The last year has flown by at the speed of sound. Once again it's time for the yearly tradition of listing each Worm-scribe's Top 10 releases of the year. It's a real mixed bag this year, with little continuity from writer to writer. To my mind, that just proves how independent and far-ranging we all are. So if you're looking for diversity, you've found it!
And now, let's get this sucker rolling!
2. DEATH ANGEL "The Evil Divide"
3. METALLICA "Hardwired...To Self-Destruct"
4. VADER "The Empire"
5. NERVOSA "Agony"
6. ANTHRAX "For All Kings"
7. DESTRUCTION "Under Attack"
8. TESTAMENT "Brotherhood of the Snake"
9. DUST BOLT "Mass Confusion"
10. FLOTSAM & JETSAM "Flotsam & Jetsam"
Honorable Mention....SUICIDAL TENDENCIES "World Gone Mad"
(In no particular order)
KIEFER SUTHERLAND "Down In A Hole"
LEVIN, MINNEMANN, RUDESS "From The Offices of Levin, Minnemann Rudess"
SAILOR FREE "Spiritual Revolution Part Two"
ALEX CARPANI "So Close, So Far"
ANTI-NOWHERE LEAGUE "The Cage"
DARYL WAY "Myths, Legends & Tales"
THE LOWEST PAIR "Fern Girl and Ice Man"
ANDY JACKSON "73 Days at Sea"
EDENSONG "Years in the Garden of Years"
2. MEGADETH "Dystopia"
3. ENUFF Z'NUFF "Clowns Lounge"
4. FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE "King"
5. REVEL IN FLESH "Emissary of All Plagues"
6. ACE FREHLEY "Origins Vol. 1"
7. DEAD DAISIES "Make Some Noise"
8. DEATH ANGEL "The Evil Divide"
9. CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED "Creatures Watching Over The Damned"
10. WATCHTOWER "Concepts of Math: Book One"
2. HATEBREED "The Concrete Confessional"
3. HELLYEAH "Unden!able"
4. JACKYL "ROWYCO"
5. ALTER BRIDGE "The Last Hero"
6. AVENGED SEVENFOLD "The Stage"
7. TESTAMENT "Brotherhood of the Snake"
8. MEGADETH "Dystopia"
9. EXMORTUS "Ride Forth"
10. KILLSWITCH ENGAGE "Incarnate"
2. VEKTOR "Terminal Redux"
3. BRIMSTONE COVEN "Black Magic"
4. HOBBS ANGEL OF DEATH "Heaven Bled"
5. DENNER/SHERMANN "Masters of Evil"
6. VOID MEDITATION CULT "Utter the Tongue of the Dead"
7. RINGWORM "Snake Church"
8. HEMOTOXIN "Biological Enslavement"
9. BESTIAL RAIDS "Master Satan's Witchery"
10. BLIZARO "Cornucopia della Morte"
Honorable Mention: ABBATH, EXUMER, VADER, TESTAMENT, HANNES GROSSMAN, STRANGULATE
2. GLENN HUGHES "Resonate"
3. DENNER/SHERMANN "Masters of Evil"
4. WOLVERINE "Machina Viva"
5. METALLICA "Hardwired...To Self Destruct"
6. DIAMOND HEAD "Diamond Head"
7. MARILLION "F.E.A.R."
8. FATES WARNING "Theories In Flight"
9. ANTHRAX "For All Kings"
10. GRAHAM BONNET BAND "The Book"
2. KATALEPSY "Gravenous Hour"
3. EXTREME NOISE TERROR "Extreme Noise Terror"
4. VENOMOUS CONCEPT "Kick Me Silly VC III"
5. WORMED "Krighsu"
6. AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED "Arc"
7. RUN THE JEWELS "RTJ3"
8. AESOP ROCK "The Impossible Kid"
9. GRUESOME "Dimensions of Horror"
10. NAILS "You Will Never Be One of Us"
Admittedly when going back over the releases that came out this year, I am kinda surprised at how much I had NOT listened to that I probably should have (Vektor...I'll get to you eventually).
From the moment I heard this many months ago, I knew it was album of the year and would not be topped. It's a super-original concept...a friend called it 'Major-Key, Happy Black Metal with clean vocals,' and that description is very appropriate. There are other elements here, like a little bit of shoegaze, a slight power-metal-ish break in a couple tunes...but essentially this is an uber-infectious, new original take on a genre that does not like to take these kinds of chances, and it worked out for a damn-near perfect listening experience.
2. FALLUJAH "Dreamless"
This band is taking tech-death is a new and exciting atmospheric direction that is equally original and, dare I say it...CATCHY! Their star is only going to rise.
3. OBSCURA "Akroasis"
Despite some controversy in their camp this year, you can't find fault with this being a goddamn incredible record. I was always kind of a casual listener, but this album was so good it made me go back and rediscover their previous releases.
4. NIGHTMARER "Chasm"
I bought this just to support a buddy, but this 2-song EP from a coming together of members of War From A Harlot's Mouth, Gigan, and The Ocean is so straight-up BATSHIT and BRUTAL that I am left wanting more, and I want it now! Think if Gorguts were mixed with Deathspell Omega...this stuff is crazy, intense, and heavy.
5. ABORTED "Retrogore"
For those that haven't been paying attention, this band has kinda reinvented themselves to a new level of extremity over the last few albums. You heard it right...Aborted figured out how to become MORE brutal!
