steel druhmWell, it looks like we made it to the end of another year of music, mayhem and interweb tomfoolery! And while 2016 kicked most of our asses in unpleasant ways, it was an outstanding year for metal music. In fact, I think it was the best overall since I joined the AMG meat grinder way back in 2010. So good was the quality of material released that I ended up with a shocking yearly rating average just shy of 3.3. That’s obscene and scandalous for someone who prides himself on being a tough reviewer, but what could I do? I was looking to hand out brutally bruising scores, but the albums that landed in my bin were mostly good to great and few were my opportunities to bash, mash and malign1. That means I’ll be approaching 2017 with a mighty chip on my shoulder and woe to the bands that incur the wrath ov Steel.

Website-wise, we launched a massive growth initiative and hired a boatload of young, hungry and masochistic new writers who we’ve been slowly beating into shape via the AMG Gauntlet (metalcore, sleep deprivation and hobo wine). With all the new bodies, we’ve been able to cover more material and increase our post rate, and our readership has grow accordingly. Changes are inevitable with a labor of love endeavor like this, but we always try to uphold the AMG brand and keep the writing quality sky high. For assisting in this crusade I owe a hearty hail to all the newbies who stepped in and accepted the Yoke of Editorial Judgment with good grace and a minimum of rebellion while producing quality content.

Further horns go out to our senior staff who continue to deliver excellent metal journalism at cut-rate prices. And no year-end reflection would be complete without a big thanks to the man who made all this possible – AMG Himself. Though his career obligations often render him an absentee overlord, this is and always will be his dysfunctional monkey farm, and we just work here tending the filthy monkeys. Here’s hoping circumstances allow for a bigger serving of AMG‘s cynical tirades in the shiny new year.

As for our wacky audience, your continued readership is appreciated as always and your insightful, humorous, 99.67% troll-free comments and rampaging unicornery (and post-unicorn penguining) are especially cherished. Stay golden, ponyboys and ponygirls. Now on with the highly subjective Listeria.


(ish) Redemption // The Art of Loss – When it came to classic prog-metal, Redemption really pushed my emo buttons with the ginormous and ambitious The Art of Loss. This is the prog “super group” at their best, with poignant, compelling songs piled one atop another. The thick blanket of introspective melancholy covering the album is almost too much to bear, but the song craft and palpable emotions cannot be denied. This is an album to lose yourself in after a crushing loss so you can experience kinship with its downcast beauty. As dark as this is, the songs are enormously catchy and extremely well arranged, and even at a stunning hour and 15 minutes, the album works and Ray Alder gives a particularly noteworthy performance, sounding care worn and world weary throughout. After a year of constant replays, I realize I should have scored it higher, but that run-time is daunting.

#10. Northern Crown // The Others – One of the real surprises of 2016, Northern Crown rode from out of the wastelands and trampled me under with their Kamelot meets Candlemass meets kitchen sink style. The way the album leaps from style to style keeps the listener off balance and gives what is essentially a traditional doom album a refreshing unpredictability. The combination of what is expected and what isn’t made this an album I had to spin for other AMG writers just to gauge their reactions. Best of all, the epic doom is epic, the heaviness is there and it’s all wrapped up with a healthy dose of class, polish and 80s arcade sound effects. You heard me!

#9. Insomnium // Winter’s Gate – What can you say about a band that writes a 45-minute song you can listen to again and again? If they were out of prove something, they certainly did. This is one of the best melo-death outings of the past few years and it restored my faith in Insomnium just as I was thinking of taking the first tentative step off the band wagon. They succeed by following the footsteps of their inspiration – Edge of Sanity‘s mighty Crimson opus, and incorporating ideas outside of their usual palate. One can hear traces of Ahab, Anathema, Iron Maiden and Pink Floyd as the song ebbs and flows like the tide, always keeping you aloft and engaged without ever losing the band’s core sound. That’s quite a monumental accomplishment.

#8. Spiritus Mortis // The Year is One – In a year steeped in great doom, long-running second tier act, Spiritus Mortis somehow found it within themselves to rise up and hang with the best of the beasts. The Year is One is like a new band entirely and they put on a doom metal clinic, stealing from all their ancestors as well as acts like Grand Magus, Warning and Ghost to arrive at an addicting collection of rocking doom monsters. “I Am a Name on Your Funeral Wreath” is one of the best doom songs of 2016 and there’s plenty more goodness where that came from. If you thought Khemmis was the only doom game in town this year, you need to join with this album. It would be wise, my friend.

