The AMG Staff Picks the Top Ten Records o’ 2016: Where Did These Clowns Come From, Anyway?

It’s that time of year. The time of year when Steel Druhm reminds that I, indeed, run a blog and that, yes, I am expected to read it. Occasionally, he suggests, I should even write something for it! Alas, 2016 has been busy shitting all over me, as well as everything except this blog. Lemmy, George Michael, Prince and David Bowie have all died. Vladimir Putin has successfully managed to dare Donald Trump to stick his tongue to the frozen nuclear warhead that is a new Cold War. And I have an all-consuming job that is figuratively eating everything but itself. Yet everything is calm here at Angry Metal Guy. Surprisingly, we’ve managed to make it to the end of the year relatively intact and about as mentally stable as we were last year. This is due to the influx of new writers, many of whom are featured with Top 10(ish) lists for the very first time on this blog. Unfortunately, we’ve got so many fucking writers now that we might as well be Metal Hammer (or Atheismo forbid, Metal Wani), putting out the Top 500 Albums Released in 2016. These lists essentially amount to a fucking gold star for participation for all the bands and everyone involved in this whole endeavor should be ashamed.

Moving beyond the outrage. I have some thank yous to begrudgingly bestow upon certain persons without whom this blog would probably not exist. First and foremost, Steel DruhmMadam X, and Dr. A.N. Grier deserve particular thanks for keeping this blog afloat during the year, and for herding this motley crew of new kids who like fucking metalcore toward publication deadlines and as many DR4 mastering jobs as they can eat. Without the hard work of these three, extremely dedicated and capable administrators, gentlemen and scholars—Madam X included— would be a distant memory. And therefore, it is important to recognize and thank the hard work of these people in addition to the work put in by our dedicated staff of writers—new and old.

A special shoutout need also be given to Sentynel our dedicated server guy. Without him, we’d still be overloading our old host and no one would actually be able to read the blog. So in addition to all the content published by our writers, it’s important that we acknowledge that without Mr. Sentynel‘s work, this blog would be paddleless and up Shit Creek, as it were.

Lastly to all our readers new and old: thank you for showing up and reading our stuff every day! It’s wonderful that you guys have been so patient with everything—except the Record(s) o’ the Month, you fucking whiners—and with all the new and changing faces. Periods of transition are tough and yet you guys have stuck it through, told your friends, and generously namedropped us in the statuses of important people all the time. Thank you for doing that! We love you very much.

In a spirit of Christmas, and since I’m grateful the blog still exists because it gets me on guest lists for bands I like, I will once again give a stay of execution. May 2017 be the year I finally decide to pull the plug on everyone hired after Steel Druhm. So good night, Sleep tight. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.

L. Saunders

#10. Unfathomable Ruination // Finitude
#9. Blood Incantation // Starspawn
#8. Vainaja // Verenvalaja
#7. The Dillinger Escape Plan // Dissociation
#6. Mantar // Ode to the Flame
#5. Départe // Failure, Subside
#4. Anaal Nathrakh // The Whole of the Law
#3. Haken // Affinity
#2. Khemmis // Hunted
#1. Vektor // Terminal Redux – For better and worse, 2016 was a year full of surprises. Vektor landing the top spot on my End of Year list following the release of their mind-boggling third album Terminal Redux was not one of them. It’s a rare thing for a band to exceed unrealistically high expectations following a five year recording gap, but Vektor delivered everything I hoped for and more. Almost endearingly flawed, Terminal Redux is an astonishingly complex, impeccably performed and bravely ambitious conceptual masterpiece that I’m confident we’ll be talking about for many years and looking back on the album as a modern classic of high concept progressive thrash. And while I didn’t find the time to absorb all the quality metal 2016 had to offer (I still haven’t scratched the surface of albums from SubRosa and Mithras to name but a couple) I’m more than happy to crown Vektor the champions of 2016.

