This past year has been a whirlwind of events too numerous to recount here. The site alone has gone through a pretty drastic change in direction and taken on a host of new writers. While we have our consolidated list on the albums we’ve settled on as ‘best’ of the year – which you can check out here – it doesn’t quite cover the spectrum of music that the individual pieces making up the whole of It Djents enjoys. To get a more accurate picture of our personal thoughts, we’ve collected them below. So enjoy a dive into each writers reflections on the year, and discover even more great albums and songs to check out!
Its safe to say that 2017 has seen a tonne of great material, but there’s a few releases that really stand out for me. David Maxim Micic‘s unhanding of his first full-length effort can be described as nothing less than a blinding success; whilst David has been gracing the scene for many years now, what he’s been able to accomplish with his first full length attempt feels like a seriously profound improvement. It can be a real challenge to create something catchy and memorable without the aid of vocal content, however this is something that DMM has achieved with grace and ease. Shifting the sonic focus slightly, a record that was never going to go without a mention in this list is Caligula’s Horse‘s majestic fourth affair In Contact. What this proved to be was a a thoroughly well-rounded performance, containing everything from epic ballads, to mind-bending guitar solos, to spoken-word poetry, to flawless story-telling and conceptual content; you name it, this record has it. In Contact makes my top three list with absolute ease.
Despite being such a quality-rich year for records, there always has to be a ‘best of the best’, and in this regard Shadow Of Intent‘s Reclaimer undoubtedly prevails. This decision wasn’t so much based on the content of the record itself, but rather what it represents. What I believe Shadow Of Intent have been able to achieve here, is entirely reinventing and reviving deathcore, thrusting it from its stooper, and reintroducing it to the world as an epic, cathartic art form. Alongside other such modern visionaries as Fit For An Autopsy and Lorna Shore, Shadow Of Intent have not only released a masterpiece, but have abundantly contributed to making 2017 the year that deathcore was reborn. The song of the year, however? A slightly different affair. Whilst In Contact narrowly missed out on my number-one spot, it’s still hard for me to neglect the album-finale masterpiece that is “Graves”.
Through its sheer display of patience, grace, technicality, embedded thematic, and general display of song-writing prowess, this song is able to establish itself something truly special. To avoid going into great detail, and to sum up in a single sentiment, I’ll say with confidence that “Graves” is able to constitute the single best conclusion to a record that I’ve thus far witnessed in my lifetime, neatly wrapping up a great album, and an even greater year.
Top 3 AOTY: David Maxim Micic – Who Bit The Moon, Caligula’s Horse – In Contact, Shadow Of Intent – Reclaimer
Song of the Year: “Graves” by Caligula’s Horse
The year 2017 is slowly but surely coming to an end and it has (as always) been a pretty entertaining year when it comes to music. I discovered so much new music and so many new genres, listened to countless new albums and found new favourite bands while losing my interest for bands I used to love back in the day.
It was a year that saw bands releasing the best work in their entire catalogue (especially looking at Fjørt, Persefone, and Mammal Hands) while others disappointed me quite a bit. A lot of bands changed, some for the better and some for the worse. At this point I especially want to point out the guys in Hundredth, who took a turn from being a (rather generic) melodic hardcore group to a pretty cool shoegazey kind of band. Another special shoutout goes out to Heretoir, Celeste, Auđn, Fit For an Autopsy, Ne Obliviscaris, Balmorhea […], who all released incredibly cool albums in 2017. I could probably continue this list for some more time, but this would definitely go beyond the scope of this article.
One of my favourite musical moments of 2017 definitely was Architects’ release of “Doomsday”. It was just so good to see that the band continued Tom’s legacy by finishing a song he mainly had written before his tragic passing in 2016.
So yeah, it was quite hard to sum 365 days of music in one short article, but I think I mentioned (most of) my favourite musical moments of the year. While I’m still having a big “2017-music-I-have-to-listen-to” list waiting for me, I’m already stoked for 2018 and what it has to offer for the world of music.
Top 3 AOTY: Fjørt – Couleur, Persefone – Aathma, Mammal Hands – Shadow Work
Song of the Year: “Doomsday” by Architects
We’re somehow at the end of another year (time sure flies when you’re existing, am I right?), and so a retrospective view at the past twelve months seems in order. For me, 2017 felt kind of…transitional, for the lack of a more accurate term. There wasn’t a whole lot of importance going on, except for some decisive and meaningful events and achievements few and far between of course, and so I’m left with the impression that most of what happened acted as the set-up for what’s to come in the future – maybe 2018 will be a bit more eventful.
