Also known as what new releases I happened to listen in a limited timespan of one year.
Last year I realized I’m not too old yet as many an album caused childlike enthusiasm. In the early 2016 it was mostly blasts from 2015 (Wilderun!) but as the year went on, 2016 unveiled a good amount of solid material. 2015 had higher peaks but 2016 did have its share of killers with a strong base level. As proven by 2015 reprise list that you can find on the bottom of this text, many of the best albums are going to be unveiled only later.
Best albums of 2016
Vektor — Terminal Redux – progressive sci-fi thrash metal – Vektor’s hyped 2016 release is astronomically progressive metal. Vektor was the best modern thrash metal band for years, it is about time for them to get recognition. For an album that sates and mildly bores the listener while delivering killer tracks (Pteropticon, Psychotrophia, Pillars of Sand) a bit over midway, it is astonishingly good but would be more enjoyable shorter. The last two tracks, Collapse and Recharging the Void manage to uplift the album to great heights again with surprising twists. It’s really not a better or worse album than their previous efforts but ridiculously good and full of everything tasty.
Katatonia — The Fall of Hearts – progressive melancholic rock/metal – Some outerworldly charm with heartbreaking atmosphere. Drags time to time yet still wrenches heartstrings every minute. Passer‘s descending scale should be obnoxious yet it is genuinely alluring. How on earth did they make it work. I did not expect this at all, what a comeback.
Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik’s Skuggsjá: A Piece for Mind & Mirror – folk / folk metal – A project by Enslaved and Wardruna veterans, which may run below radar cause of it’s eccentric name that sounds like artsy folk music. In a lot of ways Skuggsja sounds more like folk with metal elements than the other way around. Though even the folkier tracks often have a heavy backbone that owes to metal and makes these two elements come together naturally. Stunning.
Moonsorrow — Jumalten Aika – folk metal / black metal
Very good (8½)
Panssarijuna — Nyt Sattuu – trauma blues / rock
Omnium Gatherum — Grey Heavens – When rather basic melodeath manages to excite me like Grey Heavens does, it’s worth a lot of points.
The Wounded Kings — Visions In Bone – doom metal
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard — Nonagon Infinity – psychedelic rock / garage rock
Fleshgod Apocalypse — King – symphonic metal / neoclassical death metal
Oneohtrix Point Never — Garden of Delete – electronic / experimental / IDM – Probably an album I was most excited about cause it’s such a fresh kick in the eardrums (I just found out it’s a November 2015 release but what the hell, it was an important album for me last year).
Haken — Affinity – progressive rock – Some of the best moments of 2016 but also completely lackluster tracks. Their 2013 record The Mountain which I also found this year would be up there among the best albums of the year.
Whispered — Metsutan – Songs Of The Void – Japan influenced melodic death metal
Behexen — The Poisonous Path – black metal
Paradox — Pangea – oldschool thrash metal
Blaakyum — Line of Fear – thrash metal
King Goat — Conduit – doom metal / heavy metal
Myrath — Legacy – progressive rock / metal
Anaal Nathrakh — The Whole of the Law – grindcore, black metal
Hebosagil — Lohtu – noise rock / post-metal / sludge
Tähtiportti — Eetterimessu – EBM
Dark Lunacy — The Rain After The Snow – melancholic melodic death metal
Trees of Eternity — The Hour of The Nightingale – atmospheric doom metal
Oranssi Pazuzu — Värähtelijä – psychedelic black metal – I wanted this to be the best album of the year but unfortunately it’s the worst in Pazuzu’s discography. Another of my personal hype albums with Vektor. Vektor delivered, Pazuzu sort of. It does have about 50 mins of solid material but there’s an extra 20 mins on top.
We’re still good (7½)
Alcest — Kodama – blackgaze
Vola — Inmazes – djent / progressive rock
Mogwai — Atomic – post-rock
The Dillinger Escape Plan — Dissociation – progressive metal / mathcore / metalcore
Riutta — Sinun Täytyy Elää Vielä Kerran – progressive rock / indie rock
Sulphur — Omens of Doom – black metal
Hanging Garden — Hereafter – melancholic rock / doom metal
Obscura — Akróasis – progressive metal
Glanko — Isometrik – downtempo / ambient / IDM
Wöljager — Van’t Liëwen un Stiäwen – neofolk
Insomnium — Winter’s Gate – melancholic melodic death metal – It was supposed to finally be a great album after all the pretty good melodeath they’ve done of late, repeating the same formula that drew so much blood in their early albums. In the end it’s just pretty good melodeath again with some quite stunning moments.
