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Sam Murphy's Top Ten Albums of 2017

Added 27 December 2017, 4:32 PM

No 10.

Band: Brantley Gilbert
Album: The Devil Don’t Sleep

General info:

Year Of Formation: 2009
Record Label: Valory Music Co.

Right from the number ten spot on this list, it appears that there have been a whole lot of fantastic albums this year, both metal, and non metal. BRANTLEY GILBERT may often borrow some elements of metal for his band, but more than anything else he’s a country superstar. Dubbed the “bad boy of country”, the guy always drips attitude and has a massive musical talent. “The Devil Don’t Sleep” is probably his softest album to date but is still an absolutely fantastic effort and well deserving of it’s number 1 spot on the country charts and number 2 spot on the US chart.

Standout Tracks: “The Ones That Like Me”, “Outlaw In Me”

No 9.

Band: Voyager
Album: Ghost Mile

General info.

Year Of Formation: 1999
Record Label: Sensory Records

Australian prog masters VOYAGER first came to my attention a few years ago and since then I’ve struggled to find a new band that I love more. While “V” was an incredible album and seemed incredibly difficult to follow up, “Ghost Mile” is probably their best outing yet. From the powerful vocals of Danny Estrin, to the insanely skilled fingerwork of guitarist Simone Dow, and everything in between, VOYAGER have killed it once again, and at this rate I hope that they never stop.

Standout Tracks: “Ascension”, “Misery Is Only Company”

No 8.

Band: Fozzy
Album: Judas

General info.

Year Of Formation: 1999
Record Label: Century Media

For a band that started off as little more than a joke in many ways including personas and the claim that they wrote such classics as “Stand Up And Shout’ by DIO and “The Prisoner” by IRON MAIDEN, FOZZY have sure come a long way. Starting with their third album “All That Remains” they began taking a more serious approach to music. Now on their seventh album, FOZZY have really found their sound. “Judas” builds on everything that FOZZY have been working towards. With heavy, catchy riffs, driving anthem-rock beats, and one of the most charismatic frontmen in the business, Chris Jericho, FOZZY have proven yet again that they are a force to be reckoned with, and if anyone still thinks of them as a joke, this album will surely change their mind.

Standout Tracks: “Judas”, “Wolves At Bay”

No 7.

Band: Motionless In White
Album: Graveyard Shift

General info.

Year Of Formation: 2005
Record Label: Roadrunner Records

Anything “core” ie metalcore, instantly gets a bad rep in the metal community among the purists. I completely understand this. At a time when I was right in to punk, it was emo bands, hardcore, and metalcore, that I saw as killing the genre. Bands like AFI briefly jumped ship and turned emo before seeing the light again. However thanks to AFI, I was turned on to MOTIONLESS IN WHITE. Say what you will about core, MIW have mastered the genre. With the freakish and fantastic Chris Cerulli leading the way, the band has blended heavy with melodic perfectly, and “Graveyard Shift” is no different to any previous outing.

Standout tracks: “Necessary Evil”, “Not My Type: Dead As Fuck 2”

No 6.

Band: Stone Sour
Album: Hydrograd

General info.

Year Of Formation: 1992-1997. Reformed 2000
Record Label: Roadrunner Records

Frontman Corey Taylor has recently referred to SLIPKNOT as the “hangover” and STONE SOUR as the “party”. While SLIPKNOT may be the better known of the two bands, it’s with STONE SOUR that Corey really seems to shine. He seems to enjoy it more, and this statement about a party and a hangover seems to confirm it. Everything about the nonsensically named “Hydrograd” (the name is from when an over tired Corey Taylor misread a sign at an airport) screams fun. From the first single “Fabuless” to the possibly less single bound songs such as “Mercy”, this album is a blast from start to finish, and firmly establishes STONE SOUR as the premier Corey Taylor band.

Standout Tracks: “Rose Red Violent Blue (This Song is Dumb and So Am I)”, “St. Marie”

No 5.

Band: In This Moment
Album: Ritual

General Info.

