Arctic Drones’ 50 Favourite Albums of 2017

2017 proved to us all that we’re living in strange and often complex times. The world that we foster comfort and familiarity in shifts seemingly by the day, leaving us all burdened to find stable footing. The breadth of music released in 2017 has served to ease our minds but also challenge them, tempting us to keep pace with the changing landscape we’re living in.

The sheer depth of albums released this year is spread throughout countless genres, making this Top 50 a true melting pot of what 2017 has to offer. There’s a lot to discuss and more to discover!

We at Arctic Drones are happy to present what we believe are some of the best releases of 2017. It was tough compiling the list to a Top 50, especially since our writers are still discovering albums released from months passed. Nonetheless, we hope you discover something new from this list, and we’d love to hear if we featured some of your favorites as well. As a reminder, the list is organized alphabetically, so make sure you check out every release! –Words by Evan Lurie

AMENRA – MASS VI

Mass VI is maybe Amenra’s most intimate album. In equal parts gentle and ferocious, the sixth installation in the Mass series sees the band expanding their sound into previously uncharted territories. The final destination is still total annihilation.  By Federico Bernardinelli

RELEASE INFO: 20 October 2017, Neurot Recordings
TAGS: Post-metal, Sludge, Doom metal, Atmospheric, Belgium
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

AND SO I WATCH YOU FROM AFAR – THE ENDLESS SHIMMERING

Not that I didn’t enjoy ASIWYFA’s previous two albums, but it was certainly nice to see them strip down their sound a bit and get back to their early roots with this record. Over the course of 9 rip-roaring tracks, the band demonstrates exactly why they have become as well-regarded as they are. Their blend of math-rock, post-rock and prog is seamless, gigantic and perpetually energetic. By David Zeidler

RELEASE INFO: 20 October 2017, Sargent House
TAGS: Math rock, Progressive rock, Post-rock, Northern Ireland
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

ANTETHIC – GHOST SHIRT SOCIETY

Antethic’s unique usage of textures and ambience, coupled with their ability to get loud makes for a hell of a release. Its mellow mood is downright infectious, and will always put me at ease. By Aaron Edwards

RELEASE INFO: 02 April 2017, Self-released
TAGS: Post-rock, Doomgaze, Atmospheric, Russia
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

ARCHAIQUE SMILE – ELEGY

It took merely 4 years for Archaique Smile to release a sophomore album that exceed their On The Eternal Boundary release back in 2013 in every way. Putting a new benchmark on the really solid Weary Bird Records label, Elegy doesn’t suffer from any comparison with Sweet Home, Go, the masterpiece released last year from their label companion Wang Wen. It’s perfect combination of shoegaze and post-rock hits you both in the head and in the heart, and promises to leave you shaken long after the final note has been played. By Eloi Mayano-Vinet

RELEASE INFO: 11 June 2017, Weary Bird Records
TAGS: Post-rock, Shoegaze, Japan
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Facebook

ARMS AND SLEEPERS – LIFE IS EVERYWHERE

Standing solitary against 2017’s sonic onslaught, Life Is Everywhere offered some unexpected solace. With its relaxed beats this album has CHILL written all over it. This time Arms and Sleepers surprise us with guest rappers Airøspace and Serengeti, spicing things up, keeping it fresh, and proving they can be better than half of the producers out there today. Robert, David and I tested it live and it’s just as good, what are you waiting for? By Federico Bernardinelli

RELEASE INFO: 27 January 2017, Self-released
TAGS: Electronic, Ambient, Hip hop, Trip hop, United States
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

ASIRA – EFFERENCE

With the advent of winter days, this record has ripened all the more like an old red wine. There’s little fault at hand with this vintage, which merges a perfect execution of the blackgaze genre with the emotional sensitivity of Anathema and melodic intuition of Pink Floyd. Yes, big words for a band that’s little known, but throughout the year, Efference has proven them to be true time and again. By Robert Westerveld

RELEASE INFO: 07 April 2017, Self-released
TAGS: Post-black metal, Progressive metal, Metal, United Kingdom
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

BANTHA RIDER – SELF-TITLED

Bantha Rider resides in the 0.1% of novelty bands that are worth your time. Crushing riffs, thick basslines, and headbang-inducing jam sessions, you really can’t go wrong with this Polish trio. Besides, where else can you find a picture of Tusken Raiders hitting a bong? By Aaron Edwards

RELEASE INFO: 07 January 2017, Self-released
TAGS: Stoner metal, Metal, Sludge, Poland
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Facebook

BLAK – BETWEEN DARKNESS AND LIGHT

BLAK is yet another addition to Elusive Sound’s stellar lineup of artists, masterfully blending post-rock with black metal and neoclassical, among other genres. To create something equal parts loud and beautiful isn’t terribly common, but Elusive Sound manages to find the best of them. By Aaron Edwards

RELEASE INFO: 28 July 2017, Elusive Sound
TAGS: Post-rock, Ambient, Cinematic, Spain
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

