Best 25 Albums of 2017

THE HYST LIST // Best 25 Albums of 2017

It seemed that Aussies reigned supreme in 2017. Could this be the year we spray pesticide on tall poppy syndrome for good? With the quality on offer, we sure hope so.

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“That local band” we’ve been watching at sticky-floored pubs has come good in the blink of an eye. It seemed like yesterday bands like Polaris and Ocean Grove were opening for internationals; now they’re living it up in overseas prime time. It was all thanks to the courage of their convictions, the inventiveness of their tunes. 70% compatriots in the Top 10? This writer would’ve shuddered at the thought not even five years ago. We expect the triple j Hottest 100 to yield homegrown dividends too. It may no longer be on Australia’s day, but bloody oath has it been Australia’s year. Now we honour the most innovative, most revered, most talked about albums on Planet Rock.

Hysteria’s Best 25 Albums of 2017

25. Power Trip — Nightmare Logic

Motherfucking thrash metal should taste like astringent beer brewed in toilet bowls out the back of abandoned pubs. Fuck all that clean, click-tracked to the nines ish. Power Trip is the sweat-soaked 80s RAW POWER punks flocked to, like refugees escaping a holocaust of shitty riffs. Power Trip annihilate all that comes before them. It’s like the Big 4, the Teutonic 4, and speed four-on-the-floor spreading you on all fours and shoving metal up your ass just like that Metallica t-shirt with the knife thrusting up an asshole. If you haven’t navigated away to cram Power Trip into your ear holes by now, then you’re a god damn poser. Fuck you. // Tom Valcanis

24. Hollow World — Exanimate

When’s the last time an Aussie metal band put out a concept album? That wasn’t Karnivool? Yeah, thought so. Exanimate is the metal record that’ll stir metalheads out of their Euro-American spell. We soon realise we can fuck shit up as good as anybody else. It’s a metal album about plagues, zombies, riffs, and sick leads. I mean, there’s not much here a metalhead won’t like. If you aren’t into Hollow World, maybe this whole metal thing wasn’t your bag to begin with. // Tom Valcanis

23. World War Me — World War Me

Get past your disdain for good ol’ emo-rock, shake off your petty comments about any likeness to great bands of old, and with World War Me’s self-titled debut you have a solid, beautiful, pivotal release that needs far more recognition than it’s received. World War Me make the cut simply because they are masters of their craft. Their lyrical writing is relatable, poetic and profound, their songwriting simple, catchy and to the point. Frontman Stephen Krypel sings powerfully “a revolution has begun,” but actually, it’s a revival, and a much needed, much impressive one at that. // Anna Rose

22. Elder — Reflections of a Floating World

Some records are so good that they can pretty much define a band’s entire career, especially where metal is concerned. Despite time’s irrevocable march, and band’s wanting to change along with it, people still spin the ever-loving shit out of Paranoid, Master of Puppets, Reign In Blood and Vulgar Display of Power. The same goes for metal’s new vanguard: Mastodon have Blood MountainBaroness have the Blue Record. And given the near universal critical acclaim it received upon release, you could say that Massachusetts rockers Elder have 2015’s Lore. But here’s a hot take for you: the band’s most recent offering, Reflections of a Floating World, is better—in almost every conceivable way. On their fourth full-length album, the three-piece levelled up their songwriting and musical technicality to dizzying new heights, transcending and discarding every genre categorisation in their way. Is it prog? Is it stoner/doom? Is it metal? Who gives a shit—Reflections of a Floating World simply rules. To paraphrase old mate Percy Shell-dog: ‘Look on my riffs, ye Mighty, and despair!’ // Owen Morawitz

21. Deafcult — Auras

Auras is the perfect play on shoegaze with the bittersweetness of dream pop and the dizzying noise of drone. It’s hypnotic journey through summer nights, humidity and heart palpitation inducing emotion. Lemonade Beauty’s triumphantly saccharine melody soars over otherwise melancholic instrumentals – a formula that carries the album as it flows. Summertime and Rubix hold up so well, they may as well prop up the entire sky. Slowdive may have returned this year but, Deafcult are ushering shoegaze into the modern era with a heavy twist on the original. // Bianca Davino

20. Paradise Lost — Medusa

The Godfathers of gothic, doom metal were at their depressive best with Medusa, their fifteenth studio album, and while Owen is correct in saying that doom bands seem to be everywhere (see below), no one does gothic doom quite like Paradise LostMedusa harnesses some of the best that the UK band have to offer and that makes it one of the stand out albums of the year. There’s plenty of their trademark sounds but these mixed with some epic sludge and distortion and fuzz that all melt together in one bubbling pot of gloomy goodness. // Michelle O’Rance

