Here we are at the end of another year and goddamn what a year it was. Following a pretty tumultuous year in 2016 where my Mother sadly passed away and I was going through a whole lot of my own issues in life, which kept building up, I found myself going slightly emo again and cranking those heartfelt and deeply emotive songs with significant meanings, hence why my favourite songs were more on the soppy side last year… But with that said, a new year brings new challenges, new leases on life, new senses of pride and a new direction which is exactly what my focus was with Wall of Sound this year.
I launched my first podcast series Wall of Sound: Up Against The Wall back in June, expecting only a small amount of subscribers or listeners each week (shout out to Mark, Connors and Benji who have been there since day one) but at the time of writing this, over 7,360 streams have been recorded and it is only growing with every episode released. The feedback has all been positive too which has given me a new drive and motivation to make the idea bigger and better than expected. If you love the idea of it now, check back in again in the new year as I bring in a few elements which will also include YOU. More on that to come…
But can I finish up by saying a BIG thank you to the team behind the scenes here at Wall of Sound HQ. 3 years ago when I started this “hobby” I had no idea it would turn into the unstoppable force it is now and we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all the keen and talented contributors who chip in on a daily basis, our contacts and legends within the music industry who offer us the interviews, albums and music you come here to check out not to forget the bands/musicians who reach out for us to help anyway we can. The past few years have been about positioning ourselves as a credible and reliable heavy music publication, now that we’re playing with the big guys, it’s time to show you what we’re really made of, stay tuned for more in 2018… until then, here’s what I’ve got for my Wall of Sound 2017 Year In Review…
The Top 20 Albums of 2017
1. Trivium – The Sin and The Sentence
Up until this year I had never given an album a perfect 10/10 score, that was until I heard this absolutely mental masterpiece from Trivium. I recall taking three days to finish my review and on one of those afternoons I was having the worst day imaginable, I came home to finish the job and it actually made me feel better. Album of the Year. My review here.
2. Bare Bones – Bad Habits
“Yeah The Bones!” I came across these guys for the first time this year when their debut album Bad Habits arrived in my inbox and sat there for a week or so before I gave it a spin. Following this I became that creepy, preachy fanboy who had to tell anyone/everyone about them. Everything about this release was amazing and I spent a good solid 10 weeks listening to nothing else but it on repeat.
3. Polaris – The Mortal Coil
The hype surrounding not only this album, but the band in 2017 was massive. Everyone wanted a piece of them, they were supporting tours left right and centre (as well as their own) and when they released the first few songs from this album, I knew it was going to be a winner. It deserved to sit higher than it’s debut at #6 on the Aria Charts but I’m calling it now, they’ll win an ARIA for it next year.
4. Northlane – Mesmer
When it comes to “Surprise Albums” there’s only a few select musicians who can pull it off, one of which being Beyoncé, but now we can officially add Northane to the list after they dropped the shit out of Mesmer upon an unsuspecting army of followers, then proceeded to tour the world non-stop and make their way into the #2 spot of Australia’s Heavy Music Echelon; my opinion piece here. The boys rightfully deserved their ARIA Award and should celebrate all the way to Download Festival next year.
5. Enter Shikari – The Spark
You know how you hear one of your favourite band’s new songs for the first time and you just can’t stand it? Well that happened with Enter Shikari‘s track ‘Live Outside‘. I just couldn’t get into it upon the first two or three listens, but then something happened, I started nodding my head along to it and (from memory) ended up playing it no less than 50 times within the first 24 hours. One of the best earworms from one of the best albums of the year.
6. Stone Sour – Hydrograd
I didn’t really get into much of Stone Sour‘s earlier material prior to this album (I was a loyal Slipknot fan) but before chatting to Corey Taylor (on the first Episode of Wall of Sound: Up Against The Wall) I went into the band’s back catalogue and immersed myself in what they had to offer. Then Hydrograd came out and I was hooked. My side job is working as an announcer for Triple M Brisbane and when they added ‘Song #3‘ to the playlist, it made my shifts on-air so much more enjoyable.
7. Amy Shark – Night Thinker EP
I have nothing but the utmost respect for musicians who put in the hard yards and work their arses off to get exposure and recognition and Amy Shark is one of those very few who stick to it and eventually get a big break, only for her, she’s a fucking global superstar. I was so stoked when she signed to UNFD and (to be honest) had a lot of expectations when her Night Thinker EP came out, but she lived up to expectations and has put out a fantastic first release. Looking forward to seeing what she comes up with for her album debut.
8. The Beautiful Monument – I’m The Sin
Genre crossing bands were big this year and this all female force had an album which was exactly that, part metal, part hardcore, part pop rock, but all killer. They were one of the best bands to feature at Big Sound and deservingly so, scored a spot on next year’s UNIFY list. Frontwoman Lizi Blanco told us during her podcast co-host duties they’ll be working on new material next year, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for that.
