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

"You can't rush these things, 2016 was an incredible year for metal and it was hard to narrow down that number one". Carrie Gibson & Albert Petersen weigh in for 2016...

ALBERT PETERSEN

20. Brain Tentacles – Brain Tentacle (Relapse Records)

19. Meshuggah – Violent Sleep of Reason (Nuclear Blast)

18. Anthrax – For All Kings (Nuclear Blast)

17. Anal Blasphemy – Western Decadence (Iron Bonehead Productions)

16. Black Cobra – Imperium Simulacra (Season of Mist)

15. Hashshashin  - nihsahshsaH (Art As Catharsis)

14. Talmud Beach – Chief (Svart Records)

13. Fleshgod Apocalypse – King (Nuclear Blast)

12. Ivar Bjornson & Einar Selvik’s Skuggsja – Skuggsja (Season of Mist)

11. Boris with Merzbow – Gensho (Daymare Recordings)

10. Blood Ceremony - Lord of Misrule (Rise Above)

The doomy flute madness of Blood Ceremony always gets me grooving about the nursing home, and the outrageously 60’s Flower Phantoms has a dark groove like no other. Yeah, baby…

9. Surgical Meth Machine – Self titled (Nuclear Blast)

Good ol’ Al and co nail us to the floor with their latest electro-industrial offering. Opening track I’m Sensitive has 250+ BPM fun-times, and if coupled with some cheap whizz, may just burst your heart and offer you endless joyful liberation. Or not.

8. Tusmorke – Fort Bak Lyset (Svart Records)

OK - So I didn’t get enough flutey-fruity fun with #10. This album ramps up the psychedelia levels – and just to freak you out even further every lyric is sung in Norwegian (until you eat all of your mushrooms and then it’s all in English). Get down, muvva-fuqqa, get down.

7. Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence (Inside Out Music)

Devin makes my list once again with his most Devin-based album ever. It almost lost me at times but always lured me back like a sailor’s lust for a walrus. His music is forever proggy and the man himself is always utterly charming. Hoorah for Devin and company.

6. Aluk Todolo – Voix (The Ajna Offensive)

You want shit that will fuck you up? Look no further than this evil little beauty. Psychedelic black metal meanderings done exceedingly well. Get this and get dark.

5. Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake (Nuclear Blast)

This album gave me great joy; the riffs, the drums, and generally the whole construction of it from start to finish. Slightly old skool yet wholly new skool, this is the sound of (heavy) progress and evolution. As it should be.

4. Gehenna – Too Loud to Live, Too Drunk to Die (Metal Blade)

Gehenna’s raucous rock and roll stylings will get your party started every time. It swaggers and staggers without ever being too cool. Brutally honest and honestly brutal, they bring a meaty selection of fine cuts to the table. Throw dem horns, bro…

3. Brujeria – Pocho Atzlan (Nuclear Blast)

These fellows are ‘muy loco’ to the power of eleven; Mexican death metal to make you smash tequila and/or shit up. I was almost stunned into submission by the raw power of this album. You need this on the stereo at the family Christmas dinner just to make grandma go mental and chug a four litre bottle of sherry. Good times…

2. Katla – Embryo (Svart Records)

Over-driven juicy psychedelia that mashes Hawkwind and 70’s electro into a heady beverage that’s ripe for the picking/drinking. I know what decade we’re in but I don’t care – give me a draft of Embryo’s Vinum Sabbati and let me run naked through the woods with a flower garland on my head

1. Uhrijuhla - Jokainen on Vapaa Lintu (Svart Records)

Yes, it’s not exactly ‘Metal As Fuck’ and technically it was a 2015 release (re-released by Svart in 2016, I’ll have you know) but this is beautiful. I don’t understand it - and I don’t need to – its beauty runs its finger up and down my spine each time I slip it on the gramophone. Chill the fuck out and lay back on those cushions. Bloody old hippy Albert…Merry Christmas and all that bollox… 

 

CARRIE GIBSON 

20. Urgehaul - Aeons in Sodom (Season of Mist)

19. Aborted - Retrogore (Century Media)

18. Ragnarok - Psychopathology (Agonia Records)

17. Epica - The Holographic Principle (Nuclear Blast)

16. Be'Lakor - Vessels (Napalm Records)

15. Dark Funeral - Where Shadows Forever Reign (Century Media)

14. Meshiaak - Alliance of Theives (Mascot Records)

13. Rotting Christ - Rituals (Season of Mist)

12. Opeth - Sorceress (Nuclear Blast)

11. Meshuggah - The Violent Sleep of Reason (Nuclear Blast) 

10. Vader – The Empire (Nuclear Blast)

Immediately expecting greatness from this album, I was not disappointed. Far from it. From the strike of the first chord I was wrapping my head around everything that was going on – James Stewart’s drumming is mind blowing and captures your attention immediately, the mix of Marak Pajak and Piotr Wiwczarek’s guitar work, absolutely feral! And during this controlled chaos you swear you can feel the spit from Piotr on vocals – the sheer wrath The Empire delivers, makes the term ‘Old School’ an understatement – one does not move on from Thrash Metal, you just redefine it and The Empire is 46 minutes of unrelenting Polish asperity, you will be sore, you will be bruised and you will be furiously elated… 

9. Sodom – Decision Day (Steamhammer)

It is Sodom. Enough said. Now bow down! 

