Angry Metal-FiYesterday I published my Top 10(ish) of 2016 and it’s a good list. But as has been pointed out, a lot of the supplemental material I usually include was missing. So today I’m posting a follow up: Angry Metal Guy’s Supplemental List(s). This should give you insight into some of the things which weren’t included, as well as a couple of other things I’ve been thinking about posting lists of for a while. This is being thrown together quickly and unplanned. But I just think you guys deserve it and I like list-making. It’s probably something I should list under my hobbies on Facebook.

Honorable Mentions

To begin with, a Top 10(ish) is always a negotiation. And this year was a special case because there was so so so much I did not get time for and so many things that I liked, and which could have landed in the bottom five easily.

Gomorrah - The HaruspexGomorrah // The Haruspex — Brutal. Weird. Slinky death metal with an almost Anaal Nathrakh feel. I do love this album and strongly recommend it to anyone who likes brutal death metal. The songs are short, tight, and the sound just works. This is easily the truest death metal shirt I own right now, too.

Danimal Cannon - LunariaDanimal Cannon // Lunaria — Nintendocore at its absolute finest. I’ve discovered since hearing this album that this guy is a ridiculous nerd and a great musician. He’s like the Steve Vai of chiptunes and Lunaria is just a fucking amazing album that I have spent a lot of time with. You should check it out if you are even remotely open minded.

Winterhorde - MaestroWinterhorde // Maestro — This album is more a victim of my busy schedule than anything else. It is very, very good and I just haven’t made it back to listen to it as much as I would like. Sometimes things like “scheduling restraints” affect list-making, because the things aren’t given their proper due. But Maestro is a fantastic album and may even have gotten snubbed.

Wildernessking - Mystical FutureWildernessking // Mystical Future — I gave this album a glowing review and then it got snubbed for Record o’ the Month. Then I stole the band’s logo and put it on our banner. Finally, these poor South Africans atmospheric black metallers didn’t make my list. And I do love this album, it just didn’t quite make the cut. Still, you should buy it.

Vainaja VerenvalajaVainaja // Verenvalaja — This album is such a brutal, beautiful doom album. The LP mix is astounding and I don’t even like doom that much. Yet these dour Finns convinced Grymm and by proxy, they convinced me. I get the feeling this is an album I’ll be coming back around to in the future and spending a lot more time with.

Myrath - LegacyMyrath // Legacy — This never got put on the list, but it was in tight contention because I fucking love these cheeseballs. I’ve seen some mutterings that they were just a cover band earlier, which implies through complaint that their Tunisian-metal thing is inauthentic. I give so few fucks about this kind of thing. Legacy is an awesome, poppy, enjoyable album from a band deserves credit for selling the fuck out and making great Eurovision metal. I hope they get huge and unbearable, so that everyone complaining about them being inauthentic is forced to see them everywhere. Douchebags.

Dark Tranquillity // Atoma — Atoma is my favorite record from DT in a long time. I love every song and I enjoy the whole thing. I know it’s going to be fantastic live and I am super into this album. It didn’t make the cut, but it’s not because it’s not a great album. Really happy to hear these guys put something out that was this strong.

Insomnium // Winter’s Gate — I have never enjoyed an Insomnium album, but I love Winter’s Gate. I think this is easily the finest material the band has ever released. The forty minute track is incredible and it really came out of left field. In a year with a lot of great melodeath, Winter’s Gate was some of the best. I just didn’t get to know this album well enough to justify it a place.


Biggest Disappointments

Haken - AffinityI wrote a glowing blurb of Haken and I stand by our review. I think the album is great and I think the band is among the best progressive metal bands in the world. However, I have such a hard time listening to it because I think it sounds really fucking flat. It’s not a fun album for me to listen to. After appreciating it initially, I just find myself not coming back to it. And when I do come back it I just can’t handle the super crushed mastering. These guys are such a fantastic, dynamic band, and yet the production job sounds so fucking flat.

This is precisely the same critique I have of the new Borknagar. And I feel bad about this because I’m a huge Vintersorg fan, have moderate contact with Mr. V and peripherally the other guys from Borknagar and was a big fan of Borknagar‘s last record. In fact, I kinda don’t review their stuff in the future, because I feel like a dickhead. But Winter Thrice just fell so flat for me and left me so disappointed. The music sounded great, but the production isn’t great and the sound for me makes it tough to love.

