Music is a story. It captures a point in time where the artist's mind was in that space. True art can never be perfectly replicated, but it can be remembered with every listen. From heavy minds to memories of home, the music of 2017 captured a wide array of ideas, and the best of those albums really left lasting impacts. Music didn't do much to affect society, but the best of 2017 had us thinking about ourselves. Our minds, our interactions, and our memories. It may have not changed the world, but the music of 2017 changed us, and that's where it really matters.
Without further adieu, this is Immortal Reviews' Top 50 Albums of 2017. We wrote over 340 reviews this year, and whittled it down to this list. Click the links to check out our full reviews of each album.
There's an ethereal darkness to Kacy Hill's Like A Woman. With a sweet, ghastly voice and minimalist but atmospheric, if not cavernous instrumentals to back her, Kacy Hill builds enchanting sounds in her debut. Her brooding anger in the quiet 'Lion' helps lead the album into an empowering call to arms as it ends with the powerful 'I Am,' but not before letting herself be vulnerable in the title track that opens the record. It's a powerful inside look on the nature and power of a woman, and a reminder that it should not be taken lightly.
49. Hurts - Desire
Combine bittersweet memories and optimism for the future of love, and you have the idea of Desire. Behind heartwrenching melodies, Hurts build an array of odes to everything about love, from pain to bliss. Feel the sweetness of 'Wherever You Go' or the tragedy of 'Hold On To Me;' every song has its own tale that clings to a memory. It's the perfect breakup album, yet also the perfect album for a couple. It's everything you need for love.
Spoon is as diverse as they are smart, and Hot Thoughts makes it very apparent. From the funk rock 'Do I Have To Take You Into It' to the huge introduction 'Hot Thoughts' with its roaring vocals and epic instrumentation, Spoon don't leave any stones unturned as they challenge themselves and their listener to a very involved ad particular album.
The Chainsmokers are notoriously the most overplayed band out there, but their debut album shows that they aren't overplayed without reason. They have a strong grasp on how to make the catchiest hooks and really capture every aspect of millennial love there is. Whether it be the anecdotal 'Paris' or the anthemic, orchestrated 'Young,' The Chainsmokers are more than just the electronic duo that make the songs your girlfriend listens to; they are the essence of a generation.
Angsty at heart but restrained on the outside, Tigers Jaw has a mission statement in Spin. It's a very sweet listen, the darker messages hidden underneath the beautiful melodies and great alternative sound. Tracks like 'Spin' have that strong, pained words behind them, while the duets in tracks like 'Follows' are anthemic and amplify some more personal thoughts. Spin is a very internal record, and it hits hard where it strikes.
The queen of industrial returned in 2017, and with a vengeance. Chelsea Wolfe's Hiss Spun is a rockier record than she's released before, yet her darkness is only amplified. The crunchy guitars on songs like '16 Psyche' add a new viciousness to her sound, while the added schizophrenic sounds of a million voices in 'Scrape' bring the album to a paranoid close. No one understands insanity quite like Wolfe, and no one dares try.
44. Björk - Utopia
In weirdness, Björk finds clarity. The frantic nature of Utopia builds exactly that; a perfect fairytale world free of any problems. However, that's only where Utopia tries to transport you. Björk eerily sings of her love woes throughout the record, referencing her legal battle with her ex-husband in 'Sue Me' and the aftermath of that pain in 'Losss.' As pretty as the world Utopia builds is, it goes to show that even in perfection, pain and anger can reside.
Leave it to All Time Low to really capture what it means to be free. The art of being a punk is really dying out, but Last Young Renegade seeks to inspire that free feeling again. From the sweetness and risky nature of 'Drugs & Candy' to the reminiscent 'Good Times,' All Time Low channel the sound of feeling unstoppable, an idea we feel growing up but eventually lose sight of. It takes you back to a simpler time, and brings the good memories along, too.
