Let me first start off by saying two things. One, this list is my own personal opinion, nothing else. Two, my list for the top ten albums of 2017 is in no specific order, it’s simply a compilation of what I find myself revisiting the most.
How I Chose The Top Ten Albums of 2017
As we all know, one of the reasons that art is so interesting to all of us is that it’s almost completely subjective. There’s literally something out there for everyone.
If you don’t like hip-hop that’s cool, you can go listen to your favorite Modest Mouse or Radiohead album. If you don’t like Radiohead that’s fine, you can go listen to your favorite Mozart or Vivaldi composition. I think you see where I’m going with this.
Now let the fun begin.
1. Mareridt by Myrkur
Myrkur is a Danish solo project by Amalie Bruun. The music is hard to define and box into any particular genre. It’s basically a hybrid mixture of black-metal, soundtrack-type sting instrumentation, and gothic folk music.
If you aren’t a fan of black metal already, this would be a pretty good entry point if you’re interested in seeing what all the fuss is about. Mareridt means “nightmare” in Danish, so that gives you a decent idea of what to expect when you listen to the album.
Throughout the hour long duration you’ll hear the dichotomous relationship we all have between love and hate, good and evil, life and death, and nightmares and dreams. I would highly recommend this album to anyone that has an undisturbed hour to sit down and really digest what you’re listening to.
2. World’s Apart by Make Them Suffer
Worlds Apart was one of my most anticipated releases of this year. Make Them Suffer is a 5-piece band hailing from Perth, Australia. They’ve released 3 full-length albums so far and every single one is a metallic masterpiece.
This album feels a little bit different from their past releases while still staying true to their roots and core audience. The lyricist of MTS has a poetic handle on what he wants to get across to the listener. If you ever take the time to sit down with the lyrics you’ll see what I mean.
Worlds Apart feels more optimistic than Old Souls or Neverbloom did, despite the title suggesting otherwise. It feels like it’s coming from a perspective of acceptance rather than a stand point of clinging on to a past attachment.
The guitar tones and melodies feel more uplifting this time around. You could really spend an entire month really doing an in-depth analysis of this one but I’ll leave it up to you if you feel so inclined.
3. Heaven Upside Down by Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson has been surrounded by controversy his entire career. I don’t wanna get into his personal life or public persona, just the music.
His latest album comes at a time in American society where to some it could feel like we’re living in a Heaven Upside Down. Beliefs previously held by many are being challenged and our precious ideas of what it means to be an American citizen have reached a tipping point. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
My personal opinion on Manson is that his art has been misunderstood since the beginning. Often people take things at face value and that would be the opposite approach needed to grasp some of the concepts within. This tends to happen with a lot of albums in general.
Black and white make-up confuses some, especially when it’s painted on the face of a man dressing in “questionable” clothing on stage screaming his face off. If you’re already a Manson fan I can’t see you not liking this one. If you’re new to the rodeo, it’s hard to say. My best advice would be to go into this one with an open mind.
4. DAMN by Kendrick Lamar
Similar to the timing of Heaven Upside Down, DAMN. is another perfectly-timed release. Once again, if you press play on this album with any preconceived notions of what to expect, you’ll come away empty-handed.
Kendrick Lamar’s full lengths haven’t captured my interest nearly as much as DAMN did. The intro instantly hooked me in to see what he had to say. As you can see on the album artwork, there’s a deep sense of pain in his eyes and judging by the expression on his face he has a lot to get off his chest.
DAMN has social commentary written all over it. At face value, some of the expressed ideas could come off as being close-minded and might turn some listeners off before they even get to the meat of this project. As with Heaven Upside Down, you’ll need open ears and an open mind to appreciate this work of art.
Whether or not you agree with the content, it’s hard to deny the fact that Lamar is mastering his craft to the point where he’s been able to transcend cultural boundaries worldwide.
I highly recommend this album for music fans of all kind, as it fuses many different genre styles and the instrumentation is undeniably as close to perfection as anything.
5. 17 by XXXtentacion
Right away in the opening track titled “The Explanation” you get a description of exactly what to expect as far as the purpose and content of this album. The album artwork is what initially caught my eye on this one. Handwritten notes in the style of a personal journal for CBT has never been done to my understanding.
XXXtentacion is another musician that’s been surrounded by controversy this year. I usually try to separate the artist from the art because they’re not always the same thing. Just like who you are at work might differ slightly from who you are at home with your friends or family for whatever reason.
I think the message is loud and clear in 17 and once again it goes back to the amount of people that are struggling with depression and other mental health issues in this country and the world. It feels like Xxx is giving a voice to the unheard while at the same time allowing those who feel alone to know that they’re not alone in feeling the way they do.
It offers a cathartic release for people who can identify with the struggle of mental health. Even if you don’t struggle with your mental health you can still appreciate what’s being said. This goes back to my earlier article on how listening to music increases empathy.
6. Young Gods by Martyr Defiled
Martyr Defiled is a younger band coming straight outta Nottingham, UK. Young Gods sounds as reckless as the title would suggest. The youth in any culture or society often express discontent with the older generation. Martyr Defiled manages to pull off that expression in a way that’s pretty addictive to listen to even though I’m a little bit older now and might not share those exact opinions anymore.
