There are the bands you expect to see like Foo Fighters, Papa Roach, Marilyn Manson, Stone Sour, Seether, Queens of the Stone Age and In This Moment, who have been dominating radio over the last few years and continue to do so with fresh, stellar new offerings that continue to raise the bar and push them to new heights.
But there's also a batch of newer bands that are knocking down the door and demanding their seat at the table like Nothing More, Royal Blood and Starset, as all three acts took major strides with their sophomore sets. And let's not forget some breakout bands like Ded, My Ticket Home and Royal Thunder who made us all stand up and take notice in 2017.
The year also gave us a chance to welcome back some older familiar favorites. Quicksand and At the Drive Indecided to release new music after finding their reunions successful and Living Colour, Fireball Ministry and Frenzal Rhomb all made their returns after lengthy layoffs between albums.
So head below as we revisit the year that was and count down the 25 Best Hard Rock Albums of 2017.
25. Fozzy, 'Judas'
The evolution of Fozzy continued in 2017 with the release of 'Judas,' arguably the band's best release to date. The incredibly catchy title track became the band's first Top 5 hit, laying the groundwork for more success to follow. The rousing guitar anthem "Drinkin' With Jesus" has earned some spins, while the semi-ballad "Painless" provides one of the band's most accessible offerings. Later album gems "Running With the Bulls" and the riff-heavy "Capsized" also could be candidates for radio attention as Fozzy continue to roll out music in 2018.
24. Rex Brown, 'Smoke on This'
After toiling in several post-Pantera projects, Rex Brown stepped up to the mic (and guitar) and delivered a stellar solo debut. While ‘Smoke on This’ may not be reminiscent of Pantera, the musician does cop the attitude of that band while delivering a bluesy, rock-leaning gem. Highlights include the Zeppelin-esque “Crossing Lines,” the sludgy “Buried Alive” and the more psychedelic “Get Yourself Alright.” Brown’s ‘Smoke on This’ feels just as at home on a gin joint jukebox as it would ripping through your headphones.
DOVE & GRENADE / BMG
23. Hollywood Undead, 'Five'
With Hollywood Undead’s fifth album, aptly titled ‘Five,’ the band took control of their career and expanded their horizons with a disc that shows off the range of what the group can do in a variety of styles. The infectious rocker “California Dreaming” covers well known territory for the band, but they sprinkle in some heavier sounds with “Renegade,” provide a lift with the anthemic “Whatever It Takes,” pump out radio-ready rock with “We Own the Night” and dip their toes into a more commercial sound with the outstanding “Nobody’s Watching.” Hollywood Undead sound like a band rejuvenated and ready to kick off their second decade with some of their best work to date.
22. Ded, 'Mis-An-Thrope'
It is not 2000 again, but Arizona-rockers Ded revived a bit of that nu-metal feel that dominated the turn of the century in rock circles. The four-piece of Joe Cotela, David Ludlow, Matt Reinhard and Kyle Koelsch turned heads with their stellar Suretone debut ‘Mis*an*thrope,’ which got an early boost thanks to the aggressive late 2016 single “FMFY.” Things really took off for the band with their fist-to-the-sky ode to individuality, “Anti-Everything.” Elsewhere, Cotela bares his soul a bit with “Remember the Enemy,” a self-reflection about his battles with anxiety and depression. As Cotela states, the band aimed to write an album that delivered “heavy, violent, diverse, aggressive, catchy, groovy, universal, thought provoking, challenging, visceral music,” and for their debut you can check all of those boxes.
21. Living Colour, 'Shade'
Living Colour does the blues? Well, not completely, but their ‘Shade’ album does take the veteran rockers in a new direction inspired by the blues that still keeps their heavier stamp on things. An appearance at a Robert Johnson tribute show got the ball rolling on the new direction, and it’s fitting that the disc include a solid cover of Johnson’s “Preachin’ Blues.” The band’s social filter is as sharp as ever, with the searing opener “Freedom of Expression,” the outstanding and somewhat reminiscent “Program” and a fresh spin on Notorious B.I.G.’s rendition of “Who Shot Ya?" all packing a punch. The swagger-filled “Two Sides” also stands among the album highlights. ‘Shade’ had one of the longest gestation periods of any Living Colour album, but it was completely worth the wait.
20. Fireball Ministry, 'Remember the Story'
Welcome back Fireball Ministry, you’ve been missed! The four-piece now includes bassist extraordinaire Scott Reeder, whose presence is felt in the fuzzed out fury and low end crushing pulse of Fireball Ministry’s ‘Remember the Story’ album. Feeling like a ‘70s black light poster come to life, Fireball Ministry sizzle with the road-trip ready single “The Answer,” while cuts like the Foghat-leaning “Back on Earth,” the title track, the Reeder carryover “Weaver’s Dawn” and the slow-grooving “Everything You Wanted” form the base of a very welcome return for the band.