Top 25 Albums of the Year

Top 25 Albums of the Year

By Penny Bennett

Dec 18, 2017 9:04

It’s the most wonderful time of the year; a time for joy, cheer and tradition. And in-keeping with tradition, it's time for us to close out another year by celebrating our finest musical moments of the past twelve months.

It’s been a transformational year for our entertainment industry, with many of our trusted, respected figures trending for all the wrong, unforgivable reasons. These events have cast dark shadows in parts of our cherished music scene, however they’ve been outshone by another year of unprecedented creativity, quality and excitement from some of our favourite acts, new and old.

If 2017 has taught us anything, it’s that society refuses to tolerate the dark behaviours of the past, and as we all work together to create a safe, inclusive and supportive scene for the future, these bands are our soundtrack to an exciting, bright, and loud, music scene of tomorrow.

The entire team at Punktastic have cast their votes and this Top 25 list represents our most treasured records of the past twelve months. We hope you enjoy what we’ve put together and look forward to sharing more exciting new music with you in 2018. This is Punktastic’s Top 25 albums of 2017:

25. Cloakroom – ‘Time Well’

In contrast to their debut full length, 2015’s ‘Further Out’, Cloakroom blossom their sound to its rich potential on this second album. The first two songs, ‘Gone But Not Entirely’ and ‘Big World’, testify to this as they strike a balance between tender tones and expansively intense distortions. Such music drags you under the current of this irresistible flow that the trio have crafted, taking you to the very depths of their thought processes. Whilst the quiet to loud dynamics continue in the likes of ‘Seedless Star’ and ‘Concrete Gallery’, ‘Time Well”s most profound moments come in from the second half. The title track, ‘The Sun Won’t Let Us Go’ and ’52hz Whale’ exhibit a mesmerising array in-debt to the ethereal reflective qualities that slowcore and shoegaze offer. Cloakroom transport you to these planes with a gracious and attentive hand thus allowing you, the listener, to relish in their marvels. [Aaron Lohan]

Read our live review of Cloakroom’s support slot with Russian Circles

24. Rise Against – ‘Wolves’

Chicago Hardcore punks Rise Against returned in 2017 with what is undoubtedly their best album in years with ‘Wolves’. After taking some time out to centre themselves the guys unleashed a record which not only revisits the sounds of previous albums such as ‘The Sufferer & the Witness’ but also delivers some incredibly strong political messages in a way only Rise Against can bring to the table. Full of melodic choruses and stomping riffs it signals a resurgence for the band and reaffirms just why they are so loved within the punk scene. [Chris Lee]

Read our full review of ‘Wolves’

Read our interview with Rise Against from earlier this year

Read our live review of Rise Against’s intimate show at The Garage

23. Amenra – ‘Mass VI’

Amenra’s ‘Mass VI’ is a mind blowing release and could sit at the top of every alternative ‘best of’ list based on pure musicality alone. Sounding like the last wails of a dying banshee, the insanely mesmeric sludge is every bit as nerve shredding as it is faultlessly beautiful. None shows this conjoined dichotomy better than ‘Children of the Eye’ where the delicately interwoven crescendo of guitar work is replaced by the guttural screams of van Eeckhout before the pace slows perfectly enhancing Amenra’s musical flexibility. ‘Mass VI’ is the perfect post-metal album, deserving nothing less than pure devotion. [Dave Bull]

22. Slowdive – ‘Slowdive’

Enough time has passed since 1995’s ‘Pygmalion’ to rid any real anticipation for a new Slowdive album. That said, when the band announced they’d be getting back in the studio again after 12 years it was hard not to get just a little excited. The eponymous effort that followed didn’t disappoint. Each song is a majestic dreamscape, with so much depth in sound it allows you to sink further into each drowning melody with every listen. Not just a blazing return to form for the seminal shoegaze band, but an album that paves the way for them to tread brand new ground. Songs are patient and spacious, with gleaming guitar and vocal melodies. It might be a completely different era, but Slowdive have proved they’re still capable of pushing the limits of what they can achieve with their unmistakable sound. [Sean Littlewood]

Read our live review of Slowdive in Glasgow from earlier this year

21. Sorority Noise – ‘You’re Not As ____ As You Think’

Sorority Noise’s latest effort was born from a tragic year that saw singer Cameron Boucher lose “a basketball team to heaven” after a number of his friends sadly died. From its opener ‘No Halo’, where Boucher brutally offers just how destructive the past year has been on his mental state, ‘You’re Not As _ As You Think’ doesn’t tread lightly around its subject matter. An emotional, powerful record that pulls all the best parts of modern emo and smashes them against each other until they resemble something entirely unique and exciting. With absolute honesty in its lyrics, and a tendency for the music to flash between moments of sedate subtlety and crushing, melodic energy, Sorority Noise’s third effort marks a high point for the band and one that will be hard to top, not just for the band but for the genre. [Sean Littlewood]

