Best of 2017: Top 5 Albums

“Killing is my business, at my business I excel…”

For one reason or another, I just didn’t get the chance to listen to as many records or go to as many shows as I would’ve liked to this year, certainly nowhere near as many as in years past . I’ll definitely be making a conscious effort to remedy that in the coming year, and with so many personal favorites (Deafheaven) and friends of the site (Napalm Death, TribulationSkeletonwitch) currently in the studio and inevitably on the road, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Still, music is a giant part of my life, and there’s always those releases that rise through the din and find you even when you aren’t particularly searching for them. Here are a handful of my recent favorites:

  1. Power Trip – Nightmare Logic

“PT follows that up with the awesome “Executioner’s Tax”, hellishly abrasive and totally metal lyrics echoing the best of S.O.D. or old school Sepultura, again straddling that line between thrash and hardcore absolutely flawlessly. Driving title track “Nightmare Logic” boasts brain melting solo action and buzzsaw riffs, more armageddon inducing lyrics delivered in a breathless rasp, and the glorious intro to “Waiting Around To Die” takes the ominous retro vibe full circle with John Carpenter-esque synths.”

Read the full review here.


  1. Code Orange – Forever

“As for the band themselves, “Code Orange is forever!” is as catchy a mosh pit battle cry as any, but the record “Forever” definitely makes it a more than believable proposition. I’d love to be talking about these guys in 20 years the same way I talk about Converge and Napalm Death now, and if their  current songwriting skill, acrobatic instrumentation and fist pumping bravado are any indication, I will be.”

Read the full review here.


  1. Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun

“Chelsea Wolfe has been compared to everyone from Garbage’s Shirley Manson to Bjork, from Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star to Fiona Apple, and the sort of aching, singer-songwriter honesty cloaked in black clad mystery that earned her those contemporaries is more than on display in “Hiss Spun”, but above (and below, and inside) all else, “Hiss Spun” is a goddamned dyed in the wool fucking doom laden, depth plumbing, death worshipping metal record, and probably the most fearlessly interesting and esoteric one I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with in this so far somewhat anemic 2017.”

Read the full review here.


  1. Converge – The Dusk In Us

“It’s the type of verisimilitude that most bands would kill to be able to pull off so deftly. But it isn’t just loud/quiet dynamics taken to absolute extremes, it’s the cleverness of the connective tissue that makes Converge the standard bearer. Sludge stomper “Under Duress” cuts through its wall of mass with an almost cheerfully gang vocal-ed chorus, Vocalist Jacob Bannon runs the full gamut of his repertoire on unlikely but brilliant operatic opener “A Single Tear”, Nate Newton’s bass takes center stage on the groove heavy “Trigger” and Drummer Ben Koller’s mind blowingly off kilter blastbeats bring “Eye of the Quarrell” to monstrous life.”

Read the full review here.


  1. The Black Dahlia Murder – Nightbringers

“While American bands of a similar vintage like Lamb of God and Whitechapel’s latest releases have them easing into a comfortable, clean singing elder statesman role, The Black Dahlia Murder have crafted their most aggressive and abrasive document yet with “Nightbringers. As vocalist Trevor Strnad exclaims in the hat tip to Megadeth during the chorus of “Widowmaker”: “Killing is my business, at my business I excel”.”

Read the full review here.


Honorable mentions:

Canadian Sub Pop noise rock heroes Metz beefed up and fuzzed out on Strange Peace, Relapse brought the mind bending doom-prog power on Unearthly Trance’s “Stalking The Ghost and King Woman’s “Created in the Image of Suffering, along with the party metal jams of Crossover Ministry by Iron Reagan and the scathing deathgrind of The Drip’s “The Haunting Fear of Inevitability. Tankcrimes, the house that Ghoul built, proved themselves true metal connoisseurs with the punishing old school death of Necrot’s Blood Offerings, and last but certainly not least, Converge’s resident drumming superhero Ben Koller pulled triple duty with the butt rock beauty of Mutoid Man’s War Moans and joined Trap Them guitar god Brian Izzi on the fiery d-beat fury of APMD’s Hostage Animal.



A second opinion…

Contributor Steve Gemmell was kind enough to share his top 17 (17!) albums of the year with us. While there is some crossover with his list and mine (Converge, Chelsea Wolfe and Code Orange FTW), there’s some interesting outliers here, including output from stalwart 90’s heroes Beck and Foo Fighters, and two records from bands that I consider myself a fan of but haven’t spent nearly enough time with, the new QotSA and Mastodon. The number one spot on Steve’s list goes to Glassjaw’s Material Control, a record I was initially somewhat underwhelmed by (as a GJ fanboy from way back) but will certainly be revisiting.

17.  At The Drive In – In.Ter Ali.a

16. August Burns Red – Phantom Anthem

15. Portugal The Man – Woodstock

14. Emily Haines and Soft Skeleton – Choir of the Mind

13. Darkest Hour – Godless Prophets and the Migrant Flora

12. Foo Fighters – Concrete and Gold

11. Quicksand – Interiors

10. Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun

9. Various Artists – Baby Driver Soundtrack

8. Converge – The Dusk In Us

7. Beck – Colors

6.  68’ – Two Parts Viper

5. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand

4. Brand New – Science Fiction

3. Queens of the Stone Age – Villains

2. Code Orange – Forever

1. Glassjaw – Material Control




Kevin Hawkey is the co-founder, head writer and editor of Riot-Nerd. He enjoys Fighting Games, Metal, Marvel, Horror and all the weird shit in between. A lifelong Philadelphian just as comfortable in a circle pit at Underground Arts as he is drooling over the new Hot Toys figures at Brave New Worlds, Kevin’s idiosyncratic sensibility gives this site it’s unique dichotomy between “riot” and “nerd”.
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