Honorable Mentions:

Messa // Belfry
Hyperion // Seraphical Euphony
The Reticent // On the Eve of a Goodbye
First Fragment // Dasein
Revocation // Great is our Sin
Wormed // Krighsu
Biggest Disappointment: Bölzer // Hero

Song o’ the Year: Tie: Haken“The Architect”/Khemmis – “Hunted”


#10. Uada // Devoid of Light
#9. Wormed // Krighsu
#8. Saor // Guardians
#7. Schammasch // Triangle
#6. Skáphe // Skáphe²
#5. Khemmis // Hunted
#4. Sumerlands // Sumerlands
#3. Spire // Entropy
#2. Blood Incantation // Starspawn
#1. Vektor // Terminal Redux – Is there anything left to write about this absolutely mental piece of progressive thrash metal? One of the easiest #1 metal picks in years. Just go listen to it. A masterpiece from start to finish.

Vektor - Terminal Redux

Honorable Mentions:

Cobalt // Slow Forever
Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas // Mariner
Downfall of Gaia // Atrophy
Oathbreaker // Rheia
The Body // No One Deserves Happiness
Thy Catafalque // Meta

Song o’ the Year: Brujeria “Viva Presidente Trump!”

Al Kikuras

#10. Abhomine // Larvae Offal Swine
#9. Crimson Moon // Oneironaut
#8. Gorguts // Pleiades’ Dust
#7. Embalmer // Emanations from the Crypt
#6. Attacker // Sins of the World
#5. Death Angel // The Evil Divide
#4. Brutality // Sea of Ignorance
#3. Watchtower // Concepts of Math: Book One
#2. Voivod // Post Society
#1. Devin Townsend Project // Transcendence – Like Transcendental Meditation (yeah, I do that) or hot yoga (yeah, I do that too. Turning in my man card now), Transcendence leaves you feeling like you are reborn. Never before has music been this heavy, dark, and simultaneously uplifitng. Every performance is exemplary. DTP came together to create an album that transcends genres and should be heralded as Mozart, Slayer, Tom Waits, Gorguts, James Brown and John Coltrane have been before them. A new level from a musician that constantly sets new levels. The Ween cover doesn’t hurt either.

Song of the year: Devin Townsend Project – “Higher”

Biggest disappointment: Outliving Lemmy.

Jean-Luc Ricard

#10. Madder Mortem  // Red in Tooth and Claw
#9. Ulcerate // Shrines of Paralysis
#8. Ihsahn // Arktis.
#7. Moonsorrow // Jumalten aika
#6. Mithras // On Strange Loops
#5. Hammers of Misfortune // Dead Revolution
#4. Wormrot // Voices
#3. Thy Catafalque // Meta
#2. Hail Spirit Noir // Mayhem in Blue
#1. Vektor // Terminal Redux – They were my number one back in 2011 and, wouldn’t you know it, they’ve gone and done it again. Super technical and wildly adventurous, Terminal Redux is a progressive thrash masterpiece that pushes Vektor‘s sound further than ever before. Despite its progressive leanings, the record never feels self-indulgent, with excellent songcraft and perfect pacing meaning its seventy three minutes absolutely fly by. Thrash metal at its absolute peak.

Honorable Mentions:

Revocation // Great Is Our Sin
The Dillinger Escape Plan
// Dissociation
Opeth // Sorceress
Katatonia // The Fall of Hearts
Polyptych // Defying the Metastasis
Deftones // Gore
Inverloch // Distance | Collapsed
Vainaja // Verenvalaja
Martyrdöd // List
Root // Kärgeräs – Return from Oblivion
Jute Gyte // Perdurance
Be’lakor // Vessels
Tid // Fix idé

Sentynel (Our intrepid IT mastermind and resident hacker-buster)

#10. Kryptos // Burn Up the Night
#9. Myrath // Legacy
#8. Novembre // Ursa
#7. Dark Tranquility // Atoma
#6. Witherscape // The Northern Sanctuary
#5. Three Trapped Tigers // Silent Earthling
#4. Saor // Guardians
#3. Oceans of Slumber // Winter
#2. Esben and the Witch // Older Terrors
#1. Haken // Affinity – I loved The Mountain, and Affinity is at least as good. Catchy, clever, and free with its 80s references without feeling tired, it’s consistently excellent and a joy to listen to. Several tracks from the record could easily have been my Song o’ the Year, but “The Architect” takes it (bonus points for sysadmin-friendly lyrics and generally being excellent coding music).

