In what can only be called an uncannily swift imposition of the law of averages, this year’s release schedule was a near-amaranthine1 stream of high-quality releases. By June, I’d reviewed more good albums than crossed my path in 2015 and most of the releases I had been anticipating wouldn’t be released until fall. Short of an Altar of Plagues/Genghis Tron/Fair to Midland reunion/new album tour, I really can’t think of what more the metal universe could have placed at my door. With the exception of Pyrrhon2, every one of my favorite (extant) bands released an album this year,and they were all, at the very least, very good.

But, this being a Kronos feature, I must first launch into a brief and hateful tirade against an absurd and laughably incompetent enemy. Towards that end, I’d like to alert an Angry Metal Guy staffer that we are now officially beefin’. And that staffer is… 2015 Kronos. How on Gaia’s free-range Earth did I miss so much top-notch shit last year? Not only did I not find out about KardashevDendritic Arbor, and The Crinn until early this year, but I whiffed on plenty of music that AMG and Metal-fi staff highly recommended, like CruciamentumArchivist, and Abyssal. The emergence of Frontierer as a mathcore juggernaut also eluded me, despite Orange Mathematics being an obvious album of the year contender based on energy alone. Seriously, go buy it. This list won’t go anywhere, I promise.

And towards that end of endlessness, I present to you Kronos‘ totally obvious list of Kronos-bait albums released in 2016, delivered in order of how deeply the hooks are embedded in my cheek.


(ish) WormedWormed - Krighsu Cover // Krighsu — I was really hoping 2016 would be the year for slam. It wasn’t, but at least we got a few good albums out of Wormed and Vulvodynia. This spot could have gone to either band, honestly, since Psychosadistic Design turned out to be the slam album to end all slam albums. But the point goes to Wormed; Krighsu‘s tight pacing and mind-boggling tech-heft might not quite beat out Exodromos, but it’s a fitting follow-up, and brutal as they get3.

#10. Départe // Failure, Subside — There have been some really stunning album covers this year, and Failure, Subside is one of the prettiest. What’s within is just as crisp and beautifully forlorn as those grasping hands on the cover. This LP establishes Départe as a force to be reckoned with in atmospheric black metal, and the band’s mix of influences from Dodecahedron to Dark Tranquillity set them apart from the genre’s more common Deafheaven and Alcest4 homages.

#9. Wormrot // Voices This Singaporean trio are the torchbearers of grindcore, and it’s damn near impossible to find fault with their oeuvre. Their latest outing flaunted post-black metal influences that fit the band’s snappy but sophisticated style like fingerless, street-urchin gloves. Voices turns around 20 songs in 26 minutes, and it’s nearly all peaks, pitting searing black metal against crusty aggression. It’s difficult to believe that all of the harmonic content here is delivered by a single guitar, but like everything else about Wormrot, excellence is the expectation.

#8. Zealotry // The Last Witness — The only album on the list to feature newfound guitar god Phillipe Tougas, The Last Witness initially seemed like the weakest of the three albums he shredded on this year5. Yet its unabashedly progressive sound and outright weirdness contributed to a slow creep upwards in the list. Zealotry draw from some of the same influences as Chthe’ilist but take them to a wholly different place, and the whole album reeks of sci-fi horror done just right.

#7. Plebeian Grandstand // False Highs, True Lows — Plebeian Grandstand  gets ever so slowly less awesome with each release, so the inclusion of False Highs, True Lows on this list should, at the very least, clue you in to how fucking excellent their last two records were. Even at the bottom of the heap, this album is a true spectacle, weaving together the hideousness of Deathspell Omega with a reeling disregard for meter that brings to mind modern Nile. It’s intense, disturbing, and enveloping, and though it suffers from the mastering job, I’m drawn back to False Highs time and time again.

Vektor - Terminal Redux#6. Vektor // Terminal Redux — Yeah, I’m a total poseur and just jumped on the Vektor train this year. When the AMG staff heard tell of a 75-minute thrash album, we were quick to lampoon the very concept. After all, that’s like 2 & 1/2 rotations of Reign in Blood. Thrash for that long was obviously unsustainable. We were sorely mistaken. Terminal Redux hooked me immediately and still hasn’t let go; a captivating piece of twisted ’80s sci-fi narrated by what I can only assume is a singularly talented ocelot and his roving band of soul singers.

