Friday, January 26, 2018


Come late November, everybody and their grandma likes to come out with a "best albums of the year" list. And I always see two problems with that.

One, what's the rush? Why are you so sure you've gotten a complete grip on the releases of 2017 by November? If my band is still struggling to put out our shitty tape by December 15, you would have overlooked that, wouldn't you?

Two, and much more importantly, no one makes a list of the best Bay Area releases of the year, because there are no magazines or blogs, as far as I know, that focus solely on the SF Bay Area heavy music scene. The East Bay Express made a top 12 list, which contained zero punk or metal releases. As one of the sole print publications covering alternative culture around here, couldn't they do a little more? As in, anything? KQED made a top ten list, which also contained zero punk or metal albums. As you will see, if you read through this post, the scene around here isn't exactly dead.  There are a ton of websites and blogs out there, and even a few print magazines still, that give ample coverage to heavy music. But their analysis is wide ranging, and covers releases from Oakland to Finland to Swaziland. Even Maximum Rock'N'Roll, based in San Francisco since it's inception, seems more focused on international punk, and transgender issues these days than covering bands in it's own backyard.

I definitely read through a few top ten lists at the end of the year, just to see if I missed anything, and there was not a lot of love for The Bay! The monstrous new Necrot album, Blood Offerings got the bulk of the press (rightfully so), including a coveted number four spot in Decibel magazine's top 40. The self titled Succumb album made a few lists, and Cormorant's Diaspora trailed a distant third.

Anyway, that's why AGAIN I have taken the painstaking effort to make my own top ten Bay Area albums of 2017 list. Mostly it's metal, but it includes punk, hard rock and whatever else I like. As far as I know, NONE of these releases were covered in any way by the local media.

But without further adieu, here are the...
In no particular alphabetical order

Cosmic Reef Temple: Age Of The Spaceborn
June 6, Transylvanian

Middle eastern flavors, spastic saxophone over a heavy rhythm bed of of rock fuzz. Totally spaced out instrumental psychedelic jazz from Santa Cruz. Something different from everything else on the list, that's for sure! How refreshing! Way into it.

Dealer: Billionaire Boys Club
February 17, Wicked World

Dealer anthropomorphized from their previous band Sexless, and boldly stepped into the scene doing heavy alterna grunge noise rock, calling to mind Nirvana "Bleach" and maybe a more metal Butthole Surfers, just to give a few examples. Using volume it's self as an instrument at their live shows, listening to this record gives you a better idea of what's going on in their shaggy louse ridden heads, if you wanted to know that? Post abdominal surgery caterwauling vocals, fuzzed out guitar, fuzzed out bass, the drums might even be fuzzed out too. But everything is played well, and the songs are structured and riffy. Extra points for the ridiculous album cover, which hearkens back cheekily to an irreverent 90's fuck you attitude. I know these boys, and they are definitely NOT billionaires.

Exhumed: Death Revenge
October 13, Relapse

The album cover is a mock old horror movie poster, and the intro track is meant to sound like the theme song to a slasher flick, which fits the imagery of Exhumed very well, after a few minutes of Friday The 13th / Halloween spine chilling atmospherics, the death metal bursts in, like an axe wielding maniac hacking through a teenager's bedroom door. Nothing new for Exhumed, here. Extremely competent death metal, fine performances from the whole band, very solid, not inventing anything new. Well recorded and some very catchy riffs popping out here and there. Drums as crisp as a Fuji apple, ahhhhh….

Funeral Chant: s/t
February 3, Independent

A short LP, at 26 minutes, I would call this a long EP… whatever, we'll put it in the LPs list, cause I like it! Hate to use such a horrible cliché now, but these guys really do put the FUN in funeral! For being subsumed into howling apocalyptic graveyard, Funeral Chant sound like they're having a good time! Evil, yet somehow exuberant blackened thrash. Solid and entertaining.

Hell Fire: Free Again
August 18, Independent

San Francisco retro NWOBHM / thrash throwback. Always an ass kicking live band, their debut album last year came off a little wooden sounding. Not so this follow up! Hard hitting, punchy dynamic, a killer recording, which captures excellent songwriting and instrumental competence. Topped off by a singer who could be a bizzaro world Bruce Dickinson who is into smoking a pack a day and guzzling cheap whiskey.

