The Best Of 2016

So, we’ve come to the end of 2016. A shitty year in general, but a fantastic year for albums and EP’s. Making this list has been killing me, the amount of quality has been staggering, so I’ve had to make some difficult decisions. I’ve based my lists on originality, replay value, consistency, and just what I liked most in general tbh.

Genre wise, I think black metal and hip-hop really stepped it up in 2016. So much variation and so much high quality releases, it’s astounding to see what artists are doing to keep things fresh and original.

I’ve also divided my album lists in metal and non-metal, only because I couldn’t find a better moniker. I wanted to go with heavy and not-so-heavy, but albums like Nick Cave and Swans are probably some of the heaviest around, so that wasn’t a real option. Anyway, enjoy and let me know which albums YOU think were the best!

Metal :

10. Wildernessking – Mystical Future

South-African black metal, that has a lot of elements of post-metal and post-rock, these guys came guns blazing, and delivered a fantastic album. Choosing the number 10 was hard, since it’s always the one you have the most doubts over, but the way these songs progress and creep their way into you head are the reason they can proudly take the number 10 spot.

Read the original review Here.

9. Trap Them – Crown Feral

Trap Them have been building a solid discography over the years, releasing albums that destroy everything in their path year after year. This one is no different, a barrage of crust, hardcore, D-beat and death metal that absolutely destroys the listener. Crown Feral was vicious as hell, and deservedly takes the number 9 spot.

8. Nails – You Will Never Be One Of Us

It was a weird year for Nails. They released the furious successor to Abandon All Life, but then they cancelled their European tour, there were reports of a split, and now they’re back performing, even releasing new material on a split with Full Of Hell. Whatever may happen next, this was a donkeypunch of an album, destroying everything in its path.

Read the original review Here.

7. Show Me A Dinosaur – Show Me A Dinosaur

Show Me A Dinosaur’s self-titled album was one that kept coming back to me this year. I liked it at first, and with each subsequent listen, it grew more and more, until I was absolutely addicted. The way they blended melody in their black metal barrage is just astounding, and Wojna still gives me goosebumps after the umpteenth listen. I can’t believe these guys weren’t hyped more, because this album is absolutely fantastic.

Read the original review Here.

6. Deathspell Omega – The Synarchy of Molten Bones

The return of the kings. Deathspell Omega had been pretty silent these last years, but they reclaimed their throne with this, their sixth album. Their style has been copied numerous times, but here they showed their penchant of making weird, technically intricate black metal without breaking a sweat. Glad to have them back, just don’t wait another six years to make another album guys, ok?

5. Altarage – Nihl

This release seemed to come out of nowhere, but, if you’re roaming the darkest depths of the death metal spectrum, you knew their demo released in 2015 had all the promise needed to make one nasty death metal album. And that’s exactly what they did, with sounds coming straight from the gates of hell, this was the nastiest death metal release I’ve heard in a while. They took no prisoners, and, at the beginning of 2016, set a death metal standard other bands had a lot of difficulty to attain.

Read the original review Here.

4. Bölzer – Hero

When the first song of this album dropped, I was very intrigued. When the full album was unleashed upon the world, I was completely blown away. Death metal, black metal, clean vocals, on the most epic scale you could imagine. And it’s just two guys. I read that a lot of people were turned off because of the cleans on this album, but that’s just rubbish in my opinion. I don’t think I’ve ever heard better cleans than on this album. Riveting stuff.

3. Mono – Requiem For Hell

The most epic of all post-rock bands returned this year, and what a return it was. Teaming up with Steve Albini again was a great move, and once again they delivered an epic journey. At the center lies “Requiem For Hell” the song, and it blows everything away seemingly effortless. A band at the peak of its power, delivering once again.

Read the original review Here.

2. Touché Amoré – Stage Four

No album was as honest and heartfelt as Stage Four this year. Cancer is a difficult subject as it is. But Touché Amoré managed to translate the loss of front man Jeremy Bolm’s mother into an album that everyone who has ever been confronted with this terrible disease can relate to. It’s an album that stays in your head, who knows for how long, since it’s still roaming around mine.

Read the original review Here.

1. Zeal And Ardor – Devil Is Fine

The weirdest album of the year is also the best. I imagine this album to be the nightmare of black metal elitists, but my God, to come up with the idea of mixing black slave anthems with black metal and making it sound effortless, has to be applauded. I’ve listened to this album numerous times, recommended it to everyone who has any interest in music, and I haven’t found a single person who isn’t at least intrigued by it. That’s why it’s my metal album of the year. Making something that’s truly original is really hard this day and age, and when it’s pulled off like this, it deserves all the plaudits it can get.

Read the original review Here.

So, those were my 10 favorite “metal” albums. A pretty diverse list if you ask me. Let’s move on to the other 10 albums that blew me away this year.

Non-Metal :

10. Boobs Of Doom – Wow Is Dead

Boobs of Doom released 3 (!!!) albums this year, and while I haven’t come to listening to the third one, this one was my favorite of the first two. Their music relies heavily on atmosphere, and to me it’s the details that stick out. Songs that morph, change into completely different things, without losing the initial feel of the song. These guys are doing something really weird and original, and completely on their own terms, and that should be applauded.

Read the original review Here.

