This is not a “Top X albums of the year” list. I am not an expert. I did not look at all of the pages on Bandcamp that I could and listen to everything. This is simply a list of great albums that I’ve come across this year from both bands I was already fond of and new groups I discovered. I chose both doom metal and psychedelic rock both because they are my favorite genres and they have a lot of overlap, as evidenced by a number of albums on this list. If there were any I missed, please comment below. I’m always interested in giving a new band a spin. In no particular order (for the most part)…
Blood Ceremony – Lord of Misrule
Blood Ceremony have been consistently wonderful with their output. Their organ-induced early 70s metal mixed with folk is legitimately magical. The Canadian group definitely has one of the most unique sounds in rock today. Lord of Misrule continued their undeniably catchy witchiness and sorcery.
Best Tracks: “Half Moon Street” and “Old Fires”
Goatpsalm – Downstream
The Russian group Goatpsalm managed to cook up a strange brew of a number of of genres into one delicious pot. With too many sounds to list, you just need to give it a spin. It’s as visceral as it is esoteric. I can almost guarantee you’ve never heard something like this. This is not doom in the strictest sense, but it pushes the boundaries of metal for sure.
Best Track: “Grey Rocks”
Electric Citizen – Higher Time
Retro hard rockers Electric Citizen made a sophomore slam-dunk in Higher Time. This record felt like a natural continuation from the first, delivering head-nodding riffs and elegant vocal melodies. Energetic and fun, it’s just no bullshit rock and roll and it works.
Best Track: “Social Phobia”
Candlemass – Death Thy Lover
With this new EP, Candlemass is back to form. This is the first record with new singer Mats Leven, and he shines on the mic. With their signature doominess intact, Candlemass shows that the still have it even after 30 years. Here’s to hoping for a new LP!
Best Track: “Sinister and Sweet”
Salem’s Pot – Pronounce This!
With Pronounce This!, Salem’s Pot invite you to their dystopian, post-apocalyptic, dreary world. It gets legitimately sad sometimes. The group has a nice mix of traditional doom metal and early psych-influenced heavy metal. Their gloomy lyrics are a highlight too – “There is no future, pacifists will need a gun,” not to mention the frantic delivery. Another great export from Sweden!
Best Track: “Coal Mind”
Mondo Drag – The Occultation of Light
The psych rock group Mondo Drag always comes up with something different every time. The Occultation of Light is a grab bag of psychedelic goodness. They pull out all kinds of sounds and influences, each track is very distinct. The instrumentation and songwriting is simply on point. Listening to it again for this write-up only makes me want to play it more.
Best Tracks: “Out of Sight” and “The Eye,” but they’re all honestly great. All killer, no filler.
Heavy Temple – Chassit
Philadelphian underground trio Heavy Temple concocted another stellar EP, filled with all the psychedelic and doomy dirges that I love. As I stated in my review: “At times the band’s heaviness is in their ability to emphasize every note with a slow tempo”. There’s a lot to enjoy in the four tracks.
Best Track: “In the Court of the Bastard King” (particularly the last third of it)
SubRosa – For This We Fought the Battle of Ages
SubRosa definitely has one of the most unique sounds in the metal scene today. With two violinists added to the standard instrumentation, they push the borders of what metal is. The first track “Despair is a Siren” alone got me to put this on the list. The buildup on this number is intense and release is apocalyptic. The rest of the record has brutal, hard-hitting songs with dignified vocals.
Best Track: “Despair is a Siren”
Old Blood – Old Blood
On their debut album, Old Blood put elements of vocal jazz into doom metal. I’m always looking for innovation. This is a very vocal-driven record and it soars. It is as dark as it is beautiful.
Best Tracks: “Wolves” and “Glowplug”
The Well – Pagan Science
I don’t know how The Well wasn’t under my radar until recently, but their new album Pagan Science is amazing. I’d say my second favorite of the year. With trippy dual lead vocalists, tasty riffs, and catchy songwriting, the power trio marries doom metal and psychedelic rock perfectly.
Best Tracks: “Black Eyed Gods,” “Drug from the Banks,” and “Brambles”
Purson – Desire’s Magic Theatre
Without a doubt Purson’s Desire’s Magic Theatre is my favorite album of the year. They take you on a vibrant eclectic journey with this LP. Every track is gorgeous in its own way, guided by mastermind Rosalie Cunningham. She wrote all the material and recorded 90% of it, which is an amazing feat considering the quality. It’s a shame that the band recently announced an “extended hiatus,” which may mean the band is done. At least this record exists as proof of the group’s excellence.
Best Tracks: “Desire’s Magic Theatre,” “Electric Landlady,” and “The Bitter Suite”
This was definitely an excellent year for doom metal and psychedelic rock. Who knows if this retro trend will continue, but I already know of some releases to look forward to in 2017, like Electric Wizard‘s new album, Sleep has been in the studio recently, Candlemass’ Leif Edling is making a new album with his recent outfit The Doomsday Kingdom. Lots to look forward to!