Year Of Formation: 2005
Record Label: Atlantic Records/Roadrunner Records

Despite getting heat recently for the sexualisation of vocalist Maria Brink, it doesn’t change in any way the fact that IN THIS MOMENT are a fantastic band with an incredible and unique sound. “Ritual” provides song after song of great material including a dark and powerful cover of PHIL COLLINS’ “In The Air Tonight”. Somehow they’ve taken a song that I hate, and turned it into something amazing. Couple this with a guest appearance from metal god, Rob Halford, and we have the best IN THIS MOMENT album since “A Star Crossed Wasteland”. Think whatever you want about the way Brink was thrust into the spotlight, “Ritual” is a great album either way.

Standout Tracks: “Black Wedding”, “In The Air Tonight”

No 4.

Band: Gogol Bordello
Album: Seekers and Finders

General info.

Year Of Formation: 1999
Record Label: Cooking Vinyl

What can you say about GOGOL BORDELLO? The New York based however clearly very eastern european in the case of Eugene Hutz (Ukrainian to be more precise), gypsy punk band defy expectations with every outing. It’s like you took the irish out of DROPKICK MURPHYS and replaced it with a more drunken ukrainian sound, and then expected it to work well, it shouldn’t but they have proven time and time again that it really does. “Seekers and Finders” delivers exactly what long time fans of the band have come to expect. It’s fun, charming, and utterly insane in all the best ways.

Standout Tracks: “Seekers and Finders”, “Saboteur Blues”

No. 3

Band: Evanescence
Album: Synthesis

General Info.

Year Of Formation: 1995
Record Label: BMG

Ok ok, hear me out. I’m not generally a fan of EVANESCENCE, or at least I haven't been since their debut with “Fallen”. However because “Fallen” came out at a time before I was in to metal, and it helped introduce me to hard rock/metal fronted with beautiful clean female vocals (something that at the time I did not associate with metal), I’ve gone back out of loyalty and checked out each of their albums upon release, usually to be disappointed and end up wondering why I kept going back. However “Synthesis” changed all of that. Despite only having two new tracks, its the treatment of their old material that really drew me in. Gone are the guitars, bass, and drums, and for the most part they have been replaced with either and orchestra, electronic music, or a mix of both. On paper it doesn’t sound good, but give it a go. “Synthesis” is the surprise of the year for me and one of the most uniquely beautiful albums that I have ever heard.

Standout Tracks: “Imaginary”, “Imperfection”

No 2

Band: Me And That Man
Album: Songs Of Love And Death

General info.

Year Of Formation: 2016
Record Label: Cooking Vinyl

When someone mentions Nergal, from BEHEMOTH, what do you think of? Melodious, soft, and beautiful blues? No? Yeah me either. So when ME AND THAT MAN, the collaboration between Nergal and folk/indie musician John Porter released their first single for their upcoming band, I had no words. ME AND THAT MAN is clearly bursting at the seams with musical skill and talent, but it’s certainly not the pairing I would have expected, and in no way the album that I never knew I wanted so badly. The entire thing is dark and beautiful, often mixing the lyrical themes of black metal, with the sound of something much, much softer, “Songs Of Love And Death” is probably the album that I have listened to the most this year, and I will continue to do so, and hope that there will be a follow up.

Standout Tracks: “Ain’t Much Loving”, “My Church Is Black”

No 1.

Band: Diablo Swing Orchestra
Album: Pacifisticuffs

General info.

Year of Formation: 2003
Record Label: Spinefarm

Yeah. Wow. So I held off on doing my top ten albums of the year until quite late, because I knew that there was a change that the newly released “Pacifisticuffs” by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA would make it in to the list. Honestly I probably should have know that they’d take the number one spot. Originally unsure, due to the departure of the operatic Annlouice Logdlund, it turns out that newcomer Kristin Evegard, makes up for the loss perfectly. While the operatic sound may be lost, DSO are no less unique and incredible on this album. Mixing metal, swing, disco,  and many more genres in to one giant stew that shouldn’t make sense but somehow does in a brilliant way, “Pacifisticuffs” earns it’s number one spot on my list for every reason I can think of.

Standout Tracks: “The Age Of Vulture Culture”, “Jigsaw Hustle”

Honourable Mentions: DROPKICK MURPHYS - 11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory, BUTCHER BABIES - Lilith, BATTLE BEAST - King For A Day, ARRAYAN PATH - Dawn Of Aquarius, CHELSEA WOLFE - Hiss Spun, KOBRA AND THE LOTUS - Prevail I, INCUBUS - 8

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