollercoaster – a journey through the tortured mind of Toronto-based gent Remi Monroe. Its almost as if the ethos of Nine Inch Nails’s The Downward Spiral was forged through the steal cast of Skinny Puppy’s Last Rights all whilst the entire synthpop genre looks on in envy.
10. Encephalon – We Only Love You When You’re Dead (Artoffact Records)
A sci-fi/horror concept album based on society’s superficial worship of celebrity culture and all its associated narcissistic tragedies, Encephalon’s third album had the band’s usual characteristic crazy level of creativity with a seemingly bottomless pit of ideas and inspiration. Amazing songs and textures; Encephalon are building quite the discography. Admirable to say the least.
9. 3Teeth – Shutdown.exe (OMF Records)
The most hyped industrial band in nigh on 2 decades returned with their sophomore release, Shutdown.exe. Going full on industrial-metal, some of the Wax Trax influences from album number one were left in the dust, but what was summoned forth from the ether was an evil industrial behemoth. Heavy as a really heavy thing, but not quite the heavy hit that was their debut.
8. Prayers – Baptism of Thieves (BMG)
Honestly, I had no idea what Cholo was until I heard of Prayers back in 2013. Self-proclaimed pioneers of the Cholo-goth movement (and I won’t disagree), Prayers have been consistently releasing excellent music for a number of years and Baptism of Thieves easily cements the band as pioneers of simply great music, all genres aside. Full of brutal emotion and intelligent melodies, Baptism of Thieves succeeds in bringing a vicious attitude to dark electronic music.
7. Myrkur – Mareridt (Relapse Records)
Apparently lauded as much as she is loathed within the Black Metal scene, Myrkur’s Mareridt album largely leaves all black metal debate irrelevant as she traverses multiple genres, often within the same song, with stunning grace and rare eloquence. An artist that embraces nature into her music, on Mareridt, Myrkur fights her nightmares, night terrors and sleep paralysis, with that power of nature, resulting in a deeply personal and powerful mental exorcism. Beautiful.
6. Azar Swan – Savage Exile ([aufnahme + wiedergabe])
Arriving late in 2017 was Azar Swan’s third LP, Savage Exile. Fittingly titled, the album is indeed savage on many levels. More experimental and harsher than previous releases, Savage Exile exists in a realm of cold, dark electronics; atmospheric and industrial sounds seethe beneath while Zohra Atash and Joshua Strawn’s demonic vocals scream a beguiling and delightfully abhorrent wreak of noise. Mind-bending stuff.
5. Wulfband – Revolter (Progress Productions)
Just when you thought the EBM genre was utterly stagnant and completely out of ideas, along come Wulfband. In terms of energy, this band not only defines it, they embody it (pun intended). It really is quite astonishing when a single band can revitalise an entire genre of music by themselves. Truly magnificent; violent electronic dance music. Kill ‘Em All!
4. Cyanotic – Tech Noir (Glitch Mode Recordings)
Cyanotic’s fourth album is a harsh, industrialised cyberpunk assault; it pays a certain homage to Wax Trax greats of the past but also succeeds in being an entirely modern rivethead monster. Tight programming and and an insane attention to detail means the beats hit hard and the synths cut like razor blades. Mixed with Sean Payne’s characteristic growl and you have a recipe for greatness.
3. Then Comes Silence – Blood (Nuclear Blast)
Blood, album number four from Swedish post-punks Then Comes Silence, doesn’t see the band deviate massively from prior excursions; and that’s a good thing. Their brand of modern, groove-laden, catchy post-punk/goth rock is dark enough to get even the dead dancing. What elevates the band above others is their charisma and how that is projected into each amazing song. Blood is killer track after killer track. Now, where’s my eyeliner!?
2. Priest – New Flesh (Lövely Records)
THE surprise album of 2017, Priest’s debut New Flesh is a melting pot of industrial, EBM and 80’s synthpop. Produced by ex-Ghost member Simon Söderberg, this mysterious Swedish trio have managed to create a masterpiece of electronic music, an album emblazoned in nostalgia yet thoroughly engaged in grabbing the future of music by its throat. Not since Necro Facility’s Wintermute have we witnessed such impeccable song-craft within the field of underground electronic music. Simply genius.
1. Zola Jesus – Okovi (Sacred Bones)
Sheer, unrelenting vulnerability laced with a strain of dark catharsis, Zola Jesus’s Okovi is her most confident and accomplished work to date. Heavy subject matter (attempted suicide, depression, misery, death) make for an emotional listen, but its Nika Roza Danilova’s command of her voice in communicating that heavy subject matter that impresses so much. She lures in the listener, almost as if you are standing next to her in the Wisconsin woods, where the album was recorded and Danilova grew up. Yet despite the subject matter, Okovi is a reasonably accessible album, the songs are incredibly strong and the whole album flows perfectly as one. Zola Jesus has reached a creative peak with Okovi, combining the darkness of her early Sacred Bones releases with the more melodic Taiga era, to create a hauntingly beautiful album that will undoubtedly resonate intensely with people in a profound way. And isn’t that the whole point of art?