Metal Nation’s Top 50 Hard Rock and Metal Albums of 2017

1. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand (Reprise)

It seems somehow ironic that a band who hates being labeled as a “metal” act should win the metal album of the year. Mastodon continues to shift away from its heavier nascent works, but their is still plenty of heft to consider them “metal.” Not only did they drop Emperor of Sand on us in 2017, they followed it up with the tasty EP, Cold Dark Place this fall. Below are a few thoughts on Metal Nation’s Album of the Year for 2017. Please share your thoughts below.

It has been incredible to watch the rise of Mastodon over the last decade. I was fortunate enough to see them in a tiny dive bar in Colorado Springs, CO shortly after the release of Blood Mountain. Trying to pick my jaw up off the floor and un-melt my face, I actually got to meet Troy Sanders that night. I have been a massive fan since, seeing them on a nearly yearly basis. The sound they had back then, coupling with “Leviathan”, had been somewhat present in their next few albums, all of them good, but none of them to the level set by the two previously mentioned records. Emperor of Sand and all of the buzz around it kept revolving around a darker, heavier sound, which was exactly what I was hoping for. I’m not naive enough to think or even hope for the second coming of Leviathan, but it was great to hear some pounding riffs from Bill and Brent while Brann did his thing on the skins. Emperor of Sand was an achievement that celebrates their career and their musicianship. It has already appeared as the Album of the Year on many lists. I cannot disagree with their statements. Mastodon has clearly pushed themselves into the upper echelon of the metal world, and Emperor of Sand only served as notice that they will remain there for quite some time. — BJ

Emperor of Sand is not my favorite Mastodon record (that would probably be Leviathan or Blood Mountain, depending on the day), nor would I consider it the pinnacle of their creative potential (Crack the Skye), but what I will say about Emperor of Sand is that it represents their most cohesive effort as a band.  All 4 members deliver absolutely brilliant performances across the album’s 11 tracks, solidifying Mastodon as one of the most talented and unique bands of their generation. — CC Full Review

With their 7th studio album, American metal band Mastodon has dropped this amazing piece of art on us back in March. I picked this up as soon as I possibly could and haven’t yet put it down. The versatility between band members alone playing different parts on separate parts of the album, crisp tones, intricate melodies, heavy riffs, not too mention ties to other bands including members of Mastodon almost make this album a flagship piece connected to many side stories. I haven’t enjoyed a Mastodon album like this since Crack the Skye. “Show Yourself,” the first single on the album, got a lot of attention but there are so many other gems on this piece like “Steambreather” and “Andromeda” that pump hard enough to choke a camel. The fact that these songs aren’t getting old for me is the main reason it has made the top of my list. — RD

So there is our Top 50 list for 2017. There were many more albums we felt could easily have been on this list, but to cover a years worth of metal in all its various forms is no easy task. If we missed one of your favorites for the year, please sound off in the comments below. Let others know which records hit home for you. We might all discover something new. 

AcceptArch EnemyAvatariumBaskBeast in BlackBell WitchBelphegorbest 2017 metal albumsBody CountByzantineCannibal CorpseCavalera ConspiracyCode OrangeConvergeCradle of FilthDead CrossDedDying FetusElderEnslavedEx DeoExhumedHavoIced EarthImmolationKobra and the LotusKreatorLorMastodonMindMazeMorbid AngelMotionless in WhiteMutiny WithinNe ObliviscarisNight DemonObituaryOverkillPain of SalvationPallbearerParadise LostPower TripReplacireSeptic FleshSepulturaSoenSolstifirSouldrinkerTriviumUnleash the ArchersVoyagerWarbringer
Comments (4)
Add Comment
  • Adam McAuley

    The Ex Deo album deserves it’s place on the list. I also like that you put Ne Obliviscaris so high.

    • Rustyn Rose

      Glad you enjoyed the list! Who was your top pick in 2017?

      • Adam McAuley

        Ne Obliviscaris

  • Maven Rena

    Hello Metal Nation and here is my (Maven Renā) added 411 …

    I believe Motionless In White should have been higher up on this list, well in my opinion anyway.
    Other additions (as I had previously relayed to RR) are:

    While She Sleeps ~ You Are We – The band left their record label and decided to self-release You Are We themselves. They did eventually sign to a couple of independent labels, I’d imagine if for no other reason than to help with distribution and marketing. Under these circumstances you really have to believe in your band and your music and this album is pure melodic metalcore awesomeness. With the strength of songs like the title track, “Hurricane” and “Silence Speaks” (which features Oli Sykes of Bring Me the Horizon) this album is solid start to finish.

    Counterparts ~ You’re Not You Anymore – I had never even heard of Counterparts before seeing them live on the 2017 Warped Tour and I was seriously impressed by their live show. The band has gone through a ton of lineup changes but it is still obviously going strong. You’re Not You Anymore is not a long album, but it is focused, emotionally concentrated and dare I say it even has melodies and a catchy chorus or two (while never losing their hardcore edge of course) with songs like “Haunt Me,” “A Memory Misread” and “Fragile Limbs.”

    A couple of more that land more on the Hard Rock side are:

    Falling In Reverse ~ Coming Home – I firmly believe that FIR can no longer be called solely a metalcore band by any means and undoubtedly this is Ronnie Radke’s band since he is the only remaining original member. Coming Home is musically brilliant and beautiful lyrically. Radke has always been honest in his songs but this album seems even more raw; he puts his fears, his flaws and his talent out there with songs like “Loser,” “Broken,” and the emotional “I Don’t Mind.” I know Radke had a reason for the order in which the tracks are listed but I would have liked a couple of shall we say song line-up changes for listening pleasure but overall Falling In Reverse has grown exponentially musically since its inception.

    Asking Alexandria ~ Asking Alexandria (self-titled) – This is another band that can no longer be put in the metalcore genre anymore; however, a few tracks like “Into The Fire,” “Rise Up” and “Room 138” are very “Asking Alexandria” sounding and still hold metalcore elements. I’ll just say there are some seriously epic songs on the album. I’ll admit that the flow could use some tweaks and it could use some, shall we say, objective edits but overall this is a pretty great album. It is melodic, the hooks are on point and it is an easy listen. I mean the first time I heard “Under Denver” it gave me chills and “Alone in a Room” can I just say I love it. In my opinion this album is a thousand times better than The Black, their last offering without Danny Worsnop. I am glad that the band and Worsnop buried the hatchet and now that The Snop is back that something special has returned.

    And there you have it…