Nick Abela's Top 15 Albums of 2016
Well, that time of year has arisen again where music goers of all kinds compile their favorite albums of the year. 2016 was full of plenty of records from bands that I enjoy and trying to put them all into a list was not the easiest task. There's always that one release that comes out each year that I find myself saying "oh, this is my album of the year," or "this will definitely make my list," and it either falls lower on the list or does not make list at all due to all of the late releases that come out at the end of the year. Hell, sometimes I have to go into my music library and search records to find out if they even came out in the current year just due to their albums being put out so early in the year. However, enough is enough. Let's get right into the records that I thought were big stand outs in 2016.
15. Coves – Dying Light
Coves was a band that I honestly never heard of prior to finding them on a YouTube compilation of up and coming melodic hardcore bands and God damn I must say that I'm glad that I came across them. These Aussie's know how to combine hardcore and metalcore and still give it a nice melodic sound. The amount of times that I have found myself spinning this EP and getting lost in it is unfathomable. You can feel the passion in the record and you will definitely find yourself singing along with the choruses and making that "stank" face during the hard-hitting riffs and breakdowns.
14. Fit For A King – Deathgrip
Deathgrip was a record that I automatically knew would make my list when I was scrolling through Instagram, months before the album was even recorded, and I came across their guitarist Bobby Lynge teasing some riffs and prepro for the upcoming release. Fit For A King has been one of my favorite metalcore bands since I came across their debut LP Descendants back in 2011. Although I must say this record had exceeded my expectations even before I heard it, I feel that it still is a huge step up from their 2014 release Slave to Nothing. Deathgrip is more than just your typical metalcore record; its full of anger, passion, and real life issues which to me makes it stand out much more than a large portion of releases that came out this year.
13. Periphery – Periphery III: Select Difficulty
I remember seeing Periphery back when I was a Freshman in high school on the Thrash & Burn Tour back in 2010 and they have been one of my favorites since then. Every single release that they have had so far in their career makes me frustrated as a musician but at the same point I'm constantly impressed. Periphery always finds a way to make their way onto my list whether it's an EP or an LP, they just constantly blow my mind. I will be honest though, this record took many, many listens for me to decide that I did enjoy this record. Periphery III: Select Difficulty is just different to the rest of the material in their catalog which is why I think it took so long for me to enjoy this record but I am glad that I came around to it.
12. Yuth Forever – Skeleton Youth Forever
What impressed me the most was about the Yuth Forever record was that although their sound still has the same premise as their previous releases, it is TREMENDOUSLY different. The amount of times that I was listening to this record and I had to rewind the track just because some of the drumming and guitar effects threw me off that much. Do I think this is Yuth's best release? No, I do not but is it a memorable record that still kicks ass? Absolutely. It's a shame that this is their last album for good or for an extended period of time but it is extremely enjoyable to listen to.
11. Auras – Heliospectrum
First things first. Auras is a band that I found off of Vine… Yes, you heard that right, VINE. Their guitarist's brother was and still is a popular viner that used to post a lot of metal related videos and AURAS happened to be one of them. At the time they had just released their EP Crestfallen and it was an unbelievable release. I think it actually made my AOTY list last year. When I found out that they were coming out with another full length I knew that I had to give it a serious listen. It's heavy, it's dark, it's technical. To make all of these descriptions short and sweet, it's a Djent kid's wet dream. Once they dropped the first single "Waterstone," I knew this record was going to be impeccable from front to back and it simply is. The record is brilliant, plain and simple.
10. Void of Vision – Children of Chrome
Holy shit did this record surprise me. I've heard of Void before but never gave them a listen until I heard they were coming out with a new record so, I began doing my research. They're a metalcore band from Australia that has your typical breakdowns, chugs, and choruses yada yada yada… with past releases but still cool and enjoyable to listen to nonetheless. When Children of Chrome was released I was incredibly surprised. The production is great, their song composition is a lot more fluent and everything as a whole makes this record sick. I constantly say time and time again, that Australia has some of the greatest metal bands on the planet whether they may be large or small. It must be something in the water down under because for a band that I didn't have high expectations for I was surprised that this release would make it this high on my list.
9. Architects – All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us
Architects always seem to find their way onto my AOTY list due to their changing sound and how their lyrics are about controversial topics. It's 2016 and it seems that everybody needs to have a safety blanket around them at all times. Architects breaks down the barriers with this release and finds a way to hit home. Lost Forever// Lost Together is the record that helped Architects expand their market and make themselves some how bigger. I love this record front to back. The riffs are hard-hitting and the vocals are always singable. The emotion that is displayed with this record is fantastic. One touch that I love that Architects does is the "Making of" series for their albums. I personally love the touch of seeing the hard work bands put into creating their art. A huge amount of respect for this record came from the passing of their guitarist, Tom Searle. Tom was sick with cancer for a total of three years before the miserable disease took his life and knowing that he put in that much effort into writing, recording and touring with a disease that literally kicks and drains the living shit out of you is so admirable. I applaud the members of Architects for being understanding when Tom was too sick to make shows and had to take time off to undergo treatment. All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us is such an inspirational record throughout and it definitely deserves a listen whether you have listened to them prior or not. R.I.P Tom Searle, "Gone With the Wind."
