Dr. A.N. Grier’s Top Ten(ish) of 2016

And so another year comes to an end. The US elected a new President, people are more offended than ever, and amazing musicians, like Leonard Cohen, got out while they could. But, in general, I can’t complain. It has been a decent year. My responsibilities at AMG Headquarters have increased (securing me a yet-to-be-built private bathroom), new blood has smeared the hallway and cubicle walls of the office, and some surprises have surfaced on my 2016 top ten. Some thought it was a great year for metal, some thought it was shit. Scores were argued, jokes were made, unicorns were harmed, feelings were hurt, and the loudness war continues. This may not be 2015, or 2014 before it, but it sure did pan out to be just another year on this spinning ball we call Earth.

One obvious difference between 2016 and the last two years is a true top ten list from yours truly (as long as no one deletes it). A couple years ago, I released a rather typical list—the result of a year from hell and zero ability to keep up with anything more than my own reviews. The second year writing for AMG brought a list more to my liking. One that sported a range of records from a variety of genres; some that many agreed with, others that I loved alone. But all were picked with the greatest care. Yes, even that silly Jørn record we mocked for months on end [Who dared mock it!?Steel Druhm].

As it was last year, my 2016 picks secured their spot via regular listens. If I haven’t stopped listening to it, then it probably made my year-end list. It doesn’t matter if it’s black, death, thrash, doom, or black/death/thrash/progressive doom/technical death/post-metal/not-actually-metal, it’ll get a spot. The best part of this time of year is the opportunity to stack unrelated albums against each other. There’s no back-catalog comparisons, no criticism of a band’s newest work, and no genre-based judgment. None of that. If it made my head bang, if it made me smile, if it made me cry, it’s here.

And, I have AMG, Steel, Madam X, and YOU to thank for all of this. For allowing me to write here and the opportunity to write this list. Thanks for reading and, please, never stop. We all work our asses off knowing you’re out there reading our bad puns, anti-HR humor, compound curse words, and quality Jørnisms. I want to thank you all for making angrymetalguy.com what it is and I want to thank all my fellow writers for the endless inspiration. You guys are the best.


Them - Sweet Hollow(ish) Them // Sweet Hollow — Before everyone gets mad at me for my first selection, let me just say this: I don’t give a fuck what you think. I’ve already taken a bunch of backlash for this pick, but, in keeping with my 2015 tradition, my “ish” pick is my funnest and most listened-to album of 2016. At this point, it is no secret that I am the biggest (and greatest) King Diamond fan of all time. So, in that way, this makes sense. But, you might be asking, how could I adore this blatant piece of King Diamond plagiarism? Because I have a sense of humor. Give it a spin and you’ll find that it isn’t a copycat at all (King does it way better). It’s got good riffs, a silly fucking story, and King-like and not-so-King-like vocals. Plus, choruses like the one in “Down the Road to Misery,” will stick to you like a household poltergeist. One day King will drop another album on the world, but, for now, Them works.

Theocracy - Ghost Ship#10. Theocracy // Ghost Ship — Christian metal has been a running joke of mine for years. Having grown up around Christian-rock fans as a child, I’ve developed the perfect smirk for those that bring up anything Christian. But there’s no ignoring God metal. It popped up a lot in 2015 and it hasn’t let up. Having spent a few weeks with Narnia‘s self-titled release, I can’t deny the passion behind the songwriting. It doesn’t matter if a band writes about God, Satan, or dragons, if the music is passionate, I’ll get behind it. But, of all the Christian metal bands out there, Theocracy has to be the best. And (thank God) they released an album this year. It may be damn-near impossible to follow-up an album like As the World Bleeds, but Theocracy is one of those band that has never released a bad album, and Ghost Ship further solidifies that. It’s quality power metal at the surface and standard Theocracy at its core. What does “standard” Theocracy mean? “Fucking good” Theocracy. That’s what it means. But, savor it while you can. This will, undoubtedly, be the last time you see a Christian metal group on my top ten.