Gomorrah - The Haruspex#5. Gomorrah // The Haruspex — This album was definitely the surprise of the year. Unlike 2015, 2016 had a packed release schedule, but that somehow made it a bit less exciting – my expectations were rarely exceeded, and the bands I thought were good put out albums that I thought were good. But Gomorrah came out of nowhere and delivered some of the catchiest and most original death metal the year had to offer. Between Grymm and myself, half of this album was in contention for Song o’ the Year slots. The Haruspex is tight and dominated by monster riffs marked by a heavy use of pitch-shifting that makes for a completely unique sound. Synced up with a hideous vocal performance and excellent songwriting, it’s a recipe for success.

#4. Ulcerate // Shrines of Paralysis — The band that upended death metal seven years ago with Everything is Fire delivered once again with Shrines of Paralysis. It’s leaner than Vermis and less expansive than The Destroyers of All, but all the same delivers intense emotional peaks and the full-album experience that we’ve come to expect. Yet it’s not the be-all, end-all of 2016. In a way, this is Ulcerate‘s business as usual, and though it’s an incredible work, the experimentation of the last two albums isn’t there, and with plenty of imitators nipping at their heels, the band will have to really turn heads in the future to stay at the top of their game.

#3. Dark Tranquillity // Atoma — The world is an unfair place, and just days after stricken fans witnessed In Flames [take] over Hot Topic’s Snapchat … at the Call of Duty Infinite Warfare Battle Royale,” fellow Gothenburg pioneers Dark Tranquillity  released one of the best albums of their career. Atoma is all about songcraft, and the band’s experience writing depressive anthems for the last twenty years is on full display with songs like “When the World Screams” and “Faithless by Default.” This is the album I wanted from them, but was worried they couldn’t deliver, and it’s a true credit to the band that they can still sound like Dark Tranquillity even as their sound subtly changes and finds new expression.

Unfathomabe Ruination - Finitude Cover#2. Unfathomable Ruination // Finitude — I was all excited for more of the slam-adjacent pigsquealery of Misshapen Congenital Entropy, but Unfathomable Ruination‘s move back to a more traditional brutal death sound turned out to be a complete success. This band can write riffs like nobody’s business, and in a time when I’m bombarded by wanky tech death and bad Meshuggah impersonations on a monthly basis, that really matters. Finitude is a masterclass in brutality and some of the riffs on “Thy Venomous Coils” and “Neutralizer” are irresistible and executed with not just precision, but a passion that feels lacking in so much modern death metal.

#1. The Dillinger Escape Plan // Dissociation — This list was a lot to sort through, and with the glut of quality releases, picking one winner out of the pack is near impossible. But when I look at these albums side-by-side, I can’t find one that beats Dissociation. It’s a swansong of incredible scale, and maybe one day I’ll see it in the same class as Teethed Glory and InjuryBoard up the House, and Arrows and Anchors. But it’s hard at the moment to think of it as anything but another mind-blowing, top-shelf album that’s the norm for The Dillinger Escape Plan. If this album came from any other band, it would have been an instant pick for album of the year, but Dillinger‘s flawless track record makes the greatness of Dissociation hard to grapple with in the abstract. It opens with the most intense freakout in the band’s history, and closes with one of the most beautiful songs I think I’ve ever heard. What’s in between are a pack of idiosyncratic yet earworm-producing cuts that deliver everything in the band’s playbook and more. This is the right note for the band to go out on; completely unparalleled and as musically and emotionally powerful as they’ve ever been.


Honorable Mentions

  • Chthe’ilist // Le Dernier Crépuscule — This album didn’t stick as well as I suspected it might, but when it decides to actually pile on those mildewy riffs, it kicks serious ass.
  • First Fragment // Dasein — Like the above album, there’s a lot of spectacular shredding on here from Tougas and pals. Heads up, tech death bands.
  • C.B. Murdoc // Here Be Dragons — Meshuggah-esque prog metal with a great sense of energy and texture – this band are only getting better.
  • Obsidian Kingdom // A Year With No Summer — This band is quite the enigma, and the Pink Floyd meets Sunn O))) meets Swans approach on this 2nd LP is a real must-hear.
  • Zeal and Ardor // Devil is Fine — A good God is a dead one.

