Every year, I'm blessed more and more to be able to check out more and more albums than ever before. This year is no exception as I have several more labels backing me in my one man endeavor of showing off the best music in Rock and Metal. Rather than waiting till the end of the year for my Top 100 List (Don't worry, that's still happening) I wanted to showcase some of the best albums of the first half of the year to help get you through the summer.
These follow pretty much the same rules as my Top Lists at the end of the year, the main exception, this go around, is that this is not ranked in order by my favorites, but rather, Alphabetical. I'm not giving that stuff away that easily!
For anyone new to what I do, here is how this all goes down:
1.) All albums are ones that I love. I go through a ton of music every year, and have a very eclectic taste. Some have troubles making finding 5-10 albums they like in one year; I struggle with narrowing it down to 50-100!
2.) This is in blurb style. As it would be nearly impossible to maintain everything I do as That Drummer Guy and write full on extensive album reviews. So this will feature this format:
FFO- Genre Style
A couple sentences talking about each album
3.) This will be ALBUMS released between the dates of January 1st, 2017-June 30th, 2017. Nothing before, nothing after. All Albums on this will be albums A-Z; Part II will be N-Z.
4.) Unless you have my exact tastes, you're not going to like everything here. Some you may love, some you may despise, and some you may go "meh" to. I just hope you find at least one album you didn't know about, check it out, and enjoy some brand new music!
Alestorm- No Grave But The Sea
FFO- Pirate Metal (Folk Metal, Power Metal)
Easily the msot popular band of this style, Alestorm returns with their most diverse album to date. from 8-Bit to Pop Metal to Death Metal. This album has a little bit of everything for everyone who enjoyes Wenches And Mead!
Anathema- The Optimist
FFO- Progressive Rock, Alternative Rock
Anathema never ceases to amaze me. This time around, they recorded a sequel to the album, A Fine Day To Exit. This album is a slow burn. While it does not feature many of the "epic moments" featured on the last 3 Anathema albums, this album grows on you spin after spin and you feel the emotional force that has always driven the band. When it finally clicks with you, it will be a well deserve classic in your eyes and ears.
Apocalypse Orchestra- The End Is Nigh
FFO- Doom Metal, Folk Metal
A style that drastically needed to be done, Apocalypse Orchestra takes the best parts of folk and matches it with the power of doom and modern production to release, easily, one of the best debut albums of 2017.
Art Of Anarchy- The Madness
FFO- Hard Rock, Modern Metal
Bumblefoot and Co. can do no wrong! Pushing the absolute best record Scott Stapp ever put vocals to, the 2nd album from this supergroup pushes the band into a much heavier direction than their debut, while writing even catchier and emotional songs. For those that feel mainstream rock and metal are stale, this album proves that theory wrong.
Ayreon- The Source
FFO- Progressive Metal
The latest release from the musical mastermind, Arjen Lucassen may be his finest work to date! Featuring some of the greatest singers in metal today, this album serves as a meta-prequel to all previous Ayreon albums while driving a new sound of the project. IF you ever wanted the voices of Dream Theater, BTBAM, Blind Guardian, Seventh Wonder, Toehider and more on the same album, this is your dystopian dream come true!
Body Count- Bloodlust
FFO- Rap Metal, Heavy Metal
Without question, the heaviest (musically and lyrically) album Ice T has penned with the band. While tackling so many social issues immersed in the world today, it also features a few tracks of the dark and scary Body Count style of the past and a great medley of Slayer tunes. While not as humorous as the band's last album, Manslaughter, It does feature more cohesive songs and much heavier approach.
Broken Hope- Assimilated and Mutilated
FFO- Brutal Death Metal
A loving tribute concept album of the legendary 1982 Horror movie, The Thing; this album makes you feel like you just succumbed to the horrors of Antarctica. Crushing, horrific, brutal, and catchy as all get go; this is what you need to satisfy your brutal needs.
