I didn’t listen to as much metal this year as I have in the past few years. But that’s no bad thing. I decided to step off the review/deadline/review/deadline treadmill in 2016, and while less of the hustle meant I listened to fewer albums, it made listening to those albums a far more gratifying experience overall.
In the end, I still managed to gather a stack of contenders for my end-of-year metal list easily enough. I did cut a few high-profile releases from the list straight away, chiefly the latest albums from Neurosis and Darkthrone, because while those are both solid releases, it’d be fair to say I’d expected more from both bands.
I also cut Vektor’s Terminal Redux album from my list, and plenty of people whose opinions I respect absolutely adore that release. But I haven’t spent enough time listening to Terminal Redux to be able to truthfully claim that I appreciate its charms.
I cut releases from Antaeus, Deathspell Omega, Inverloch, Kawir, Moonsorrow, and Saor for similar reasons. My initial impression when listening to those bands’ 2016 releases was that they were all potentially excellent albums. But I just didn’t dedicate enough time to exploring their true potential — i.e. it’s me, not them.
I did briefly consider including Metallica’s Hardwired… to Self-Destruct on my list. I thought the band’s latest album was an improvement on 2008’s Death Magnetic. And I enjoyed the first couple of tracks the band shared online. But the nostalgia/goodwill I felt for Metallica wore off far quicker than I expected, and I rapidly grew bored of Hardwired… to Self-Destruct when I had the album in hand.
I know it’s kind of hip to hate Metallica these days, but in truth I can’t even muster the enthusiasm to do that. I’m of an age where those first four albums from the band are essentially sacrosanct, but rather than bear the band any kind of grudge, it just turns out I’ve got nothing invested in Metallica in 2016: I doubt that’s a rare or even controversial opinion.
Anyway, there’s plenty of other music to listen to. Including a lot of long-lived thrash bands that delivered decent albums in recent times: see releases from the likes of Anthrax, Death Angel, Testament, Artillery, Flotsam and Jetsam, and Metal Church.
There’s one album that’s not on my list that might be relevant for folks down my end of the world: Bölzer’s first full-length, Hero. (Bölzer’s frontman, KzR, was raised in New Zealand, and he’s got history in the metal scene down here.) Obviously, the band’s much-anticipated debut has proven to be very divisive. I’ve enjoyed the songs that I’ve heard thus far, but I’m still waiting for my LP of Hero to arrive in my mailbox. I can’t offer an opinion on something I’ve yet to dive into. But given all the clashing and gnashing of opinions about Hero, I am really looking forward to checking it out in full.
I would have kept on further cutting back my end-of-year metal list, but I hit upon a couple of albums that I had to keep: High Spirits’ ultra-rockin’ Motivator, and Brownout’s phenomenal Brown Sabbath Vol. II. The pain of cutting albums really kicked in when I bumped into those two albums, but that’s when I also remembered that I actually have a handy remedy for that pain. Namely, that this is my blog, and I can just post whatever the hell I want. Hence you’re getting a list of 42 albums that I really enjoyed in 2016. Instead of one of those succinct Top 20s, like a genuine critic would deliver at this time of year.
Is 42 too many albums? Of course fucking it is. But I’m not claiming every one of the releases below is a genre-shaker or a game-changer. I just enjoyed them all — some of them a hell of a lot — and I figured I’d share ’em with you. (The method to my madness is as uncomplicated as that.) Also, given how this year has panned out, I figure we’ll be lucky to be here at the same time in 2017. So we might as well make hay while the sun shines, right?
I hope there’s a couple of releases below that you’ve not heard before. And hey, 666 cheers for stopping by Six Noises in 2016.
(Ps: there’s a separate list for New Zealand metal coming up too.)
42. Brownout: Brown Sabbath Vol. II
41. High Spirits: Motivator
40. Tardigrada: Emotionale Ödnis
39. Downfall of Gaia: Atrophy
38. Denouncement Pyre: Black Sun Unbound
37. The Body & Full of Hell: One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache
36. Blood Incantation: Starspawn
35. Subrosa: For This We Fought The Battle Of Ages
34. Grave Miasma: Endless Pilgrimage
33. Sumerlands: S/T
32. Palace of Worms: The Ladder
31. El-Ahrairah: S/T
30. Seven Sisters of Sleep: Ezekiel’s Hags
29. Bat: Wings Of Chains
28. Bestial Raids: Master Satan’s Witchery + Abigail: The Final Damnation
27. Naðra: Allir vegir til glötunar
26. Chthe’ilist: Le Dernier Crépuscule
25. Wode: S/T
24. Spire: Entropy
23. Temple Nightside: The Hecatomb
22. Conan: Revengeance
21. Urzeit: Anmoksha
20. Anagnorsis: Peripeteia
19. Primitive Man: Northless & Sea Bastard splits
18. Ghold: PYR
17. Deströyer 666: Wildfire + Ripper: Experiment Of Existence
16. Behexen: The Poisonous Path
15. מזמור (Mizmor): Yodh
14. Shataan: Weigh of the Wolf
13. Blood Ceremony: Lord of Misrule
12. Cough: Still They Pray
11. Book of Sand: Occult Anarchist Propaganda
10. Ash Borer: The Irrepassable Gate
9. Church of Misery: And Then There Were None
8. Arizmenda: Beneath This Reality of Flesh + Axis Of Light:Northern Ascendancy
7. Forteresse: Thèmes pour la rébellion
6. Horse Latitudes: Primal Gnosis
5. 11PARANOIAS: Reliquary For A Dreamed Of World
4. Atomikylä: Keräily
3. Funeral Moth: Transience
2. Aluk Todolo: Voix
1. Oranssi Pazuzu: Värähtelijä