8. Expire – With Regret
I've always enjoyed listening to Expire. Maybe it has to do with them being the first hardcore band that I listened to when I first got into the genre but they always find a way to top their previous release. With Regret was announced along with a statement of the band publication of their break up. Knowing that this was going to be the last Expire record was a difficult pill to swallow but damn, this is a tasty pill. Hardcore lives with this album and I love it. The simplistic 90's hardcore riffs to the adaptation of the slowing down of riffs and breakdowns makes this record full of energy. With Regret is different from every other Expire record and I love that. Every song is short, sweet and to the point which makes it a much easier listen just like everything else the band has in their arsenal. In a year where hardcore had some great releases, I'm glad that Expire's final record makes this list.
7. ERRA – Drift
ERRA kind of fell of the face of the earth after their debut LP Impulse where they seemed to draw a lot of scrutiny to being "boring" and "predictable" but they finally got back into the swing of things with Drift. The newest release from ERRA features their third vocalist, J.T. Cavey (formerly of Texas in July) and brings them back into a record where they can combine their old roots with a new twist. Their riffs are incomprehensible, their vocal lines are singable, the melodies are on point and the breakdowns are back to how they were in 2011 but more fitting to the times of the genre. ERRA is back from the dead and damn does that make me happy.
6. Capsize – A Reintroduction: The Essence of All That Surrounds Me
To me, Capsize was always one of those bands that I always appreciated but never really cared for. Live, their performance is pretty cool which I guess makes me enjoy them more but I never cared all that much for them. Upon hearing of the new record being released this summer I figured, why not? Well I'm glad that I decided to have that why not moment because this record brings me back. Yes, it still has that Capsize feel to it but it has a much more late 2000's, early 2010 style to it. Throughout this record there are points where I feel like, "holy shit this sounds like The Used," and that made me so stoked. I believe that the boys in Capsize found their sound and I am glad that they did. I did not expect to listen to this record as much as I have over the past few months and never would I have expected it to make my list, let alone a high spot like this. It may not be super heavy but it is a great change of pace and has plenty of parts and songs where you can spin the record and sit down to relax. A Reintroduction is a very surprising record to say the least.
5. Silent Planet – Everything Was Sound
Silent Planet has become one of my favorite bands over the years and they seem to improve with every release. The topics of their songs, the riffs, the leads, the vocals, everything about Silent Planet makes them a fan favorite and Everything Was Sound helps reinforce that. "Panic Room" makes you literally feel like you suffer from PTSD (which is what the song is about). Vocalist Garrett Russell makes you literally feel and experience their music through his vivid lyrical structure. The fascinating aspect of their music is that they seem to feed off of each other to help push themselves as musicians and create something that is much greater. There is something external that makes this record what it is and that's something that is difficult to pinpoint but Everything Was Sound is an unbelievable album from front to back.
4. Knocked Loose – Laugh Tracks
I had the courtesy to review Laugh Tracks for MI back in September as my first review and it has stuck with me since then. It's just an aggressive album that was definitely needed this year. Knocked Loose was always a band that I've jammed since they released their first EP back in 2014 but a full length record of this magnitude from a newcomer makes this record that much better. The record is full of power, angst, and anger that has been able to inject their way into the ears of hardcore fans all over and have seriously blown up since this release.
3. Invent, Animate – Stillworld
They're the band to be in the djent/tech metalcore genre at this point. When Invent, Animate put out Everchanger in 2014, I literally thought to myself, "they're the new Northlane." Invent, Animate has everything that a djent and or metalcore fan could want. Downtuned guitars, chugs for days, in your face breakdowns, technical riffs, simple cleans and a sound that is slowly growing on more and more people of all ages. Stillworld is full of beauty, animosity, strength and energy. Trying to identify what it is about Invent that makes them so enjoyable is simple and troublesome at the same point but shit are they a great band. "Celestial Floods" and "Dark Bloom" have breakdowns that can get a room spinning whether you're at a show or in your own room, they're that good. Stillworld was no surprise with how satisfying it would be and it did not disappoint.
2. To the Wind – The Brighter View
Every now and again there's a band that you find out of nowhere and they instantly become one of your favorites. To the Wind is one of those bands for me. In a year where hardcore had so many releases I'm shell-shocked that a band whom I have never heard of took a place this high on my list. When To the Wind wants to be heavy they show you that they do not fuck around. When they want to show their lighter side they show the elegance that hardcore can possess if written in that style. Melodic hardcore is a genre that has been growing over the years with bands like Hundredth, Counterparts, and Stick to Your Guns and To the Wind just seems to be there in the background and that surprises the hell out of me. I heard good things about this album from some friends and I'm more than happy that I checked this out. It's overwhelming beautiful that an album from a smaller band can show the full potential of a group to make themselves known in a rapidly expanding market. It's hard to not fall in love with an album from a band who proves that they can impress.
1. Every Time I Die – Low Teens
This record is IT. For yearssssss, I've tried to get into their music a
nd I don't know what it was for me to not dig their previous releases but holy shit did Low Teens impress me. Right as "Fear and Trembling" started I knew the entire record was going to be an unreal album. Going back and listening to the rest of E TID's catalog, I feel as if their sound has matured making them one of my favorite bands in the hardcore genre. The bad boys from Buffalo wrote a record that I'm still finding pieces that I love after listening to the album countless times. As you find yourself getting lost in the circle pit style riffs, it is literally impossible to not enjoy this album. The raw sound of this record helps soothe the ears in an age of overproduced music in the metal genre and gives you a nice breath of fresh air. With a wonderful combination of brutality and southern rock riffs, Every Time I Die have proven that they're here to take over the world.