10. The Black Aces – Shot In The Dark
The lineage through AC/DC, The Poor and Airbourne to The Black Aces is about as undiluted as is possible. These Victorians, who’ve just returned from Europe, crossed our desk extremely late in the year. It’s straight-head riff rock of the best kind with hooks-a-plenty. One listen to Shot In The Dark confirmed they should be in our top 10, holding out the likes of Tygers of Pantang, The Treatment, Kings Of The Sun, Diamond Head and piles of others. Ones to watch in 2017.
9. The Answer – Solas
Northern Ireland’s The Answer have been cast as rock’s nearly men for the last few
years and during a recent show singer Cormac Neeson commented the band had been to “dark places” before the recording of Solas. There’s more than a little of that darkness on Solas; in places it positively broods. Indeed, this collective of good-time blues rockers take a quantum leap towards more inventive, serious rock of the U2 variety in possibly the most important release of their career. Neeson’s voice isn’t just a gift from God to him – it’s a present to all of us. Hopefully more of us will now get to hear it.
8. Dead Daisies – Make Some Noise
The return to Guns N’Roses of Richard Fortus and Dizzy Reed has not left Dead Daisies unscathed and Make Some Noise was a notch down on its predecessor, Revolucion. But there’s stil plenty to recommend the Australia-founded supergroup’s third long player – “A Song And A Prayer” is as pristine slice of arena rock as you could ever hope to hear, And for sheer irony, has there EVER been something as weird as multi-millionaire David Lowy performing a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son”?
7. Cheap Trick – Bang, Zoom, Crazy .. Hello!
A new album from Cheap Trick is worthy of celebration, even before you listen to it.
Sure, there is nothing here to match “Surrender”, “Dream Police” or “The Flame” but the pop-tinged seventies rock spirit is deeply imbued in tracks like “When I Wake Up Tomorrow” and “No Direction Home”. Does it sometimes sound a bit forced? No, actually. Cheap Trick have stayed mid-table in rock’s pantheon and that seems to have allowed them to be true to themselves on releases like this. “The In Crowd” could have come from any era of the Rockford, Illinois, legends’ career.
6. Airbourne – Breakin’ Outta Hell
The Warnambool rockers know that with each release of unrelenting Angus Young-obsessed boogie, they have to work harder to keep the attention of their pummelled audience. On Breakin’ Outta Hell, they more or less meet the challenge. It’s not perfect; some of the lyrics are too obvious even for them. Take “Down On You” for instance – have Airbourne just invented the single entendre? But with their incendiary shows and determination not to veer off course by so much as a metre, Airbourne are still conquering the world one eardrum at a time.
5. Last In Line – Heavy Crown
The biggest mistake one can make about Last In Line is to regard them as Ronnie James Dio tribute band. In fact, as drummer Vinnie Appice recently conceded, Dio would not have liked them. They are about the legacy of the other three members of the original Dio band, not the singer. All three of these individuals – Vivian Campbell, Jimmy Bain and Appice recorded Heavy Crown and it sounds exactly what you would expect from if RJD was still alive and he reconveded this line-up. “Devil In Me” and “Starmaker” are the stand-outs.
4. Metallica – Hardwired … To Self Destruct
Many of the artists on our list exist in something of an artistic vacuum whereby they release material free of expectations and constraints. Metallica, of course, are the complete opposite. They have so many fans that widespread negativity is bound to snowball regardless of what they do. Hardwired… was the best any neutral could hope for – a very, very sold Metallica album with a handful of somewhat memorable songs. These included the title track, “Atlas, Rise!”, “Now That We’re Dead”. Haters gonna hate … but in truth there’s not much here that’s hate-worthy.
3. Anthrax – For All Kings
Anthrax are perhaps at their creative peak right now, bringing forth epic masterpieces like For All Kings and its predecessor, Worship Music. It’s no wonder that members take to Twitter in anger when their work is overlooked by an increasingly fragmented music media. Highlights include the title track, the elaborate “Breathing Lightning” and “Zero Tolerance”, about many of the ills of the world in 2016. “Blood Eagle Wings” has won a host of awards. For All Kings wasn’t quite the album that Worship Music – but it was still quite an album.
2. Scorpion Child – Acid Roulette
Scorpion Child frontman Aryn Jonathan Black says he actually sees music, which makes it easier to understand why this concept album hangs together so well. The biggest compliment you can give any song is that it sounds like it was always waiting to be written and an artist merely acted as the vessel that brought it us. There are more than one tracks on Acid Roulette that fit that description – “Reaper’s Dream”, “Winter Side Of Deranged”, “My Woman In Black”. If this is where rock is headed, there is no cause for alarm after all. And while Black sounds on tape like an introverted Cobain type, live he is a raunchy Robert Plant-inspired performer.
1. Screaming Jets – Chrome
In the 1980s, Cold Chisel were considered merely a loud pub rock act. Now they are canonised as great antipodean poets. It’s to be hoped the Screaming Jets will attain the same ascension one day – Pau Woseen’s writing on Chrome is wry, knowing and eloquent. In a year of patchy LPs, Chrome is consistently outstanding across its 11 tracks, offering blue-based hard rock and borderline metal with conscience and heart. Our highlights include “Smack In The Mouth” and “Razor”. “No Place No Home” addresses the growing isse of homelessness, “Sex and Violence” touches on abuse and addiction. The Screaming Jets are a national treasure Australians should treasure more.