|Top 30 metal/rock albums of 2016|
Here are my top 30 albums in metal and rock of 2016. I got to say, old school thrash dominated this year. Almost every one of the big bands from the 80s released albums in recent time (with Slayer late last year and Overkill and Kreator early next year). It seems the NWOTM bands lit a fire under there asses and I'm grateful for that! But there were many great releases throughout the metal/rock world. Outside of the top 10, rankings are loose.
Proponent For Sentience
Allegaeon, and Revocation, were the first bands to really introduce me to technical/progressive extreme metal, and this album remind me of why I came to love it so much. Plus, the cover of Rush’s Subdivisions may be one of my favorite covers ever. It is everything a cover should be: a bands reinterpretation of a song that showcases their signatures and giving the song a feel distinct from the original, while staying true to its identity.
Division Of Blood
Suicidal Angels continue to be one of the fastest and heaviest modern day thrash bands, Division of Blood is no exception.
The Serpent Only Lies
Crowbar have always created some of the heaviest grooves in the business and this albums seems to show them as inspired as ever.
This is a dense album, and is rather new to me still. As I listen to Akróasis while writing this, it is obvious this album will quickly climb up this list. The rhythms are intricate and the leads are exciting, and as usual in such technical bands, the bass is slithers at its own pace, never relaying on the guitars.
I discovered these guys opening for Vektor and Black Fast at their Denver stop on their most recent tour. They blew me away and were the perfect openers for such as awesome show. They remind me a lot of Skeletonwitch, but with a more old school feel.
This album continues where Immortal left off, and as expected it is a killer album. Excited to hear Abbath continue on, even if it’s not with Immortal.
This is an odd album. It is often reminiscent of Sabbath (or at least Ozzy in the vocals), but slimier. It makes me think of blackened stoner metal. Excited to see what Eerie will continue to release.
Wo Fat continue to make top of the line stoner rock albums with unstoppable groove.
Unlike Abbath, Ihsahn chooses to stray away from his signature sound in Emperor when it comes to his solo release. He chooses to create something altogether different that is truly unique. It is often progressive, yet still extreme, with flavors of all types of genres, especially jazz. In an attempt to mock metal’s tendency towards splintered sub-genre names, A friend of mine once described Disassembled as “neo-progressive post jazz metal”, but he could not be more correct.
The North Corridor
One of the lighter albums on this list, it is likely Chevelle’s heaviest albums. They are one of the most consistent rock bands today, releasing a great album every couple years. This album is no exception, but I would say they’ve up the ante on this release, giving the album more edge. Favorite track: Got Burned.
In His Infernal Majesty's Service
Descended from both The Haunted and Arch Enemy, Witchery has a lot to follow, but they push their music in different directions, giving it a faster, more evil sound. IHIMS is none stop black/thrash brutality with a lot of groove to spare.
Penalty by Perception
If I made a top thrash list of 2016 (I know, a lot of it is on here as is), this album would definitely beat out all of the Big 4 entries. This album is heavy, fast, and shows that Mercyful Fate aren’t the only gems of the 80s Danish metal scene.
After about 35 years, DH are finally back with an awesome album! The self-titled has some of Brian Tatler’s awesome riffs, some heavy Led Zeppelin groove, and a great frontman leading the way. I had the pleasure of seeing them live, and it blew me away.
For All Kings
Based on their most previous release, I actually expected this to be my favorite thrash album of the year (from old school bands). It was a good album, with a lot of melodic parts, but I found myself hoping for more. Blood Eagle Wing is an epic track, and Belladonna does a great job here.
Hardwired... to Self-Destruct
A fan of Death Magnetic, I thought the songs were too long. With that and all the hype of returning to the Kill Em All sound, I was pretty excited for Hardwired. The first single (Hardwired) was simple but seemed to follow through with the promises. It got me more excited for the release. The album didn’t end up being the return to Kill Em All they claimed, but it had 3-4 thrash tracks, such as Spit Out the Bone which is an absolute killer track and a major highlight. Hardwired, overall, was a return to a more focused Metallica, but the album was still too long, and some of the songs could have been left out or like DM, shortened. It’s as heavy as you could expect for Metallica and I’ll take it. Unsurprisingly Hetfield is the star here.
Much like my favorite album of the year, Blood Incantation have constructed a beautifully intricate, sci-fi themed album that innovates and pushes what modern metal is known to achieve. These Denverites have put together a masterpiece that I expect to climb higher on this list because it has so much to offer, and I find myself discovering new things on every listen.
Force Of Profanation
Force of Profanation is the first I’d heard of Ravencult. This album is dark black metal with hints of thrash thrown in. Hoping to check out their earlier releases soon.
Incoming Death helped introduce me to this Dutch band. Even without their primary member (Bob Bagchus), Asphyx successfully released one of the best death metal albums of the year.
One of the earliest released albums of the year. A year ago, Lost Society was in heavy rotation on my end. There first two albums were straight forward and fast thrash in the vain of Anthrax and Suicidal Tendencies. This album saw them slowing down a bit but, unlike many of the original bands in the 90s, LS only got heavier.
Great Is Our Sin
Revocation, much like my #1 choice, push thrash/old school death to all new technical heights. Dave Davidson is a perfect example of a highly skilled musician who doesn't forget the bands that really influenced him. He pushes the limits of his playing with every album but you always know he is, above all, a fan of music/metal. As always Revocation put together an aggressive, technical album that certainly does not lack in groove.
