Now that the dust has settled a little on my Top 30 albums of 2017 series, I thought it only right and proper to shine the spotlight on the individual songs that made the biggest impact upon me in 2017.
I was intending to keep it to a succinct top 10 but when has manofmuchmetal.com ever been succinct?
Instead, rather than worry over the top 10, I have been true to myself and brought you the 13 songs that are worthy of the spotlight being shined upon them just one more time before I gracefully turn my back on 2017 and focus on the new year ahead. Mind you, the following compositions are so strong, it is entirely likely that they will all still feature on my 2018 playlist and beyond.
So here goes…enjoy!
Pain of Salvation – Meaningless
I could have chosen any one of about five tracks off the new Pain Of Salvation record to feature in this list, so strong is the album. However, it had to be this one. It was the first song that I heard off ‘In The Passing Light of Day’ and it confirmed the rumours of a return to heavier ways. It was joyous to listen to and made all the better because it is such a brilliant song; quirky, dark, heavy and unbelievably anthemic. That chorus is to die for. I listened to this song no less than ten times back-to-back as soon as it was released and I’m still no closer to burn-out with it.
Daniel Cavanagh – The Exorcist
I am a little surprised to see a Daniel Cavanagh solo track in this list without an Anathema partner-in-crime. However, that’s how it has panned out. But when you listen to ‘The Exorcist’, it immediately becomes evident why this song had to be in my year-end top 10. It is raw, fragile, emotional, melancholic and heartbreakingly beautiful. You can feel Daniel’s emotions coursing through the track but being so stripped back, there is nowhere to hide. And that’s what makes this composition so magical and powerful.
Sorcerer – The Crowing of the Fire King
Sorcerer are one of the biggest surprises for me in 2017. I literally had no expectations at the outset, but their blend of doom-laden power metal has proven to be irresistible. And the title track of ‘The Crowning of The Fire King’ is the very best of a seriously great bunch of anthemic songs. It has the riffs, it has the atmosphere and it has one of the very best choruses penned during a very strong year. It is the kind of epic hook-laden monster that has the power to get me singing and air-guitaring in public without a care in the world.
White Moth Black Butterfly – The Sage
From one surprise package to another. In many ways, White Moth Black Butterfly were the biggest eyebrow raiser of the year for me given that they are nowhere near the rock or metal spectrum. Instead, TesseracT’s Daniel Tompkins has shown once again that he has many strings to his bow and in the process, has really turned my head. For me, ‘The Sage’ is the most exquisite composition from ‘Atone’ and is one song that I could listen to on repeat for hours.
Threshold – The Shire (Part 2)
There had to be a representative on this list from my overall favourite album of 2017 and I have eventually chosen this song. I could have chosen quite a few, but I eventually plumped for this song because it was the one that gave me that ‘Eureka’ moment and hit me the hardest at just the right time. Up until then, ‘Legends of the Shires’ was a great album. However, this epiphany made everything click and made me listen to the album again with fresh ears. The result was sensational and remains so as I type this. It’s a fantastic song, pure and simple.
Sleepmakeswaves – Tundra
I’m going to break with tradition and simply quote my review, because it sums up exactly what I think about this particular track:
“(‘Tundra’) is a work of near genius. Electronic sounds usher it into existence before it explodes in barely contained fury where the rhythm section of Adderley and Wilson take the spotlight. The twists and turns are myriad, flitting from naked aggression to serene beauty to something altogether bouncier and groovier. But it is the outbursts of euphoric-sounding drama juxtaposed with passages of sensitive minimalism and introspection that give this piece of music its depth, thereby making it so interesting and thoroughly addictive to listen to.”
