Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2017
Welcome to the 13th edition of the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of the Year.
It’s been another busy year for Sleaze Roxx with over 1,600 news articles (second highest ever), almost 200 CD/DVD reviews (second highest ever), 59 concert reviews (second highest ever), 58 interviews (third highest ever) and 162 new releases (highest ever).
Unlike last year, compiling the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of the Year has been a difficult task because there were so many great quality releases throughout the year. I am always afraid of omitting a potentially great album from the year end list and this year was no exception. For instance, in 2015, I should have included Eclipse‘s Armageddonize and Ambush‘s Desecrator in the year end list but alas, I only ended up hearing those albums in early 2016. This year, I made a conscious decision to listen to as many different albums (or at the very least a few songs from a record) as possible in the hope not to “miss out” on a great album in the process. I think it’s likely because I have always viewed the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of the Year as its Super Bowl or Wrestlemania event of the year.
I would like to take the time to thank everyone that has contributed to Sleaze Roxx this year (stay tuned for the upcoming Sleaze Roxx Writers’ Top Five Albums of 2017), all of the Sleaze Roxx readers that advise from time to time of quality bands that should be covered on Sleaze Roxx and the Facebook page titled The New Wave of Hair Metal, which has been a solid source of some previously unknown sleaze type bands.
Without further ado, here is the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2017.
p.s.: Don’t forget to cast your vote for the Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Top 20 Albums of 2017.
If someone would have told me at the beginning of the year that Tuff frontman Stevie Rachelle would have the #1 album on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2017, I frankly wouldn’t have believed them. But, that is exactly what has happened. While there is no question that Rachelle puts on a clinic for singers on how to really engage the listener with some great lyrics and different vocal intonations, the key to Tales From The Porn‘s successful debut album H.M.M.V. lies with the songs themselves. Quite simply, Tales From The Porn have come up with some fantastic songs and bring a much needed dose of ’80s hard rock and guitar tone to the table. What’s quite interesting about Tales From The Porn is that Brazil based guitarist Andy Sun and bassist Bento Mello started the group, recruited some other Brazilian musicians and after finishing their first few songs, elected to have an American singer from the ’80s scene front the band. What is truly astonishing is that with the advances of modern technology, Rachelle has yet to meet his Brazilian bandmates in person. The title of the opening track “Back To The ’80s” describes to a T what you get from Tales From The Porn on their debut album and that is simply fantastic!
For the longest time — well, seven months or so — The Wild!‘s sophomore album Wild At Heart was going to be the #1 album on Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2017. I truly thought that The Wild! would end up number one until Tales From The Porn‘s debut album came along. Just like in 2015, The Wild! takes the #2 spot on Sleaze Roxx‘s year end top albums list. At least, Wild At Heart can lay the claim to my most played album of 2017. Although The Wild! borrow heavily from AC/DC, they have their own identity music wise and are also a must see band in a live setting. What distinguishes The Wild! from many of the other artists in this top 10 list is that just like Steel Panther and Airbourne, they often tour with many bands that wouldn’t necessarily receive coverage on Sleaze Roxx such as for example Adrenaline Mob. That may well be the best way for a long and successful music career these days for sleaze rock type bands. I fully expect that The Wild! will continue for a long time to come and likely have a few more future albums figuring on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of the Year. Will The Wild! finally take the #1 spot with their next studio album? I can’t wait to find out.