It’s a shame that production ruined these albums for me, and it’s a shame that both of these are Jens Bogren productions, because he also succeeded so masterfully with Fleshgod and has made the last couple Turisas albums sound great. But these really bummed me out.


Top 6(ish) Songs o’ the Year

#(ish): Blaze Bayley — “A Thousand Years” — This record suffers from some issues, even if I liked it quite a bit. Still, “A Thousand Years” reminded me vaguely of the glory years of Blaze’s early years post-Maiden. It’s a crackin’ tune of “good, honest heavy metal.”

#5: Bombus – “Deadweight” — Bombus was a weird find for me. I like this album a lot, even if the band actually made fun of my review when they posted it. And this song, which was also a single, is my favorite on the album. It’s just a great track of solid heavy metal and a funny little video. Love it.

#4:  Sonata Arctica – “We Are What We Are” — Tony Kakko doing Tony Kakko things, “We Are What We Are” probably lands among my favorite Sonata Arctica songs of all time. It’s such a depressing song, but I think they nailed this chorus so hard. There are few bands that can write this kind of shit and get away with it, but SA pulls it off every time. Or, well, most times. They could probably be a bit less ESL, but hey, they are what they are.

#3: Dark Tranquillity — “Faithless by Default” — This isn’t the heaviest or riffiest song on the album, but “Faithless by Default” features DT doing what they are absolutely best at: moody, melodic death metal with Stanne’s trademark lyrical approach. I’ve never heard a band that’s as pithy and poetic in their death metal as DT. I’ve been running around screaming “We are faithless by default!” for months now.

#2: Fleshgod Apocalypse — “The Fool” — If you can’t listen to “The Fool” and feel the intense glee at the incredible composition and unique approach to metal that these guys are absolutely pwning on King then you and I don’t see eye to eye about things. And that’s normal. But fer fuck sake, people, how do you not just eat this up? This is just an amazing metal track.

#1: King Goat — “Conduit” — This is the song that got me hooked on King Goat. I listened to the album and enjoyed it, and then I got to “Conduit” and was just like “whoa.” This whole song is majestic, from the lilting introduction to the amazing anthem that you’ll hear at 5:06 (“For eons I linger…”). This whole song devastates the senses. It is a masterful track and my Song o’ the Year for 2016.

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  • Monsterth Goatom

    Love Bombus; nice to see them here. They also have one of the best band photos. Forgot about Lunaria. I’ll have to revisit that.

  • GardensTale

    Totally agree with the song of the year, especially the part about that majestic section in the latter half. That part gives me chills every single time.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Yeah, this song is awesome. Just barely lost to the song o’ the year I ended up picking.

  • The Haken rant has me flabbergasted! Affinity made me a true believer in fact.

    • Weird. It just sounds so fucking flat to me. Did you grab it on vinyl?

      • Nope. I particularly love the keyboards and overall “sci-fi” sound it has. I’m just scratching my head on why you don’t like this record.

        • I like this record. I think it sounds flat. Maybe it’s just me, but I have yet to find a stereo system that I like it in. I really dislike the overall sound, despite thinking the music is really top notch.

          • This is the part where Dave goes, “Bogggggrrrrennnnnn.”

            EDIT: I am wondering what a high dynamic master could bring to the table. I mean this is not a badly produced record by any stretch of the imagination and I suspect some of its “dryness” could in fact be by design.

          • Genuinely! For me it’s all in the way the drums sound. Just everything here is so goddamned compressed. I really need to find the vinyl already, but my fucking system isn’t set up for vinyl and I just wish that people would release fucking good masters DIGITALLY so that I didn’t have to fucking buy the vinyl in order to get the master listeners deserve!

          • LOL. If I had a nickel…

  • Jozo90

    Good to see Sonata Arctica getting some love. Does “We are what we are” qualify to your list of “Sonata Arctica’s Top Awkward and Unintentional Successes”

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Wooooohhh!
    You turned your back, turned your back on Affinity.

