Sunday, February 5, 2017

Josh's Giant Lazy Album Of The Year List, 2016 Edition

2016 fucking ruled for metal, so there were a LOT of albums to sort through...let’s just get after it.  My EP of the year list contains a top 10, plus 5 honorable mentions.  My full-length of the year list contains my top 50 albums of the year, plus 25 honorable mentions.

Top EP’s of the year

5 Honorable Mentions

Genre:  Deathcore/Oooof
Preview:  Full album

Eye of Horus – Obsidian
Genre:  Technical Death Metal
Preview:  Full album

Dream Void – Deceptive Dreamscape
Genre:  Technical Death Metal/Deathcore/Insanity

The Healing – Elevate
Genre:  Progressive MEtalcore/Subliminal Groove/Entitiescore
Preview:  Aether Eyes

Cognizance – Illusory
Genre:  Technical Death Metal/RIFFFFFFS
Preview:  “Spectrum”

Top 10 EP’s of the year

10.  Nights of Malice – Our Penance
Genre:  Metal/Groove

9. Equipoise – Birthing Homunculi
Genre:  Technical Death Metal

8.  Vipassi – Sunyata  
Genre:  Instrumental/Experimental Death Metal
Preview:  “Samsara”

Ne Obliviscaris meets Beyond Creation meets Hadal Maw.  Probably the best instrumental album of the year.

7.  Aborted – Termination Redux
Genre:  Technical Death Metal / Grind

The kings are back at it.

6.  Singularity – Void Walker
Genre:  Technical / Progressive Death Metal

Fucking epic.

5.  The Beast Within – Temperance
Gener:  Technical Deathcore  /  The Crimson Armada-core
Preview:  “Triangulum”

4.  Brought By Pain – Crafted by Society
Genre:  Technical Death Metal
Preview:  “Ending”

This’ll more than scratch that Beyond Creation itch you’ve been feeling.

3.  Enigma – Stars Misaligned
Genre:  Progressive / Technical Death Metal

These guys clearly listen to a lot of Fallujah.

2.  Protest the Hero – Pacific Myth
Genre:  Progressive Metal
Preview: “Tidal”

PTH can do no wrong.

1.    Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust
Genre:  Death Metal / Black Metal / Atmosphere
Preview:  Full song

Not only does this album have one of the coolest themes of the year – the fall of the library of Alexandria – but it’s also some of the best-composed, most dense and atmospheric pieces in recent memory.  Fucking outstanding.

Top Full Lengths of the year

If you don’t see your favorite album, just remember that this year had like 100+ entries on my potential contenders list.

25 Honorable Mentions

Hands of Despair – Bereft
Genre:  Symphonic / Atmospheric / Melodic Death Metal
Preview:  “Veil”

Caecus – The Funeral Garden
Genre:  Deathcore / Death Metal

First Fragment – Dasein
Genre:  Technical Death Metal / Shred / Frenchness
Preview:  “Dasein”

Lamentations – Echoes in the Wind
Genre:  Progressive / Atmospheric Death Metal
Preview:  “Fortress”

Destrage – A Means to No End
Genre:  Progressive Metal / Experimental / Craziness

Obscura – Akroasis
Genre:  Progressive / Technical Death Metal

Still Falling – Free of Avidya
Genre:  Progressive Death Metal

Auras – Heliospectrum
Genre:  Progressive Metalcore
Preview:  “Waterstone”

Genre:  Experimental Deathcore / Death Metal / Math Metal
Preview:  “Vengeance”

After the Burial – Dig Deep
Genre:  Progressive Deathcore

Circle of Contempt – Structures for Creation
Genre:  Progressive Metalcore
Preview:  “Filth”

Textures – Phenotype
Genre:  Progressive Metal

Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows
Genre:  Blackened / Atmospheric Death Metal / Post Metal

Genre:  Symphonic Death Metal

Shadow of Intent – Primordial
Genre:  Symphonic Deathcore

Painted in Exile – The Ordeal
Genre:  Progressive Metal
Preview:  “The Bazaar”

Katatonia – The Fall of Hearts
Genre:  Progressive Metal / Beauty

Probably one of the most beautiful songs of the year, and definitely one of the best lyric videos you’ll find.

Xoth – Invasion of the Tentacube
Genre:  Technical Death Metal / RIFFFFFS

Black Crown Initiate – Selves We Cannot Forgive
Genre:  Progressive Death Metal

Probably the biggest disappointment of the year for me considering how good “Wreckage of Stars” was, but still a pretty excellent album.

Setentia -  Darkness Transcend

Omnium Gatherum – Grey Heavens
Genre:  Melodic Death Metal
Preview:  “Frontiers”

In Mourning – Afterglow
Genre:  Melodic / Atmospheric Death Metal

Until We Die – Before the Decay of Time
Genre:  Technical Deathcore

Infant Annihilator – The Elysian Grandeval Galeriarch
Genre:  Technical Deathcore

I know, I’m as surprised as you that I enjoyed this, but fuck if Infant Annihilator didn’t make an album with some absolutely killer moments.

