2016 has been an incredible year for Heavy Metal music wise. We have seen the resurrection of veteran bands and the birth of rookies. Putting together a mid year list should be a fairly easy task as you simply look to what you have been listening to the most. Unfortunately that only weeded my list down to about 30 albums.
After some soul searching, some horrific cutting, and revisiting reviews and fan comments I came to the 10 albums below as what I feel are the best of 2016 thus far:
10. Brainstorm – Scary Creatures: the album came to us in the coldness of January and from the opening notes of “The World to See” to the classic headbanging of “Twisted Ways,” I was hooked. The pacing of the album is straight forward and a pleasure to listen to from front to back.
9. Aborted – Retrogore: this was a quick release for Aborted coming off the impressive “Termination Redux.” It dropped in May and it took me awhile to roll around to it, but once I did the onslaught of brutality ruled the day in the Martell household. Retrogore is a vicious assault of the senses.
8. Anthrax – For All Kings: I will be the first to admit it took me awhile to come around to “For All Kings.” My expectations were very high coming off the amazing “Worship Music” and I think I didn’t give King’s it’s proper due at first. After a few listens the voice of Belladonna took over and I reconnected with the massive songwriting Ian and Benante managed to churn out. Anthrax is a major player in the new music scene once again.
7. Flotsam & Jetsam – S/T: how does a band after 30+ years release an album that is their best? You may not agree but this self titled gem gets better and better after each listen. The band is on point and staggering in the aggressive nature of their song writing. I said resurrection earlier, but for Flotsam & Jetsam this was a revitalization.
6. Revocation – Great Is Our Sin: I knew it would be good, and I knew it would be badass, but I didn’t know the level of technicality would be pushed to new heights. David Davidson is the best guitarist in modern metal and needs to be added to the list of all time greats.
5. Sixx AM – Prayers of the Damned: what can I say about Sixx AM that Morgan and myself haven’t said already? Prayers of the Damned is the next obvious step in the progression of the band with superb songwriting and a heavier feel than the previous Modern Vintage.
4. Amon Amarth – Jomsviking: this album is just modern thrash goodness. Forget the viking schtick and chest pounding testosterone. Jomsviking boils down to an amazing concept album that easily stands on its own. You can enjoy this in the background or as an intimate experience. The first time Amon Amarth and intimate have ever been used in the same review.
3. Death Angel – The Evil Divide: I’m going to use Harley’s words for this because I couldn’t say it any better myself; “Yes, they are still Death Angel, going stronger than ever, continuing to mature and improve. The songwriting on The Evil Divide has to be some of the best in their existence. Undoubtedly a contender for Album of the Year, certainly to make an appearance on numerous top 10 lists.” Make this two lists already.
2. Megadeth – Dystopia: welcome back to the show Megadeth. The addition of Chris Adler (is he still in the band?) made a massive difference. Not in sound, but in motivation. Whatever happened in that studio brought Dave Mustaine back to what Megadeth should be. Dystopia was the leader for the #1 album until this month…
1. Whitechapel – Mark of the Blade: from the review Shepherd and myself did; “This album is a true career defining moment and something the band has displayed to us through talent and passion. Using your talent and opening yourself up to the world is scary proposition, but a challenge that Whitechapel dominated on Mark of the Blade.” I listen to this everyday, often twice. It could be like a new relationship where everything is love, but I don’t know what could surpass it. Guess we’ll find out at the end of the year. ~ Martell
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