These names all working together can only be destined for greatness. Planetarium sees some of music's most introverted yet spectacular minds take you on a trip through space in the concept album Planetarium. The echoing, mechanic nature of Sufjan Stevens' voice in 'Jupiter' to the innocence and curiosity of 'Mercury' transports you to new worlds, familiar yet unexplored and untapped by humanity. It's as much of a journey as it is a commentary on the places humanity has left to leave it's mark on, and whether that is for better or for worse is left for you to answer.
You Me At Six are the kings of alternative rock anthems, and Night People only make it more evident. By returning to a darker, angrier sound, You Me At Six build a more aggressive yet still sparkling sound that spawns such awesome sounds like 'Heavy Soul' and 'Take On The World.' As any YMAS album, it's optimistic yet just confident enough to make it seem as if impossibility does not exist. It's the soundtrack for believing in yourself.
Not many can make a single, forty-minute track of various noises sound so powerful, but Brian Eno is a magical man. Reflection consists of a single track of forty minutes, very minimalist on the surface, though that's not where the true spectacle lies. Sitting down with Reflection and truly immersing yourself in the song takes you on an exploration of your own mind, venturing through the dark places and the light. There's no one way to interpret this song and no one way to experience it, but it's powerful and brilliant all the same.
Pop is becoming more and more saturated, yet there are some voices that still bring hope to the genre. One such voice is Bebe Rexha, who really brought the best of pop music and pop culture in All Your Fault, Pt. 2. Pt. 1 was a solid enough album, but Rexha really made her mark with this second EP, which even managed to make good of trap, which is even more saturated. It's smart, catchy, and memorable all at once - it hits every nail on the head.
Stripping down some of their more energetic takes from their eclectic What Now, Sylvan Esso reveal the true nature of some of their songs, including the endearing, longing 'Slack Jaw' and the brighter 'Rewind.' There's no escaping the trip down memory lane that the Echo Mountain Sessions versions of these songs provide. The new focus on the stories of the songs shifts their forward looking original iterations and takes a step back to reflect on the past moments that built them in the first place, hauntingly at times, but not without a certain warmth to back it.
37. Son Lux - Remedy
Son Lux is the master of making darkness sound sensual, and Remedy is no different. The jagged edges of 'Part Of This' and the haunting, abyssal sound of opening track 'Dangerous' makes you feel like you're being swallowed whole, but at the same time feeling an odd sense of euphoria at the same time. It's achieved such a perfect blend that it feels so very wrong and so very right at the same time, all in the right ways.
Lorde has had a quiet couple of years, but made her big comeback this year with an important sophomore release. As daunting as the follow-up may feel, it was evident from lead single 'Green Light' that she has knocked it out of the park. The single alone has a dark, moody start that leads into an anthemic pre-chorus with a new-found sense of maturity. Melodrama is the result of experiencing life after fame, from the grit of a party night to the aftermath of heartbreak. There isn't a moment where Lorde falters, no matter how personal she gets, and that's all what makes Melodrama so powerful.
David Bowie's loss last year was a blow for art, but his legacy is here to stay. No Plan features outtakes and extras from last year's Blackstar, No Plan exemplifies that Bowie's brilliance was going strong until his very last breaths. The dynamic of the rocker 'Killing A Little Time' and the juxtaposition with closing track 'When I Met You' shows that Bowie had a long and plentiful career where he was not afraid of embracing change and trying something new. That's where his brilliance lied, and where it'll always shine.
Setting out into the world for the first time is a scary concept, one that Frances tackles head on in Things I've Never Said. It's incredibly intimate, Frances truly wearing her heart on her sleeve as she sings of her insecurities atop minimalist pop instrumentals. It has something everyone can relate to, as what she sings about are intrinsic parts of being human. It's a capturing of the most bracing moments of growing up and being who we are; that's where it finds its staying power.
The Foo Fighters have always had an element of surprise to them, yet they truly exercise it all in Concrete and Gold. With producer Greg Kurstin at the helm, Concrete & Gold is the Foos' loudest and dynamic album yet, from the massive, crushing riffs of 'Run' to the alternative, melodic, and anthemic 'The Line,' it's a loud and epic new sound for the Foo Fighters, and they've never sounded better.
