Nate Driedger's Top 10 Albums of 2016
To make a year end list is always a challenge. Instead of considering it the “Best of 2016”, I rather consider my compilation a more of “Albums I really enjoyed and meant the most to me that happened to be released in 2016” type of list. So below are albums I consider excellent releases, and have special meaning to me for various reasons. Some of the bands will leave you scratching your heads with the selection, others you may agree with, and yet still others you may despise. Let me know in the comments what albums were meaningful to you this year. Tis the holiday season, so in the giving spirit, give your opinion for all to enjoy.
10. Virulency – The Anthropodermic Manuscript of Retribution
Out of all the brutal death/slam albums that came out this year, Virulency sits on top in my opinion. Defeated Sanity was a close second, but the spirit and charm delivered on The Anthropodermic Manuscript of Retribution is un matchable. The crunchy churning riffs and diverse vocals are some of the most original structors I have heard in this sub genre for a while. There is no way to describe it, simply do yourself a favor and spin this album.
9. Vibrion – Bacterya
This may seem like an odd selection, but this additive old school death metal band is one of the heavier releases on this list. Its not extremely innovative or unique, but in a time where “real” death metal is far and few between, Vibrion crushes it. They are a breath of fresh air in a dilapidated genre in 2016 that saw no Horrendous tier releases in death metal. A solid argument could be made for Blood Inaction, but their riffs could not match the hooks and shredding in Bacteria. This is true underground death metal where the seasoned musicians truly “get it”.
8. Aborted – Retrogore
No introduction needed for these fellows. If you have not heard Retrogore at this stage in the year, I pity you. Death grind in its purest sense, these brutal sounding passages invoke a sense of horror, and delivers a mood rarely captured otherwise. From the horror movie clip sound bits, to the album art, this complete metal album leaves nothing to be desired. Its special experience where the writing is catchy and clean enough to fall in love with on your first listen, but continues to unfold and reveal deeper composition after many listens.
7. Anicon – Exegeses
One of the albums that I keep coming back to over and over is Exegeses. I have not tired of the catchy riffs, unique drum fills, and thoughtful black metal vocals. These guys know exactly what they are doing, and make an excellent argument for one of the better black metal releases of the year. I will continue to spend a lot of time with Exegeses in 2017.
6. Khemmis – Hunted
When I heard Khemmis was releasing an album in 2016 coming off their incredible 2015 release, I knew they had something special in store. The ability to blend doom, and abbreviated elements of other sub genres in metal creates a paradise for any seasoned metal lover. This album contains the complexity that will sustain the test of time for years to come in its ability to continue its emotion filled journey while building a dialog of precision and attitude.
5. Heiress – Made Wrong
This album really took me by surprise. Its an unclassifiable work of art, that takes notes from everything to create a near perfect masterpiece of high energy emotion and power. This North West band takes the best of the punk/hardcore world to create a complex pallet of innovative sound to create a strong identity that is always such a relief to discover.
4. Oathbreaker – Rheia
My friends call me a hipster black metal fan for listing Deaf Heaven on my year end list for 2015, and now for listing Oathbreaker on my 2016 list. Hipster or not, this album is of a quality rarely seen. I was fortunate to see them live this past year, and the amount of emotion captured in their performance was astounding. Part of the magic on this album is the production, and how it carried the balance of modern black metal, while carrying the needed labor-some torment needed for any successful black metal album. This is a hybrid black metal album mixing a lot of ideas together, but the end result is successful.
3. Cobalt – Slow Forever
This album is still revealing new aspects to me. The diversity is strong with Slow Forever. Cobalt is no stranger to making quality music, and given the odd twists and turns the band has experienced in its membership, its refreshing to get a new product that carries with it a soul all of its own. If you enjoy creative black metal, that has defined itself as one of the best in their sub genre, Slow Forever will be for you.
2. Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason
A little bias may come into play on this pick, as I have been a Meshuggah fan for as long as I have been into metal. With that aside, The Violent Sleep of Reason is an excellent release and remains one of the bands better albums. This is a bold statement when considering their discography and the monumental releases they have released in the past. What Meshuggah continues to do is create death metal with odd time signatures and a technicality that has been attempted and copied by many other bands to a much lesser degree, while they continue to stay on top.
1. Schammasch – Triangle
Triangle is a rare album in the fact that its one of the most complete and satisfying CDs I have experienced. Not a second is wasted in emptiness, or lack of passion. The execution and recording is near flawless, and the power generated thorough the diverse yet cohesive sound are all attributes which make the album, one of the most enjoyable for me in this year.