(By Leanne Ridgeway, Owner/Chief Editor, RiffRelevant.com)
Birmingham, Alabama’s Hexxus is… well, to me – bliss. Grimy, dark, sludge covered, raging bliss. Hexxus is brutal, unrelenting, and yes, even a bit though-provoking. They’re not just loud for loud’s sake, but they are goddamned loud.
Hexxus has been around for a few years now, and is currently writing a new album. The trio is also planning a tour this Spring, and have some tentative dates lined up for mid-March in the Southern states (we’ll confirm as soon as we can), with more on the way in the East.
I asked Hexxus guitarist Billy Luttrell if he wanted to contribute a list of his favorite 2017 rock-related music releases. Billy is well-versed in the language of sludge, post-metal, grind, and possibly 17 other genres of dark, disturbing angst ridden music. What I do know is that he’s the first person to ever properly explain what the hell ‘grindcore’ is. He did it in such a thorough, logical way, with a full history of the genre, that it actually stuck. He should hold a seminar – preferably with memes.
RiffRelevant.com presents to you Billy Luttrell’s Favorites of 2017! He chose a selection of 15 releases and included a quick quip on why he chose each of these. We also have each streaming via Bandcamp here:
I’m going to start this best of 2017 releases list by informing everyone that this list is comprised only of bands that I played shows with on tour, and/or are local bands that released music this year.
I keep reading lists that have the same well-known acts. This is for bands you may not have heard of, but you should know. I also want to apologize to anyone left off, as it was not intentional. Some things are a blur and I can’t remember who all released new music this year.
In no particular order:
Proggy-Doomy-Post Metal with blackened/grind segments. It’s like everything the last two Isis records should have been, but weren’t.
‘Compulsive post noise power sludge’. Brutally heavy, angry, and at times a bit weird. Crusty metal meets noisy sludge. Imagine the fury of bands like Dystopia and His Hero is Gone meeting the sonic mayhem of bands like Rwake and Neurosis, with the crushing sludge of Grief. Incredibly sweet human beings, as well.
Our brothers and tour mates. Bleak, crushing doom with howling vocals. The soundtrack of pessimistic dread and soul-destroying despair.
Livid continue their negative outlook on life from their full length. No Funeral churn out some nasty, heavy 90’s style sludge that’s every bit as angry as it is pessimistic.
Brutal, angry, bludgeoning sludge/doom. Heaviest album of the year and destroyer of worlds live. Three of the nicest dudes you’ll ever meet.
Crawl – 30 Year Suicide 7″:
Atlanta trio’s heaviest release to date. Two songs of downtrodden, merciless crushing doom-sludge. Agonizing screams and devastating riffs. Very dark, very bleak, extremely heavy. You can literally feel the torment coming out of your speakers.
Catchy and melodic, yet menacingly heavy. Hard to describe accurately. Failure meets Torche meets early Nirvana? Fahck! It’s great no matter how you word it. Excellent riffs, thundering drums, and vocals ranging from clean singing to murderous screaming. Two of my favorite people ever, that happen to have wicked sweet Boston accents, khed!
Traditional style doom with a dash of 80’s thrash tossed in. A familiar sound with a few twists that make it unique on its own. Huge riffing, thunderous rhythms, excellent guitar solos, incredible vocal harmonies and one of the best guitar tones I’ve ever heard live.
Crossover thrash/horror punk. Fast paced and heavy! Lots of double bass and creepy samples, heavy fast riffs, and grindcore style vocals. If this doesn’t make you want to get in the pit, you must have a broken leg.
Heavy and doomy psychedelic rock. Heavy riffs with trippy segments meet thundering bass and pounding drums. Vocalist Crystal Bigelow has perhaps the most beautiful, haunting vocals I’ve ever heard in a heavy band.
Ultra heavy, proggy stoner doom. The Arkansas quartet have a familiar, yet unique sound and it changes song by song. Hard to pinpoint, which is a great thing, but they definitely ooze that Little Rock sound. Just check them out.
Horror punk meets black metal meets old school hardcore. What?? EXACTLY! Heavy, evil, abrasive and fun! These New Jersey lunatics also put on one hell of a live show.
Heavy post rock, shoegaze from Baltimore. Heavy, but not metal. Heavy mid-pace to slow riffs and a pounding rhythm section. Tasteful use of effects and quiet/loud dynamics give the songs room to breath. It’s dark and moody, yet catchy.
Throwback screamo/ emogrind/ skramz/ whatever you want to call it, with modern twists and turns. Aggressive, abrasive and chaotic. More pissed off than sad-boy music.
Perhaps the most well-known band on this list, the DIY juggernauts keep getting better with each release. They tour harder than just about any other DIY band out there, so excuses for people in the lower 48 for not having heard them are slim. Heavy psychedelic doom from Austin. This album is a head banging, horn throwing beast. Shirts are for work!!
All of these releases are available for purchase on Bandcamp. Do your part and support small bands trying to come up in the world.
Many thanks to Billy Luttrell for sharing his favorites for the year, as well as to all the men in Hexxus for sharing their music with the rest of us. – Leanne