Album of the Year 2017 – Number 14

Welcome to day 17 of my ‘Album of the Year 2017 top 30 countdown’.

I thought that I had got the exact order of my top 30 sorted in my mind a few weeks ago, before I started the venture. However, I have been chopping and changing the order almost on a daily basis since I started publishing my picks. I have never found it this tough. There have been so many great albums this year and as I get nearer the top 10, the choices have been harder to make. I wish I could fit the final 14 records into 10 spaces because everything from now on deserves this accolade. I’ve moved the order around about a hundred times and it never seems quite right.

I have listened and re-listened to each of the remaining discs in the hope that it might make my job that little bit easier. It hasn’t.

However, I have to make a decision and stick with it. So I have.

But remember, before you read on, that every record from now on is fantastic and deserves the highest of accolades.

As always, if you have missed any of the previous posts in this series, links can be found at the bottom of this post along with links to the entire countdowns from previous years.

Number 14

cover

Persefone
Aathma
ViciSolum Records

“…it is blindingly obvious within moments just how much effort Persefone have put into this record. Mind you, in the crowded and increasingly saturated market that is Andorran extreme metal scene, the sextet needed to do something to separate themselves from the hordes.

From the gorgeously striking cover artwork to the production of ‘Aathma’, all the important basics have been covered. In terms of the production, the finished article is slick, crystal clear and powerful whilst avoiding the easy pitfall of making the music sound sterile and soulless.

Death metal, progressive metal, ambient, thrash, tech, djent; it is all evident to greater or lesser extents, combined into a single breath-taking whole. It is multi-layered, dextrous, cinematic and just a little bit pretentious. But as I’ve said before, I’m not averse to some well-placed pretension from time to time…

As the album closes, I’m thoroughly exhausted but in a really good way. I absolutely love music when it offers a challenge and isn’t afraid to go in directions that it wants, rather than what convention dictates it should do. I don’t mind saying that Persefone have produced an absolute masterpiece with ‘Aathma’”

Read the full review here.

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When I reviewed ‘Aathma’ way back in February, I was smitten. It took me a long time to fully digest the complex fare offered by the Andorran sextet and it took me even longer for it to finally and comprehensively click with me. But when it did, I was left in no doubt that Persefone had created a very special record, one that challenged and delighted in equal measure.

It was a bold statement to make with ten months of 2017 left to state that ‘Aathma’ could be the best extreme progressive metal record of the year. You’ll have to tune in for the remainder of this series to see whether or not I was correct. But suffice to say, 2017 has turned out to be stronger than I ever imagined and at the time, I fully expected Persefone to feature a little higher up my list.

‘Aathma’ is still a very fine record indeed with tons going on within it to impress even the most cynical and jaded of souls. The instrumental prowess from all corners of the band still beggars belief at times, as does the sheer audacity of the song writing. Not constrained by rules, boundaries or inhibition, the sextet have gone all out on this record to deliver a record that cannot be ignored.

The best thing about this album however, is just how huge and epic it feels. Much of this has to do with the well-placed keys that stay in the background for large periods, only to come to the fore with majestic power and vibrancy when the compositions demand it. At these points, the music contains a stunning cinematic feel, almost sci-fi in tone at times. But the intensity is also a by-product of some very eloquent song writing, meaning that the songs have just the right blend of all the necessary elements for this kind of music. It’s heavy when it needs to be but equally, it is quiet and reserved when required. The complexity never gets in the way of simple enjoyment either, with plenty of melody coming to the fore to provide the hook for repeated listens.

Any other year, ‘Aathma’ would have easily sneaked into my Top 10, it’s that good.

If you missed either of my 2017 ‘honourable mentions’ posts, here they are should you be interested:

Album of the Year 2017 – honourable mentions Part 1
Album of the Year 2017 – honourable mentions Part 2

Previous posts in my 2017 Top 30 countdown:

Album of the Year 2017 – Number 15
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 17
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 18
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 20
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 21
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 22
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 23
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 24
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 25
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 26
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2017 – Number 30

And from previous years:

Album of the Year 2016
Album of the Year 2015
Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012

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