BVDUB – EPILOGUES FOR THE END OF THE SKY

bvdub is Brock Van Wey, a prolific electronic producer from San Francisco. Of his few releases this year, Epilogues For The End Of The Sky is perhaps the more introspective and meditative. In just over an hour and spanning eight massive tracks, bvdub manages to explore the full palette of love, loss and everything in between. This is one of the more beautiful yet sorrowful journeys to be put to record in 2017.  By Roberto Pereira

RELEASE INFO: 01 February 2017, Glacial Movements Records
TAGS: Ambient, Drone, Electronic, United States
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

CALIGULA’S HORSE – IN CONTACT

Caligula’s Horse return with their 4th album, In Contact, a delicious slab of prog-goodness. The band consolidated their sound on In Contact, incorporating the best elements of their previous albums. In Contact features one of the finest vocal performances of the year from singer Jim Grey, and guitarists Sam Vallen and Adrian Goleby bring us some of the best riffs and guitar licks of the year in any genre. Caligula’s Horse are truly masters of melody, harmony, and sheer heaviness. By Roberto Pereira

RELEASE INFO: 15 September 2017, InsideOut Records
TAGS: Progressive metal, Djent, Alternative, Australia
MORE INFO: Spotify || Facebook || Instagram

CELESTE – INFEDELE(S)

In one word: bourgeoning. Like a catalyst for the current times, Celeste channel all the anxiety, anger, and frustration that 2017 brought us into a 45 minute post-black metal ritual packed with manic screams and claustrophobia-inducing riffs. Suffocate under “Commes des Amants en Reflet”s chokehold and let this album get to your head. It’ll hurt for days. By Federico Bernardinelli

RELEASE INFO: 29 September 2017, Denovali Records
TAGS: Post-metal, Black metal, Sludge, France
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

CHRISTIAN SCOTT ATUNDE ADJUAH – THE CENTENNIAL TRILOGY

Christian Scott delivers one of the most ambitious releases of the year, The Centennial Trilogy.  A tribute to the first jazz recording which is now 100 years old, the trumpeter-extraordinaire released a trilogy of incredible works over the course of 2017. Each album (Ruler Rebel, Diaspora, The Emancipation Procrastination) could stand on its own as an incredible work of modern jazz and fusion, but together they form one of the finest jazz releases of recent times. By Roberto Pereira

RELEASE DATE: 27 October 2017, Ropeadope Records
TAGS: Jazz, Fusion, Trip hop, United States
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

CLOAKROOM – TIME WELL

Time Well refers to the ritual of studio recording and how that exhausting process adds meaning to the overall record itself. This album explores the efforts of the band with new heights, releasing a doomy, noisy shoegaze album packed with some of their best songs yet. By Evan Lurie

RELEASE INFO: 18 August 2017, Relapse Records
TAGS: Doom metal, Shoegaze, Alternative rock, Doomgaze, United States
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

CORNELIUS – MELLOW WAVES

It’s been 11 years since the last Cornelius album, and only when I heard Mellow Waves did I realize how very much I had missed his unique brand of rhythmic experimentation and overflowing melodic and atmospheric warmth. 2017 was filled with angst-y, desperate albums, as though reflecting the news; do yourself a favor and bask in Cornelius’ soothing sonic spa before the year is through. By Mircea Laslo

RELEASE INFO: 28 June 2017 (Japan) / 21 July 2017 (World), Warner Music Japan / Rostrum Records / Spunk Records
TAGS: Electronic, Math pop, Shibuya-Kei, Japan
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Facebook

DEAFCULT – AURAS

This Brisbane, Australia shoegaze/dream-pop band features a four-guitar attack that gives listeners a blissful wall of sound to accompany the insane catchiness of their compositions. There are hits sprayed all over this record, providing a precious opportunity to rock loudly while also stepping into your dancing shoes. 2017 was a banner year for shoegaze, and this album led a stacked pack. By David Zeidler

RELEASE INFO: 30 June 2017, Hobbledehoy Records
TAGS: Shoegaze, Alternative rock, Dream pop, Australia
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

EX EYE – EX EYE

Colin Stetson putting out one of the best post-metal/atmospheric black metal albums of the year was, shall we say, tough to predict. Enter Ex Eye, with staggering ferocity and a compositional style I never knew post-metal was missing so much of. Stetson weaves sonic illusions by repeating patterns ad nauseam, until you hear more than is recorded. Or do you? That’s the beauty of Ex Eye – you’ll probably never know, but you’ll keep wanting to find out. By Mircea Laslo

RELEASE INFO: 23 June 2017, Relapse Records
TAGS: Black metal, Post-metal, Experimental, United States
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

FOREST SWORDS – COMPASSION

Compassion is an album for the times we live in: dark, haunting, and melancholic all in equal measures. “I fear something’s wrong/the panic is on” a lady sings through the static and hypnotic drone of Forest Sword’s rhythmic beats on the track “Panic”. Grave and telling words indeed for the year 2017, but listen more closely and the hope and light sitting at the edges of these ten tracks soon overtake the darkness. Compassion is a meditation on the struggles of being human in 2017. By Roberto Pereira

