For all the crappiness we experienced in 2016, it was a great year for heavy metal musics. I had way more than 10 favorite albums this year, but only chose 10 to really focus on.
Here are all the albums tied for #11:
- Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas Mariner
I didn't give this album the time it deserved when it came out and have recently rediscovered it's awesomeness.
- Car Bomb Meta
No other band fucks with my mind like these guys, who prove math metal is alive and well.
- Khemmis Hunted
Do you smoke weed? Or like bands that are assosiated with stoner metal? Then you will definitely enjoy Khemmis.
- Oathbreaker Rhia
I was expecting Entombedcore and instead got something beautiful. These guys impress.
- Revocation Great Is Our Sin
Revocation have never made an album I do not like and the trend continues.
- Gatecreeper Sonoran Depravation
Oh my god, the breakdowns!
- Neurosis Fires Within Fires
I like what I hear, but I need to book a vacation to a cave with great acoustics, get very high and really digest this album.
10. Wormrot Voices
Wormrot went away for a few years and then came back to remind everybody that Singapore knows a thing or two about grind. This trio keep things short and sweet with most songs clocking in around a minute. That makes the closing track of this album, "Outworn" a god damn epic at 3:49. Wormrot is all about meaty riffs for me, and they always deliver there.
9. Giraffe Tongue Orchestra Broken Lines
The meeting of guitarists Ben Weinman and Brent Hinds was one I have been anticipating for quite a while. But when I first hit play on this amazing album, I was even more impressed at the vocals of William DuVall. I kept having to check the liner notes to make sure it was him. These three experts of their respective fields came together to create something very interesting, a throwback to late 70s rock songs, and actual singing over great riffs. Sprinkles of Juliette Lewis' voice add some nice sizzle to a great album worth checking out.
8. Opeth Sorceress
While I very much enjoyed the "death growl" era of Opeth, I am also very much enjoying the band's prog rebirth. Mikael Akerfeldt just knows how to write amazing songs. I had the benefit of getting this album in the early summer, when it was released in the fall, and it was the best thing to listen to on a bright, sunny day. Opeth's music just makes me happy.
7. Gojira Magma
I was part of a group of lucky few journalists who got to get an advanced listen to this album at the band's recently completed New York studio, and that has always been the optimal listening experience when it came to this album. This album made such a good first impression on me, and the enthusiasm carried for the months that followed when I just couldn't put this album down. The band really explored melody on this album, while maintaining their signature crunch.
6. Fallujah Dreamless
From the moment the intro track ends, and "Adrenaline" kicks in, you are taken on a rollercoaster ride of technical death metal. What I love about Fallujah, is no matter how "tech" and "death" they get, they always back it up with awesome groove, giving me whiplash from all the forceful headbanging I'm forced to do whenever listening to this album. Even when they slow things down with the proggy parts, they still maintain the groove element, and that's what I appreciate.
5. The Dillinger Escape Plan Dissociation
What I liked about this, the final album from one of my favorite all-time bands, is it almost acts as a mixtape of all the band's best stylistic tropes, while also paving new experiments like playing with dub and jazz elements. There are the noisey guitar parts that were a staple of early Dillinger albums, intermixed with the infectious hooks of their later material. I am absolutely biased when talking about this band because I eat up anything they put out. I'm going to miss this band a lot!
4. Metallica Hardwired… To Self-Destruct
The biggest surprise of the year. Many critics of this album would argue that if the songs didn't say "Metallica" on them, people wouldn't be going so crazy for them, but I respectfully disagree. The songs are damn catchy. The riffs of tracks like "Halo on Fire" and "Atlas, Rise!" got stuck in my head for weeks. The closing track, "Spit Out the Bone" is up there for me with classic-era closers like Damage Inc, Dyers Eve and The Call of Khtulu. Straight-up, Metallica figured out how to creep influences from their previous material into their new sound, and it absolutely worked.
3. Mantar Ode to the Flame
These dudes prove, you only need a guitar and a basic drum set up to rock the fucking house down. Mantar's AC/DC worship was a welcome breath of fresh air in the overly technical metal world and definitely the album I listened to the most in the first six months of the year. Anytime I played this album in the car with other people, whether they were metalheads or not, they found themselves groovin' and shaking their heads to one of the tracks here.
2. Youth Code Commitment to Complications
Who would have thought mixing industrial with hardcore-inspired vocals would work so well? I guess Youth Code did. These guys were a huge surprise and as soon as I first heard them, I couldn't stop listening to their disgusting beats with angsty vocals. Nothing beats a great fake snare sound for me, and this album is chock full of 'em. A great album for weaving through New York City rush hour traffic.
1. Meshuggah The Violent Sleep of Reason
Meshuggah are my favorite band in the world, they are the one band that encompass everything that I enjoy in metal. And, with the Violent Sleep of Reason, they really stepped it up a notch. I remember hearing the album for the first time at a listening party, and thinking "yep, that's my Meshuggah." But then quickly, my opinion would change to "wait a minute, are they serious? Is this happening right now?! Oh, no they didn't!" Meshuggah floored me with the new and inventive ways they found to be themselves. It's new sounds, but it's still signature Meshuggah. Only these five Swedes could pull that kind of magic trick off.
Best Non-Metal Album: Night Club Requiem For Romance
Night Club is the perfect electronic band. First off, vocalist Emily Kavanaugh has a beautiful, sexy voice made for fronting a dark electronic band. And, the music she and collaborator Mark Brooks (who was a director on Metaloclypse by the way, as we discussed on the RIP a Livecast) come up with are damn great, dirty, sexy, catchy… everything I want in a non-metal album. Seek this one out for sure.
Other awesome non-metal albums I enjoyed this year:
- David Bowie Blackstar
What a way to say goodbye. David Bowie was on another level.
- Black Queen Fever Daydream
If Greg Puciato only creates dark electronic for the rest of his days, that's fine with me.
- Perturbator The Uncanny Valley
The synthwave master brings a little metal to the easiest listen of the year.
- Hugh Myrone Drift Stage Vol. 1
If you're not down with Myrone, I got two words for ya…