Sorority Noise is traditionally not considered the band to make heartbreakingly real tracks, but they definitely vie for that title in You're Not As _____ As You Think. From the optimistic yet tragic 'No Halo' to the soulful farewell of 'First Letter To St. Sean,' Sorority Noise find themselves battling their own minds and learning how to let go of the past, whether it means saying goodbye to a loved one or forgetting the memories that formed their minds in the first place. It's hard to swallow for yourself, yet perhaps this record will help you find comfort in that uncertainty.
Looking inwardly is often the key to some of music's best songs, and that's what Ryan Adams does throughout Prisoner. Wonderfully minimal and with just the right amount of lethargy, Prisoner dives into Adams' insecurities about love, life, and even fear itself. There's no wasted words on the record, every moment being plotted out just as is necessary. With the style of a rockstar but a reserved nature (most clearly seen in 'Do You Still Love Me?'), Adams shows both his character and his worries in his music.
Perhaps poetically, Death From Above finally dropped the "1979" from their name and released a very charged up album in Outrage! Is Now. Epic riffs and their signature disco groove are still present in songs like 'NVR 4EVR,' and the band achieved their first commercial success with 'Freeze Me,' but don't be distracted from the anger of the record. It's a call to arms to rise up against the norm and to truly own who you are, not being afraid of change and rather, embracing it.
29. Dillon - Kind
It takes a minute for the brilliance of Kind to sink in, but once it does, it opens a whole new world. The almost crooked sound of Dillon's innocent voice makes this album's growing industrial nature all the more powerful, as when it climaxes with the epic and thrilling '2. Kind,' you feel like there's something hiding behind the metallic synths that you can't quite fathom. It's haunting and it's brilliant, not afraid to make prolific statements but still reserved all the same.
Brockhampton is one of hip-hop's last hopes. The self-proclaimed boy-band of the genre, this collective of producers and rappers are capable of incredible things, which includes creating three incredible albums in under a year. The second of these records, Saturation II, define the group's capabilities. From edgier, faster paced tracks like 'Queer' to the glorious ending in 'Summer,' Brockhampton can do everything and anything they want, even if it goes against the norms of the genre. There aren't many who are so gracefully fearless of being different than these guys.
Royal Blood didn't hit a sophomore slump; in fact, How Did We Get So Dark blew all expectations out of the park. The duo returned powerfully, loud bass guitars and thrilling drums ready, this year with one of rock's most epic records from 2017. The raucous sound of the epic 'Lights Out' shows that they haven't lost sight of who they are, but experimentation comes in the form of some added electronics in songs like 'Hole In Your Heart,' evidence enough that Royal Blood, too, are not afraid of change. They still ahve the riffs and style, and that'll keep them going a long way.
Amongst rap's newcomers was XXXTentacion, a boy with a dark past and a present struggle. The conversation of mental health has never been more open than it has this year, and XXX's 17 delved straight into a personal account of it. Not abiding by any of the norms of hip-hop, XXXTentacion employs acoustic instrumentation and tells stories in his songs, showing the darkness behind depression and what it can do. It's an important addition to the conversation of mental health, and for a genre that is increasingly ignoring such social issues, it's important to see that there are still those speaking out against it.
We do not endorse XXXTentacion's actions, we are only looking at the message behind the music.
The ambience of a country plays a big role in its music. New Zealand is a land of mystery, almost like another world. Nadia Reid's Preservation is a magically minimalist album, capturing with pristine imagery the same curiosity that surrounds her home country. With incredible reflection and lyrics, songs like 'Te Aro' bring the album to life with eerily slow movements and ghastly vocals. Preservation captures the essence of her home, and that sense of nature truly shines powerfully.
There is a lot of sensuality to be found in darkness, and that's exactly what Zola Blood explores throughout Infinite Games. From the glitchy, polygonal synths of opening track 'Infinite Games' to the smooth, haunting yet beautiful wails of 'The Only Thing,' Infinite Games is an enchanting record that will capture your attention in every way. It's the sound of an out-of-body experience, and you'll certainly be spiraling out while listening to it and getting lost in those amazing melodies and atmosphere.