19. Knuckle Puck — Shapeshifter

Pop punk has copped a battering this year. With some of it’s shining lights and enduring forbears falling from grace and the imminent death of Warped Tour upon us, long time genre faithfuls may be experiencing some total disillusionment. If you’re needing to restore your sense of personal connection with the much maligned genre. Heart-wrenchingly introspective, riff laden and driving with gripping hooks and solid harmonies around every corner, Shapeshifter is a celebration of everything great about pop punk. Tracks like Gone, Everyone Lies To Me and Want Me Around will pummel your mosh-craving souls into octave chord induced tears. Listen, for the culture. // Bianca Davino

18. ‘68 — Two Parts Viper

You don’t score dates alongside the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, Every Time I Die, and The Bronx without one hell of a diverse, unique and catchy record to back it up. This classy yet gritty Atlanta duo are joining the likes of Japandroids and Royal Blood in redefining the sonic possibilities of drums and a guitar, with this year’s Two Parts Viper evidence of how freaking loud two guys can get. From the thunderous blues of Whether Terrified Or Unafraid to the sadboy rock turned furious rollercoaster of No Montage, Two Parts Viper is exactly what rock & roll needs; dangerous, ballsy, sweaty as hell. // Alasdair Belling

17. Kreator — Gods of Violence

You know you’ve got a winner on your hands when a song yields a new stadium chant. “Gods! Of Violence!” Is sort of like the new “Violent Revolution!”, or “Hordes of Chaos!” from years gone by. “World War Now!” and Saaaaatan is real!” are way up there too. Of the ye olde thrash metal crowd—and I am talking about all the greats here, from both sides of the pond—Kreator is the only outfit piling on massive aggression and limitless imagination in each and every cut. Death Becomes My Light is the Orion of the 2010s; a heady fusion of operatic pathos and weapons-grade musicianship. Gibt es etwas Kreator nicht tun können macht? Ich denke nicht! // Tom Valcanis

16. The Contortionist — Clairvoyant

On their fourth studio album, Indianapolis sextet The Contortionist were out to prove one thing: when it comes to prog, there’s more than meets the mind-fuck. Sure, Clairvoyant was chock full of luscious soundscapes, warped time-signatures and virtuosic instrumental prowess, but it was never too busy, and that’s the real clincher: sometimes holding back ends up yielding so much more. By delivering a raw, fragile and gut-wrenching performance, frontman Michael Lessard came through with the goods, elevating the band’s musical explorations into an otherworldly realm. Older fans might decry the lack of screams or breakdowns, but frankly, they’re off their fucking head. Here’s an idea: soak up Absolve’s rich harmonies, Relapse’s quaking bottom-end, or the emotional texture in Reimagined that practically washes over you like a contact high, and tell me that you don’t feel something. // Owen Morawitz

15. Converge — The Dusk In Us

On their ninth studio LP The Dusk In Us, New England hardcore veterans Converge are back doing what they do best: leaving everyone in their fucking wake. Even after a five-year, ‘while-you-wait’ gap between records, Converge decided to roll back into the studio in 2017, cut another game-changing album, mic drop that shit, and then sit back while every Tom, Dick and Hardcore Band played catch-up for the next decade. And what a year to return. Ladies and gents, this is the year of the global clusterfuck; we all know it. Even with things going to hell in a handbasket, there’s still something soothing and reassuring about having Ben Koller’s crushing double kick, Kurt Ballou’s caustic and dynamic riffage, Nate Newton’s rumbling bottom end, and Jacob Bannon’s throat-shredding catharsis to soundtrack our impending oblivion. Oh, and that vocal break in A Single Tear is utterly gut-wrenching; and Trigger really, really sounds like a lost Fugazi track, which is sick. So, in summation: you know the drill here. After all, this is Converge: forever imitated; never replicated; and The Dusk In Us is living, breathing, snarling proof. // Owen Morawitz

14. Pallbearer — Heartless

It only takes one cursory look at Bandcamp—and the willingness to jump down an infinite series of linked rabbit-holes—to realise that doom bands are literally dime-a-dozen right now. What’s under that rock? A doom band. Where did you leave your keys? Yep, another doom band. Not sure who that dude is playing acoustic at your local? Psych! He’s just warming up for the headliner, and you guessed it: doom band. Thankfully, scene leaders and morose dirge merchants Pallbearer decided to switch things up on LP #3. Drawing from the great radio-rock bands of the 70s and 80s, the group yearned to create ‘timeless’ music, with sharper hooks and more demanding choruses, which also meant listening to a shit-load of Boston. The end result was Heartless: a record which paired monolithic, crushing heaviness with equal doses of catchy refrains, soaring riffs and bright, dare-we-say-it upbeat sonics. Ironically, it turns out the album title was nothing but a grand misnomer: Pallbearer wanted to be “More than a doom band,” and in that respect, they succeeded: now they’re more than a feeling; they’re a doom band with heart. // Owen Morawitz

13. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes — Modern Ruin

Frank Carter has drawn upon his alternative rock and hardcore history to bring us a scalding record of character-defining musicianship that makes no apology for its politically powerful core—and nor should it. The initial uncertainty in Carter’s vocals is rather endearing, and suits the purposely underdone aesthetic of the album. Lullaby is the furthest thing from one, but it’s easy to fall in love with, while Snake Eyes demonstrates a razor-sharp belt that’s both sad and candid at the same time. Whether or not you’re convinced that the marriage between Carter’s earlier performance styles is a good one or not, Modern Ruin is Carter’s voice and songwriting at the best we’ve ever heard it. // Anna Rose

12. Dune Rats — The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit

The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit is the second full length album from stoner-boy rockers Dune Rats. Beers, drugs, getting loose … That’s pretty much a summary of the album. A majority of it was written while they were travelling over in the States, and the fun they must of had, oozes out of it. The album was produced by Fidlar’s Zac Carpenter and provides you with those upbeat beach-shack feels. The band have spent the majority of this year touring Australia and overseas, hitting many, many festival stages. They are undoubtedly one of the most popular bands in the country. The Kids Will Know It’s Bullshit includes their biggest releases of the year; Braindead, Scott Green and Bullshit. This album makes you feel like there’s no-fucking-worries and it’s a lot of fun. // Kahlia Sharpe

11. ITCHY — All We Know

Like the Simpsons character of the same name, Itchy are goddamn savage. Their tight, temperamental alt-rock anthems cut straight through the skin and dive into the soul with driving riffs and choruses that, once glued to your mind, simply will not leave. Softer moments like The Sea lie phenomenally amongst heavier cuts like Nothing, and across a hearty 15 tracks, the German trio throw a masterful spin on a wealth of moods in-between them. After six decent-to-solid albums, it feels like Itchy have finally cracked the code with All We Know. If it doesn’t bring them Down Under in 2018, we’ll be sorely disappointed. // Matt Doria

10. Clowns — Lucid Again

Hell hath no fury like the meteoric punk perfection on Clowns’ third full-length outing. Lucid Again is scrappy, loud and deliciously raw, yet also beautifully melodic and intricately crafted. It retains the harsh underground flavours that slicked their former work, while embodying an ambitious new direction for the Melbourne quintet—one driven more by experimentation than relying on established skills. As such, it’s easily their most exciting album: from the progressive and tense title track to the violently wild Forensic Science, this 40-minute beast takes us on a journey through the deepest corners of Clowns’ artistry. Closing the album on nine straight minutes of searing Tony Hawk-esque skate-punk was a primo move, too. All that Clowns need now are some gloriously excessive theatre shows to fuck us up beyond repair with. // Matt Doria

9. Northlane — Mesmer

Northlane’s Mesmer saw them take a bit of a different turn with the entire album boasting a heavy and urgent sound. The album kicks off with “Why do we subscribe to a universal thread that weaves the fabric of our lives/Ask why without batting an eye we’re so accepting/Question everything.” With no softer songs breaking up and album, just small moments within the tracks, this album saw Northlane step it up and totally nail it. Bridge’s vocals show off his ability to sing and scream with total control and the vulnerability of his lyrics convey mental illness in a very real and important way. The percussion in the album is ace, with sporadic crashing and tight melodious drum patterns. // Laura English

8. Sløtface — Try Not To Freak Out

After the success of their 2016 song Sponge State, labelled as one of the best punk songs of the year, it’s no surprise that their debut album had such high anticipation surrounding it. A merger of all the skills they’ve built up over their last four EPs, TNTFO gives fans a mix of grungie undertones, “girl power” vibes and chill out tunes. Essentially this album has a song for every mood and setting within the pop-punk scene. Feel like smoking a joint and chilling with mates? Pop on Galaxies. Heading to a killer girls night out? Then Pitted is the song for you. Joining alongside the other female fronted groups that have impressed us this year, like Brisbane band WAAXSløtface are making a name for themselves as a serious modern punk band in a spectacular way. // Louise Inkster

7. Code Orange — Forever

Forever is a signifier of a total paradigm shift in heavy music. Taking cues from seering 90s industrial, face melting metalcore and swagger drenched hardcore, Code Orange have risen to the highest echelon of metal. With opening slots for System Of A Down, Alt-J collabs and an Instagram aesthetic that rivals your favourite influencer, the young band are playing the game and winning. Finding the perfect equilibrium between unadulterated chaos and catchiness on tracks like Bleeding In The Blur and Ugly showcases that the band have a higher skill set than most of their contemporaries. This is the new reality. // Bianca Davino

