You don’t hear from me much these days because I decided the internet is more of a hindrance to my life than an enhancement. I also think opinions, including my own, are pointless. Regardless, I still like metal. So here is 2016 metal I really like just in case one or two of you out there were curious. Top nine and then nine honorable mentions because I like being thematically consistent.
As impressive as the Katatonia run has been over the past quarter century or so, there was a certain need for change after 2012’s Dead End Kings. That change came this year in the form of The Fall Of Hearts. Not only the Swede’s best effort in the past decade or so, this might possibly be their best album ever. An added dose of progressiveness to the classic melancholic Katatonia sound allowed this album to absolutely soar. I wasn’t quite sure what direction I want to go in for my album of the year in 2016, but at the end of the day this ended up being an obvious choice.
The third album from Switzerland-based Schammasch was undoubtedly ambitious. A triple album covering over 100 minutes, Triangle is a daunting endeavor upon initial confrontation. But once you dive into the meandering depths of this album, the conceptual and musical themes resonate on a number of levels. Impressive on all fronts, Triangle is an album that I have gone back to time and time again since first discovering it.
After the outstanding performance in the midday heat at Maryland Deathfest that initially caught our attention, Denouncement Pyre followed up with their impressive third full length album. My quintessential black metal album of the year, Black Sun Unbound is incredibly raw but still manages to bring through enough technical ability and occasional melodic moments to keep an audience captivated from start to finish. Great work top to bottom.
This British extreme metal group just keeps getting better. As impressive as 2014’s Desideratum was, The Whole Of The Law takes things monumentally further. Chaotic in its brutality, this album is a 50 minute onslaught in every way imaginable and I absolutely cannot get enough of it. The cover of “Powerslave” is a good time as well.
It has been an impressive couple of years for German black metal. Der Weg einer Freiheit topped my list last year, and this time around Imperium Dekadenz have given us something just as impressive. Covering a notable range of atmospheric black metal stylings, Dis Manibvs holds something that all fans of black metal can appreciate. Just an incredibly sound product; it was impossible not to cover this album again now that 2016 is winding down.
Somehow I was never introduced to In The Woods… until Pure dropped back in September… Probably because they were nonexistent for two-thirds of my life. While I certainly missed out on plenty way back when, the timing still worked out nicely here. Pure is most certainly one of the more intriguing gothic-black-progessive-doom metal albums of the year, if you can even call it any of that. The avant-garde nature of their music is mesmerizing despite the lengthy 70 minute run time. And besides all that, who doesn’t like universe soup?
Between Emperor and his solo work, Ihsahn is firmly among my favorite musicians. While 2012’s Eremita was outstanding, the following year’s Das Seelenbrechen was a bit of a regression. So with that in mind, for possibly the first time ever, I was not quick to jump on Arktis. Yet, without a shadow of a doubt, this album is among Ihsahn’s best works across all projects. The experimentation is fluid and logical while the guest appearances work with each genre he pulls influences from. It is a tremendous collection of songs.
While some may consider recent Insomnium work somewhat by the numbers, I still personally believe they can do no wrong, including 2014’s Shadows of the Dying Sun, which I regularly revisit. Needless to say, I was curious about the decision to put out a single track concept album. But this journey in musical form is an absolute can’t miss. The musical range covered and the way it aligns with the overriding story is one of the most unique and impressive works I’ve experienced all year.
I still can’t decide where I would rank this among Devin Townsend’s work. I enjoyed it more than 2014’s double album but is it up there among Epicloud or Addicted? Perhaps time will tell. Either way, this is easily one of the better albums I listened to all year. Devin let’s his musical creativity shine from from start to finish on this album as evidenced through the changes in both weight and tempo. Another gem from one of our favorite humans.
I’m not always into the instrumental stuff, but this album is absolutely amazing on virtually every platform.
Really impressive, dark, vicious black metal. Not the freshest thing I’ve heard all year, but one of the most consistently solid.
Unquestionably one of my favorite black metal albums of the year. Both atmospheric and sinister, I can’t really find a thing wrong with it. [Review]
An early release that never really faded on me. A unique gloomy punk feel certainly helps this album stand out at year end. The killer performance at Migration Fest didn’t hurt, either. [Review]
It seems like virtually everyone has been talking about this album. And with good reason. This defiantly psychedelic take on black metal is nearly impossibly to shake. [Review]
This represents everything that has made black metal out of Iceland so prominent in recent years, with a healthy added dose of aggression. I still can’t put this down. [Review]
This more atmospheric take on black metal sort of creeped up on me. Really impressive all around album from the Canadians. [Review]
It was great having some new Gojira this year after everything the previous year had brought the band. Their return was certainly impressive, offering a wide range of stylistic concepts without losing that familiar Gojira weight.
Few things make me happier than Darkthrone/Fenriz projects. This album proves that despite their years, Darkthrone are kings to Norwegian black metal.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”