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


20. Trivium – The Sin and the Sentence (Roadrunner)

After a couple of albums, Vengeance Falls and Silence in the Snow, where Trivium seemed to be stretching itself into new directions, the Florida quartet has reigned itself in to create an album that cohesively blends all era of the group’s sound. The Sin and the Sentence is arguably the band’s best release since 2008’s Shogun. There is a brilliant blend of brutality as heard on tracks like “Beyond Oblivion” and “Betrayer” and melodic harmony as found on “The Heart from Your Hate” and “Endless Night.” Corey Beaulieu’s riffs are muscular, and Matt Heafy’s vocals shine. Paolo Gregoletto’s bass is well balanced in the mix, and the band’s latest addition of drummer Alex Bent helps elevate the entire rhythmic dynamic of the record. — RR

In October 2017, Trivium released their 8th studio album, The Sin and the Sentence. It seems that the band had taken the criticism concerning their last release, Silence in the Snow, very seriously. With The Sin and the Sentence, Trivium returned to the heavier sound from the Shogun era. The pre-released single, “The Heart From Your Hate” perfectly summarizes the Trivium sound. — Dennis Winkel (DW)

19. Byzantine – The Cicada Tree (Metal Blade)

With that being said about Mastodon’s 2017 release, the most impressive album of the year in my opinion was The Cicada Tree from West Virginia metallers Byzantine. Having only written two reviews before opening up this album, I was still very new to the process of listening to an album multiple times with different perspectives or a focus on what to listen to here or there. Byzantine forced the issue immediately. Each track builds on the previous, providing that “Holy shit, did you hear that?” moment again and again throughout the album. Byzantine has it all; ripping solos, a lead vocalist that can growl, scream, and creen with the best of them, driving percussion and bass that bring it all together. There’s something for everyone to enjoy. I continue to be wowed with the variance of the album. I finished my July review by stating this was some of the best music I had heard this year. It has completed the year, an exciting and deep year in metal, as my Album of the Year. — BJ Full Review

This was one of my most anticipated albums for 2017. After the announcement that they had signed on with
Metal Blade, I continuously checked my inbox to see if the new album had arrived so I could check it out. I was
turned on to the band back in 2010 and was able to chat with and interview Chris Ojeda prior to the release of
their 2013 self titled album. The Cicada Tree is the bands 6th studio album and there has been an obvious
improvement on the quality of their music since that time. Aside from the two amazing cover songs
(“Moving In Stereo” and “Servitude”) that close off the album, there are nine impressive and well-written tracks that will please a wide range of metal fancies. I firmly believe that the Metal Blade family of artists are in great company with their roster mates Byzantine. Favorite tracks #5 Trapjaw and #10 Moving in Stereo (The Cars cover). — Trev McKendry (TM)

18. Accept – The Rise of Chaos (Nuclear Blast)

Since Accept‘s rebirth with Mark Tornillo on vocals, the band has been as consistent and impressive as one could ask for. Rock and roll is all about the riff, and in that regard Wolf Hoffmann and company serve up heavy metal comfort food that cracks your ribs. With The Rise of ChaosAccept is not breaking new barriers or reinventing the wheel. They are simply continuing to refine their riffcentric form of traditional metal into another solid record of memorable headbangers. Powerful vocals and memorable choruses, combined with relentless rhythms and relatable lyrics has made the German stalwarts as consistent as any fan could ask for. — RR Full Review

17. Sepultura – Machine Messiah (Nuclear Blast)

I was surprised. Genuinely surprised. Sepultura tried different things on this one, and tracks like “Phantom Self” immediately became favorites. The band blinking at progressive metal and symphonic elements is a great step forward in evolving the Sepultura sound. Not all tracks were that appealing to me, but the disc created enough curiosity to think about the possibilities of the next disc. — OC