  • Diego Molero

    I know this is your site and all… But you didn’t wrote the Haken review hahaha

  • Mario Aguilar

    what about moonsorrow’s “jumalten aika”?

  • VikingSchism

    On the note of chiptune-y metal, one thing I’ve listened to quite a lot of is Master Boot Record. It takes a darksynth-y style, and makes it slightly more metal. Also all of the album’s names etc. are based on MSDOS and similar things

    • Master Boot Record is great. Thank you for that recommendation! :D

    • Grymm

      Master Boot Record is incredible. It’s like My Dying Bride and Blut Aus Nord collaborated on a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive RPG. Awesome, awesome stuff!

  • Diego Molero

    Btw, did you get to hear the new Hannes Grossmann album? If so, what do you think of it, AMG?

    • Not AMG, but I didn’t listen to it enough to have a good opinion. That said, it was definitely better than Alkaloid’s attempt. For one, the songs don’t go on forever and the album isn’t over an hour (close but not the 70 minutes plus of Alkaloid)

      • Diego Molero

        You should re-listen to it, it’s pretty damn good in my opinion. It’s not better than The Radial Covenant, but still. Haven’t heard Alkaloid album, always forget about it.

  • hallowed

    I must say Borknagar is one of my top albums of 2016. Vinyl sounds just fine to me. Digital not so much.

    • Owlswald

      Easily their best release since Empiricism. The addition of Garm and Lazare is great and the drumming is awesome.

  • Thatguy

    King Goat ain’t that good.

    • André Snyde Lopes

      First Gazpacho, now KG… AMG might be your nemesis.

      • Thatguy

        The difference is KG don’t suck – I just don’t love them as much as AMG does.

        • Diego Molero

          Are you implying that Gazpacho sucks?

          • Thatguy

            Umm…that is my humble opinion. But, hey, it’s just a matter of taste and Gazpacho are not to my taste. They can really play – I just don’t like what they play.

          • Diego Molero

            Fair enough. I love Demon since I first hear it on 2015. I still listen to it at least once a month, I think it’s brilliant.

          • Did you just say his opinion was wrong?

          • Thatguy

            I don’t know what gets into me, but, yep, that’s what I said.

    • I tried. I really did. No dice.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Conduit and Revenants are fucking top shelf. The rest of the album lags slightly behind, for me, though. My choice from King would be And the Vulture Beholds; what an epic freaking song.

    My songs of the year would have to include David Bowie’s Lazarus, Haken’s Red Giant, Asphyx’s Incoming Death, Lycus’ Chasms, Hammers of Misfortune’s Flying Alone, UR’s Neutralizer, Blood Incantation’s Vitrification of Blood pt1, Vektor’s LCD and Kvelertak’s Nattesferd.

    Though Hail Spirit Noir’s How to Fly in Blackness has the most listens in my media player, and that probably means something…

    • Like don’t forget to turn on your headlights?

      • André Snyde Lopes

        They’re greek, they can’t afford headlights.

    • Meriyas

      Conduit and Revenants are absolutely fucking top shelf. I wasn’t getting the praise for King Goat yesterday until those two songs came on.

  • AndySynn

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… that Gomorrah album is just a real-life Dethklok.

    By which I mean, it’s awesome.

    “Atoma” is just *another* Dark Tranquillity album though. I like a bunch of the songs on it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s the sound of a band STILL on cruise control to my ears.

    I too love some Goat however.

    • sir_c

      exactly what I tried to say some days earlier. A run-of-the-mill DT is still better than many a band at their peaks, but they operate deeply from their comfort zone.

  • Joshua Walker

    “But Maestro is a fantastic album and may even have gotten snubbed.” <– I can assure you it did! ;-) I remember you reviewed it as Great earlier in the year and understand some slip through the cracks. I am thinking if you listen to it a few more times over the next month, you will rightfully replace your #2 ranking of Fleshgod Apocalypse's King with Winterhorde's Maestro.

  • ShadyPriest

    Hey there, first time posting here. Been a reader since late ’14 and I have to say this by far my favourite metal website (and I frequent pretty much all of them, mainstream and not). I love the writing, the differing tastes and having normal humans with interesting opinions in the comments section is good too. Thank you all for your work, you’ve helped me discover some amazing stuff during the new music discovery frenzy I’ve been in for the past two years.