#7. Witherscape // The Northern Sanctuary – Dan Swanö built this! So stellar and prolific is the man’s storied career, saying more seems like a waste of keystrokes. The second collaboration between Mr. Man and Ragner Widerberg is another progressive melo-death masterpiece full of memorable hooks, stellar musicality and first-rate writing. There’s a healthy nod to Crimson running throughout, but this is bigger, bolder and more fully realized than even that timeless classic. Swanö continues to evolve and improve as a vocalist and though his dramatic cleans are a dead ringer for Michael McDonald (Yah Mo Burn This Place to the Ground), there’s no denying the man’s talent. And his pal Ragner is a multi-instrumental Viking to be feared in his own right. His wild guitar-work borders on Symphony X levels of WOW-wank and together the pair create emotional and melodic music heavy enough to satisfy the discerning melo-death snob.

#6. Sumerlands // Sumerlands – In a year where I rarely had to wear a business suit, I spent an inordinate amount of time listening to “sport coat metal.” Yes, Sumerlands is a shameless throwback act seeking inspiration from the “thinking man’s metal” of the late 80s and early 90s, but wow did they nail the sound and feel of the period! Songs like “Seventh Seal” and “The Guardian” exist at the confluence point of Savatage, Wicked MarayaSanctuary and Ozzy‘s early solo works, but they weave in an interesting doom element to make everything feel more serious and dark. The atmosphere the music generates is truly inspired and Phil Swanson (Hour of 13, Briton Rites) gives his best vocal performance ever, channeling Ozzy and Warrel Dane in eerie ways. This is a short, sweet blast from the past with something a bit magical going on that’s hard to put into words. Retro fan or not, hear this.

#5. Anthrax // For All Kings – 2016 saw many 80s thrash acts getting their shit back together and releasing great material, but none could touch these Brooklyn/Queens chuckleheads. Sure, 2011s Worship Music was a promising return to form, but it’s For All Kings that truly ushers in the new era of Anthrax. Sounding like a band reborn and back in their classic groove, most of this material feels like it should have arrived between Among the Living and Persistence of Time instead of 2016. That in no way lessens the awesome sauce, as this is the most instantly lovable Anthrax outing in decades. Sharp, edgy yet always catchy-as-hell, this is the Anthrax I grew up with, full of punky, New York attitude and more hooks than the meat packing district. If not for an overlong run-time padded with a few B-cuts, this would be the perfect metal album.

#4. Dark Tranquillity // Atoma – If there was any lingering doubt who was the best of the “Gothenburg sound” pioneers, Atoma puts all speculation to rest. After a few less than stellar outings, Dark Tranquillity reset, regrouped and released this treasure trove of classic DT material. Atoma isn’t so much a direction shift as it is vets hitting their tried-and-true formula harder and more accurately than they have in a years. Every cut is loaded with DT‘s timeless cold, isolating feeling and the writing is as slick, vibrant and accessible, all while retaining plenty of death metal heft. So good is Atoma it’s hard to believe this is the same unit that gave us lackluster platters like Construct. Whatever changed, I hope it stays changed!

#3. Khemmis // Hunted – This one will be #1 on many lists and it certainly deserves the accolades. I don’t know how this relatively young, inexperienced act went from a killer debut to a mammoth sophomore release in such a short time, but the music speaks for itself and the growth is staggering. Shucking much of the stoner influence that adorned Absolution, Hunted goes right for the epic doom bullseye, adopting a style in line with Pallbearer and While Heaven Wept. The result is a magnum opus of opulent and regal doom that belies the band’s experience. Cuts like “Beyond the Door” and the massive title track could be Songs o’ the Year and the quality is impressive throughout. This is doom written for doom fans, by doom fans, and though the band is hyped to Mars and beyond, the music backs it all up. These cats are already miles ahead of most in the genre and it seems they can only go down from here. Prove me wrong, please.

Messa - Belfry#2. Messa // Belfry – I’m not even sure what caused me to sample this promo, but damn am I glad I did! This unheralded Italian act takes classic doom and adroitly mixes it with ambient drone, traces of Sun O))), trve metal and occult rock, creating a writhing, grasping monster straight from the mind of H.P. Lovecraft. The diverse moods and atmospheres are numerous and breathtaking, the fusion of styles is seamless, and there are many moments that scream “artistry” to the rafters. If you’ve yet to grapple with this altered beast, be sure to hear “Hour of the Wolf” and the mind-trip that is “Blood.” This is a band to watch closely and listen to obsessively. So good.

#1. SIG:AR:TYR // Northen – You know it’s a strange year when a black metal album ends up in my top spot but appears nowhere on other AMG lists. Maybe I’m just a sucker for Hammerheart homages, but Northen hit me like a Christmas morning Viking raid and all these months later I’m still loving it across the Nine Worlds. SIG:AR:TYR always excelled at crafting beautifully engrossing Viking metal filled with folksy richness, but founder Daemonskald surpassed his past epics with Northen. The sound is bigger, the scope is massive and the songs are fully realized and compelling. The core sound still hovers between Bathory‘s pagan epic Hammerheart and the best of Falkenbach, but this is much more musical, with beautiful acoustic refrains, soaring solo-work, and stunning harmonies appearing in abundance. Despite all these embellishments the music retains that svper kvlt, one-man black metal band vibe which reaffirms their Bathory lineage. Northen makes me want to sack towns up and down the Long Island coast, and though I’ve been told to cease and desist these wanton depredations, this album simply won’t let me. Let’s drink to Thor, then drink some MAWRRR!