Caligula’s Horse – The Hands Are The Hardest
This is yet another example of where I could have picked any one of a number of tracks from the album in question to feature in this list. However, I have chosen ‘The Hands Are The Hardest’ because it is arguably the most memorable track on the incredible ‘In Contact’. The melodies are cheeky and addictive, there’s a bright and breezy feel to the song which I love and it packs a heck of a lot in to its modest four-and-a-half-minute lifespan. It encapsulates everything that is great about this special band in one song and it sits, lodged in my head for days on end as an insatiable earworm.
Voyager – Lifeline
This list could not be complete without a track from ‘Ghost Mile’, the fab new record from Voyager. And whilst the album is packed full of great songs, I had to go for this one. Why? It is because I love the spaced out atmosphere that sits at its heart to begin with. I also love the stop-start prog riff that brings the song to life and then there’s the chorus. Those guitar tones, those notes – when I first heard the song, the chorus made me sit up and take notice. Ever since then, it has sent shivers down my spine. I can’t explain why, but it just speaks to me on another level.
Big Big Train – Brave Captain
With this song, Big Big Train proved once again just what supreme musicians and storytellers they really are. ‘Brave Captain’ is the opening song from the sublime ‘Grimspound’ and it is an emotional rollercoaster. It tells the story of a pilot in World War One against the backdrop of some of the most magnificent progressive rock that 2017 had to offer. However, it took until the live gig at Cadogan Hall for the full magic of the song to be released. It was an experience that will live long in my memory and which brought new meaning, new power and heightened poignancy to what was already a stunning track.
Deserted Fear – The Fall of Leaden Skies
Do you remember the first time that you heard ‘Slaughter of the Soul’ by At The Gates? I do. It was a pivotal moment in my musical evolution. At a time when I could have gone in any number of directions, I heard this seminal melodeath album and I never looked back. Well, ‘Dead Shores Rising’ by Deserted Fear conjured up many of these feelings and memories from years gone by. And ‘The Fall of Leaden Skies’ is the stand-out song that set these wonderful feelings free. Heavy, uncompromising, gnarly, dirty, and with enough groove and understated melody to keep me hooked, it is arguably the best individual death metal song that I heard in 2017.
Ayreon – The day That The World Breaks Down
I simply couldn’t overlook the opening song from ‘The Source’ when compiling my favourite songs of 2017. It may well be a 12-minute epic but it brings together everything that can be so brilliant about Arjen Lucassen and his all-star concept efforts under the ‘Ayreon’ moniker. It is heavy, theatrical, pompous and a hell of a lot of fun. The song features a plethora of famous voices who all bring their ‘A’ game and the melodies throughout are very strong. But the icing on the cake is Mike Mills who puts in an irresistible performance with just two words: ‘zero’ and ‘one’. I seriously get shivers every time and it is the overriding factor as to why this is a personal favourite song of the year.
Bjorn Riis – Getaway
If I was going to choose a Bjorn Riis track in this list, I was expecting to choose one of the more atmospheric tracks where Bjorn allows his guitar to sing in Gilmour-esque fashion throughout. However, the song I just had to choose instead is ‘Getaway’, a cracking composition that’s pulled along brilliantly by a driving beat that’s entirely infectious and gets me every time. It doesn’t hit me in the feels like some of Riis’ other material but it has something about it that hooks me in and won’t let go. And for that reason, it’s one of the best songs of the year for me.
Sadly, I can’t find this track online to share with you, so here’s another song from the album to get you intrigued.
Cradle of Filth – Heartbreak and Séance
When I first heard this song ahead of the release of ‘Cryptoriana…’, an evil grin split my face and I then proceeded to listen to it on repeat several times without pause. ‘Heartbreak and Séance’ reminded me instantly of Cradle of old, when they had the knack of penning music that was heavy, extreme, preposterously grandiose and gorgeously melodic. Harking back to the halcyon days of ‘Dusk…And Her Embrace’ and ‘Cruelty and the Beast’, this is the sound of Cradle of Filth firing on all twelve cylinders and sounding positively irresistible in the process. I still can’t get enough of that central melody, it is magnificent.