Korn – The Serenity Of Suffering
A refreshingly familiar trip around Nu-Metallville, Korn’s latest opus is a strong and firm reminder that while the late-nineties have disappeared, an appreciation for the veteran band’s unique concoction of loose-stringed riffs and introspective madness has not. From single and standout track “Insane” to “Rotting In Vain”, Korn’s trademark sonic signature hasn’t lost any of its dexterity or impact.
Architects – All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us
An album that carries an increased gravity in light of the recent tragedy, Architects latest release is punctuated with a mature, electronic flavour that doesn’t betray the previous albums raw fury, but merely meshes naturally and points to a progression where the Sam Carter-fronted group can begin to transcend modern hardcore music and look to follow in the same path as fellow Brits Bring Me The Horizon.
Blink 182 – California
Perhaps the surprise of the year in the music world, Blink 182 returned to breathe life into the stagnant pop-punk genre. Brimming with vitality, variety and an undeniable youth that belies the veteran savvy that long-standing Blink members Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus must now be tagged with, “California” is a joy-filled trip through Route 182 with the percussive, bright and brash tone fans have joyfully received. The loss of Tom Delonge is a noticeable one as it limits the bands vocal variety without Tom’s classically nasal delivery, but new member Matt Skiba does a more than admirable job in his stead, delivering a tuneful performance on album highlight “Home Is Such A Lonely Place”.
Bury Tomorrow – Earthbound
Bury Tomorrow are the quintessential metalcore by numbers band, blending brutality and melody against a furious backdrop of drums and efficient breakdowns. “Earthbound” is no exception, emphasising the dark-light combination that puts BT in the Killswitch Engage conversation and actually surpasses the US bands’ own new release. Combining punch and practicality with lead-driven sections and some true musical grace, “Earthbound” is a mature, excellent progression for a band that are perhaps the metal heir that Bullet For My Valentine was expected to be.
Beartooth – Aggressive
After their superb debut “Disgusting”, Beartooth quickly realised their marriage of throat tearing vocals against the scratchy, riff laden music was a successful one as “Aggressive” follows a similar pattern, though the hallmarks of a band in the process of growing up. Intertwined with the band’s familiar grown is a greater appreciation for song structure and lifting choruses, taking advantage of Caleb Shomo’s impressive vocal range. “Dead” and “I Am Hated” are particular highlights, as the band’s strengths are clearly highlighted.
Periphery – Select Difficulty
The most impressive album musically by a considerable distance, Periphery’s almost orchestral composition of guitar led is consistently jaw-dropping, as songs like “The Way The News Goes…” and “Marigold” are as impressive from a structural point of view as any metal up to and including Machine Head’s “The Blackening”. At times the band can lose themselves in the progressive aspect of their music, but often redeem themselves with choruses of immeasurable weight – “Lune” and “Prayer Position” are modern day masterpieces that reaffirm that when the talent is married with discipline, diamonds can be found.
Letlive. – If I’m The Devil…
An album that does not glitter like Periphery, doesn’t hit like Bury Tomorrow or jump like Blink, but instead grabs the listener firmly by the throat and heart and doesn’t let go for 40 minutes. A combination of Gallows-esque brash and hardcore swagger colours the album blood red while a passionate heart beats throughout; pumping politics and social commentary throughout the musical tapestry – a true work of art.
Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage
The award for best musical performance of the year goes to Synyster Gates on Avenged Sevenfold’s new album, who decided to secretly release an album of incredible musical depth featuring their hat-wearing virtuoso on full-form, littering the record with incredible layers of string-bending shreds. The title track is a clear highlight, featuring new and wonderfully impressive drummer Brooks Wackerman, who is the closest thing to The Rev the Orange Counter metallers are likely to get. As a result of the incoming sticksman and S.G’s chops, “The Stage” reverts the band back to their City Of Evil peak, forcibly reminding the listener of their range, talent and chameleonic sound.
Metallica – Hardwired….To Self Destruct
The metal godfather’s return in 2016 has graced us with an album that feels compilatory; combining sounds that dip into all elements of the San Fran foursome’s career – from their 80’s thrash pomp with “Spit Out The Bone” and “Hardwired” to Load’s lead-laded groove with “Now That We’re Dead” and “Confusion”. A return to Metallica’s classic writing structure has heralded an album of refreshing nostalgia; a kaleidoscopic collation of dual guitar harmonies, hum-friendly riffs and Lars Ulrich’s omniscient punch. Metallica are back, and we’re all better for it.
After The Burial – Dig Deep
If Letlive grab you by the throat, After The Burial stomp on it repeatedly until the trachea resembles last night’s lasagne. From the second opener “Collapse” hits the speakers, the guttural kick of ATB introduces itself with the subtlety of an anti-tank grenade. A sound that can only be described as metallic sludge, a deep and roaring guitar tone meshes with powerful and well-paced drums to create a hurricane backdrop for Anthony Nortamaso to deliver venomous growls that are terrifyingly intense. “Lost In The Static” is the metal song of the year, combining haunting guitar with a deathcore groove that thrusts ATB into elite writing company for their genre before a breakdown that literally feels like losing a vital organ in warfare kicks in after a couple of minutes. “Dig Deep” is a 45 minute moshpit that converts the listener into a tiny sock rattling around the most bad-ass washing machine of 2016. A true opus.