Lecherous Gaze: One Fifteen
February 10, Tee Pee

Building on the same sound they've been growing since they formed, but expanding and increasing it. At it's heart, straight up rock and roll, elements of blues rock and proto punk. The weird singer keeps them raw and scary. Includes these rare mysterious, eclectic, dare I say cinematic moments? Subtle keyboard parts suggest more complex moods, and of course OUTER SPACE STUFF. It's a very well recorded and put together album.

Necrot: Blood Offerings
June 9, Tankcrimes

I don't know what kind of death metal you call this exactly, but it's my favorite kind. Just the right balance of brains and brawn, of melody and brutality. There much more brawn and brutality of course, but that's what brings the Death. The power trio, an unusual format for DM, make a bold appearance here, sounding extremely tight and agressive. As I dug through the piles and piles of Bay Area metal releases that came out this year, the largest category ended up being Black//Death metal, and Necrot was at the top of the heap with this release.

Remnants: Accomplices Not Allies
June 30, Mierda Mierda Mierda

San Francisco punk is extremely proud of representing the unrepresented and disappearing underclass of their home city. Very energetic drums drive the band, and the bass lays a rock solid foundation for the guitar, which jangles and sometimes soars on waves of dark but flamboyant reverb over all else. Very political lyrics shouted in yer face by what sounds like an idealistic teenager. A crucial look at what was going on in the streets in the lasts days of Ed Lee's yuppie hell hole San Francisco of 2017.

Skunk: Doubleblind
April 20, Fuzzy Mind

A singer who sounds like a stoned out Bonn Scott prances across the back of a merry crew, workmanlike in their ability to crank out surprisingly authentic sounding seventies riffs, I'm hearing some early Rush, Grand Funk, Leaf Hound, stuff like that. It's not too cut 'n' paste, it rocks and it's very fun! They talk about smoke a lot in their songs, so they must like, uh, camping or something?

War Cloud: s/t
September 8, Ripple

If you want a meal that includes comfort food in every bite, then this is that meal! It has bacon! And mashed potatoes! And apple pie for desert! And I obviously don't mean that in a bad way, because here it is, in the top ten! Motorcycles, witches, deserts, mountains: you want that classic stoner metal meal? It's in here! Same with the riffs. Warm, buttery guitar harmonies immortalized on analog magnetic tape. Guitar solos scattered liberally throughout, like the errant peas upon your plate. As reassuring and familiar as grandma's spread at Thanksgiving, it'll slide down your gullet, fill your gut and leave you satisfied!

Looks like 2017 was an interval year, 2018 will be much more productive indeed...

Isotope: Wake Up Screaming Cassette EP
September 15, Iso-Tapes

Cronander: Executive Disorder CD EP

November 21, Self Released



Acephalix: Decreation No surprises, just old school death: Riffs rasping the skin off or your bones 
Akatharsia: No Generation Without Corruption Blackmetaly punk, with barbaric hardcore drums
Aortix: Tellurian Termination Fun dirty death thrash from Napa
Arcane Existence: The Dark Curse Fairybook RPG deathmetal? 
Aseptic: s/t San Jose evil death crust
Byyrth: Saviors Of Armageddon Dirty black metal 
Cartilage: Dialect Of The Dead Bloodsoaked killer blastbeat drumming and chainsaw guitar death
Captured By Robots: Endless Circle Of Bullshit Death/grind played by robot band / human singer 
Cormorant: Diaspora Super epic blackened doom with lots of pretty parts 

Death's Eminence: The Execution Mandate Black metal from Novato 
Decrepit Birth: Axis Mundi Santa Cruz tech death 
Deliria: Nausea Atmospheric black metal 
Exhumed: Death Revenge see top ten
Extremity: Extremely Fucking Dead Competent death metal, played by scene veterans
Funeral Chant: s/t see top ten
Leucosis: Liminal Santa Cruz sprawling black metal

Necrot: Blood Offerings see top ten
Parasitic Ejaculation: Isolation Santa Cruz tech death gore

Morbosidad: Corona De Epidemia Wow, a new Morbosidad album came out?  
Rings Of Saturn: Ultu Ulla Video game tech death
Rude: Remnants Fun OSDM with some mysterious interludes. Appropriately dirty scary production
Sentinent Ignition: Enthroned In Gray Tech death 

Succumb: s/t Hey, we share a practice space with these guys and they always pay their rent on time! 
Von: Birth Of The Architects Classic SF slow, evil, Blackmetals  
Xenotaph: Media Morte in Vita Sumus More of a clean, cold 'n' frosty northern Black Metal style