SIG:AR:TYR - Northen

 

Honorable Mentions

• Esben and the Witch // Older Terrors – Lush, exquisite goth-darkwave with haunting moods and dreamy vocals.
• Eternal Champion // The Armor or IreBrilliant trve metal from some of the guys in Sumerlands. Feel the loincloth!
• Dark Forest // Beyond the Veil – Rousing, energetic power metal infused with NWoBHM goodness. Here be the gallops.
• Fates Warning // Theories of Flight – Ray Alder does it again, but with his main band. Polished prog done right.
• Desaster // The Oath of an Iron Ritual – Slobbering necro-thrash with NWoBHM flair and a righteous love of overkill.
• Metal Church// XI – A highly anticipated comeback that works due to gritty writing and “Magic” Mike Howe.
• Spiritual Beggars // Sunrise to SundownDirty hippie rock done so right, I may just join a commune.
• Arcana 13 // Danza Macabre – Mega-catchy Ghost-doom from Italy that really tickled my tombstone.
• The Reticent // On the Eve of a Goodbye – One of the most honest and emotionally raw albums you’ll ever hear.
• Theocracy // Ghost Ship – The choir boys offer salvation via the best power metal release o’ the year.

Song o’ the Year

Messa – “Hour of the Wolf” – This titan ever so slightly edged out Borknagar‘s massive “Winter Thrice” for the title.

Jorn o’ the Year

Jorn // Heavy Rock Radio – Sad as it is to say, I may have listened to this collection of Jornified rock covers more than anything else this year. The CD never left my truck and there’s something about the Jornster covering Kate Bush‘s “Running Up That Hill” and The Eagles‘ “Hotel California” that’s just too Bizarro World to ignore. Likewise, his amped up take on Paul Stanley‘s obscure ditty “Live to Win” became my personal anthem for 2016. As the sage lyrics advise, “Live to win, til you die.” Profound stuff. Important stuff.

Disappointment o’ the Year

Metallica // Hardwired… to Self DestructMetallica has been dead to me since the devastating combo of St. Anger and the tragically insightful Some Kind of Monster documentary, but even I had to grudgingly admit there were decent moments on this much hyped double platter. Unfortunately, those decent moments are buried beneath reams of excess, puffery and pablum, further proving the band never met a song they wanted to edit. I’m left wondering if Lars and Co. even possess the self-awareness to realize how badly they were schooled this year by Megadeth and Anthrax (and TestamentDeath Angel, etc.).

 

Show 1 footnote

  1. The newbies were gifted with all the crappy metalcore and post-core.

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  • Grymm

    Excellent list. Messa was an impressive find, and Witherscape is incredible.

    • Willem Stander

      Just bought Messa, now I’m ready to Boogie™

  • Grymm

    Cue Brazilian woman with an unhealthy fixation on a certain Italian death metal band in 3… 2… 1…

    • Monsterth Goatom

      When it finally appears on AMG’s list it’ll be myocardial infarction time for her.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    I am so happy you stuck with SIG:AR:TYR. Your review for Northen was spot-on, and I am surprised and disappointed at the lack of list-time the band has been getting online. This list is epic if there were ever a word to describe it.

    Also, why no fleshgod
    http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d04504c8ea1eb998ff158d942d729f417dc0d3ac72ca88698af6da7d444f5898.jpg

    • Grymm

      O. M. G.

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        You frickin’ called it lmao

        • Grymm

          I know, and I’m so sorry.

    • Why no Carlton?

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        touché

    • Iiiiiiiiin West Philadelphia, born and raised, by my drums I blasted away most of my days…

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        Brickin’ out blastin’ masterin’ all flat
        And compressing some t-tracks til they sound like crap

    • André Snyde Lopes

      HE HAS THREE HANDS!

      • Alexandre Barata

        I see four hands, but no AMG AOTY

    • Mephisto

      Fuck the Prince, I’m king! Where’s my crown!!!

    • The Unicorn

      you are a Jedi master!!

  • Joshua Walker

    Nice list, Steel Druhm! I loved the Northen album as well, with Krossanes and Last Ship Sails probably being my two favorite songs. Thanks for all the great reviews this year!

  • Maybe 2017 will be the year I remember Summerlands!

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    You rock Druhm.
    I’m going to come back here a bit later with a smart arse comment but for the time being I’m getting my spandex and denim on and will revel in your dissapointment and song O the year!

    • Ferrous Beuller

      Dude – never reveal in your disappointment, that’s a one way ticket to a night in the cells. Trust me.