Be’lakor — Vessels – melancholic progressive melodic death metal – Alike Insomnium, in theory Vessels is a really good album but there’s something bothering me. Maybe it’s the production that lacks danger, or the sounds that remind of Insomnium too much.
Most 6ish albums I didnt listen enough and/or simply forgot about but these ones got a chance. None of them are bad but I’ve already heard similar stuff done way better or they elude my musical preferences.
KYPCK — 3epo – Doom metal
Reptilian — Perennial Void Traverse – Death metal
Oh well… (6ish)
Devin Townsend Project — Transcendence – progressive metal – I wanted to like Transcendence cause I dig Devin’s creative lunacy. However, Transcendence has an unbearable scent of virtues and purity. In a way it’s the opposite album to the chaotic nature of Deconstruction. Clean production, clean prog metal, fun for everyone. Not for me, I crave for some evil.
Spigu — Viimeinen papukaija – indie pop / country – Spigu’s first album from 2013 was one of the biggest surprises this year, if it was a 2016 release it would be on the very good category. Unfortunately Viimeinen Papukaija fell short. I don’t get the lyrics and the sprained bluegrass feel is replaced with compositions and themes so major key it doesn’t strike my positive nerve at all. At least the title track is a nice piece. I still haven’t lost hope on him.
Venetian Snares — Traditional Synthesizer Music – breakcore / improvisational – My face when he finally… (makes an album that does not hold my interest).
Deathspell Omega — The Synarchy of Molten Bones – progressive black metal – Evil [x], atmospheric [x], virtuoso [x], good riffs [x], bad riffs [x], songwriting [-], thanks for coming see you next time. Even the dark lord must be thinking: “Man, these guys sure make worship hard for themselves, how about you just switch to a frigging goat sacrifice every now and then?”.
Best tracks of 2016
Haken – The Architect
Haken – Initiate
Oranssi Pazuzu – Hypnotisoitu Viharukous
Riutta – Valkoinen Kohina
Riutta – Lorenz
Hebosagil – Pian tämä kaikki on ohi
Oneohtrix Point Never – Animals
Katatonia – Residual
Katatonia – Passer
Trees of Eternity – Gallows Bird
Tähtiportti – Abraxas
Tähtiportti – Ihmeiden aika ei ole ohi
Vektor – Mountains Above The Sun & Ultimate Artificer
Brilliant tracks just below the first category. Except on a good day…
The Wounded Kings – Beast
Riutta – Pyhäjoki
Hebosagil – Peltirumpu
Oneohtrix Point Never – Sticky Drama
Alcest – Oiseaux De Proie
Moonsorrow – Mimisbrunn
If These Trees Could Talk – Swallowing Teeth
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – People-Vultures
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Road Train
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Evil Death Roll
Omnium Gatherum – Storm Front
Vola – The Same War
Mogwai – U235
Sulphur – The Force of Our Fall
Sulphur – Gathering Storms
Trees of Eternity – The Eye of The Night
Vektor – Collapse
Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik’s Skuggsjá – Tore Hund
Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik’s Skuggsjá – Rop frå røynda / mælt frå minne
Whispered – Tsukiakari
a bunch of really interesting 2015 releases found too late
Wilderun — Sleep at the Edge of the Earth – progressive symphonic folk metal – The best album since 2014, or perhaps even further
Lost Soul — Atlantis: The New Beginning – technical death metal
Lik — Mass Funeral Evocation – oldschool death metal
Hanging Garden — Blackout Whiteout – doom metal / melancholic rock
Genocide Shrines — Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil: Scriptures Of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder – death metal
Akrabu — Ziggurat Ascension – acoustic folk / ritual
Barren Earth — On Lonely Towers – progressive death metal / melodic death metal
Satan — Atom By Atom – heavy metal
Janne Westerlund — Marshland – folk / country
Batushka — Litourgiya – melodic black metal
Slægt — Beautiful and Damned – heavy metal / black metal
Ghost — Meliora – heavy metal / hard rock
Venetian Snares — Your Face (When I Finally) – breakcore
Downfall of Nur — Umbras de Barbagia – atmospheric black metal
Zuriaake — 孤雁 Gu Yan – atmospheric black metal