2016 was a huge year for metal releases. We got new albums from the likes of Metallica, Neurosis, Opeth, Gojira and Meshuggah, and now I’ve been asked to select my “Top Twenty” of the year. Over the past few weeks I’ve revisited all of these records and more, and while the list was ridiculously long, somehow I managed to pick twenty, and you can see my Top Metal Albums of 2016 below. Check it out!
#20- Ulcerate – Shrines of Paralysis
Shrines of Paralysis is the fifth studio album by the extreme metallers from New Zealand, and their best record yet. Throughout the chaotic atmosphere created on the record, you hear the new levels of precision mastered by each musician, and accompany that with the pure fury of the vocals, and you get one of the heaviest and sickest releases of 2016.
#19- Revocation – Great Is Our Sin
Revocation is a band that truly gets better with every record, and they’ve kept up that trend with the release of Great Is Our Sin. This album features some of the heaviest and melodic material they’ve ever recorded, and it makes for their most cohesive album of their career. They’ve mastered their sound, yet evolved it with the addition of Ash Pearson behind the kit, and the sky is truly the limit for this band.
#18- Oathbreaker – Rheia
Oathbreaker progressed their sound into something beautiful with the release of Rheia. This new record is one of the most emotional rides you’ll hear this year, and it will open the doors to a whole new audience for the band. While they’ve still stayed true to their blackened roots, they’ve also taken on the power of simplicity, and it makes for one of the strongest and most poetic releases I’ve heard in a long time.
#17- Magrudergrind – II
Magrudergrind returned with a vengeance with the release of II. They are one of the few bands that stand out in the grind genre, and this album showcases why. It’s a riff-filled, chaotic ride, that doesn’t stop from the first note until the last. Their songwriting has been taken to a new level, and while some fans may argue over the production, I’m still absolutely blown away at what these three men came up with on this album.
#16- Neurosis – Fires Within Fires
Neurosis is a band that can do no wrong in my mind. With the release of Fires Within Fires, they’ve proven once again why they are considered legends in the scene. The power of the riffs is still unlike any band out there, and the ambiance surrounding each song truly takes your breath away. This is just a monster of a release, and another instant classic by one of the greatest bands to ever live.
#15- Alcest – Kodama
Alcest is a band that knows where they came from, but also a band that enjoys the freedom of doing whatever they want, and being damn good at it. Neige’s vision truly shines on Kodama, unlike any release before, and if you have an open mind, the brilliant songwriting on this record will leave you absolutely speechless.
#14- Candiria – While They Were Sleeping
Candiria is back, and the metal scene is better because of it. The genre-bending band returned with While They Were Sleeping, and once again created an album of unexpected brilliance. There is no other band that meshes so many styles so well, and with a strong concept behind the entire album, it makes for an exciting and impactful listen from start to finish. GET THIS.
#13- Ihsahn – Arktis
Arktis is the latest stop on the musical journey for the former Emperor front man, and further cements Ihsahn as a legend in our scene. He 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.
#12- Gatecreeper – Sonoran Depravation
Sonoran Depravation is the first full-length Gatecreeper has released, and holy hell what a début. This record is full of pissed off fury, but controlled to where any fan can take it all in. There as hints of every style of metal found in this record, with an overriding groove that will rip your neck apart. This album is simply relentless, and sets them up for a very bright future in the scene.
#11- Cobalt – Slow Forever
Cobalt is back after seven years, and Slow Forever is a crushing statement of why they were missed so much. Unlike their previous material, they’ve now evolved their sound into an all-encompassing monster, full of nods to everything from extreme metal to Americana, psychedelic/progressive rock, and punk. It’s simply eighty-four minutes of musical genius, and a welcomed return for a band I’ve loved for a long time.
#10- Opeth – Sorceress
Sorceress sees Opeth continue on their progressive path, but unlike Heritage and Pale Communion, this record will keep you guessing, and keep you entertained from the first note to the last. The two previous records saw the group evolving their sound into something new, and while I enjoyed each song immensely, there was a completeness missing to each album. After numerous listens to Sorceress, there is nothing missing. This is the progressive masterpiece from Opeth we’ve been waiting for.
#9- Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas – Mariner
Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas teamed up for Mariner, and did not disappoint on any level. This record is full of massive riffs, enormous vocals, and surrounded by a sonic force unlike anything else released in 2016. After one listen, I know this record was special. After many more listens, it’s damn near perfect in my mind.
#8- Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Meshuggah are truly masters of their craft, and have made it more real by recording it live in the studio for the first time ever. The Violent Sleep Of Reason is as raw as we’ve ever heard this band, but in my opinion, it’s also as perfect as we’ve ever heard them. They are truly an unstoppable force in the scene, and with this new record under their belt, they have more material to crush us with for years to come.
#7- Nails – You Will Never Be One of Us
Nails is a band that has made major moves since they hit the scene, and with the release of You Will Never Be One of Us, they’ve solidified themselves as one of the most pissed off and punishing bands of our time. This record is an onslaught of aggression through vocals and sound, and for any fan of extreme metal, this is a MUST OWN in 2016.
#6- Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust
There is no band on the planet like Gorguts, and that’s a good thing. Even if someone tried, they couldn’t match what this band has done in their career, and the Pleiades’ Dust EP is yet another example of why I say that. Just like their previous releases, this EP challenges the listener to expand their knowledge of death metal, but this time they’ve done it in under forty minutes. There is not a second of boredom or filler on this EP at all. It’s flawless.
#5- Car Bomb – Meta
Car Bomb is well-known for pushing the boundaries of heavy metal, and Meta has taken their sound to a whole new level. They’ve added more dimensions, sounds, crazy time signatures, and layers to their already complicated material, and the end result is a brilliant and chaotic masterpiece that will have me hooked for years to come.
#4- Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct
Metallica has proven, once again, why they are one of the biggest bands in the world with Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, and they’ve done it in an all-encompassing way. No matter which decade you got into Metallica, there is something on this record for you. The guys are back to having fun, and writing the music they love, and you can hear it with each song. While there are a few filler tracks on the second disc, this is still, undeniably, the best Metallica album in twenty-five years, and this Metallicaholic is happy.
#3- Whores – Gold
Whores followed up their impressive ‘Ruiner’ and ‘Clean’ EP’s with the release of Gold, and it’s no surprise that they were named one of ten “artists you need to know” by Rolling Stone. They have mastered their “Noise Rock” sound, and have written one of the dirtiest and liveliest records I’ve heard in years. Each song is a showcase of pure energy and heart, and I simply can’t get enough of it.
#2- Vektor – Terminal Redux
Anyone that knows me, knows I love thrash metal. It’s what I grew up on, so when I say this, I mean it. Vektor‘s Terminal Redux is one of the best thrash records I’ve heard in years. In a genre where bands can easily sound the same and get lost amongst fans, it takes a band like Vektor to show us how it’s done. From the riffs to the solos to the screams, this record has it all and then some. They are truly hitting their stride as a band, and while I love everything they’ve done before, Terminal Redux is their masterpiece.
#1- Gojira – Magma
While Magma may not be the record some Gojira fans might have expected, it’s still a record I find myself listening to on a daily basis. The raw emotion that is found in every song is almost overwhelming at times, but it’s what the band needed to write at this time, and as dark as it gets, it also shines a light of hope. I’ve never heard a group do it quite like this before, and that’s what makes Gojira so special. They are as honest as it gets in the metal scene, and with the powerful soundtrack behind these new emotional lyrics, the end result is the best album of 2016.