RELEASE INFO: 05 May 2017, Ninja Tune
TAGS: Electronic, Drone, Experimental, England
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

FROM OCEANS TO AUTUMN – ETHER/RETURN TO EARTH

This Charlotte, North Carolina dronegaze band released this towering, 107-minute double album in May, a stunning work that blends both composed and improvised works and creates a cocoon of sound in which listeners have no choice but to become fully ensnared. It’s wall-of-sound music at its finest, building rhythms, textures and melodies into an intoxicating tapestry, then allowing it all to fall apart before rebuilding it again and again. By David Zeidler

RELEASE INFO: 05 May 2017, Self-released
TAGS: Dronegaze, Post-metal, Experimental, United States
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

GLACIER – THOUGH YOUR SINS BE AS SCARLET, THEY SHALL BE WHITE AS SNOW; THOUGH THEY BE RED LIKE CRIMSON, THEY SHALL BE AS WOOL.

Gloomy and heavy without being outright sludge metal, they toe the line with the intense emotions conveyed throughout the album. Honestly, this album didn’t reach my ears until recently, and I wish I had hopped on it much sooner. By Aaron Edwards

RELEASE INFO: 07 July 2017, Self-released
TAGS: Post-rock, Post-metal, Drone, Drone doom, Sludge, United States
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR – LUCIFERIAN TOWERS

2012, 2015, 2017, it’s almost getting repetitive how Godspeed never fail to make it on my list. The Canadian post-gods returned this year with an album that is inversely proportional to the happy, almost poppy mood of “Asunder Sweet”. Poignantly named “Luciferian Towers,” this record destroys you, puts you back together and then rips you to pieces once more, in typical GY!BE style. By Federico Bernardinelli

RELEASE INFO: 22 September 2017, Constellation Records
TAGS: Post-rock, Drone, Ambient, Canada
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify

HERETOIR – THE CIRCLE

Spending more time with this record throughout the year has revealed the incredible journey that The Circle encompasses. “Take my heart // I’ve felt everything that’s left to feel” Heretoir lull the listener into a dream-like state of resignation, separating the mind from the body, and taking them to soaring heights and desolate lows. By Robert Westerveld

RELEASE INFO: 24 March 2017, Northern Silence Productions
TAGS: Post-black metal, Post-metal, Metal, Germany
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

HERON – YOU ARE HERE NOW

There is no album I listened to more this year. It is a massive sonic achievement, recorded live by the full band, then mixed and mastered by legends Matt Bayles and Ed Brooks. The chemistry and clarity put on display is stunning, especially considering it is a debut record. You Are Here Now was a lovely soundtrack to Spring/Summer 2017, bursting with life and promise in a way not enough post-rock albums do. By David Zeidler

RELEASE INFO: 21 January 2017, Self-released
TAGS: Post-rock, Ambient rock, United States
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

HUBRIS. – APOCRYPHAL GRAVITY

For some reason, I didn’t bump into hubris.’s latest album until the end of the year but boy, what a shock! Rarely have I seen a post-rock album with such energy and groove. Think Maserati or Muñeco; groovy, laid back, and intense all at once. This is what Apocryphal Gravity is all about. You don’t need to have 2 listens of it to be sure you hold in your hand one of the best things that happened to post-rock in 2017. By Eloi Mayano-Vinet

RELEASE INFO: 03 April 2017, Cold Smoke Records
TAGS: Post-rock, Ambient, Experimental, Switzerland
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

JUNIUS – ETERNAL RITUALS FOR THE ACCRETION OF LIGHT

Eternal Rituals for the Accretion of Light is the closure of a trilogy, and this cathartic aspect transpires throughout. Here, Junius is a band working like a perfectly tuned engine, with a singular purpose and complete confidence in its inventory of unique stylistic elements. The production could be a little better, but in terms of composition, pacing and sheer conceptual clarity, Eternal Rituals… is one of the best metal albums I’ve heard all year, if not all decade. By Mircea Laslo

RELEASE INFO: 03 March 2017, Prosthetic Records
TAGS: Progressive metal, Experimental, Gothic rock, Boston
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

KAMASI WASHINGTON – HARMONY OF DIFFERENCE

Washington’s musicianship shines yet again on his new EP, this time much more digestible than The Epic with no loss in quality. The theme of diversity is shown throughout the EP, with final song “Truth” combining the different tastes of five previous songs before it into a fitting, grandiose end.  By Evan Lurie

RELEASE INFO: 29 September 2017, Young Turks
TAGS: Jazz, Big Band, Soul, United States
MORE INFO: Bandcamp || Spotify || Facebook

Continue the list on the next page: 26 – 50 (In alphabetical order)

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1 Comment

  • Many great albums here! Hubris among the best. I miss The Last Sigh Of The Wind on list, as I hold their latest album it to be the best instrumental post-rock albums of the year.

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