By Layna D’Luna
2016 was an awesome year for metal, so much so that there was really no way to make a Top 10, 20 or 40 without suffering a complete mental breakdown. Therefore, I present to you the top 10 most notable albums of 2016 and their corresponding yearbook superlatives!
- Twilight Force
Heroes of Mighty Magic
Voted “Most Likely to Begin Playing When You Accidentally Find a Dragon Egg Behind Your Apartment Complex”.
Swedish band Twilight Force released their second album back in August 2016. Although they refer to their music as adventure metal, it’s also been called LARPing metal, fantasy metal and symphonic power metal. With song titles like “Rise of a Hero” and “Flight of the Sapphire Dragon” their music will transport you to the land of latex elf ears, dark forests, and epic battles. Wand and cape optional, but missing this album is not!
- Fleshgod Apocalypse
Voted “Most Likely To Be Played During Coronation If Scar From The Lion King Had Won”.
The fourth studio album from Italian metal band Fleshgod Apocalypse was released in February 2016. True to its title, the entire album can be described as regal, heavy and dark. A combination of opera and death metal, King utilizes choirs, epic orchestration, and the occasional harpsichord. The latter can be heard on the monarchical track “The Fool”. For those interested in the opera side of the album, “Paramour (Die Leidenschaft Bringt Leiden)” delivers.
- Devin Townsend Project
Voted “Most Jammable After Getting A Big Promotion At Your Lame Day Job”.
Devin Townsend has been an established part of the music scene since the early ‘90s and released his seventeenth studio album back in September. Throughout his career his stylistic dabblings have ranged from punk satire to soundscape to country. However, progressive metal is his current home and Transcendence can also be described as uplifting prog-metal. The album is theatrical, melodic, huge, and smile inducing. Notable songs: “Higher” and “Offer Your Light”.
Voted “Most Likely To Get Aliens Pumped To Invade Earth”.
Vektor is an American progressive thrash band based out of Philadelphia. Noted for their creative contributions to the genre, their latest album Terminal Redux orbits interstellar themes and experiments with its use of soft (almost whispering) clean vocals. This sci-fi metal album opens with “Charging The Void” and maintains intensity with its driving beats, floating ballads and heavy riffing guitars until ending with “Recharging the Void”. Space, the final thrash-tier.
Voted “Most Likely To Make You Squee With Heavy Metal Glee”.
One word: Babymetal. In case you missed the viral “kawaii metal” sensation’s first album, they returned with an even bigger and more ambitious follow up. The J-pop infused, teenage-girl-fronted band has been a source of contention within the metal community since day one with their YouTube hit “Gimme Chocolate”. On one hand, the group has brought in a new demographic of metalheads, specifically, young girls. On the other, the band has been unashamedly honest about their creation for and by a label. Authenticity alert! However, regardless of which camp you fall into, the musicianship and overall production quality of the album can not be denied. Notable tracks include the partially English “The One” and the incredibly catchy “KARATE”.
- Rotting Christ
Voted “Most Likely To Be Satan’s Leg Day Workout Playlist”.
Since 1988, Rotting Christ has been a strong contributor to the extreme metal/black metal scene. Known for being one of the bands attributed with creating the black metal “Greek sound” their newest album stays true to their dark spiritual roots. Filled with echoing, chanting voices and unique instrumental choices (bagpipes and sitar), Rituals is a multicultural ominous mash-up. The album is sung in multiple languages including Latin, Greek, French, Hebrew and more. Gladiators could fight to it, Hell could start off the work day with it, and metal fans could be completely disowned by their grandmothers for it.
- Eight Bells
Voted “Most Likely To Get You Feeling All The Ways”.
The experimental and female fronted Eight Bells gained attention in 2016 with the release of Landless. The Portland-based group shows off their musical prowess by capturing a vast range of moods. A progressive record with obvious black and doom metal inspiration, this album has some exciting highs and heart crushing lows. The juxtaposition of floating melodic hooks and heavy echoing riffs is addicting. Notable tracks include: “Hold My Breath” and “Hating”.
Voted “Most Likely To Give You A Gratuitous Fear Of The Forest”.
Abbath, the iconic former frontman of Norwegian black metal group Immortal, released his first album since splitting from the group in 2015. To the great satisfaction of fans the album features Abbath’s signature vocals, heavy riffs, and clean black metal stylings all with a refreshed twist. The album opens with “To War” and doesn’t give up momentum until the battle ends with “Eternal”.
Voted “Most Likely To Write The Soundtrack For The Next Scooby Doo Movie”.
Okay, so “technically” Swedish metallers Ghost released their album Meliora in 2015, and with so many incredible albums coming out of 2016 I debated if it belonged on this list. However, the single “Cirice” won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance of 2016. Also, the band later released Meliora Redux, a deluxe edition of the album in September of 2016. So there. Relevant. The album’s use of organ, clean layered vocals, and haunting lyrics all feed into its overall sense of impending doom. From the opening track “Spirit” to the award winning “Cirice”, it’s not hard to envision this album being sung by the congregation of the imaginary church of metal. Hey, a girl can dream.
- The Body
No One Deserves Happiness
Voted “Most Likely To Make You Whisper ‘What’ To Yourself Repeatedly”.
To round out the list I wanted to include a band who’ve been getting a lot of attention for their latest bummer of an album. No One Deserves Happiness is the latest studio album from Portland based metal band The Body–and it is a distorted, deconstructed experiment of a metal album. Layering clean but haunting female vocals underneath screech-singing and an almost hazy-pop-dance track, the album takes metal into some uncharted territory. I can only describe it as a wall of wretched noise. What do you think?
Featured image by Hannah Pierce.