2016 has been such an exciting year for music! There’s a lot of very good albums out there so writing a top 10 was very hard. These are my favourites of the year but I can’t rank them against each other.
Gojira – Magma
Magma was actually an album I felt quite nervous about. I have a lot of love for Gojira; their stop start riffs are powerful and there is a large amount of energy to them. There is an almost unconventional aspect of their sound that really makes them distinctive and makes for memorable music. Magma’s first few tracks didn’t quite get there for me and this made me nervous that Magma would come off as a step down for them. Listening to the album as a whole though, there’s a sense that the exception proves the rule. Magma has many stunning tracks to boast like ‘Pray’, ‘Only Pain’ and ‘The Cell’ and they completely overshadow ‘Stranded’ and ‘Sylveria’.
Rotting Christ - Rituals
I wasn’t quite expecting this album to be as good as it is. The raw power that gives the music the sound of an immense evil sheering through your body. It has weight power and it is a very distinct album. ‘Les Litanies De Satan (Les Fleurs Du Mal)’, ‘Tou Thanatou’ and ‘For a Voice Like Thunder’ are perfect examples of this. Whilst tracks like ‘Apage Satana’ offer something a bit more atmospheric in really powerful drums. There aren’t many albums like this and the very raw and experimental approach to Black Metal makes this for a very strong album.
Zephyra – As the World Collapses
Completely took me by surprise, a serious amount of energy and versatility make their Melodic Industrial Metal a hit every time. Each track is so distinct and gets through to you in a way that makes you dance and enthralled throughout the experience. A very impressive album and a very happy surprise from out of nowhere for me.
Rave the Reqviem – The Gospel of Nil
Another hit within Industrial Metal but something a bit more ‘pure’ Industrial Metal. Rave the Reqviem couldn’t be more completely into what they are. Each track throws itself at you with full force of energy and with that industrial edge that can be lost from so many ‘Industrial Metal’ bands. I hadn’t got this excited by Industrial Metal since Interlock’s ‘Crisis/Reinvention’. One of a few bands I was introduced to this year and it quickly got it’s spot on my list.
Korgonthurus – Vuohen Siunaus
Now I find a lot of modern Black Metal goes so deep into atmosphere that it collides with shoegaze and becomes something that can almost be an artistic performance – that is fine. Just… it leaves me hungry for some raw Black Metal. Korgonthurus actually gave me a refreshing sense of this bringing me something that sounded a lot more evil and earth shattering. Their snarls with a dark edge and shrieks as if from a very painful place, keep the relentless music firm grounded in something that actually brought me back again and again.
Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
Now, this was something that didn’t surprise me at all. I almost let myself forget about Fleshgod Apocalypse only to find that they do a lot of exactly what I want from Metal. The Symphonic Death Metal gives me an epic sense of power and a sheer form of brutality that I’d want from a band like this. It is remarkable how consistently they can bring such power to bear. A perfect example of this is in ‘A Million Deaths’ building quickly and energetically with the power of an empire just to smash into the crux of the song and getting melodic as a powerful destruction can be before it ends.
Babymetal – Metal Resistance
So this one shouldn’t be of any surprise but this is an album at danger of being overshadowed by their very instant fame with their debut album ‘Babymetal’. ‘Metal Resistance’ is a very accomplished album showing their flare for making melodic, powerful and above all energetic Metal music. ‘Awadama Fever’, ‘Meta Taro’ and ‘Yaba!’ are often overlooked in favour of preview songs ‘The One’ and ‘Road Resistance’ or their first video for the album with ‘Karate’. Generally there is a lot of substance to a band that can get dismissed too easily due to their immense reputation.
Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole of the Law
Okay, for those who know me, this is probably no surprise at all. Anaal Nathrakh are a visceral band with such energy that it’s hard not to get caught in their maelstrom. Taking more and more of an electrical buzz to the slash-work of an evil voice and powerfully relentless guitar work – their sound is well defined. ‘The Whole of the Law’ is everything the band should be whilst taking ideas of ‘Desideratum’ and continuing it through distorted and epic sounding mess – exactly what I wanted!
Equilibrium – Armageddon
‘Born To Be Epic’ gives a very apt definition for this band. Brutal and powerful metal with a melodic folk feel… it seems to escape all of this. The melodic whistles and accompaniment just feels out of place enough to really push an interesting edge to an otherwise brutal metal band. ‘Armageddon’ takes these ideas and really takes it to an epiphany, ‘Born To Be Epic’ is just what they are. Though don’t let this one song overshadow the power of a metal dance to songs like ‘Rise Again’, ‘Helden’, ‘Erwachen’ and ‘Heimat’. Sometimes I just don’t know how they do it.
Darkthrone – Arctic thunder
‘Artic Thunder’ reflect a band truly on top of what they’re doing. Going in, I wasn’t quite sure how good this album would be. Darkthrone have proven they’re really doing their own thing and it seems to really work. ‘Arctic Thunder’ shows the end result of a path trodden through some of the coldest places in metal to come back with something that is still only Darkthrone. ‘Arctic Thunder’ started to really grow on me after really listening to it, which feels like a common trait to Darkthrone. Their sound doing something underneath you, something that if you look at, you’ll fall into that dark abyss.
I also want to give a few honourable mentions as Metallica, Korn and Amon Amarth have made some brilliant headway this year for the first time in a while. With some of them far too long and they truly are worth checking out but personally for me, they just couldn’t quite make my favourites.