6. Polaris — The Mortal Coil

A signing to Resist Records? When was this EVER going to go wrong. Polaris seemed like they were riding horizontally on their accolades until that huge announcement, no doubt bolstered by their massive Unify set this year. The full pelt of Casualty meshes with a light-hearted touch of In Somnus Veritas. “I found my love and let it kill me” takes home a banner for one of the year’s best pre-mosh calls in Lucid. Fleshing out the formula from their The Guilt and The Grief EP is a smart move; reel em in with a taste and re-invigorate the metalcore sound. Labelmate Parkway Drive’s Winston McCall co-signs them: do you really need much more than that? // Jonty Simmons

5. Thy Art Is Murder — Dear Desolation

The fourth studio album from Australian deathcore icons Thy Art Is Murder has done nothing but reinforce the strength and continuing improvement at which the band is producing music. With a loyal fanbase spurring them on, the penta-group (my rock’n’roll alternative to quintet) brought another level of instrumental and lyrical genius with the release of Dear Desolation. As CJ’s first album with the band since his return at the beginning of the year, the record has all the makings of beginning Thy Art’s new legacy in death metal. Puppet Master has established itself as a fan favourite, but the title track is definitely one of mine. With an ‘angry-mob’ vibe to the verses and some stellar guitar shredding, this is a song that you can’t help but headbang to. One thing is for sure, Thy Art is on an upward trend and we can’t wait to see what they come out with next. // Louise Inkster

4. Paramore — After Laughter

Most bands would’ve thrown in the towel long ago after enduring the tribulations Paramore have faced. Hayley Williams is the voice of a generation, who’ve grown up amidst constant uncertainty and the self indulgence of social media. Ten years ago she was snarling revenge to angsty teens, now, she’s coming to terms with the themes of forgiveness and self worth, singing to adults who still look to her for guidance. Embedded within nuanced pop songs that strike the perfect balance between Talking Heads-esque quirk and HAIM-like straight up banger territory, Paramore want you to know that they’re still figuring things out themselves—they’re inviting you on a journey to learn with them. // Bianca Davino

3. Ecca Vandal — Ecca Vandal

Where a lack of focus can often lead to an album’s gory derailment, Ecca Vandal uses that to her advantage. Her self-titled sleeper hit fuses elements of ripping punk with grimy hip-hop, pop and everything in-between to belly up an opus so daring and eruptive that it still leaves us jaw-dropped, a hundred or so plays in. It isn’t just the math-driven riffs and energised yells on Broke Days, Party Nights or the harsh bursts of hardcore on Price Of Living that makes Ecca Vandal so inescapably intoxicating—it’s the deep, delusional pulsing on boom-bat love letter Your Orbit, the breakbeat-tinged Dead Wait and the gauzy R’n’B flourish that makes Future Heroine a chant-a-thon as anthemic as it is empowering. Vandal herself wielding a sharp, no-fucks-given attitude, it’s without a doubt we’ll see her only growing fiercer and more fervent on future offerings … If that’s even possible. // Matt Doria

2. Ocean Grove — The Rhapsody Tapes

Don’t say we didn’t warn you with that early glowing 10: Ocean Grove are on track for world domination. From triple j feature record, to their multiple jaunts overseas and triumphant hometown back-to-back playthrough (add a support slot for Architects in there why don’t you?), The Rhapsody Tapes have shot OG to beloved stardom. Although From Dalight and Slow Soap Soak can be hit with a skip this late in the game, it’s still a record to throw on front to back at any moment. The double up of When You’re This High and Mr Centipede show a band well beyond their years, with the dual vocals of Luke Holmes and Dale Tanner ever-improving. Sorry, the beginning of Thunderdome? Best try to listen to that at home because you won’t be able to hear ‘em when they drop it live over the drunken screams. This time last year they’d built buzz, but 2017 was the year that Ocean Grove became our most promising export. Stay weird boys and the stratosphere’s the limit. // Jonty Simmons

1. The Smith Street Band — More Scared of You Than You Are of Me

The Smith Street Band are re-appropriating the narrative of the Australian battler, screaming wholeheartedly to an audience of bleeding heart faithfuls. MSOYTYAOM ebbs and flows in dips of melancholic despair and picks itself up with a fervour, championed by Wil Wagner’s biting surreal anecdotal lyrics that detail every harsh reality of heartbreak and growing up. Pub rock tinged ripping lead lines and urgent drumming cornerstone every hook that so blatantly details the crippling stigmas of mental illness, loss of hope and loneliness. No other album this year has struck quite a chord emotionally and we’d be justified in saying this has attained instant classic status among Aussie punk fans. The Smithies are for friendship, finding yourself and for loving without bounds—in years to come, the lyrics to Shine will be tattooed across the shins and forearms of those who cherish this biblical telling of feeling without fear of judgement and never giving up. // Bianca Davino

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