Darkher - Realms#9. Darkher // Realms — I’ve been trying for months to comprehend my love for Realms. If you have also found a home for it in your 2016 top ten, then you may not understand my dilemma. Not that it’s dilemma, but something so simple shouldn’t be so addictive. Or, maybe, that’s exactly why it belongs here. It also helps that Darkher have similarities to one of my favorite bands of all time: Ava Inferi. It’s not a perfect match, but the vibe sure does bring on the nostalgia of Onyx. Realms would seem to be one of those albums that doesn’t work unless you are in the mood. But that’s not true. This doomy, gloomy record puts you in the mood. The question remains: is Realms metal or not? Honestly, who gives a shit? Metal or not, Realms pulls me under like any great metal album would; refusing me even the tiniest glimpse of light. And the moment I think I can see a distant glimmer of hope at the end of this dark passage, Wissenberg’s voice extinguishes it once and for all.

#8. Spellcaster // Night Hides the World — With this year’s busy schedule, I didn’t think I’d get around to any recommendations from family, friends, or fans. But when I got my hands on Night Hides the World, that all changed. Not only that, but its effortless delivery made it the easiest review to write. But don’t take “effortless” negatively. What makes Night Hides the World so great is just that: its simplistic and effortless approach to metal. It flows like few albums can and the result is a hay hook straight to the ribs. After months of black, death, doom, thrash, and Them, songs like “Aria,” “Betrayal,” and “Prophecy” continue to haunt my playlists. No one ever said “simple” was bad. And Spellcaster proves that their stripped-down outlook on metal is their greatest strength. Want “proto” without feeling proto? Then hear the Night Hides the World.

#7. Ars Moriendi // Sepelitur AlleluiaSepelitur Alleluia came out of nowhere. Not only that, but it became the soundtrack to the Grier family Halloween. Hell, the first time I spun the record, I was putting up candy-corn Halloween lights, decorating the aspens with fake spiders webs, and splitting firewood. I rarely dive into a new promo with so many distractions, but I couldn’t imagine another French black metal outfit was capable of grabbing my attention. I was wrong—dead wrong. A record that seamlessly combines elements like orchestration, haunting choirs, ripping riffs, kickass solos, and fucking trumpets cannot be ignored. Along with making my top ten, Sepelitur Alleluia will go home with my coveted Sleeper o’ the Year award. This record (and this band) came out of nowhere and I’m glad it did.

#6. Be’lakor // Vessels — When a band has been around for awhile, people will inevitably battle over which album is their best. When Vessels hit the shelves back in June, everyone had an opinion on it. Is it better than Of Breath and Bone? Is it a massive letdown from their masterful Stone’s Reach? You can, of course, make your own conclusions about Vessels, but I love this album. Like I said in my earlier blurb, my favorite part about the end of the year is stacking albums up against each other. Not a band’s entire catalog against itself, but every 2016 album against one another. And, when I stack Vessels alongside other 2016 releases, it continues to stand out. Yes, the dynamics aren’t the best, but the atmosphere, the emotion, and the vibe are there. The piano, the acoustic guitars, the emotional plods, and Kosmas’ low, leveled growls suck me in every fucking time. Regardless if Vessels is their best or not, Be’lakor are still good at what they do.

#5. Witherscape // The Northern Sanctuary — Slap Dan Swanö’s name on the cover and every metal fan, critic, and bloodsucking leech slithers from their fester hole to pen their first impression of Swanö’s new record. And I’m no different. Three years ago, The Inheritance hit me like a ton of bricks. It didn’t have the fluidity I knew the band was capable of, but it got more spins than I care to admit. It was unique, powerful, and had a massive replay value. But The Northern Sanctuary blows it out of the water. Swanö, et al. takes the style to a whole new level; unleashing riffs, atmospheres, and attitudes The Inheritance wishes it had. I have to admit that Swanö has gotten me through some tough times with his Edge of Sanity and Moontower material. With all the different bands and songs Swanö’s been a part of, The Northern Sanctuary still speaks for itself. From the Symphony X-like opener “Wake of Infinity” to the moody “The Examiner” to the epic title track, Swanö unleashes the Inner Swanö. The Northern Sanctuary is a place filled with both light and darkness, but, rest assured, this Sanctuary welcomes all.

