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


10. Unleash the Archers – Apex (Napalm)

Unleash the Archers had to step up their game after the previous release which was not received brilliantly. Fortunately, the band didn’t fail to deliver. The cheesiness of the band is often looked down upon. Apex still has its cheesiness but not to a boring extent. Especially the songs “Awakening” and title track “Apex” really bring out the best the band has to offer. — DW

There has been a surge in female-fronted metal bands for more than a decade now, it makes sense, it’s always been there, and with the sheer volume of music getting produced in this modern age, women are finding their voice; Unleash the Archers represent Canada well as one of the country’s premier female led metal bands. Apex, their fourth full-length release and 2nd through Napalm Records, is a ‘maximum effort’ from a band on the rise; the album starts strong, and doesn’t let up, even the mid album story driven “False Walls” has an upbeat chug, and a delicious melody. Scott Buchanan‘s drums are clean and on point, good beats and easy on the flash, whatever the songs need, whether it be a syncopated rhythm or simple 4/4, well executed with the right dynamics and energy. — Bas

Every artist likes to believe its latest album is its best to date; that seminal opus. While it far too early in the career of Vancouver’s Unleash the Archers to proclaim Apex a seminal work, there is little argument it is the band’s strongest, most cohesive work to date. Ten years into its career, Unleash the Archers has crafted a power metal album that showcases the band’s growth and improved songwriting talents. Brittney Slayes has never sounded more powerful or confident, and the rest of the band has elevated its level of performance as well. — RR Full Review    Slayes Interview

9. Cradle of Filth – Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness of Decay (Nuclear Blast)

The British horror metal band Cradle of Filth used this album to further expand their sound towards the thrash and NWOBHM sound that was first noticed in Hammer of the Witches. This album has been fully inspired by the Victorian age which can be heard in their music as well as the lyrics. Songs such as “Heartbreak and Séance” and “You Will Know The Lion By His Claw” really bring back the Cradle of Filth as we know it, but with the modern touch of their latest release. — DW

It had its problems, falling short of expectations when compared to the previous effort, Hammer of the Witches, but it was still entertaining enough to make it into this list. This is not the best of Cradle of Filth, nor it is one of the best releases in black metal. Some people will look for names like The Ruins of Beverast or The Great Old Ones. Those were true gems, but I enjoyed this one, and found myself listening to it more than others. What can you do, it happens. — OC

The twelfth studio album by Cradle of Filth weaves the familiar gothic horror vibe with intelligent, engaging tales. The album creates an epic soundscape against which the stories of Cryptoriana come to life. It is wondrously melodic in its guitar work and keys that  starkly contrast with Dani Filth‘s dark howlings and ravings as well as drive the darker movements.  Perhaps best enjoyed alone on a dark, moonless night while sipping cool libations. Highlight is the album’s single, “Heartbreak and Seance.” — The Rev

Say what you want about Cradle of Filth, Dani Filth, what have you-this album is killer! It’s very well orchestrated in terms of song placement in the track list. It’s an amazing example of mind boggling musicianship and how a record should be written. — AS Full Review

8. Elder – Reflections Of A Floating World (Armageddon)

My taste for progressive metal and stoner metal continues to grow. And while Mastodon has evolved into one of the best metal bands on the planet, there is little doubt in my mind that Elder is the best progressive metal band around. Functioning primarily a three-piece for the better part of a decade, Nick DiSalvoJack Donovan, and Matt Couto have produced some of the most complex and mind-blowing riffs to be heard. And that’s before listening to “Reflections…” Musically, they could be the reincarnation of Led Zeppelin’s heavier material. Elaborate to say the least, Elder rolls out songs that go on for well over ten minutes but they never drudge on or lose their edge. Their talent cannot be overstated. Reflections of a Floating World is the best prog album of the year, if not one of the best albums of the year in any musical genre. — BJ

Elder is—and has been for some time now—without peer, at least in terms of combing ambition with the talent to actually pull it off. Reflections of a Floating World is going to end up on a number of “best of” lists this year, and for very good reason.  Building on the momentum of 2015’s LoreElder has vaulted into elite status in the heavy underground and one can only imagine what sort of sonic conjurations they’ll come up with next—especially now that they’ve embraced a 4th member in an effort to align the depth of their live sound with the ambitions of their studio output. — CC Full Review

7. Ne Obliviscarus – Urn (Season of Mist)

With Urn, the Australian Extreme Progressive Metal band, Ne Obliviscaris, continues where their previous release, Citadels, stopped. The album is not suitable for people who prefer easy listening or short songs. Make sure to sit down and buckle up for a progressive ride with complex guitar solos, transitions and violin mixed with clean and harsh vocals. — DW

Melbourne’s extreme progressive sextet, Ne Obliviscarus returned with its third, and arguably most accessible effort, Urn. The seven-track opus is NeO’s darkest and most complex record of the band’s career. The tracks “Libera I: Saturnine Spheres” and “Intra Venus” are brilliantly devised and sonically dynamic. Urn maintains much of the NeO signature, but stand uniquely apart at the same time. They manage to adeptly balance poignant and emotive passages with  blunt brutality. Clean vocalist and violinist Tim Charles continues to find creative new paths that transcend the band’s extreme foundations, helping make Urn one of 2017’s best releases. — RR