9. Falling In Reverse – Coming Home
When a heavy/hardcore band go soft two things can happen; One is you’ll never listen to anything they put out again and the other is it works so well you’re keen to see where the band go next. That’s what happened with Falling In Reverse who headed into pop rock/stadium rock territory with a bigger sound behind them and less screaming. It was a big step up from their last release Just Like You which came in at #19 on my 2015 Year In Review list.
10. blink-182 – California (Deluxe Edition)
+44 blink released California their first album with Matt Skiba taking over guitar duties from Tom Delonge and it fell flat in my opinion… However, this year 11 new songs were unleashed upon the world on the Deluxe Edition of the album and surprisingly the majority of them were much better than the first attempt. With songs like ‘Long Lost Feeling‘, ‘Misery‘ and ‘Bottom of the Ocean‘ on offer, it’s hard to think they almost went unreleased in the first place. It’s still not blink, but it’s heading in a better direction.
11. Story of the Year – Wolves
The minute I heard Story of the Year had new music coming out in December, I had to wait and see if the album was worthy for a spot on my list as they’ve delivered great albums in the past. Things are different now and they’ve made this one with the help of their ever-growing fan base pledging money to make it a reality (myself included). The end result was a blend of what you know and love from the boys’ earlier work, including melodic hardcore roots and commercial radio styled songs, but with a hint of 80‘s throughout to weight in on the popularity of Stranger Things and how it relives aspects of that time. Do NOT finish this year without hearing this album.
12. AFI – Blood Album
Originally I didn’t have this on my list but after seeing them play songs from this album on their headline tour, I started appreciating them more following their energetic performances. While it wasn’t popular like Decemberunderground or Sing The Sorrow, it was a big progression for the band as musicians and needs to be heard, without judgement or comparison to their previous work.
13. Ocean Grove – The Rhapsody Tapes
Nu-Metal is well and truly on it’s way back from the dead if Ocean Grove have anything to do with it. Another band who at first I wasn’t digging the sound as much as I did after seeing them play the songs live. These guys are destined for big things, they have a sound unique to them that works so well when you give it all of your attention.
14. Satellites – Black Dog EP
FINALLY was the first word which made it way out of my mouth when I heard these boys were releasing an EP this year and it didn’t disappoint either. Having only recently discovered the band The Wonder Years and having already loved Four Year Strong, it’s very easy to place Satellites up on their level music wise. Keen as fuck to see them explode.
15. Foo Fighters – Concrete and Gold
The Fooies released a great album this year with a return to heavy rock vibe in the form of first single ‘Run‘ and following releases which were up there with the band’s previous singles. Looking forward to their tour next year.
16. Tired Lion – Dumb Days
These Perth legends blew me away when I first caught them at Big Sound back in 2015, then when they supported Spiderbait shortly after (don’t believe me, read this). In 2017 though they’ve exploded and with the help of Luke Boredom of Violent Soho who produced their Dumb Days album and now they’ve become a household name touring the country, the globe and hopefully a show you’ll be attending soon.
17. Linkin Park – One More Light
I know what you’re thinking, how can a guy who openly criticised this album upon it’s first release manage to put it in his best albums from the year? The answer is, because of the context you will now listen to this album following the tragic death of frontman Chester Bennington. When I first heard this album I focused more on the fact the band hired pop songwriters and the unnecessary EDM sound effects throughout instead of listening to the lyrical content. Following Chester’s death, I was in shock, as a Linkin Park fan from years ago, I wanted to see if I could hear anything in his latest album and I was smacked in the face by this man’s suffering. The album, now when you think about it, acts as a call for help for a bloke whose mental health was unstable and he found refuge in dealing with it by putting it to the side and expressing himself through music. Songs like ‘Nobody Can Save Me‘, ‘Heavy‘ and ‘Sorry For Now‘ will play out in my mind every time I think about what he was going through and how I didn’t pick up on it at the time. This album changed the way I think about mental health (my own included) and how most of us have our own issues we’re battling and how asking for help doesn’t make you any less of a person. We all need it.
18. Deadlights – Mesma
These Brisbane locals had to compete with the likes of Northlane who shared an album of the same name (but different spelling) however luckily for them, their offering was a fantastic, punch in the face and refreshing look at the future of heavy music in Australia.
19. Scalphunter – Lies
I love all of my staff here at Wall of Sound because we’re all into a vast range of music and are more than willing to pass on or recommend bands to each other. This year photographer Kim Anderson was so adamant on not listening to any other bands in the middle of the year until Scalphunter released their new album… a few months later it came out and I had to check it out on principle and goddamn it ruled. What makes this story ever better was when I caught up with the band at Big Sound and they are the funniest, most genuine band in the country. Their album also fucking killed it too. I wish I had more time to listen to it but it’s definitely worth the time if you haven’t yet.
