Well it’s the time of year where every online magazine, radio station, personality, and so on do their “Top Insert Number Here” list pitting albums against each other and assigning values to create controversy or get clicks. But not yours truly. I look back on the year and see what albums came out that I think should be in your library. No values or specific placement and no definitive number that I stick to. Each year is different with the only rules being I don’t include live albums or compilation albums. So with that said here’s my Must Have Albums List Of 2017.
This band has literally come out of nowhere for me and many rockers. And it’s leaving myself going “where have they been hiding?” This band is almost like the rebirth of Led Zeppelin but not so much so that they’d qualify as a glorified cover band. The old school influences are strong and I challenge any rocker or metal head to listen to From The Fires in its entirety and not end up getting into the groove. Need proof of that vibe just toss on “Highway Tune” or “Flower Power”.
The guys of Overkill have been going strong for decades and the last few albums have them putting out some of their best stuff since thrash first emerged out of the New Jersey area. The Grinding Wheel truly shows what they have. Thrash, blues grooves, heavy riffs, and not afraid to go for longer times on songs. This album is a definite start to finish listen without skipping a beat. My go to tracks on this album are “The Long Road” and of course “Goddamn Trouble” but there’s nothing bad on this one.
Usually the sophomore album is more of what you were introduced to after album one. But Art Of Anarchy feels like a new band since Scott Stapp joined in. The Madness is a pure hard rock album where practically every song has the potential to be a radio hit. Albums like this are rare because it’s got running potential, it’ll be discovered and revered by new ears for years to come and will be on many computers, iPhones, and even in stereos for just as many years. I literally wake up hearing “No Surrender” or “Echo Of A Scream” or “The Madness” and there’s nothing playing when I wake up each day and that’s proof of song strength.
Doesn’t what matter your age is in the industry, everyone knows the sophomore album is the hardest. But the guys of Next To None have beaten the sophomore album jinx, at least in my ears. Phases shows they’re continuing to grow as a band. Their teenage angst isn’t as strong and they’ve channeled a lot of that energy into some great tracks and some lengthy ones. “Kek” clocks in at 10+ minutes in length and is quality. For a young band to tackle an epic track and have it and others on this album still be quality is proof that this is still just to beginning of a band that’ll be rocking us all for years to come.
This album is just one of those where you think of the combination and go “yeah, why not?” Star Wars mixed with metal riffs is something I’m sure many joked about or pondered in living rooms and dorms over the years and now here it is. Galactic Empire’s self titled debut went under everyone’s radars as niche or a gag album. There’s nothing to gag about here. You don’t need to be a Star Wars fan to appreciate this album because they truly capture the orchestral sounds on guitars and with some electronic help. If bands like Nightwish or Trans Siberian Orchestra are bands you listen to then there’s no reason not to give this album a listen.
This band I saw live opening for KISS a few years back and wondered what happen to them. Well if you wondered too then wonder no more and add this album to your library. Kobra And The Lotus are a pure metal band that brings it 100% each song. “Gotham” will blow you away and have you wondering why they aren’t bigger in rock and metal right now. Plus Prevail II is due in 2018 and you want to make sure you have both parts of some kick ass tunes.
I honestly never heard of The Night Flight Orchestra until Amber Galactic landed in my email. After the press releases were posted leading up to its release I decided to give it a spin and was delightfully surprised by it. An immediate feeling on 1970s and 1980s rock coursed through me and I felt stupid for not knowing about this band sooner. Sure it has an electronic pop vibe here and there but what rock of the 70s and 80s didn’t occasionally hit those vibes. I promise you one listen to “Gemini” and you’ll feel like you warped back through time. Is it a sound for everyone, no but if you’re looking for something different and missed it this year then go grab it.
Blacktop Mojo came across my way early this year and my gut said then what it still says now, they’re going to be big and it starts with this album. No fancy technique, no use of technology because they can, just pure modern day hard rock with a slight southern vibe. If Hellyeah is “too heavy” for you then Blacktop Mojo will help you ease to that next level. “Pyromaniac” will grab your ear from the first listen and you’ll find yourself singing along by the middle of the song even though it’s your first time hearing it.
Let’s face it, most people think John 5 and go “yeah that’s Rob Zombie’s crazy guitarist”. Well if you’re one of those people then wake up and go grab Season of the Witch. John 5 is without a doubt one of the most underrated guitarists in the industry today because of whose band he plays in. Toss this album on and whether it’s “Guitars Tits and Monsters” or “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” you’ll hear that there’s more to John 5 than being able to play “Thunderkiss ‘65”.
When Anti-Mortem ended after just one album Nevada and Rado Romo weren’t done making music or names for themselves in the industry. This lead to the birth of Cosmic Wool. Their self titled debut album is a bluesy hard rock hit that’s completely different from what we were introduced to with Anti-Mortem, thus showing their true talent as musicians. This is a great album to toss on when you just need the right groove to get you going and if you feel the need to maybe dance a bit you can get down to “I Met A Girl” or just sit and groove to “Moonstone”. Either way you can’t go wrong.
This one is a reminder to those that think New Jersey is a thrash only state that hard rock also resides in the Garden State. No this isn’t Bon Jovi and his fancy hair hard rock, it’s legit modern day hard rock with enough touches of the late 1990s that you are reminded that rock and metal actually did rule the FM airwaves for many years. Best examples of this are “Draw The Line” and “Desire”.
I’ve been lucky enough to know the guys of Black Water Rising since their early days. But I began to get worried as time passed from their last album Pissed And Driven back in 2013. We’ll just as I was ready to give up they released Electrified which is the perfect title as it totally recharged and reminded me why this band is so good and should be bigger. Heavy riffs, strong vocals, and just pure energy in music form. Toss on “Higher” and get out on the highway for a ride or cue up “Payback” for that person that’s going to get there’s in due time.
This goes into the “gotta own it because it’s different” category. No one would’ve ever thought Mongolian Folk Music plus Throat Singing plus Metal would make sense and yet it does. The title track, “Die On My Ride” is all you need to know how well this works. Tengger Cavalry has such a unique and almost indescribable sound that their fan base grows each day as new people discover them so grab this album so you’re part of the party now instead of late.
Let’s face it, you knew this album was making my list. Not because of my friendship with Mark Tornillo but because everyone in rock and metal agree that Accept keeps hitting the nail on the head each time since Mark joined four albums ago. The Rise Of Chaos is just as strong if not stronger than its predecessors. My personal favorites on this one are “Hole In The Head” and “Analog Man”, the second being perfect for us long time music fans who crave physical music over digital or streaming.
Any band picked by Lemmy has to be good and Barb Wire Dolls are just that and more. They’re a band that does it old school with blood, sweat, and tears for the love of the music and fans. Rub My Mind was widely accepted with “If I Fall” inspiring people to keep living and keep rocking. Pure energy from beginning to end on this one that will not disappoint anyone.
This needs to be in every rock and metal fans library simply based upon the names that make up this band. With Mike Portnoy, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, Derek Sherinian, Billy Sheehan, and Jeff Scott Soto you define the term supergroup. It’s definitely an album for both regular fans of rock and metal with “Coming Home” but also something for those progressive fans and those who love epics with “God Of The Sun” and “Labyrinth”. Hopefully this isn’t a one off album but with the schedule of those involved this could be a one off so don’t miss out.
There you go rockers. It wasn’t an easy list this year but no year is ever easy when it comes to this list. And with Judas Priest, Black Label Society, and others coming in 2018 with new music I sense next year will be tough too.