Chef Brian Tsao's Top 10 Albums Of 2016
I was both excited & nervous when asked to do a Top 10 for 2016. Not only has it been an amazing year for myself with the first season of Taste of Metal (and filming of the second, due to kick off 2017!), but for the entire genre of metal!
So many of my favorite old & new bands had released albums this year equivalent to Japanese Imported 5A wagyu beef that ALL deserve recognition, but unfortunately there are only 10 spots in this list… and you know what??? That’s a good fucking problem to have too many good albums to listen to!
10. Animals as Leaders – The Madness of Many
All members of Animals have long been making their mark in music & their instruments, and while I hugely respect all they’ve done, if their previous efforts were a Mercedes, then this album is a fucking fighter jet. All the aspects I loved about their style are honed in and further refined, I found myself leaving this album on all day long in the kitchen, only to listen to it again on the ride back home finding something new and cool.
9. Revocation – Great Is Our Sin
While all Revocation albums are filled with beautiful blistering guitar riffs & refined technique, the “historical battle cry” vibes I get from this record takes the no.9 spot. Ash Pearson also completely kills it and makes an awesome addition to the band. These guys have consistently kept things at 11 and dare I say pushing to 12 on this record?
8. Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct
The metal titans have returned and did not disappoint! Like many others, I completely shit all over Metallica when St. Anger was released, but unlike many, I was introduced to Metallica during the load era. I always looked at Metallica beyond just ‘Ride the Lightning’ & ‘…Puppets’ and feel ‘Hardwired…’ encompasses their entire catalogue for the better.
7. Mother Feather – Mother Feather
While not a metal band, they definitely do not lack heavy. Released by Metal Blade Records, I was initially intrigued by the album cover & visuals. For a moment I felt like a kid from the 80’s picking up the first Iron Maiden Record purely based on the album cover only to go home and be totally blown away. Sexy, cool, powerful and full of swagger, I can’t say more good things about this band and their debut release.
6.Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake
Why don’t we ever say “the Big 5”? Well I guess “the Big 4” has a better ring to it, but seriously, Testament are by far the most consistently awesome band of all the Thrash gods and this album demonstrates why. “Like getting smacked over the head with a sledge hammer” is how I’d describe this album and I love every second of it.
5. Candiria – While They Were Sleeping
My personal most anticipated album of 2016, I still remember the exact moment I first heard Candiria back in ’99. Candiria were the weirdest, freshest, strangest & most unique band I’d ever heard until that point, and ‘While They Were Sleeping’ is a perfect display of what makes Candiria so special and amazing. It’s no secret countless bands of today have been influenced by Candiria, and its great having the OG’s back in town showing who’s boss without even lifting a finger, just listen to this record, you won’t regret it.
4. Aborted – Retrogore
I’ve long heard of this band but didn’t give them a listen until this past April and my oh my… Containing all my favorite elements of death metal & grind, this records strength is in its in balance of the two. I often describe the kitchen as a well refined metal band, and Retrogore is a perfect representation of that idea. A harsh and unforgiving atmosphere that requires zero bullshit, honed skills and discipline to execute night after night, but if you let it be… it’s fun a hell.
3. Meek is Murder – Was
Listening to this record is like getting pinched around (but not on) the nipple followed by a cold beer can to the back of your neck and a shot of whiskey down your throat. That’s literally the best way I can describe this record… Once I hear something that irks me, it’s very quickly followed by something that makes me happy and the primal visceral performances of each member gives one hell of a joy ride.
2. Gojira – Magma
There is not a single band that can paint atmosphere with heavy music like Gojira. I am literally transported into another place and experience every emotion, see every color & at times can taste the atmosphere the music is painting. ‘Stranded’ of caught my attention with the use of the “Dimebag’esque” Whammy pedal screech & power groove riff, but the record as a whole flows and displays elegance in its groovy heavy goodness.
1. Killswitch Engage – Incarnate
I often find myself skipping over the “slow songs” on most metal albums, but here, they are some of my favorites on this latest release by KSE. Adam D & Joel Stroetzel still churn out sick killer riffs, but its Jesse’s lyrics that take this album to the next level. Deep, meaningful and enthralling… every song, slow or fast, makes you listen a little more carefully, and for me, makes the album better. My anthem record for 2016
Watch Brian's cooking-meets-metal series, Taste of Metal.
More Best of 2016 here.