Dec 012016

NCS The Best of 2016 graphic


We’re now beginning the final month of 2016, and you know what that means: Now begins the final countdown to the end of the year (and the strengthening onslaught of the annual holiday season). In the world of metal, this month we’ll also start seeing more and more lists of the year’s best releases.

Back in 2009, when this site was just a few days old, I wrote a post about year-end lists and why people bother with them. The best reason still seems to be this: Reading someone else’s list of the albums they thought were best is a good way to discover music you missed and might like.

We don’t do an “official” NCS year-end “best albums” list. However, we publish the picks of each of our regular staff writers as well as a large group of guest writers (which we’ll start doing later this month). Every year we also invite our readers to share their lists and we’re doing that again right here, right now.




If you’ve been pondering what you’ve heard this year and have made your own list of the albums, EPs, or splits released in 2016 that you think are the best of what you’ve heard, we invite you to share it with us in the Comments section to this post. And if you haven’t made a list yet but want to, there’s still plenty of time (read below).


We don’t have any hard-and-fast rules about year-end lists. Your list doesn’t have to be a specific number — it doesn’t have to be a “Top 10″ or “Top 20″ list, it could be a Top 2 list or a Top 15, or any other number.

And it doesn’t have to be a cross-genre list, i.e., the best of all metal you’ve heard this year. It could be the best hardcore albums you heard, or the best death metal, or the best black metal, or the best grind, or the best folk metal, and on and on — pretty much whatever you want to do and feel comfortable doing, as long as it fits your definition of metal.

Don’t be shy, and don’t worry about being judged — if you haven’t figured it out already, it ain’t our style or the style of our commenters to ridicule what someone else thinks is great metal.

And if you don’t have a list ready yet, no sweat, because you can come back to this post whenever you like and add your list later — or comment on the lists others have posted. I’ll put a link to this post at the top right side of every page so people can find it quickly — look for the link to 2016 NCS READERS’ YEAR-END LISTS. That will make the comments to this post a collection point for “Best of” readers’ lists. And that link will stay on our page throughout 2017.

So start thinking and start commenting (please, and thank you).


  1. Wyrding–S/T Just about my favorite record of the year, puzzled that very few other folks seem to be talking about it.
    Auroch–Mute Books
    Inter Arma–Paradise Gallows
    Mithras–On Strange Loops
    Old Graves–Long Shadows
    Zeal & Ardor–Devil is Fine
    Darkthrone–Arctic Thunder
    Rebel Wizard–Triumph of Gloom
    Forteresse–Themes Pour la Rebellion
    Funeral Mourning–Intertia of Dissonance (A Sermon in Finality)

    And a few that are mostly electronic but creepy, abrasive, or unsettling enough to appeal to metal fiends:
    Valerio Tricoli–Clonic Earth
    Puce Mary–The Spiral
    Mika Vainio–Mannerlaatta
    Tim Hecker–Love Streams

    Keep up the good work, NCS!

  2. 1. Coma Cluster Void – Mind Cemeteries
    2. Gorguts – Pleiades Dust
    3. Ulcerate – Shrines Of Paralysis

    Honorable Mention: Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason

  3. 1. Moonsorrow – Jumalten Aika
    2. Imperium – Titanomachy
    3. Insomnium – Winter’s Gate
    4. Gatecreeper – Sonaran Depravation
    5. Grimner – Frost Mot Eld
    6. Primordial – Shadow of Intent
    7. Swine Overlord – Entheogenesis
    8. Dawn of Disease – Worship the Grave
    9. Mare Cognitum – Luminiferous Aether
    10. Blade of Horus – Monumental Massacre

    • Actually, number 6 should be: Shadow of Intent – Primordial. And I would also add honorable mention: Infinite Density – Recollapse of the Universe

  4. So many list already! I dread making mine but I always wait till after Christmas as I don’t run like a Magazine publication. This was another awesome year for Metal with some killer stuff still on the way.

  5. Thy Catafalque – Meta
    Stoned God – Discordant Divinity
    Bifrost – Mana Ewah
    Rhine – An Outsider
    Necromancing the Stone – Jewel of the Vile
    Hyperion – Seraphical Euphony
    Lord Vicar – Gates of Flesh
    Lone Wanderer – The Majesty of Loss
    Hordak – Padres
    Brutality – Sea of Ignorance
    Kryptos – Burn Up the Night

