Rage and Frustration

Heavy Metal Reviews & Interviews

The Great Mackintosh/Andrew Cook’s Top 50 of 2017

An exploration into the mind of someone who is often in two minds.

The Great Mackintosh doth speaketh and you all must listen to his gibber, or else he will kill you. Well, maybe he may get hurt feelings and sulk a little, but if you were any decent kind of human beings you will heed his words, and check out the albums he liked.

With his head firmly wedged between the buttcheeks of death metal, there still may be a surprise or two upon this altar of (His) sacrifice. After chatting with a few fine folk, he also thinks that all metal people should get at least a week off work to do this. It is quite stressful after all, to choose between such excellence. More so this year than any he can remember.

Kudos to all bands listed. You have brought much joy to the many, and this is why the many are so loyal. Keep it up, your efforts make us all a lot less miserable. Number one is just it for me. All opinions differ, but for me it has just kept on delivering at all times. It is a great way to remind myself what the joy of just kicking back and soaking in the heavy shit that it is.

So number one is set in the eternity of time. The rest are in no particular order apart from the fact that I numbered them to keep track, and I could have quite easily added more. All are excellent, some labels have delivered more than others and I’m sure I’ve missed a thousand more great bands. Thus is life, and 2018 is already off to a cracking start so I’m sure next years list will be spectacular, and far more painful.

I haven’t bothered listing genre or record label, you are all big people now and can find them yourselves. This also isn’t an exercise in name dropping, I just thought some may find this interesting if not amusing. We may disagree on a lot of this but at the end of the day Metal is the blood, and the blood is the life. Cheers to all.

1 – Paganizer – Land of Weeping Souls: What needs to be said about this album? It is the embodiment of all things we crave as death metal fans. From the opening to the end, this is as good as it gets. No need to overthink, just kick back and get your head ripped apart by these legends. Pure unadulterated DEATH! None better. Rogga Johansson is the man with the midas touch. His ability to keep on creating such excellence with all of his projects just astounds me, and that is taking nothing away from the rest of this band. Supreme beings in the world of heavy music. Cower before their might, you unworthy scum.

2 – Plague Throat – The Human Paradox: Just fucking wow. This album caught me right off guard, I’d heard good things about these guys and being on Transcending Obscurity Records, I decided to have a listen. Fuck me in the goat arse if these guys aren’t as tight as a fish’s bum. Absolute technical supremacy and just plain nastiness await. Can’t get enough of these guys. They just keep on pummeling my tiny brain.

3 – Khazaddum – Plagues Upon Arda: This tickles my Tolkien bone with a fucking immense warhammer. Who gives a Balrog’s balls if you are into the lore at all? Khazaddum impressed already with their debut ‘In Dwarven Halls’. This release sees our Dwarven looking antagonists bashing in the very gates of Mordor. Hails to their return to the kingdom! Again, not a bad track to be had. Heavy shit that just keeps on giving. A band that inspired me so much that I wrote a bloody story about a spider and some dwarves as the review. I liked it ha-ha.

4 – Memoriam – For the Fallen: Gods walk among us, and this is their music of war. Bolt Thrower are an altar upon which I have banged my head so much that I have their logo inked on me for life. Karl Willetts, Frank Healy, Scott Fairfax and the legendary Andy Whale keeps the memory of departed drummer Martin Kearns alive and well. Naming them all is an honour. When Bolt Thrower ended, they picked up that rifle and kept on moving through the trenches. Brilliant, and also sometimes not exactly what you expect.

5 – Morbid Angel – Kingdoms Disdained: I don’t give a goats arse what you think of this. To me this is a huge return to form. Steve Tucker does his level best to sound like the angriest fucking demon ever, and Trey and co lay down the law of a new destiny on this one. ‘Declaring New Law’ and ‘Garden of Disdain’ are just an entry point into this brand new hell. “Torture any fool that does not submit, Erase them. Have them swear devotion, then cut out their tongue. Torture any fool that does not submit. Make them believe in this”.Spoken like a true religion. I have returned to my faith.

6 – Warcrab – Scars of Aeons: Time for a few real heavyweights. Warcrab bring it with the biggest fucking H ever. Every release they have done so far has been astounding, but somehow they manage to squeeze even more fucking power and brutality out of their poor and obviously ill treated instruments. The vocalist obviously has a cast iron throat to be able to withstand the onslaught it receives as well. Not a bad track to be found. This one makes me feel nothing but utter joy.