8. Amon Amarth – Jomsviking (Metalblade Records)

Irrespective that Jomsviking was Amon Amarth’s first concept album, the Amon Amarth fan, over the last twenty years of their reign in Metal has always been taken on a journey with Amon Amarth. The journey has always been dominant, musically cultivating and damn near conquering… Amon Amarth has only just begun to wield the axe and Jomsviking has proven that the Swedes are the masters of their craft. Raise Your Horns and The Way of Vikings - sounds that are made for the moshpit; Amon Amarth show their versatility with Jomsviking, not only capturing their strident signature sound but revealing their capacity to bring an even harder hit. 

7. Destroyer666 – Wildfire (Season of Mist) 

There are bands within a forbidding and remarkable genre of music better known as Black Metal who emulate the very essence of it – there are bands who are that degree higher - these bands set precedents, fracture medians, preserve tradition and damn right spearhead a sound. This band is better known as Destroyer666. D666 had an advantage, they were in, around – above and behind both waves of Black Metal and the result has been a smashing mixture of the genres finest points and instituted their preservation for convention. The intentions behind Wildfire resonate with me, ‘Tamam Shud’ is one of the most exquisite songs ever written by the band and is compounded by the amount of refined ferocity peppered throughout the entire album. Wildfire is one for the history books…       

6. Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder (Century Media)

Fuck, those guitars are crustier than a fine pastry… Darkthrone bring the rumble of tradition with their 16th! release Arctic Thunder. When you lay dormant in ice, you stand in time – not giving an inch to progression, Darkthrone march forward or backward or stay the same *scratches head*. ‘Burial Bliss’ is indeed the deadliest fire on the album; dejected by Fenriz’s harsh and appropriately wintry vocals and complimented by the crustiest guitar and drum work I’ve heard in a while. Whatever Darkthrone do, they are reliable with their material to eternally stand in time and for a band who continue in this stubborn style they will forever be relevant, remain consistent and will continue to not give a fuck what you think…    

5. Brujeria - Pocho Aztlan (Nuclear Blast)

Wearing a bandana and wielding a Machete was never considered cool unless it was in conjunction with anything Brujeria. This enigmatic and fiery group were born into chaos and the stories of their trials are well documented in albums such as Matando Güeros, Raza Odiada and of course Brujerizmo. Constant controversy has circled the group; who can forget the dearly beloved mascot Coco Loco? Yet behind the bandanas are just some honest folk telling their stories and the Mextremists return with a provocative new album ‘Pocho Aztlan’ the album; as do the many before it is, in ways politically goaded – ‘Make America Hate Again’ ammiright?! - And you can sense the angst with Juan on vocals. Brujeria have always stood out to me, their mix of death metal, grind and Spanish yes, yes, all the yes make Brujeria some of the spiciest death metal in today’s market.  

4. Fleshgod Apocalypse – King (Nuclear Blast) 

The lead up to the Italian maestro’s fourth album ‘King’ was palpable; we have savoured on the bands truly galvanising offerings throughout the years; Oracles and Agony, Labyrinth and now King - and upon hearing the album the upsurge was much the same. Thrown into a cluster of battle like drums with the introduction to this opus; ‘Marche Royale’ the jaw began to drop and we were experiencing one of the most incredible ensembles in the world doing what they do best. Grandiose is the only way to describe it and as expected, the album imposes such majesty. King is the perfect storm and like a perfect storm, it twists and turns you – pulls you in directions you do not know, it buries you in fury and leaves you in a state of menace. It is still hard for me to comprehend this amount of excellence. You are truly in awe of the amount of talent and exquisite beauty emulating from this album.  Beauty can also show its dark side, and such is laced throughout ‘Cold as Perfection’ the highlight track from an album of highlights. It will absolutely floor you….  

3. Crobot - Welcome to Fat City (Nuclear Blast) 

Channeling and basking in the finer points of Stoner Rock amidst paying homage to the greats, there is nothing arrogant or pretentious about ‘Welcome to Fat City’; just the thrust worthy candor that is Crobot. The single the band started this riot ride with; ‘Not For Sale’ is dripping in sharp, snappy riffs; seamlessly constructed and yielding the right amount of clout - Crobot have an insane amount of acquaintance and knowledge in this style and show such an authenticity; let’s hope they stay close to their roots…. So aside from striking an immediate chord with this groove strumpet; the band will be gearing up for a monstrous 2017.   

2. Gojira – Magma (Roadrunner)

Magma has been cultivated and shows such sophistication; the band itself are teetering on the edge of progression and we're all curious to see what is over that line. With rebellious flair Gojira are primarily focused on pushing their own boundaries and the precincts of title.  Magma; heavy in an enigmatic and obscure way; is taking you back to the bands primordial side. The lads have stripped it back – to a time before the awards, before the crowds, before the shine; before the bullshit. Magma is so damn instinctive and unpretentious. A truly genuine piece of work. If you find yourself scratching your head, first ask yourself what you were expecting - If you were expecting a vague; unemotive and unnecessarily brutal album then you have missed the point all along friend. Take a step back and reassess what you believe Gojira to be. Magma promises you nothing yet delivers on everything - It is a significant step in the band’s progression and one that leaves us guessing…

1. Blood Red Throne – Union of Flesh and Machine (Candelight Records)

Blood Red Throne has found an unconquerable formula to their rendering of modern death metal. Completely unrivalled and leaving many others of the genre faint, feeble and vulnerable to band’s invincibility. But hey, that’s just me… The Norwegian component; manufactured by sheer savagery has been championing their blend of premeditated aggression and methodical onslaught to followers of death metal since the late 90’s. Lead by Daniel ‘Død’ Olaisen; whose guitar work is unsurpassed and peppered with groove - a sense of righteousness should inshew with this release. Blood Red Throne: brutality is their pledge and the Union of flesh and Machine is the hammer they drive it down with.