This album is a sure way to get you pumped up if you need some extra motivation to hit the gym or get a project done that you’ve been procrastinating. I will warn you though, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart, especially if you’re not that deep into the heavy-music genre already. Once again, this is a personal list.
You might enjoy this album also if you’re a fan of the TV series Salem. There are some similar elements although witchcraft doesn’t seem to be the main focus here. It’s perfect for October, especially if you plan on summoning any otherworldly entities this Halloween.
I wouldn’t recommend this album to anyone who lacks a basic knowledge of this type of music and the themes commonly used. On the other hand, if you’re a fellow headbanger, Martyr Defiled gives you exactly what you crave.
7. Altars by Sadistik
If you haven’t at least heard of Sadistik, it’d be hard to call yourself a true hip-hop head. He’s one of the most underrated MC’s of all time in my humble opinion. The way he’s able to weave images with his technical rhyme ability and choice of words is extremely uncanny.
His Seattle origins shine through like a ray of sunshine through a rainy sky. Altars touches on a wide range of subjects and pieces seemingly abstract concepts together in ways you can’t imagine.
Sadistik will take you into the catacombs of a darkened side of the human psyche. Throughout the 46 minute run time of Altars, you’ll be taken on a journey of ups, downs, and indifference. The range of emotion and depth of content is staggering. I will admit, it took me a couple listens on some of his older albums to appreciate everything that was happening in his songs.
You can tell that Sadistik has his finger on the pulse of the music being produced today and it feels like he’s able to incorporate certain elements of that while preserving his true to hip-hop influences.
One more tidbit of information is that Sadistik obtained a degree in Psychology before deciding to switch over to making music full time. That should give you an idea of what to expect on songs titled “Cotard’s Syndrome” and “God Complex”. You might need a copy of the DSM V in order to follow along with Altars, in a good way.
8. Hexada by Ghostemane
Ghostemane came out of nowhere not too long ago and has been holding his ground ever since. He started out playing in metal bands as a teenager and eventually made the decision to switch over to what he’s doing now. This decision came after writing some rhymes for one of his band’s instrumentals as a joke.
His music now is a hybrid fusion of his past metal influences coupled with old school hip-hop acts such as Three Six Mafia. The cadences he uses range from ultra fast machine-gun rhythm to a chanting bounce that forces you to nod along.
He covers topics such as occultism, the death of his father, astrophysics, and existential angst. Your mom told you to never judge a book by it’s cover and I would urge you to do the same before diving into Hexada.
Before you strap in for the ride, prepare to have your ears rearranged and stretched to their limits. This is not an album to be taken at face value with a closed mind. You’ll need all the headspace you can free up if you want to enjoy this one.
9. Imperius Rex by Sean Price
Sean Price was a lyrical giant who could rap circles around your favorite rappers favorite rapper. It still boggles my mind to this day how he was able to fit the rhyme schemes he wrote into an effortless-sounding flow that carelessly dances over the beat.
Unfortunately he passed away in 2015, so Imperius Rex comes to us as a posthumous album. To look at things on the bright side, his music will be forever solidified in hip-hop for current and new fans to enjoy.
Like Sadistik, I feel like Sean P didn’t and still doesn’t get the credit he deserves. I’m not sure who compiled these songs for us to enjoy but I can tell you that Imperius Rex is a must have for any true hardcore hip-hop fan.
If you want to hear what lyrical mastery sounds like, buy any of his albums and try to follow along. His music is more about the technical art and skill of putting words together than it is about trying to change the world. This one’s a great listen for when you’re in the mood to sit back and accept the barrage of bombs being dropped by one of the most skilled wordsmith’s of all time.
10. WYW by Wear Your Wounds
If you made it all the way down to WYW by Wear Your Wounds, you’re either a fellow melomaniac or you just have too much time on your hands.
WYW is by far the most mellow album on the list. Like Mareridt and Hexada, this album is hard to put in a specific box or category.
Wear Your Wounds is a solo project by Converge’s frontman Jacob Bannon. Don’t go into this album expecting to hear a Converge album. Expect the unexpected. WYW is a deeply emotional collection of songs that have a heavy tint of sadness but also optimism at the same time.
The attention to quality and detail really shows through in the music. You can tell that Bannon didn’t just create this album for the sake of selling records or topping charts. If things were different this album would top the charts but unfortunately other things tend to matter more than art in it’s purest form.
There are some light electronic elements throughout this album but mostly piano, guitar, clean singing, and a moody atmosphere. I would highly recommend this album to fans of Radiohead, Nirvana, My Chemical Romance’s old stuff, and anyone else who listens to alternative/rock-ish types of music.
You Made It To The End! Congrats!
As always, thanks for tuning in. Don’t be afraid to click some of the links in blue above. If you made it to the bottom you must really love music! I appreciate any support whether that be comments, questions, or using some of my links.
Sonic Elevation: Ride The Waves.