    • Ferrous Beuller

      Ah a timely edit and now don’t I look the silly sausage. Touche, sir. Touche.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        I have no idea what your talking about… I reveal in my disappointment all the time!

  • Kill The King

    Fantastic list! Your #1 choice still kicks my ass, and I only discovered them because of you!

  • Ferrous Beuller

    It’s nice to see Spiritual Beggars getting a hat tip – I played that relentlessly all summer.

    Also, I’ve never reviewed a single metalcore album… come at me, Steel-bro.

    • Welcome to the Year o’ Morecore.

      • Ferrous Beuller

        Some men just want to watch the world burn…

    • GardensTale

      Had that album on my list. It reminded me of when I was a kid and was allowed to pick an album to play while drying the dishes (no dishwasher at the time). I always went for 1 of 3 albums, among which was Deep Purple In Rock. “Sunrise” is practically the hippy twin of that album.

    • Challenge accepted.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    So, like, if Jorn put out a disc covering the entirety of Space:1992, would that finally render Gloryhammer acceptable in your eyes?

    • No comment.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Heavy space radio

  • Daniel Albert

    For a moment I thought Jorn wouldn’t have any mentions this year. I was wrong, obviously.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      As I’ve said here before
      One does not simply un-hear Jorn’s Kate bush cover… be forewarned…

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Hmmm…. Well, I bit down on a stick and gave it a listen. I kind of like Jorn’s cover. It suits his voice well, and reminds me of a Top 40 “hard” rock anthem from the eighties, which makes me kinda nostalgic. It hasn’t made me a Jornicator, but I’m intrigued.

      • Borealian

        More or less striking than Angra’s ol’ Kate Bush cover?

  • Monsterth Goatom

    If the thunderous opening of Northen doesn’t get your back hair singing, nothing will!

  • Dymanic

    Y no Pantsgod Trouserocalypse

  • LExpoZiod

    I seem to be the only one who was unimpressed by the Anthrax record. Granted, I’m not a fan of the band, but it didn’t strike me as particularly interesting when I heard it. Must give it another spin.

    • Vic279

      My thoughts exactly. I certainly placed Testaments’ release above For All Kings. Maybe its a grower?

    • Name’s Dalton

      Nah.

    • IamRipper

      I’m a huge Anthrax fan, and I didn’t like it either. I found it boring, and the riffs simplistic and lazy. My biggest disappointment of the year.

    • I’m with you. In my opinion, even slightly disappointing (in comparison to their last record which was a killer) Testament is much more interesting than the new Anthrax.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    I Thought Death Angel would pop up here, but I can see there was some formidable competition. I found “Lost”, together with Anthrax’s “Monster at the End”, among the most infectious, if not the most typically thrash-like, songs from 2016.

    • Bas

      Its a good album, but for me the new testament is the better album as a whole. Lost is a great song though !
      (i should really check out the new antrax..)

  • Reese Burns

    !
    I had completely forgotten about Northern Crown! I loved it when it came out, then somehow it completely slipped through the cracks. Thanks, Steel!

  • GardensTale

    Steel, thanks for keeping the blog running smoothly and for occasionally disinfecting the lacerations across my back from the whip! Great list, I like all your picks to varying degrees, although I haven’t heard Messa, Redemption and the SIG:AR:TYR album, so I got some homework to do.

    • Thanks, Garden. Now kindly report to HR for re-Nedification.

  • VikingSchism

    Northern was the first album I listened to because of a review on this site, and I love it. The vocal style isn’t my favourite, but there’s something about the tone of the guitars that I really love, and it has some really surprisingly catchy pieces in some songs. Also Hunted is brilliant

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Nice list. I figured most of these albums would show up here, but the ranking caught me off-guard. Well done, sir.

  • Bandido

    this is my list…. cheers guys!!

    10. Gomorrah – The Haruspex
    9. Blood Incantation – Starspawn
    8. Megadeth – Dystopia
    7. Ihsahn – Arktis
    6. Hyperion – Seraphical Euphony
    5. Inquisition……
    4. Hail Spirit Noir – Mayhem in Blue
    3. Fates warning – Theories of Flight
    2. Witherscape – the Northern Sanctuary
    1. Vektor – Terminal Redux

    With mentions to Opeth, Thy Catafalque, Spiritus Mortis, Vainaja, insomnium, bolzer. I dont see a really cloudy year as Madam X ….. So much fun listening good albums this 2016 …..

    • TheTransmuted

      I quite like this list. Particularly your number one. Album has been warping my face for many months.

      • Bandido

        if you liked Terminal Redux….. you should check Xoth – Invasion of the Tentacube…..

        • TheTransmuted

          Great recommendation. Listened to it last night, actually. Freakin’ fantastic!

    • The Unicorn

      Excellent list, have to agree on #9, 6, 5, 2 & 1, all big ones for me too.