Honorable Mentions:

FOES // The Summit Lies Skyward
Blues Pills // Lady in Gold
Theocracy // Ghost Ship

Song o’ the Year: Haken –  “The Architect”

Best Thing I Missed in 2015: Shepherds of Cassini // Helios Forsaken


#10. Wildernessking // Mystical Futures
#9. 40 Watt Sun // Wider than the Sky
#8. Hail Spirit Noir // Mayhem in Blue
#7. Oceans of Slumber // Winter
#6. Vektor // Terminal Redux
#5. Barishi // Blood from the Lion’s Mouth
#4. Khemmis // Hunted
#3. The Dillinger Escape Plan // Dissociation 
#2. Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas // Mariner
#1. Inter Arma // Paradise Gallows –   Inter Arma’s magical conglomeration of sludge, death, and prog has hooked itself onto my brain like nothing else in 2016. Many albums this year have stormed into my heart, left their imprint, and rapidly stormed away; like many things in life their impact is fleeting and my feelings can only be connected to certain moments and incidences of my life. Paradise Gallows, on the other hand, has moved with me – it’s never really left my side. I didn’t really understand it at first either, but the more I listened the more I was able to connect to its huge emotional and musical range. It’s an album that moves with the patient force of tectonic plates and the moment that the plates collided was glorious. Lyrically it’s captivating, production-wise it’s expansive and immersive, musically it’s diverse and (for me) timeless, but most importantly as an album it feels complete: it’s a work of art sent from paradise itself.

Honorable Mentions:

Inverloch // Distance | Collapsed
Blood Incantation // Starspawn
Xoth // Invasion of the Tentacube

Song o’ the Year: Oceans of Slumber“Winter”

Huck N’ Roll

#10. Dark Tranquillity // Atoma
#9. Gygax // Critical Hits
#8. Gojira // Magma
#7. The Reticent // On the Eve of a Goodbye
#6. Neurosis // Fires Within Fires
#5. Khemmis // Hunted
#4. Fates Warning // Theories of Flight
#3. Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas // Mariner
#2. Haken // Affinity
#1. Darkher // Realms – No album in 2016 really put me in a tizzy, but there were a lot of “really good” albums as opposed to “excellent.” Of all those, the one I came back to most often was Darkher’s Realms. Superb yet sparse arrangements, haunting vocals, and stellar production added up to a gripping and immersive record. To quote AMG’s legendary Grymm, Darkher’s “ethereal songwriting and emotional singing” made this one of the most compelling listens of the year. Realms was the cream of the doom metal crop – and metal in general – for 2016, and I can’t wait to hear what the multi-talented Jayn Wissenberg throws our way in the future.

Darkher - Realms

Honorable Mentions:

Blues Pills // Lady in Gold
Deftones // Gore
Spiritual Beggars // Sunrise to Sundown
Sumerlands // Sumerlands

Biggest Disappointment: Myself, for not liking the new Meshuggah album. Again.

Song o’ the Year: Deftones“Hearts/Wires”


#10. Spiritual Beggars // Sunrise & Sundown
#9. 40 Watt Sun // Wider than the Sky
#8. Khemmis // Hunted
#7. Mithras // On Strange Loops
#6. Vredehammer // Violator
#5. Avenged Sevenfold // The Stage
#4. Fates Warning // Theories of Flight
#3. Witherscape // The Northern Sanctuary
#2. Dark Tranquillity // Atoma
#1. King Goat // Conduit – How often does an album open up an entire subgenre for you? I had avoided doom metal for years, having only heard the extremely slow droning type and understanding it to be the standard. King Goat opened my eyes with their amazing record Conduit, which is the epitome of grandeur and consistently engaging songwriting. The quality and diversity of the vocal delivery is the star of the album, and not for a second does the music drag or bore. Through this record I came to understand the power of doom metal and have since enjoyed several others, with decades still to catch up on. But this came first, and it has not been surpassed for me all through 2016.