There is no other record label as good as Demon Doll Records when it comes to unearthing a large amount of previously unreleased albums from ’80s and ’90s era “hair metal” bands that never “made it” for whatever reason. Of course, some of the albums being released 25 to 30 years later sound a tad dated and sometimes it would have been better keeping those albums buried in their graves. However, one unreleased record that is exceptionally good is Deaf Dumb & Blonde‘s L.A. Days. If you like Tora Tora, odds are that you’ll love what Deaf Dumb & Blonde offered back in the day. L.A. Days has an unbelievable groove to it and singer Troy Wheeler‘s vocals have that perfect blend of raunchiness, blues and sleaze all rolled into one. Although the first seven songs on Deaf Dumb & Blonde‘s L.A. Days are pure musical bliss, the quality of the two live tracks at the end leaves to be desired and I almost wish that they had been left off this release by Demon Doll Records. Listening to L.A. Days, I can’t help but think that had Deaf Dumb & Blonde been able to release it back in the day, they would be like Babylon A.D. or Tora Tora with a few albums under their belt from back in the day and enjoying a kind of renaissance while releasing or about to release a brand new studio album at this time.
This is the surprise album of the year. I really was not expecting L.A. Cobra‘s third studio album Shotgun Slinger to be even half as good as it turned out to be. L.A. Cobra also get the distinction of being the first band from the African continent to figure on a Sleaze Roxx year end top albums list. Given that L.A. Cobra had previously released two albums, one might wonder what is the difference this time around with Shotgun Slinger? Although it’s difficult as an outsider to gage the impact that Crashdïet guitarist Martin Sweet made on Shotgun Slinger, it is worth noting that Sweet is the only artist to ever figure twice at the top spot of Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of the Year (with Crashdïet‘s Generation Wild in 2010 and Sweet Creature‘s debut album The Devil Knows My Name in 2016). In addition, Sweet is the only artist to figure three times with three different bands on Sleaze Roxx‘s year end top albums list although this time it’s for the guitarist’s production, mixing and mastering duties. Whatever the case, L.A. Cobra have hit the nail right on the head with Shotgun Slinger delivering catchy rockers with just the right level of sleaze.
I am not 100% sure but believe that it is my friend The Meister from Decibel Geek who mentioned Wraith to me as we were leaving a Diemonds show in October. The selling points were that Wraith sounded like Ratt and had an eighties type sound. I eventually listened to a couple of tracks from Revelation on YouTube and subsequently purchased the record. While Wraith‘s sound on Revelation definitely has some similarities to Ratt, it’s not really fair to pigeon hole the group that way because Wraith seem to have taken the best of the ’80s to come up with their fantastic album. I was surprised to find out that Wraith date back 30 years and Revelation is the group’s sixth studio album. One Sleaze Roxx reader advised that Wraith‘s previous studio albums are similar to what can be found on Revelation. If that is indeed the case, there are a lot of great albums to discover from the UK rockers in the near future. If you like ’80s hard rock and heavy metal, odds are that you’ll really like Wraith!
The problem that I think Steel Panther are starting to encounter is that they are now on year eight since the release of their phenomenal debut album Feel The Steel and they are still delivering the same type of songs. Now don’t get me wrong. I personally love it as just about anything that Steel Panther puts out music wise is brilliant. However, given that there isn’t that much evolution from Steel Panther‘s debut album Feel The Steel to their fourth studio album offering Lower The Bar, it could well be that people are starting to take the band a little bit for granted. After all, if Lower The Bar was the group’s debut album, odds are that everyone would be talking how great it is. In any case, Lower The Bar continues Steel Panther‘s fine tradition of very catchy songs filled with killer melodies and ridiculously demeaning and sexually charged lyrics. Once again, Steel Panther deliver some killer “ballads” (“That’s When You Came In” and “Wasted Too Much Time”), easy to like rockers (“Goin’ In The Backdoor” and “Poontang Boomerang”) and hidden gems (“I Got What You Want”) that make The Lower Bar just too good to ignore or leave out from the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2017.
