Part I: Metal As Fuck's Top 20 of 2016

2016 proved to be a challenging year, here are some of the albums that helped us through it...

Our latest recruit, Lauz Vee has been blown away by the music showcased in 2016 and has a thing or two to say about it:

10 - Red Fang - Only Ghosts (Relapse Records)
Red Fang brought us Only Ghosts, their 4th studio album and it does not disappoint. Their signature blend of fuzzy bass riffs and blues influenced guitars make this for a head banging happy time. While this is a slower paced album, there is something about it that catches me. Favourite song: "Living in Lye."

9 - Rotting Christ - Rituals (Season of Mist)
I'm new to the world of Rotting Christ, having just stumbled upon them in the summer. They certainly command your attention with Rituals. Knowing absolutely nothing about their previous work, this record feels like some kind of predatory beast, hunting down it's prey. It's intense, chaotic, melodic, and incoherent. The chanting at the beginning of the album sets the stage for a warriors attack, calling their army into battle. I love it. Favourite song: "Tou Thanatou."

Speaking of warriors...

8 - Sabaton - The Last Stand (Nuclear Blast)
The Last Stand is the latest addition to Sabaton's epic discog. They stick true to their craft with the record which is fine with me - I love me a good Sabaton anthem, complete with excellent singalong choruses, power metal riffs and stories of war. This is a solid album, both lyrically and musically. Sabaton have concocted the appropriate amount of power metal alchemy to make the listener smile along and maybe even head bop in public. Favourite song: "Last Dying Breath."

7 - Truckfighters - V (Century Media)
Some more fuzz coming at you with Truckfighters album, V. The Swedish trio have released an album that rolls like a thunderstorm across the desert. (Funnily enough, I wrote that analogy before looking at the first song title, "Calm before the storm"!) Despite only 8 songs on the album, average song length is about 7 minutes. This is an album I would LOVE to see played live from start to finish. Fans of fuzz will not be disappointed!
Favourite song: "The 1."

6 - Skeletonwitch - The Apothic Gloom (Sunrise Records)

Skeletonwitch brought us a beauty of an EP earlier this year and holy meatballs do I like it! The Apothic Gloom is new singer Adam Clemans' first release with the band, and his vocals fit in very well. There's a lot going on in this EP. What was a surprise for me was hearing the bass as prominently as the guitars. The bass is fast, dynamic, and brought up to the same level as the guitars that adds an awesome robust sound. I like this EP a lot!Favourite song: Well of Despair

5 - Hammerfall - Built to Last (Napalm Records)
Hammer high, this is a freedom cry! Fists in the air, everyone! HammerFall are taking us on an epic journey, with tales of warriors and princesses and battles of the ages. For those who love a good story and something to sing along to, and the occasional power ballad, this album is for you. Get out your cod piece and sword, and charge into this beauty. Silly grins guaranteed!
Favourite song: The Star of Home.

4 - Amon Amarth - Jomsviking (Metal Blade Records)
Viking warriors Amon Amarth released Jomsviking, and have been busy sharing it with the world live this year. Jomsviking follows true to Amon Amarth's sound, with fast drums and guitars, and epic vocals. Synchronized windmills are required when listening to this with friends. A regular feature on my 2016 playlist. Favourite song: The Way of Vikings.

3 - Gojira - Magma (Roadrunner Records)
I'm not going to pretend that I know everything about Gojira and their discography. But I have to tell you, Magma is beautiful. This is a heavy album with a heavy sound. At the same time, there's a delicate touch that I can't really explain. The opening riffs and chorus for Stranded for example, has a tempo to it that I love, while the fast intense intro to "The Cell" has a sense of urgency that calls for my full attention. It's a beautiful sound, and an album I'll be listening to for a long time. Favourite song: The Cell.
 
2 - Anaal Nathrakh - The Whole of the Law (Century Media)
The first time I heard this album I thought I was going to fall off my chair! It's like a punch to the face that doesn't stop at contact. Maybe a punch THROUGH the face is more accurate. The Whole of the Law is about as intense as it gets for me. V.I.T.I.R.O.L's vocals give me chills every time I listen. Musically the fast, desperate sound makes for an anxious, adrenaline fuelled experience. I'm addicted to this album!
Favourite song: We Will Fucking Kill You.