Wormed – Krighsu
Genre:  Brutal Death Metal / Science / FFFFUCK

Top 50 Full Lengths of the year

50.  Deviant Process – Paroxysm
Genre:  Progressive / Technical Death Metal

49.  Allegaeon – Proponent for Sentience
Genre:  Technical Death Metal / Science

Probably their best, most ambitious work yet.

48.  Harakiri for the Sky – III:  Trauma
Genre:  Post Metal / Atmospheric Metal

47.  Ideology – Ideology
Genre:  Progressive Metal / Protest the Hero
Preview:  “Oxygen”

46.  Hands Like Houses – Dissonants
Genre:  Pop Punk / Pop Metal?
Preview:  “Colorblind”

Catchy as all hell.

45.  Atlantis Chronicles – Barton’s Odyssey
Genre:  Death Metal / Extreme Metal

44.  Imperium – Titanomachy
Genre:  Technical Death Metal / Blast Beatssss
Preview:  “Titanomachy”

This band from the dudes of Trigger the Bloodshed are still bringing it.  God damn this album goes hard.

43.  Mithras – On Strange Loops
Genre:  Progressive Death Metal

Behemoth goes prog?

42.  Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole of the Law
Genre:  ABSOLUTE CHAOS / Blackened Death Metal / Grind / Extreme

The most chaotic album of the year.  You won’t find anything more blisteringly heavy than this, if you’re just looking to have something take a chainsaw to your skull.

41.  Karybdis – Samsara
Genre:  Melodic Death Metal
Preview:  “Ascendancy”

One of the most criminally overlooked albums on everybody’s year-end lists this year.

40.  Hyperion – Seraphical Euphony
Genre:  Symphonic / Blackened Death Metal

One of the best-composed death metal albums of the entire year...the only reason this isn’t way high up on the list is because none of the songs really “grabbed” me, but a phenomenally written album nonetheless.

39.  Toothgrinder – Nocturnal Masquerade
Genre:  Metal / Groove
Preview:  “Blue”

Headbang city.

38.  Crator – The Ones Who Create:  The Ones Who Destroy  
Genre:  Death Metal / Atmospheric / Post Metal

If you like Ulcerate or Gorguts as much as I do, you have GOT to get in on this party.

37.  Oracles – Miserycorde
Genre:  Symphonic Death Metal / Extreme Metal

Sven from Aborted is the vocalist, and there are some absolutely STUNNING female vocals on amalgamation of some of my favorite metal genres together forms something that sounds altogether different than any album you’ve ever heard before.

36.  Burial in the Sky – Persistence of Thought
Genre:  Progressive /  Technical Death Metal
Preview:  “Dimensions Divide”

These guys listen to a lot of Fallujah, and I’m pretty OK with it.

35.  The Ritual Aura – Tæther
Genre:  Progressive / Technical Death Metal
Preview:  “Ghostgate”

34.  Dawn of Dementia – Immolation of Avernis
Genre:  Technical Death Metal

The riffs on this album don't fuck around.

33.  Hope for the Dying – Legacy
Genre:  Symphonic Death Metal / Epic
Preview:  “Nemesis”

Another criminally underappreciated album this year.

32.  Hannes Grossmann – The Crypt of Sleep
Genre:  Technical Death Metal
Probably my favorite straight-up tech death album of 2016.

31.  Into Infernus – Grimoire
Genre:  Symphonic Deathcore

30.  Vale of Pnath – II
Genre:  Technical / Melodic Death Metal

29.  Haken – Affinity
Genre:  Progressive Metal

Like Dream Theater, but better.

28.  Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason  
Genre:  Progressive Metal / It’s Meshuggah

27.  Virvum – Illuminance
Genre:  Progressive / Technical Death Metal
Preview:  “Earthwork”

Another band that listened to a lot of “Harvest Wombs”-era Fallujah, and I’m not mad at it.

26.  Silent Planet – Everything Was Sound
Genre:  Progressive Metalcore
Preview:  “Panic Room”

These guys are probably some of the best lyricists in the game.  So many beautiful songs about so many vitally important topics.   The preview song, for example, is written about the horrors that happen inside a soldier’s head after he returns home from war.... “Praise me for my valor, lay me on a crimson tower – justify my endless terror as my ‘finest hour’”  Probably my favorite line of lyrics of 2016.  If that line doesn’t get to you, I can’t help you.

25.  Anciients – Voice of the Void
Genre:  Progressive (Death) Metal

One of the most dynamic and far-reaching albums of 2016.

24.  Plini – Handmade Cities
Genre:  Progressive / Instrumental Metal
Preview:  “Cascade”

I never thought in a year this good for metal, an instrumental album would be this high up on my year-end list, but here we are.  Plini has created a beautiful, emotional masterpiece.

23.  Invent Animate – Stillworld
Genre:  Progressive Metalcore
Preview:  “Indigo”

22.  The Zenith Passage – Solipsist
Genre:  Technical Death Metal / Soreption / The Faceless

As a fan of Soreption and The Faceless, this album tickled me in all the right places.