Amongst the young new prospects in music, Declan McKenna is one of the most promising. With indie warmth and a brilliant sense of catchiness, What Do You Think About The Car? features some of the year's best pop secrets, such as the anthemic 'Brazil' and 'The Kids Don't Want To Go Home.' It's warm, fresh, and an optimistic view on a new generation of musicians - he's definitely an artist you'll want to keep you eyes on.
Nothing But Thieves' debut album was so iconic, they had already massed a strong underground following that really let them takeoff. There was a lot of pressure building on them with their follow-up, but Broken Machine hits it out of the park. The band embraces electronica with the loud, groovy, and aggressive 'Live Like Animals' while the wild atmosphere of 'I Was Just A Kid' sees the band channeling their initial sound in its rawest form. Everything you love about Nothing But Thieves makes a return in Broken Machines, with new elements to keep their style moving forward.
Evanescence's orchestral element has always been what separated them from the rest, and Synthesis dives fully into that. From reimaginings of classics like 'Lacrymosa' and 'Bring Me To Life' to the anthemic, confident new songs like 'Imperfection,' Evanescence return powerfully in full form and with new life breathed into them. Perhaps not the album you'd expect from them, yet it's exactly the album they needed to show the world that they are back and more ready than ever to keep going strong.
The indie sound is becoming more and more normalized, but the bright new prospects in the genre, like Meadowlark, promise its longevity a new breath of life. Infusing pop and electronica into the signature indie formula, Meadowlark explore fields and mountains, as well as space and everything else in between. The brilliance of the melodies and atmosphere of 'Paraffin' really captures you, while the warmth of tracks like 'Sunlight' and the somber reflections of 'Undercover' will keep you captivated and involved all the same.
Depeche Mode is no stranger to being the voice of revolution, and that remains true in Spirit. From the epic single 'Where's The Revolution' to the angry instrumental 'Poorman,' Depeche Mode promises that the only thing that will propel society forward again is to not let religion and politics cloud our own spirit. In the age of technology, the line between losing our own sense of being human is a real worry - let's heed by Spirit and take a minute to remember who we are.
Brockhampton isn't the only artist to make the list twice, but they've certainly earned their spot. The conclusion to the Saturation trilogy sees the band employ everything they've got and bring out some incredible production and lyrics. The warm atmosphere of closing track 'Team' and it's dark beat change is only one of the brilliant moments on the record, the diversity of it being another key point; the aggression of 'Sister/Nation' directly juxtaposes the chill song that transitions right out of it, 'Rental.' Brockhampton is undeniably brilliant and are the future of hip-hop; it's only a matter of time until the rest of the world catches on.
Coming off of their incredibly poppy A Head Full Of Dreams, Coldplay decided it was time to make a statement. The Kaleidoscope features some of the band's most thrilling and challenging material in years. The address the refugee crisis throughout Europe in 'A L I E N S,' one of the most atmospheric and beautiful songs of the year, while showing off their live prowess with a live recording of their collaboration with The Chainsmokers, 'Something Just Like This.' Coldplay aren't just phoning it in anymore; they have a real voice to keep their music powerful and memorably all the same.
Kendrick Lamar is the unquestioned and unchallenged king of hip-hop, and it's easy to understand why. He doesn't bother himself with petty beef (and when he does, he eviscerates anyone who tries to challenge him) and focuses on substance. 2015's To Pimp A Butterfly built his throne, and on DAMN. he sits comfortably on it. Scathing tracks like 'DNA.' and 'DUCKWORTH.' speak to his person and his past as he tells the story of his life and his family. Filled to the brim with unstoppable delivery and loaded with double-meanings, DAMN. is some of the strongest hip-hop released in the last decade and proves that no one can do it like Kendrick.
Mastodon is always as thrilling as they are intense, and that is shown time and time again in Emperor Of Sand. The band find themselves being crushingly anthemic in dark epics like 'Steambreather,' while at other times trying to crush and engulf you with the grandiose and wildly heavy riffs of 'Ancient Kingdom' and the urgency of 'Clandestiny.' It's dark, cathartic, and just plain heavy; it's the perfect blend for an anthemic metal record.