    Being primarily a prog, melodeath and most (insert sub)-black metal fan (though there’s something I love in every sub-genre, as long as there’s feels to be given), most of my favourites have already been mentioned somewhere and there are tons to catch up on. A few albums which I haven’t seen mentioned at all (possibly not Top10 stuff but still quite good):

    [An Abstract Illusion-Illuminate the Path] and [Pressure Points-False Lights] Both sorta prog death, but with a different approach. The latter isn’t 2016 but AMG included Wilderun so why the fuck not:)

    [Slice the Cake-Odyssey to the West] and [Shokran-Exodus] They both take deathcore, a very boring style, to a another level imo.

    Special not-so-metal mentions: [O’brother-Endless Light] and [Long Distance Calling-Trips]. Very relaxing stuff.

    Again, thanks for all the work and I look forward to what the metal/rock world will offer us in the coming years. Interesting times usually make for interesting music.

    May 2017 bring us all happiness and prosperity! Though I doubt it.

    • [not a Dr]

      Who are you calling “normal”? Or “human”?

    • Meriyas

      I enjoyed Slice the Cakes offering this year, I gave it number 3 in my top 10 in the comments of AMG’s Top 10. It’s such an expansive and massive album.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Your current thoughts on Affinity are my thoughts on Haken in general.

    Diappointed Mistur didn’t own a spot in your top 5 tracks of the year because I want my opinion validated damn it.

    • Dr A.N. Grier had Mistur as his album of the year, or are you saying that validation is only acceptable when it comes from AMG himself?

  • Reese Burns

    It took me a long time to come around to Wildernessking, but when I did, I was hooked. It’s gripping stuff.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I tried, but I can’t get into it. Writing of Gods… is still my favourite.

  • Worldeater

    Thanks for your reviews of Gomorrah and King Goat – i would have missed those two gems for sure.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Did anyone have La Chinga’s release on their lists? Repeat Until Death and Freewheelin’ kind of go together in my mind. Two fun records (and both of which scored a 3/5).

    • DoublePedalGangstaMetal

      Don’t know La Chinga, but I will check them out just for the name; I hope they are Mexican…:)

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        They are not… We reviewed them.

        • DoublePedalGangstaMetal

          Okay okay, my bad, must’ve missed that.
          Happy new year?

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            No worries. Just wanted to let you know. It was a fun one to review :)

          • DoublePedalGangstaMetal

            Cheers mate. I’ll check the review out as well.
            Have a good one:)

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Likewise. Happy New Year as well.

    • Kronos

      My dad got that La Chinga album on vinyl.

  • Zach Ward

    Would choosing Winter’s Gate as my favorite song work? Or is that cheating.

    • Diego Molero

      I’ll say that’s cheating, but someone did a top 30, so why the hell not.

  • Phil Daly

    That Blaze album frustrates me so damn much. Great tunes, great band, but really can’t get past how awful it sounds. The vocals just drown everything and sound so disjointed from the music that it kills my enjoyment totally, which is a huge shame. That record with the heft of Silicon Messiah would be amazing.

  • Norfair Legend

    Never heard of Winterhorde but holy shit that album rips. Happy for the supplemental advice!

  • Levly

    All jokes aside though, I’m also surprised King is not on more end of year lists around the interweb. This record is a masterpiece.

    • It does actually genuinely surprise me. I love it. It’s really, really good. It strikes me as frankly pretty bizarre that it’s not getting more love.

  • TJ

    Conduit is indeed fantastic, but Flight of the Deviants probably beats it out for my SOTY.

    • Revenants would beat out “Conduit” if not for the importance of the title track in catching my attention.

  • Eryops

    I hope White Wizzard puts out an album in 2017. Maybe then Happy Metal Guy™ will make a return.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    More lists… MORE!!

    I want Steel Druhm’s favourite canned meat list, Madam X’s must have skull bowls with Grymm’s surprise salad ingredient list, Al Kikuras’s ultimate ist of compromising yoga positions or A Dr A. Grier’s top 10 King Diamond face make ups and DR Fisting’s favourite Ice T moments from Law and Order.