    • Reese Burns

      I like that Inquisition was just “….” ;)

  • Kelli Caltabiano

    why not king of fleshgod apocalypse

  • TheTransmuted

    Messa is fantastic. I remember staring dumbly at the wall for a solid ten minutes during the entirely epic beginning of this record. Very excited to see how they develop. Great list overall! Khemmis live in my hometown and are my jam of jams.

  • sir_c

    Good to see Northern Crown gets some attention.

  • AndySynn

    What, no Godflesh?

    • Grymm

      Why did it take this long for someone to say this?!

      • AndySynn

        I’m upset it took me this long too.

    • The Unicorn

      I did not even know they had a new one out?

    • dedseed1

      No Clouds?

  • Kmill

    Well I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s #1, Enshine. So looks like I need to make a purchase today. I kept meaning to check this out throughout the year, so now I have no excuse.

    • That Enshine album holds up so well, I’m still spinning it. Hopefully they followup with something new in 2017.

  • Nick Maestas

    Hell yea the new Sig Ar Tyr album is so good! It impressed me, I think Blood Incanantations’ Starspawn may be one of my favorites along with Atoma, Trancendence, and Winter’s Gate. This year was like one of the best for metal but oddly the year i bought the least music so I gotta catch up. The new Desaster album was also one of the best too i loved that one

  • 1 Screaming Dizbuster

    As good as Messa is (and it’s great) my favorite Italian Doom album this year was Dirge by Raspail. It features among its members Marco Soellner (Vocals/Guitar – Klimt 1918) and Giuseppe Orlando (former drummer of Novembre). It also is a very atmospheric doom style but oppressive instead of occult as Messa did.

    • Bas

      Thanks for the info, I will check it out. It has already been a good year for doom, especially italian doom.

      • 1 Screaming Dizbuster

        Make sure you use their Bandcamp page, the Spotify stream has a couple of the songs cut short

    • ashcindersmoke

      Wow thanks for the tip really great stuff

  • Serjien

    Awesome list! Khemmis and Dark Forest were my favorites this year.

  • Diego Molero

    Really thought that Messa or Khemmis would end in #1, totally forgot about SIG:AR:TYR. This is probably the list I disagree more except for a couple of albums, but is a fine damn list, I give you that.

  • mtlman1990

    I forgot about SIG.AR.TYR. ! How could I?

  • D.F.A.

    If Opeth is anywhere near AMG’s list, I’m leaving and never coming back.

  • WIRED_Metal

    This is totally cliche, but true: I am a longtime reader, first time poster. I created a Disqus account specifically to say that the Ten(ish) lists you and Madam X compiled have turned me on to nine albums that I will be checking out. The other Ten(ish) lists have introduced me to eight more, and sent me down rabbit holes that led to two or three others from past years (for example: How am I only now hearing Vast Oceans Lachrymose?). Speaking more broadly, AMG’s insightful, intelligent reviews have introduced me to an amazing array of music, and I thank you for that.

    • Very glad to have you as a commenter, and appreciate the readership. Cheers!

    • Glad to see you commenting and finding good stuff. Don’t be a stranger!

    • Ta2dlam

      I was only turned onto Vast Oceans Lachrymose last year through another post on here and had the exact same reaction. It’s crazy how much music there is in the world to sift through which is why this site is a must visit for me every single day.

  • Malev Draizhen

    Finally! The list I was waiting to catch up on some trve, doom and classic outings.

  • The Unicorn

    My brother in metal – you genuinely just made my 2016 brighter with your #1 pick. Amen to your choice. Also, ‘Thrax, Khemmis, etc. Solid, solid list. If I had to do it again, would have madew the same #1 pick, but alas, got hold of it after the list was authored…

    Here’s mine, skål!!!:

    10. Ripper “Experiment of Existence” – No doubt some of the best technical thrash I have heard in more years than I can remember. This truly knocked Vektor off the map for me this time around. The bass guitar work is dizzying and overall the sound and feel is pure energy.

    9. Spylacopa “DEMON JOHN” – As stated, pure audio-heroin. A really gripping and emotional masterpiece from the dude in Candiria. This is not happy music at all, but it is really very stripped and raw, you can tell this comes from deep within the darkness of his soul.

    8. Marsh Dweller “The Weight of Sunlight” – Amazing BM release, really very cool and unique feel. Does the same thing for me mentally that Nechochwen, Obsequiae and Wilderun did for me last year. A real sonic journey that grips through to the end.

    7. Inquisition “Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith” – So…Froggy sort of died. Not completely, but the change although jarring at first once settled in became something I welcome. Inquisition continues to be the force to be reckoned with in the sea of all that is BM today. Truly original.

    6. Urfaust “Empty Space Meditation”– This is some really harsh and ripping stuff. The dudes voice sounds like the howling winter wind. The entire release is pummelling and if there is a personal favorite this year for the bleak winter drives, this is the one.

