The staff here at A&GS just keeps getting bigger. As a result, our Top Albums lists have, too. What started out as just me now involves close to ten staffers, and I hope next year is even bigger! So, after all the usual yelling, screaming, hitting, biting, and hair-pulling, here are The Amps and Green Screens Top Albums of 2016!!
THE ALCALDE: Here are my Top 10 Albums of 2016.
1. AMON AMARTH – Jomsviking: This band completely nailed their first concept album, landing long tours with many recognized bands and other appearances in festivals with higher spots on the bill.
2. KILLSWITCH ENGAGE – Incarnate: One of the most inspirational releases by this band. Incarnate is the exact reason why KsE made the right decision by moving on after losing their long-time vocalist to go back to Jesse Leach.
3. MESHUGGAH – The Violent Sleep of Reason: This album does not lower the guard on what MESHUGGAH brings to the table, and it certainly couldn’t be left off this list.
4. GOJIRA – Magma: After four years, GOJIRA finally fed us with their excellent album Magma, which has launched them to play for crowds that don’t seem to have a limit in growth.
5. FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE – King: King features one of the most technical songs that FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE has delivered, and there’s no doubt that their music is becoming heavier and darker.
6. PERIPHERY – Periphery III: Select Difficulty: After all the hard work and years of establishing themselves as progressive metal icons, PERIPHERY’s signature on this album makes it a top ten pick of the year.
7. ANTHRAX – For All Kings: One of the most awaited thrash metal releases of 2016. ANTHRAX proved exactly why they’re at the highest peak of their career and they prove they can reach even higher levels since Worship Music.
8. EPICA – The Holographic Principle: With a solid career and unique identity, EPICA conquered the world of symphonic metal and took its concept to many cities in North America and other parts of the world.
9. CARNIFEX – Slow Death: The heaviest release from this Californian deathcore band. With this one, CARNIFEX proves why it’s one of the most influential deathcore bands in the scene.
10. BRUJERIA – Poncho Aztlan: SIXTEEN YEARS had passed since BRUJERIA delivered their last taste of music. Just when everyone thought this Mexican-American band would hang up their gloves, a new set of tunes about the reality of struggling immigrants arrived with the capability of destroying whatever is in its path.
FRANK: My Top 15 of 2016.
1. IRON SAVIOR – Titancraft: My overall AOTY, Titancraft continues the string of excellent European power metal albums for Piet Sielck and company. Riffs for days = album of the year.
2. AVANTASIA – Ghostlights: Tobias Sammet’s all-star project is back with another killer album that is not to be missed. A great mix of hard rock and power metal that fits together in one perfect package.
3. SERIOUS BLACK – Mirrorworld: Their first album took a while to grow on me, but Mirrorworld took me by storm and did not let go. Be sure to check out the limited edition – the bonus tracks are anything but filler and are a must listen.
4. DGM – The Passage: Some excellent Italian progressive metal – Simone Mularoni’s guitar work is amazing, and Marco Basile’s voice is one long vocal hook.
5. RIK EMMETT & RESOLUTION9 – RES 9: While not a return to the glory days of TRIUMPH that some were hoping for, this album builds upon Rik’s early hard rock solo career and incorporates some beautiful jazz and blues themes.
6. DYNAZTY – Titanic Mass: The band’s last disc, Renatus was one of my top albums for 2014, and Titanic Mass builds upon the greatness of that album, almost as if it were the second half of a double album.
7. THUNDERSTONE – Apocalypse Again: The return of Pasi Rantanen couldn’t have come at a better time. A complete throwback to classic THUNDERSTONE that fans of the band have been lusting after for far too long.
8. ETERNITY’S END – The Fire Within: Christian Münzner is an amazing shredder, and with Ian Parry on lead vocals, this album really blew me away – for fans of Yngwie, Impelliteri, Jason Becker, et al.
9. THEOCRACY – Ghost Ship: Five years after As The World Bleeds came out, THEOCRACY is back with Ghost Ship, some great Christian themed power metal – and no, you don’t have to believe to enjoy this masterpiece.
10. SKYLINER – Condition Black: Dark and brooding progressive power from the Florida trio that is a worthy followup to one of my favorite albums of 2014, Outsiders.
11. FREEDOM CALL – Master of Light: Fun, happy, European power metal – something we really needed this year and FREEDOM CALL delivers in spades.
