It’s that time of the year again! A time of reflection! A time of typing! A time of regretting the decision to pick the amount of best albums based on what year it is.
Review links are attached to the band name where applicable. Thanks in advance for reading!
17. Polkadot Cadaver: Get Possessed
Todd Smith sounds as magnificent as ever and the songs on PC’s latest opus are some of the most epic of the band’s notorious career. From the synth-driven “Dead Beats” accented by bouncy percussion and John Carpenter-like piano forays through to the straight up shredfest of “Gasoline Enema, Bend and Light”, Get Possessed has something for every heavy music fan or for fans of Jasan Stepp and Smith’s many musical alter egos.
No ‘best of’ list is complete without some form of Black Metal, right? Satyricon returned in 2017 as did Nachtmystium (Touring, at least) but it was relative newbies The Ruins of Beverast that truly stood out to us with six tracks of atmospheric awesomeness. The instant the fifteen+ minute title track began the album we were instantly hooked. From there, we were smitten with “Surtur Barbaar Maritime” and the way the track screamed at us while laying a solid foundation of riffs and melody and presenting a preview of what else was to come.
From the ashes of Baddies comes something completely out of left field. It’s BAIT, everyone! Sonically miles away from anything Michael Webster’s Baddies touched on within their career, BAIT is a different sorta monster altogether. More Killing Joke than Devo, BAIT thrives when it comes to in-your-face electronic excursions like “Push The Elephant” and “Greatest of the Teeth”.
Raymond Watts continued his renewed musical reign of terror in 2017 with remix albums and this slab of new swine which featured new anthem “Prey & Obey” and the moody sonic dirge of “The Cult of Chaos” which is like Nick Cave if he was produced by Trent Reznor. You also got KMFDM-like riff rocker “The Revelation” along with several remixes.
Albums that drop in January are a tough bag. But not so tough to consider if you’re still listening to them on the regular as the year is closing out. CLOSENESS is a fitting name for an outfit featuring indie luminaries and IRL couple Todd Fink and Orenda Fink and features so many bouts of awesome electro goodness that we HAVE to refer you to the link in the title for a better summation.
12. Bright: The Album
So this album came out of left field and kicked me in my ass. Say what you will about David Ayer’s recent flicks, which I’ve happened to like, but his accompanying soundtracks are some next level stuff. On Bright, you’ve got hardcore hip-hop mixed with indie darlings and beautiful soul.
The Migos track “Danger” slays, Snoop Dogg’s OG delivery on “That’s My ___” featuring a loop from “Still D.R.E.” is the definition of Old School while Ty Dolla $ign & Future’s “Darkside” featuring “Kiiara” is a lesson in how to do modern singles.
Christ, you have Neil Young being all hip and shit on “Campfire” with DRAM!
11. Prong: Zero Days
“Divide And Conquer” alone is worth the price of admission being one of the best Prong singles to come out of the NYC trio’s 21st Century resurgence. “Interbeing” is another one that just clicks as a Prong song with that perfect Killing Joke-inspired modern post-punk.
At its’ heart, though, Zero Days is a pummeling, brutal piece of American metal fueled by Tommy Victor’s prolific songwriting and uncanny guitar wails coupled with his constant angst.
10. Liam Gallagher: As You Were
I hate that I’m doing this. I really do. As an Oasis fan I was always Team Liam then the split happened and Noel clearly won when it came to the resulting albums right after. And then 2017 happened and Liam was back on his own. Sans Beady Eye. Noel also put out his third solo record and if you compare the two? Liam wins. Yep, I said it.
Noel is on some hippy dippy shit…which is not necessarily a bad thing but when your younger bro puts out that proper Oasis album that we’ve been waiting for then RKID clearly wins.
The merits of “New Sun” alone guarantees Summoner a spot on this list. I mean, have you heard that beast of a song? Add that it’s the lead track off an equally epic album which is a winner of a coveted Deathkiss Radio Music Award and it’s a no-brainer as to why Beyond… made our list as well.
8. Queens of the Stone Age: Villains
Recent troubles aside, Josh Homme and company created one of the best rawk records of the year with Villains. It’s true! Say what you will about Mark Ronson producing (Dude had some solid albums on his own so stop criticizing the fact he worked with Bruno Mars!) but the man brought a crispness to the QOTSA sound making this some straight up robot rawk! “Feet Don’t Fail Me” was massive, “The Way You Used To” is rockin’ yet catchy in a way Dave Grohl can never be while “Fortress” is earnest AND epic.
This band is such a throwback to a mostly embarrassing era yet it still stands out in 2017 as a wholly original piece of alt-rock. A HUGE departure from previous outings, My Ticket Home morphed into another monster with unReal and that new skin fit them like a glove. The best parts of nu-metal collected in one sweet ass package: it’s got the emotive, pained vox alongside downtuned geetars and that signature and necessary groove.
Seriously, how could anyone not include this album in their ‘best of’ list for 2017??? Kind of the encapsulation of Mark Lanegan with electro nods (Read: UNKLE) and odes to grunge (Read: Screaming Trees) all while featuring that uncanny voice. It was his best to date in our opinion and definitely a highlight of the year.
5. Replicant: ALL
2017 was a bucket list year for me as I finally had the opportunity to experience Chicago’s annual Cold Waves Festival featuring the best and brightest of the current Industrial scene. This year’s fest was kicked off by Chi-town natives Replicant so I obviously feel some kinship as they were my entry into the entire festival but luckily enough, they were also incredibly incredible. We reviewed their Bandcamp discog soon after (Click here for that) but also got to experience a wholly new offering of electro-rawk when The Reckoning dropped in November and solidifying why Replicant is easily our new favorite band of 2017.
4. Mastodon: Emperor of Sand
The ultimate Mastodon album? Yeah, I said it! Emperor is king! It has the elements any fan of this band have come to love: heaviness, wacky time signatures, brutal vocals and the recent bouts of accessibility which heighten it all. “Precious Stones” is beyond precious, “Steambreather” is pure modern Masto, and “Scorpion Breath” (Featuring Neurosis’ Scott Kelly) is a thunderous slab of heaviness hearkening back to Leviathan even.
I choose to lump both fantastical EP’s by Vermont’s Ghastly Sound into one AMAAAAAAZING release because this is my site and I can. Seriously, folks, both EP’s are fit to be ranked on their own but as a whole they’re unstoppable. The minute “The Worst” explodes from your speakers off Ghastly Sound it is on and continues to be on until the conclusion hits on “Sink” at the end of The Bottom. In between those bookends is seven solid tracks of unbridled guitar-less fury and soaring vox.
Not even a guilty pleasure because it was so good but maybe a guilty pleasure because I wanted to dress up as Deb Demure whenever I listened to it and danced around by myself???? Regardless, The Demonstration is immense. It’s a step well beyond Careless from the moment “Dot In The Sky” opens up through to the cathartic “Cold Souls” and the synthetic pummeling of “Behind The Wall”. Pair the album with the Oak Wood release and you have the most perfect release of 2017. Almost.
You could not get more epic in 2017 than this solid slab of post-progressive rawk. Taking the Isis torch and thoroughly running with it (Especially on closer “Black Sarcophagus”), Junius offered up an advanced course in “Post-Rock 101” especially on tracks like “A Mass for Metaphysicians” and “March of The Samsara”. Elsewhere, the Boston band toyed with otherworldly world songs like “Telepathy & Pyramids” and “Heresy of the Free Spirit” hitting all the right notes. Then moody pieces like “Masquerade in Veils” stuck around in our head long after they concluded while “Clean The Beast” provided a somber hymnal with epic riffing easily making this our top album of 2017.