    5. Saor “Guardians” – More expertly crafted folk/BM. This is one of those releases that ranks up there with the others mentioned above under Marsh Dweller. I would encourage everyone to download this one and give it a solid listen through a few times. Very rewarding with each subsequent spin.

    4. Eight Bells “Landless” – Insanely cool stoner/doom/funeral/BM/insert genre here amalgamation with really solid and engaging female vocals. One of those creeper releases that you don’t realize at first blush how grand it really is, but you end up going back again and again.

    3. 40 Watt Sun “Wider Than the Sky”– I heard a lot of mixed feedback on this after I made up my mind. Seems two camps exist, lovers and haters. Im of the lovers, to me – theres nothing boring about this, it is the space and the use of silence and dynamic that makes it so emotionally effective. Ive listened to this more times than I can possibly count.

    2. True Widow “Avvolgere” – Without a doubt, some of the best stoner-gaze/doom I have ever, ever heard. Plodding, patient, and extremely well written. The use of both male and female vocals is just icing on the cake. This is one of those releases I will wear out for myself, no question. I will burn this sucker out.

    1. Khemmis “Hunted” – A true doom tour de force. An utter masterpiece. There is zero reason why any metalhead should not own and appreciate this release for years to come. This will go down as a true classic. Just incredible right down to the amazing album art.

    • Interesting list. Seeing all the love going out to Khemmis, tempts me give this album another listen.

      • The Unicorn

        You must, it is just great!

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Cool list, I really like that ripper album too, I thought I would’ve seen it referenced a few more times than it has.

      • Luke_22

        I really enjoyed that Ripper album, minus the extreme brickwalling, but I must admit it kind of dropped off my listening radar during the later months of the year.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Same didn’t make my best of list but I got good value from it

        • The Unicorn

          That happened for me with Vektor.

      • The Unicorn

        Thanks, I agree. It is a ripper for sure, no pun intended.

    • GardensTale

      40 Watt Sun was on my list too. It’s a strange album for me, normally it would be too sparse, slow and spacious for my taste. But I used it to drown out the sound of a party to be able to fall asleep, and slowly but surely it started to resonate with me. Certainly a unique album in my collection.

      • The Unicorn

        I lost myself in it so many times. The sparseness is captivating.

    • Luke_22

      Need to check out that True Widow album, really enjoyed their last effort. Dust Moth released a pretty cool album called Scale this year that you might enjoy.

      • The Unicorn

        I will check it out, thanks!

      • The Unicorn

        Loving Dust Moth, thanks mate!

        • Luke_22

          No worries dude. Glad you dug it.

    • SegaGenitals

      I need to revisit Marsh Dweller.

      • The Unicorn

        Def do, great release.

    • Ta2dlam

      Totally missed Ripper. Hell yeah!

  • You are the man of fine taste, but I’m surprised that you’ve ranked Redemption higher than Fates Warning. Maybe my expectations were too high after Snowfall on the Judgement Day (top 10 classic-prog metal albums IMO), but I’d place The Art of Loss on the ‘disappointments’ side.

  • Kryopsis

    Messa is indeed a surprise. ‘Hour of the Wolf’ reminds me of hearing ‘Sulfur Giants’ by Jess and the Ancient Ones for the first time.

  • Iain Gleasure

    So if the Madam put Anthrax higher than Steel does this make her more trve?

    • NEVER!!

      • Iain Gleasure

        What about more New York?

        • I’m from NY and she’s from South Africa…but maybe.

        • I was born to be a New Yorker!

          • Willem Stander

            South Africa whoop :D

      • Hush you!

  • Requiem

    My brain is currently in 2012-2015 territory, as I’m in the process of digging through old reviews of yours to find gems I’ve missed. As such, I have no clue what my list this year would be- to give you an idea, a few weeks ago I finally had Sulphur Aeon’s Gateway to the Antisphere click with me, and yesterday I was impressed and weirded out by The Body’s Christs, Redeemers.

    As much as we whinge about the bad stuff, there really is an excessive and overwhelming amount of amazing music out there. It’s almost a pain…

    • De2013

      Yeah, Sulphur Aeon’s Gateway to the Antisphere is awesome!

  • Irineu Carvalho

    AOTY is Conduit by King Goat. It is so good that it should be illegal.

  • Malcolm in the Middle X

    For some reason I was expecting more Katatonia in these top tens. Granted, it may have been a great year for new releases. The Fall of Hearts is a masterpiece.

    • SegaGenitals

      Couldn’t agree more. I love the direction they are going.

    • DrewMusic

      Couldn’t agree more. I think they suffered from poor timing more than anything, the later half of the year threw so many good things our way and it got tough for erbody to remember good old Katatonia. It’s the only thing that makes sense. I mean good God, every other list has Atoma, but no love for Katatonia? Baffling. Just baffling.

