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Last Active 12-21-19 5:58 pm
Joined 03-11-10

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12.23.19 Pistol's 2019 12.18.18 Pistol's 2018
12.22.17 Pistol's 2017 10.26.17 Post-Metal Starter Pack
12.22.16 Pistol's 2016 01.13.16 Pistol's 2015
02.19.15 Pistol's 201401.05.14 Pistol's 2013
09.01.13 You Da Best Sputnik 06.29.13 Top Moments (Vol II)
02.24.13 Chevelle Bonus Songs Ranked02.09.13 Top Moments (Vol I)

Pistol's 2016

Halfway through this year, I didn't really think 2016 would stack up musically to some of the previous few years for me. But now that I look at this list, I realize I have never included this many albums before and that quite a lot of good music came out this year. My year in general was a mixed bag. My family saw the passing of both my remaining grandparents, which ultimately found me sitting in front of a crowd of family and friends early in December expressing one last time how much they meant to me. But there were some bright spots. I did more travelling this year than I ever have in my life. A trip to Eastern Europe with a very close friend of mine from Calgary and a beautiful trip to sunny Thailand with a friend from work offered some much-needed perspective on life and what I should be making a priority beyond just my career. I honestly can't say for sure where I'll find myself this same time next year, but we will see. I want to wish everyone Happy Holidays and I hope 2017 brings with it even more bright spots.
A Moon Shaped Pool

I’m not as big a Radiohead fan as most, but I do enjoy their big hits from back in the day. It’s just their widely acclaimed albums on this site I never seemed to vibe with. Their new album this year though felt oddly friendly and warm. I believe it has to do with the night my grandmother died back in June. To make the night more bearable on my parents, I drove them to and from the hospital as the inevitable event loomed closer. Perhaps it was when I drove my parents back to the house that one final time at 4am after she had passed. I had “Daydreaming” and “Decks Dark” playing back-to-back in my car as I drove, and something about this album clicked. Those songs will forever be associated with my late grandmother when I hear them and while the rest of the album wasn’t as powerful for me, a large part of it I will always hold dear.
34The Dillinger Escape Plan

I was privileged to be able to snag tickets to their recent show in Toronto on Dec 16, and my goodness…what a show. I feel very ashamed this doesn’t rank much higher on my list. The truth is when I compare this album to their older records; it just doesn’t quite hold the same weight. I don’t think it matters though. This is the band that got me into the heavy shit back when I was in university, the first time metal “made sense” to me. They were an important stepping stone in the development of my music tastes and some of the best live acts out there. I’m upset they’re splitting up after the tour, but I’ll always be grateful for the impact they’ve had on me. Highlights: Limerent Death, Symptom of Terminal Illness
The White Album

Weezer has just been killing it the past few years. They found a formula and goddammit it fucking works. Highlights: King of the World, L.A. Girlz
32Helms Alee

I liked this better than their last album. The production from Kurt Ballou gives it the nice edge it needed. They still however cannot craft an album that ranks any higher than 35th-25th on a year-end list for me. Highlights: Untoxicated, Meats and Milks
Along the Shadow

Nice to see these guys back after so many years. Their last album from 2009 was so lackluster though so I was interested to see what Anthony Green’s return would bring. While it didn’t have anything quite as good as “Sleepers” or “It’s Far Better to Learn” it’s surprisingly consistent and grows on you. Highlights: The Silver String, Old Friends
30Birds Of Tokyo

I spent a good chunk of the last year or so chirping this band for going soft. I shred their last EP “Anchor” in a review on this site and also did not shy away from littering their Facebook page with comments about how much they suck now. Really though, at the heart of this juvenile behaviour is a longing for them to make good music again. When they teased in studio videos how much heavier this new album would be, I scoffed and pessimistically assumed they didn’t know how to be heavy anymore. This album ended up being exactly as I thought. They tried to incorporate a heavier sound on top of the poppy leanings they had already immersed themselves in. And at first it felt awkward, but after a while I came to appreciate the more industrial sound they offered here and eventually sat back and concluded it wasn’t as bad as I thought. It’s not anywhere close to their crowning achievement “Universes” but it’s a nice reminder that these guys have what it takes. Highlights: Harlequins, Gods
The Glowing Man

Michael Gira has spent the last 4 years exploring the boundaries of what music can be. His last two albums have had enormous impacts not just on what I look for in music but on what constitutes a song. Ever since “To Be Kind” fucked me in the ass and left me for dead back in 2014, I’ve spent an unbelievable amount of time going back and listening to this band’s unfairly large discography and found even more gems beneath the weird, bleak sound these guys have crafted. “The Glowing Man” to me is like the victory lap after “The Seer” and “To Be Kind”. It’s not as powerful, but more a celebration of all that Swans have achieved over such a short period of time since their revival in the new decade. Highlights: Cloud of Forgetting, Frankie M
What One Becomes