Moonsorrow - Jumalten aika#4. Moonsorrow // Jumalten aika — I’m going to just put it out there: Moonsorrow has never let me down. Jumalten aika proves that the age-old phrase “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” ain’t a bad way to live. This has a much different meaning when you’ve been on the top of your game for thirty fucking years. As with all Moonsorrow releases, the expectation of a typical four-to-five minute song is laughable. Moonsorrow aren’t afraid of length (take that however you want). And what they do with length makes them untouchable. How anyone can make a sixteen-minute track feel like a six-minute one is beyond me. As you all know, we at AMG have a tendency to belittle the lengthier albums. But, some albums are so well-crafted that length is of no concern. While others meander like lost puppies in their backyard—discovering their dog-bone burials ransacked and their marrow-filled treats poached—Moonsorrow doesn’t suffer from this curse. The fluidity, the structure, and the builds are remarkable. Moonsorrow ain’t no lost puppy and Jumalten aika is proof of that.

King Goat - Conduit#3. King Goat // Conduit — First off: no, I don’t like King Goat because they have “King” in their name. I’m not that bad. Instead, I chose Conduit because it fucking rules. With a ray of Candlemass over a sky full of brewing clouds, this doomy debut had me hooked the moment it opened. However, I discovered that “Flight of the Deviants” was only the beginning. “Feral King” followed. Then there was “Conduit.” And then there was “Revenants.” And, finally, “Sanguine Path.” What the fuck?! How can one band—how can one album—contain so many great hits? There’s Trimming’s rasps and cleans, there’s the guitar tone, and there’s the progressive songwriting. Around every corner is a riff, a melody, and an outstanding vocal performance that have me replaying songs mid-album just to soak them in. Many of the picks on this list have long songs and short tracklists, but, like the others, Conduit works. It never feels long, it never feels forced, and never bores. Hands-down, Conduit is my Debut Album o’ the Year.

#2. Rimfrost // Rimfrost — I’m not going to lie, I felt alone with this back in March. As I said in the review, Rimfrost rounded out my Abbath and co. fix with their brand of Immortal metal. Abbath brought I to the party and Rimfrost brought Immortal. But, somehow, Rimfrost did it without completely copying these icy kings of the North. Instead, the band brought an energy equal to Sons of the Northern Darkness with an approach that can only be described as Rimfrost. Just as it was back in March, songs like “Saga North” and “Dark Prophecies” continue to get regular rotation. The riffs never age, the builds never bore, and the attitude never ceases to amaze me. I can’t completely explain my infatuation with this record (and this band), but it’s real and I won’t complain. Rimfrost is a treat every time I put it on and it takes top dollar for my Black Metal Album o’ the Year.

#1. Mistur // In Memoriam In Memoriam is one sneaky motherfucker. Having achieved runner-up of the runner-up in April (though unreviewed somehow), I only casually gave notice. The first impression was good, but I walked away from it, blinded by the albums of May. I rarely answer to the name of “fool,” but that’s exactly what I was that day. Appearing to be nothing more than another Windir-like example of pagan black metal, this album wasted little time proving me wrong. Whether it’s the beautiful melodics of “Distant Peaks,” the neck-breaking Samael-like riffs of “Firstborn Son,” or the crushing beauty of “The Sight,” In Memoriam is the epitome of aggressive beauty. The details are indescribable and the layers are lush with black, doom, Viking, and melodic death influences. On the surface, it would appear to be a bloated affair—sporting an hour long runtime on a six-song foundation—but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If I can offer any life advice, dear reader, learn from my example: follow the advice of our Fearless Leader, “don’t sleep on Mistur.”