21.  Entheos – Infinite Nothing
Genre:  Technical Metal / Groove / Funk

Malcolm Pugh at it again, along with Evan Brewer at the top of his game.

20.  Oni – Ironshore
Genre:  Progressive Death Metal

19.  Aborted – Retrogore
Genre:  Technical Death Metal / Deathgrind

Of all vocalists this year, I’m pretty sure Sven had the best year – Aborted came out with a new EP, as well as an insane new album, and he also was the lead vocalist on Oracles’ album...all 3 of which are on my year-end list.  But fuck, this is Aborted at their best, and that’s saying something.

18.  Cyborg Octopus – Learning to Breathe
Genre:  Progressive Death Metal
Preview:  “Epiphany”

Conducting from the Grave meets Between the Buried and Me?

17.  Oathbreaker – Rheia
Genre:  Black Metal / Psychological Torture

Jesus fucking Christ this album takes you so many places.  It’s abrasive.  It’s hard-to-listen-to.  It's emotionally-draining.  And it couldn’t make me any happier.

16.  Mechina – Progenitor
Genre:  Symphonic Death Metal
Preview:  “Cryoshock”

Mechina never cease to amaze me, and this is probably my favorite album of theirs to date.  As one of the bandcamp reviews says, “Cryoshock is one of the most cold and haunting metal tracks I’ve ever heard”.

15.  Insomnium – Winter’s Gate
Genre:  Melodic / Atmospheric Death Metal
Preview:  Full Album

All these years, and Insomnium is still showing the world how to play melodic death metal.

14.  Serpentine Dominion – Serpentine Dominion
Genre:  Death Metal

Finally, at long last, the supergroup with George Corpsegrinder Fisher, Adam D from Killswitch Engage, and Shannon Fucking Lucas drops.  Who knew that Adam could play death metal so damn well?  This album is what would happen if Cannibal Corpse suddenly started writing interesting tunes again, and then got better at their instruments again.

13.  Shokran – Exodus
Genre:  Progressive Deathcore / Egypt

12.           Astronoid – Air
Genre:  Black / Light Metal / Atmospheric / Dreamgaze?
Preview:  “Air”

This album never grabbed me like it seemed to grab everybody else this year, but I still appreciate it for what it is – there’s never been an album that sounds quite like this before, and I always appreciate trailblazers in the craft.

11.  Periphery – Periphery III:  Select Difficulty
Genre:  Progressive Metal

Probably Periphery’s best album, and that’s saying something.

10.  Alcest – Kodama
Genre:  Post Metal
Preview:  “Untouched”

No other album in 2016 took me on an emotional journey like Kodama.  If you have a soul, you simply MUST listen to this, and get yourself carried away.

9.  Dance Gavin Dance – Mothership
Genre:  Progressive Rock / Pop Metal?

I know, I’m as surprised as you are.  DGD’s last two albums have been veritable masterpieces.

8.  Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
Genre:  Hip Hop

For my money, the best hip-hop album I’ve ever heard.  While other rappers are writing songs about dancing in the club, strippers, sex, etc, Aesop is writing jams about his cat...and absolutely KILLING it while he does.  Unreal.  Even if you don’t like hip-hop (which I usually don’t), give this album a shot.  It might change your mind.

7.  Vektor – Terminal Redux
Genre:  Progressive / Blackened Thrash Metal

The hype was real.  This album was a fucking experience.

6.  Be’Lakor – Vessels
Genre:  Atmospheric / Melodic Death Metal

For my money, this is probably one of the best melodic death metal albums ever created.  If you’re a fan of the genre, I can’t imagine you not falling in love with “Vessels”.

5.  Ulcerate – Shrines of Paralysis
Genre:  Dense / Dark Matter / Black Hole / Neutron Star
Preview:  “End the Hope”

Ulcerate are simply the kings of death metal right now (at least in my mind).  No other band takes me to such dark, deep places as Ulcerate.

4.  Napoleon – Newborn Mind
Genre:  Progressive Metal / Math Metal / Metalcore

No other album this year had as many incredible, catchy riffs as Newborn Mind.

3.     Erra – Drift
Genre:  Progressive Metalcore
The kings of modern metalcore.  Enough said.

2.    Fallujah – Dreamless
Genre:  Progressive / Technical Death Metal

That preview song might be one of my top 5 favorite metal songs ever....goosebumps the second it comes on.

1.    Slice the Cake – Odyssey to the West
Genre:  Progressive Death Metal

Was there ever really any other candidate for the top spot, once this album dropped?

Dense.  Overly-theatrical, bordering on pretentious.  Impenetrable.  Deeply complex lyrics, themes, and philosophical implications that can be at times impossible to untangle.  All of these apply to “Odyssey”, but damn if Slice the Cake haven’t gotten to the heart of what music is truly supposed to be (at least in my eyes) – a profound exploration of the human condition through metaphor and sound.  It will take years to fully understand everything going on here, just as it’s taken years to create.  Every band member poured their hearts and souls into this work, and it wound up tearing the band apart for reasons we won’t get into here.  A true master-class in musical composition.