The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2017

“We sort of find that music tames the beast, you know.” – Malcom Young

It’s that wonderful time of the year again, and I’m obviously not talking about Christmas and the holiday season. In a year where we lost so many talented and important musicians in rock and heavy music for various reasons, including Malcolm Young (AC/DC), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), Trish Doan (Kittie), Martin Eric Ain (Celtic Frost), Warrel Dane (Nevermore, Sanctuary), John Wetton (Uriah Heep), David Zablidowsky (Adrenaline Mob, Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Chuck Mosley (Faith No More) and Cherry Taketani (Okotô, Hellsakura, NervoChaos), among several others, not to mention the end of the unmatched Black Sabbath, who we were able to witness live one last time during their farewell tour The End, only the freshness and energy flowing from brand new metal music can give us hope, not allowing Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll to die as many like to prophesy every single year.

Having said that, it’s time to blow our goddamn speakers with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2017, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, taming the beast inside us all as wisely said by AC/DC’s heart and soul Malcolm Young (R.I.P.). And as 2017 was the year of bands that cannot be considered dinosaurs in metal (or at least not yet), such as Trivium and Mastodon, that certainly points to a bright future ahead for Heavy Metal with their recent releases because, as you know, we won’t have behemoths like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Metallica kicking ass on stage forever. By the way, this was definitely a fantastic year for Mastodon, who not only released one of the best albums of 2017, the excellent Emperor of Sand, but they also had some extra energy to burn with the classy EP Cold Dark Place, which by the way is part of our top 10 EP’s of the year (as you’ll see after our top 10/20 list). Alright, without further ado, turn up the volume and enjoy our 2017 list… LET THERE BE ROCK!

1. Trivium – The Sin and the Sentence (REVIEW)
A superb album full of fast and intricate riffs, poetic lyrics, a sensational new drummer and, above all, the return of Matt’s trademark screams.
Best song of the album: Betrayer

2. Kreator – Gods Of Violence (REVIEW)
We shall praise the best Teutonic Thrash Metal institution of all time, as the gods of violence come alive.
Best song of the album: Totalitarian Terror

3. Blaze Bayley – Endure And Survive (REVIEW)
The indomitable Blaze Bayley returns with the second installment of Infinite Entanglement, his most ambitious project to date.
Best song of the album: Blood

4. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand (REVIEW)
Follow the inspirational story of a desert wanderer who has been handed a death sentence in this excellent album of Progressive Metal.
Best song of the album: Word to the Wise

5. Accept – The Rise of Chaos (REVIEW)
Let total chaos and destruction rise to the sound of the brand new album by the unstoppable Teutonic masters of Heavy Metal.
Best song of the album: Analog Man

6. Moonspell – 1755 (REVIEW)
An orchestral and emotional concept album that will take you to the year when a giant earthquake destroyed the city of Lisbon.
Best song of the album: Todos Os Santos

7. Striker – Striker (REVIEW)
Canadian Heavy Metal has never been more vibrant and rapturous than this.
Best song of the album: Born To Lose

8. Divine Element – Thaurachs Of Borsu (REVIEW)
Witness the passage of a soldier through various levels of consciousness about the reality of war and human society.
Best song of the album: Thaurachs Of Borsu

9. Torture Squad – Far Beyond Existence (REVIEW)
Don’t cross the path of one of the most respectful bands from the Brazilian Thrash and Death Metal scene.
Best song of the album: Blood Sacrifice

10. Solitary – The Diseased Heart of Society (REVIEW)
Four veteran thrash metallers canalizing all the hatred, degradation and perversions of our modern-day society into their music.
Best song of the album: Architects of Shame

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Karkaos – Children Of The Void (REVIEW)
12. Prometheus – Consumed In Flames (REVIEW)
13. Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain (REVIEW)
14. Terrifier – Weapons of Thrash Destruction (REVIEW)
15. Body Count – Bloodlust (REVIEW)
16. Dzö-nga – The Sachem’s Tales (REVIEW)
17. Cradle of Filth – Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay (REVIEW)
18. Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black (REVIEW)
19. Infernäl Mäjesty – No God (REVIEW)
20. Katharos XIII – Negativity (REVIEW)

As aforementioned, we also have for you this year our Top 10 EP’s of 2017, ranging from the most rebellious form of Deathcore to the most melodic type of Symphonic Metal, from visceral Doom Metal to demonic Black Metal, and so on. In addition, those bands hail from all four corner of the earth, proving once again that it doesn’t matter where you go you’ll always be able to find first-class metal music, including all of its genres and subgenres, to please your avid metallic ears.

1. Primal Age – A Silent Wound (REVIEW)
2. Sinners Moon – Far Beyond The Stars (REVIEW)
3. Aversio Humanitatis – Longing for the Untold (REVIEW)
4. Loathfinder – The Great Tired Ones (REVIEW)
5. Ljosazabojstwa – Sychodžańnie (REVIEW)
6. Lorn – Arrayed Claws (REVIEW)
7. Jupiter Hollow – Odyssey (REVIEW)
8. Dö – Astral: Death/Birth (REVIEW)
9. Mastodon – Cold Dark Place (REVIEW)
10. Afire – Afire (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2017? If you want to check another awesome list, I highly recommend Antichrst Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2017 (Editorial Staff), a great online publication that we at The Headbanging Moose also contribute to on a regular basis. Also, don’t forget to tune in to Timão Metal every Tuesday on Rádio Coringão for a blazing fusion of metal and soccer, and to The Headbanging Moose Show every Thursday on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal from all over the world!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2018!