I also had a lot of trouble relating to metal/heavy music for the better parts of this year for some reason; it just didn’t fit my needs at this particular point of my life, I suppose. What this meant on the flipside, though, is that I got an even better shot at taking in the diversity of musical styles outside the heavy spectrum than ever before. Especially the realms of ambient, jazz and modern classical music have piqued my interest, picking up the slack with a whole slew of stellar releases.
Chapeau to all the adventurous spirits who made my 2017 more exciting with their music, my top three picks included; you the real MVPs!
Top 3 AOTY: Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex, Novo Amor & Ed Tullett – Heiress, Arve Henriksen – Towards Language
Song of the Year: “Living Waves” by Persefone
Aside from my AOTY, which have been the irreplaceable sound of modern prog, 2017 has for me been a year of mellow music. I discovered Devin Townsend’s Casualties of Cool after being a Strapping Young Lad devotee, have developed my love for minimalism, found out about ambient jazz, and have started to compulsively like anything played on a neck pickup.
I’d like to say that this new taste came with some holistic developments in mindset. Really, it’s just because I need some time to stare into space after working on a dissertation, which takes up most of the time that I’m not writing for ItDjents (and to some editorial chagrin, some of the time in which I am supposed to be). It’ll be about how we appreciate the technical features of art – for example, the skill of musicians (or playwrights or whatever), or the maths behind playing with time signatures and polyrhythms – as opposed to the emotional features. It’s both my current obsession, and also kind of related to prog, the main benefit of which has been my ability to spend extended amounts of time ‘researching’.
I’m not going to be the best for pointing out general trends in music this year, but if there is one thing I have noticed, it’s been the movement of prog into cleaner rock. There’s now a wealth of albums to listen to if you want interest and choruses, which has greatly helped me out when I try to play my music at parties. It seems to me to have been practiced to near perfection now, and I’m loving it. As I’m sure everyone here will conclude, this has been a good year for music.
Top 3 AOTY: Soen – Lykaia, Lunatic Soul – Fractured, David Lang – Thorn
Song of the Year: “Stray” by Soen
On Of Erthe and Axen, Act I and Of Erthe and Axen, Act II: Technically two albums released a month apart, Xanthochroid’s Of Erthe and Axen saga combine into a singular listening experience. The album is a majestic, overpowering soundscape of beauty. Xanthochroid do not pay lip service to the “symphonic” label. Xanthochroid created a work of true compositional glory, and 2017’s standout.
On The Dusk In Us: The inherent risks in taking five years off between albums paid off for Boston metalcore and mathcore pioneers Converge. This album has it all: darkness, sludge, ambiance, emotion, classic thrash metal riffs, breakdowns, blast beats. The full spectrum of angst finds its way into The Dusk In Us.
On Seekers: These Brits play techdeath with a hint of deathcore and even some jazz and black metal at times. In spite of occupying well-tread genre tropes that get reviewed on It Djents a lot, Beyond Grace stand out for accomplishing more in a song than many bands can in an album. They write well enough to stand out in a crowded sub-genre.
On “March of the Samsara” by Junius: The opening track to this gorgeous post-rock work communicates a sense of lazy, certain determination to break the eternal cycle of reincarnation. Spiritual, moving, and heavy; Junius made something that, like its subject matter, never gets old.
Top 3 AOTY: Xanthochroid – Of Erthe and Axen, Act I and Of Erthe and Axen, Act II, Converge – The Dusk In Us, Beyond Grace – Seekers
Song of the Year: “March of the Samsara” by Junius
If I had to sum up this last year in music for myself in one word, it would be: ‘discovery’. I have found several new albums that are easy all-time favourites, and uncovered a host of new bands that I continuously cycle through often. Caligula’s Horse and Ne Obliviscaris are the two show stoppers in my eyes (their entire catalogs currently eat up half of my ‘most played’ playlist), but I also got quite a few spins from the new Mastodon, Unleash the Archers, Greta Van Fleet, Jyocho, Persefone, Nova Collective, and (the admittedly ‘not from this year’) Snarky Puppy. In discovering these though, I’ve also lamented the fact that my taste in much has changed a fair bit, and some bands I enjoyed in the past don’t mean me as much to me as they once did.
Here on the site, I went from writer to editor; small reviews to personal editorials. I had the chance to talk to some amazing bands in The Stranger, Mercury Sky, and Versus the Ghost (all of which you should check out), and got the chance to take a deep dive into how silence is used in music and on Protest the Hero‘s use of audio-narrative consonance. 2017 has been a banner year for many industries – there are more than a few novels and games that have eaten up a considerable part of my spare time – but I think I’ll earnestly look back and remember it as the year I expanded my musical horizons more than anything else.