Mistur - In Memoriam

Honorable Mentions

  • Far Beyond // A Frozen Flame of Ice — If only there was another slot in my Top Ten(ish), A Frozen Flame of Ice would own it. Hell, it’s more majestic than Christmas itself. So, what’s one more pick?
  • The Vision Bleak // The Unknown — Did I say one more pick? I meant two. Weren’t there like twelve wisemen or something on Christmas day, anyway? Fine, there were three. Shut up.
  • Thrawsunblat // Metachthonia — OK, nevermind, a Top Thirteen(ish) is more than necessary. Metachthonia is pure Gold (get it?) and is a powerful record that, regardless of a couple shortcomings, is impossible for me to ignore.
  • Spirit Adrift // Chained to Oblivion — It’s a one-man doom band, starring one cool dude from the one-and-only Arizona. Of all the single digits, one is the easiest to count to. Why fuck with that?
  • Suidakra // Realms of Odoric — Spell your name. Now spell it backward. Now make a band out of it. Now try to write better music than Suidakra.
  • Uprising // Uprising — Yep, it’s another one-man black metal outfit. But, with so many one-man/woman outfits landing on top ten lists this year, one more can’t hurt.
  • Abbath // Abbath — Abbath is a-myth chock-full of a special kind a-wrath—forging a-path. Do the a-math. These guys know WHAT THE FUCK they are talking about.
  • Northern Crown // The Others — Add “WTF” to “DR12;” sprinkle it with Ms. Pac-Man®, while leaving out Nicole Kidman, and you’ve got… well, I don’t know what the fuck you’ve got. But it’s good.
  • Alcest // Kodama — I use to love Alcest. Then I stopped loving them. Now I love them again. Godfuckingdammit, I’m such a poser.
  • Death Angel // The Evil Divide — What once was 14 years old is now 47 years old. I don’t care how you do a-math, it’s still better than Metallica.
  • Inire // Cauchemar — What do you get when you combine Pantera, Throwdown, and Lamb of God with Quebec? A Canadian LambThrowing Pantera, of course. Is it really worth an honorable mention? Depends one how much Jäger you’ve got.

Disappointment of the Year

Serious Black // Mirrorworld — After making Serious Black‘s debut a top pick last year, I was more than a little excited for their follow-up. But, Mirrorworld was almost as disappointing as it could get. As Daylight Breaks was an ocean full of dangling hooks; no matter how hard you tried to avoid them, they would sink in. Mirrorworld, on the other hand, proved to be a couple bobs floating on the surface of the Pacific Ocean. There’s a bite every once in awhile, but nothing seems to snag. I don’t mean to bash, but Mirrorworld was a huge disappointment.

Song o’ the Year

Mistur “The Sight” — This song is an eleven-minute rollercoaster of shredding riffs, melodic interludes, and an outro as heavy and unforgiving as any I’ve heard this year. Goddammit, I can’t stop listening to this!


El Cuervo’s Top Ten(ish) of 2016

 

In all personal regards, this year has been characterized more by what it hasn’t had than what it has. My youthful vigor? Gone. Free time? Gone. Long-term relationship? Gone. A despicable number of brilliant musicians? Gone. I’m due to adopt even more adult responsibilities in 2017, too. I found myself lingering over Alphaville‘s “Forever Young” at the year’s end in some introspective haze of self-obsession. And this list is at least partially a nostalgic gaze at styles which I discovered in my first forays into heavy metal. In sum, this year has felt like the end of my childhood.

And yet I look forwards. As one phase passes, another one begins: I’ll be challenged in new ways in my profession and relationships, using what I’ve learned in overcoming my trials this year. But, more pertinently, I also hope to experience new things in the music that I love. While I look on some with wide-eyed fondness, there are albums here which would not have been past favorites. They’re heavier and weirder. For this I can only thank AngryMetalGuy.com and its myriad writers who have influenced and diversified my tastes.

I would tentatively suggest that this year has been the weakest since I began here in 2014. There’s been plenty of good releases but I found my rolling shortlist of excellence only bore 11 names at the end of the year. There was no difficulty in narrowing this list, only in adjusting placement. I found myself retreating to past favorites and trawling other websites in search of the next great thing in lieu of accidental promo-based revelry. Nevertheless, what follows is still a selection with which I’m satisfied: I’m glad that doom metal only occupies 3 spots on what initially seemed an unbalanced year and 4 picks were unveiled through my wider searches (even if they went on to receive reviews). But the list must commence. Deny my narcissistic desire to discuss myself by indulging my narcissistic desire to have my work read. Pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage (beer, wine, milk) and bask in my humility.


(ish) Hyperion // Seraphical Euphony — A victim of its release date more than anything else perhaps, Seraphical Euphony just slipped over my list’s precipice at the year’s end. It had time to strike me, grow on me, then fade to a level of comfortability. I remain nonetheless impressed by its searing riffs, tasteful symphonic elements and involving song-writing and you should absolutely hear this if Dissection is your jam.

#10. Vainaja // Verenvalaja — Vainaja is surely one of heaviest fucking bands making music at the moment. The chords are thicker than a redwood’s trunk, the growls harsher than a rabid bear’s and the atmosphere as overpowering as The Mountain. But more than these compositional elements, I love the band’s concept: the documentary of cult behaviors and practices of rural Finland in the 1800s. While Kadotetut concerned a forgotten religious text, they here describe the work of a twisted preacher. It creates a fantastic aura but supporting this are snappier riffs, more expansive song-writing and a beautifully dynamic master. In short, the perfect sophomore release.