    I don’t see any reason why the lists have to stop at all, even below the line, there is list potential.

    How about a top 10 ignored readers request list could be good or a top ten kellicaltabiano comments… So many options.

    Oh and The Fool totes rules but Syphilis is also a killer track.

    • *cough* artworks *cough*

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Oooooo a list of King Diamond makeup… Brilliant!!

    • [not a Dr]

      You only have 8 items in your “Top 10 List Ideas I Just Had”…

    • Gaëtan Baratin

      Agreed for Syphilis. Very dramatic, almost pompous, but my favourite track on the album, tied with And the Vulture Beholds.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Yeah, Syphilis might kill you if left untreated ;)

  • I guess I should spend more time with King Goat. First the Record of the Year, now the Song of the Year too? I remember that the album has ‘some moments’, but… that’s all.
    Perhaps it’s my usual habit of focusing on the instrumentals, while the brightest star here is undoubtly the vocalist.

    Anyway my favourite songs of 2017, 1/band and in random order, are:
    – Ihsahn: Mass Darkness
    – Winterhorde – They came with Eyes of Fire
    – Opeth: Chrysalis
    – Obscura: Ten Sepiroth
    – A7X: The Stage
    – Vektor – Pillars of Sand
    – Katatonia: Serein
    – Vredehammer: Cyclone (Riff of the Year at 4:16)

    I hope I will have enough time in 2017 to keep up with this crazy dozen-reviews-per-week tempo, that you somehow developed in last months. Cheers.

    • Reese Burns

      The Stage is a wicked song, so I’m with you there. But my favourite Vektor song is for sure Recharging the Void, such a great song.

      • It’s epic indeed. Picking one song from Terminal Redux is hard… I was hesitating over this for a while, but at the end of the day I didn’t choose the closer because of that Floyd rip-off – I love it, but from an objective point of view it’s a bit too derivative.

  • Fuinha

    I’ve recently been really tired and burned out of metal and this blog is the only thing that keeps me interested in it. The writers never fail to engage and always write a great review regardless of the album. The comment section is surprisingly populated entirely of rational beings willing to accept each others opinions and learning from one another.
    Thank all of you for putting so much effort into this amazing blog and introducing me to so much good music.

  • jetblindracos

    People,love this lists a lot.Thanks to all of you.

  • Thorbjørn Thaarup

    I’m happy that I finally got to give the new Myrath a spin. I dig it.

  • Hark

    Yeah! All is good now! :-) Now waiting for the Metal-Fi and the aggregated album list. ;-)

  • Kelli Caltabiano

    I prefer cold as perfection because the king speech, but i love the fool

  • Martin Knap

    NO MOONSORROW ???

  • BranMakMorn

    Thanks AMG. I use this occasion to insist that everyone should reconsider just how amazing the stoner doom offered by Goatess in Paradise Under New Management really was.

  • naoto

    Meshuggah… Gojira…
    Dealing with Haken: their production isn’t flat; it’s 80’s soundwise. Maybe a bit lighter as a “metal band” (pretty much progressive rock), but absolutely amazing record.

    • It’s not ’80s soundwise at all. 80s production was much punchier than this was. It’d have loooooved it.

  • I just got into that Myrath album, it’s really good…nothing wrong with the pop structure if it’s done well and they do it well, plus those vocals are just outstanding. Side note, my guilty pleasure of the year ended up being Lacuna Coil-Delirium, pop metal hooks and sing along lyrics for days, but again done really well!

  • Reese Burns

    My songs of the year, in no particular order:

    Katatonia: Shifts
    Vektor: Recharging the Void
    Be’Lakor: Roots to Sever
    Soilwork: Death Resonance
    Uada: Natus Eclipsim
    Graves at Sea: The Ashes Make Her Beautiful
    In Mourning: The Lighthouse Keeper (I wish the rest of the album was this good)
    Thrawsunblat: She Who Names the Stars
    Cobalt: Hunt the Buffalo
    And finally, my absolute favourite song this year: Avenged Sevenfold: Exist. It makes my heart race, every time I hear Neil DeGrass Tysson talking about humanity’s future and the vastness of space overtop of an awesome guitar solo, it’s just something breathtaking.