Actually, before all is said and done, here’s for you the 2017 Christmas single from Norwegian Melodic Power Metal project Aldaria called When The Time Has Come, featuring several renowned guest musicians such as Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Yannis Papadopoulos (Beast In Black),  Lars Rettkowitz (Freedom Call) and Morten Gade Sørensen (Pyramaze), among others, with 100% of all income of this single being donated to Cancer Research. “This is a very important cause for me, as I lost my mother to this horrible disease in 2010. The single will be available across all streaming and digital platforms, and on Aldaria’s official webstore, where you will get a special edition with a lossless audio file, instrumental, high resolution cover art, and lyrics”, commented guitarist Frode Hovd, the mastermind behind Aldaria. Let’s all support such important cause!

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Album Review – Sinners Moon / Far Beyond The Stars EP (2017)

What are you waiting for to fly far beyond the stars with the brand new (and extremely fun) EP by this Symphonic Metal squad from Slovakia?

If you’re a fan of the music by bands such as Nightwish, Epica, Sonata Arctica, After Forever and Kamelot, among several others, you’ll be happy to know that an up-and-coming Symphonic Metal band hailing from Sereď, a town in southern Slovak Republic, is back with their imposing sounding in a brand new EP that not only lives up to the legacy of the genre, but that also offers some interesting variations and surprises that keep it truly entertaining from start to finish. I’m talking about Sinners Moon and their EP titled Far Beyond The Stars, another solid step in their recent but already exciting career and a highly recommended option for fans of the fusion of heavy music with operatic vocals and fantasy.

The fact the Sinners Moon managed to keep the exact same lineup (Simona and Derick on vocals, LukeN on guitars, Viktor on bass, Jarthuusen on keyboards and Jan on drums) that recorded their 2015 full-length opus Atlantis also helped the band in maintaining a high level of cohesiveness and dynamism in their new EP. As a matter of fact, one of the most complex songs in Atlantis, the 8-minute aria Fly to the Moon, works as the prequel to the music found in Far Beyond The Stars, proving LukeN and his bandmates are extremely focused when creating the music by Sinners Moon, always trying to give it a purpose and a soul.

The first half of the EP presents the trademark musicality by Sinners Moon, with their metal symphony permeating the air form the very first second in the intro Awakening (The Suite), creating the perfect ambience for the title-track Far Beyond The Stars, an electrifying fusion of Symphonic Metal with the more traditional version of Scandinavian Melodic Metal, where frontwoman Simona delivers her passionate and delicate vocal lines in contrast with Derick’s demonic gnarls. Moreover, LukeN is on fire with his guitar, making a flammable duo with Jarthuusen, and if you love Melodic Metal I’m sure you’ll feel energized by the song’s powerful lyrics (“Reach out your hand for the stars high above / We are hungry to find this world left aside / Please take me there we will fly to the moon / Far beyond all the stars we will touch them together”). Then in the awesome Travelers the rumbling bass by Viktor is quickly joined by Jarthuusen and LukeN, generating an amazing metallic vibe while Jan keeps the song’s pace at a thrilling level. In addition, the guitar riffs fired by LukeN provide Simona all she needs to declaim the song’s beautiful lyrics in a compelling way (“Dreams of love, dreams of life / Somewhere else we gain our hopes / With this heart and these hands / We will build a ourselves a new home / Never give up, never give in on our ways”).

After that blast of Symphonic Metal, the band brings forward two welcome surprises in Far Beyond The Stars, starting with their cover version for Skúsime To Cez Vesmír, which translates as “let’s try it through the universe”, by Slovak 80’s rock band Tublatanka (watch a vibrant live version of Tublatanka playing it in 1989 HERE). Sinners Moon added their own symphonic twist to this excellent rock song, with highlights to the amazing job done by Jan on drums as well as the electrified vocals by Simona. And the second treat of the EP is the opening track Far Beyond The Stars in a smooth and lovely piano-ballad version, with total focus on the beautiful voice of Simona, being the perfect soundtrack for being “captured” in a warm and comforting embrace by the person you love the most.

In summary, after all the epicness and imposing sounds found in Atlantis, it looks like Sinners Moon wanted to take an “alternative break” from all the seriousness that surrounded that album and show fans of heavy music a more relaxed side of the band, and let’s say they nailed it in Far Beyond The Stars, which can be purchased on BandCamp, at the Slovak Metal Army webstore or at Discogs. Also, don’t forget to visit the band’s Facebook page and YouTube channel for more of their top-tier metal music, and if you’re already addicted to their symphonic sounds you should definitely go for the deluxe digital version of the album, including a bonus demo track from their early days (before the lineup was even solidified) titled Dawn Of War, which by the way displays an above average overall production and a high-end sound quality for being just a demo, as well as few bonus featurettes including a special digital EP wallpaper, a digital booklet and a “thank you” note from the band. With that said, what are you waiting for to grab your copy of this fun EP and fly with Sinners Moon far beyond the stars?

Best moments of the album: Travelers and Skúsime To Cez Vesmír.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Slovak Metal Army

Track listing
1. Awakening (The Suite) 1:42
2. Far Beyond The Stars 4:19
3. Travelers 4:10
4. Skúsime To Cez Vesmír (Tublatanka cover) 4:24
5. Far Beyond The Stars (Piano Version) 5:08

Deluxe Digital Version bonus track
6. Dawn Of War (2009 Demo Version) 5:47

Band members
Simona – vocals
Derick – growls
LukeN – guitars
Viktor – bass
Jarthuusen – keyboards
Jan – drums