7 – Jupiterian – Terraforming: Oppressive, Smothering, Otherworldly. Heavier and doomier than all fuck. To quote myself on a previous review, you are in the belly of a giant snake and you are slowly being digested. The pain is immense, and your doom is the only outcome. Enjoy your pitiful demise.

8 – Arrallu – Six: What an amazing record. Heavy as a fucking brick dipped in lead with an elephant sitting on it saying fuck you, with a smile on his face. A tour de force of exotic excellence wrapped in the kind of heavy that unites us all in our brotherhood. Is it Black Metal? Extreme maybe? No it’s fucking Arrallu, and you would do well to take heed of their magnificence.

9 – Sodomized Cadaver – Verses of Vorarephilia:  Another bolt from the blue, and recommended to me by my good friend Jools Green. These guys sit very nicely in amongst the sounds created by most of my all time favourite bands. I reckon if they toured with Warcrab and Jupiterian the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse would be right in the front row destroying all around them. Fuck yes.

10 – Novembers Doom – Hamartia: I have tinkered with this band for a while, and although excellent they never seemed to deliver the entire package to me. This album delivers on every level, from the outright miserable to the catchy riff fest, you will believe that indeed, your God is dead and washed up upon the shores of misery.

11 – Paradise Lost – Medusa: The Great Mackintosh is no stranger to this band, having been there from the start and loving every different thing they have done. His name is also a play on guitarist Greg Mackintosh, such is his excellence. Not quite as brutal as some of their stuff, and yet all the same fascinating. Paradise Lost can do no wrong, as far as I am concerned. Fuck the haters.

12 – Nekrohowl – Epitome of Morbid: This album is an all out assault on your very soul. Yes it starts out all warm and cuddly, then shows it’s true intentions of tearing you to pieces. I still have scars after the first playthrough. Superb.

13 – The Maledict – Imperilled: An EP from a band that is not only growing day by day in their ability to show us how fucking capable they are, they are also challenging the mighty. ‘Waltz Eternal’ reminds me of a lot of things, all of them brilliant. Starting out leaning more towards the Death side of things (and I highly recommend you check out their earlier releases ‘Dread’ and ‘Salvation In Yielding’) this one sees them mature somewhat, yet still does not lack in intensity. Can’t wait for more.

14 – Acephalix – Decreation : Crustiness awaits again on this release, and the kind of heavy that makes you want to invade foreign lands with your group of trusty Knights, and your horse by your side. I am not saying that this is at all based on medieval tones, just that it made me want to watch catapults fling death at walls of stone.

15 – Destruction – Thrash Anthems II: Another band that have had their ups and downs, Schmier and co. had me hooked the day I first heard them on some old obscure SPV compilation or somesuch. Whilst I prefer the original version of most of these songs, NOBODY can match Destruction in their ability to thrash the shit out of you. Classics redone, oh the memories. Fan fucking tastic, hopefully some new blood will hear it and become as obsessed as I did. Bloody Germanic excellence. Want to whine about them, show me a riff you have ever done better. ‘Nuff said.

16 – Ulver – The Assassination of Julius Caesar: How to describe this? I don’t know. Is it Paradise Lost in their experimental stage. Is it Depeche Mode? Is It pop? I’ve heard this kind of thing before, but by christ they have a great sound, and this album is a must have. Still heavy in a different kind of way funnily enough, and for sure not to everyone’s taste, but it certainly works for me.

17 – Sunless – Urraca: Yes, fucked if I know how to describe this band other than what I have said before. If Voivod popped into a portal of really heavy shit, this is what you would surmise what the outcome would be. Odd at times and yet you keep going back to wrap your head around it. Blackened Death Metal psychedelic strangeness awaits. Jump through that portal.

18 – Akercoke – Renaissance in Extremis: After an Hiatus of nearly a decade, these guys decided to pop up with what is certainly an odd and divisive album. Jason’s voice is as creepy as ever, and the skill on display here is astounding. Akercoke didn’t have to prove jack shit after their already stellar past releases. They just wanted to rub our faces in their awesomeness. HEAVY shit! Kick me to the ground again please.

19  – Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black: Love em or hate em, just a great album. You know what to expect, just go with the flow and appreciate. No need to overthink here folks. None at all.

20 – Obscure Burial – Obscure Burial: Self titled, raw, slightly blackened (I once referred to it as like just before your toast is fuck off ruined) old school death metal at it’s finest. Extremely catchy. At moments creepy, but at all times just a fucking joy to the ears. Love it.