  • AjmsaenZ

    Winterhorde made a fantastic album indeed, it dominated my playlist for about 3 months, the mood, the musicianship and the lyrics are all top notch.

  • JimminySnakeTits

    Man, there are a lot of lists – but I like it that way! I put every album from either the honorable mention or top-10-ish lists I could find into a single Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/gftrader/playlist/6tcxuiTNByWC6YfgLEQiue

    140 hours, 20 minutes – 1577 songs in total. I thought I listened to a lot of albums this year, but the lists are full of stuff I missed. Thanks everyone for your excellent reviews!

  • Pedro Morini Mietto

    I remember last year someone made a “List of all Lists” (or something like that) where all Top 10 lists were kind of combined into a single list.

    Is there going to be something like that this time?

    • El_Cuervo

      I compiled the data but it’s out my hands now. I don’t know if there will be.

  • themetalyears

    I humbly submit “Horde of Flies” in place of “Deadweight” from the Bombus album.

  • 2_Wycked

    “After appreciating it initially, I just find myself not coming back to it. And when I do come back it I just can’t handle the super crushed mastering. These guys are such a fantastic, dynamic band, and yet the production job sounds so fucking flat.”

    Holy shit, are you me? It kills me that some of their best material writing-wise is trapped in such a weakly produced CD.

  • Deadacolyte

    If you want more King Goat, just listen to Magic Circle, both their albums are great. Less progressive but more psychedelic/rock’n’roll doom.

  • Hark

    Will there be the aggregated list? El Cuervo? :)

  • Hark

    In hope of the official El Cuervo’s aggregate list, here’s my try at aggregating the AMG’s reviewers.

    I’ve used the Borda count method, because it’s simplest, gives all reviewers same weight, doesn’t favourite the top picks and prefers consensus (which can be both good and bad). Let’s say that this list more showcases the average taste of the AMG’s reviewers then possibly the most lauded albums. A little statistics, there were 24 reviewers which rated 126 records. In the list, I’ve only mentioned reviewers who entered the record in their personal Top 5, however, all votes went into account.

    So, big thank you to all AMG staffers for their opinions and let’s go from the bottom! :)