      • Oscar Albretsen

        Good point. Really was a great album, but alot of people just forgot about it by the end of the year.

  • Alex

    Completely freaking agree about sig:ar:tyr. So solid everytime.

  • Chris

    Great list, I hadn’t heard Northern Crown before and really dig it. Enjoyed your reviews all year, thanks for lightening my wallet.

    I can’t for the life of me understand all the Messa love though. There’s a couple good songs (Hour of the Wolf being the best) then a bunch of boring ambient noise. I suppose I just have a really low tolerance for that nonsense.

  • DrewMusic

    Minus the whole everybody dying and all the needless political invasions into all elements of life, 2016 was almost unspeakably kind to us. I don’t think I could do an “accurate” top ten list any justice (thanks to everyone at AMG for doing so instead!) I think mine would look something like this, tenth to first:

    Khemmis – Hunted
    Borknagar – Winter Thrice
    Insomnium – Winters Gate
    Katatonia – The Fall of Hearts
    Meshuggah – Koloss
    Clouds – Departe
    Netherbird – The Grand Voyage
    Anagnorisis – Peripetia
    Departe – Failure, Subside
    The Reticent – On the Eve of a Goodbye

    Saor gets an honorable mention for Guardians, largely because I’ve only given it a proper listen maybe twice so far. Either way, hell of a year. Assuming we all survive the coming days, there be some mighty big shoes for 2017 to fill and I’m pretty excited to see where metal goes from here. Hope everyone has an angry and metal new year m/

  • Willem Stander

    What a great list Sir Druhm! I have more music to listen too than I do years available! Having said that, here are my picks for 2016*.

    10) Insomnium – Winter’s Gate
    9) Animal As Leaders – The Madness Of Many
    8) Gomorrah – The Haruspex
    7) Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason
    6) Vektor – Terminal Redux
    5) King Goat – Conduit
    4) Hail Spirit Noir – Mayhem In Blue
    3) Virus – Memento Collider
    2) Haken – Affinity
    1) The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation

    *Really need to listen to Khemmis and Messa.

    • SegaGenitals

      Not sure why Virus doesn’t get more recognition.

      • [not a Dr]

        I think that Memento Collider would be my #1 if I wasn’t too lazy to actually make a list (or do anything else).

    • Oscar Albretsen

      I like “Affinity” a lot, too, just in kind of small bursts. Great musi, for sure.

  • Francesco Bordoni

    Man, you gotta just love how everywhere – in and out of the interwebbs – everyone is bitching about how much 2016 sucked balls for everyone, yet musically I found it to be definitely one of the most satisfying years in recent memory! End note: no love for Memento Collider? Virus? Any one? That album has been my jam all fucking year and it’s still growing on me!

    • Dead1

      I hate modernity and most modern metal but 2016 was one of the best yeas in metal in recent history.

    • dedseed1

      Made more $$ in 2k16 than I ever have before in my life, so even other than musicwise, wasn’t too shabby of a year at all. Btw, 2016 was also the year I started checking out AMG daily, so all around, GREAT fucking year!

  • Bas

    ok, my contribution to list mania.
    (i’m late to the party, but put it here because I am closer to Steel in metal preferences than to AMG… though Grymm, Madam X and Roquentin also usually come with stuff that I like or at least find very interesting).

    1. Claypool-Lennon delirium – monolith of phobos (not metal I know…)
    2. Spiritus Mortis – Year is one
    3. 11 Paranoias – Reliquary for a dreamed of world
    4. Vektor – Terminal Redux
    5. Darkher – Realms
    6. Thy Catafalque – Meta
    7. Wounded Kings – Visions in bone
    8. Oranssi Pazuzu – Varahtelija
    9. Mourning Beloveth – Rust & bone
    10. Testament – Brotherhood of the snake

    10ish: Death Angel / Darkthrone / Messa / Lord Vicar / Zun / Swans /
    Yawning man / Wretch / Motorpsycho / Castle / Nuke / Fates Warning ..

    EP of the year: Voivod – Post-society

    Disappointment – the new Sub Rosa album (not a bad album at all, others love it, but I just cant get into it, while i loved the previous one)

  • Dead1

    I thought you were the old school guy on AMG? I am a bit disappointed…

    • Not olde school enough for you?

      • Dead1

        Not even close. I thought you were a fellow throw back like moi.

        And Eternal Champion only got an honorable mention.

        I am gonna go back to my Iron Fist mags and cry in a corner all sad and alone.

  • Zadion

    Man, I know everybody is going to be commenting most on the actual list choices, but this list reinforces why you are my favorite writer on the site with that trademark wry wit and subtle humor that makes up virtually every sentence you pen. I gotta buy you a drink one day, Steely D

    P.S. your SOTY is dope.

    • Aww, shucks! Thanks muchly. I like drinks.