#9. Sylvaine // Wistful — I promise this is my only non-brutal selection. Taking an Alcestian core but stripping out almost all of the metal, Sylvaine‘s gentle waves and alluring croons weave together to form a stunning post-rock album. Her performance of all instruments is exemplary but it’s the intangible emotional qualities which elevate this to its entrancing heights. “Wistful” is indeed a fitting title – the over-arching sensation of longing elicits dreamy reflections on times gone by. Delicately constructed but truly powerful.

#8. Plateau Sigma // Rituals — Now this got me excited. I’m a fool for doom metal underpinned with passages of subtle acoustics and smooth clean vocals — see The Fall of Every Season — and Rituals executes this with aplomb. Its interludes are simply exquisite. The heavier surroundings are arguably undermined by this greatness but it’s still tough to deny this mid-paced, rocking, emotive slab of doom. Plateau Sigma started slowly but have continually honed their song-writing. They’re a testament to hard work and I’m thrilled to shine some light on their underground development.

#7. Saor // Guardians — It’s tough to describe exactly what Saor gets so right. Guardians‘ victory is an emotional one so my response is therefore vague and subjective. The best I can manage is that my heart soars. It’s substantially heavy as black metal but the folksy melodies draped over are light and so addictive. While stylistically identical to the 2 preceding albums, this one has the most emotive melodies and the climaxes and all tracks wring out every ounce of grandiosity and majesty. It’s an assured refinement and unmissable for fans of folk or atmospheric black metal.

#6. Départe // Failure, Subside — As referenced above, I keep an ongoing RotY shortlist through the year with albums I enjoy constantly in rotation. Those which endure become my top 10. Départe were the last entry but this isn’t a mere attraction to the newest, shiniest music. Not least because this is an unnerving and dissonant interpretation of black metal, drawing lightly on death metal, which necessitates a period of gestation before its twisted genius unveils itself. It’s writhing and vitriolic but also darkly beautiful: pristine clean singing arises at oh-so-perfect moments to gild the savagery with subtle hopefulness. Failure, Subside may have climbed higher given even more time.

#5. Witherscape // The Northern Sanctuary — The Northern Sanctuary shocked me. Not just because it’s so enjoyable but because it’s so much more enjoyable than The Inheritance. The song-writing is tighter, the solos tastier and its enthusiasm infectious. It’s idiosyncratic in its diverse range of influences including melodeath, prog and classic rock but each strand is woven into a seamless, rich tapestry of great songs. It strikes that perfect balance between continuity and memorability where each track is outstanding without standing out. The masterful production only encourages my addiction.

#4. Zhrine // Unortheta — The underground has been taken of late by Icelandic black metal. Brandishing dissonance, moody atmospheres and furious intensity, it’s a formidable sound. But by a long shot Zhrine‘s brilliant Unortheta has rightly arisen to the pinnacle of this scene. More measured than their compatriots, it’s better characterized as brooding and deliberate than ferocious. Ambiance and gradual tempos frame the mind-bending heavy passages and the creeping atmosphere almost evokes doom more than traditional black metal. It’s a record just as fascinating to unpack as it is engaging to hear which is a recipe for compulsive listening.

#3. Haken // Affinity — The Mountain is quite the epic to follow. But rather than attempting to match that emotion-laden landscape, Haken adjusted the lens. They refocused on the 1980s, amassing synths, catchiness and a sense of fun. The result pays tribute to the 80s without abandoning the diversity and detailed song-writing with which they’ve developed. Varied songs are balanced well which is quite the feat when the unbelievably cheesy “Earthrise” is paired with the prog mammoth of “The Architect.” These are 2 of the year’s best songs (see below), alongside the beautifully serene “Bound by Gravity.” It seems impossible for these guys to put a foot wrong.

#2. Uada // Devoid of Light — I knew within moments of clicking play that Devoid of Light would be one of the year’s best. Black metal often merits absorption time to encase its listener in dark atmosphere but no such delay is present here. The opening riff is an absolute ripper (is it acceptable to reference Dissection twice in one list?) and this quality is preserved throughout. A digestible run-time, clearly distinct melodies and bright production engenders one of the most accessible second-wave records that I’ve heard. If you’re an energetic and cheerful type but still enjoy sacrifice- and arson-based hobbies, Uada is essential.