20. Wolves In The Throne Room – ‘Thrice Woven’

An absolutely triumphant follow up to their 2014 atmospheric album ‘Celestile’ saw the band return to their Black Metal roots. Recorded in the band’s own purpose built studio in Olympia, Washington by the Weaver brothers themselves, this record takes you through five songs of wonderfully crafted ambient black metal. Throughout, there is a sense of wandering through forests and up mountains crafted by thunderous riffs and drums along with prolonged breaks. Keys add to the mood, almost as if you reach the end of a cliff which can be felt in particular on the track ‘Born from The Serpent’s Eyes’. There is even a guest appearance from Steve Von Till of Neurosis fame on the track ‘The Old Ones Are With Us’. If you are a fan of more recent Black Metal/Blackgaze outfits such as Oathbreaker and Deafheaven you would be crazy to pass up giving this a spin. [Olly Hanks]

19. The Smith Street Band – ‘More Scared of You than You Are of Me’

On a cultural level, the stigma of mental health has slowly but surely started to erode away. However, there is quite a way to go until the vital universal acknowledgement of it breaks through. Until then, it is touching when you come across an act like The Smith Street Band who refuse to shy away from these issues, digging deeper into how it plays into the everyday of the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. On their fourth album, ‘More Scared of You Than You Are of Me’, the Aussie indie-punks are at the top of their game. They channel these aforementioned themes with an unbridled fire rising out of grand, heart-on-sleeve melodies, anthemic choruses and tender grit. Whether it’s the fist in the air outcry in ‘Death to the Lads’ and ‘Song for You’, the delicate honesty of ‘It Kills Me to Have to Be Alive’, or the ambitious scope in ‘Suffer’, there is a lot to be emotively encapsulated on this record. [Aaron Lohan]

Read our full review of ‘More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me’

Read our live review of The Smith Street Band in Glasgow

18. Propagandhi – ‘Victory Lap’

There wouldn’t be a more fitting year for a new Propagandhi album than 2017. The political punk rock godfathers return and raise their voices again with a full on assault without ever pulling punches on subjects including Donald Trump, police brutality and the rise of fascism. Front-man Chris Hannah’s powerful lyrics and articulate vocal delivery gel as perfectly as always with guitarist Sulynn Hago’s killer riffs that are probably the most technically astute in the whole punk rock game. [Louis Kerry]

Read our interview with Propagandhi from earlier this year

17. Pallbearer – ‘Heartless’


Just a few short years ago, it would be hard to imagine that the band who crafted the glorious, yet relatively impenetrable, doom opus ‘Sorrow And Extinction’ would be one of the heavy music world’s leading lights. Yet here we are in 2017; Pallbearer have become one of the most high-profile metal acts on the planet. This leap in status comes thanks to ‘Heartless’, one of the most majestic and enrapturing heavy albums released in recent memory. ‘Sorrow..’ was a slow-motion funeral procession, and though Pallbearer refined their sound on 2014’s ‘Foundations Of Burden’, on ‘Heartless’ they have mastered their art and crafted an album for the ages.  Though stylistically the band have not made any great leaps, the execution of their melodic, anthemic sound has been perfected, now injected with a more hook-laden approach that makes their compositions feel more like actual songs than aimless-albeit-enrapturing dirges. This is encompassed perfectly in the album’s final track, ‘A Plea For Understanding’. Though over twelve minutes long, the song grips you from the off with its delicate intro, before blossoming into what is easily the most beautiful passage of work Pallbearer have ever created. It caps off an emotional and heartbreaking record that sits among the most singularly arresting musical highlights of the year. [James Lee]

Read our full review of ‘Heartless’

Read our interview with Pallbearer from the beginning of the year

Read of live review of Pallbearer at The Underworld

16. Stray From The Path – ‘Only Death Is Real’

Following ‘Subliminal Criminals’ was never going to be easy, however Stray From The Path released an album full of fury, groove and fire straight from their bellies. Drew’s vocals and lyrical content are still fuelled with pissed off passion tackling the current state of society and the US establishment, with help from Keith Buckley (Every Time I Die), Bryan Garris (Knocked Loose) and Vinnie Paz (Jedi Mind Tricks). Accompanied by hardcore, unyeilding guitars reminiscent of Downset and Rage Against the Machine and a swag thundering through from the drums and bass, Stray From The Path are on a mission with a message and in today’s current climate, it is more important than ever. “Welcome to the melting pot, motherfucker, if you don’t like it, then get the fuck out.” [Olly Hanks]