  6. In alphabetical order / EPs/Demos included

    Blood Incantation – Starspawn
    Cancer – Terminal
    Death Fetishist – Clandestine Sacrament
    Funeral Mourning – Inertia Of Dissonance (A Sermon In Finality)
    Fvnerals – Wounds
    Gateway – Scriptures Of Grief
    Gespenst – Forfald
    Imperceptum – Collapse Of Existence
    Imperceptum – Entering The Domains Of Complete Nonexistence
    Inverloch – Distance | Collapsed
    Khemmis – Hunted
    Krypts – Remnants Of Expansion
    Lycus – Chasms
    Sinistrous Diabolus – II
    Sinistrous Diabolus – Monolith III-V
    Skáphe – Skáphe²
    Setentia – Darkness Transcend
    Sol Sistere – Unfading Incorporeal Vacuum
    Ulcerate – Shrines Of Paralysis
    Urfaust – Empty Space Meditation
    Veneficium – Demo
    Voidspawn – Pyrrhic

  7. You can count on another list from us!

  8. My top 10 for now. Small changes may happen between 06 and 10.
    There may be changes higher up, but I think it’s unlikely.

    Top 10 – 2016

    01 – The Infernal Sea – The Great Mortality
    02 – Allegaeon – Proponents for Science
    03 – Netherbird – The Grander Voyage
    04 – Wode – Wode
    05 – Watchtower – Concepts of Math: Book One
    06 – Wolverine – Machina Viva
    07 – Dark Funeral – Where Shadows Forever Reign
    08 – Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole of the Law
    09 – Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence
    10 – Opeth – Sorceress

    • As Andy mentions under Comment 24, The Great Mortality was initially released in 2015. On the other hand, that was just on cassettes limited to 100 copies, whilst CD, LP and digital(?) releases were dropped this year. I wish it’d been a 2016 release, as I want it on my list too.

      • They actually self-released a cd version in 2015 too, which I also have.

        • Never put your full confidence in Metal Archives. About damn time I learn this now.

          • Not this again!

            Listen, the band themselves consider the official release date of ‘The Great Mortality’ to be Februari the 19th 2016. Both the cassette and the initial cd release were very limited editions before the regular release of the album.

            The 19th Februari release date 2016 is mentioned on their Bandcamp page on their Facebook en in an answer to me when I asked them about this. See here:


            • Hey, if you want to count it as this year, feel free.

              But considering the original independent release was definitely in 2015 (I received my cd copy in October, and reviewed the album month), and we, and several others, featured it prominently in our end of year round-up for 2015… we’re going to stick with that.

              I’m fine with it being re-released this year. It definitely deserves more attention and wider exposure. But we counted it last year, so we’re not going to count it again.

  9. 01 – Thränenkind – King Apathy (just hit a sweet spot between post and black metal)
    02 – Uada – Devoid of Light (just “fun” melodic black metal with a raw touch)
    03 – Ashbringer – Yugen (that’s how atmospheric black metal should sound like)
    04 – Be’Lakor – Vessel (definitly a slight departure of the typical sound and a improved over the last album which showed signs of stagnation)
    04 – Adam Angst – Adam Angst (sweet fun and political german punk/hardcore)
    05 – Netherbird – The Grander Voyage (took me by surprise)
    06 – Morrow – Covenant of Teeth (love me some crust)
    07 – Anaal Nathrakh – The whole of the law (that’s how depravity and armaggedon probably sound like…)
    08 – Crippled Black Phoenix – Bronze (sometimes weird combination of psychodelic rock and melancholic, kinda Archive-like sound)
    09 – Dark Tranquillity – Atoma (it’s dark tranquillity 😉
    10 – Spellcaster – Night hides the day

  10. Darkend – The Canticle of Shadows. I had this on my bandcamp ‘wishlist’ since release. I use it just as a bookmarking system for things I mean to check out; it only ever gets longer. When I finally got around to listening to this a month or so ago I kicked myself for sitting on it so long. Probably album of the year for me. Reminds me of Shade Empire, but taken in a different direction.

    Others in no particular order:
    Allegaeon – Proponent for Sentience
    Khonsu – The Xun Protectorate
    Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole Of The Law
    Myrkur – Mausoleum
    Sarcoptes – Songs and Dances of Death
    Schammasch – Triangle
    Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
    Zeal and Ardor – Devil Is Fine
    Acyl – Aftermath
    Wardruna – Runaljod: Ragnarok
    Youth Code – Commitment to Complications (thanks Wil Cifer!)
    Dormant Ideal – We Had It Coming
    Revocation – Great Is Our Sin
    Protean – The Burning Centuries

    Albums I thought were ‘good’ but didn’t fully grab me as much as previous releases:
    Rotting Christ – Rituals
    Be’lakor – Vessels
    Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason
    Mechina – Progenitor
    Gojira – Magma