#1. Khemmis // Hunted — I know right? What a dull pick. Tying into my introduction, what this year has also lacked is a clear número uno. My past years here were obvious; indeed, Wilderun‘s Sleep at the Edge of the Earth has arisen to one of my favorite records of all time. But Hunted shall suffice. Its rampant list popularity must mean something! 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.

Honorable Mentions

Disappointment o’ the Year

Serious Black // Mirrorworld — Serious Black wrote one of my favorite power metal albums — one which attained the second spot on my 2015 list — and followed it with the most generic and unexciting 36 minutes they could muster. It lacks the diverse inventiveness and unbelievably catchy choruses of its predecessor, leaving just 1 track which I actively enjoyed. I would honestly rather they hadn’t released Mirrorworld and if that’s not a disappointment I don’t know what is.

Song o’ the Year

Haken “Earthrise” — Look, I get that this is cheesier than Rick Astley riding a wheel of Camembert into a technicolor 80s toy advert: the bright synths; the forced optimism; the melodic chorus. But I didn’t have such fun listening to anything else this year. The vocal delivery in the verses is amazing and that chorus… Catchy scarcely does it justice. Buy this album when you can but hear this song as a matter of urgency.

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  • Zach Ward

    Hey, I was listening to Mistur as I read this cool beans!

  • Kelli Caltabiano

    king Fleshgod Apocalypse why not?

    • El_Cuervo

      Because we didn’t like it enough. You’ve commented on every list…

      • AndySynn

        Oh, you’ve got one of these guys too? They’re fun.

        • El_Cuervo

          Of which album was yours eulogising?

          • AndySynn

            Departe by Clouds. On every single post. And just could not get his head around d the fact that I hadn’t listened to it,and therefore had no grounds to include it.

            Unless he thought I was going to include it simply upon his wise recommendation?

  • How the hell did I miss Mistur this year? This is exactly why I come here to read all the year end lists …

  • ashcindersmoke

    Great choices guys. Khemmis, Witherscape and The Vision Bleak have been my soundtrack for the past 2 days

  • Reese Burns

    Great lists both of you. Also, I wanna give my thanks to Cuevro especially, for giving me a huge list of doom bands to check out, all the way back in Febuary. Hopefully things brighten up for you in 2017.

    • El_Cuervo

      That’s no problem. We appreciate your readership!

  • mindbleach

    Nice to see Be’Lakor make one of these lists. I wasn’t too keen on it at release but I’ve come back to it repeatedly and I think it’s actually their best. Each of their previous records felt like it was overly reliant on one or two styles of musical hook such that by the end, it all got a bit samey. Vessels is consistently inventive throughout. I worried that there were no standout tracks at first, but now I think every one is a standout.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I had the same issue at first, but it stuck with me after awhile.

  • The good Doctor loves his white metal.

  • Dammage

    I feel as though I need to give Affinity another listen. The first one didn’t strike me as anything special bit seeing it on all these lists makes me feel as if I missed something. Thank you both for your great reviews!

  • André Snyde Lopes

    It’s funny, I remember liking Mistur a lot and never listening to it again. Khemmis, on the other hand, I remember being decent but making myself listen to it several times to try and find out what people saw in it…

    • Diego Molero

      This. This is exactly how I feel regarding those two albums. Still don’t hear what’s so great about Khemmis.

  • BernBern17

    Spellcaster is one of my most listened to albums this year, love the vocals on it. I really need to give the Uada album a lot more listens.

    Great lists guys.

  • Adrian Rigter

    Happy to finally see Rimfrost and Vainaja on some lists, just to prove that I wasn’t insane when I put them on mine:)

    • Daniel Ritson

      Yes. I didn’t think the Rimfrost would end up as one of the year’s most underrated efforts but, given that it’s appeared next to nowhere else (perhaps actually nowhere else?), there you have it. In light of that record, it’s nearly impossible for me to care about anything Immortal’s current and former member(s) are doing.

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        It is so damn good. That one has stuck with me all year.

  • Eli Valcik

    YES! finally a Mistur album of the year.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      It was an automatic for me.