Best Thing We Missed Last Year

Frontierer // Orange Mathematics — This is the heaviest album the world has ever known6.

Song of the Year

The Dillinger Escape Plan “Limerent Death”

Show 6 footnotes

  1. We didn’t cover it, bit I’m sure it was lovely.
  2. On a technicality.
  3. That being said, Vulvodynia‘s lyrics are as absurd as anything out of Wormed — but in a more offensive way.
  4. I ran out of bands that start with D.
  5. The others being First Fragment‘s Dasein and Chthe’ilist‘s Le Dernier Crepuscule
  6. I think the guitarist plays actual notes about 50 percent of the time and the other half is the sound of strings being fucking tortured.

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  • Zach Ward

    Wasn’t too into Dillinger this year. Haven’t liked an album by them in a while.

    • GardensTale

      Nor will you.

      • dedseed1

        Zing

      • Kronos

        Ouch.

  • Dagoth_RAC

    Now I am sad and miss Genghis Tron. :-(

  • Icki

    Did you, or AMG in general, come across the new Animals as Leaders album this year? If so, what were your thoughts, if no review?

    Since you gave The Joy of Motion a positive review, I was a little bit looking forward to what you had to say about about their new stuff :)

    • Kronos

      I don’t think we got promo and I haven’t heard it yet. I have been told it’s very good.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        It is very good. But it’s a step down, I think.

  • De2013

    Following all the YE lists unto now, I have the feeling I missed out on about 30-40% of all records mentioned here. And that, considering that I’ve visited this site at least once – twice per day during 2016, finds me strange. However, it is a great indicator of the number of published reviews by the excellent AMG. m/
    Thanks for your list Kronos. Good stuff to see Unfathomable Ruination as a runner up.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Great list, Kronos, and thanks for all your recommendations over at the Metal-Fi forums. You’ve really helped turn me on to Brutal and Dissonant Death. I’m still digesting all the layers of the Plebeian Grandstand, Ulcerate, and DEP releases. March, as your probably know, brings us a new Dodecahedron. I’m looking forward to 2017.

    • And thank you for mentioning the forums!

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        The forums rule Alex youse guys are legends for hosting!

      • Monsterth Goatom

        My pleasure, and thank you for the forums. I’ve discovered an insane amount of good music thanks to the many awesome posters. I think it was there I first heard about Wilderun and Zeal and Ardor, among others.

        To those new to AMG, the Metal-Fi team is graciously hosting the AMG Forum (link above). Post something, say hi, or check out all the other cool forums!

    • The Nerd.

      Oh man I can not wait for Dodecahedron

  • Dethjesta

    Love the Unfathomable Ruination record. One of my favourites this year.

  • Owlswald

    First time posting here. Thanks to you (and the other writers) for uncovering a ton of music that I missed over the past year. I think I have enough to keep me occupied well into March. Also, all of these lists need way more Car Bomb.

    • Kronos

      I think meta is a cool album but I haven’t spent much time with it. No promo, no time.

      • Owlswald

        I figured since a search didn’t bring up any results. Definitely one of the more unique albums I’ve heard this year and it also helps that it slays.

  • madhare

    It’s not too late to write a TYMHM about Amaranthe’s Maximalism… ;)

    • Reese Burns

      Careful what you wish did.. You might just get it..

    • madhare

      Of course, you could label it TYMFR (Thing You Missed For a Reason).

  • gus rodrigues

    interesting list. DEP never clicked for me and I seem to have the same problem with this album. You got me interested on Plebeian Grandstand and Gomorrah….

  • TheTransmuted

    Great list! Always enjoy your reviews. Thanks for positively contributing to my musical life! Glad to see DEP get some love. Excellent album in essentially every way. Unfathomable Ruination ripped my head off of my shoulders. What a savage piece of awesome.

  • The Nerd.

    Something something King. Fleshdog Notcalypse.

    Good list Kronos.

    • Grymm

      If you say “king fleshgod apocalypse” three times consecutively in front of a mirror, a woman in a bridal gown will assault you verbally until you give in and buy Fleshgod Apocalypse’s entire discography.

      Might be an urban legend, though.

      • The Nerd.

        It’s true
        Source: Bought entire discography.

  • Joshua Walker

    I enjoyed A Year With No Summer as well. It was a nice change of pace album for me. Thanks for all the reviews, Kronos!

