Heavy music. We don’t just love it, we breathe and live it. And we want you to drink in every album that made the list of our favourite albums of 2016. Heading to the business end, to find out even more of the very best of the very best of this years’ heavy music, read on…
30. BORKNAGAR – Winter Thrice (Century Media)
“As Winter Thrice unfolds like a blanket of snow across an epic Scandinavian vista, elements of Borknagar’s sound since their inception make their presence known with surprising regularity… Quite simply, another icy feather in the cap for Norway’s finest purveyors of progressive Viking/folk metal that isn’t called Enslaved.” Read the full review here
29. ASTRONOID – Air (Blood Music)
Take the hyperactivity of Devin Townsend after one too many magic jelly beans, ethereal floating poppy clean vocals, swathes of shoegaze and the power metal speed of DragonForce, and you still won’t come close to nailing quite what Astronoid’s “Dream Thrash” is and does. It’s quirky, unusual, enthralling and quite, quite special.
28. CROWBAR – The Serpent Only Lies (eOne)
Roots! Bloody Roots!! Eleven albums across twenty-five years, and sludge metal’s finest and most consistent tour de force have headed down memory lane, and immersed themselves in their early material and original influences to great effect, producing another goddamn fine skull-bashing album of riffs and swampy doom.
27. OATHBREAKER – Rheia (Deathwish inc)
“A simply breath-taking, remarkable album: one which Church of Ra talisman Colin H. van Eeckhout describes as “Game changing”. You’ll find it hard to disagree. Piquing every mood in the book… Rheia is the sound of Oathbreaker delivering all that promise and a whole world more.” Read the full review here
26. KILLSWITCH ENGAGE – Incarnate (Roadrunner)
“The most mature work from Leach-fronted Killswitch, the Westfield, MA natives…came through and then some on Incarnate… tinkering with their sound to make the heavy, heavier and the melodic, more emotional and memorable, but do not stray too far away from what they know works.” Read the full review here
25. MARILLION – F.E.A.R. (earMUSIC)
“This is a band who have nurtured their exceptional talent with care and spectacular attention to detail. Marillion are a band who challenge themselves to raise the artistic and performance bar; who treat their audience with respect and intelligence.This is an ambitious, rich and deeply rewarding record of subtle nuance, innovation and deep resonance.” Read the full review here
24. CHTHE’ILIST – Le Dernier Crepuscule (Profound Lore)
Over the course of the last few years, there has a been an eruption of talented, ingenious, twisted bands who delight in fucking with the previously staid and conservative formula of death metal, and creating ever more perverted, and frankly brilliant, spirals away from the core. Canada’s Chthe’ilist have taken the crown this year to establish themselves as genuine (ob)scene leaders.
23. BOSS KELOID – Herb Your Enthusiasm (Black Bow)
“Herb Your Enthusiasm possesses true Soul and variation and this makes it a truly immersive, exciting experience. It’s debatable whether the UK Metal Underground has ever been in such rude health; Boss Keloid certainly hasn’t. Much like its subject matter this meaningful, rutting beast will continue to grow.” Read the full review here
22. CAR BOMB – Meta (Self-released/Independent)
Carrying on the theme of eclecticism prevalent in many of this years strongest releases, this collision of Meshuggah heavy juddering precision, and Dillinger-esque epilepsy was expertly produced by Joseph Duplantier of Gojira. With Frank Mullen not sounding out of place, this is a savage, technical, schizophrenic riot of violence.
21. KATATONIA – The Fall Of Hearts (Peaceville)
“The Fall of Hearts’ greatest strength is in its precision and economy of song. Lesser outfits would have buckled under the weight of gothic miasma or overindulgence. Author Malcolm Gladwell argued that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Katatonia have obviously put in their time.” Read the full review here
20. ABBATH – Abbath (Season of Mist)
“But the Kvlt faithful need not worry, it’s not all New Wave of British Heavy Metal worship. ‘Eternal’ has enough blast beats to thaw any frozen heart and ‘Fenrir Hunts’ is highly reminiscent (in the best way) of the blackened death metal that Behemoth has been expertly brewing as of late.” Read the full review here
19. IHSAHN – arktis. (Candlelight)
“(Ihsahn) goes to places he’s never visited before on this record, yet keeps the listener engaged, as only he can, with every passing note. His brilliance as a song writer is evident in each track, and while some songs are stronger than others, it makes for a mind altering listen for any fan of metal”.
18. ROTTING CHRIST – Rituals (Season of Mist)
A culmination of a four album arc that began with Theogonia a decade ago, with Rituals veteran Greek Death/Black Metal titans Rotting Christ unveil a majestic orgy of heady rhythms, chants, hypnotic, churning guitars, and wonderful slabs of metal interspersed with drama, atmosphere and truly talented heavy song writing. Read the full review here
17. GORGUTS – Pleiades’ Dust (Season of Mist)
“Never one to choose the easy route of convention, Pleiades’ Dust once again proves a head scratching affair at first which may seem daunting, but once delved into proves captivating and, against the odds, not only understandable but essential.” Read the full review here
16. DAVID BOWIE – Blackstar (Columbia/RCA)
“…is the sound of an acceptance an artist saying goodbye forever. It would seem that the sentiment of the title is quite the opposite in reality. On Blackstar, Bowie left nothing behind or unsaid; if anything it’s a bit esoteric. Not just in a sense of this album, but his career and his life. And I am still not ready for this. And neither are you.” Read the full review here
15. AMON AMARTH – Jomsviking (Sony/Metal Blade)
“Jomsviking is further evidence that Amon Amarth are still a huge and creative entity. The boldness of an in-depth and intricate storyline intertwined with some of their strongest and catchiest songs to date, and you have perhaps the best album of their career.” Read the full review here
14. ARCHITECTS – All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us (Epitaph)
“These signs and moves put Architects in a class of their own when it comes to vision in the genre, and thus have not only exceeded all their own greatness, but have further proven why they are one of the shining lights in the style, and for British metal itself.” Read the full review here
13. NEUROSIS – Fires Within Fires (Neurot)
“Fires within Fires is Neurosis at their focused and refined best. This is a record that is brilliantly constructed and emotionally delivered. In much the same way that Tool seem incapable of making bad or uninteresting records, Neurosis have found their way into the same rarefied atmosphere.” Read the full review here
12. TESTAMENT – Brotherhood Of The Snake (Nuclear Blast)
“Brutish, obstinate and punchy, with a bulldozing groove a mile wide, Brotherhood of the Snake is not the album to listen to on your headphones as you walk down the high street. Unless of course you want people staring at you in confusion as you bend down to roar into the face of a bewildered little old lady.” Read the full review here
11. METALLICA – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct (Blackened)
“The guys are back to having fun, and writing the music they love, and you can hear it with each song. While some tracks are better than others, this is still, undeniably, the best Metallica album in twenty-five years. Get it!” Read the full review here
Read Part I of our 2016 Album of the Year countdown (50-31) here.