I want ISIS back as much as the next person. But their lackluster work with Chino Moreno in Palms was a sign that maybe ISIS returning wasn’t what I wanted and that the band had veered in different directions. It’s easy to see just how different those directions are when you compare Aaron Turner’s work with SUMAC to what his fellow members have been working on. This new album takes the heaviest parts of ISIS and mutates them into a catastrophic assault on the ears, and it feels like the natural next path from what ISIS was. This is exciting music and hopefully something Aaron Turner continues with. Highlights: Image of Control (II), Clutch of Oblivion
27Animals As Leaders
The Madness of Many

“The Joy of Motion” back in 2014 was a feast for my senses and I loved every minute of it. I knew better than to expect the same thing though as these guys do venture around genres and expand their sound. This new album is just as tight albeit with slightly less memorable moments. Easily something worth checking out though. Highlights: Arithmophobia, The Glass Bridge
26Crystal Castles
Amnesty (I)

After hearing all the drama between the two previous members, I’m just glad they finally moved on. The new singer basically sounds like Alice Glass anyways so it’s hard not to just forget things ever happened. This is exactly the kind of album they needed to get back on track. Highlights: Fleece, Chloroform
The Altar

I am absolutely in love with this woman. She just gets me…alright? Her subtle naughtiness hidden under the exterior of a darkened, beaten soul is mesmerizing. Her new album continues to pack the same punch as “Goddess” did back in 2014, with some songs that even surpass the hits on that album. She unfortunately can’t keep the momentum going in the last half of this album, but barring that “The Altar” is tight as hell, just like her body. :) Highlights: Lovesick, Mind Games, Trainwreck (that’s right, it’s not even the two singles that are the best, it’s the next THREE songs after dickheads!)
24Death Grips
Bottomless Pit

I only kind of liked their album “Jenny Death” last year. It had some good tracks. But on this new album it felt like Death Grips finally settled on what they were trying to be and just went with it 100%. They play their music now as if they don’t give a fuck what you think and I appreciate that, as weird as they are. Highlights: Warping, Eh, Three Bedrooms in a Good Neighborhood
23Kendrick Lamar
untitled unmastered.

This guy has been nothing short of the greatest rapper of our generation for the last 4 years. Everything he seems to touch turns to gold (studio albums, features, etc.). This compilation is clearly a collection of B-sides, but they still have the feel of songs that could’ve easily gone on “To Pimp a Butterfly”. He doesn’t even feel like he’s trying half the time, which makes it even more impressive. Here’s hoping Kendrick continues to produce some of the best hip-hop music around. Highlights: untitled 02, untitled 05
22Aesop Rock
The Impossible Kid

I had never heard much from this guy until this year. I like him in the sense that he’s a white rapper that uses language that a white kid like me can actually resonate with. I mean, I still do listen to my fair share of black rap artists but after a while you just want something a little more than “bitches”, the n-word or “weed” being put into songs. This guy may not be the catchiest, but he’s intriguing and still easy to listen to. Highlights: Rings, Lotta Years
The Serenity of Suffering

I liked making fun of these guys over the past few years. I’m sure I’m not the only one. But holy crap this album they came out with basically slapped me in the face several times and left me bewildered. I’ll still gel with some old-school nu-metal. It might not be what I crave anymore like I did when I was in my teens, but this is the tightest album they’ve released in years. You just can’t help but feel happy for them that they’re back on the game. Highlights: Insane, Rotting in Vain, When You’re Not There
20Russian Circles

The first song released on this had me thinking this album wouldn’t be that solid. But luckily I was moving apartments around when it came out and locked myself in my old place for several hours one night to pack with this in the background. It blossomed into a truly solid piece of work with some of their best moments yet. Highlights: Calla, Mota
19Ariana Grande
Dangerous Woman

For me to thoroughly enjoy a pop album in this day and age is quite an achievement. The entire genre is littered with one-hit, two-hit wonders who somehow still manage to trick people into spending copious amounts of money on a concert ticket for pretty much 2 good songs maybe? (I’m looking at you Sia). This girl was no better for a little while there and then this year came out and said “I’m better than that”, releasing quite honestly the tightest pop album of the year. Seriously, if you can even stand pop at all go listen and you’ll be pleasantly surprised that deep into the album there are still some great tracks. Highlights: Moonlight, Into You, Let Me Love You

I was shocked to see it had been 4 years almost since these guys had released an album. It felt like less to be honest. “Gore” is a tight, concise reminder of how great this band is. It’s not their best, but far from their worst and has a couple absolute gems on it to. This band, like Chevelle, has aged well from the nu-metal glory days of the 1990s. Highlights: Prayers/Triangles, Doomed User, Gore