There are few things harder than losing a loved one. A Crow Looked At Me is Mount Eerie's mind after losing his wife to cancer. To call it heartbreaking is an understatement, as numbers like 'Swims' quietly look ahead at the emptiness of the future, quoting their daughter, who so painfully innocently asks her father about her mother: "Today our daughter asked me if mama swims / I told her, "Yes, she does. And that's probably all she does now." There's nothing to feel except empty when listening to this album, and it makes us love those we have little more.
There's a lot to be found in emptiness. Peter Silberman's Impermanence seeks out those emotions found in emptiness by creating it; you find more than just quietly upsetting sounds in the record. You find yourself and reflections of yourself in the music, whether you be at unnerving peace as the sun sets in paradise in 'Maya' or walking on a cold day in 'New York.' Impermanence creates a sense of just that: that time is fleeting. But in the moments we share listening to this album, it may feel like time is frozen while we come to that conclusion.
12. Soen - Lykaia
Thrilling. Carnivorous. Visceral. These are all qualities that describe Soen's Lykaia, a sonic unwinding of the darkest places of the human mind. With heavy riffs and giant vocals, Soen's mission is clear: to bring out the rawest forms of human emotion in their most basic forms. Lykaia is almost primitive by nature, but in this thrilling sense of primordial emotion, we connect with a side of ourselves we may not have even known existed.
Starset began their adventure into space with 2014's Transmissions, but in this year's Vessels, they found the battle. Vessels is the sound of spacial warfare, wrought by our own race. From the anthemic yet explosive 'Back To The Earth' with its grand and epic synths to the thrilling ending of 'Starlight,' Starset really bring their all and leave a lasting, powerful impact on whoever ventures into space with them in this epic journey.
Only Ed Sheeran can make an album specifically for radio play but still make an incredibly powerful one. Divide is nostalgic, modern, and thankful. Whether he be singing of love in tracks like 'Shape Of You' or 'Perfect,' or warmly remembering his childhood in 'Castle On The Hill,' Divide is an album that truly delves into his person. There's a certain humbleness on the record that makes you forget that he's a worldwide star, and on the beautiful farewell to his grandmother in 'Supermarket Flowers,' where he so warmly prays, "You were an angel in the shape of my mum / You got to see the person I have become / Spread your wings and I know / That when God took you back / He said, "Hallelujah, you're home," where his true character shines bright and clear.
Perfectionism is more or less an impossibility, but for Brand New's Jesse Lacey, every detail matters. Brand New's cryptic final album Science Fiction is masterfully built, each chord and note picked carefully and tenderly to achieve the right blend of crystalline perfection and emotional distraught. Epic, loud jams come in the form of '451,' and real emotion seethes through in the build of 'Same Logic/Teeth' and 'Could Never Happen.' It's rock at its most plotted out form, raw and visceral at its core. That's the only way Brand New can exist, and if this truly is their final stand, then they went out with power.
We do not endorse Jesse Lacey's actions, we're only looking at the power behind the music.
As each member of One Direction one by one take their own step into a solo career, it's evident that they're all taking vastly different paths. Harry Styles's self-titled album is as surprisingly different from what you'd expect as it is good. From the punchy, raucous 'Kiwi' to the love ballad 'Sweet Creature,' there's a very genuine tone to Styles' music as he channels his 80s heroes, such as The Rolling Stones and David Bowie. There's some truly fantastic and fun songs on Harry Styles, and never a dull moment as he continues to excel, track after track. Lead single 'Sign Of The Times' even finds time to make a true-hearted reflection on society and the times past. If there's anyone to watch out for, it's Harry Styles.
