20 Best Metal Albums of 2017

Hardcore trailblazers, longform doom and genre-bending savagery: the year in heavy

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Royal Thunder, 'Wick'

8. Royal Thunder, 'Wick'

In many spots on the third full length from Atlanta's Royal Thunder, the instrument most responsible for bringing the heavy is Mlny Parsonz's voice: rough, raspy, muscular and capable of conveying vulnerability and tenderness. Her bandmates conjure a sound around her that is similarly shapeshifting. Opener "Burning Tree" unfurls with a snaky riff and trancelike, tambourine-accented percussion; "We Slipped" glides along on a bed of jangly guitars before evaporating in a haze of orchestral strings; and the haunting title track juxtaposes watery picked notes against sheets of feedback and distorted power chords. Then there's the slow-burning "Plans," in which every musical element – the clean, strummed guitars; the angelic background vocals; the airy, heavily echoed drums – plays back-up to Parsonz's searing shriek. Even when they're not metal, Royal Thunder are still undeniably heavy. R.B.

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