20. Vow to Conquer – Call To Arms EP
This is going to seem like a shameless plug but I was lucky enough to work with these boys this year and I have to say, after witnessing the effort they all put in to make this EP happen, they deserve a beer or 7. From building their own studio, to recording their parts in between full time work and fatherhood duties, to battling their own mental well-being and demons to express what they went through, in their music, to self-producing with a strict timeline and delivering 5 great songs so far advanced for a new band. I know they’re not the only band to do it, but I have more respect for the bands that do now after seeing it all first hand. Well done VtC.
The Top 10 Songs of 2017
1. Architects – ‘Doomsday’
2. Polaris – ‘The Remedy‘
3. Trivium – ‘Sever The Hand‘
4. Bare Bones – ‘Ravensburg‘
5. Northlane – ‘Zero-One‘
6. The Fever 333 – ‘We’re Coming In‘
7. Enter Shikari – ‘An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces‘
8. Stone Sour – ‘Song #3‘
9. blink-182 – ‘Misery‘
10. Amy Shark – ‘Blood Brothers‘
Top 5 Music Videos of 2017
1. Enter Shikari – ‘Live Outside‘
2. Taylor Swift – ‘Look What You Made Me Do‘
3. Polaris – The Remedy
4. Tired Lion – ‘Cinderella Dracula‘
5. Linkin Park – ‘One More Light‘
The Top 5 Gigs of 2017
1. ARCHITECTS – May 2nd @ Max Watts, Brisbane [RIP]
Arguably one of the best metalcore bands in the world right now (just behind Parkway Drive), the effort and emotion these lads put into their shows needs to be witnessed at least thrice in your life. Ocean Grove also blew me away with their support slot at this show (Review & Gallery Here) 📷: Mitch Chamberlain
2. AFI – September 16th @ Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane
The guyliner was well and truly out of retirement for this one as AFI returned to Australia for their first headline tour in years whipping out so many classics from the back catalogue and proving they’re one of the best energetic bands in the world. Newcomers Introvert also stood out as one to watch with their genre crossing set. (Review & Gallery Here) 📷: Mitch Chamberlain
3. Stone Sour and Bare Bones – August 29th @ Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane
Having never witnessed the man that is Corey Taylor live before, I was completely blown away by the musician’s charismatic on stage presence and his ability to sing so smoothly before screaming his lungs out. Also, they ended the show with an array of WACKY WAVING INFLATABLE ARM FLAILING TUBE MEN. Bare Bones fucking killed it in what was also my first time seeing them too. (Review & Gallery Here) 📷: Gethin Hill
4. Every Time I Die and letlive. – January 8th @ Phoenix Arts Centre, Brisbane [RIP]
This double headliner tour played two shows in Brisbane and I caught the first one, which just so happened to be a MOTHER FUCKING FLOOR SHOW in one of the hottest, now defunct AA venues in the world. ETID played centimeters away from us and we all loved it. Had I known this would have been the last time I’d see letlive. as a band, I would have got into it more, but a stellar performance by both bands who went on to dominate across the country. (Gig Review)
5. Grinspoon – July 9th @ The Tivoli, Brisbane
Grinners were certainly winners when they announced their reunion earlier this year and proceeded to tour the country playing sold out shows for the anniversary of their debut album Guide to Better Living. With an encore consisting of all their fan favourites it was one hell of a show, if you missed out, spewinnnn. (Review & Gallery Here) 📷: Gethin Hill
Who Is The Next Big Australian Band?
Well considering the fact Polaris have blown up this year, scoring the #6 spot on the ARIA Charts for their album The Mortal Coil and support slots for Periphery, In Hearts Wake and Parkway Drive, I can’t say them anymore, so I’ll direct your attention towards Newcastle’s Introvert. A genre crossing grunge/post-hardcore/pop punk band who I guarantee will be one of your favourites by the end of 2018.
What Are You Looking Forward To The Most In 2018?
I always love when I get to this part because there’s so much on the horizon already that I’m keen for and so much that hasn’t been announced yet. Download Festival will fill that hole I’ve had in my life since Soundwave wrapped up so I’m keen as fuck for a big Melbourne weekend. Avenged Sevenfold should bring their World Tour down under too, we should also expect a tour from Metallica and/or Trivium too. Album wise, Architects should release their new one as well as The Fever 333 (ex-letlive frontman Jason Butler‘s new band) and I’m mad keen on the new Veronicas album to be finished already. Violent Soho also rumoured to be releasing new music soon and that just makes me moist with anticipation.
Other than that, I’ve got a few ideas I can’t wait to bring to the table for Wall of Sound and the podcast Wall of Sound: Up Against The Wall so keep an eye out for all of that when it happens. Big thanks for all the support you’ve given us this year too. Just be clicking on an article and having a read up of your favourite bands gives us the motivation to keep pushing out quality material for you. Killer Content, Done Our Way…
Paul ‘Browny’ Brown
Owner/Editorial Manager/Podcast Host (Brisbane)