Top Ten Albums of 2016

2016 was a strong year for video games and film, but what about music? You better believe it was. The year was treated to a barrage of quality rock and metal records from across the world. What of other genres I hear you cry? Pah, I care not for that which does not rock.

10. Babymetal – Metal Resistance

You may balk at this choice, but Babymetal have been something of a revelation for me as soon as I saw them take to the stage at Download last year. Sure, Metal Resistance’s collection of tracks might sound like heavier versions of anime theme-songs, but they meant a lot to me last year. They killed it at Download, putting on one of the best shows in a festival that contained Rammstein, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden to name but a few. Metal Resistance also helped me stay sane during five weeks of night shifts, its energy and fun helping the long hours melt away.

9. Wovenwar – Honor Is Dead

Wovenwar will always have the sizeable shadow of As I Lay Dying looming over them, but they have proven twice now that they are a force to be reckoned with themselves. Their sound may not be as crushing as As I Lay Dying’s, but they have carved their own path. Honor Is Dead improves upon their debut record by adding a lot more anger into the mix. It’s heavier, louder and (ahem) more aggressive than their last. There’s plenty of clean singing, but there’s a solid amount of screaming involved this time around too.

8. Raveneye – NOVA

Raveneye are another band I discovered at Download Festival, and I’m so glad I did. Like Metal Resistance, NOVA is an album that helped me through those pesky night shifts. It’s energetic, big rock sound is cracking throughout. Its blues-inspired riffs combined with a hard rock sound makes for a great listen. NOVA is big, unrelenting and a huge amount of fun. Based on this record, Raveneye, the three-piece from Milton Keynes, are going big places – and soon.

7. Serpentine Dominion

Cannibal Corpse meets Killswitch Engage was what was promised with Serpentine Dominion, the unlikely collaboration between Adam D. and Corpsegrinder. What we got was a short-but-sweet death metal album full of awesome riffs, a bit of clean singing and insane heaviness throughout. While some complained that not enough was done with the combination of Killswitch and Cannibal Corpse sounds, Serpentine Dominion, to me, struck the perfect balance. It’s a shame that it’s only 28 minutes long.

6. Killswitch Engage – Incarnate

Speaking of Killswitch Engage, they had their own brand new record this year. Incarnate picks up from where 2013’s Disarm the Descent left off. It’s a great album, but nothing too revolutionary from the metalcore masters. It’s a hugely enjoyable record, filled with standout moments, but it doesn’t deviate too much from the band’s well-trodden path.

“Killswitch Engage’s second journey with Jesse Leach is proving to be rather fruitful, but they still haven’t produced a record to take the crown from Alive or Just Breathing or The End of Heartache. Time will tell Incarnate’s place in Killswitch’s incredible history, but for now, at least, it comes easily recommendable to Killswitch fans and fans of the metalcore genre.”

5. Amon Amarth – Jomsviking

Jomsviking doesn’t represent a huge step above what we’ve come to expect from Amon Amarth, but it is about as polished as they’ve ever been. The band’s famous riff-heavy, really fun death metal sound is alive and kicking, with Raise Your Horns sure to be something of a party anthem for years to come. The polished sound comes from Jomsviking being the band’s first ever concept album. The storytelling is pure gold and the themes are consistent throughout.

4. Monster Truck – Sittin’ Heavy

Monster Truck are the best thing to come out of Canada in… ages, son. Their heavy, brilliant use of the blues is outstanding listen after listen. Sittin’ Heavy is the band’s second record after the excellent Furiosity, and whilst they may have pushed the organ a little too far into the background, Sittin’ Heavy is still full of quality from start to finish. It’s a record stuffed full of energetic performances, peppered with a nice amount of variety. Sittin’ Heavy is a blast.

3. Grand Magus – Sword Songs

Sword Songs is Grand Magus’ best yet. Each of its nine tracks a mini epic in themselves. The hard-hitting, classic metal sound is expertly delivered by all three members. Sword Songs is like a best of Iron Maiden record, it’s a spectacular collection of their best, most fun material. You’re guaranteed a good time with Grand Magus’ Sword Songs.

These are songs where crowd participation is encouraged. You can sing along, play air guitar and even get caught up in a mosh pit or two to any number of the tracks on this record. This is a fun record, at home, or seen live. It gives a good time whenever you need one. I can’t recommend Sword Songs strongly enough.

2. Gojira – Magma

Gojira are making a claim to be one of the best metal bands out there, and their 2016 effort, Magma, is a testament to the band’s approach to song writing. It may not be quite as heavy as previous efforts, but Magma flows effortlessly from track to track in a hypnotic manner. In Silvera, the band put out one of the songs of 2016, and the rest of the record doesn’t disappoint. Magma flows along, destroying all in its path with ease.

1. Black Crown Initiate – Selves We Cannot Forgive

Black Crown Initiate’s sound is like a veritable who’s who of the extreme metal landscape. It’s scarily brutal, hauntingly melodic and impeccably technical all at once. Their sound may not be the most accessible, but for those in love with the nuances of the metal genre and a penchant for the incredibly brutal, there’s a lot to love about Selves We Cannot Forgive. Black Crown Initiate picked up effortlessly from where Opeth left off when they decided to bury their roots and turned it up to eleven. Selves We Cannot Forgive is honestly one of the best albums I have ever heard. It took me completely by surprise.

That was my top ten albums of 2016, and I hope it’s offended someone, somewhere, somehow. I had a hard time choosing between all the great records I heard from last year, so here are a few honourable mentions:

Korn – The Serenity of Suffering

Devildriver – Trust No One

Fallujah – Dreamless

Are there any albums you’d recommend that I haven’t listed? Think this list is terrible and wish you’d spent your valuable minutes elsewhere? Or have I actually put together a good list for once?

Let me know in the comments.


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