In a year filled with killer albums, I’ve been tasked with putting together what I believe are the 10 best. This, in theory, should be a fun endeavor. However, once I began going back and realizing just how many strong albums there were this year, it quickly became obvious that this would be no easy undertaking. Some of the biggest names in the business dropped albums this year from Megadeth and Anthrax to A7x and Metallica. Not to mention everything in between, including Death Angel and Metal Church, to name a few. With that said, let’s get to it.
10) Death Angel ” The Evil Divide “
Whenever a band that has been around as long as Death Angel has, you start to wonder if they still have what it takes to write songs that can not only strike a cord with their long time fans, but with the younger generation as well. You have your answer right here. This was as strong an outing as these guys have ever had. If you consider Act III as their pentacle as myself and many others do, then you’ll find this is a close second.
9) Texas Hippie Coalition ” Dark Side Of Black “
When Big Dad Rich and the boys aren’t too busy fishin’ or bbqin’, they’re out kickin’ ass. It was obvious right away when I heard the first single “Rise” that this was going to be one hell of an album. I was right. THC has locked down a southern sound all their own and it shines in a big way on this album.
8) Ashes In The Sky ” Relentless “
Here’s an album that embodies the term “Metal”. Killer vocals? Check! Slick guitars? Check! Powerful drums and bass? Check! These young bad asses beating up the air waves of New York appear to be the real deal and have shown up big time with this album. The youth movement in the metal scene right now is on fire and Ashes In The Sky appear to be at the forefront. This entire album kills it from beginning to end.
7) Brutai ” Born “
Coming in from the London area is Brutai with their debut album for Transcend Music “Born”. When I first heard the single “Deep” I couldn’t get it out of my head. I drove my fellow HB staff nuts singing it over and over. It’s so unique and catchy. This is one of those albums that could prove to be a game changer in the genre. These guys have found a formula for writing songs that will be around for a long, long time. Every note on this album is so perfectly placed that you feel like the music is telling a story from note to note. Lots of stand outs on this album. “Dear Emily” is probably my pick as the strongest all around.
6) Crystal Lake ” True North “
While many people may tell you that “Babymetal” is the premiere metal band from Japan right now. They would be wrong. Dead wrong. When it comes to sheer crazy over the top musical ability, nobody is stronger than Crystal Lake right now. “True North” will grab you from beginning to end and proceed to make you feel as though you have experienced what incredible metal is all about.
5) Incite ” Oppression “
It seems as though there is a bit of a metal scene running through Arizona right now and the leaders of the pack are known as Incite. The best way that I can describe this album upon listening to it is it’s as if somebody threw me into a metal trash can, beat it with a baseball bat and rolled it down a mountain side only to fly off a cliff and crash in the fiery canyon below. It’s brutal. That’s what makes it so great. This album is not for the casual metal fan. It’s for the hard core bastards that love to mosh to oblivion.
4) Megadeth ” Dystopia “
I know that a lot of people will question this albums entrance in the 10 best. The fact is that it’s good. Real good. I think that too often people can’t separate the music from the personality which is Dave Mustaine. Granted, he can be an egotistical moron. I’ve even heard many people refer to the band now as “MegaDave”. Put that aside and listen to what they put out this year with the additions of Kiko Loureiro and Chris Adler and you have the 4th best album of 2016.
3) Holy Grail ” Times Of Pride And Peril “
Oh yes! Holy Grail. Perhaps one of the most talented overlooked bands out there right now. There is not a better guitar duo on the planet right now than Eli Santana and Alex Lee. I wish that more bands would utilize their guitarists the way that Holy Grail does. Often times the art of the guitar solo gets lost and doesn’t seem to find it’s way back into metal songs the way that it should. Vocally, James Paul Luna puts on a clinic in how to use your pipes in metal. I personally can’t get enough of this album.
2) Jinjer ” King Of Everything “
You know that feeling you get when you’re listening to an album and you start to develop a smile and you can’t wipe it off of your face. Yeah, that’s how I felt when listening to “King of Everything”. This album has it all. Incredible musicianship and most notably the vocals of Tatiana Shmailyuk. She may very well be the best vocalist in music right now, let alone metal. Don’t believe me? Just listen to “I Speak Astronomy”. That’s all that you need to hear to know that I’m right. Match that with the spectacular musicians in the band and you’ve got pure metal magic.
1) Black Inhale ” A Doctrine Of Vultures “
I understand that most people have never even heard of this band out of Vienna Austria. That’s unfortunate. These guys have managed to craft a masterpiece without the help of a label or the use of a P.R. firm. From the time that you hear the opening notes on the opening song “The Die Is Not Yet Cast”, you know that you are in for something special. I love the sound of a good crunchy guitar and vocals that make you believe every word that they are saying is from a place of angst. The songs on this album are epic. Many written specifically for arenas. Both the title track and “Die Alone” will haunt you with their dark overtones. These guys are hard working and ready to break. This is the album to do it with.
Rich “Big Sloppy” Markum