The funny part about Eclipse‘s latest studio album Monumentum is that I find that it’s actually not as good as their 2015 record Armageddonize. Yet, it is Monumentum that figures on Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2017 while Armageddonize didn’t make the cut in 2015. But as previously stated in this article, the fault is mine in that regard. I just never got around to listening to Armageddonize until 2016 given that I was not that into its predecessor Bleed & Scream and by then, the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2015 was already posted… In any case, Monumentum is still a very good album with Eclipse retaining a lot of the catchiness and melodic greatness that was so prevalent on Armageddonize. This time around, Eclipse do spread their wings a little bit more such as on the heavier closing number “Black Rain” which shouldn’t be a surprise considering frontman Erik Mårtensson‘s love for thrash metal bands. With Eclipse‘s last four studio albums dating back to 2008 figuring on (or in the case of Armageddonize It being erroneously omitted from) Sleaze Roxx‘s Top Ten Albums year-end lists, Eclipse have to be considered one of the most consistently great bands of the last ten years.
Dextress‘ debut EP The Demo came close to making the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2014. This time, with the release of their debut self-titled full-length album, it is almost impossible to deny Dextress‘ place in the top ten. Teaming up with renowned producer Glen Robinson, Dextress turned back the clock delivering ten solid tracks that will take you back to the glory days of Van Halen and the brilliance of guitarist Eddie Van Halen — the latter reincarnated as 20 year old guitar whiz Mark Janz. On their self-titled full-length album, Dextress shrewdly re-recorded the three best tracks from The Demo and added seven new songs including the different but good ballad “Distance.” What is interesting about Dextress‘ debut full-length album is that it was actually recorded back in the summer of 2016 and there’s only one member left (Janz) from the line-up that plays on the album. Shortly after Dextress was recorded, the rhythm section of bassist Christian Garcia and drummer Marcos Rodriguez quit the band. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that lead vocalist Jackson Taylor — whose performance on Dextress is stupendous and Robert Plant like — stepped down “temporarily” in March 2017. The good news is that to Janz‘s credit, he has been able to keep the Dextress ship moving forward and the remaining band members currently consist of singer Eric Paulin, drummer Keith Runco and bassist Reece Runco.
Unfortunately, there are some ’80s era bands like Twisted Sister that think that their fans do not want any more new music. Luckily, that narrow minded view is not shared by many ’80s and early ’90s era “hair metal” and sleaze rock bands including Babylon A.D. who have come up with a fantastic new studio album in Revelation Highway. Truth is, Revelation Highway is part older re-recorded material and part brand new material. Back in 2006, Babylon A.D. released In The Beginning… Persuaders Recordings 8688 which were tracks from the band that never made it onto their self-titled sensational debut album. On Revelation Highway, Babylon A.D. revisit four of those songs while offering six new tracks. While father time has not been kind to certain singers over the years (Dokken‘s Don Dokken and KISS‘ Paul Stanley come to mind), Babylon A.D. lead vocalist Derek Davis seems to have retained or kept his vocal pipes in fine shape over the years as he delivers on Revelation Highway as if it was 1989 rather than 2017. Babylon A.D. provide some good variety on their new studio album from the gorgeous ballad “One Million Miles” to the scorching closer “Don’t Tell Me Tonight.”
Six years after taking the #1 spot on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2011 with Enough Rope, Vain are finally back with their new studio album Rolling With The Punches and cracks Sleaze Roxx‘s year end list once again. I say “finally” because Rolling With The Punches seems to have taken forever to get released. Back in January 2016, it was announced that the album would be released with a different cover on April 14, 2016. There were at least four other release dates bandied around before Rolling With The Punches finally saw the light of day with the public. Was it worth the wait? You’re damn right it was. The fact that many speak about Rolling With The Punches in the same sentence and consider it on par with the group’s almost mythical debut No Respect tells you all you need to know about how good Rolling With The Punches really is. It’s likely most of the credit for Rolling With The Punches lies with one man — frontman Davy Vain — as the singer handles just about everything from songwriting to production to some killer vocals throughout the album.
p.s.: I will now address the elephant in the room. Where’s sleaze rock veterans L.A. Guns‘ The Missing Peace? Yes, the new album featuring the reunited Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis is a good one but believe or not, I was slightly disappointed with it because I was expecting even more. That and the fact that there were so many great releases this year means that The Missing Peace did not make the cut for the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2017.