Top 3 AOTY: Caligula’s Horse – In Contact, Ne Obliviscaris – Urn, Mastodon – Emperor of Sand
Song of the Year: “Graves” by Caligula’s Horse
2017 has been a year that brought so many accomplishments for me personally, whether it be meeting people like Devin Townsend or interviewing my favorite band, BTBAM. I also got introduced to so much new music and artists that I deeply fell in love with. I got the chance to watch bands like Leprous up to five times, visited a lot of festivals and made a lot of contacts. Beside all those music related things, I finally started a vegan blog, something I was planning a very long time.
The reason for my top three picks is pretty easy. Those are records I enjoyed from the very beginning and still I see myself putting these on in some years. Caligula’s Horse totally grabbed me only minutes in, when reviewing it for FUZE Magazine, while Arcane Roots did the same for me. I also got a crush on “Off The Floor” and now am deeply in love with those hymns! Joep Beving might stand out as it’s a neoclassical piece of piano only. As a deep fan of classical and neoclassical music I was lucky enough to discover this piece of art at work. If you ever needed something beautiful to settle down, Prehension is your choice!
Top 3 AOTY: Caligula’s Horse – In Contact, Joep Beving – Prehension, Arcane Roots – Melancholia Hymns
Song of the Year: “Inspec” by 22
When the year is about to end, you think about the musical journey you took, how you changed, how your taste changed. I’m happy to say my taste is in constant progress, which enriched my perception and appreciation for 2017 as a musical year. A lot of stuff happened, some highly anticipated records failed, and some underdogs showed what they are capable of.
Since one of my duties at It Djents is to curate our review list, I’ve listened to A LOT of music this year, culminating in my typical obsessive Top 100 AOTY’s.
Scrolling through this list didn’t show any tendency to a certain genre, which makes me quite happy. Music should be embraced in its entirety (or at least you should try), and welcome quality in every shape or form. I had a ton of fun at some shows (highlights were The Hirsch Effekt and Igorrr, just to name a few) and discovered a ton of new artists. Also, we introduced a bunch of new writers to our little pile of snobism, which made our sweet family even more interesting and colorful.
Top 3 AOTY: Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex, Igorrr – Savage Sinusoid, Jordan Rakei – Wallflower
Song of the Year: “Sorceress” by Jordan Rakei
2017 was the year I was able to fall back in love with [better] music. While some staples from high school got heavy play thanks to the numerous 10-year tours, I was able to unearth new projects or rediscover some from an old favorite. Chon’s Homey took me back to my days of longboarding in the warm afternoon sun. I was even taken back to my metalcore roots after the release of Phantom Anthem from August Burns Red; a band that I thought I had outgrown until this redeeming release.
Brendon Small’s Galaktikon II took me on an adventure beyond the music, with theories flying around the Internet that this may be Small’s work around to release Dethklok’s fourth album under a different track listing. However, my favorite discovery of 2017 came from a Between the Buried and Me fan Facebook group, where I stumbled upon the music video for Others by No One’s “Dr. Breacher and the Time-Travel Anomaly” with only a few views. I couldn’t believe that a group that considers themselves a “local band” had released a music video comparable to the likes of Native Construct or Between the Buried and Me. After the release of “Book I,” I’m left eagerly anticipating what will come next from them. And while I may be in the minority here at ItDjents, The Contortionist took my breath away with Clairvoyant.
This past year was memorable for tons of reasons, but some of my best memories not only of 2017 but now in my life were at a concert or are because of music. In the next year, I’m excited to find more amazing music and continue writing more.
Top 3 AOTY: The Contortionist – Clairvoyant, Brendon Small – Galaktikon II: Enter the Storm, Others by No One – Book I: Dr. Breacher
Song of the Year: “Return to Earth” by The Contortionist
2017 was a great year in music. I discovered a lot of bands that were new to me in my first six months writing for ItDjents and expanded my stylistic tastes quite a bit. While big name releases and reunions galore set the path for a great musical year, it was in these new discoveries that I found my favorite albums.
On Because Your Path Is Unlike Any Other: I’ve only had my hands on this album for a week (as of writing this), but it is easily the best album I heard this year. Powerful, unpredictable, and extremely creative; Dialects has created instrumental prog rock in its best form. There’s not one second of this record that I would change.
On Good Nature: I fell in love with this band earlier this year when they opened for Circa Survive. A more upbeat, bright, and beachy offering than the shoegaze of Peripheral Vision, this record fueled all of my summer adventures.