King Goat - Conduit

Honorable Mentions:

Opeth // Sorceress
High Spirits // Motivator
Insomnium // Winter’s Gate
Sumerlands // Sumerlands

Song o’ the Year: King Goat – “Conduit”

Treble Yell

#10. Anaal Nathrakh // The Whole of the Law
#9. Destruction // Under Attack
#8. Darkthrone // Arctic Thunder
#7. Vektor // Terminal Redux
#6. Violet Cold // Magic Night
#5.  Metallica // Hardwired… To Self Destruct
#4. Conceived By Hate // Death & Beyond
#3. Katatonia // The Fall of Hearts
#2. Megadeth // Dystopia
#1. Anthrax // For All Kings – The metal vintner’s can all agree that this year bore a very good crop and of those musical grapes For All Kings proved the sweetest of wines. Despite releasing early in the year my priapism hasn’t flagged even in the face of an overwhelming torrent of quality albums, a testament to its excellence and staying power. The potential hinted at on Worship Music is realized in full on For All Kings, a stunning return to Anthrax’s salad days of Among the Living and their magnum opus, The Persistence of Time. It’s not just that the riffs are neck-breaking or the vocals anthemic, nor is the overall standard of musicianship being oxygen-sappingly high what makes this album so special. No, what makes For All Kings worthy of superlative praise is that Anthrax for the first time in years sound downright dangerous. The album isn’t flawless as a couple of tracks towards the end don’t quite measure up to the sparkling brilliance of the first half — something Steel Druhm adroitly observed in his review – but that doesn’t take away from what is undoubtedly one of the best thrash albums of the last 15 years.  2016 finally got something right.

Honorable Mentions:

Darkher // Realms
Mithras // On Strange Loops
Testament // Brotherhood of the Snake
The Dillinger Escape Plan // Dissociation
Devin Townsend Project // Transcendence

Song o’ the Year: Katatonia – “Passer”

Lord Lucan

#10. Uada // Devoid of Light
#9. Thrawsunblat // Metachthonia
#8. Alcest // Kodama
#7. Wildernessking // Mystical Future
#6. Haken // Affinity
#5. Negură Bunget // Zi
#4. Darkestrah // Turan
#3. Moonsorrow // Jumalten Aika
#2. Saor // Guardians
#1. Messa // Belfry – I find drawing up lists like this to be an exhausting process as the music I gravitate towards depends enormously on my frame of mind at any given time. I spent hours agonizing between Belfry and Guardians for the number one spot, but in the end it was Messa that won out. With perhaps the exception of ingesting various combinations of weird and wonderful chemicals, music is the ultimate form of escapism, and in terms of sheer hypnotic wonder, Belfry is in a league of its own. A diverse creation with a plethora of catchy riffs and an utterly haunting vocal performance, Messa snuck up out of nowhere to deliver one of the most potent and memorable doom records, not just of 2016, but of the last decade. There’s no two ways about it; Belfry is a work of art.


Honorable Mentions:

Fuath // I
Goatpsalm // Downstream
Witchery // In His Infernal Majesty’s Service

Song o’ the Year: Moonsorrow“Ruttolehto incl. Päivättömän Päivän Kansa”

Biggest Disappointment: Winterfylleth // The Dark Hereafter

Ferrous Beuller

#10. Death Angel // The Evil Divide
#9. Darkher // Realms
#8. Unfathomable Ruination // Finitude
#7. Anaal Nathrakh // The Whole of The Law
#6. Mantar // Ode to The Flame
#5. Messa // Belfry
#4. The King is Blind // Our Father
#3. Khemmis // Hunted
#2. Ihsahn // Arktis
#1. King Goat // Conduit – In a year rife with major label releases, the metallic spirit of 2016 was defined by those artists toiling in obscurity. King Goat strode out of the ether with a record of captivating and gargantuan doom metal, seething with planet sized riffs and exemplary vocals. Conduit not only showcases a level of songwriting to shame infinitely more established bands, but it does so without compromising an inch of the genre’s leaden reputation. This album has dominated my listening rotation since its release and continues to etch its way further into my bones, bold and unapologetic; a veritable David turned Goliath.