21 – Freiheit – Madness, Hatred, Death: Blackened death maybe, these guys just do whatever the fuck they want, and as Freiheit is the German word for freedom, good on em. They are from Russia, and they will kick your sorry looking arse. Nice bunch of guys too apparently. They go and play in front of disabled kids and such. No medals needed for doing that. Just being genuine is enough. Fucking great album.

22 – A Flourishing Scourge – A Flourishing Scourge: This particular band just shit it in for mine. Great production, great sound and as extreme and sublime as you can get. Probably more Black than most things for mine, but there is much beauty to be found on this album, and it will definitely keep you on your toes. Have a listen, very worthy.

23 – Fragarak – A Spectral Oblivion: Holy shitbags, Batman. A Masterpiece awaits. An epic worthy of the attention of the gods themselves. This is one hell of a huge piece of work, but by the end of your time with it you will believe.

24 – Kremlin – Kremlin: Found these guys by mistake, and don’t regret it for a minute. Nothing like my normal stomping ground. It’s heavy, but in a different way. Have a listen. More like something released in the seventies, but so damn catchy I just couldn’t help but keep listening.

25 – Temple of Void – Lords of Death: The first couple of releases from these boys really impressed me, but this one just blew me away. Track after track of bone crushing deathly goodness. Can’t fault it at all. I don’t think much more needs to be said.

26 – Auroch – From Forgotten Worlds: I made a bold statement that these guys where the direction that Morbid Angel should have gone in after Blessed. Then had to eat my words after MA released the new one. Still, this is just fucking excellent death metal, and yes I know it’s a re-release, but it was still put out this year so there.

27 – Paroxsihzem – Paroxsihzem: Another re-release, this bunch of Canadian loonies sing lullabies to make really heavy things like boulders, asteroids and fuck, even whole planets feel at ease. Seriously heavy stuff people, great for getting rid of unwanted house guests. Also great for clearing entire forests and the like.

28 – Neocaeser – 11:1: This Sinister sounding mob all have one thing in common, that being that they are all former members of Sinister. Pretty fucking good hey? And so is this album. An absolute belter! Nothing too revolutionary but fuck me I like it!

29 – Morta Skuld – Wounds Deeper Than Time: No need to go to in depth with this one. Just death metal done really bloody well. Vocally and musically, this album is sheer bliss for the death fan. Just put it on and imagine drinking from the skulls of your enemies, or anyone’s skull for that matter.

30 – Throne of Heresy – Decameron: A concept album based on an old book. Who’d of thunk it. Well the book is about the plague, so that’s a good start. And then the feel of the whole thing just grabs you. It’s Primordial without the potatoes, and a shit ton more meat.

31 – Infected Dead – Archaic Malevolence: This one caught me right off centre, and damn them for doing so, because they are so fucking good that I had to put them up here. More towards the tech side of things, These fine British chaps have officially slapped me around the chops with, well, their chops. If it’s an intense pummelling with a nod to the old ways you seek, then listen to this you must. Also must I stop talking like Yoda…

32 – Infernal Majesty – No God: What’s not to like aboot our Infernal friends, unlike some I don’t think they have ever put a foot wrong, and after a bit of an hiatus they have decided to remind us of just how fucking good they are. I concur. They are also Gods. No bones about it.

33 – Belphegor – Totenritual: Took a while to get into this one, but after a while I just loved it. Absolutely insane riffery abounds and it just gets better as it goes along. Haters will hate.

34 – Usnea – Portals into Futility: Been a fan for a while but this one just blew me away with the intensity of the whole package. The timing and sheer weight of their music just has to be heard to be believed. Patience is of course a virtue with songs of this magnitude, but if you have said resolve, then do yourself a favour and check it out.

35 – Saille – Gnosis: Again, I’ve been following Saille for quite some time. I’ve always found their music to be almost ethereal in parts, ‘Eldritch’ from 2014 being a particular favourite. This release took on a whole new level for me. The fucking guitar riffs are just amazing, and the pacing of each song brings a lovely sense of suspense and darkness. Very good indeed. Dare I use the word thrashy to explain some of this? Well I just did. So there.

36 – UR – Black Vortex – This is the reason you don’t go off all half cocked and release your top anything shit before you hear the year out. My thanks to Jools Green for putting me onto this, it’s black and thrashy, and fucking brilliant. It can also be odd, but fuck me if it was compared to an earworm, the bloody worm would be a planet destroyer. Essential listening.

