Top 10 Noise and Metal Albums of 2017


By Alex Jensen

Here are my ten favorite noise and metal albums of 2017. If you’re looking for some records to upset the neighbors, you’ve come to the right place. The entries are not ranked but instead listed chronologically by release date. I’ve included links to listen to each album for free, and I encourage you to do so, so long as you abide by the following principle: If you dig it, please buy it. Without further ado…


1. Set and Setting – Reflectionless

Released: January 27, 2017

Label: Self-released

Style: Post-metal, Psychedelic


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Post-rock/metal is not exactly the most fashionable subgenre in 2017. It often seems that the once vibrant, innovative style, pioneered by bands like Mogwai, ISIS, and Russian Circles, has devolved into the formulaic and generic. But on Reflectionless, the third LP from the Florida-based instrumental metal act Set and Setting, we see post-metal done right. Far from boring and derivative, Reflectionless is a dynamic, engaging, and psychedelic musical trip, injecting new life into a seemingly floundering subgenre. I look forward to what Set and Setting will do next.


2. So Stressed – Please Let Me Know

Released: February 17, 2017

Label: The Flenser

Style: Noise punk


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“So Stressed” is such a fitting name for this Sacramento-based punk trio. Their third LP, Please Let Me Know, exudes aggression, anxiety, and frustration throughout its ten noisy, chaotic tracks. But such negativity is nicely counterbalanced by a pop-oriented, almost beach rock vibe. It’s a great record – equal parts stressful and excited. “King’s Wig” might very well be my favorite track of 2017.


3. Planning for Burial – Below the House

Released: March 10, 2017

Label: The Flenser

Style: Doom metal, Shoegaze, Noise


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Nostalgic, melancholic, haunting. On Below the House, the latest release from Thom Wasluck’s musical project Planning for Burial, Wasluck captures the emotional gravity of lost love with heavy sonic walls of guitar feedback. I’ve always been impressed with the multi-instrumentalist’s ability to meld noise, ambience, and heavy riffs into such a cohesive product. And Below the House is Wasluck’s most cohesive offering yet. Though I’m not ranking the ten albums listed here, if I were, this one would probably get the #1 slot.


4. Falls of Rauros – Vigilance Perennial

Released: March 31, 2017

Label: Bindrune Recordings

Style: Black Metal, Folk


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These guys are phenomenal songwriters. There’s not a boring moment on Vigilance Perennial, and listening to the album start-to-finish yields an experience greater than the sum of its individual tracks. This is all the more impressive considering how dynamic this record is – where abrasive passages of blastbeats and tremolo-picked guitars transition seamlessly into hauntingly beautiful acoustic folk. On top of it all, the production is just perfectly lo-fi, accentuating the rustic feel of the music without compromising the intricate, harmonic interplay between the guitars and bass.


5. Oxbow – Thin Black Duke

Released: May 5, 2017

Label: Hydra Head

Style: Noise rock, Experimental


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San Francisco noise rock outfit Oxbow is back with their first record in over ten years. Thin Black Duke is a dissonant, abrasive, and strangely melodic album, where traditional rock conventions are thrown in with elements of free jazz, orchestral classical music, and blues. I’m glad that Oxbow is back after so long, and Thin Black Duke is a great LP to mark their reentry to the experimental rock stage.  


6. Show of Bedlam – Transfiguration

Released: May 12, 2017

Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories

Style: Sludge metal


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Bleak, horrific, unsettling. This isn’t the kind of album to blare during study hours – unless you want your landlord to text you about noise complaints (true story). The dissonant, sludgy guitar riffs are as disturbing as the unhinged vocals about mental health, asylums, and drug abuse. It’s not an accessible listen by any means, but it’s a wonderful, rewarding album – if you can stomach it!


7. Boris – Dear

Released: July 14, 2017

Label: Sargent House

Style: Doom metal, Drone


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Dear is the God-knows-what-number album from the prolific, Japanese metal trio Boris. Once again, the trio establishes themselves as the very best that doom/drone has to offer. Dear is a great record; give it a listen.


8. Couch Slut – Contempt

Released: July 28, 2017

Label: Gilead Media

Style: Noise, Avant-garde metal


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Though musically a bit different, the atmosphere of this album is similar to that of Show of Bedlam’s Transfiguration. Couch Slut’s vocalist, Megan Osztrosits, really characterizes the mood of this album best, saying that it deals with “anger, depression, terror, drug abuse, mental illness, violence, the surreal, longing and loss.” Seriously, this album is dark: Even putting the sheer dissonance of the music to the side, the lyrics, when you can actually make them out, are some of the most disturbing I’ve ever heard. Stylistically, Contempt is a difficult album to describe; there are elements of everything from noise, black metal, sludge metal, and hardcore punk here. It’s one of my favorite albums of 2017, but I’d be lying if I said it was easy to listen to.


9. Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun

Released: September 22, 2017

Label: Sargent House

Style: Doom metal


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On her fifth and most recent studio album Hiss Spun, the American singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe fully descends into the unsettling abyss of doom metal – a musical style that had up to this point been merely one among many influences in the eclectic musician’s sonic arsenal. The result is the heaviest, most abrasive Chelsea Wolfe record to date. Read my full review here.


10. Wolves in the Throne Room – Thrice Woven

Released: September 22, 2017

Label: Artemisia Records

Style: Black metal, Folk


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What can I say? It’s Wolves in the Throne Room; as always, it’s Cascadian black metal at its finest. Just listen to the damn thing.