  • Jrod1983

    Great list Kronos, I loved Finitude and Shrines of Paralysis, both on my own list for the year.
    And while I haven’t listened to them enough to form a good opinion, I also enjoyed The Last Witness and The Haruspex.
    Also this is the year I started kind of looking more in to grind, and I have Wormrot to thank for that.
    Stay brutal!

  • ashcindersmoke

    Ulcerate!!!

  • Irineu Carvalho

    It is funny how much I disagree with Kronos opinions all year long yet for the second year in a row I love his choice for AOTY.

    • Kronos

      I’m quite persuasive.

  • DEP is borderline brutalz. I am surprised.

    • Kronos

      I’m full of surprises.

    • [not a Dr]

      Brutally surprised?

  • Joshua Walker

    When I saw DEP was releasing a new album this year, I did not care. I have never listened to much of them because I generally did not like their sound/style. However, I decided to give it a try a couple months ago and did not like the first song much, so I quit listening after that song and didn’t think twice about it. I just decided to give it another try and it is much better than I realized. There is some nice variety to it and it really keeps me interested. Sometimes I am stubborn and don’t want to give a band enough of a chance and I am thinking this was one of those cases. I need to remember that I didn’t even like Opeth the first couple of times I listened to them in the early 2000’s. Thanks for convincing me to give it another try.

  • Grymm

    You were right about the lack of overlap, and also correct about your assessment of The Haruspex. In fact, I’m listening to “Dismantling the Throne” for the umpteenth time on the bus ride home as I type this.

    Great list!

  • Kelli Caltabiano

    where is king Fleshgod Apocalypse

    • Phew, I was getting worried.

      • Grymm

        I’m sorry. It’s my fault.

        See, I was saying “king fleshgod apocalypse” in front of my mirror, and Kelli showed up in her bridal attire. I now have the entire Fleshgod Apocalypse discography… on cassette.

        You could have at least brought me a bloody mary, damnit.

      • madhare

        Kelli is probably a replicant. Oh wait, that probably depends whether she’s from the directors cut or not.

        • basenjibrian

          Nah. She is a Host who has been infected by Maeve with the virus of true consciousness.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      You should keep this up for the whole year

      • The Nerd.

        Just let it become a running meme.

    • Alastair McAlpine

      Look, whilst I share Kelli’s sentiment (why no Fleshgod love, fools?), I don’t share her persistence, nor her bizarre syntax.

      Kelli, if it will make you feel any better, king Fleshgod Apocalypse was number 3 on my list…

  • Peter

    Nice to see Frontierer getting some love here. Crazy brutal album.

    • Kronos

      They should have another coming in 2017. Watch this space, I’ll be reviewing.

  • Luke_22

    Thanks for the heads-up on the awesome Departe and Unfathomable Ruination. And also for reminding me of the greatness of DEP and why I used to love them. Dissociation is incredible.

  • Reese Burns

    That little tidbit of information about In Flames made me cringe, die, then cringe again.

    • I just took it as yet another confirmation of my long-held belief that Dark Tranquillity is better than In Flames.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    From the Unfathomable Ruination vs Gomorrah vs Wormed triple threat, I think Wormed takes the cake, with Ruination not far behind. Still, all three make for great workout albums.

    Brutal list Kronos. But Deathspell Omega kicks Plebeian Grandstand’s ass any day.

    • Kronos

      False Highs was the best deathspell album released this year.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Fight fight fight

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Welp, someone needs to make a poll!

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Snap

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          DSO would win

          • gus rodrigues

            I haven’t listened to plebeian grandstand so I cannot have an opinion. But definetely DsO would win this battle…

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Arrrggg OMG that zealotry cover with the giant sky anus!!! It’s the most brutal thing on your list.
    You are full of surprises I thought DT was going be your #1 and that Jute Gyte would’ve snuck in somewhere

    • Kronos

      Perdurance is not quite as good as the last album.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        I’ve only just understood that album and love it. Will defiantly be checking out their other stuff

    • I hope 2017 heralds the birth of a band called Sky Anus.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Then there’s the Zhrine cover art, which, as I commented at the time, has a rather vulvic look.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        I’ll take artful vulvic over sky anus any day!

        • Name’s Dalton

          Shocker!

