Well, it’s that time again. 2016 isn’t over yet, but I’m not too thrilled with anything I see on the metal horizon between now and January 1, 2017. So, in no particular order, here are the albums that tickled my fancy this year. Click the thumbnails for brief descriptions:
Progressive symphonic power, at its finest! These songs never have a dull moment! Vocals like these will give you visions of commanding legions from the top of a cliff!
The best thing this band has done since ’91. A few boring moments, but most of the tunes just rip old school thrash, reminiscent of the first 4 albums. BIG WIN!
This is a supergroup worth checking out. Aggressive power metal feat. James Malone (Arsis), Bart Williams (TBDM) and Jeramie Kling (The Absence). WOW! Killer live show too. They opened with David Hasslehoff’s “True Survivor”. 🙂
David Davidson just doesn’t quit. These riffs punish and stand up/sometimes surpass their previous albums. Deathless was great, but this one has more WINNING tracks!
Tosin Abasi is a machine that just won’t quit. This is intricate instrumental prog metal at its very best! I loved the self titled and I think this really rivals it! It’s all over the place but paints a whole picture nicely.
Cranking out the Swedish melodic death riffing since ’89! I think they’re still going strong! People hate on them for the clean vocals, clean guitars, Westernized simplistic riffing that comes and goes, but I still think DT rocks! So many great old school moments mixed in with the new!
Simone Simmons knows no bounds! These vocals are enchanting and the songs are still a perfect blend of brutality, thrash and symphonic power!
These guys do an incredible Beethoven cover! When they opened for Amon Amarth a few months back, I was blown away! I saw them open for Dark Tranquillity in Cleveland back in 2012 too. Killer thrash with a HUGE sound. Killer vocal range, from power metal cleans to death gutturals!
Tobias Sammet is relentless with his latest masterpiece. The songs are still as epic and well rounded as ever, with new guests that really bring it all home!
A single song clocking in at 40 minutes, but a masterpiece! WOW! This lengthy tale of Vikinglore doesn’t let up until the very end! So dramatic, heavy and vile all at the right times. Well composed!
Not their best album, but certainly noteworthy! All the classic themes are still present with some simpler riffing as compared to previous works, but still very powerful stuff. My top track is easily “One Thousand Burning Arrows”.
When Jesse Leach returned to the band, I was pumped to say the least. Disarm the Descent was a great comeback piece for him. Personally, I think Incarnate falls a little short. The songs seem a little uninspired compared to previous albums, but it’s still a good KSE release. If you’re going to listen to any modern “metalcore”, I still say that KSE is the best choice. Jesse still commands the band with great vocals and feeling, even if the music seems a little shallow at times. I still enjoy listening to it and I think they’re just setting themselves up for something HUGE next time around.
What can I say? I fucking love this band. Every album is just a perfect blend of melancholic melodic death goodness from Finland. I have no complaints here. The vocals, riffs, keys, drumming and themes are so spot on and powerful!
I haven’t been a fan of these guys since Kezia, but I think they’re really onto something here. Volition didn’t really do it for me, but Pacific Myth seems very mature, honest and driven. Most people want more “mathrock” with their Protest, but I’m a much bigger fan of this direct approach. Powerfully emotional melodic prog metal!
Corpsegrinder and Adam D. are in cahoots, trying to make sense of death metal with an odd old school KSE twist? If it were anyone but Adam D. on guitar, I probably would’ve filed this away with dozens of other death metal releases that came out this year, but the dynamics and influences present here really make this stand out! Good stuff!
Nightwish just hasn’t been the same since ’05. I’m still a fan of the band, but they lost something huge when things failed with Tarja. Her solo project has its dull moments, but there’s no denying she’s one of the best classically trained female metal vocalists in Europe. Her band is quite talented this time around as well. A great listen!
Jesper Stromblad does it again, fusing hardcore and melodic death into this fierce release. Former members of In Flames and The Haunted are really bringing it home for those looking for a pissed off Swedish riff fest.
I think this one falls short when compared to their last album, Heroes, but you still can’t escape the power of Sabaton. Some songs are more mid-paced, almost chuggy, than I’d like, but it’s still full on Sabaton and I’m just anxious for the next album.
Now, that the big guys are out of the way, let’s take a look at all the local albums we reviewed this year. Once again, click those thumbnails for brief descriptions:
Great atmospheric black metal from ROCHACHA. Don’t listen to this alone in the dark, you might shit yourself.
Brutal death metal from Pittsburgh. Don’t listen to this when you’re angry, you might shit yourself.
Amazing folk metal from Buffalo. Don’t go into this with genre preconceptions, you might shit yourself.
So/so melodic death metal from Buffalo that our founder sings for, so we won’t talk it up. If we did talk it up, you’d shit yourself.
Awesome sophomore release from “the young thrash attack”, now known as Abyance. If you go in thinking it’s going to be just like “Age of Darkness, you’ll shit yourself.
Cool avant-garde metal from Rochester. If you think you’ve “heard it all before”, you’ll shit yourself.
Amazing debut/final release from a great death metal band from Buffalo, featuring scene veterans. When we found out they were breaking up a few months ago, we shit ourselves.
Sick debut release from a brand new Buffalo death metal powerhouse. When we learned Cody Bollinger, Rob Steinwandel (ex SOA), Louis DiThomas Keller and Adam Porth started a band, we shit ourselves.
Awesome doomy, progressive instrumental stuff. Very atmospheric and fun to listen to. The blew up Mohawk Place at the CD release show. Yes, you guessed it. We shit ourselves.
The 3rd release from these heavy metal titans. They walked off with 3 Metal Awards, including best release this year. It made us shit ourselves.
Symphonic melodic death metal with some breakdowns from Erie, PA. Not to mention, they self record. That’s a hot record built from scratch right there. It’ll make you shit yourself.
Brutal death/grind from Pittsburgh, PA. We were really loving the PA bands this year. This is goretastic from start to finish. A brilliant way to shit yourself.
Danimal has done it again. Dan Behrens is a major talent in our area. From amazing bass skills in Weaponex, to total composition in Danimal Cannon, this master of chiptune will IN FACT make you shit yourself.
The Buffalo masters of metalcore did it again with a heavy as fuck EP that in our opinion, completely surpasses it’s predecessor, “Hard Truth/Forced Unity”. The amazing spike in heaviness gave us the shits!
Buffalo power metallers were at the top of their game with this one. We can’t wait for the next release! If you love these guys, just wait until Jesse Benker throws down his own leads and vocals on newer tracks. This EP is a great warmup of what’s next to come from this powerhouse of a band. It goes without saying that the Orius experience will make one shit themselves.
Did you check them all out? Every one? Kick ass. Vick is going to drop her own version of this soon. She’ll be sure to go off on tangents about not only the albums that impressed her, but those that disappointed the fuck out of her. So, you’ll want to experience those sick burns first hand. In the meantime, thanks for reading!