Be sure to check out the Decibel Geek website contributor’s collective compilation of the top albums: Best of 2017 Article
Well, we come to a close on another fantastic year in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. As 2017 winds down I wanted to take this moment to reflect a little on my personal experiences and some of the top albums of the year that I enjoyed listening to.
For me, personally, 2017 was chock full of hardship, stress and one punch after another. Adversity makes us stronger or so they say! Probably the worst year of my life in many respects….but there was a ton of positively fantastic events to offset and balance out the strife. Many highlights can be cited through my rock and roll vacations, my friends and music such as these albums mentioned here. But the biggest event of pure happiness was finally after years of discussion and guest host spots on Decibel Geek, co-host and heavy metal brother Wally Norton and I launched the CGCM Podcast (Canadian Geeks Chat Metal).
I won’t spend tons of time here, especially seeing as most of my chosen albums have already hit the spotlight via Decibel Geek album reviews by myself or other staff writers. As per usual, the narrowing down of the top albums was a monumental chore. Each one special to me like my children, it was again incredibly difficult to coral.
SOME FANTASTIC RELEASES THAT DIDN’T CRACK THE TOP 12 BEST OF 2017 (click album title for the album review)
Fantastic releases worth an honorable mention include: Broken Teeth – 4 On the Floor / Pink Cream 69 – Headstrong / Wraith – Revelation / The Dirty Denims – Back with a Bang / Shakra – Snakes & Ladders / Trucker Diablo – Fighting for Everything / Autograph – Get Off Your Ass / Striker – Striker / VA Rocks – Pull No Punches / Ratchet Dolls – Damaged / Danko Jones – Wildcat / Eclipse – Momentum / Phantom v – Play to Win / Resistance – Metal Machine / Black Star Riders – Heavy Fire / Crystal Viper – Queen of the Witches / Babylon A.D. – Revelation Highway
MY PERSONAL BEST OF 2017 ALBUMS LIST (click album title to purchase)
….and with no more beating around the bush, my top 12 albums of 2017 (while Decibel Geek compiles only the top 10, CGCM did top 12 so I included the extra two here as well):
12 – Rhino Bucket – The Last Real Rock N’ Roll / (Album Review)
The album’s title says it all right there. I’ve been a fan since “Ride with Yourself” turned up on the Wayne’s World Soundtrack. Their 2009 issued Hardest Town is one of my desert island albums and absolutely loved seeing them live on Monsters of Rock Cruise several different times. This album upholds the band’s ideals – The Last Real Rock n Roll...straight ahead AC/DC-ish foot tapping, table thumping anthems. Released in April courtesy of Acetate Records.
11 – Substratum – Substratum.
This will be a bit of an odd entry to many. Mostly because they probably are not familiar with Substratum. And neither was I until I was introduced ever so briefly to frontwoman Amy Lee Carlson by Deborah Levine (Lady Beast) at the Legions of Metal Festival in Chicago. I then checked out the bands set. It was wrought with issues from sound quality to drunk guys groping Carlson, to the same drunk guy fighting and being carried out through the crowd. Yet somehow it was all endearing, Carlson handling it well. Purchasing the CD from her personally later on in the day, it has seen it’s fair share of rotation since. Traditional metal, a perennial fave, female fronted and thunderous!
10 – Night Demon – Darkness Remains.
Although this American traditional metal band has been around awhile, I was late to the party. In fact, its thanks to Decibel Geek staff writer Colin Francis‘ review that sparked my listening. Immediately purchasing the first album and EP as well to go along with this 2017 release, I quickly became a fan. Night Demon presented an incredibly engaging performance when I saw them at the Metal Holiday Food Drive in Cleveland in December. I feel this one would have risen higher in my Best of 2017 had I spent more time with it.
9 – Mythra – Still Burning / (Album Review)
More traditional metal, told you it was a fave genre for me! This time from across the pond we find Mythra hailing from the UK. It was seeing them at Newcastle UK’s Brofest Festival and meeting the personable frontman Vince High that cemented my fanship. Glad to see this band who didn’t get their due back in the 80s charge into 2017 alive and strong with an album worthy of my best of 2017!
8 – Shokker – III / (Album Review)
Again many will be saying who? Out of Chicago USA, female-fronted Shokker self-released III in April. Featuring all the musicality expected out of Traditional/NWOBHM genre, the album is cohesively constructed. The real standout here, however, is the sheer vocal presence of frontwoman Rachl Raxx Quinn. Has to be the best-kept singing secret in the world. Come hell or high water, I will see this band live in 2018!
7 – Tytan – Justice Served / (Album Review)
Another band that saw a rejuvenation in 2017. London, England’s Tytan released one album, Rough Justice, in 1985. Sometimes the music grabs you, often that result is best enjoyed when completely unexpected. Such was the case for Justice Served for me. The hooks were in deep at the first cut! A thunderous return in 2017, with top songs such as “Love You to Death” and “Hell’s Breath” being featured on CGCM Podcast episodes.
6 – Souldrinker – War Is Coming / (Album Review)
A surprise entry for me. I listened to and reviewed War Is Coming in October. As you can read, I saw to give it a favorable report. But never considered it for top albums until last week I realized I play it nearly every day on my commute to work. One of those albums that takes a deeper hold with each and every spin. Female fronted hard rock with impressive, but lower registered vocals from Iris Bonata.
5 – Licence – License 2 Rock / (Album Review)
A fantastic discovery out of Germany. Formed by Steam Theiss and featuring his daughter, Jacky Coke on vocals, Licence 2 Rock is their debut. Showcasing a more of an 80s type of sound this catchy hard rock overlaid with the whiskey-soaked vocal cords of Coke. Opener “Don’t Touch the Light” has a helluva hooky punch to it!
4 – Accept – Rise of Chaos / (Album Review)
Thank God that Wolf and crew have returned to glory with The Rise of Chaos. After increasingly lackluster outputs in Stalingrad and Blind Rage albums, The Rise of Chaos is more in the Blood of the Nations vein. I was scared to listen to it, expecting just average lifeless Accept…but no this packs a wallop! Check out “Koolaid” and “Analog Man”.
3 – Burnt Out Wreck – Swallow / (Album Review)
Another surprise entry. I sat on listening to this for awhile before taking the plunge. To be honest the cover made it look weak to me. Wrong! Chock full of engaging drive it forward AC/DC-ish hard rock tunes, Heavy Pettin‘s Gary Moat has returned to the musical landscape with a vengeance!
2 – Liv Sin – Follow Me / (Album Review)
I did follow you Liv! After the abrupt demise of Sister Sin, I was heartbroken. The announcement from frontwoman Liv “Sin” Jagrell that she would be surging forward with a new band brought apprehension. But she delivered in spades! The music is heavier than Sister Sin and Liv‘s vocals are laced with even more venom. The surprising Fight cover “Immortal Sin” is a total thrill. Now to see Liv Sin live…c’mon Sweden Rock do me proud and make an announcement!
1 – Lady Beast – Vicious Breed / (Album Review)
To be totally honest I was predisposed to NOT consider this release for my top albums. I am unequivocally biased when it comes to Lady Beast. The band, the music, the people. For that reason, I determined that I could not consider it. But considering it only released in November it has possibly already reached my most spun album of the year. Sometimes it sees more than two rotations a day! How can I ignore that? The Pittsburgh-based traditional/NWOBHM band has had a fantastic year consisting of many live shows, signing to Cruz Del Sur Records and being featured on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown TV show.