18. Midnight, Sweet Death and Ecstasy (Hells Headbangers)
Does anyone remember laughter? Apparently not, or at least that’s what some vocal people in the metal scene want you to believe. No, in this age of hypocritical manifestos and overuse of the embarrassing term “woke”, some metal journalism (for lack of a better word) was distracted by negativity in 2017: doom, gloom, in-fighting, scandals, discord, post-Trumpian tension. Awareness and social change are crucial issues, especially today, but that negative perspective is largely coming from American media who are so – justifiably – consumed by their rapidly imploding republic that they’re letting their anxiety cloud their perspective. Typical of American exceptionalism, it feels as though they think that the rest of the world should be as full of white liberal guilt and righteous indignation as they are because their own country is in the toilet. As lousy as it is to see genuinely decent American people endure the last couple years, the rest of us “foreigners” are thankful to live where we do, which in turn has to make it easier to enjoy the stupid, escapist, fun side of traditional heavy metal. Thank goodness for that, too. Please, metal friends, do everything you can to make this world a little better, but as timely as socially aware heavy metal music feels in 2017 don’t forget why we all started listening to this music in the first place, too. Live a little, bang your head a little, have a beer or three, crank the spectacular new Midnight album, smile a little.