At first I was hoping that my list might not be as long as Mike’s, but I’m not going to get all fancy and whatnot like his layout is, so I’m going to give you a good old fashion list, and kudos if you get through the whole thing.
Edit: I’m not going to go too much into detail about the albums themselves, I’m just going to give you my opinion, because it’s up to you to check them out and form your opinions.
Edit: Some of my releases will overlap with Mike’s. That shit just happens. (It’s actually him copying me, some of them will be obvious if you know us).
Edit: Of course, They will be in no particular order. And most of them you will not give a single fuck about. Maybe you will after you do your homework. Who knows? I could be doing you a real favour with this one. So, without further adieu…
- Protest the Hero, Pacific Myth: The ‘official’ hard copy release came out just a couple weeks ago, but if you’re a subscriber to their bandcamp, the boys in PTH technically released all of these songs earlier this year. This is their first release since their huge crowdfunding success with Volition ($150k asked for, over $300k raised). When the songs were first being released, Anthony Potenza (Abyance) was kind enough to send me all of the songs. I sat in a hotel room in Rochester listening to all of them, and I wasn’t sure what to think. I think I kind of hated them because, though I love their sound in Volition, I wanted something a bit more metal, much more like their earlier releases in Kezia and Fortress. But now that I have purchased it, and own a hard copy, and have been listening to it every day on my way to and from work, I can contently say that I love it. It’s more power-metally than I could desire, and if Rody Walker wasn’t their vocalist, They wouldn’t be anything special to me. I don’t love it as much as Volition or Fortress, but I love it nonetheless, because it’s still absolutely amazing, and Protest the Hero is absolutely amazing. If you’re a current fan, or possibly a future fan, they will be in Buffalo at Town Ballroom on February 12, their first time back in the Queen City in about three years. You’d have to be a complete fool to miss their set.
Best song: “Caravan“. I have been waiting for an 8+ minute epic from these guys for almost 10 years, and I finally got it. This is one of two songs that have been rolling around in my head on rotation since I started writing this.
- Necromancing the Stone, Jewel of the Vile: This gem (all puns intended) just popped up for Mike and myself recently. I already knew of the project through James Malone of Arsis, but hadn’t bothered to check them out. Mike and I were formally introduced to NTS on Battlecross’s Winter Warriors tour (which you can read about here). That fucking cover of that David Hasselhoff song man, that’s what fucking got me. And then “Siren’s Call” got me again. And then I found myself listening to the whole album on repeat all night during my shifts. As you know, I don’t care too much for the subgenre that these guys are doing. But you have to be doing something very very very very right if I make time and space in my heart to give a shit about you. And Necromancing the Stone has surely exceeded my expectations.
Best song: “Siren’s Call“, no question. Because this is the one I find most frequently stuck in my head. This is the other one that I’ve been rolling around in my noggin for the last couple hours. But that fucking Hoff cover, man. I’m kicking myself in the teeth for not snagging a video of it when I could. Son of a bitch.
- Allegaeon, Proponent of Sentience: This album is amazing, even without talking about that awesome Rush cover they released a few months back (that they even play live!) For me, it was going to be super tough to top their last release, Elements of the Infinite, with such hits like “1.618“, “Threshold of Perception” and “Genocide for Praise: Vals for the Vitruvian Man“. Proponent isn’t as technical as I had anticipated. Mike even said it didn’t sound technical to begin with, and that it was just a little more complicated melodic death with technical solos. But, dude, there’s so much power in these songs, I can believe that if they existed before time, the gods would’ve been listening to them while they created the universe. Allegaeon snagged a new vocalist for this release. It’s scary how he sounds almost exactly like their old vocalist, but this one can clean sing! And really good even! That’s how they got away with that cover to begin with!
Best song: “From Nothing“, is actually my second choice, but only to their Rush cover.
- Orius, The Slender Threads of Fortune: I promised myself I wouldn’t yap on about all these local releases, since we do that all year around anyway, but I don’t think this list would be complete without these guys. I think they are the most original and unique sounding band in the Buffalo scene, and they don’t get enough credit where it’s due. They’re hands down my favourite local (next to Seplophile, but there’s no comparison between the two, there), not just because of how great they sound, but because they always give 110% in their live performances. Some of y’all could take some goddamn points from them. The only thing I’m gonna complain about is that this isn’t a full length. And all Orius has out currently is EPs. But hopefully that’ll change before 2017 is over. Their last show for a bit will be our Holiday Show, Dec 16 at Stamps the bar, with a host of other dope locals. And all proceeds are going to help homeless people and future pets this season.
Best song: “Life and Fortune“, another one that’s undebatable for me, even though it doesn’t have a cool video like “Coraggio“.
- Crator, The Ones Who Create: The Ones Who Destroy: For those of you that don’t already know, I have a serious hard-on for anything and everything Origin (the band, not the video game system, or whatever). So when half of Origin got together with the bassist from Behold the Arctopus/ Gorguts, I was all a-fucking-board. I do suppose that I was also expecting this one to be more technical as well, but I’m certainly not disappointed with the final product. I’m only really disappointed that opportunities to see them live is rather limited, since everyone in the band already has a multitude of other projects going on, and this is just a ‘free time’ side project.
Best song: “The Ouroboros is Broken“. Just listen to it.