Byzantine- The Cicada Tree
FFO- Groove Metal, Thrash Metal, Progressive Metal
One of America's best kept secrets; byzantine comes back stronger than ever with this release. Featuring some of the catchiest songs to date, it also features some of the most diverse and though provoking songs to ever be penned by this West Virginia band. Think The Ocean meets Death Angel meets Down.
Carach Angren- Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten
FFO- Symphonic Black Metal; Theatrical Black Metal
Following in the footsteps of their previous album, This Is No Fairy Tale; Carach Angren has ventured even more into the theatrical and symphonic sides of Black Metal to write a heart-wrenching, morose, album that is sure to grab you and not let go. While some may think this is the wrong direction for the band to go in, I couldn't be happier about this direction. So much more dynamics and emotion that makes this an evil thrill ride that you need to experience.
Cut Up- Wherever They May Rot
FFO- Death Metal, Thrash Metal
Do you miss the simplicity andgroove in death metal? This is what you need. While this album is not simple by any means, it hearkens back to the time where death metal focused much more on the riffs and groove than technicality and scale wanking. Brutal, aggressive and demonically catchy.
FFO- Progressive Rock, Math Metal
Do you want your Math Metal to be more focused on grooves and clean vocals? Disperse is here to the rescue! While taking some elements from the Meshuggah and Djent sounds, it focuses way more on prog sensibility and beautiful soundscapes mixed with grooves upon grooves and technicality in all the right spots. Imagine Cynic's take on Modern Prog Metal.
Dragonforce- Reaching Into Infinity
FFO- Power Metal, Progressive Metal, Experimental
Is there a more watershed Power Metal band out there than Dragonforce? I never hear anyone say "Meh, they're ok."; it's always a die hard love or hatred for this band. I for one, am on the love side. This album features the band in their most experimental. The songs are shorter (for the most part) but features many steps into other genres that magically fit the chaos that's induced. Don't forget that sexy cover of Death's Evil Dead as a bonus track!
Dream Evil- Six
FFO- Power Metal, Heavy Metal
Dream Evil has graced us with their 6th masterpiece. The album reaches more into the influences into the band, while not losing any of the band's charm. What most people consider cheesy about the band, is put on the backburner for more musically orientated songs and riffs that explore the boundaries of Power Metal. Easily their finest work!
Dying Fetus- Wrong One To Fuck With
FFO- Technical Death Metal, Slam, Grindcore
The absolute greatest band of their style, Dying Fetus put out their most cohesive album to date. While still polarizing to anyone that is not a fan of this style; the band focuses so much more on the riffs and less about being as technical as possible. Some of the best production in the genre, audible growls, and phenomenal songwriting; Dying Fetus live up to their latest album title.
Ghost Bath- Starmourner
It seems as though blackgaze has kinda phased out in 2017 and people are onto the next "what's trendy, but not commercial" style. While I have always loved the style, it's nice to have just the strongest survive. Ghost Bath is one of those bands. While the black metal is still the driving force of the band; this album features much more in the areas of atmospheric, post rock, and alternative styles. This album has a bit of everything for those that enjoy blackgaze. While still a polarizing band in many regards, this write phenomenal music and get stronger withe very release.
Goatwhore- Vengeful Ascension
FFO- Blackened Thrash Metal, Death Metal
While the last few Goatwhore albums have focused much more on catchy and melodic grooves amongst the evil chaos; they have taken the much more raw and aggressive approach style this time around. While not focused on the clearest production possible, it's raw, gritty, and evil style translates live to an even greater way and leaves you wanting to hear more and more. For that classic early 90s Swedish Death Metal style; you can't go wrong with the latest album from Goatwhore.
Grave Digger- Healed By Metal
FFO- Heavy Metal, Power Metal
One of the longest running bands in their style, Grave Digger has returned with one of their strongest albums to date. Simple, catchy, emotional, and heavy as hell; there's nothing else needed to be said. Grave Digger SLAYS!