  • mmthmj

    Hey all, I’ve been a reader since early 2015. This site has become my go-to for metal. Finally got around to creating a profile so I could share my impeccable musical taste.

    And also to ask: Y no Flashdoug Oncologist?

    I’ve still got a lot to catch up on from 2016, but for all my fellow list junkies, here are my current Top 10(ish) in no real order:

    Blood Incantation – Starspawn
    Cobalt – Slow Forever
    Khemmis – Hunted
    Vektor – Terminal Redux
    Jute Gyte – Perdurance
    Messa – Belfry
    Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows
    Wormrot – Voices
    Wo Fat – Midnight Cometh
    Plebeian Grandstand – False Highs, True Lows

    Honorable Mentions:
    Vale of Pnath – II
    Ustalost – The Spoor of Vipers
    Tardigrada – Emotionale Odnis
    Nails – You Will Never Be One of Us
    Jassa – Lights in the Howling Wilderness
    Krallice – Hyperion and Prelapsarian

    EP of the Year:
    Ghost – Popestar

    Live Album by a band I finally got to see:
    SUNN 0))) – UNDEAD: Live in Russia
    (Turn it up loud. No, louder)

    Song of the Year:
    Cobalt – Hunt the Buffalo

    Cheers!

    • GardensTale

      Interesting list, I don’t know a few of those. I’ll have to check ’em out when slacking off at work tomorrow.

      • mmthmj

        Nice, hope you enjoy! My list is already in jeopardy. I gave first listens to SIG:AR:TYR, Mistur, Uada, Goatpsalm and Vainaja yesterday, so that could shake things up a bit.

    • Dudeguy Jones

      I love that Jassa album. One of my best.

      • mmthmj

        It’s really good. That mouth harp is genuinely disturbing

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Great to see Redemption get a mention, and while I liked Metallica as most disappointing of the year (because that album was crap) my only question is the logistics of “disappoinment,” because did you really expect that to be a great album? Did ANYONE? Next year, maybe you should consider a new category: “biggest pile of shit?”

  • WalrusKing

    Happy 2017 all! 2016 was the first full year for me following AMG after discovering you guys in May 2015. Im truly appreciative for all the metal I wouldn’t know about otherwise, reviews, and unicorns! While I usually don’t agree with everything the reviewers/commentators say I love this site because I feel everyone expresses their true opinions on metal and I heartily respect that! Here is my top 10 album list and again a happy new year to you all!

    10. Opeth- Sorceress
    9.Rimfrost-Rimfrost
    8.Hammers ov Misfortune- Dead Revolution
    7. Khemmis- Hunted
    6. Borknagar- Winter Thrice
    5. The Reticent- On the Eve ov a Goodbye
    4. Anaal Nathrakh- The Whole ov the Law
    3. Vektor- Terminal Redux
    2. Fleshgod Appocalypse- King
    1. Thrawsunblat- Metachthonia

    • Reese Burns

      These are all really good picks. Glad to see some more love for Thrawsunblat!

      • WalrusKing

        The review of Metachthonia also led me to Wanderer on the Continent of Saplings which probably ended up getting the most listening time from me than any other album this year. Thrawsunblat is great!

  • De2013

    Thank you Steel Druhm, really like your list. Messa, Witherscape, Khemmis, Sumerlands are some of my favorites too. And Insomnium is one of those I’d like to check out as well. Looking forward to your, as well as other AMG writers’, 2017 reviews.

    btw very anxious to see AMG’s ROTY :-)

    • Mephisto

      I think AMG is looking for his crown

  • contenderizer

    MAMMOTH WEED WIZARD BASTARD

    that is all

  • Adam

    Disappointments of the year need more mention of Dream Theater’s steaming pile of fetid boredom.

  • Basil Nolan

    Steel Druhm. Your list is king.

    And speaking of king… Fleshgod? anyone?

  • Monsterth Goatom

    It feels like Christmas again. We’re all sitting around waiting for the “big day”; which, in this case is the appearance of the Lord and Master’s Top 10 list. I’m interested to see if we’ll be bidden to come and adore the God of Flesh.

  • Unfathomable Procrastination

    Thanks for putting me onto some good stuff through this list. Northen can come home and fk my sister.

  • Sergio

    Good to see Hour of the Wolf get song of the year. It is so good

  • Nick Maestas

    I credit you with showing me Sig ar Tyr with the Godsaga review years ago and yea i still listen to them to this day

  • tool

    I really dig your tastes Druhm. As a listener of doom and epic metal there’s a good deal of overlap so I’m always following your recs.

    Thanks for Northern Crown. I had come across them a while ago but needed the reminder.

    I had a period of loving S:A:T but Northern hasn’t hit me yet. The last ones were more Agalloch-y while this one is more riffy folk/black.

    Messa, Khemmis, Spiritus are all on my list. Only thing sorely missing is Mountain Witch.