      • Eli Valcik

        since I am a huge Windir fan Mistur had pretty much everything I want in an album.

      • Ugo Poifol

        Thanks for this. My Metal revelation of the year.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          No problem. Glad you’re liking it.

    • 5:36 of “Firstborn Son” kicks so much arse it’s not even funny, and then there’s the rest of the album.

      Damn. Mistur was slipping down my personal list and now it’s going up the ranks again. God damn it.

      • Ugo Poifol

        Mistur’s way of ending songs is fantastic. The ending of The Sight is so simple yet so grand.

      • Dudeguy Jones

        Did this for me too. I think it was out for so long that I had enough time to fall entirely in love with it and then take it for granted that it would be on my list, then the rest of the year happened and after a zillion releases I started to forget about it.

        Then I had a kid. And free time is a thing of the past. :)

        It still rates very highly for me after revisiting and considering, but its like I had forsaken all the time Id spent with it and it was like that awkward moment with a past lover before you find your groove again.

  • Jrod1983

    More great lists. Although they weren’t my absolute number one, I love the fact that Khemmis has topped so many I’ve seen.
    Soaring vocals, great riffs, lots of hooks, and I really love the runtime.

  • Tardsmat

    I’m glad to see sabaton mentioned here. The Last stand is an extremely tight Album. (No track is over 4 minutes long!) Also, a surprising lack of Vektor.

    • El_Cuervo

      With a couple of tracks cut it could have made the list. But over half the album is great.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I like Vektor, but I didn’t listen to it as much as these others.

  • Treble Yell

    I’m glad you got something out of “Sweet Hollow,”

    Dr. A.N. Grier as it was too flawed for my tastes.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I’m just a sucker. That’s all.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Risky Dr, the bosses bestow upon you the honour of a RotM which you then deign not good enough for your list… I hope for your sake HR doesn’t notice this

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Hahaha I thought the same thing… it was damn close. Got knocked out at the end. But, then again, fifteen of these albums can easily move about depending on my mood.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Great and interesting lists today looks like I’ll have a busy January going back over a few albums.

  • Meat Tornado

    Good to see someone putting Moonsorrow on a list. Definitely my #1.

  • Diego Molero

    I feel kinda bad because Haken and Khemmis haven’t clicked with me. I love The Mountain but not Affinity, same with the debut from Khemmis and the new one. Don’t know what’s wrong

  • EnslavedEld73

    I couldn’t ignore all the Khemmis attention, so I finally spent some time with them and bought the new record today. Mistur now has me interested. So many great bands out there.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    That Inire is a fun little record, glad you mentioned it because I never would’ve heard it otherwise. Great lists, you two.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Thank you, sir. It’s a fun (not so amazing) little record that reminds me of simpler times.

  • Dagoth_RAC

    I love “Earthrise”. It’s a simple pop song on the surface, but plays with rhythm and tempo in subtle and sophisticated ways. I think people associate accessibility with being simplistic, and most “accessible” music is simplistic. But Haken definitely are not.

    And “The Sight” is also fantastic. I love, love, love the ending. It reminds me of a Bruckner scherzo. Blaring and repetitive, but so darn majestic and invigorating that you find yourself a little sad that is does not blare and repeat even more. One of the best song endings (and very similarly structured!) since “Centric Flow” off Obscura’s godly Cosmogenesis album.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      The end of “The Sight” is phenomenal.

  • Diego Molero

    Ars Moriendi was so, sooo close on my list. “Ecce Homo” is probably my favorite song of the year.

    • Arsonist

      Great to hear that, thx you very much !! I have cd version if you are interressed.
      Arsonist from AM

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        I need to go buy myself a physical copy. I know the promo copy I have doesn’t do it justice.

        • Arsonist

          Hey you can buy physical copy directly to me ! You can contact me at this mail adress
          [email protected]

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Will do. Thanks, good sir.

      • Diego Molero

        I would love to buy one, but I can’t for several reasons (it has to do with my country and blablabla). But thanks anyway. Congratulations on the album, really love it.

  • AgonMcDuck

    I seriously wish I’d listened to Mistur this year. I’ve just started playing it now and man is it kicking my ass. Would have been a strong bet for at least top 15, for sure. OTL

    • Mistur is ace and deserved a proper review or a TYMHM at the end of the year. :(

  • lennymccall

    So I guess it’s come to a complete backlash for poor Khemmis.
    Even people who loved the record feel they have to apologize for picking it as their favorite? I’ve seen this a lot now from some different lists.
    The record is phenomenal, it deserves the top spot 100%. Was definitely mine because I listened to it more than anything else released this year and never got tired of it.
    Spellcaster is greatness too!