On Beings of Light: I reviewed this concept album and gave it an 8.5/10. Retrospectively, I’d bump that score up a bit to a 9. Triumphant in tone and full of retro video game influenced key arrangements; this is an extremely satisfying post-metal adventure.
On “Hip Dipper”: No contest here. Ultra-catchy, jazzy, djenty, and technically proficient, I have never heard a better tandem effort between keys and guitar. The whole album is great but this song is miles beyond the others.
Top 3 AOTY: Dialects – Because Your Path Is Unlike Any Other, Turnover – Good Nature, City of the Lost – Beings of Light
Song of the Year: “Hip Dipper” by Arch Echo
What a year in music! I can’t remember the last time I was so thoroughly engaged in not only the music I love, but exploring new music from unexplored genres too. It’s dawned on me that djent is really starting to die, with many of the bands who helped send the genre to the metal stratosphere, toning their guitars down, blending different genres with their music and saying goodbye to the bands left behind.
An example of this would be Uneven Structure, one of my top 3 albums of 2017, who stepped back from the tones we heard in Februus and finding their sweet spot in chunky, but controlled tones.
Speaking of tones, what a year for doom, bringer of the heaviest tones! From Elder to DVNE, Opium Eater to Pallbearer, it’s been a wild ride, which can only get better as more exposure is given to the genre.
Finally I want to give a big shout out to my top album of the year, pumped out by Others By No One. I became infatuated with the style of music unleashed by Native Construct in 2015, and the boys in OBNO have not only managed to match (or maybe top) Quiet World, but provided a fan engagement on social media, the likes of which have never been seen. Bravo to all this year, my ear pussies are satisfied.
Top 3 AOTY: Others By No One – Book 1: Dr Breacher, Uneven Structure – La Partition, DVNE – Asheran
Song of the Year: “Post-Tense” by Opium Eater
Every year brings a plethora of new music to the listener and 2017 was no different. Some big acts delivered fantastic records, while a few big bands faltered. And as always, there was a bag full of new surprises. But all said and done, the year truly belonged to doom and sludge music. From the haunting Bell Witch track, to the ever so crushing Pallbearer, and the ever haunting Spectral Voice album, the genre saw some top notch records coming out every month of the year.
On the personal end, it’s been a great year as I complete a year of contributing my thoughts and words to It Djents. The platform has not only allowed me to stretch my personal sonic boundaries in jazz and progressive metal, but made me discover new sonic territories with some fantastic indie acts such as The Swan Thief and Cigarettes After Sex.
As the year comes to an end, one must also remember the many musical souls that left our world: Malcolm Young, Warrel Dane, Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Gregg Allman and many others, the world will never forget you and the music you left behind.
Adieu 2017 as I look forward to 2018, will this be the year when the fabled Tool album comes out?
Top 3 AOTY: Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex, Elder – Reflections Of A Floating World, Power Trip – Nightmare Logic
Song of the Year: “A Conversation With Death” by Khemmis
JONCE MARSHALL PALMER
Writing for ItDjents this year has been pretty great. Some of my favorite albums this year: The Great Collapse, Homey, and Luciferian Towers. I won’t get too into why I enjoyed TGC because my reasons are somewhat political, but I will say that hearing a deathcore album in 2017 that had a message other than generic vague threats was pretty reassuring for me.
Homey was a great album for Chon due to the unique blend of R&B production and their signature sound. Since it came out during the summer, it’s cemented in my memory as an album for the beach.
The new GY!BE record came as a nostalgic masterwork. It reminded me of the physical and emotional place I was in when I first began listening to the band. It was so powerful I got misty-eyed the first few times I heard it all the way through. It’s also a somewhat unique direction for the band due to its somewhat simpler construction.
Maybe this is a lame pick for some of you, but I have to go with “Doomsday” by Architects as my song of the year. I know I talk about them a lot, but this was an important song for them after Tom passed away. It’s important to me personally because it was released around the time I was writing a review on AOGHAU for my English class. I drew a lot of connections between David Bowie‘s “Blackstar” and All Our Gods, making them both even more significant for me. Now I see “Doomsday” as an epilogue to the story of All Our Gods.