12. ALMAH – E.V.O: A complicated and engaging concept album about the evolution of the mind and soul – the happy parts absolutely soar, and the darker themes are somber and sometimes crushing. A rollercoaster of emotion.
13. MYRATH – Legacy: Progressive metal from Tunisia – this isn’t your standard prog metal album. Some amazing sounding Middle Eastern musical themes meet solid prog and folk metal with a side of pop.
14. NORDIC UNION: Ronnie Atkins and Erik Mårtensson have put together a release that will stick with me for years – think PRETTY MAIDS collides with W.E.T. – you won’t be far off, and you certainly won’t be disappointed.
15. MEGA COLOSSUS – HyperGlaive: The new release from the US power metallers has been a long time coming, and it’s been worth the wait – they mix a classic sound with tons of influences from some of the greats in rock and metal.
FRENCH CHEESE: Well folks, 2016 has certainly been a time. From flashing genitals to show support for a murdered Gorilla to an election with no possibility of a positive outcome and all the tight wads of sweaty turd stuffed in between, the one thing that didn’t suffer was great music. These are the albums that carried me into the coming new year.
1. PERIPHERY – Periphery III: Select Difficulty: This album covered so many areas and showed a group at the pinnacle of their creative expression. And I still find myself with at least one of the tracks on this album rolling around in my head every few days.
2. FALLUJAH – Dreamless: The future is now. We have reached the age of interstellar travel…Of course, that is metaphorically, and only if you think about the realm of Death Metal. But seriously, this album is perfect.
3. THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN – Dissociation: The perfect way to bid farewell to such a legendary group.
4. OPETH – Sorceress: If I need to explain myself here, you’ve not been paying attention.
5. TOOTHGRINDER – Nocturnal Masquerade: A young group ready to help fill the void Dillinger is leaving behind.
6. ANIMALS AS LEADERS – The Madness of Many
7. OBSCURA – Akroasis
8. BLACK CROWN INITIATE – Selves We Cannot Forgive
9. COGNITIVE – Deformity
10. EVERY TIME I DIE – Low Teens
TANKARD: Here are my top ten 2016 releases, IN NO REAL ORDER!
GOJIRA – Magma: This record is a trip from start to finish. One of the most original metal acts I’ve ever heard.
OPETH – Sorceress: These guys have done it again with this great release. They’re really mastering their new sound.
ANIMALS AS LEADERS: The Madness of Many: The legendary prog masters blew me away with this album. It’s amazing, and I’m glad Javier finally got a real chance to shine instead of Tosin always being in the spotlight.
PLINI – Handmade Cities: Another great prog artist gaining some fame. I love every single release from this genius, and this one definitely didn’t come up short.
KATALEPSY – Gravenous Hour: The brutal death metal group did an awesome job with this record. Much better quality than the debut and the music is just better overall.
DEATH GRIPS – Bottomless Pit: The experimental hip hop group did really well with this piece. They nailed it.
KNOCKED LOOSE – Laugh Tracks: One of the best hardcore releases to date. Simply put, this album rocks.
DEFEATED SANITY – Disposal Of The Dead // Dharmata: The first half of this release is brutal death metal, and the second half is really progressive death metal. Love the concept love the album.
THE ZENITH PASSAGE – Solipsist: One of my favorite tech death bands and albums ever. Damn good record right here.
CESSPOOL OF CORRUPTION – Eradication of the Subservient: Gotta give a shout out to my boys in CESSPOOL. I loved the material and am proud of them for getting it out. Excited for what’s to come.
KELLY SHARADIN: 2016 wasn’t a bad year for music at all. Here are my Top 10 albums of the year.
1. VERMIN WOMB – Decline: This band blew me away live. The album delivers the same deafening, isolating experience. A must have for fans of grind and sludge.
2. GADGET – The Great Destroyer: I cannot take this cd out of the car. Groovy, Heavy perfection.
3. COGNITIVE – Deformity
4. DARK FUNERAL- Where Shadows Forever Reign: My most anticipated album of 2016. The riffs do not disappoint.
5. ABORTED – Retrogore
6. GHOUL – Ghoulunatics
7. MESHUGGAH – The Violent Sleep of Reason: This album takes a bit to grasp but as my all-time favorite band, this album keeps the MESHUGGAH legacy strong.
