Friday, January 6, 2017

Top 10 Albums of 2016

So here they are complied in relative order in one master list of metal and other genres to see what were the actual best albums of the year. These are largely based on which ones I got the most play out of . When I said relative earlier on one day I might be moved to listen to one album more than another that might be ranked higher so this can shift,, but a fairly accurate representation of what endured 2016. If you want to check these albums out then go to the review urls I posted with each one. Who cares if your favorite album did not make the list, the Kleenex is on aisle three of  CVS, these are my favorite albums of 2016 and thus when it comes to this blog the Top 10 Albums of 2016.

10-Anagnorisis -"Perpetia"

 The narrative these songs are woven around provides a more personal touch then most black metal band's allow themselves to create. There are no arctic wastelands or occult gibberish to hide behind. In some ways if it was not for the sonic storm cloud raging as this album's heart beat you might mistake this for hardcore.  The vocals keep their scathing snarl as a static coat of white noise to a similar effect as Deafheaven. Their approach to black metal is less atmospheric and the ambiance if of a more emotional nature. It is without question one of the better black metal albums I have come across recently and these guys have really stepped up their game when it comes to song writing.

9- Khemmis - "Hunted"

At times more NWOBHM than doom and "3 Gates" starts off to uptempo to be doom at all, but in the end it got the most play time and had enough melancholy to qualify as doom, after all Black Sabbath albums didn't always crawl all the way to the finish line so something can be said for the dynamics.This one earned it space at the top not because it was the most dismal, but because I listened to it the most, which at the end of the day is what matters.

8- Anthrax- "For All 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. I am giving them a chance here and while Belladonna might be 55, but I just reviewed the new David Bowie, and he is 69 so no body is slipping by due to age. 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 a surprisingly melodic section into the middle of the opener before thrashing back into it. They do not let up on the heavy with "Monster at the End", though it has a smoother groove allowing Belladonna's vocals to coast into a hookier chorus. A little less thrash and closer to mainstream metal, it's still a solid headbanger. .

7- Youth Code- "Commitment to Complications"

Production wise things have stepped up another level along with the song writing. After a melodic and perhaps dramatic synth intro the kick into the first proper song which kicks more like a rock song energetically than your typical industrial. Unlike your typical industrial there is not an obligatory layer of 90s thrash metal guitar over it. The synths are capable of summoning their own heft. This is in no way saying that there is not metal influence in place or this album isn't heavy. Ben from Goatwhore lends his snarl to the title track. It's interesting as he is not doing anything different from his normal delivery, but it's over a bunch of hammering synths.These kids are the real deal and not just hipsters playing dress up.

6-Black Foxxes- "I'm Not Well" 

 This band is interesting as it's hard to imagine that they did not come from the late the 90s. While middle of the road when it comes to how hard the they do or do not rock,  I can appreciate the role the vocals play in their sound. As the opener builds there is more of  an early Pearl Jam like angst to the grit added in the vocals. They lock into a more traditional rock role on "Husk". When they ease their foot off the gas it offers a more dynamic glimpse at the band , but flirts with a more emo side than I am not sure I was ready to see yet on "Whatever Let's You Cope" .  There is an androgynous quality to their sound that doesn't glam it out like Placebo, but is there. They narrowly edged out Dinosaur Jr , I think I listened to this one a little more.

5- Merchandise- "a Corpse Wired For Sound"

 I guess the fact the band is on classic goth label 4AD , has finally settled in on them, so  it should not come as a surprise that the trappings of shoe gaze are more prominent in the guitar department on this album. It took a couple listens for me to fully appreciate the opening track.Perspective is a funny thing.  If I went Overall this album is great and Carson once again throws you a sonic curve ball and refuses to replicate past work and forge ahead creativelyinto the album not knowing it was Carson Cox and co, I would have latched onto the darker tones driving the songs.

4- Emma Ruth Rundle-"Marked For Death"

 In some ways there is not much difference between Emma Ruth Rundle's  second solo album and the last Marriages album, which is a good thing. If you were expecting just her and an acoustic guitar then think again. Perhaps the punches are not as rock and the songs are less jarring in their dynamic shifts, there is a very stormy mood that brews in the first songs.

3- the Weeknd- Star Boy

 The tone of this album is much different and embracing more of a dance vibe with strong ties to house music. With the amount of drugs is supposedly does this is no surprise. The Micheal Jackson influence can be still felt on songs like "Rockin" though musically it is much more like Euro dance

2-Planes Mistaken for Stars- " Prey"

 These guys were always ahead of their time and finds music of today coming a little closer to meeting them in the middle. There has always been an unhinged side to the band and this is what the new album opens with. "Til it Clicks" is less explosive, but more of what I want from this band. The darker melody hangs around on "Riot Season" even after the pace picks up. The yowls of self loathing still haunt Jared's gravelly vocals riding the line between screaming and singing. The guitar to "Fucking Tenderness" carries some melody before tightening the tension. The vocals fill the spaces in the song perfectly and the band touching perfectly on all their trademarks without feeling like this song is any less urgent than it is.They are back in fine form and not standing stagnant in the legend of yesterday.

1- David Bowie - "Black Star"

 It was the Thin White Duke's 25th album. He released it on his 69th birthday. Then he died and most of you made me sick the way you ran out to get this looking for clues if he was hinting that he knew the time was coming. So lets talk about the music's vulgar I know but some body has go to do it. The lead single and title track opens the album, finding Bowie in a darker and more surreal place than his last album. There is a very experimental ambiance to things that will delight fans of his Brian Eno years. His collections of musicians  ranges from LCD Soundsystem to avant garde jazz , with the jazz contingent weighing more heavily. Not his best album ever, or even post-"Lets Dance" I think "Outside" is way better and "the Next Day" might be as well, but it's Bowie so no one can really compete making this almost a no contest.

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