    #(ish): Anthrax // For All Kings – [#1 Treble Yell, #2 Madam X, #5 Steel Druhm] From the big 4 last year’s efforts, seems that the reviewers were preferring Anthrax. Solid and consistent record. (Personally, I’ve enjoyed Megadeth’s record the most.) Steel Druhm: “Late in their career and after more upheaval than any 10 bands ever experience, Anthrax found the fountain of youth and they’re chugging from it like thirsty frat dudes at an unguarded Sam Adams wholesaler.”, Treble Yell: “The potential hinted at on Worship Music is realized in full on For All Kings, a stunning return to Anthrax’s salad days of Among the Living and their magnum opus, The Persistence of Time. It’s not just that the riffs are neck-breaking or the vocals anthemic, nor is the overall standard of musicianship being oxygen-sappingly high what makes this album so special. No, what makes For All Kings worthy of superlative praise is that Anthrax for the first time in years sound downright dangerous.”
    #(10): Messa // Belfry – [#1 Lord Lucan, #2 Steel Druhm, #5 Ferrous Beuller] Great find, great doom! Wow! One of my favourites from the last year. – Steel Druhm: “Belfry is weird, inventive, ingenious and most importantly, catchy as hell.”, Lord Lucan: “A diverse creation with a plethora of catchy riffs and an utterly haunting vocal performance, Messa snuck up out of nowhere to deliver one of the most potent and memorable doom records, not just of 2016, but of the last decade. There’s no two ways about it; Belfry is a work of art.”
    #(10): Fates Warning // Theories of Flight – [#2 Dr. Fisting, #4 Huck N’ Roll, GardensTale] It’s great to see these old timers still riding high. Great mix of heavy and prog. According to Dr. Fisting: “If 2013’s Darkness In A Different Light was a comeback, then Theories is the next leap forward for Fates Warning. The veteran band sounds energetic and rejuvenated, as evidenced by the surprising ratio of heavy, complex riffs and musical ideas here.”
    #(9): Saor // Guardians – [#2 Lord Lucan, #4 Sentynel, #5 Zephyrus] Scottish Black/Folk metal? Sure! Great epic songs with Celtic overtones. This was the reviewers black(ish) metal pick of this year. According to El Cuervo: “Your heart will soar, wrench and swell as the album flows and it’s truly one of the most emotive things I’ve heard this year.”
    #(8): Insomnium // Winter’s Gate – [#3 Madam X, #4 Dr.Wvrm, Zephyrus, #5 Diabolus in Muzaka] Finnish melodeath, which proudly references Edge of Sanity’s Crimson as inspiration. Fortunately, it isn’t a weak rehash but a great and (at 39 minutes) concise record. – Steel Druhm: “Despite the insane length, the music’s keen sense of flow makes time slips away, and before you realize how long you’ve been listening, it’s over and you’re late for something.”, Madam X: “In reality, the weightlessness, subtle acoustics and vocal varieties envelope you in a way that has the track ending, dare I say, prematurely. Winter’s Gate proved unusual, not only embodying all I’ve longed for in Insomnium, but also showcasing a band skirting stagnation.”
    #(7): Anaal Nathrakh // The Whole of the Law – [#2 Eldrich Elitistö, #3 Grymm, #4 L. Saunders, Diabolus in Muzaka] Despite high rating, this was somewhat skiped over by the AMG “elites” and rightly criticized for brickwall production, but still got much love in general. Grymm: “Hands down, The Whole of the Law is Anaal Nathrakh‘s strongest effort this decade.”, Diabolus in Muzaka: “It didn’t fix what wasn’t broken, but added a new coat of paint and a couple of flamethrowers for good measure. The Whole of the Law is the record I didn’t know I wanted Anaal Nathrakh to make until it finally clicked after a few listens.”
    #(6): King Goat // Conduit – [#1 GardensTale, Ferrous Beuller, AMG, #3 Dr. A.N. Grier] AMG’s album of the year was respected, but in the end, it didn’t enter into Top 5. Great album, wonderful vocals, almost shooting to Candlemass heights. Doom as it should be. AMG: “I have listened to it dozens of times this year and I cannot get enough of it. Every song is great, but it’s meant to be listened to from start to finish; a complete album from a band just getting its footing.” GardensTale: “King Goat opened my eyes with their amazing record Conduit, which is the epitome of grandeur and consistently engaging songwriting. The quality and diversity of the vocal delivery is the star of the album, and not for a second does the music drag or bore.”
    #(5): Dark Tranquility // Atoma – [#1 Dr. Wvrm, #2 GardensTale, #3 Kronos, #4 Steel Druhm] After great and underrated “We are the Void” came bland and boring “Character”. And despite bad last album and loss of one of the founding members, they returned to the top. My expectations were low and this is the greatest positive surprise of 2016. (After so many years and albums, it’s easy to take greatness for granted. This is my melodeath pick of the year and AOTY.) AMG: “This album is thoughtful and reflective, but it sports razor hooks. 2016’s ‘grown up’ incarnation of DT has finally balanced their Depeche Mode side with the Gothenburg sound that drove them to worldwide success, and that defines this album.”, Dr. Wvrm: “Vektor complicated matters more than I would have liked, but in the end I cannot resist fanboying out over an album that reignited my passion for one of my all-time favorite acts. In a 2016 slammed with huge melodeath releases, Atoma not only justifies Dark Tranquillity‘s continued existence but re-solidifies their name in melodeath’s upper echelon.”