Machine Messiah is arguably Sepultura‘s most engaging and diverse album in years. The band’s choice to isolate themselves in Sweden to record has paid big dividends. There is more creative risk at work here, and the album has a full and muscular sound. Vocalist Derrick Green does some of his best work to date. — RR Sepultura Interview

16. Dead Cross – Dead Cross (Ipecac)

Run tape here of my fascination of Faith No More. You never forget seeing a fish being smoked by a baseball bat in a music video, and thus, FNM has never escaped my musical psyche. Listening to the radio one afternoon I heard a new song from a new band that was fronted by Mike Patton (Well that sounds interesting). Percussion by Dave Lombardo (Shit just got real). “Grave Slave” proceeds to blast out of my truck speakers and I’m left speechless (What just happened?). Dead Cross is what happened, and it is still fun to throw it on and just hold on for dear life. A crazy mix of hardcore and horror, Patton and the boys threw together 30 minutes of music that is just flat out insane. It’s fun as hell and an outstanding addition to the body of work of Mike Patton. — BJ Full Review

15. Pallbearer – Heartless (Profound Lore)

This album is raw, heart-breaking, and dreary (in a good way). Pallbearer is very mood altering, and that’s one of my favorite things about them as a band. The emotion that Pallbearer is able to draw out of you while listening to Heartless is miraculous. I wholeheartedly believe that you should–Scratch that–NEED to seek out this record and listen to it in its entirety. It isn’t just music: It’s an experience, as should all great albums should be. — AS Full Review

How do you follow up a major music magazine’s Album of the Year effort from three years ago? Pallbearer can easily answer that question with their third studio album. The boys from Arkansas made a massive return to the metal scene with Heartless. Prog and doom with a touch of Baroness, Pallbearer’s latest foray was met with a great deal of commercial and fan praise in March. It takes a unique skill-set to play metal that has the vocal variance and grind to appeal to fans across many of the metal genres, but Heartless certainly does that. It feels like they have refined their sound yet again. But in doing so, they continue down the path that has garnered them a great deal of their success. And as for the accolades, they are deserving once again. — BJ

14. Souldrinker – War is Coming (El Puerto)

Germany’s Souldrinker unleashed its full-length debut this year, and for the untold headbangers who have not caught wind of it yet, they are missing out on a monster of a record. The band founded by Mystic Prophecy guitarist Markus Pohl is packed with hammering riffage that recalls bands like Primal Fear and Accept, but the band’s secret weapon is vocalist Iris Boanta. Every song on the record combines heavy, riff-laden groove with infectious melodies and huge harmonies. The quartet lands sonically somewhere between traditional and power metal with perhaps a slight touch of 80s sleaze metal in the mix. War is Coming is one of those secret treats discovered accidentally, that you want to share with everyone. — RR

With Souldrinker there is no lack of talent.  Iris Boanta’s vocal style is intense but melodic, and the musicians supporting her; guitarist Marcus Pohl (Mystic Prophecy, Watch Me Bleed), bassist Chris Rodens, and drummer Steffen Thuerer, distinguish themselves as having a great deal of skill as well. War is Coming is a powerhouse of well-crafted sound, with the recording quality worthy of the effort that went into the writing. The best albums get their hooks into you. Every track is well-written and well-performed. The bar is set so high by their own efforts, and based on everything I look for in a good album, War is Coming is a success. — Connie Bach Full Review

13. Overkill – The Grinding Wheel (Nuclear Blast)

Solid, traditional, your everyday Overkill. And that is a great formula. There are some bands out there that you simply want to hear more variations of the same spirit, executed in perfection. The Grinding Wheel is exactly that: the updated execution of a tradition. It is not just factory-producing the same old shit, but coming up with enough new ideas without changing the core. Thrash metal at its best. — OC