Top 3 AOTY: Fit For An Autopsy – The Great Collapse, Chon – Homey, GY!BE – Luciferian Towers
Song of the Year: “Doomsday” by Architects
Wow. What a year, huh? I was everywhere musically, soaking in top releases from popular genres and unknown niches alike. For me, the theme this year (okay, every year) was progressive music. There were so many solid releases in prog rock and metal by wonderful artists like Lonely Robot, Enslaved, Big Big Train, Vesper Sails, Xanthochroid, Caligula’s Horse, Others by No One and much, much more. They resonated with me, taking me on journeys I never could have anticipated. Extreme music had monstrous releases as well; Abhorrent Decimation, Sicarius, Igorrr, John Frum, Full of Hell and so many other dropped brutal, solid albums. I challenged myself by broadening my horizons with forays into jazz and experimental music that I probably would never have found without my fellow writers here at It Djents. Speaking of, my family here at this website have been a wonderful support system on a personal and professional level. I thank them greatly for all the help they’ve given me since starting in the middle of the year, and am very grateful for them bringing me on to write for them. As for next year, I want to grow more as a writer, listener and fan of the beautiful music we all love and enjoy. That’s about as close as you’ll see me get to declaring a 2018 resolution.
Top 3 AOTY: Thantifaxath – Void Masquerading as Matter, Kepler Ten – Delta-v, Lo-Pan – In Tensions
Song of the Year: “Ultraviolet” by Kepler Ten
It says something to me about this year in music that all of my submissions are albums by artists that I never listened to prior to 2017. Most significantly, it shows that my tastes have changed and that there are always new, exciting and relatable acts arriving on the scene. The following records are not necessarily what I believe to be the best or most innovative music made this year. They are simply albums that I connected with during a time where I felt disconnected from many things. These pieces are fragile and human; they are confident and vulnerable. Simply, they are well-paced collections of meaningful, concise and expressive songs.
Though these are personally valuable albums for me, many of the records that passed through the ears of It Djents this year pushed a lot of sonic boundaries in exciting ways. I hope that you find a plethora of exhilarating and innovative records in the contributions of my peers in this piece, our AOTY list, and the lists of other music sites this year.
Top 3 AOTY: Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone, Nothing More – The Stories We Tell Ourselves, White Moth Black Butterfly – Atone
Song of the Year: “You Grew Up” by Oddisee
I had several experiences with new music this year not only as a new writer for It Djents but also as a graduate student in music theory and a fan in general. To elevate one album as the best of the year is impractical for a number of reasons, not the least of which being the diversity of musical genres that are simply incomparable with one another. To avoid having to set a ridiculous number of qualifying parameters, I will base my choice on one simple factor: the album that has returned to my ears the most.
One of the first reviews I wrote was on Constantine’s Esthesia. As I perused a list of bands and albums that we as It Djents writers are given the opportunity to cover, Constantine immediately grabbed my attention. Their raw take on progressive metal that hybridizes the classic techniques of shred and power metal vocals with modern approaches to riff development and metric devices just works for me. I was praised by the band themselves for the review and the high score I gave.
With the freedom and flexibility our writing staff is given, I focused my writing this year on my interest in instrumental progressive metal, covering bands such as The Minerva Conduct, Zaius, and, most recently, Schiermann. The latter has also continued to show up in my playlist, also for its tasteful combination of progressive metal techniques past and present.
Ultimately, this year helped me refine my writing skills, exposed me to a lot of great new music, and helped me discover a bit of myself in the choices toward which I naturally gravitated. I invite you to do the same with the coming year in music!
Top 3 AOTY picks: Constantine – Esthesia, Schiermann – Schiermann, and The Minerva Conduct – The Minerva Conduct
Song of the Year: “Human Veil” by Constantine
This year has been one of the best spans of my musical journey. Not only was the year packed with amazing releases across a variety of genres, but I found my tastes expanding and morphing into new territory. I was dominated by doom and deathcore releases, and found a new place in my heart for jazz and funk thanks to some wonderful records by Kamasi Washington, Portico Quartet, Thundercat, and Vulfpeck. I also enjoyed the releases by Cigarettes After Sex, PVRIS, The War On Drugs, and Dumal. This year is a tough one to decide my favorites; there have just been so many great records!
2017 was also a banner year for me in live music. I managed to get to far more shows than I have in the past, from larger festivals to tiny concerts. Some highlights were seeing Pallbearer, Inter Arma, and Gatecreeper with about 60 other people in the basement of a bar, and getting to hang out with Ne Obliviscaris before one of their epic shows on their North American Tour. I’ve loved every second of my time with ItDjents and can’t wait to see what 2018 holds!
Top 3 AOTY: Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper, Heretoir – The Circle, Fit For An Autopsy – The Great Collapse
Song of the Year: “Graves” by Caligula’s Horse
Thanks for joining us on this wild ride throughout 2017. We have a lot more exciting things planned for the new year, so definitely stay tuned for what’s next. Enjoy the holidays, and as always, keep listening!