The Heavy Metal Review

Best Metal Albums of 2016

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All right! Back on track. Here is my “Top 10” list for 2016.

10. Borknagar – Winter Thrice


I’ll admit I never really even discovered progressive black metal supergroup Borknagar until this year. And I was even late to the game on listening to Winter Thrice, but I was totally on board the minute I hit play on epic opener “The Rhymes of the Mountain.” And if black metal isn’t your thing, this album features a heavy dose of fantastic clean vocals. This is also a great listen in the cold of January and February.

9. Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason


2012’s Koloss was in my top 10 from that year and 2016’s The Violent Sleep of Reason continues the trend. It’s at times a harsher, less structured listen than Koloss and the music takes a few spins to digest. The album is driven by Dick Lovgren’s bass and Thomas Haake’s drums (the duo get the majority of songwriting credits here), and because of this, Meshuggah’s The Violent Sleep of Reason feels fresh and full of groove.

8. Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake


If you found Metallica’s Hardwired…To Self Destruct to be enjoyable, but a little too long-winded in the back half, then Testament’s Brotherhood of the Snake is the album for you. It’s a 45 minute thrash thrill-ride that demands repeat listens. In the words of Chuck Billy “smoke ’em if ya got ’em.” Preach on, brotha.

7. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation


While band break-ups are never guaranteed to last forever, Dissociation is The Dillinger Escape Plan’s final album of its career as it stands right now and it’s a great one. Greg Puciato’s lyrics read like someone that is dealing with a big loss, which makes sense since it sounds like guitarist Ben Weinman was the one to suggest calling it quits. Dissociation is the exclamation point The Dillinger Escape Plan’s discography deserves.

6. Gojira – Magma


Fans could argue Magma is a bit of a mixed bag for Gojira and while it does have a couple tracks that go nowhere (looking at you “Magma”) there are enough highlights throughout such as “Silvera,” “The Cell,” “Stranded,” “Only Pain,” and “Low Lands” that this album has grown into one of my favorites from the band.

5. Amon Amarth – Jomsviking


While I failed at blogging in 2016, I did accomplish starting up the podcast Beats, Beards & Brews with two of my long-time friends. And in a review of this album for the podcast one of them who doesn’t typically listen to a ton of metal said something along the lines of “Amon Amarth’s Jomsviking is a great album that captures what heavy metal should be all about” in reference to the viking themes and calls for battle. For longtime listeners of Amon Amarth that doesn’t sound like anything new, but Jomsviking is the band’s first full-fledged, original story concept album and it steps up the production value. Raise your horns!

4. Holy Grail – Times of Pride and Peril


Holy Grail’s third full-length Times of Pride and Peril was released with little hype (at least that I saw) and it turned out to be the band’s best in what is already an excellent back catalog. If you call yourself a fan of heavy metal in its purest form, but can still appreciate a modern twist, give this album a listen.

3. Anthrax – For All Kings


For many, 2016 will be remembered as the year “the Big Four” in metal from the ’80s released some of their best work in years. Metallica, Testament and Megadeth all released solid albums this year, but for me, Anthrax took the crown with For All Kings. The album retains the essence of the band’s glory days while still managing to move forward. Props to Joey Belladonna (vocals) and Jon Donais (lead guitars) on this one too!

2. Khemmis – Hunted

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}

Khemmis’ 2015 release Absolution put the Denver “doomed rock ‘n’ roll” group on the map for many metal fans, at least it certainly did for me. 2016’s Hunted expands on the band’s mix of prog, melody and doom for a more consistent overall experience—Khemmis is definitely a band to look out for in the future.

1. Fleshgod Apocalypse – King


Italy’s Fleshgod Apocalypse was yet another band that I had previously heard about, but never fully gotten into until recently. The band specializes in symphonic, technical death metal and if that description made you cringe, I still suggest giving this album a shot. King isn’t a perfect album and the pacing is a bit off here and there, but this is one of the few examples in this style where the orchestral elements add to the overall heaviness of the album, creating one of the more original and innovative listens of 2016.

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

Abbath – Abbath
Crowbar – The Serpent Only Lies
Ghoul – Dungeon Bastards
Grand Magus – Sword Songs
Metallica – Hardwired…To Self Destruct


Written by Eric

December 31, 2016 at 2:56 pm

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