Friday, June 17, 2016
The Top 10 Metal albums of 2016...so far
Ok, this one took longer than our pop/rock list. One or two of these bands could have crossed over into that list, but they have enough balls to be here. These are ranked by what I have listened to the most weighed against the impact of the album and how it scored here at the blog. But it could have been a master piece , but if it didn't inspire me to listen to it a ton then an album I listened to more would be better. Keeping up? Then lets move on to the best Metal albums that the year has offered us so far. If you want to hear more there is a link to each full review with media.
10- Metal Church - "XI"
This one made it over to the iPod and got more listens than Ihsahn whose album certainly should get an honorable mention here. It's perhaps not had the staying power that some of the other albums ranked higher have. They came closer to the top of the heap than many of their peers who have come back this year to make it feel more like 1988 than 2016.
Immortal has been slugging it out longer than Queensryche over who owns the rights to their name leading guitarist and front man Abbath Doom Occulta decided to just release this album under his own name enlisting Creature aka Kevin Foley who is Benighted's drummer to pound along with Gorgoroth bassist King ov Hell. So a Immortal / Gorgoroth super group is what we are looking at here. It is though the material on this album are the songs that were written as the follow up to the 2009 full-length "All Shall Fall". It is currently not in rotation on my iPod, but I will give it another shot as the album captures this kind of aggression well and the time I did spend with it colored my black heart impressed.
8- Howls of Ebb - "Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows"
This project out of San Francisco is bringing some of the wonderment back to death metal. Death metal all too often defaults to re-hashing what Incantation and Morbid Angel have already done. Little time is wasted digging into the meat of the metal on this one. The helter skelter sense of groove and trippy atmosphere that make this band so awesome are all intact.Overall this albums brings to life everything I could want from them. More progressive than just death metal loaded up on a ton of drugs. The bass playing is some of death metal's best this side of Cynic, who lets face it are off in the land of elves with Rush at this point in time. The experimentation is tempered with aggression, though it's not just a monochrome brutality. http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2016/03/howls-of-ebb-cursus-impasse-pendlomic.html
7- Eight Bells - "Landless"
Things have changed for this band since "Captain's Daughter". I felt they had potential on that one and here they have fully realized. The drumming shows vast improvement as they open with the doomy "Hating" . The title track finds the band taking on more of a trippy post- metal ambiance to a riff that feels like it spirals down before ebbing down into a softer sung section.The vocal melodies are stronger on this album as well and more love and care went into the song writing. Any doubts as to the metallic nature of this band is put to rest by the blast beat section this song hangs on with the vocals taking on more of a harsher growl when it slows into more of a punk beat.The song does drone me out a little though I got sucked into the black hole of the inner webs reading about the whole Phil Anselmo thing just when they hit the section of minimalist ambiance.
6-Voivod - "Post Society"
Voivod has always been light years ahead of their time. Since "Target Earth" the band has locked into a sound that takes the classic tones from "Dimension Hatross " and pushes it forward in a modern production. This ep is the quality of both songwriting and production as "Target Earth" in fact the arrangements might be even more progressive, like the surreal breakdown on the title track that kicks the ep off. They have always been able to shift in a very organic manner from one movement to the next . What amazes me more upon hearing this is how true they are to their legacy even though half of the original members are not on this recording. Chewy and Rocky did comprise the live band on their last pass through the states with Napalm Death and both really do justice to the Voivod legacy.
5- Anthrax-"For All the Kings"
Anthrax used to be one of my favorite bands and to this day "Among the Living " is without a doubt one of the best metal albums ever with "Spreading the Disease" not too far behind. I hung tough with the band for the first six albums, even liking Jon Bush's first album. Then we grew apart. "Worship Music" saw the return of singer Joey Belladonna, but I never gave it a shot. Age might have helped Anthrax here , because with age Belladonna's voice is lower than even on "Persistence of Time", but it gives him more aggression, which might have helped on albums like the almost too happy "State of Euphoria". There is younger blood injected in the band as Jonathan Donais from Shadows Fall is now in the band.They exceeded my expectation and this album is still in rotation.
4- Graves At Sea- "The Curse That is "
I had been waiting for these guys to drop a full length as the splits and eps were great, but wanted something more to sink my doom hungry jaws into. Doom begs to be questioned here right from the eleven minute title track that opens the album. It's an odd evolution that includes the bigger production value this album has. It finds them thundering into your ears with something more akin to a stoner rock version of "Through Sliver and Blood" era Neurosis. Some evolution an be expected considering the line-up changes that have yo-yoed the band about. The vocals are still mean in their ample grit coated screams. The guitar has warmed up a bit. Perhaps it is the time they took in the studio to perfect their tone versus previous releases which have had a rawer, angrier sound.
3- Katatonia- "the Fall of Hearts"
The gloomy Swedes were almost sent to the pop rock list, but have enough metal on this to make here even though they have pretty much become a prog band at this point. The Opeth like cadence that builds the opener when the distortion is stomped on makes sense considering the acrobatics the guitars have already engaged in leading up to that point. "In Absentina" ear Porcupine Tree might also come to mind. This is not to say there is not plenty of the band's own DNA all over this song. Jonas' vocals are unmistakable.The album is very crisp from a production stand point, which lightens the shade of gray cast over these songs. Jonas doesn't have the same melancholic desperation fueling his vocals, yet he doesn't stray from his style.It's weird as it's not as dark as previous releases, but packs more of a punch.
2-Nails- "You Will Never Be One of Us"
I have predicted 2016 as the year grind-core and power-violence breaks through into the metal mainstream. What Weekend Nachos failed to deliver is being jack hammered into your face by this band. Their guitar tone is as nasty as you can get and still play riffs that hold together actual songs. Even then when I used the word songs here I am describing sharp bursts of anger. Grind-core has never been my forte, typically because of the genre's limited range of dynamic expression. Coloring with only the red crayon of anger can limit what you do, this band from Southern Los Angeles colors with this crayon so well, I know what I'm in for and can hold on for the jolting ride.The heaviest album on the list for sure.
1-Tombs-"All Empires Fall"
What happens on Tombs new album should not come as a surprise considering how they have evolved with each album. The last album might not have been as dark as the previous, but Mike Hill and company continue to evolve. With the inclusion of Fade Kainer into the fold on "All Empires Fall" it made me think the industrial influence that has lurking under the surface would rise like Godzilla. This is not the case. They make it clear the metal isn't going anywhere. They kick the fucking door down with a neck crushing riff.The only thing wrong with this release is the fact it's an EP rather than a full length, because it leaves me still wanting more.