Chad’s Top-10 Albums of 2017

Posted January 9, 2018 by Chad Waller in Nerdy Bits

Writin’ about music on a gamin’ website. Breakin’ all the rules! I CANNOT BE SILEN–


The best part about music is that every year is a good year for music. Every January, without fail, I get to look back on the previous 12 months and go, “Man I listened to some awesome tunes and went to some awesome concerts,” and then every January I get to aggregate that into a top-10 list that I hope people find fun. Because that is the point—let’s talk music and have some fun!

So the big live highlights this year were seeing Insane Clown Posse (yeah I don’t get it either), Avatar, Korn, Halestorm, The Homeland Conspiracy, and Red Sun Rising. The big music highlights were discovering Samael, Ayreon, deathcore as a genre, a new Wintersun album, a new Bobaflex album, and getting into some really strange Viking stuff that’s more atmospheric than anything else.

Thar be some strange music out on that Youtube. Go check out Heilung.

As to the following top-10, it’s complicated. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to all of these albums and trying to sort them, and really, other than the top three or four, I can’t figure it out. Thus, take the order with a grain of salt. It’s all good stuff.


10 Bobaflex – Eloquent Demons

Genre: Metal/Hard Rock

Oh man, I get to write another paragraph on why I love Bobaflex. How dreadful!

So, Eloquent Demons is another driving hard rock/metal record from the guys that never stop touring. It’s a bit darker than their other stuff in tone, I think, but more melodic for it. The guitar is groovy, the melodies are memorable, the harmonies are on point, and there’s a ballad about killing someone. Or metal music!

It’s a purely Bobaflex album, a solid, no-nonsense rock affair at just a hair over 40 minutes. Short yet memorable. It’s a good place to start if you’ve never heard the band, though I’d advise hitting up Tales from Dirt Town after. Get a bit of old and new. Then hit up Hell in my Heart, Charlatan’s Web, and Anything that Moves.

Standout tracks are “Moon and the Shadows,” “Real Sadness,” and “I am a Nightmare.”

09 Battle Beast – Bringer of Pain

Genre: Power Metal

2017 was a really good year for power metal with an 80’s flair. Or as I like to say: Hell yes! It’s a genre that should be fun and bombastic, with big guitars and big synths. It should make me want to sing and dance and mosh. Enter Bringer of Pain.

Boasting an amazing vocalist in Noora Louhimo and wicked composition, Battle Beast are a huge fiery ball of fun. They’ve a mix of serious and silly, ballad and rock, and the execution is really quite phenomenal on all fronts. I think there are a few Judas Priest influences thrown in too, so you know, good stuff.

Standout tracks are “King for a Day,” Familiar Hell,” and “Bastard Son of Odin.”


08 Shadow of Intent – Reclaimer

Genre: Deathcore

In all honesty, Reclaimer is a top-5 album. The sheer talent on display, from the brutal vocals to the insane drums and guitar work, are better than most of the albums that have dropped this year. The thing is, deathcore isn’t an every-day genre for me. It’s almost too brutal at times, too loud and distorted, and I need to be in the mood to really enjoy it.

Shame on me, but that mood only shows up once or twice a month.

That being said, Reclaimer is a phenomenal album that makes a subgrene based around noise sound melodic. Throwing in orchestration, minor hints of almost-clean vocals, and some absolutely crushing guitar work turn rage and horror into beauty. Just don’t expect to understand more than one in five words.

Standout tracks are “The Forsaken Effigy,” “The Gathering of All,” and “The Mad Tyrant’s Betrayal.”


07 Iced Earth – Incorruptible

Genre: Heavy Metal

Iced Earth are back with another banging heavy metal album that boasts some of the best and most memorable rhythm guitar in the business. The band hit the right mix of melodic and crushing, meaning you can jam to this on your own or with your parents. It’s on the right cusp of accessible.

What I’m saying is, my parents really dig this album too, which is cool.

Incorruptible boasts a lot of variety in terms of tone and lyrics, hitting pirates, magic, a killer instrumental, and a history-inspired battle epic that clocks in at ten minutes. All the while, it’s insanely catchy and super fun to sing to.

Standout tracks are “Clear the Way,” “Raven Wing,” and “Great Heathen Army.”


06 Beast in Black – Berserker

Genre: Power Metal

I thought I’d only get one amazing power metal album this year, but 2017 decided to throw me an extra bone. First Battle Beast, then Beast in Black. “Beast” is the right word, since both albums are beastly power metal affairs with massive vocals, massive synths, and massive guitars. What sets Beast in Black apart is that I find their guitar work to be just a hair more in-your-face. It seems to be a bit more forward in the mix, but even then, the riffs have a heavier edge to them that I’m a big fan of.

