2016, the year every artist alive put out an album. And yes, even a few stiff ones! That said, compiling this years "best of" list was impossible. So I made it real easy on myself, and simply sorted my player by albums with the most listens, regardless of genre. So without further ado, here are the 25 most played albums on my device, even the not so metal ones.
If you prefer a handy playlist, then here ya go!
UADA – Devoid Of Light (Eisenwald Tonschmiede)
UADA might be newcomers on the Portland Oregon Black Metal scene, but their debut album has already gained my attention for their future. Loads of powerful melody and blackened thrash, with a tip of the hat to bands like Mgla, had me stoked and surprised this came out of the USA.
Haken – Affinity (Inside Out)
Without a doubt, this was my favorite prog album of the year. Twisted odd time signatures, epic melodies, and playing their hand in the uprise of the future-retro thing going on this year, had me completely enthralled in Affinity. They were one of the best live bands I saw this year, and I can’t wait for them to come back.
Candiria – While They Were Sleeping (Metal Blade)
The kings of NY are back and better than ever! While They Were Sleeping creates the perfect mix between old and new Candiria, while showing off some new tricks. It’s beautiful as it is deadly, and continues the legacy of what Candiria was always about, breaking down the boundaries.
Astronoid – Air (Blood Music)
Blissfully unique beyond words, Astronoid dropped on the scene with their masterpiece debut Air and will take over 2017 if they haven’t hooked you yet. Mark my words.
Wormrot – Voices (Earache)
Did Wormrot make the grind album of the year? I sure think so! Rip your own face to this.
Hugh Myrone – Drift Stage Vol. 1
I’m flying down a half pipe with a gnarly amount of snow, wind, and sun in my face, and wouldn’t have it any other way! Hugh Myrone’s debut is the high-on-life album you want in your collection.
Norma Jean – Polar Similar (Solid State)
Norma Jean continues their signature southern-mathcore sound on Polar Similar, and I’m eating it up!
Car Bomb – Meta
I’ve talked about this album all year long, so this should come as no surprise. My bros in Car Bomb are fucked up math geniuses, I really don’t know how they write this shit!
O’ Brother – Endless Light (Triple Crown)
I’ve said it many times, but O’ Brother is easily one of my favorite bands in the last decade. That’s a huge statement for someone like myself who works with hundreds of bands and doesn’t like to use the “F” word. But with 3 flawless albums that continue to be the most listened to records I own, I can’t help but cherish everything about their art. I’ve often described them as the answer to the question “What if Cliff Burton joined Radiohead?” But that unfortunately only shares a glimpse of what the band has accomplished in their not—exactly-metal discography. I seriously can’t say enough great things about them. Endless Light is a masterpiece if you’re a fan of music, and can get over the limitations of genres.
Trap Them – Crown Feral (Prosthetic Records)
FUCK YES!!! Not all Trap Them albums are created equal, but this one stands out in their discography as one of the best. An accumulation of everything you want from Trap Them. The fast parts are super fast, the slow parts are slow, and you can practically feel Ryan’s blood drip off the mic and onto your face.
Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason (Nuclear Blast)
The Violent Sleep of Reason is one of the most unique Meshuggah albums to date. Introducing some guitar melodies, tossing out the click map and recording live, while keeping true to the sound they’ve built all these years, lead them to create one of this year’s most revered albums. I was fortunate to host the NYC listening party for the album, and from that very day people have no stopped talking about it, for great reason. The opening track “Clockworks” is an instant Meshuggah classic alone.
Hollow Earth – Dead Planet (Good Fight Music)
I’ve talked about Hollow Earth on this site a lot this year, so there wasn’t a doubt in my mind this would make my 2016 list. Their album Dead Planet is a perfect blend of beauty and brains, with the sonic heaviness of elephants stomping.
Youth Code – Commitment to Complications (Dais Records)
Youth Code has been killing it the past couple years, but their sophomore album, Commitment to Complication, brought a whole new level for the duo. With a great mix of old school F.L.A. style industrial, and the aggressive/epic nature of a metal band, Youth Code might have innovated the perfect crossover for years to come.
