20 Best Metal Albums of 2017

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

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Unsane, 'Sterilize'
20
17/20

17. Unsane, 'Sterilize'

Much like their gore-splattered album art, Unsane's grimy, grinding wallop, topped by Chris Spencer's rueful howl, is one of the most reliable sounds in the American rock underground. A single bass player swap and the tragic overdose death of their original drummer aside, the NYC trio has been toiling away at a remarkably rigorous aesthetic since the late Eighties. But Sterilize, their eighth LP and first for Southern Lord, shows why, for Unsane, focus doesn't equal stagnation. Opening track "Factory," with its steely 6/8 rumble, a chilling guitar melody from Spencer and a brutally triumphant chorus, is as strong as anything they've ever done. Other highlights, like monolithic half-time groover "Aberration" and the uptempo "Distance," epitomize the way the band wrings maximum drama out of a few minimal riffs. After all these years, Spencer & Co. are still out for blood. H.S.

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