15. Mutoid Man – ‘War Moans’

Every now and then, I discover a band at a show or a festival that completely stands out and instantly become interested in them. A band that stays on my radar even when they aren’t heavily promoted on social media but their music keeps me wanting more. For me that band is Mutoid Man. Their album, ‘War Moans’ came out earlier this year and it quickly became one of my favourite albums of 2017.  Filled with a blended mix of aggression and melody, it reminded me again of when I first saw them live, that the way the band are on stage is shown through their music. Sometimes consistency can be repetitive but within the context of ‘War Moans’, it works especially the way each track on the album flow in to each other. [Sarah Tsang]

Read our full review of ‘War Moans’

14. Paramore – ‘After Laughter’

Paramore don’t really need much of an introduction. After all, they’ve been a household name in alternative music for over a decade now, but nonetheless ‘After Laughter’ came as a massive curveball to anyone familiar with the band. Instead of continuing to peddle their distinctive brand of polished pop-punk they’ve switched things up completely and made a straight pop record taking influence from the likes of Blondie and Talking Heads. It’s testament to Paramore as musicians and songwriters that they can change their sound so much and pull it off to this degree. Opening track and lead single ‘Hard Times’ is effortlessly infectious and to be honest so is every other track on the album. Some of it comes from a bit of a dark place lyrically, ‘Fake Happy’ in particular, but even then it retains its sense of fun. It wouldn’t be a massive stretch to say that ‘After Laughter’ is Paramore’s most accomplished work. It’s spirited, memorable, introspective, nuanced and just so different to what all their peers are doing right now. ‘After Laughter’ is proof that taking big creative risks can seriously pay off. [Liam Knowles]

Read our full review of ‘After Laughter’

Read our live review of Paramore’s show in Edinburgh

13. At The Drive In – ‘In.ter.a.lia’

As their first new album in 17 years, post-hardcore legends At The Drive-In had a lot to prove. Whether it’s Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s perfect vocal delivery on ‘Continuum’ or guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López continuing to challenge genre conventions with his signature, weird and distorted style, the band smashed their comeback. Swaying from chaotic bursts of punk rock tinged post-hardcore full of angular riffs to a more progressive and melodic approach, At The Drive-In have returned with more modern edge on a sound that they made so popular over 20 years ago.  [Louis Kerry]

Read our full review of ‘In•Ter•A•Li•A’

12. All Pigs Must Die – ‘Hostage Animal’

Pure musical venom. That’s what All Pigs Must Die have created on their third full-length album ‘Hostage Animal’. It’s a record that positively boils over with anger from its first devastating seconds to the last, and as such provides one of the most exhilarating experiences that hardcore had to offer in 2017. The quality of APMD’s output is easy to anticipate at this point, not just because of the high bench mark set by their previous two albums, but because of the stupidly high pedigree of the band’s members. Consisting of current and former members of Converge, Trap Them, The Hope Conspiracy and Bloodhorse, it would be barmy to expect anything less than a masterclass in pulverising hardcore from the band, and yet somehow ‘Hostage Animal’ still manages to go above and beyond to create a savage, audio battering. From the blasting annihilation of the opening title track to the seething ‘Slave Morality’, the grinding fury of ‘Moral Purge’ to the flailing death punk of ‘The Whip’, this album is suffocating and relentless, in the best possible way. Though APMD will likely never be a full-time band – ‘Hostage Animal’ is far more than the work of a ‘side-project’, and reaches for the lofty heights set by the most celebrated work of its members’ ‘main’ bands. [James Lee]

Read our full review of ‘Hostage Animal’

11. Chelsea Wolfe – ‘Hiss Spun’

For her fifth album, ‘Hiss Spun’, Chelsea Wolfe has delved deeper into both her past and present. Through ’16 Psyche’ and ‘Spun’, Wolfe picks apart health issue such as insomnia and anxiety, searching for some calm and catharsis. Whereas on ‘The Culling’, Wolfe declares “I’ll never tell the secrets of my family,” eluding to a dark history within her family that she had avoided on her previous releases. Musically, it is some of Chelsea Wolfe’s more towering work since the heaviest moments of her 2011 album, ‘Apokalypsis.’ The production from Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou gives a thick tone to every instrument. Ben Chisholm’s ominous keys weave through the layered wall of guitars, with Wolfe’s vocals pushed to the most haunting limit, even sounding aggressive at times. Overall, ‘Hiss Spun’ reveals yet another part of Chelsea Wolfe we hadn’t seen. It is oppressive and arresting, while every nuance is given enough breathing space to draw you into what could be the most emotionally jarring album of her career. [Glen Bushell]