8. KATALEPSY – Gravenous Hour
9. WORMROT – Voices
10. YOUNG MAGIC – Still Life
ZENAE: Here is my Top 10 List, and 10 Honorable Mentions for Rock and Metal worth checking out in 2016.
1. METALLICA – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct
2. GOJIRA – Magma
3. AVANTASIA – Ghostlights
4. INSOMNIUM – Winter’s Gate
5. EPICA – The Holographic Principle
6. BE’LAKOR – Vessels
7. INTER ARMA – Paradise Gallows
8. EQUILIBRIUM – Armageddon
9. THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT – Transcendence
10. REVOCATION – Great Is Our Sin
NERVOSA – Agony
WITCHCRAFT – Nucleus
IN THE WOODS – Pure
STARKILL – Shadow Sleep
EXMORTUS – Ride Forth
OMNIUM GATHERUM – Grey Heavens
MOONSORROW – Jumalten aika
SERENITY – Codex Atlanticus
GORGUTS – Pleiades’ Dust
IHSAHN – Arktis
INQUISITOR: 2016 was probably the worst year for me so far for keeping up with new releases; it doesn’t help that I got into more new bands this year than any before it. So this list is probably missing loads of albums I haven’t gotten around to yet.
1. ALTAR OF DAGON – Nacht Der Untoten: My friends and brothers in AoD put out their best work to date so far, a killer slew of tracks years in the making. This is one of those albums where every song demands to be heard live.
2. ANTHRAX – For All Kings: All of the Big 4 have always distinguished themselves with releases that bend the boundaries of thrash metal. Anthrax continues this with one of their most front-to-back excellent albums to date.
3. EXMORTUS – Ride Forth: Balancing tooth-loosening shred with a rhythm section that keeps the emphasis on “rhythm,” EXMORTUS comes out with their most diverse album to date.
4. GIANTS OF GENESIS – Weight of the World: I know the members of GIANTS OF GENESIS well, and their genre-bending debut feels like a truly honest piece of self-expression that will win you over easily with its sincerity.
5. DEATH ANGEL – The Evil Divide: DEATH ANGEL are the true standard-bearers of 80’s thrash. Unlike other entries they didn’t reinvent the wheel, just polished it to a razor edge.
6. OPETH – Sorceress: A complaint against newer OPETH is that they’re trying too hard to be YES or KING CRIMSON. So? They’re doing a great job of it, with their songwriting continuing to gradually tighten since Heritage.
7. BLACK CROWN INITIATE – Selves We Cannot Forgive: More local boys, there seems to be nothing these guys can’t do.
8. OBSCURA – Akroasis: Coming out of a major lineup change, OBSCURA drifts into spacier, proggier territory but keeps the songwriting tight. This hits the same notes for me as the first two CYNIC albums did – high praise indeed!
9. METALLICA – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct: I’m not yet old enough to be jaded about METALLICA and hopefully never will be; when this album goes, it goes, with the band finally seeming to have remembered the youthful energy they’ve been grasping at for years. All I have to say is…SPIT OUT THE BONE!!
10. Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole Of The Law: Shit is nuts, man. The electronic/industrial influences were a brilliant touch, which is probably the only time anyone has said that about an extreme metal release.
THE MAESTRO: Sometimes these lists are extremely hard, and other times they are easy as pie. Take last year for example. I had 25 of my Top 30 done by June and put the list together in almost no time. 2014? I spent SIX hours agonizing over it in a hotel room in Exton, PA. This year was pretty evenly balanced, with good music coming at a steady pace. And I didn’t have to fight with the 13 other people living in my head over which records would make the cut, because we were all in agreement for a change. So here it is, The Maestro’s Top 30 Albums of 2016:
1. BAD SEED RISING – Awake In Color: These kids (seriously, teenagers from Baltimore, MD) put out the best, most emotional record of 2016, hands down. Lyrically they are wise beyond their years, and combined with the music, they know how to craft songs that stay with you long after the album ends.
2. BON JOVI – This House Is Not For Sale: Though it may not have a perfect score like some others on this list, it is an album that connects on more of an emotional level than others on this same list. It’s all about life, love, and the old neighborhood. And that’s something I keep coming back to over and over again because of who I am and where I’m from. Plus I can feel the old crew from back in NY in all these tracks.