37 – Prezir – Contempt: Another project of Luka Djordevic, lead bearded one at Khazaddum. Leaning far more towards the Blackened style but containing many elements and certainly not to be pigeonholed, this album is an absolute ball tearer. The squeamish may require a safe room after the intro ‘How God Loves’, but the rest of you that stick around for the main event will be well rewarded. Kudos to all who brought this release to our unworthy hands. Great stuff.

38 – Incantation – Profane Nexus: The old skool teaching the new how it is all done again. A masterwork of foul hate spewing devilry and debauchery. ‘Onward to Golgotha’ may be seen by some as their finest work, but don’t be lead astray. This is right up there. A pleasure to see them keep the fires of hell alive.

39 – Suffocation – Of The Dying Light: More of these old buggers keeping us awake at night. Surely 2017 has been the year of the great from a lot of the more established bands. This is no different. If ‘The Warmth Within the Dark’ doesn’t punch your face in then I suggest you try ‘Caught Between Two Worlds’.

40 – Horrified – Allure Of The Fallen: I was not at all impressed by this album the first time I heard it. Yes it sounded great and all, but It didn’t grab me. Nothing I’ve never heard before, the first song as an impression left me looking for the allure. The second song much the same for a while and then it all just fell into place. Horrified were just fucking with me. The only way I could describe it is that either I had no idea in which direction they were going, or it was their master plan. This album is a real creeper. Be warned, it may get you too.

41 – Unearthly Trance – Stalking The Ghost: I have previously stated that I’m pretty sure Conan The Barbarian washes Croms underwear whilst listening to this. Oddly captivating, even if it sounds like it comes from another age.

42 – In The Company Of Serpents – Ain-Soph Aur: If David Lynch ever decided to get into metal, this is precisely what I think would occur. Hypnotic, mesmerizing and just plain bloody strange. I was hooked from the start. Nothing traditional nor familiar about this one at all, just some very unsettling damn fine music. Give it a chance, you may well be surprised.

43 – Necrot – Blood Offerings: By buggery this is just chuggery, or is it thuggery. Either way I’d been hanging for this one since their collection of earlier stuff ‘The Labyrinth’. It showed a lot of potential, and Necrot have delivered. If they continue along these lines the big leagues await. I fucking love it. Death to all non believers, for Death is the only way.

44 – Desolate Shrine – Deliverance from the Godless Void : A trip through a very dark and bleak landscape. I was so taken in by this one that I went off on one of my bizarre tangents and wrote a fucking story around it. Hopefully the band wasn’t too upset. I have done it before and will no doubt do it again when an album catches my imagination so well.

45 – Odradek Room – A Man of Silt : A beautiful album, full of surprises that is basically the story of something that seems to only exist in the mind, but is there all the same. One minute existing as a harmless thought, the next manifesting as a bad dream. Extremely hard to describe. You will either be captivated by it or hate it’s very existence. Haunting to the last.

46 –  Bufihimat – I : Harsh, dissonant chaos. Or is it? Well yes, this one is all over the place, but if you give it some time you will find the excellence within. Brutal, unforgiving nastiness that is no place for those who like a more structured delivery. Like a punk band that decided to really fuck the system and be as damaging as all fuck. Another band that for mine channels essences of Voivod, but their amps go up to eleven.

47 –  All Hell – The Grave Alchemist : A very potent mixture has been created right here. Some Frost has been added to a large dose of thrash/black ‘n roll here people, and the resulting potion is lethal. Nothing to soothe whatever issues you may have like a good swig on this one. Trust me, I know a bloke who once knew a dude that may or may not have been a doctor.

48 – Satyricon – Deep Calleth Upon Deep : So, I wrote a less than flattering review of this one a while back, and I still stand by what I have said. The problem is that even though it isn’t a game changer in terms of the next level for them, it is a very fucking solid album. I find myself going back to it a lot, and I am aware that the Kvlt out there and the naysayers will always point to their past. For me nothing much has changed over the last three releases, but you know what? I like it. So get fucked if you don’t. Go write a list on toilet paper of all the new shit that you won’t be listening to in a month.

49 – Graveslave – Sick/Nasty: A brutal start to a fantastic album about a serial killer awaits you. It’s also from the perspective of the killer. It begins a bit samey, but then progresses on to be an absolute (and pardon the pun) KILLER of an album. The lyrics are a must read for all the sickos out there, and the musicianship on display is outstanding.

50 – Thantifaxath – Void Masquerading as Matter:  I’d read the reviews and did not care. On a whim, or maybe by suggestion I went back and had another look. I liked it. Sometimes you need to be in the right headspace to fully absorb something. This is excellent. No more needs to be said.