Seriously, fuck this guy. He has the audacity to make a 20-song (80 minute-long) album. You just know there are going to be a wealth of filler tracks. I don’t honestly get why most rap artists can’t just trim their albums down to maybe 12-15 tracks. It’s always got to be 17+ these days. But guess what? He pulls it off somehow. It’s not perfect, it has some weak parts, but overall the album is solid and keeps my interest in him peaked even after his recent mixtape from 2015 that I consider to be his best material yet. Highlights: U with Me?, Controlla, Grammys

These guys simply took what worked on “The Flesh Prevails” and made Part 2. And you know what? Fuck it, I still bought in and enjoyed it. Sometimes that tactic works and there’s plenty to enjoy on this album. Highlights: Adrenaline (soty candidate), The Void Alone, Amber Gaze
15Danny Brown
Atrocity Exhibition

I’d only ever heard this guy feature in some stuff, but the reception this album got on this site was unavoidable. I had to listen to it, and was blown away by this guy’s willingness to veer away from conventional “easy-listening” rap and write songs that were uncomfortably luring. I think that’s the right way to put it? Highlights: Rolling Stone, Really Doe, Ain’t It Funny
14Kanye West
The Life of Pablo

What a mess this album is. This album makes “Yeezus” look cohesive and predictable…which it certainly was not either. Kanye truly is in a weird state of mind right now and his recent issues during his tour solidify that. I’m not sure what’s next for this guy. He seems all over the place and not feeling performing. But at least he left us with an album that celebrates the many different sides of him. You get the singing side of Kanye (Ultralight Beam, Wolves), the outrageously funny side (Famous, I Love Kanye), and the dark side of him (FML, Real Friends). Like it or not, it works and even when he’s not quite 100% he can still release an album people eat up.
Fires Within Fires

Ever since “The Eye of Every Storm”, which marked a significant change in their sound, Neurosis just hasn’t quite done it for me. That was the first album I checked out by them but it wasn’t until I worked my way back to their older stuff that the band truly impressed me. “Fires Within Fires” is a continuation of that sound they’ve been trying to perfect since 2004, but it marks maybe the first time that I could sit back and say “ok….this works”. Perhaps it’s the conciseness of the album (40 minutes? Wtf..) that makes it tolerable. It means you don’t have to dig very far to find a truly glorious moment on this album like in the past where songs would slog on and on forever until something noteworthy happened. They seem to be celebrating their past here and maybe that means their future releases will mark another significant change. Doubtful, but if they stay this level of quality for the rest of their time I won’t complain. Highlights: Fire Is the End Lesson, Broken Ground

I guess if I’m going to listen to death metal, it’s got to have a melodic side to it. That seems to be just about the only kind I can listen to. This band does it astoundingly well and this album goes down smoother than hot chocolate. Highlights: An Ember’s Arc, Roots to Sever
11Norma Jean
Polar Similar

There’s this one soundoff for this album I absolutely loved. Let me go find it. Shattered_Future: “I just threw my chair out the window it's so heavy.” That really does explain this album better than I ever could on my own. Norma Jean continues the success they found on “Wrongdoers” and amps up the intensity even more. Highlights: Everyone Talking Over Everyone Else”, “1,000,000 Watts”, “Reaction” (REAACCTIONN)
Endless Light

I don’t know if these guys will ever make an album that touches the magnificence of “Garden Window” from 2011. But they have yet to release a weak album. This particular one is the easiest to listen to yet, and strips down their sound to a smooth and refined version of themselves. The shorter songs work to their advantage and the hooks are brilliant. Highlights: Your Move, Complicated End Times, I Am (Become Death)

This woman has some serious balls. She releases 4 albums over 4 years (2009-2012) and then goes dark for four years after that, releasing very little. And then, when she comes back, she basically says to her fans: “You know how you’ve been expecting me to make the same music I did before? That’s not going to happen. In fact, I’m going to make the darker, more fucked up kind that isn’t maybe suitable for radio like my other stuff”. Amen, it’s the best album she’s ever made and undoubtedly my Pop Album of the Year by a longshot. Highlights: Consideration, Desperado, Yeah I Said It

This album was stuck in my head for a very large chunk of my trip to Thailand this November. It’s not particularly complicated or technical rock music but it’s done very well and is probably the catchiest music I heard all year. It’s easily their best album thus far. Highlights: Car Sick, A New Man, Rush Hour
7ScHoolboy Q
Blank Face LP

Like Danny Brown, I only knew this guy through his bangers or features. This album admittedly took a long time to click for me, but it works its way into you after a while. A lot of it stems from the fact that the first half of the album is the spottiest part believe it or not. It has some of the better tracks, but mixed with some sleepers like the opener. However, once “Dope Dealer” has its way with you, after that it’s pretty much clear sailing for the rest of the album in what is an absolute marathon of an album. Highlights: That Part, Dope Dealer, JoHn Muir, Str8 Ballin….like a BEOOTTCHH
6Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas

Here we are 3 years later after the “Vertikals”. They had said their activity would be far less and yet we have another album from them. Not just any album either, one with a new vocalist too…a fiery young lady. As mentioned before, this is certainly not the first time a female vocalist has been incorporated into post-metal. I was worried though that this album would suffer the same flaw as the Neurosis/Jarboe collaboration back in 2003, where there were none of the signature Neurosis vocals to be found. However, the first track sheds any worry I might have had and shows that both Klas and Julie are both integral parts on this album. It really feels like a perfect complement to their trademark sound and I would be perfectly fine if Julie Christmas kept hanging around. Highlights: A Greater Call, Approaching Transition
5Anderson .Paak

My opinion about this album now vs. the beginning of the year is a complete 180. I barely liked his last album “Venice” as it stood. This album opts away from the straight-up rapping and more for a mix of dancier funkiness and singing, which I usually hate (eg. D.R.A.M.). So at the start, I dismissed it. But then in July, I went to see him with my friend who had someone drop out of the concert last minute. So I used this chance to get back into him and listen to “Malibu” again. Needless to say, it was not the same the second time round. Seeing him live further solidified just how talented this guy is. He often plays the drums himself in-concert with a live band, rapping the entire time he plays too. He’s a great showman as well, really involving the crowd and it’s probably the best hip-hop concert I’ve ever attended. “Malibu” really is the full realization of all the things he does well. It’s easily my favourite hip-hop album of the year. Highlights: The Waters, Lite Weight, Come Down
4Frank Ocean

What a special album this was. Yeah, he made us wait a while but when it finally hit, he really did it right. Just nonchalantly released it and it wasn’t what anyone expected. It wasn’t a re-hash of “Channel Orange”, he just made the music he felt like making and whether we all liked it or not didn’t matter. Those are quite often the albums that can really take off, the ones you can’t figure out at first and then just click. I liked how his songs aren’t as catchy and force you to sit and let it take you over slowly. It’s the fact that even though it’s not immediate, you’re still drawn to it and listen more than once. That’s the mark of a talented songwriter. I just hope it’s not another 4 years until his next gem. Highlights: Ivy, Solo, Self Control
3Obscure Sphinx

I consider this band to be one of the few left actually carrying the torch for post-metal right now and trying to expand it. They were doing the female vocalist thing long before Cult of Luna tried it this year and their blend of djent and doom within the sound is fucking glorious. Yeah, there have been other post-metal bands who have tried the female vocalist thing (Neurosis/Jarboe, Battle of Mice), but I struggle to see any of those matching how fully realized this band incorporates that. This album was a great next step on top of what they accomplished with their previous album “Void Mother” (one of the Top 3 strongest post-metal albums to come out this decade if you want my opinion). I cannot express how crucial these guys are to post-metal and if you haven’t checked them out yet and are a fan of the genre at all, you need to get on it NOW. Highlights: Nothing Left, Nieprawota, Sepulchre
The North Corridor

This is easily the most inflated album I have on my list. It has no business being this high, were it not that this band has been dear to my heart since the beginning of my dive into the music world. I have clamoured on and on how they are the most consistent rock band in history and aged so well. Every album they build a little bit off the one before and while they don’t try anything really groundbreaking, the little additions (industrial, nu-metal) that they put into their newer songs here are perfect. They really still sound like they’re having fun, which is all I could ask for at this stage in their careers. I would have ranked this lower, but this particular album did something uncharacteristic and actually grew on me more over time rather than phase out slowly like their other ones and that truly deserves a high place on my list given how hard it must be for these guys to impress fans after almost 20 years. Highlights: Door to Door Cannibals, Young Wicked, Warhol’s Showbiz
Audio Noir

2016 marked my first excursion into the beast that was Bossk back in the mid-2000’s. They played a familiar, but no-less powerful version of post-metal that drew very heavily from my favourite metal band ISIS. When I heard they would release a new album this year, I decided it was time to get into them. I spent a good chunk of the first quarter of the year endlessly playing their first EPs “.1” and “.2” in my car or at work. What made the new album “Audio Noir” that much more rewarding of a listen was that it didn’t feel out of place after nearly a decade of inactivity. In fact, it felt like the perfect return, fusing what worked before with how they want to sound now. The way they switch effortlessly between beautiful ambient or post-rock passages to piercing and bludgeoning sludge metal is what makes them truly amazing. 2016 was the start of a beautiful friendship with this band and I can only hope they make more beautiful music. Highlights: Relancer, Kobe, The Reverie II
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