5) Biblical, The City that Always Sleeps (Tee-Pee)
When describing Biblical’s debut full-length Monsoon Season in 2014, I told people how it sounded like if Queens Of The Stone Age took the same acid that Black Sabbath feasted on during its heyday. Well on their sophomore album The City that Always Sleeps, the Toronto outfit sounds like they upgraded to the high-end hallucinogens Pink Floyd took at the height of their creative peak. Frankly, it can be tiring when bands try to replicate 70s prog and rock by mixing overly reverbed guitars with psychedelic overtones. However The City that Always Sleeps successfully sways from slow-burning riffs to atmospheric gloom, and even sprinkles a little shoegaze warmth into the mix, in such a refreshing and riveting way, proving that Biblical is truly a one of a kind band.
Key tracks: “Fugue State” and “House of Knives”
4) Royal Thunder, WICK (Spinefarm)
I absolutely loved 2015’s Crooked Doors, which beautifully blended Royal Thunder’s sludge beginnings with somber yet powerful Americana roots. So I was beyond pleased that the Atlanta outfit took that sound even further on WICK. MIny Parsonz continues to prove that she is one of the best singers in rock (yup, not just hard rock!) out there today, effortlessly blending strength and emotional vulnerability while singing on songs like “Tied” and “Anchor.” But let’s not forget about the rest of the band’s stellar musical capabilities. Somehow they sound even tighter than ever before on tracks like “The Sinking Chair” or “Turnaround” (and Royal Thunder has always been a really tight sounding band). Royal Thunder has always been critical darlings, but WICK further proves they are worthy of the hype.
Key Tracks: “Tied” and “The Sinking Chair”
3) Queens of the Stone Age, Villains (Matador)
To be honest, I was at first hesitant to include this album in my Top 10 list for Metal Insider. Villains is absolutely one of my favorite albums of 2017, but it’s far from being Queens of the Stone Age’s heaviest offering. Even for hard rock standards, this album leans more toward straight-forward rock, with songs like “Feet Don’t Fail Me” and “The Way You Used To Do” (the album’s first two tracks) actually incorporating more dance-rock elements. Yet then there are songs like “Un-Reborn Again” and “The Evil Has Landed” (the latter which admittedly could easily be mistaken for a lost cut from Josh Homme’s supergroup Them Crooked Vultures) which remind you how even the most narrow-minded metalhead can find something to love about Queens of the Stone Age. And “Fortress” is simply a hell of an amazing song, one where Josh Homme’s songwriting truly shines.
Key Tracks: “The Evil Has Landed” and “Fortress”
2) Mastodon, Emperor of Sand (Reprise)
I personally loved what Mastodon did with 2014’s Once More ‘Round the Sun, injecting more uplifting melodies and hooks into their already powerful sound. While Emperor of Sand builds off of that, the band finds a way to incorporate darker and progressive tones to great success, even on songs heavily influenced by mainstream rock like “Show Yourself.” Mastodon has always blended gigantic, heavy sounds with emotional heft better than almost any metal or hard rock band out there today, and Emperor of Sand is proof they’re still masters at that.
Key Tracks: “Steambreather” and “Clandestiny”
1) Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, Modern Ruin (International Death Cult)
I might get some flak from fellow Metal Insider contributors for going with a punk/hard rock album as my top pick over a slew of other metal releases … but Modern Ruin is just that damn good! I really wasn’t expecting to fall so head over heels with the former Gallows frontman and his UK punk outfit’s sophomore album. But I was instantly won over by songs like “Snake Eyes,” “Wild Flowers,” and “God Is My Friend,” which balances punk intensity with irresistible melodies. Meanwhile, anthems like “Lullaby” prove the band can hang with any hard rock act America can offer, while somber ballads like “Neon Rust” showcases Carter’s true capabilities as a singer. In short, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes were the biggest surprise and greatest musical discovery of 2017 for me.
Key Tracks: “God Is My Friend” and “Snake Eyes”
– Foo Fighters, Concrete and Gold (RCA)
– Death from Above, Outrage! Is Now (Warner Bro.)
– Alice Cooper, Paranormal (earMUSIC)
– Life of Agony, A Place Where There’s No More Pain (Napalm)
– The Bronx, V (ATO)
– Toothgrinder, Phantom Amour (Spinefarm)
– Sepultura, Machine Messiah (Nuclear Blast)
– Myrkur, Mareridt (Relapse)