- Periphery, Periphery III: Select Difficulty: Regardless of how you feel about them, putting out a double disc and then another LP within a year and a half for as big of a band as Periphery is pretty impressive. Certainly not my favourite of the lot, I’d have to rank it just above their Clear EP, and I mean, who knows? Maybe it’ll grow on me in due time. I suppose I’m disappointed only because of how epic P:II and Juggernaut Alpha/ Omega were, and I’m not sure P:III is of the same caliber. There are only a couple songs out of the 11 tracks that I instinctively gravitate to, and the rest.. just don’t have it. At least, not yet anyway.
Best song: “Marigold“. The one I gravitate to the most. Check out the neat video!
- (Revocation, Great is Our Sin): We bought these next three immediately when they came out, but I personally haven’t jammed them much. I’m actually kind of disappointed in myself for that, considering I was so fucking stoked that these three bands were releasing stuff this year. From what I recall of this album, it didn’t catch on to me as quickly as Deathless did. But I can tell you is that it’s still worth picking up- because it’s Revocation, and David Davidson fucking slays.
- (Fleshgod Apocalypse, King*): Since I started writing this article a week or so ago, I have listened to the release before this, Labyrinth, but I haven’t listened to this since it came out earlier this year. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Fleshgod, still want a Fleshgod tuxedo coat, and maybe in a bit I’ll give it another listen.
*Can’t find a link with the whole album, you’ll just have to do more homework. SORRY.
- (Fallujah, Dreamless): I jammed this at work last night, and I genuinely want to love this album. But it’s just too ambient, just as The Flesh Prevails is. I mean, I can dig it, but I don’t think it quite has the power that The Harvest Wombs has. I jammed Harvest over the weekend as well and I just can’t get over how epic it is. And how Dreamless just doesn’t measure up. There are rumors of a Fallujah tour, but no dates have been released yet.
BONUS: Vick’s Biggest Disappointments of 2016
A couple of this year’s releases kind of hit me hard with how not good they were. So I’d like to take time now to bitch a little, because it wouldn’t be a proper Vick article without some bitching.
Killswitch Engage, Incarnate: I have been a KSE fan since End of Heartache came out in.. 2004? I know it’s been over a decade, and they’re one of the few that haven’t wavered in my “favourite bands” list. End of Heartache is no doubt my favourite album, followed by Alive or Just Breathing and As Daylight Dies. Every album carries the same general “Killswitch” sound whether it’s Howard or Jesse on vocals. But lately, I feel like maybe they’re just not trying with their last couple releases. Disarm the Descent was good, had a few catchy tunes, was pretty good (but not great), but sounded like they had to rush to come up with enough material to slap on an LP. Which is how I feel about Incarnate. No songs stand out to me whatsoever, and I feel like it was rushed to completion because the three year touring cycle for Disarm was over. Or maybe I’m at the point in my life where I’m just bored with the KSE sound, and I can’t be arsed to get into their new material. Which actually brings me to..
Every Time I Die, Low Teens: This is my cheap shot, since I’ve never actually listened to this album. I think I heard a clip of the first single they released, but I wasn’t interested in it enough to listen to the full thing or check out any of the other songs. This is actually the first ETID album that I don’t own, or intend to. I blame it on my boredom with the style of music they play. Don’t get me wrong, I still love ETID and their older material (literally everything before this album), and I would still be going to ETID XMAS if that shit hadn’t sold out in half an hour again this year.
Black Crown Initiate, Selves We Cannot Forgive*: Aaahhhh onto my biggest disappointment of the year… This one actually hurts to have to write about. I guess, due in part to my extremely high expectations, but how can you not with a first release as literally epic as Wreckage of Stars (and The Song of the Crippled Bull EP)? I can’t remember what song they first released as a teaser, but all I remember thinking was “…wha? The fuck is this? I hope the whole album doesn’t sound like this. But I’ll just have to wait and give it a chance… It’s Black Crown, so it’s going to be amazing, no doubt.” And then I bought the whole album, as excited as I was, and once around the track listing my heart sank deeper than all of the Earth’s oceans combined. It wasn’t really metal. It was kind of progressive. It wasn’t technical. It wasn’t the least bit heavy. There was far too much clean singing and not enough gutturals. It was.. completely not what I was expecting, and definitely not what I wanted to hear from this band, and thus ultimately disappointing. Mike said it was like TOOL but with some gutturals. TOOL! I have given this album so many chances and it just doesn’t live up to what I wanted it to be, what it could have been, and what it should have been. There is too much talent in Black Crown for something this.. lame.. to have been released. OH, AND HALF THE FUCKIN SONGS’ DOWNLOADS WERE FUCKED UP WHEN YOU FIRST BOUGHT THEM, SO THEY CUT OUT MID SONG AND THE REST OF THE TRACK WAS JUST SILENCE. And I have cared so little that I didn’t even bother to get the new downloads, so my songs don’t cut out. Because even though they’re on my phone, I’m not listening to them anyway, because I can only allow this album to break my heart so many times. I still love this band, but I don’t love this album.
*Another album without a link to the whole thing. Oy.
So, sorry that was painfully long, but I wanted to get this all out of my system. And again, mad kudos if you’ve read the whole thing. Or, well, even if you’ve read parts of it. Hopefully I’ll be a little more prolific in 2017, and hopefully there’ll be shit relevant enough to me to blab on about.
Thanks for all your continual support these last (almost) two years. We couldn’t do it without you. As always, feedback is welcome and appreciated.