Out of the recent albums from all of the Big 4, I certainly did not expect Megadeth’s newest release to my favorite. Dystopia successfully steered away from the route of the abysmal Super Collider. Dave and co. put together their strongest album since Endgame, and possibly even since Rust in Peace. It proved that Megadeth could still play fast and heavy. This album has so many great moments; specifically The Threat is Real and Post American World. My only complaint are the lyrics that seems to reflect Dave’s age, but they’re as angry and political as anyone could as for from modern day Megadeth.
When the Earth Was Hot
These guys are newcomers compared to most bands on this list. Their new LP is one of the most dynamic and entertaining albums of the year. It has everything from stoner grooves to post rock ambiance to black metal esque speedsters about Shenron the Eternal Dragon. I could not stop playing this album for any music fan I know. Not enough can be said about this album and I hope more people give this album a spin and see what it was like when the earth was hot. Let’s get sweaty.
The Evil Divide
One of my most anticipated albums of the year. Everything Death Angel has put out since reforming has been amazing, and this album is no exception. Rob Cavestany’s riffs are fast and fun while Mark Osegueda proves he is still one of the best metal vocalists in the game. The Evil Divide holds no fillers for fast, thrashing fun.
Insomnium is consistent in their output. Every album is an amazing mix of heaviness and melody. It seems that in their consistency, the band member's themselves were getting a bit bored, so they decided to do something different for their 2016 release. Winter's Gate is a concept album based on a short story written by bassist/vocalist Niilo Sevänen. The story follows a group of VIkings through a chilling journey that is perfectly mirrored by the music. Made up of a single track (split into seven parts), Winter's Gate is a captivating auditory "movie".
I expected Gojira's newest album to be great. I had no doubt it would be on my list. The first single (Stranded) proved it could be heavy but was a rather "simple" track for Gojira's standards. Silveria, the 2nd single, proved the album would be more dynamic. When I finally heard it, I was initially underwhelmed, but I could not put it down. It was certainly a different album than The Way of All Flesh, taking more from the Tool than Meshuggah. It gives Gojira's discography more flavor. It is an album with a lot to give, unless all you want it Gojira's signature crushing sound (which I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping for more of that). Above all, Gojira continue to deliver a sound that is all their own, unmatched by any other modern metal band today. Hopefully they don't go the way of Opeth, dropping metal altogether, but even if they did, I can't see myself turning them away.
|5||Flotsam and Jetsam|
Flotsam and Jetsam
F&J's self-titled album was quite a welcome surprise. The first track I heard was the single, Iron Maiden. I was immediately interested. An obvious ode to Maiden, not just in name, but in feel as well, the song is still distinctly F&J. When I listened to the full album I quickly realized that was still much more to it. The opener (Seventh Seal) quickly became my favorite opening track of the year. F&J is heavy, it's fast, and Eric A. Knudsten's vocals kill it. The self-titled is certainly deserving of holding the band’s name, proving why F&J have the heavily devout following that they do.
|4||Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas|
Supergroups and collaborations are often underwhelming considering the members that make up these groups, but with Mariner, Cult of Luna/Julie Christmas show that collaborations are more than just fun experiments. Mariner is a killer album, depicting CoL signature crushing ambiance but w/ Julie Christmas we get something much more substantial. She provides a major contrast to CoL's usual heavy gravity vocals, making Mariner more dynamic and, often, bone-chillingly creepy. The cold creepiness of her voice makes this album both exciting and tiring in all the best ways.
Brotherhood of the Snake
At the start of 2016, I expected Testament to top my list this year. The only reason it did not is because of the amazing innovation of my top two choices. That's not to say Testament are stagnant in their output. When it comes to old school thrash bands today, Testament is leading the pack. As mentioned above, this year was huge for old school thrash, and as their 2 previous albums did before it, Brotherhood proves Testament are pushing harder than any of those bands today. Not content on riding the fame of their initial albums, for the 3rd time since the turn of the century, Testament show they are hungrier than ever to prove what they can do. Primarily written by rhythm guitarist Eric Peterson, this album takes a more pure thrash feel. The riffs are great, Skolnick's leads are amazing as always, Billy holds his place as the most evolved thrash vocalist out there, all backed by the legendary rhythm section of Hoglan and DiGiorgio.
Khemmis made it to the 18th spot on my list last year. They released an amazing debut album that was recognized by many. They took that momentum and injected way more energy to create Hunted. This album gives new life to the doom genre. Often compared to Pallbearer, Khemmis and Hunted are much more than that mixing Pallbearer's signature melodic doom with Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden's musical "themes". This album contains a range of sounds from within doom and rock, from faster stoner grooves to slower funeral doom sections (Candlelight). I believe Hunted will be a blueprint for much of doom to come, expanding its reaches and proving doom can do much more than "slow metal".
This album absolutely obliterates! I expected greatness, but this is above and beyond. Vektor has always been as technical as they are heavy and Terminal Redux is just the epitome. It is a sci-fi concept album about an astronaut's journey to immortality. This album thrashes hard, but it does not ride on the coattails of the NWOTM scene in any way. Vektor and Dave DiSanto take the best parts of thrash metal with heavy flavors of black metal and Death, all served through a heavily technical feast that is unmatched by any band out there. Terminal Redux tops this list due to its innovation and mind blowingly expansive feel. Never has thrash kissed progressive rock's concept albums like Terminal Redux. This album gives life and redefines what thrash metal can be.