Best of 2016: Corey’s List

Nine Circles Best of 2016 Standard

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.

The Best

1. Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts


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.

[Full Review]

2. Schammasch – Triangle

Triangle hires

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.

[Full Review]

3. Denouncement Pyre – Black Sun Unbound


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.

[Full Review]

4. Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole Of The Law

Anaal Nathrakh - The Whole of the Law

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.

5. Imperium Dekadenz – Dis Manibvs

imperium dekadenz-dis manibvs

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.

[Full Review]

 6. In The Woods… – Pure


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?

7. Ihsahn – Arktis.

ihsahn arktis cover

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.

[Full Review]

8. Insomnium – Winter’s Gate

Insomnium - Winter's Gate

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.

[Full Review]

9. Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence

Devin Townsend Project - Transcendence

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.

Honorable Mentions

If These Trees Could TalkThe Bones of a Dying World

I’m not always into the instrumental stuff, but this album is absolutely amazing on virtually every platform.

BehexenThe Poisonous Path

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]

AlaricEnd of Mirrors

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]

Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä

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]

Naðra – Allir vegir til glötunar

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]

Astral PathAn Oath to the Void

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.

DarkthroneArctic Thunder

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.”
– cmb

7 thoughts on “Best of 2016: Corey’s List

  1. Manny-O-War December 20, 2016 / 11:32 am

    Tremendous list.

  2. Brian O. December 20, 2016 / 12:34 pm

    Excellent list. I miss your articles and podcast. The internet is shit, but without you and Dan talking about Schammasch on the podcast I never would have found Triangle.

    • Corey B. December 20, 2016 / 12:48 pm

      Really appreciate the feedback, that means a lot. I know things have slid a bit but I’m planning on things kicking up a notch as we move through 2017.

      And yes, Triangle is amazing haha.

      • Brian O. December 20, 2016 / 12:55 pm

        Looking forward to what lies ahead. I have found a shit ton of great music through this site and the podcast. I always gravitates towards your reviews simply because our taste in extreme music seemed to line up the most with any of the contributors here. BTW-thanks for Dragged Into Sunlight as well this year-saw them over the summer and I am still in awe.

  3. Corey December 20, 2016 / 1:04 pm

    Isn’t that band insane live? Absolutely terrifying but it’s amazing. Again, really appreciate your support and follow… being able to talk freely about music that matters personally and subsequently connect with similarly-minded fans has always been the best part about this game. Same team kinda thing, ya know?

    • Brian O. December 20, 2016 / 1:09 pm

      I know exactly what you mean…thanks again to you and the whole Nine Circles crew.

Leave a Reply to Brian O. Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s