Linkin Park's One More Light Tour was undoubtedly one of their best in ages, and it was set to keep rolling strong before Chester Bennington's passing. One More Light Live captures the essence of the band's shows this summer perfectly, from the energetic and electrifying 'Talking To Myself' and 'Battle Symphony' to the haunting piano version of 'Crawling' and the heartbreaking 'One More Light.' Above all, One More Light Live captures the power of Chester Bennington's live voice, showing both his talent as a musician and the rawness of that voice that saved the millions of fans the band played to on the tour. Whether you're crying along to the memories of Chester or joining the chorus of the thousands of fans in each song, Linkin Park captured the real essence of their musicianship and the legacy they've created.
10 Years have always been the band defiing alternative rock but not breaking through, yet the best of them truly comes out in (how to live) AS GHOSTS. Wrought with intense riffs ('Ghosts') and haunting lyrics ('Lucky You'), 10 Years defines their sound and brings it to its strongest point in years. There's not a dull moment throughout the entire record, and you'll be jamming from start to finish.
No longer the same angst-ridden emo rock band from the mid-2000s, Paramore delves deep into themselves on After Laughter. Channeling the essence of The Cure, After Laughter tries to stay optimistic in the face of depression, and it's easy to miss out on the dark tones of the record's messaged underneath the sweet melodies and sweet electronica. From the knowing sorrow of 'Fake Happy' to the ode to the difficulties of life in 'Hard Times,' After Laughter promises one important message: it's okay to not be okay. Just dance your heart out and forget about everything for awhile, and for those brief moments you'll remember why we wake up every day.
Julien Baker is a tortured soul, and Turn Out The Lights reveals some of the reasons why. Heartbreaking stories are told about love and addiction throughout the record, from the haunting promises of 'Appointments' to the tale of fighting your own demons in 'Claws In Your Back,' Julien Baker wears more than just her heart on her sleeve. This beautifully tragic tale is an entire life of sorrow and pain put to sadly optimistic sounds.
Arcane Roots have the technical brilliance of Radiohead and the grandiose of Muse, and they take it a step further in Melancholia Hymns. Definitively one of the most wild, daring, and epic albums of 2017, Arcane Roots blaze confidently and powerfully ahead with each song. There's nothing more chaotic than the breakdown of 'Everything (All At Once)' and nothing quite as brooding as the slow, ominous build of 'Curtains.' Melancholia Hymns is chaos and integrity all at once; a brilliance that only Arcane Roots could bring together.
The darkness of PVRIS' music is one that can only truly be understood by those who felt it. Masked under beautiful electronic atmosphere and excellent melodies is the tragedy of All We Know Of Heaven, All we Need Of Hell. Having gone through a hard breakup myself around the time the album was released, the messages of songs like 'Heaven,' where Lynn Gunn painfully cries out "You took my heaven away" and the anthemic but heartbreaking 'What's Wrong' that challenges, "I don't need a metaphor for you to know I'm miserable" resonated through my mind. All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell is the reflections of a broken heart tired of its own regrets, and seeks to find freedom in releasing the memories once and for all. There is a power in this record that you may not initially understand, but in time, it will come.
Linkin Park has always been one of the most important bands in my life, and everyone has been affected by their music in some form. Losing Chester Bennington this year was a tragic loss not only for music, but for the world. The voice that had saved so many from themselves and gave people comfort in their pain had succumbed to his own, and that was tragically powerful. One More Light was Chester's final released music, and there was a lot of power hidden behind the poppier sound. Laced with brilliantly optimistic electronics and the signature Linkin Park brilliance, One More Light tackled depression on an incredibly personal scale. From dealing with loss in such a big world with 'One More Light' to leaving apologies to their kids in 'Invisible,' there isn't a moment on One More Light that isn't powerful in its execution. 'Sorry For Now' is a song that helped me some of the most painful moments I've ever experienced, and it's impossible to listen to the entire record without hurting for Chester. One More Light teaches us to remember that we're all a little broken on the inside, that not everything is okay. In the end, that's where the beauty of life is. Living through the bad experiences so that we know when we've found the good ones.
Listen to samples from all of our favorite albums on our official 2017 Albums Playlist!
And so, we close another chapter. With every end is a new beginning, however. Thank you for supporting us in 2017. We're not going anywhere, though, so we hope you're still join us for the ride. See you in 2018.