The Best Hard Rock Album - Metal Storm Awards 2017

Alice Cooper needs no advertisement; we could easily fill this category with the classic albums he has produced over the years. As long as he's still got a scowl on his face, rasp in his voice, and spiders in his brain, however, Alice will be teaching himself new tricks and reiterating for those who haven't yet heard that there's only one Godfather of Shock Rock. Though Paranormal isn't quite as off-the-wall as Alice's last, it boasts many flavors and memorable tracks and is as humorously grim as ever; this album will sit alongside many others as part of the endless legend of Alice Cooper.

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When Nightwish is away, their members come out to play, and lovers of '80s AOR will be pleased to hear that guitarist Emppu Vuorinen has released another album with his fun outlet Brother Firetribe. They seem hellbent on reviving the mid-'80s, but only the wholesome bits - no overt sleaze, no copious amounts of drugs, just montage-ready tunes about kissing your honey under the neon lights and coping with life's challenges in a healthy way (presumably while wearing a glossy patent leather jacket). Vocalist Pekka Heino delivers all of this in his charming and larger-than-life manner with a big Colgate grin, and Mr. Vuorinen shows us all the guitar licks that have been absent from his main band for a long while.

Walk The Earth is a big album in its scope and sound that sees Europe rightly acclaimed as a band at the height of their powers even after so many years. The depth of Joey Tempest's vocals and the guitar playing of John Norum both shine across the record, which features plenty of Deep Purple blood running through its veins and is instantly appealing.

If you feel nostalgic about flower power and the trippy '60s, have no worries - they're coming back in style. Jess And The Ancient Ones seem on this album to have come straight from a time capsule, giving nods to artists like The Doors, Blue Cheer or Jefferson Airplane with their own seductive charisma. With all their members performing as well as ever, they show us that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Pink Cream 69 is one of the best German melodic metal bands and they once again proved this with the release of their 12th studio album, Headstrong. Whether fronted by Andy Deris (before joining Helloween) or later David Readman, the band always laid great emphasis on melodies as well as rock ability in their songs. But what else can you expect from a band who has been doing this for 30 years now?

Close To The Sun is the 4th studio album by Place Vendome, the brainchild of Frontier Records president Serafino Perugino, featuring Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween) and Pink Cream 69's Dennis Ward among others. Just like their debut in 2005, the new album once again highlights Kiske's vocal range, and with the addition of tons of guest guitarists, Close To The Sun will surely please the heavy metal crowd as well.

It took Queens Of The Stone Age four years to release a new album, but the songwriting remains top notch. Even in its softer moments, Villains is brilliant and a great-sounding record. Although it's more accessible, there's still room for experimentation on Villains, more focused on groovy and retro vibes than being crushing. The lyrics are engaging and the music is infectious. QOTSA really know how to deliver catchy, sexy hard rock done with finesse.

Lacking the suffocating fog of feedback and the spaced-out groove, it's hard to call WICK stoner metal, or even stoner rock, but Royal Thunder speaks the same language of mystical aura and mesmerizing melody, laying on thick the brooding, contemplative atmosphere. Mlny Parsonz is in top form, her raw, forceful vocals drawing wild spirit and energy out of these tracks. WICK is a little bit rock'n'roll, a little bluesy, a little post-punk, but always somewhat melancholy, and, due in no small part to Mlny, always enrapturing.
Following up from their 2015 debut, II represents this Norwegian five-piece's sophomore effort of bluesy, retro hard rock that is full to the brim with groove and fantastic songwriting that hits you hard right from the first note and never lets go. Nostalgic while managing to sound fresh, soulful and engaging, this is an album to sit back with, relax to, and let clear away your blues.

The entire genre of retro rock has mostly been focused on early-'70s Led Zep worship or mid-to-late-'80s glam. The Night Flight Orchestra would rather pay attention to the rich and varied era in between. If Björn Strid and the boys told us they'd raided a vault of famous artist demos made between '76 and '84, we would buy it. Everything from the cadence of the lyrics to the space between the notes is true to the era. The most likeable thing about Amber Galactic is the pop rock flourishes - everyone who loves the late '70s and early '80s is equally fond of Kiss and Billy Joel, and The Night Flight Orchestra celebrates both.

Write-in votes

Adrenaline Mob - We The People
Airbourne - Breakin' Outta Hell
Amplifier - Tripping with Dr. Faustus
Anathema - The Optimist
Arcadea - Arcadea
Black Country Communion - BCC IV
Black Country Communion - BCCIV
Death From Above - Outrage! Is Now
Deep Purple - Infinite
Eclipse - Monumentum
Elder - Reflections of a Floating World
Esquit Arreu - Sa Perdiu Comanda
Europica - Part One
Foo Fighters - Concrete and Gold
Greta Van Fleet - Black Smoke Rising
Hällas - Excerpts From a Future Past
Harem Scarem - United
Hark - Machinations
Horisont - About Time
House of Lords - Saints of Lost Souls
Jorn - Life On Death Road
L.A. Guns - The Missing Peace
Lower Than Atlantis - Safe In Sound
Malokarpatan - Nordkarpatenland
Martina Edoff - We Will Align
Meek Mill - Wins & Losses
Mutoid Man - War Moans
Night - Raft of the World
Psychedelic Witchcraft - Sounds Of The Wind
Pyogenesis - A Kingdom To Disappear
Sparzanza - Announcing The End
Stone Sour - Hydrograd
The Ferrymen - The Ferrymen
The Mute Gods - Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth
The Night Flight Orchestra - Amber Galactic