Lyrically, it’s a big ol’ mess of fun with some over-the-top love songs mixed in with huge, gnarly tunes about the Berserk manga.

Every song is powerful, memorable, fun as hell, and worth singing to. Oh, and the vocal range on Yannis Papadopoulos is insane.

Standout tracks are “Blind and Frozen,” “Crazy, Mad, Insane,” and “Born Again.”


05 Kesha – Rainbow

Genre: Pop

Perhaps the strangest thing to happen in 2017—if you ignore all of the politics that is—is Kesha released the best pop album this year. Yeah I said it. Because it’s true. Rainbow is a fierce record about coming out of a life-shattering event with hope. It’s about introspection, yet it’s about fun too. Sometimes it’s about both at the same time.

The variety on display is also exceptional, with typical dancing tunes (which are great) to big ballads to a quirky song about being friends with Godzilla.

You can just tell that fun and life were poured into this album. Kesha is back, and while I don’t care for her early works, I’m eager to follow her going forward. She’s amazing.

Standout tracks are “Women,” “Hymn,” and “Boogie Feet.”


04 Trivum – The Sin and the Sentence

Genre: Heavy Metal

The Sin and the Sentence was a bit of a sleeper release—I didn’t know it was coming until it showed up. I went in hopeful but with tempered expectations, knowing Trivum are capable of putting out some of the best metal I’ve ever heard, and also stuff I don’t really like. Different strokes and whatnot.

To my surprise, they damn near bested Shogun.

The Sin and the Sentence combines the best cleans of Silence in the Snow with the exceptional guitar work of Shogun, making it one of Trivium’s strongest albums ever, if not their strongest. It’s big and complex, weaving screaming, singing, and guitar solos together with an expertise that I’m still kind of surprised by. Like I said, it’s maybe their best album, which is saying something since Shogun is an absolute monster. Time will tell how this one holds up, but my expectations are now quite high.

Standout tracks are “Beyond Oblivion,” “Thrown into the Fire,” and “The Beauty in the Sorrow.”


03 Linkin Park – One More Light

Genre: Pop/Alternative

RIP Chester.

Standout tracks are “Battle Symphony,” “Sharp Edges,” and “Sorry for Now.”


02 Aryeon – The Source

Genre: Prog metal

Discovering Aryeon was one of the highlights of 2017 for me. The project, headed by symphony mastermind Arjen Lucassen, hits every good thing possible about concept albums: big sound, big story, big characters, big production, and big songs.

The Source is a mammoth album, clocking a full hour and a half in length and spanning two disks and around ten different singers. It tells the story of a robot apocalypse and the few humans that manage to escape, find a new planet, and force their evolution into water-dwelling life forms. While they do this, they become psychically linked together.

It’s a crazy story that’s accented by an orchestra’s worth of instruments, layers, and power.

Or like what Avantasia did last year, only a bit bigger and with more cellos.

Every song on The Source is awe-inspiring, from the epic introduction, “The Day that the World Breaks Down” to the slow, serene, “The Source.” The places the album goes, both musically and narrativily, are out of this damn world.

Standout tracks include “The Source,” “Planet Y is Alive,” and “The Day that the World Breaks Down.”


01 Wintersun – The Forest Seasons

Genre: Symphonic black metal

Given how cold it is, it’s possible hell actually froze over, which is what was supposed to happen when Wintersun finally put out another album. Time I came out in 2012 for goodness sake!

In reality, I’m not quite sure how I can put The Forest Season into words. I became enthralled with Wintersun when I first heard Time I, so the campaign to get The Forest Seasons made was a big event, this mix of “I can’t believe this is happening” and “please don’t mess this up!”

Well, it happened, and Jari didn’t mess it up.

The Forest Seasons is Wintersun embracing black metal, with four 15ish minute songs that are all structurally similar to “Sons of Winter and Stars” in that they all get epic as hell before they’re over. It’s Jari at some of his best song writing, utilizing the concept of seasons to tell a quazi story about the forest and death.

The Forest Seasons is, without a doubt, a phenomenal work of art.

Standout tracks are…well there are only four. Just listen to the album.

About the Author

Chad Waller

Chad Waller is the cofounder of Dual Wield Software, a two-man video game company working on their first game, The Regret of Vitrerran. He also likes to write, preferring fiction and poetry, but also the occasional book review or video game essay. You can follow him on Twitter @DualWieldSoft and find his company page on Facebook with a quick search.