I am a bit of a frustrated musician who never fully lost her dreams of rock star glory, so it goes without saying that I listen to a lot of music. My favourite genres are heavy metal and classical. As far as metal goes, the styles I most like include folk, melodic death, prog, black metal and atmospheric black metal. Every year I try to make it to at least a few heavy metal gigs. In 2017 I saw the bands Insomnium and Wintersun when they variously toured here in Australia. They were fantastic shows with excellent support acts, too.
I wanted to write a bit of an informal ‘top ten,’ summarising my listening year. I couldn’t narrow it down to favourite songs: there are far too many to choose. I also couldn’t narrow it down to albums released only in 2017 as many of my recurring soundtracks of the year came from other times.
In no particular order, here are some of the albums I listened to the most in 2017. (I see that they’re all metal, when I actually stop to think about it.)
1. Wintersun – The Forest Seasons
This was a crowdfunded album and I think it is brilliant – all the songs are beautiful, earthy, organic kinds of songs using the shifting seasons to represent certain moods and phases of life. They gave magnificent live performances of some of these songs when they blessed Australia with their presence. That was one of the most high energy concerts I’ve been to.
2. Insomnium – Shadows of the Dying Sun
While this is one of Insomnium’s older albums, in the lead-up to their Australian tour I listened to nothing but their music for weeks. This album was the one that wormed its way most into my mind, and one I often find myself singing.
3. Aquilus – Griseus
My first encounter with this work of art was a few birthdays ago when it was given to me as a gift. I could hardly believe that something so raw, so evocative of a harsh and cold landscape woven in poetry and sorrow came from the same city in which I live.
4. Myrkur – Mareridt
I don’t have words to describe how much I love this album, its blend of Danish and English lyrics, the passion and rage and intertwining of Scandinavian folk with sometimes harsh, sometimes angelic vocals, screeching guitars and driving rhythms. I hope she makes her way to Australia some time.
5. Be’lakor – Of Breath and Bone
Another Melbourne, Australia band – I vaguely recall seeing them live in concert years ago (I think it was them). I definitely made a mental note of them at some point to check out their music and they most definitely do not disappoint. The songs are strong, driving, melodic, intricate works with gothic-poetic kinds of lyrics. [Note: I looked it up and I would’ve seen them when they opened for the band Apocalyptica on their 2012 Australian tour.]
6. Myridian – We, The Forlorn
It is to my own surprise that I find another Melbourne, Australia band added to the list. I heard of these guys a year or two back but it wasn’t until I saw them open for Insomnium that I decided to listen to them. They are fantastic – I think they deserve far more attention than their social media following currently shows. They have strong elements of Nordic folk metal in their themes and sounds. I am always really happy to discover Aussie bands I like.
7. Swallow the Sun – Songs from the North I, II & III
I probably could’ve listed the related acts Tree of Eternity and Hallatar here, as I like them all equally. These are songs that are doom-filled, deep voiced, sorrowful and deeply emotional.
8. Eluveitie – Evocation II
I saw Eluveitie at two different concerts over the years, but with their earlier line-ups. This is the new Eluveitie with a wonderful return to their Gaulish/Celtic folk sound. More folk than metal, but still with the melodic death kind of aggression I would expect from these guys and girls.
9. Cellar Darling – This is the Sound
…And then there’s the rest of the original Eluveitie, with what I dare say is the closest thing to a pop album on my favourite albums of 2017 list. While they keep some of the folk instrumentation (namely hurdy gurdy) the songs cover themes from outside the folk metal genre. As a debut album it is spectacular and I look forward to hearing more of their work in the future.
10. Korpiklaani – Noita
I think the stand out track for me out of all of Korpiklaani’s albums is ‘Ämmänhauta,’ which appears on this album. I really, truly love this song and yet I can’t really explain why lest in deconstructing it I lose the magic of it.
There are so many more albums and bands I could list here but for the sake of time, I wanted to keep it short. Spotify tells me that the playlist I created and listened to most has some 1,564 songs and almost 126 hours’ worth of music. That doesn’t include all the time I also spent listening to physical albums (CDs, some vinyl too), the radio, and music videos on YouTube.