Overkill is one of thrash metal’s most relentless and resilient bands, and the group’s 18th studio album, The Grinding Wheel, is a prime example of how they keep trudging forward in a genre that continues to change and morph every few years. With The Grinding Wheel, Overkill continues to refine and define its signature sound. They have once again delivered an album that is infused with adrenaline and thrash attitude, while also taking the band in different directions, both retro and contemporary. Overkill know how to come out swinging, but also how to bob and weave; keeping the listener off guard for the knock out, bone-bruising knuckle-duster. The Grinding Wheel has more diversity than their previous two efforts, and is all the more memorable for it. — RR Full Review  Overkill Interview

12. Code Orange – Forever (Roadrunner)

American Hardcore Punkers Code Orange bringing this beat down of an album straight to your earholes! Man these guys are tight, starting out as a pretty run of the mill punk band and then after a couple albums evolving into this. Fueled by influences of Hatebreed, Earth Crisis and Black Flag. Can’t wait for what’s next! — RD

I am drawn to the combination of punk, hardcore, doom and sludge influences that are present throughout this album. Having never heard of this band until earlier this year, I was blown away to learn they have been around close to a decade already (guess signing to Roadrunner was a good thing?). Make no bones about it, this is a straight
forward, in your face metal core album but with subtle differences that made it much more enjoyable than many other bands in their class.I thoroughly enjoyed this album from start to finish. Favorite tracks #2 “Kill The Creator” and #6 “The New Reality.” — TM

11. Body Count – Bloodlust (Century Media)

I might take some heat for this choice, but hear me out. Back in 1992, Body Count released their debut album, surrounded in controversy for their lyrics and of course the infamous “Cop Killer” track. Moving into 2017, Ice-T and Eddie C are back and right back in the metal mix. Metal has had a long history of questioning the mainstream culture and providing commentary on the current political state of affairs. Bloodlust pulls no punches on the state of affairs in the U.S. regarding political and race relations. But we all know that doesn’t get you through the door, and nor should it. Enter Eddie C. The dude has some serious metal chops and writes intriguing music that impresses and enrages, matching him perfectly with Ice-T’s lyrics. As music continues to expand and become even more accessible, bands like Body Count should appeal to more and more fans of the genre. Bloodlust was a welcome return to the anger of Los Angeles. — BJ

Body Count‘s highly anticipated sixth studio album was produced by Will Pitney. Hardcore musical and social innovators Ice T and Ernie C came back ferociously this year citing problematic desperate issues that drive dangerous behavior in the African-American community. Incredible guest performances by Dave Mustaine (“Civil War”), Max Cavalera (“All Love Is Lost”), and Randy Blythe (“Walk With Me”), highlight this unexpected thrash, metal, punk infusion. Ice T is a vocal terminator, demanding politicians, police, and the overall community to take note and to step up, to break the chain causing avoidable, endless circles of poverty and malcontent. — LS

I could not have predicted Body Count releasing one of the best albums of the year having perceived it to be the metal plaything of American cultural icon Ice-T and not much else. Instead the band let loose with a politically aware, socially conscious, thrash-tastic collection of tracks that are relevant to our times. Insightful and incite-ful, Ice-T‘s angry words describe our world with perfect aggression and appropriate angst. Highlight is the title track “Bloodlust,” an accounting of the darker side of human nature. — The Rev

Admittedly, I have not always been a fan of Ice T and Body Count. I was one of those die hard metal heads who
just couldn’t grasp the idea of rap infused metal at the time. Over the years I have grown to not only accept but
embrace “cross-over” metal. I had the privilege to see Body Count perform live three years ago at Heavy Montreal. That performance really helped turned me into a fan. With guest appearances from Dave Mustaine, Max Cavalera and Randy Blythe, Bloodlust is a well rounded metal album that will kick you in the nutz with every song. Favorite tracks #3 “This is Why we Ride” and #11 ‘Black Hoodie.” — TM

  1. Adam McAuley says

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

    1. Rustyn Rose says

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

      1. Adam McAuley says

        Ne Obliviscaris

  2. Maven Rena says

    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…

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