9. Emma Ruth Rundle – Marked For Death

Over the course of the last years, women have started to quietly take over in the singer songwriter department. Emma Ruth Rundle is the latest to do so, making an album shows her huge potential. Putting her voice firmly at the forefront, she mixes all these different genres to create something that is distinctly hers. Her and Chelsea Wolfe are creating a new kind of music that is so unique, that it has earned her a place on the stage of the renowned Roadburn festival, and rightly so.

8. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

Finally, finally Radiohead are the band everyone loves again. I was a little scared, because I thought The King Of Limbs was really bad. But this is a return to form, a sprawling, intricate record that focuses on songs instead of experiments. It has a lot of heart, a lot of subtle layering, and it’s arguably their best record since Hail To The Thief.

Read the original review Here.

7. Swans – The Glowing Man

The last album Swans will record in this line-up, and what a goodbye it is. Epic in scope, but pretty subdued in rendition (for Swans standards), it was a fitting ending to a line-up that has given us nothing but classic albums these last years. The Glowing Man is a difficult record, distinctly Swans, that you can listen to forever and keep finding new things. You will be missed, but at the same time I can’t wait to see what Michael Gira will pull out of its sleeve next.

Read the original review Here.

6. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

A lot has been written about Cave’s last album. For me, it was another classic in his ridiculous discography, that was sadly overshadowed by the death of his son. That gave the album a very voyeuristic feel, like you’re looking into the brain of a man who felt like he has lost everything. That made it difficult to listen to, but the music is gorgeous and sparse, and Cave’s lyrics are heartfelt. A fantastic album.

Read the original review Here.

5. Kanye West – The Life Of Pablo

2016 was very much Kanye’s year. I can write a small novel about everything he said and did, but let’s focus on the music. TLOP was an album that kept getting tweaked by his creator, and probably still isn’t finished in his creator’s eyes. I never stopped listening to the original cut I had, and am still listening to it. It was so full of life and ideas, it just blew me away. I stand by my point that, while maybe not the greatest rapper alive, no one comes close production wise. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Read the original review Here.

4. Travis Scott – Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight

I listened to Rodeo (Scott’s first album) constantly, and when Birds dropped, I initially wasn’t that impressed. But, with repeated listens, I started to appreciate it more and more, and now it’s on an almost daily rotation. I can’t really pinpoint what it is that makes this album as good as it is. It just nestles in your brain, these weird songs about drugs and sex. I love everything about this album, from the weird title to the guest roles of people like The Weeknd, Kendrick and James Blake. It’s an album that finds the perfect balance between artistry and commercial success, which should surely be applauded.

3. Nothing – Tired Of Tomorrow

Another album that just kept growing on me as 2016 progressed. I was a tremendous fan of their first album, and this seemed a little more subdued, and lacked a little punch. But the more I listened to it, the more it opened up, showing its nihilistic world view. Nothing are maybe the best spokesmen for the current predicament the world is in, their dark lyrics and shimmering guitars leading us through the shit pile we call life. I’m in love with it 100%.

Read the original review Here.

2. True Widow – Avvolgere

The biggest surprise of the year! A record I picked up expecting nothing has absolutely blown me away. It sounds ageless, effortless, and instantly likeable. I can’t recommend this record enough if I’m honest, I think it has something for everyone, it’s influences spanning decades of music history, while never sounding like copies. They were close to taking the gold, but a second place in a year that was this strong is still a huge achievement in my book.

Read the original review Here.

1. Frank Ocean – Blonde

My number one non-metal album of the year. Blonde was dropped out of the blue, was full of experimentation and guests, and absolutely blew me away. It surpassed all preconceived notions of R&B, rewrote the rulebook and delivered an instant classic. I don’t even like R&B that much, but when it’s delivered like this, one can only listen in awe and hope that a follow-up doesn’t take years to come out.

Read the original review Here.

EP’s :

1. Vince Staples – Prima Donna

Staples showed his talent on previously released double album Summertime ’06, and confirms it on this EP. With production by James Blake on several songs, it showcases his lyrical wit while being backed by some fantastic instrumentals. If he keeps going like this, he is the most likely candidate to take Kendrick’s throne.

2. Dead Congregation – Sombre Doom

Promulgation Of the Fall was a pretty perfect death metal album, and here they remind us that Dead Congregation is still a huge force to be reckoned with. There are only 2 songs on this EP, but 9-minute opener Redemptive Immolation alone is enough to remind us why these guys are at the top. Ridiculously heavy, I sincerely hope 2017 graces us with a new release of these Greek titans.

3. Aevangelist/Blut Aus Nord – Codex Obscura Nomina

When black metal gets weird. Really weird. These 2 bands are pushing the genre, in ways not deemed possible. This is not an easy listen, more of a rollercoaster ride with weird, unfitting surprises behind very counter. But it’s also intriguing and unique, and while you might not listen to it on a daily basis, you will be bewildered every time you do put it on.

4. In Cauda Venenum/Heir/Spectrale – Split

When the new French black metal talent unites, some really great music is produced. All these bands sound distinctly like themselves, and there’s nothing better than a showcase of talent that keeps you on your toes, and keeps you interested. I hope this Ep gives all these bands the exposure to produce full-lengths, because I can’t wait to see what they do there.

Read the original review Here.

And that’s it. 2016 was a great year, a year where this site has come into existence, and I’ve met some great people and bands. Here’s to 2017 being even greater for the site, and hopefully for the world as well. Keep listening to music boys and girls, I honestly believe there is no art form greater. Cheers!

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