Personally, I'm not very fond of end-year lists. For starters, I don't even know all the albums that have been released in 2017. There are still hundreds, if not thousands, waiting to be reviewed. Many of them will not make it, unfortunately. We're severely understaffed you know.
Second, I think in 2017 my focus shifted from many different music reviews to one bmassive music review, because, quite frankly, that is what "Cecilia's World" really is. I spent the majority of the year writing it and then it had to be prepared for release, which was a frustrating and lengthy task. But when I could finally lay my hands of a copy of my own debut novel, I was proud and pleased. Writing a book has always been one of the major goals in my life and I wrote a good one. I did. Just ask the people who have read it. Just read the reactions. In fact, last night my most judgicial friend said "Cecilia's World is a damn good debut". This really meant a lot to me because this guy is brutally honest. So yes, 'Cecilia's World' is my biggest accolade this year.
Bathsheba - Servus
Ashtoreth - Morana
AmenRa - Mass VI
Emptiness - Not For Music
All We Expected - Hatàr
Wiegedood - De Doden Hebben Het Goed II
Ilydaen - Veil
Monnik - Bedevaart
Marginal - Total Destruction
Marco Bailey - Temper
From doom metal to drone ambient and from black metal to post-rock and even techno, Belgium wins 2017. Bathsheba delivered the doom metal album of the year in January. AmenRa conquered the post-metal scene (again) and All We Expected managed to showcase the sound of the great ones. Our drone ambient scene has never been so alive, Ashtoreth and Monnik just being two examples of the brilliance our country possesses. Let's not forget about Dirk Serries and his massive influence on the ambient and jazz scenes
In the extreme musical regions we find Marginal who delivered one of the best grind/crust albums I have ever heard and Wiegedood continue their path of blackened destruction. Furthermore, as we Belgians are known for our huge history of electronic dance music, Marco Bailey has once again shown the world how techno should sound. Our musicians do a way better job than our politicians, law enforcers and civil servants together. So I'll just go ahead and say that Belgium produced the best albums of 2017. There you have it.
That doesn't mean that the other countries suck, far from it. Our neighbours delivered some neat stuff too. In the Netherlands, Dead Neanderthals threw some awesome albums in our mailbox. They single handedly altered the future of jazz music. MNHM delivered an astonishing album with 'Of Empires Past' and Wrok's 'De Onheilsbode' is just pure evil. But awesome music came from everywhere, literally all over the planet. India turned out to have a huge underground metal scene with plenty of amazing albums coming through.
Oh well, let's just face it. From a musical standpoint 2017 was a fantastic year. Other remarkable albums came from Monophona, Bolt, Dale Cooper Quartet and the Dictaphones, Dictaphone, Samael, Moonspell, ... Just read our reviews....
Besides, Thisquietarmy was highly impressive too that same evening. His was another top-10 gig. For once, let's make an actual list.
Spirit Valley (Desertfest)
Bohren Und Der Club Of Gore (Het Bos)
O Yuki Conjugate (Ampère)
Lord Kesseli and the Drums (Antwerp Music City)
The Void Of Expansion (Dunk! Festival)
Meniscus (Dunk! Festival)
Yodok III / Barst / A-Sun Amissa (Consouling Night) | Trix
There, I think those have been the eleven most impressive gigs in 2017. Of course, there is more. I have also seen Drawn Into Descent evolve into a force to be reckoned with. I enjoyed many acts at Dunk!, Rodeo and Desertfest. Antwerp Music City and Het Bos have booked some amazing evenings. As you can see, most of these gigs happened in my hometown of Antwerp. You really don't need to go any further than Antwerp to witness some good concerts.
That being said, unfortunately the good people behind Rodeofest recently decided to call it quits. One of the nicest festivals in Belgium is no more and I truly regret that. They were an inspiration, literally. So a word of thanks goes out to them. Let's hope someone else gets the brilliant idea of organising a festival in that beautiful fort.
Merchants Of Air
The absolute peak in article views of 2017 was the review for Amenra's 'Mass VI', followed by my Dutch column 'Kruishangerige Kuttenkovense Kerkkoe'. The latter certainly was a surprise. The rest of the top-10 is occupied by Brieviews, which is not a surprise since those contain several album reviews. Obviously more of these will come in the future. Over a hundred people watched the live stream of the Amenra release concert on our website. That was pretty cool too.
Money talk. 2017 was the year in which Merchants Of Air finally became profitable. We've actually sold more t-shirts than ever before and some people have purchased our free compilation. With all expenses deducted, we made a profit of 20 euros, plus 2.61 more waiting on Amazon. Cool hé.
On a personal standpoint, I'll try to continue what I'm doing now. I'll still publish heaps of reviews and articles and I'll try to combine that with a writing career. The first paragraphs of my next novel have been penned down. I can already promise you, it's going to be something very, very different from the sweet and joyous 'Cecilia's World'.