Read our live review of Chelsea Wolfe in Brighton from earlier in the year

10. The Menzingers – ‘After the Party’

Building on their strong cocktail of power pop, heartland rock, and folk punk, ‘After The Party’ sees The Menzingers create a sense of captivating storytelling with their fifth album. Whether it’s Greg Barnett reminiscing about past relationships and turning 30, or Tom May exemplifying how being in a band can detach you from the world outside. The end result is an epic emo narrative that does far more than simply rehash the cliches of being washed-up punks attempting to cling on to teenage angst. [Ashwin Bhandari]

Read our full review of ‘After The Party’

Read our live review of The Menzingers in Manchester from earlier in the year


9. The Bronx – ‘V’

Three years after their last entry, LA punks The Bronx let loose on their fifth studio album providing a record that smashes through track after track at an incredible pace and encapsulates everything The Bronx deliver with their live performances. From start to finish it’s upfront, in your face and exceptional, and can only really be described as The Bronx doing exactly what they do best. Few bands have maintained a level of excellence over the years that these guys have and this is no different, ‘V’ is fully deserving of its place on any Album of the Year list. Long live The Bronx. [Chris Lee]

Read our full review of ‘V’

Read our interview with The Bronx about ‘V’

8. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – ‘Modern Ruin’

It’s very easy to yearn for the no-holds-back aggression that Gallows brought us a few years back but with The Rattlesnakes, Frank Carter is heading to places, stages and venues that Gallows would have struggled to reach. ‘Modern Ruin’ is the embodiment of Carter’s most creative angles and is the stepping stone that will be seen in years to come as the masterstroke in his discography. ‘Modern Ruin’ is just the beginning of this project and those arenas will soon start opening their doors, with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes topping the bill, just you wait. Roll on album three. [Will Scott]

Read our full review of ‘Modern Ruin’

Read our live review of Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes biggest London show to date

7. Power Trip – ‘Nightmare Logic’

Powertrip encapsulate the revival of thrash, that is aptly being called retro-thrash. It harks back to the ’80s where bands like Anthrax, Exodus and Metallica’s raw visceral playing tore out the throats, the hearts and the minds of the disenchanted. Is there a better time than now for a revival? We think not. ‘Nightmare Logic’ inspires catatonic head banging and not only reinvigorates a sound thought left to the archives, but drenched it in a modern metal sheen that will get any fan of metal more generally up on their feet. ‘Executioners Tax (Swing Of the Axe)’ is just the song to reignite that smouldering love for thrash. Stand up and claim it. Take it to your Christmas party, play it to your nan – because this is one power trip that deserves to be saluted in 2017. [Dave Bull]

Read our review of ‘Nightmare Logic’

Read our interview with Power Trip from earlier in the year

6. While She Sleeps – ‘You Are We’

Choosing to go completely independent with their third album was an immense risk, but one that quite clearly paid off. The power behind ‘You Are We’ gives a feeling of a come back…that wasn’t even needed. While She Sleeps have always been a band that never fail to connect with their fans and they stayed trued to form by keeping them involved every step of the way. The reward is an astounding album that everyone involved should be immensely proud of. Hats off to you boys and keep up the good work. [Penny Bennett]

Read our full review of ‘You Are We’

Read our review of While She Sleeps intimate show’s at The Dome

5. Creeper – ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’

‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ is the triumphant sound of a band releasing the potential they’ve been teasing us with for a long time. Since Creeper’s debut EP was released a mere three years ago it’s been clear they were on to something special, and it’s almost impossible to think of the last time a band appeared on the scene already so fully formed in terms of sound, image and direction. This album is everything the band’s cult-like following could have ever wanted. From the blistering hardcore punk of ‘Poison Pens’ to the country ballad ‘Crickets’ and everything in between, ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ is a multi-faceted masterpiece that cements Creeper as one of the most exciting bands in the UK right now. What really sets them apart from their pop-punk contemporaries is their sense of grandeur; the theatrical element that makes the likes of ‘Down Below’ hit so hard. In any other universe describing a band as ‘early AFI meets My Chemical Romance via Meat Loaf’ would sound like a horrible mess but Creeper make it work and then some. [Liam Knowles]

Read our full review of ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’

Read our live review of Creepers recent Manchester show

4. Glassjaw – ‘Material Control’

After 15 years of nothing but the the odd teaser and EP, it could have been quite easy for Glassjaw to jump on a bandwagon or trend and completely change their sound…THANKFULLY, they didn’t. While there are some new influences, ‘Material Control’ feels like a natural progression from ‘Worship and Tribute’ that has been welcomed with open arms by those who have waited what feels like an age. [Penny Bennett]

