The driver issue is that I was attempting to start developing with the Vulkan API and I would get an exception immediately. Looking into the problem, I followed some instructions on the LunarG website. I ran VIA and VulkanInfo which both mention the following problem:
WARNING: [loader] Code 0 : loader_icd_scan: ICD JSON C:\WINDOWS\System32\amd-vulkan64.json does not have an 'api_version' field.
Their website indicated that this is likely a driver installation problem, so I installed the latest version 17.2.1, to no avail. I reinstalled version 16.11.5, no dice. Then I ran Guru3d's Display Driver Uninstaller in safe mode as recommended and freshly installed version 17.2.1. This did not fix the problem, so I opened this ticket.
Okay, so upon closer inspection of amd-vulkan64.json, it seems that the 'api_version' field is just spelled wrong. I corrected it and the errors in VIA and VulkanInfo dissappeared, but my exception did not. I suspected that Vulkan is now operational, so to test that, I bought DOOM and successfully ran it using Vulkan. So now I know that the exception I'm getting is not related to my Vulkan installation.
I have attached the original file with the spelling error for reference. I do wonder why this error is in two different driver version which are a year apart. Then again, I also wonder why this file even exists, since it doesn't seem to contain any relevant data.
End of issues
Hope this helps someone,