2017 Album of the Year: Night Demon’s Darkness Remains

Thursday, 4th January 2018

Before we completely dive into the new year that is 2018, it’s always nice to look back at what we collectively thought were the strongest efforts from last year. We’d also like to take a few moments to thank our readership and supporters for a very successful 2017. Here’s to an even better (and more metal) 2018! Our personal best-of lists can be found below:

David E. Gehlke
Kyle McGinn
Matt Coe
Matt Bower
Sifting Through Bandcamp

As the tradition goes, we have also pooled our data from the individual best-of lists to generate an overall top 5 albums for Dead Rhetoric. The albums listed below had to have appeared on at least two staffers lists to warrant inclusion. We have also listed a few honorable mentions, also worthy of some kudos.

1. Night Demon – Darkness Remains (Century Media)
This California trio channel the fundamentals of the NWOBHM sound for the good, and elevate their game even more on their second full-length Darkness Remains. Properly keeping the material on point, they stretch into mysterious ballad territory with the title track – while also paying tribute to Iron Maiden in “Maiden Hell”. Jumping out at you from the studio and ready to launch from the stage, Night Demon have the tools and deliver the goods as a hopeful torchbearer for headlining glory when all the veterans retire. With a double live album looming for the coming year, Night Demon are setting themselves up for the long haul. – Matt Coe

2. MindMaze – Resolve (Inner Wound Recordings)
A power/progressive masterpiece, this concept album embodies depth and emotion. From the top-notch musicianship to the recurring musical and lyrical themes, there’s a lot to absorb here, but if you take the time, you will be richly rewarded. – Matt Bower

3. The Night Flight Orchestra – Amber Galactic (Nuclear Blast)
The guys of Soilwork and Arch Enemy (and more) bring you the most ‘fun’ album of the year. ‘70s/’80s progressive rock that is instantly addictive and bites down so hard with hooks that you’ll have no choice but to continue listening over and over again. The songs are well-built with reverence to the time period, yet still have a distinctive freshness to them – a clear labor of love. The perfect album to crank loud and forget about all your worries. – Kyle McGinn

4. Sorcerer – The Crowning of the Fire King (Metal Blade)
Epic doom metal figured heavily in my list this year – which is not the norm, as most musicians have abandoned the style in favor of stoner pastures. Swedish act Sorcerer with The Crowning of the Fire King deliver majestic melodies and crunchy, headbanging riffs that recall the classic Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, and Tony Martin/Black Sabbath records. The push and pull of rhythms that starts “Sirens” all the way to the closing twin guitar harmonies and soulful vocals that end “Unbearable Sorrow” leave me with chills, as the best acts in this genre should. -Matt Coe

5. Cellar Darling – This is the Sound (Nuclear Blast)
With Eluveitie treading creative waters, the creation of Cellar Darling (featuring former Eluveitie members: Anna Murphy (vocals, hurdy-gurdy), Merlin Sutter (drums) and Ivo Henzi (guitars and bass)) is a welcome one. Murphy has proven she can carry an album, while the songs — mostly metal with a rock and folk edge — are distinctive and enthralling. Will be curious to see if a Cellar Darling vs. Eluveitie rivalry is in the cards. – David E. Gehlke

Honorable Mentions:
Kreator – Gods of Violence (Nuclear Blast)
Shores of Null – Black Drapes for Tomorrow (Candlelight Records)
Jag Panzer – The Deviant Chord (SPV)