What a bizarre year. For some, it was a chance to return to the halcyon days of a simpler time. For others, it felt like the beginning of the end. But no matter how you slice it, 2017 brought us a whole lot of metal. (You can check out a full playlist of all the new albums we auditioned over on Spotify.)
If you're new to the Arsies, here's how the whole thing works. Arranged around the bracket are the best of the best, the most promising metal albums released over the past 12 months. (Only entirely new music releases were eligible—no live albums, no splits, no remixes—and releases had to be at least 20 minutes in length.) Over the course of the next six weeks, those albums will face off in daily battle. For each match, we'll listen to those two albums, to determine the relative victor. We'll refine our judgment incrementally, using the tried and true single elimination tournament format, until we arrive at an ultimate winner.
From an initial list of 150 new releases, we used our exclusive multivariate scoring system to distill the year down to its 32 greatest achievements. So, while it's true that over the next few weeks, you'll read a fair bit as to why this album or that album has to be cut, do remember that these contenders have already made the grade just to get here, and that each is truly remarkable in its own right. Excelsior!
(We've also created a separate playlist that only contains the 32 finalists, and we'll be posting a playlist for each contest, so you can listen along and judge for yourself.)
In years past, we've tried to maintain a consistent Arsies calendar, so that the final match results are revealed the morning after the Grammies. However, this year's Winter Olympics throw everything out of whack, and also I've been informed that the Grammies suck. So we'll just get right to it, starting on New Year's Day with Ayreon versus Goatwhore. Bring the pain!