1 - Allegaeon - Proponent for Sentience (Metal Blade Records)
What can I say about this album that I haven't already said without fangirling like a psychopath? This album has everything. It's complicated, intelligent, and a joy to listen to. I love the story that Proponent for Sentience I, II, and III tells. I love the epic orchestral additions that blend so well with Allegaeon's sound. I love the flamenco outro to Grey Matter Mechanics. It's incredible and I love every second of it. Good job, Allegaeon!
Favourite song: Terrathaw and the Quake.

Matt Foster delivers on the top 20 he found to give 2016 an impertinant 'what for':

20 Hellion Prime - Hellion Prime (Independent)
19 Hyperion - Seraphical Euphony (Black Lion Productions)
18 Be’lakor - Vessels (Napalm Records)
17 Sig:Ar:Tyr - Northern (Hammerheart Records)
16 Eternal Champion - The Armor of Ire (No Remorse Records)
15 Inquisition - Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar to the Celestial Zenith (Season of Mist)
14 Blood Incantation - Starspawn (Dark Descent)
13 Saor - Guardians (Northern Silence Productions)
12 King Goat - Conduit (Independent)
11 Darkher - Realms (Prophecy Productions)

10 Khemmis - Hunted (20 Buck Spin)
After an impressive debut album, Absolution last year, American doom metal stalwarts Khemmis have churned out another one in just over a year. Much like Horrendous, this band has taken massive strides in a miniscule amount of time. Hunted removes much of the stoner influence from Absolution and takes on a much more classic doom sound. All the better for it.

9 The Vision Bleak - The Unknown (Prophecy Productions)
You don’t hear a lot of gothic metal nowadays, so when you hear a gothic metal record done well, it really stands out. Filled with melancholy, Type O Negative bass vocals and great hooks, The Unknown is a morbid pleasure.

8 Departe - Failure/Subside (Season of Mist)
Tasmania’s Departe emerged seemingly overnight to deliver one of the most emotionally fraught listens of the year. Sludge, death, black and post metal all ebb and flow together throughout this harrowing journey exploring loss and isolation. This is a band to keep an eye on.

7 Vektor - Terminal Redux (Earache Records)
Vektor returned after a 4 year absence to reaffirm their grip on the future of thrash metal. Terminal Redux is as much a work of elegance and attention to detail as it is a furious display of thrash fury. The world clearly needs more sci-fi thrash metal operas.

6 Chthe’ilist - Le Dernier Crépuscule (Dark Descent Records)
The murky side of death metal is starting to creep out of the shadows and overtake our minds. Chthe’ilist combines a Lovecraftian atmosphere, Demilich worship and technicality as a means rather than an end. All this served to make them the most prominent example of this new wave of death metal to come out this year.

5 Dark Forest - Beyond The Veil (Cruz del Sur Music)
Leading the pack in power metal this year was Dark Forest’s new one. Folk influences and Maidenisms run abound on this platter from the English quintet. Combine it with a lush production and some of the best guitar harmonies this year and you have a definite winner on your hands.

4 Insomnium - Winter’s Gate (Century Media)
Insomnium’s last few albums had given the impression of a band starting to spin it’s wheels, which is why the ambitions notion of them writing a single 40 minute song album was met with some trepidation. We were in luck though; Winter’s Gate is a revitalization and a triumph for the melodeath band.

3 Sumerlands - Sumerlands (Relapse Records)
Sumerland’s self-titled debut proved to be an instant ear worm with its dark and moody take on traditional metal. Think Queensryche with a bit more NWOBHM menace thrown in.  Stripped back instrumentation, vintage production and strong sensibilities all come together to form a delightful package.

2 Witherscape - The Northern Sanctuary (Century Media)
Dan Swano has the Midas touch, most everything he does is absolute gold. His Witherscape project is no exception with a grandiose mixture of death metal, progressive rock and good old traditional metal. The Northern Sanctuary sees Swano upping the ante on all of these elements and topping it off with some truly strong songwriting.

1 Messa - Belfry (Aural Music Records)
How appropriate that doom was the leading genre in this crazy year. Italian band Messa seemingly appeared out of the mists to deliver a haunting work.  Melding the retro vibes of occult doom metal with experimental forays into ambient territory, Belfry proved not only to be an engaging listen, but the most memorable one to come out this year!