Autopsy: Puncturing The Grotesque Bay area death pioneers new mini album
Caffa: Mental Enslavement Oakland dirty death metal

Decrepit Birth: Epigenetic Triplicity
Gloam: Death Is The Beginning
Khthonik Cerviiks / Howls Of Ebb Split Black metal
Palace Of Worms / Ecferus Split Black metal 
Plague Widow: Despair Unreleased tracks from 2015 get a release


Bone Awl: The Lowest Road
Disincarnation: By The Old Gods and the New

Brume: Rooster One speed doom, Neurosis parts and pretty parts abound
Catapult The Dead: A Universal Emptiness Expansive Neurosis-y doom
Daxma: The Head Which Becomes The Skull Epic post rock meets black / doom metal

Demonsmoke: Morphine Moonshine Unapologetic Eyehategod worship from far East Bay swamps
Dwell: Lodestone Unhinged, cavernous doom
King Woman: Created In The Image Of Suffering I'm the one suffering as I try to listen to this
Lowcaster: The Vapor Sea Stoner / sludge with some good playing and heavy riffs
Ragana: You Take Nothing
Two piece feminist screaming loud/quiet doom punk

Squalus: The Great Fish "Shark Week: The Album" 
Tvsk: Learn To Die Bass 'n' drums stoner sludge.
Vultures At Arms Reach: Wake Crowbar meets some more atmospheric parts. Santa Cruz.

Badr Vogu: The Gasman Cometh
Cardinal Wyrm / Mansion split
Iron Crown: s/t EP



Ancient Empire: The Tower Science fiction power metal
Gurschach: Dark Matter Groove nu thrash 
Hand Of Fire: Nuclear Sunrise Groove nu thrash
Hell Fire: Free Again see top ten
Hexx: Wrath Of The Reaper East Bay trad metal
Refuge Thrash: Patient Zero Primitve thrash from Sonoma. Worst album cover! 

Space Vacation: Lost In The Black Divide Pop power / speed metal. Musicians pretty good! 
War Cloud: s/t see top ten

Cultural Warfare: Future Kill Tech thrash
Wilderness Dream: Paralysis Rise

Agnostic Priest: Demos

Incredulous: The Weight Of Time Demo


Dealer: Billionaire Boys Club see top ten
Disastroid: Screen Kind of a grab bag mix of alterna grunge, stoner metal and noise rock
Feral Ohms: s/t  Raved up rock 'n' roll, heavy guitar, fuzzed out type shit

Lecherous Gaze: One Fifteen see top ten
Skunk: Doubleblind see top ten


Lecherous Gaze: The Thing Within

Lord Mountain / Mesmer Split

Mesoteric: Demo 2017


Connoisseur: Over The Edge
Midnight Snaxx: Chew On This
Odio: Ancora

Remnants: Accomplices Not Allies see top ten
Ruleta Rusa: Viviendo Una Maladicion
Silent Era - O Horizon


Acrylics: Despair 7"
Atrament: Attack In The Aftermath Digital Single
Barren Altar / Argentavis Split
Composite: Artemesia 7" 
Cronander: Executive Disorder CD EP
Deathgrave / Violation Wound split 7"

Drain: Time Enough At Last 
Excessive Cruelty: 12" EP
Isotope: Wake Up Screaming Cassette EP
Nopes: Fun Limbo
Party Force - i Hate Cops To The Max!
Primal Rite: Sensory Link To Pain 7"

B-Ward: Demo

Cell Rot: demo II
Extraction: Dead And Buried
Mabs: Get Nasty
Mystic Priestess
Rapid Decline: Less Power, More Violence
Space Toilet
Yups: Sugar Baby Butterfly


2 Lazy Boys: Didja Know That?
2 Lazy Boys: The Great Merger

Cosmic Reef Temple: Age Of The Spaceborn see top ten
Depressor: s/t Just realized that Depressor has a new album… 

Flesh World: Into The Shroud San Francisco dream pop / punk
Hedersleben: Orbit
Oxbow: Thin Black Duke First impression: can't take the vocals… NEXT!

Silver Shadows: Cold Plastic Gauzy, delicate dream pop

SINGLE / EP / SPLITHigh Anxienty: $5 Out The Door EP

Preening: Beeter: EP
Spiritual Cramp: Mass Hysteria

Yogurt Brain: The Lemon Tree 7"

Gnarboots: F.O.R.E.V.E.R.

Sutekh Hexen / Hissing 
Vativer: Demonstrationszug
Wee Peevers: Scuse Youse