    #(4): Witherscape // The Northern Sanctuary – [#2 Zephyrus, #3 GardensTale, #4 AMG, #5 Dr. A.N.Grier, El Cuervo] Another Crimson sendup in the top ten, this time “from the horse’s mouth”, Mr. Swanö himself. And another great melodeath record. Steel Druhm: “Borrowing the best elements of past projects like Edge of Sanity and Nightingale, Mr. Swanö weaves a masterful tapestry from the light and dark, heavy and melodic without ever losing sight of the need for hooks and actual songs.”, AMG: “The Northern Sanctuary is laced with surprising riffs, beautiful melodies and all the Metal Michael Bolton vocals you could soak a middle-aged lady from the ’80s in. And I keep coming back to The Northern Sanctuary because I just can’t get enough of the unabashedly catchy music and one of the best sounding metal albums of 2016.”
    #(3): Haken // Affinity – [#1 Sentynel, #2 Huck N’Roll, #3 L. Saunders, El Cuervo] This blog should better be called AMPG (Angry Metal and Prog Guy). :) This English proggers were lauded for the music and criticized for their production choices. Very good album, despite compressed production. AMG: “Affinity is a balanced and brilliant album. A band which can balance the 15 minute and 40 second “The Architect”—which is loaded with techy goodness and an intro befitting of Symphony X—with “1985” and the Anathema-laced “Bound by Gravity” is a band at the height of their game. … These guys are such a fantastic, dynamic band, and yet the production job sounds so fucking flat.”, Sentynel: “Catchy, clever, and free with its 80s references without feeling tired, it’s consistently excellent and a joy to listen to.”
    #(2): Khemmis // Hunted – [#1 Eldrich Elitistö, El Cuervo, #2 L. Saunders, #3 Ferrous Beuller, Dr. Wvrm, Zephyrus, Steel Druhm, #4 Akerblogger, #5 Roquentin, Huck N’ Roll] Uh! #2 was towering mightily over the rest and it almost took the #1. I’m scratching my head at this. My guess is that the stoner overtones are what attracted a lot of people. (Somehow, it leaves me cold. I guess I don’t like it’s clean vocals. It misses the theatricality that I expect from a doom record. Doom as it should not be. :p) Steel Druhm: “Yes, against all logic, Hunted is bigger, better and more thought out than it’s predecessor, taking the Khemmis style to a higher plane of existence. The Pallbearer influence is greater, and the death metal vocals are reduced, moving the sound closer to classic doom and away from the stoner side, all without losing their unique identity. There isn’t a wasted moment on Hunted and if not for some poor production choices, it could have been perfect. This will be Album of the Year for many, and they won’t be wrong.” El Cuervo: “Sporting the grandiosity just hinted at on Absolution, I’ve heard few doom records with such scope and memorability so ingrained. The 13-minute closer is one of the most arresting long songs I’ve heard and I’m delighted that the doomy wellspring from which Khemmis have drawn was gushing for 2 great releases scarcely a year apart.”, Eldrich Elitistö: “With Hunted, Khemmis crafted a masterpiece in the vein of my favorite bands in the genre (ie: Pallbearer and While Heaven Wept) while in many ways surpassing them. Crushingly heavy and hauntingly beautiful, Hunted effortlessly earns a place alongside records like Nightfall and Vast Oceans Lachrymose as one of my favorite works of doom metal.”
    #(1): Vektor // Terminal Redux – [#1 L. Saunders, Roquentin, Jean-Luc Ricard, Zephyrus, #2 Dr. Wvrm, #3 Mark Z, #4 Eldrich Elitistö, #5 AMG] In the end, no surprises there. From headbangers to hipsters, this was on all metal lists for the last year. Wonderful progressive technical thrash album, better then “Outer Isolation” (though not then “Black Future”, IMO). Luke Saunders: “…admirable in ambition, nearly flawless in execution and a wildly imaginative journey through a wormhole into another dimension of hi-tech thrash excellence.” AMG: “Vektor is not a band that I previously had spent a lot of time with, but Terminal Redux is a totally ridiculous and fantastic album across the board.”, Jean-Luc Ricard: “They were my number one back in 2011 and, wouldn’t you know it, they’ve gone and done it again. Super technical and wildly adventurous, Terminal Redux is a progressive thrash masterpiece that pushes Vektor‘s sound further than ever before. Despite its progressive leanings, the record never feels self-indulgent, with excellent songcraft and perfect pacing meaning its seventy three minutes absolutely fly by. Thrash metal at its absolute peak.”, Roquentin: “Is there anything left to write about this absolutely mental piece of progressive thrash metal? One of the easiest #1 metal picks in years. Just go listen to it. A masterpiece from start to finish.”