    Dymna Lotva – Самотны Чалавечы Голас (they released an album too, but I haven’t heard it yet)
    Kartikeya – The Golden Blades

    My favourite ‘Late to the party’ album this year (pre-2016 release I only discovered in 2016):
    Obsequiae – Aria of Vernal Tombs

  11. Wow, already so many lists! 🙂 So much new shit to listen to!

    My top 33:

    1. Insomnium – Winter’s Gate
    2. In Mourning – Afterglow
    3. Cult of Luna/ JUlie Christmas – Mariner
    4. Obscure Sphinx – Epitaphs
    5. Be’lakor – Vessels
    6. Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole of Law
    7. Deftones – Gore
    8. Korn – The Serenity of Suffering
    9. Alcest – Kodama
    10. Omnium Gatherum – Grey Havens
    11. Coldworld – Autumn
    12. In Flames – Battles
    13. Trees of Eternity – Hour of the Nightingale
    14. Gojira – Magma
    15. Moonsorrow – Jumalten Akia
    16. Haken – Affinity
    17. Hands of Despair – Bereft
    18. Sylvaine – Wistful
    19. Obsidian Kingdom – A Year With No Summer
    20. Fallujah – Dreamless
    21. Dark Tranquillity – Atoma
    22. Hanging Garden – Hereafter
    23. Red Moon Architect – Fall
    24. Fleshgod Apocalypse – King
    25. Downfall of Gaia – Atrophy
    26. Khonsu – The Xun Protectorate
    27. Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason
    28. Hail Spirit Noir – Mayhem in Blue
    29. Opeth – Sorceress
    30. Novembre – URSA
    31. October Tide – Winged Waltz
    32. Lessen – A Nebulous Being
    33. Countless Skies – New Dawn

    • I totally forgot about Clouds – Departe, which is an amazing doom record (à la Shape of Despair, Eye of Solitude, Saturnus) that is simply amazing.

  12. In no particular order (probably will forget also a couple):

    Furia – Księżyc milczy luty
    Schammasch – Triangle
    Hail Spirit Noir – Mayhem in Blue
    Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä
    Ulcerate – Shrines of Paralysis
    Obscure Sphinx – Epitaphs
    Mithras – On Strange Loops
    Krypts – Remnants of Expansion
    Witherscape – The Northern Sanctuary
    Khemmis – Hunted
    Thy Catafalque – Meta
    Zhrine – Unortheta
    Wędrowcy~Tułacze~Zbiegi – Światu jest wszystko jedno
    Mizmor – Yodh
    Entropia – Ufonaut
    Inverloch – Distance | Collapsed
    Escarnium – Interitus
    Lycus – Chasms
    Draugnim – Vulturine
    Wode – Wode
    Unfathomable Ruination – Finitude
    Imperium Dekadenz – Dis Manibvs

    Probably in the end I would add some of the albums that were released not long ago, stuff like Antaeus, Bolzer and Aenaon.

  13. Every album I loved and remembered to write down, in no order:

    Thèmes pour la rébellion-Forteresse
    Torn Cold Void-Laspell
    Allir Vegir Til Glötunar-Naðra
    In the shadow of the wolf-Vordr
    Animus-Venom Prison
    Triumph of Gloom-Rebel Wizard
    Arctic Thunder-Darkthrone
    Commitment to Complications-Youth Code (not metal, but loud enough)
    Luciferian Fullmoon Necromancy-Lykaionas
    Without Providence-Reverend Brooks Wilson (not metal, but he’s the singer for Crypt Sermon)
    L’Aube Glacée-Bahrrecht
    Ode to the Flame-Mantar
    Ars Veneficium-The Reign of the Infernal King
    From the Vastland-Chamrosh
    Terminal Redux-Vektor
    In the Shadows Below-Year of the Cobra
    Rotten Limbs in Dreams of Blood-Uškumgallu
    Kings in Sauron’s Service-Barrow Wight
    Vindland-Hanter Savet
    Hour of the Nightingale-Trees of Eternity
    Worms-Barbarian Swords
    The Year is One-Spiritus Mortis
    Vermin Lord-Anguish
    Demon Summoning-Eternal Alchemist

  14. Cheers to you guys on letting the plebs have their say. As you’ll see from this list I get quite a lot of nice recommendations that would otherwise pass me by from this site. I’ve essentially given up on most other metal blogs which seem to be more concerned with who’s wearing a Metallica shirt nowadays and whatever the fuck Varg has to say about American elections. Keep up the great work! \m/

    Black Crown Initiate (I don’t know why people aren’t digging this, mayhaps I have a man crush on Andy’s cleans)
    Blood Incantation
    Dark Tranquility
    Johannes Grossmann
    Hanging Garden
    In Mourning
    Terra Tenebrosa (The End is Mine to Ride is what I shave to every morning… true story)

    Witherscape may be my favorite of the year. It’s certainly the album I’ve been spinning the most. Disappointment of the year certainly belongs to Gojira. There are 2, maybe 3 quality songs on that album, the rest is too lean, and sounds forced. My $.02

    • Very pleased to see Polyptych make an appearance. On my list as well. Some great tech death made the rounds this year, and “Defying the Metastasis” may be the best of the lot.