3. Code Orange – ‘Forever’

Code Orange are arguably 2017’s biggest success story. ‘Forever’ was released in January 2017 and was immediately lauded as album of the year by many despite its early appearance. Whilst ‘Forever’ does feature more melodic moments than any of the band’s previous material, the cleanly sung ‘Bleeding In The Blur’ being a particular surprise, no one could accuse Code Orange of going soft for mainstream success. The breakdown at the end of the title track is one of the heaviest moments ever committed to record, and the ending of ‘The Mud’ will make you want to pick up a bus and hurl it into a crowd of people. And yet, despite this relentless aggression and a reputation for having one of the most violent live shows around, the unapologetically angry Code Orange appear to be destined for mainstream success regardless. They’re regularly featured on prime-time wrestling shows, are touring with some of the biggest metal bands in the world, but most impressively of all they’ve been nominated for a Grammy. Their name was plastered all over billboards in Times Square, for fuck’s sake. ‘Forever’ is Code Orange cementing themselves in metal history, at a time when the old guard are past their best and new blood has a chance to achieve enormous things. Out with the old, in with the new, with Code Orange leading the charge. What a time to be alive. [Liam Knowles]

Read our full review of ‘Forever’

Read our interview with Code Orange from earlier in the year

Read our live review of Code Orange’s insane show in Brighton

2. Converge – ‘The Dusk In Us’

That ‘The Dusk In Us’, Converge’s first full studio album in five years, is terrific is barely even a surprise. Converge’s back catalogue is one of the most consistent in all of heavy music, and counts among its ranks more than one unarguable genre classic. The surprise comes instead in why the album is terrific. ‘The Dusk In Us’ may be the most dynamic record Converge have ever constructed, which is a bold statement considering the band in question. Opener ‘A Single Tear’ is anthemic in a way that the band have rarely been before, its chest-pounding chorus managing to achieve both sonic and emotional catharsis as Jacob Bannon’s usually tortured howls give way to a clear and open ode to his newfound fatherhood. It’s on the album’s title track and penultimate number ‘Thousands Of Miles Between Us’ that the album really sets itself apart from the band’s previous work – though Converge have flirted with slower material in the past, these two songs feel like the final, refined version of that side of the band, and both almost entirely eschew screamed vocals in favour of the husky croon that Bannon perfected in his Wear Your Wounds project. They help to define an album that, like almost every record Converge have released since ‘Jane Doe’, could reasonably be argued to be the band’s greatest, and for a band over 25 years into their career, that’s a pretty impressive feat indeed. [James Lee]

Read our full review of “The Dusk In Us’

1. Employed To Serve – ‘The Warmth Of A Dying Sun’

In a year that saw so many great releases that were worthy of being our album of the year, Employed To Serve’s gargantuan second album, ‘The Warmth of a Dying Sun’ is the most deserving. 2017 was the year that the band cemented themselves as a dominant force within modern British metal in a way that we haven’t seen in some time, expanding on their own sound to create a stunning piece of work.

While still a masterclass in aggressive songwriting, Employed To Serve took a less technical sounding approach, giving ‘The Warmth of a Dying Sun’ a more direct and urgent feel. The focus was shifted to thick, low-end dissonance with a chest-collapsing drum sound and monolithic guitar riffs. Right from the opener, ‘Void Ambition’, you can hear the direction of the album, and it is taken to yet another level of ferocity during the muscular ‘I Spend My Days (Wishing Them Away)’. It’s different to anything the band attempted before. But with Justine Jones’ distinct, gritty vocal delivery and guitarist Sammy Urwin’s penchant for hook-driven passages, it retains the familiarity of the bands previous output.

“We are definitely a lot more focused now that we are older,” said Jones in an interview we did with Employed to Serve before the release of ‘The Warmth of a Dying Sun’. “We are more interested in being tight live, and pushing ourselves much harder. We have tried to develop our playing and practised different techniques, musically and vocally.”

Whatever techniques Employed to Served put into practice, it has paid dividends. It’s been a pleasure to see one of the brightest, forward thinking bands in the UK progress to this level so early in their career. ‘The Warmth of Dying Sun’ is an important chapter in their history, and will surely be the start of their ascension to even greater things. [Glen Bushell]

Read our full review of ‘The Warmth of a Dying Sun’

Read our interview with Employed To Serve from earlier in the year

Read our live review of Employed To Serve’s recent show in Basingstoke