King 810 – La Petite Mort or a Conversation With God (Roadrunner)
I understand King 810’s message is not for everyone, but if you open your mind to the music, you might see Le Petite Mort for what it is, an incredible piece of art. It runs the gamut from Metal, to lounge, to theater in a single album while never losing it’s edge. That alone deserves attention for their song writing ability.
Perturbator – The Uncanny Valley (Blood Music)
As a former Black Metal guitarist, James Kent knows a thing or two about creating dark music, which shines through on his Perturbator albums. His 2016 release, The Uncanny Valley, rides the line between Carpenter-esque horror and future city score, in his most compelling dark wave package yet! I spent most of the year listening to the album in every scenario imaginable, and really can’t get enough.
xGiraffe Tongue Orchestra – Broken Lines (Party Smasher)
I’m always weary of “super groups”, for so many reasons I can write an entire editorial on it. So when I gave Broken Lines my first actual listen, I was nothing short of shocked and elated to hear this album ruled! A sum of its parts, the band weaves in and out of hard pop, metal, prog, and more with one of the most experimental albums of the year. I can’t wait to see where they go next.
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation (Party Smasher)
Dissociation is the all encompassing DEP album in that it’s the slowest but fastest, heaviest but lightest, aggressive but melodic DEP album in their discography. I wouldn’t say every song on here is a favorite, but the album as a whole speaks volumes of what this band has created, achieved, and perfected in their amazing career. Between the doleful tones you can find on tracks like “Symptom Of Terminal Illness” and “Dissociation”, to the broken tube amps found on the cover, which is a clear throwback to the band’s debut album Calculating Infinity, you can actually feel the sense of closure in a very poetic way.
Vektor – Terminal Redux (Earache)
Terminal Redux was an album I went back to over and over again without hesitation. A complete Thrash, Black, Prog opus that is so dense you can hear something new in the mix every time. A total mind blowing album for sure!
Aborted – Retrogore (Century Media)
The death/grind veterans are back with their 9th album, and some how they just seem to get heavier and faster with age. I probably would have called this album “Music to fuck your battered and bloody corpse to” but they’re clearly classy gentlemen.
Textures – Phenotype (Nuclear Blast)
Without a doubt, Textures is my favorite modern day djent band. Every album they release is flawlessly written, performed, and recorded, and their more aggressive approach to the genre is what really sets them apart from the others. I really wouldn’t change a thing about this band, except to have them tour the USA on a regular basis!
Blood Red Throne – Union of Flesh and Machine (Candlelight)
Yup! Blood Red Throne released one of 2016’s best death metal albums, and you probably slept on it. Click the link, bang your head, repeat.
Revocation – Great Is Our Sin (Metal Blade Records)
God damn! I don’t know what Dave & Co are putting in their Cheerios lately, but Great Is our Sin might be the best Revocation album since Existence is Futile!
Toothgrinder – Nocturnal Masquerade (Spinefarm Records)
This album was my go-to album in the gym this year. A perfect blend of metal and hardcore, filled with energy and catchy hooks the entire way. I’m so stoked for these young dudes, and can’t wait to hear the next album already.
Exmortus – Ride Forth (Prosthetic Records)
My love for Exmortus is well documented on this site, and their latest album, Ride Forth, gave me the chub for swords that Manowar missed this year.
Black Queen – Fever Daydream (Universal Music Australia)
Since released in January, my entire year was filled with this amazing dark wave album from DEP’s Greg Puciato. Far from metal, Black Queen closer resembles early Depeche Mode with loads of unique dance rhythms and signature melodies. I have no doubt this band will blow up in the next few years.
Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence (HevyDevy Records)
Devin Townsend is known for putting out really epic albums, but Transcendence is a class of its own! I may go so far to even say it might be the best produced album I’ve ever heard from this musical hero. Earlier this year Devin told me he attributes the new sound to letting his band in on the process, whatever it may be, keep doing it!
Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct (Blackend Music)
The kings of metal are back to form with Hardwired… To Self-Destruct! As a life long Metallica fan, I was front and center for the release of this album, and even stood on line for the release like the old days. I fell in love with it long before it was even released. In fact the only thing I actually question about the album, is the damn name.