    • El_Cuervo

      It’s a great record but the reason that I’m apologetic is that it wouldn’t have been my number 1 for 2014 or 2015. It’s a number 2 o’ the year masquerading as a number 1 because there wasn’t a clear number 1.

      • lennymccall

        Hmm ok. Honestly don’t know where it would have fallen last year.
        I was fully prepared to keep Cobalt in the top spot all year. Didn’t think there was ANY way it could be topped. When Hunted came out it just grew and grew in my mind that at this point it’s probably going to be one of my favorite records for years to come.
        Man there was so much good music this year tho. I have a HUGE list of stuff I heard snippets of, liked and haven’t had time or money to get yet. I still have tons to hear as well so thanks for the write up.

  • One More Thing

    Earthrise is such a great fucking song! I put that on so many playlists for my friends this year.

  • Very pleasantly surprised to see Mistur and Rimfrost in such high regard. I’m still enjoying both of these albums immensely, but didn’t see them on many (or any?) other year end lists.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      They rule.

  • 王雋

    I’m digging that Mistur album now thanks to your list!! I really like “The Sight”‘s ending, but MAN, “Tears of Rememberance” is such a beast god damn it!!!!! Anyway, I wanna thank you guys for discovering so many fucking great music for me. It has only been maybe less than a month since I found this website, yet you guys have already blew up my mind, SO FUCKING AWESOME

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Man, that whole fucking album is amazing. I knew there would be a Song o’ the Year from it, but it was hard to pick at first. I think I finally gave into “The Sight” because of a replay glitch on my player that kept repeating that one song.

  • gdffgdfgd

    Thanks for reminding me of Northern Crown, I somehow forgot about that one after reading the review a while back. But where did you get the DR12 from? The copy I got is DR5 and so is the official lyric video for “Surreality” on youtube. It doesn’t sound as bad as other DR5 albums but it’s far from a DR12.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Strange. My copy (our copy) is DR12.

    • The copy we received is in fact DR12. However, in the process of converting it to Bandcamp it somehow ended up at DR5, which is a shame.

      • gdffgdfgd

        How exactly does that happen? A highly dynamic album doesn’t get brickwalled by converting it to another format (or does bandcamp remaster the album?).
        And the youtube video is DR5 too, so it’s not just the bandcamp version.
        Maybe you got a different master than the one that got released, like with the latest Omnium Gatherum (although the DR10 version of that is on iTunes).

  • Kryopsis

    I absolutely love Be’lakor. Their songwriting is consistently stellar and it’s one of the few Metal bands that writes good lyrics. And yet I still can’t make up my mind about ‘Vessels’. Perhaps the album is a slow burn, perhaps I wasn’t listening to it in the right conditions or the right state of mind but after buying it at release and constantly listening to it for weeks, I was left indifferent. In fact, I can’t name a single song on the album. It’s absolutely devastating, as it was my 2016’s most anticipated release and I still occasionally return to ‘Of Breath and Bone’.

  • jf

    One shows well honed metal instincts and wisdom by breaking from the pack and listing Spellcaster. They are exceptionally talented!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I couldn’t ignore them. That is such a great album.

  • jersey devil

    I really got into your lists here, for the most part. One new thing I got turned onto was King Goat–outstanding. Thanks for that one. But, I have to say my biggest disappointment of the year…is AMG reviewers putting Haken in the top 10! Seriously? This is not metal dudes. (in my opinion it ain’t even good music either, sorry). Why is an 80s style pop band in here???

    • El_Cuervo

      Ah! The old ‘If I don’t like it it’s not metal!’ argument.

      A classic.

      • jersey devil

        My question was: why is a nonmetal album getting reviewed on a metal website? I like lots of nonmetal music, but I just don’t expect it to be reviewed on a metal website alongside metal music (and in this case vying for position on a metal album-of-the-year list).

        • El_Cuervo

          They use distorted guitars, cover the normal metal instrumentation, have solos, occasional harsh vox, etc. They’re metal even if not the heaviest ever.