6. THE ZENITH PASSAGE "Solipsist"
A straight-up, solid tech-death release with several different elements at play here that make it a rather dynamic listen. Unlike many albums in this genre, there's much to differentiate each of the tunes within, only adding to the enjoyment of the record as a whole.
7. MIKE GIANELLI "Adapt"
Some will see that the dude plays 9-string guitars and immediately write him off as a gimmick, which is REALLY selling short the fact that this Nor Cal wine-peddler is one of the freshest guitarists out there and his chops are impressive! This being his first solo release with vocals on many tracks, those who didn't enjoy his previous EP might find more to get into here.
8. MESHUGGAH "The Violent Sleep of Reason"
A change in recording/mixing surroundings breathed so much new life into their sound...you almost don't notice that the songwriting went a little throwback to the days of "Chaosphere!" Very impressive disc from a band that never fails to push what they can do without straying too far from what we appreciate them for.
9. SABATON "The Last Stand"
Subtle the Swedes are not. This album is more of the same, epic, war-/history-inspired power metal that we've come to love from the band. Exactly what we wanted!
10. BLACK CROWN INITIATE "Selves We Cannot Forgive"
I feel like I have so much emotional investment in this band because I discovered them before they were signed and I was a little disappointed in their debut after their deal. This new record is everything I loved about the band in the first place...catchy clean vocal passages, progressive interludes not far removed from Opeth territory, and intensely brutal and complex death metal breaks!
Former Gates of Slumber guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Karl Simon returns with a new three piece band and a gut punch collection of fierce riffs, desperate lyrics, and stunning instrumental workouts.
2. QUICKSAND DREAM "Beheading Tyrants"
Scandinavians do it better, they just take their time. The duo’s second album is a stylish and musically substantive achievement far outpacing their memorable early 21st century debut.
3. BLIZARO "Cornucopia della Morte"
John Gallo, arguably one of the most creative guitarists and songwriters working in metal today, returns with his band project Blizaro. Cornucopia della Morte has many differences from his latest release, John Gallow’s Violent Dreams, but these differences illustrates his versatility and this album ranks among his very best.
4. WO FAT "Midnight Cometh"
The eighth overall release from Texas big riff merchants found Wo Fat returning in 2016 with their most impressive slab of power trio stomp yet. This swings hard enough to flatten mountains.
5. BRIMSTONE COVEN "Black Magic"
One of the year’s first important releases, this powerhouse unit hailing from West Virginia has established a much deserved reputation as one of the best young hard rock/metal bands working today. Their sophomore full length builds on the potential of their debut and sets these guys up for an extended run.
6. DAVID BOWIE "Blackstar"
"Blackstar" stands up supremely well even divorced from the circumstances surrounding its release. It is rare to hear a modern artist release musical work sophisticated and layered to such an extent. Everything works here.
7. NEUROSIS "Fires Within Fires"
Oakland’s Neurosis has matured, weathering countless changing tastes, and continuing to follow their own idiosyncratic muse. Their eleventh studio album, Fires Within Fires, finds them still remarkably hungry and inspired.
8. BEELZEFUZZ "The Righteous Bloom"
The sophomore release from this three piece realizes the promise of their debut and points the way towards even greater efforts in the future. Dana Ortt, Greg Diener, and Bert Hall have hit upon an unique songwriting and instrumental chemistry that few other modern outfits can match.
9. CANDLEMASS "Death, Thy Lover"
The legends return with a powerful EP release and a new singer to remind a forgetful world that Candlemass isn’t quite finished yet.
10. NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS "Skeleton Tree"
The sixteenth studio album from the legendary songwriter and his band is a departure and an evolution. Cave’s songwriting foregoes much of the traditional narrative structure heard on his older work and the arrangements are radically stripped down in comparison to the band’s recent efforts. It’s a fearless and wildly successful reinvention.
(in no particular order)
KLIMT 1918 "Sentimentale Jugend"
HAIL SPIRIT NOIR "Mayhem In Blue"
LEONARD COHEN "You Want It Darker"
AUROCH "Mute Books"
SPEKTR "The Art To Disappear"
NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS "Skeleton Tree"
GLORIOR BELLI "Sundown" (The Flock That Welcomes)
AN AUTUMN FOR CRIPPLED CHILDREN "Eternal"
2. DEAD HILLS "Gateways"
3. THE RETURN OF ARTHUR TALLOW "A Literary Score to the Teddy Horse Story"
4. MARC GUNN "Celtic Halloween" EP
5. GRAVELAND "1050 Years of Pagan Cult"
6. CULTES DES GHOULES "Coven, or Evil Ways Instead of Good"
7. UTRED "Forest"
8. ALBEZ DUZ "Wings of Tzinacan"
9. WITCHCRAFT "Nucleus"
10. UTRED "Citadels"
Hard to put a finger on any overwhelming trends for 2016. METALLICA appeared in several lists, which seems to confirm their return to favor amongst a wide variety of listeners. Other artists appearing more than once were TESTAMENT, DENNER/SHERMANN, MEGADETH and BRIMSTONE COVEN. But there were also a lot of artists coming out of left field such as ASTRONOID, AZAXUL, HELSTAR and WRETCH. All in all, a pretty interesting year and I'm sure that 2017 will be no different!
SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!!!
TORTURE CHAMBER >