Iced Earth- Incorruptible
FFO- Power Metal, Thrash Metal, Heavy Metal
Easily the best IE album featuring Stu Block. FINALLY on this album, Stu is album Block is able to showcase all of his vocal tricks while keeping that core IE aggression. Musically it hits a lot of new territory while also saying true to IE. An absolutely solid album that deserves all the love it gets.
Iron Reagan- Crossover Ministry
FFO- Crossover Thrash
Short, fast, catchy, funny in all the right spots, and aggressive; Iron Reagan delivers once again. While it's most exploratory album so far, it stays true to the crossover world and is sure to make you put on your denim vest, crush on beer cans over your forhead and make you party till the neighbors tell you to cut the party short.
Jorn- Life On Death Road
FFO- Power Metal, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
Quite possibly the most inspired Jorn album to date. Jorn Lande has had a bit of a rough couple few years, but in that time, he has been joined by a new lineup to fill out his solo group and put out some amazingly catchy songs that rock you to the core. Jorn shines like no other on this album. You can tell he is in such a good place, and we need him to be there always.
Life Of Agony- A Place Where There's No More Pain
FFO- Alternative Metal, Groove Metal
The band's first album in 12 years is a hell of a comeback. Keeping the core sound of LOA while mixing 12 years of chaos in between, the band is tighter than every making catchy hooks, heavy riffs, and memorable choruses. A true standout album for Life Of Agony.
M.O.D.- Busted Broke And American
FFO- Crossover Thrash, Hardcore Punk
The return of Billy Milano. After a much needed break, Milano is back and filled with anger with the world that he shows off in a way that only he can do. Hitting all the talking points of the last few years, this album is a great representation of Milano in 2017. The songs are short and aggressive, the message is big and loud; Enjoy Life While You Still Can!
The Mantle- S/T
FFO- Instrumental Metal, Progressive Metal
Son of Kenny G. (Max Gorelick) and Jake Miller present their Self Titled Debut. This is filled to the brim with memorable guitar leads, heavy hooks, and beautiful landscapes. In a world where over the top technical instrumental music is king, these guys show off that it's the riffs that matter. Melody and Harmony is key! ONe of the best debut albums of the year!
Mastodon- Emperor Of Sand
FFO- Progressive Metal, Hard Rock, Sludge
If you already jumped off the Mastodon train, this album will not have you jump back on. If you are still on the train, you'll see how much the band has progressed over the years. Focusing on memorable riffs and trimming off unneeded fat, the band has put together one of their most cohesive albums to date, while maintaining elements of every Mastodon every you love.
Miss May I- Shadow Inside
One of the best bands of the mid 00s Metalcore scene, MMI have, for the first time, stepped outside their comfort level of writing for the fans and ventured into the world of writing for themselves. The result is easily one of the best Metalcore albums ever made. A lesson for anyone trying to make it in the music business, while fans will gain you popularity quicker, the much more personally satisfactory way to approaching music is to be yourself and play what you love. Outstanding stuff.
The Mute Gods- Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth
FFO- Progressive Rock
The most depressing album of 2017. Why? because it is so very real. The lyrics are so dramatically realistic and what is happening to the world right now. Whether you agree with the topics mentioned or not; this album will make you give life some perspective and will make you wonder what you can do to make the world a better place. Of course the music is melancholic and morose to high levels, while poppy, yet catchy. An album you drastically need to discover.
Mutiny Within- Origins
FFO- Progressive Metal
The comeback album of the year. With one of the most impressive debut albums out in 2010, the band suffered a lot of trials and tribulations. Thankfully, in 2016, the band was able to come back with their 3rd album and completely change the landscape of their style, all while being just as catchy and memorable as ever. While this album seems to have gone under the radar, let's change that. Buy it, give it a spin, and understand what makes Mutiny Within one of the best bands going!
And that's it for Part I. Check out Part II for Albums N-Z!