It is that time of the year when all the online rock and metal websites and blogs start releasing some of their top ten albums of the year lists. I have noticed that they seem to start earlier and earlier each year. I think some websites started putting out their top ten lists before Halloween! Anyway, I believe the time is right to release what I thought were the top ten rock/punk/metal albums of the year. These are my choices and feel free to mention in the comments section some of your favorite albums from 2016. However, no whining...2016 has been the year of whining and I want people to start putting on their big boy pants, big girl pants or whatever else you freaking identify as pants... And if I triggered you...get over it!
1. Kicker “Rendered Obsolete”
The Bay Area veteran punks once again put together an album of pissed off sounding hardcore punk that was much needed during this year. After the release of their debut album, “Not You,” these guys without question are one of my favorite punk bands. Kicker knows how to write some catchy punk songs that contain memorable phrases. “You Can’t Take Me Anywhere,” is song with pure punk rock attitude and the subject matter is very relatable. Their veteran presence definitely allows them to string together a great full-length release. In this crazy world where technology is making certain things obsolete, Kicker shall never be replaced...unless they do invent that android Pete the Roadie.
2. Eldamar “The Force of the Ancient Land”
Atmospheric black metal is a style of music where I find myself constantly discovering new artists who display tremendous talent. The up and coming artists within the genre take their time to create musical masterpieces of cinematic and emotionally moving splendor. Eldamar was yet another band who has come out in recent years to compose an overall astonishing release. I really like how the music allows you to escape into this massive sounding world of melodic synth and distorted guitar arrangements. Plus, they provided an amazing cover of Summoning’s “Land of the Dead,” to a Summoning tribute album, which you should all check out.
3. Cauldron “In Ruin”
The Canadian based trio released this album back in January and I still think it is one of the best produced and written releases to come out this year. Their classic eighties metal sound is like a blast from the past and the songwriting is extremely solid. I felt that ever since “Chained to the Nite,” the following releases did not grab my attention. To my pleasant surprise, “In Ruin,” just comes across as an all around crushing metal release. Once again, the songwriting carries this album to the point I find the words get stuck in my head for hours. Also, there are some great guitar riffs that may not be super technical, but construct powerful verse and chorus sections.
4. Hemotoxin “Biological Enslavement”
These guys are in my opinion living proof that hard work pays off if you commit yourself to whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. I saw them open up for Havok a few years back and thought they had something going, however, the music on this new album exceeds anything I could have imagined. I really think they offer a great balance of technicality and songwriting skills. Also, the vocals on this release inject unbelievably amounts of raw emotion into the songs. I think they are a band who can continue to rise if they keep working hard.
5. Gojira “Magma”
The song, “Stranded,” alone put Gojira on this list and the entire album screams well produced hard rock and metal music. Still, “Stranded,” could very well be my favorite song of the entire year. I love the unapologetic sounding guitar riff which matches the aggressive vocal delivery. The rest of the album is very enjoyable and I would say that there are not too many dual moments. Another area that shines on this release is the riffs, which I think deliver crushing blows to the ears when cranking this album up in the car. I mean, my five year old nephew would probably put this as his number one album of the year, because he constantly listens to it along with the band’s previous album, “L’Enfant Savage.”
6. Trecelence “Justified Atrocities”
These Santa Rosa, CA technical thrashers are not just great musicians, but great dudes overall. It has been a privilege to witness first hand their progress within a relatively short amount of time. I can honestly say that the musicianship on this album, especially factoring in their ages, is down right impressive. Some of the guitar arrangements leave you speechless at times. For their first full-length release, I think they did a solid job. Looking to the future I expect even more brilliant mind bending riffs from these dudes.
7. Unreqvited “Disquiet”
Yet another powerful atmospheric black metal release to come out this year. The one-man project that is Unreqvited painted a diverse musical painting that always had my full attention. I really liked how this album was recorded and I think more bands should focus on coming up with finding a sound that allows them to truly convey their music in a compelling fashion. You can tell that the music was not cheaply thrown together, because each sound offers tremendous emotion and raw expression.
8. Witchcraft “Nucleus”
I felt like this album deserved more promotion and went under the radar. Yes, Witchcraft has strayed away from that old raw vintage sound that was heard on earlier releases, but the new music is nothing to brushoff. The songwriting is probably what I liked most about this release and in my opinion Magnus Pelander is one of the best lyricists in rock and metal music. The way he writes his lyrics perfectly compliments the instrumental arrangements on this album.
9. Exmortus “Ride Forth”
Exmortus is another hardworking band who does not settle for basic when writing metal music. I thought the album once again demonstrated the insane guitar playing abilities from their two highly talented guitarists. Plenty of songs about battles and destroying enemies with weapons of iron. Also, they do another awesome instrumental piece that blends the worlds of metal and classical music. Exmortus knows how to shred with style and I hope they keep it up when they start working on their next album.
10. Abbath “Self-titled”
A lot of people were upset when the whole Immortal fiasco went down and Abbath deiced to go solo after he could not get the rights to the Immortal name. I myself was one of those people, but I really respected how he decide to start his own band and released this self-titled album which features King ov Hell on bass. It sort of reminds me of their work on that, “Between Two Worlds,” collaboration album. Although this does not sound like early Immortal and is not very kvlt to the true black metal believers, I enjoyed most of the songs on this release and thought the production was quite solid. Abbath is in my opinion the voice that made Immortal, so I am really interested in hearing Immortal put out a release without Abbath. Better hurrying up Demonaz, because Abbath is already talking about releasing a follow-up to this self-titled album.
Awesome Releases That Also Deserve Mention:
- Thought Vomit “Punks Brutal Retaliation”
- Putrid “The Triumph of Impurity”
- Feign "Atlas”
- Necrot “The Labyrinth”
- Nachtzeit “Sagor I Natten”
- Four Doors to Death
- In Mordor Where Shadows Are-Homage to Summoning
Rob "The Metal Guy" Awards 2016
- Hardest working label of the year: Unspeakable Axe Records
- Best live performance of the year: Night Demon
- Breakthrough artist of the year: Amnesia
- Best twin guitar attack of the year: Donnie Small and Chris Olney Burnett (Trecelence)
- Most overrated band of the year: Metallica
- Most annoying artist of the year: Myrkur
- Musician with the largest ego: Paul Stanley
- Hair metal band that made me laugh the most: Ratt
- Most opinionated and sarcastic album reviewer: you decide...