          • dedseed1

            I see what you did there

  • Shrümpelstiltskin

    I want a Fair to Midland reunion more than anything ever. They were the best.

    • AgonMcDuck

      My God, I love Fair to Midland. Sadly I think Darroh is too busy with his family at the moment. Iirc the other members have a new project but I haven’t heard much from it and it just won’t be the same without Darroh.

  • AndySynn

    Another “huzzah” for The Haruspex.

    Another… “eh” for Dark Tranquillity. And a corresponding sad face emoticon to express my feelings about that.

    • gus rodrigues

      never quite understood Dark Tranquitity as some people on this site. respect their opinion nonetheless… probably it is my fault. fnord!

    • Grymm

      I was mostly “meh” about the new Dark Tranquillity myself. For me, it didn’t click much (save for “The Absolute”, which is awesome… and a bonus track). But a solid list otherwise!

      • AndySynn

        If they went more in that direction (“pulling a Katatonia”, if you will) I’d be totally cool with it. I feel like their sound needs a big shakeup to refresh it.

        “Atoma” definitely wasn’t a bad album imo, just pretty stock. But then I actually think WATV was criminally underrated, and the last time DT actually produced a bunch of stand out tracks (“The Fatalist”, Archangelsk, “Iridium”, etc).

  • Alex

    Said like Cartman out of breath “you guys I’m seriously, cattle decapitation just announced on metal cruise” can we set up an AMG meeting spot to be super nerds on the boat? Because I want to.

  • jolly cooperation

    You promised a new Seputus record review :’c

    • Kronos

      Sorry.

  • Innit Bartender

    Ok I get it: Vektor are good. Now I really have to go and listen to that album…

  • One More Thing

    I love this list. Thanks for all the great reviews throughout the year! You turned me on to some awesome bands.

    • Kronos

      Thanks for reading!

  • The Unicorn

    With Vektor peppering most of your lists, wanted to mention their
    FB drama. The band just quit on Dave. Sad to put out such a masterpiece and split, yet another casualty to 2016….but Dave vows to carry the Vektor franchise onward…

  • flipper2gv

    I still don’t get Dillinger Escape Plan. One day I hope.

    • Kronos

      The song that turned me was “Phone Home”. After I heard that one I was hooked.

  • Scourge

    I, for one, support your Atoma love. I think all the naysayers can’t take a step back and look at things from the perspective of traditional songwriting in the context of extreme metal. We spend so much time trying to avoid anything that might be likened to “pop” arrangements musically and lyrically that when something like Atoma comes along, I can understand metal listeners not recognizing inherent quality within those parameters simply because they’re looking right past it out of the habitual search for something new or different or weird or whatever. Sometimes good is good without one of those qualifying adjectives. I think Atoma has the best traditional pop songwriting of any metal this year and I mean that in a 100% positive way, and BECAUSE of that it’s one of my favorite albums this year. The dichotomy or disconnect between the expectations of extreme metal and pop is maybe where this album is lost on so many.

  • Kryopsis

    To be honest, I never bought into The Dillinger Escape Plan hype when they first appeared. Revisiting the band’s work years later following your review of ‘Dissociation’ made me appreciate the music. I actually bought the album after spinning it on Google Play and it’s definitely an unexpected highlight of this year. I guess you never appreciate a good thing until it’s gone? Anyway, given the calibre of the musicians in The Dillinger Escape Plan, I’m sure we’ll see more projects like Killer Be Killed in the future (but preferably without the camo shorts).

    On a related note, I’m still not sure whether Killer Be Killed falls closer to Pantera, Sylosis or Soilwork…

    • Kronos

      Ben Weinman (who writes the majority of Dillinger’s songs) has a new prog rock group called Giraffe Tongue Orchestra. I haven’t heard their whole record yet but they’re worth checking out.

  • SegaGenitals

    Gomorrah left me cold when I first gave it a spin early this year. I gave it another go around after seeing it on this list, and was much impressed. Some raunchy, barbed wire in the pee hole shit.

    • Kronos

      They’re a band to keep an eye on.

  • jersey devil

    I think this is the best of the lists of best albums of 2016! (except for Dillinger, sorry). I learned some new ones here–like Gomorrah and Plebeian Grandstand albums were awesome.

    • Kronos

      Thanks!

  • motobyte

    Z&A was a great surprise this year. Very catchy.