3. AND THEN SHE CAME: Every single song is great, and Ji-In Cho’s amazing vocals make these songs come to life. If you’re looking for a flaw, you won’t find one. This is an incredible debut by an incredible band.
4. GOJIRA – Magma: Forget about genre, genus, phylum, or what-have-you. THIS is one of the most raw and visceral releases of the year and has been on steady REPEAT for six months! P.S. Mini-Amps has this as his #1 of 2016!
5. KANSAS – The Prelude Implicit: This album is a master class in songwriting. The whole band puts their best feets forward, and vocalist Ronnie Platt completely owns these songs. A fantastic record from start to finish.
6. SUNBURST – Fragments of Creation: As soon as I hit PLAY I was immediately transported to a world where technical proficiency meets heart and feel, something that’s hard to do these days without going off into musical wankery. SUNBURST never once falls into that trap.
7. THIRD SOVEREIGN – Perversion Swallowing Sanity: Without a doubt, THE Death Metal album of 2016, one that is uncompromising and unrelenting in its brutality. Get this into you ASAP!
8. DARK FUNERAL – Where Shadows Forever Reign: Everything about this record is perfect, from its atmosphere, to the production, to the incredible songwriting. I cannot stress enough how badly all you Black Metal fans need this one in your collection.
9. PRODUCT OF HATE – Buried In Violence: BEST Thrash Metal album of 2016. Case closed. Chapter ended. Book done.
10. TESTAMENT – Brotherhood of the Snake: Four years is a long time between albums. This one was worth the wait and then some. Lyrical excellence and musical brilliance make for a near-perfect record from the Thrash Masters themselves.
11. AMON AMARTH – Jomsviking: Once again, these guys crush everything in their path with a phenomenal record that had me ready to kill everything in sight.
12. BABYMETAL – Metal Resistance: There’s not a bad track to be found, and the growth since the debut is exponential. I love what these girls do, and I’m a proud BABYMETAL fan until they give me a reason not to be.
13. AXEL RUDI PELL – Game of Sins: The best album I’ve ever heard from Axel, Johnny Gioeli, and company, bar none. These songs stick in your head long after the record is done.
14. KILLSWITCH ENGAGE – Incarnate: This group made a re-believer out of me with this record. Powerful, angry, angsty, and gut-twisting all at once, this album is the stuff of legend.
15. MICHAEL SWEET – One Sided War: Michael Sweet knows how to write hard-rockin’ metal tunes that are equally as heavy as they are hummable. The man is amazing AND…he introduced me to one of my favorite new artists Moriah Formica on this incredible album!
16. THE NAKED AND FAMOUS – Simple Forms: This album really snuck up on me and buried itself in my brain. Another amazing effort from one of my favorite bands on the planet.
17. DYNAZTY – Titanic Mass
18. EXALTER – Obituary For the Living
19. ALTER BRIDGE – The Last Hero
20. MEGADETH – Dystopia
21. SPELLCASTER – Night Hides the World
22. MONSTER TRUCK – Sittin’ Heavy
23. WHISPERED: Metsatun – Songs of the Void
24. SERPENTINE DOMINION
25. TEMTRIS – Enter the Asylum
26. OMNIUM GATHERUM – Grey Heavens
27. ANTHRAX – For All Kings
28. THROWN INTO EXILE – Safe Inside
29. HELION PRIME
30. LACUNA COIL – Delirium
METAL CHURCH – XI
TED POLEY – Beyond the Fade
DEATH ANGEL – The Evil Divide
SKILLET – Unleashed
EXMORTUS – Ride Forth
WARFATHER – The Grey Eminence
STARKILL – Shadow Sleep
THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT – Transcendence
VADER – The Empire
MAESTRO’S SONGS OF THE YEAR:
1. “Feel Invincible” – SKILLET
2. “I Will Drive You Home” – BON JOVI
3. “Frontiers” – OMNIUM GATHERUM
4. “Obvious” – BAD SEED RISING
5. “Labor of Love” – BON JOVI
6. “From the Heart” – THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT
Jeezus, I feel like I just spent two straight days working out. Every year this is such an emotional and very often cathartic process, as we go back and look again at 12 months of music. As always, I hope this prompts you to check out some bands you’ve maybe never heard before. And from all of us here at A&GS,
HAPPY HOLIDAYS, AND HAVE A VERY METAL NEW YEAR IN 2017!! \m/ \m/