Putting together a Top Ten Album of 2017 list has proven to be more difficult for me then I anticipated when it was first presented to me, not because there has been a lack of worthy material – no – this is more about me.
I am firmly rooted in the music of my past. Growing up in Northeast Ohio and with our strong, eclectic taste in music – I still find myself listening to the music of my youth. Michael Stanley, Donnie Iris, Southside Johnny. Bigger name bands like KISS and Def Leppard still grace my playlist in heavy rotation so let’s just say – for a newer artist or non-metal artist to make it onto my radar, it has to be something special.
So with all that in mind – here are the 10 albums that caught my eye in the year of 2017, in no particular order.
10. Steel Panther – Lower The Bar
Spandex clad, hairspray plastered and ready to rock – this throwback band of rockers never ceases to entertain or bring the metal. With their filthy lyrics and their innuendo filled antics the one thing that is always for certain, you will never be bored but at the end of the day, it’s all about the music and these dudes kick ass. Lower The Bar is Steel Panther doing what they do best and doing it better than they ever have.
9. Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Wembley or Bust
One word comes to mind when you mention Jeff Lynne or ELO – Iconic. After many years away from the Electric Light Orchestra scene – Jeff and the band regrouped, released a new album and reminded the world why things are better with a little ELO in their life. In 2017 the live album and DVD release Wembley or Bust hit and it is a must-own collection of amazing ELO hits along with a good selection of songs from the new album. Iconic – it says it all.
8. Operation: Mindcrime – The New Reality
Geoff Tate – one of the most recognizable voices in rock – the lead singer for Queensryche back in the day – has released two other albums with his band Operation: Mindcrime. The New Reality is the third and final entry into the band’s message and it’s a message that deserves to be heard. Melodic, heavy and full of meaning, The New Reality captures the heart of dramatic, message-driven music at its finest.
7. Danzig – Black Laden Crown
When you pick up a Danzig album – you pretty much know what you’re in for and his latest release Black Laden Crown does not fail to deliver on the Danzig promise. Heavy, dark, powerful and mesmerizing – it is, in my opinion, some of the best work that Danzig has ever put out. Seriously – find it and give it a listen.
6. Art of Anarchy – The Madness
With Scott Stapp as their frontman Art of Anarchy seems poised on the edge of superstardom. This is a solid, well-written album and the title track The Madness will go down as my favorite new metal song of 2017. The whole album is exceptional though and deserves much more attention then the year has brought it. Another one that absolutely must be searched out and given a spin.
5. Raveneye – From the Inside Out
Technically – an EP, this handful of songs gives us a sampling of one of – if not the best rock trio currently making music. The band is precision personified and the fact that as of this writing they have not yet released a full album is nothing short of criminal. Seek, Find, Rock. Raveneye – remember it was Dave that told you about them first.
4. Aimee Mann – Mental Illness
If you don’t know the name Aimee Mann – I’m afraid I can no longer speak with you. Seriously – likely the most underrated and under-appreciated talents of my generation – Aimee has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. Most of you should (and damned well better) know her from the band Til Tuesday and the song Voices Carry. Mental Illness is a heartfelt journey and a trip more than worthy of taking. So good!
3. Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies – Rake It In
A greatest hits collection of other peoples greatest hits – how can you go wrong? Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies remake unlikely songs into metal/punk anthems and it’s brilliant and fun and did I mention brilliant? If you’ve never experienced this bands craft – this is the album that breaks it all down.
2. Cheap Trick – We’re All Alright
Seriously – do I actually need to explain to you why this one is deserving of being on this list? It’s Cheap Trick, Rock Hall inductees – true living legends. Just go buy it, it rocks.
1. Stone Sour – Hydrograd
Corey Taylor and the band are making music at the peak of their game with this release. Honestly, not a bad song on this collection and while I am surprised it has not garnered the attention it so rightfully deserves, I have a feeling that Hydrograd may be a slow builder and 2018 could be a huge year for this release. While the album is exceptional – the band is really in its element on the live stage and for me, this album captures that same energy.
I know – a strange mix to say the least but maybe, just maybe there is something in there you have yet to allow your eardrums to experience. Honestly surprised that the Art of Anarchy album didn’t make any noise. The title track – The Madness is (for me at least) the best metal song of the year.
Looking forward to what 2018 has to offer – there are certainly some exciting prospects in the pipeline.