6. Kreator – Gods of Violence (Nuclear Blast)

Germany’s Kreator has still got it! What else did you expect? Gods of Violence, the band’s fourteenth studio album, is bad ass all the way through. It’ll leave you with a broken neck and wane your heartstrings. Mille Petrozza’s voice is still spine-chilling after all of these years. — AS Kreator Interview

From the moment I gave Gods of Violence a spin, the album hooked me to its perfect balance of thrash metal, and heavy/old-school power elements. The album came out with “Satan is Real” as the single, and the song was probably the weakest link. You figure how powerful it was. One of the first metal album’s released this year, but certainly the “Best of 2017” for me. — OC

5. Night Demon – Darkness Remains (Century Media)

With Darkness RemainsNight Demon never strays too far from its retro-roots, but it also never gets stuck in the past. The album finds the band taking everything that made its debut album so powerful and pushing it all to the next level: Improved songwriting, more diversity, and tighter more inspired performances. The final result is a 10-song beast that jolts your system like heavy metal Viagra. Two years of relentless touring has proven to be just what the trio needed to solidify its identity. Darkness Remains is an album for those who still bow at the altar and raise their horns to the great masters who gifted us with Heavy Metal, and Night Demon is a band for those who still like their metal without qualifying sub-genre titles. — RR Full Review

4. Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars (Napalm)

Gotta give credit to Canadian death metal band Ex Deo, who recently were on a short break, to come back and work on this new album, The Immortal Wars. A concept album, symphonically Romanesque themed, and fun, especially if you are into theatrical performances. Which I am, I found “The Roman” to be a good example of this. Normally an album like this wouldn’t be so high on my list, however it’s so well done, and the story behind the band and the lean quality of the songs make it hard to resist. — RD

This is the 2nd time Ex Deo have made my top album list. Last one being in 2012 with their epic release Caligvla. His concept for the band is based on the history of the Roman Empire and is one of the main reasons I am so drawn to their music.The concept of writing music based on factual history really appeals to me. Being able to take the listener back in time and have them visualize what it was like takes a very special kind of songwriter. Maurizio Iacono is just that person.What I get when I listen to their music is an overpowering sense that I can conquer anything in my path.The Immortal Wars is an album I can listen to over and over and get something new from it every time. It’s bands like this that I hold responsible for the three neck surgeries I’ve had from headbanging. I wish more bands had this kind of impact on me. Favorite tracks #3 “Crossing The Alps” and #6 “Ad Victoriam (The Battle of Zama).” — TM

3. Mutiny Within – Origins (Independent)

Fifteen years into its existence and almost seven years since the release of its debut album, Mutiny Within rises up with arguably its best record to date, Origins. The album  is a throat punch reminder of how underrated and powerful Mutiny Within The scope of Origins is sonically colossal and could almost come across as too busy, but vocalist Chris Clancy’s production has blended it all together so adeptly, it works on a grand scale. Mutiny Within fuses a melange of metal sub-genres into something signature to their sound. Each member speaks to his own integral depth of virtuosity and Clancy has an undeniably distinctive voice that is instantly recognizable. Drummer Bill Fore has outdone himself behind the kit and has crafted his best artwork to date; Daniel Bage, already a masterful guitarist, has upped his game in the keyboard/synth department; and bassist Andrew Jacobs, the anchor, has delivered the solid song foundations on which Origins is built. — RR Full Review

2. Power Trip – Nightmare Logic (Southern Lord)

Texas has a knack for unearthing bands that resonate with heavy grooves and an inspired sense of fun. With Nightmare Logic, Dallas-based Power Trip returns with its second full-length effort, and its first in 4 years. The album is a maelstrom of feel-good crossover thrash and groove. Every track is built for the pit, and the guys hold no punches on an album that hammers away relentlessly with the zeal of a methed up drunk on a bender. I almost missed out on this record until Max Cavalera recommended it to me and now I cannot stop listening. The track “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)” is about as anthemically addicting as any metal song ever written. The riffs are infectious, and the gang chorus just bounces around your cranium like a 22 slug. — RR

I had no clue who Power Trip was prior to receiving Nightmare Logic in my in-box from a PR firm all the way back in February. It didn’t take long before I was boldly predicting on my radio show that in spite of it being only February, I believe we’d heard the album of the year. The Texas band’s raw, brutal take on classic thrash is presented with a completely balls out, no apologies attitude that drips rebelliously from every pore of every track. As I held it up against every release afterward it continued to shine above the rest, a mighty task indeed. Highlight is found in “Executioner’s Tax, (Swing of the Axe)” that is one of the few songs that has ever made the ‘lose my shit category’ meaning that as soon as I hear the opening riff I lose my shit. Moshing commences. Wherever. The entire album is killer thrash played with a darkened ferocity that must be heard to be appreciated. — The Rev

Power Trip is a new school band with an old school sound. Again, hearing bands like these play their new tunes live has the biggest impact on me, and hearing “Soul Sacrifice” (and moshing to if, for that matter) was a memory I won’t soon forget. My body aches a little bit every time I think about it, and I can’t help but smile every time. This is why I am so upset to have missed them play at house shows prior to their touring with Cannibal Corpse. — AS

and our Top album of 2017 is…

  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…

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.