These days, metal’s eclecticism runs pretty deep, and in a climate where so much unrest is bubbling up to the surface, it’s gratifying to have all this music provide a place of refuge for those who want/need to look away from the news. Metal has always possessed a degree of defiance and attitude, serving as a counterpoint to a mainstream thinking. And now it’s added more ambience and a broader range of emotion. It’s thought-provoking, ability-defying, and at times just a pure exorcism of rage—totally fitting for 2017.
Check out the right-on-point sheer aggression of Full Of Hell’s “Deluminate,” the interstellar sound of Mastodon soaring even higher on “Sultan’s Curse,” and the continuing rise of Power Trip on “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe).” Our 2017 survey also includes buzzed-about up-and-comers like Code Orange, hardcore revivalists like Higher Power and Trapped Under Ice, heralded mainstays like Pallbearer, the oft mentioned (and must-hear) 83-minute opus by Bell Witch (pictured above), as well as smouldering southern crew Royal Thunder, and total wrenches in the machine like the spastic Pyrrhon. And those are just some of the many far corners metal stretched into this year. We also saw comebacks from Godflesh and Glassjaw, polarizing Grammy recognition for August Burns Red, and then glimpses of future releases from Windhand, Turnstile, Old Wounds, and Gatecreeper. They’re all here in our round-up of this year’s best metal.