Honorable Mentions:

Oceans of Slumber // Winter
Haken // Affinity
Mithras// On Strange Loops
Thy Catafalque // Meta
Ortega // Sacred States
Clouds // Departe

Song o’ the Year: Ihsahn“Celestial Violence”

Dr. Wvrm

#10. Thy Catafalque // Meta
#9. Uada // Devoid of Light
#8. Xoth // Invasion of the Tentacube
#7. Haken // Affinity
#6. Gomorrah // The Haruspex
#5. Dormant Ordeal // We Had It Coming
#4. Insomnium // Winter’s Gate
#3. Khemmis // Hunted
#2. Vektor // Terminal Redux
#1. Dark Tranquillity // Atoma – As anyone who’s ridden in my car in the last two months can attest, Dark Tranquillity‘s stunning return to form has yet to leave my CD player. Vektor complicated matters more than I would have liked, but in the end I cannot resist fanboying out over an album that reignited my passion for one of my all-time favorite acts. In a 2016 slammed with huge melodeath releases, Atoma not only justifies Dark Tranquillity‘s continued existence but re-solidifies their name in melodeath’s upper echelon. Atoma is the album to beat for the genre’s next album cycle. Good luck to the field, cause this one will be hard to top.

Honorable Mentions:

Borknagar// Winter Thrice
Be’lakor// Vessels
Wormrot // Voices
Nails// You Will Never Be One of Us

Song o’ the Year: Fleshgod Apocalypse – “The Fool”

Disappointment o’ the Year: Gojira – Magma

Eldritch Elitistö

#10. Xoth // Invasion of the Tentacube
#9. The Vision Bleak // The Unknown
#8. Dark Tranquillity // Atoma
#7. DGM // The Passage
#6. Violet Cold // Magic Night
#5. Morrow // Covenant of Teeth
#4. Vektor // Terminal Redux
#3. Wardrum // Awakening
#2. Anaal Nathrakh // The Whole of the Law
#1. Khemmis // Hunted – When I first heard Hunted back in October, I began a desperate search for a record in 2016 that could surpass it. After all, this would be my first top ten list at AMG, and there was no way I’d ever be caught dead having my number one record being such an obvious pull! Ultimately, my search proved fruitless. With Hunted, Khemmis crafted a masterpiece in the vein of my favorite bands in the genre (ie: Pallbearer and While Heaven Wept) while in many ways surpassing them. Crushingly heavy and hauntingly beautiful, Hunted effortlessly earns a place alongside records like Nightfall and Vast Oceans Lachrymose as one of my favorite works of doom metal.

Honorable Mentions:

Whispered // Metsutan – Songs of the Void
Polyptych // Defying the Metastasis
Inquisition // Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith

Song o’ the Year: Khemmis – “Hunted”


#10. Mistur // In Memoriam
#9. Ihsahn // Arktis
#8. Fates Warning // Theories of Flight
#7. Haken // Affinity
#6. Fleshgod Apocalypse // King
#5. Saor // Guardians
#4. Insomnium // Winter’s Gate
#3. Khemmis // Hunted
#2. Witherscape // The Northern Sanctuary
#1. Vektor // Terminal Redux – 2016 in metal has been one hell of a ride and there’s been a great number of killer releases this year. When it came time to compile my year end list however, there was no doubt in my mind which album I wanted at the top. From it’s heady, science fiction themes to it’s incredible flow and composition, Terminal Redux gave me everything I could possibly want in a concept album, and then some. Vektor‘s masterclass release is a triumph in both creativity and execution, and for that they have more than earned my top album of the year.

Honorable Mentions:

Dark Forest // Beyond The Veil
Alcest // Kodama
Thy Catafalque // Meta
Frost* // Falling Satellites

Song o’ the Year: Fates Warning “The Light and Shade of Things”


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