      • Yeah definitely overlooked album. The song-writing is top-notch. It’s a great example of tech death that doesn’t sacrifice good grooves to show us how fast everyone in the band can noodle.

    • Thanks for the kind words Pierre, and for the story about shaving to Terra Tenebrosa, which sounds like a very risky maneuver. 🙂

      • It’s possible that starting the day with The Cuckoo crooning about what I assume are the end times may sour my demeanor for the rest of the day. It’s definitely the cause of some uneven shaves. Cheers!

  15. Now that you mention it I happen to have mine ready to go. Although I’m still running across great stuff every day. Spellcaster and Sear Bliss should probably be on here but I literally just heard them.
    Cobalt was #1 all year since release and I thought there was no way they would be ousted, but then Hunted took over my life and I had to give it too them. Great year of music!

    1. Khemmis, Hunted
    2. Cobalt, Slow Forever
    3. Asphyx, Incoming Death
    4. Witchery, In His Infernal Majesty Service
    5. Kvelertak, Nattesferd
    6. Tower, Tower
    7. Hyperion, Seraphical Euphony
    8. Spirits Adrift, Chained To Oblivion
    9. Oathbreaker, Rheia
    10. Mindscar, What’s Beyond The Light
    11. Nails, You Will Never Be One Of Us
    12. Mantar, Ode To The Flame
    13. Destroyer 666, Wildfire
    14. Spell, For None and All
    15. Nekrokraft, Will o’ Wisp
    16. Summerlands, Summerlands
    17. Cremosity, Witness of Human Brutality
    18. Salems Pot, Pronounce This
    19. Black Hate, Through The Darkness
    20. Arkaik, Lucid Dawn

    Skeletonwitch, The Apothic Gloom
    Pallbearer, Fear And Fury
    Lord Mantis, Nice Teeth Whore

  16. a non-exhaustive list of some favorites that come to mind immediately:

    Gorguts – Pleiades Dust
    Zhrine – Unortheta (this is probably my number 1)
    DSO – Synarchy
    Mare Cognitum – Luminiferous Aether
    Selvans/Downfall of Nur – Split
    Virus – Memento Collider
    Liminal – Fugue
    The Wayward – Plutonic
    Mithras – On Strange Loops
    Neurosis – Fires Within Fires
    Aluk Todolo – Voix

  17. (since all my other favorites have been mentioned)

    No love for SVARTELDER around here?

  18. So far, and in no particular order

    Battle Dagorath – I – Dark Dragons of the Cosmos
    Clouds – Departe
    Ancestors Blood – Hyperborea
    Tardigrada – Emotionale Ödnis
    Saor – Guardians
    Imperium Dekadenz – Dis Manibvs
    Marsh Dweller – The Weight of Sunlight
    Old Graves – Long Shadows
    ColdWorld – Autumn
    Elffor – Malkhedant
    Forteresse – Thèmes pour la rébellion
    Sojourner – Empires of Ash
    Sarcoptes – Songs And Dances Of Death
    Winterlore – Winterlore
    Draugnim – Vulturine
    Moonsorrow – Jumalten Aika

    • In my haste I forgot two of the absolute best ones!

      Thrawsunblat – Metacthonia, and
      Svirnath – Il Regno Della Natura

  19. Well, in no particular order (and i’m sure i’ll forget some…) here they go:
    Monolithe-Zeta Reticuli
    Destroyer 666-Wildfire
    Anciients-Voice Of The Void
    Vale of Pnath-Vale of Pnath
    Devin Townsend-Transcendence
    Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole of the Law
    Eneferens-The Inward Cold
    Vektor-Terminal Redux
    The Zenith Passage-Solipsist
    Cobalt-Slow Forever
    Ulcerate-Shrines Of Paralysis
    Mare Cognitum-Luminiferous Aether
    Mare Cognitum-Resonance: Crimson Void
    Névoa-Re Un
    Mouth Of The Architect-Path Of Eight
    Devian Process-Paroxysm
    Inter Arma-Paradise Gallows
    City-On The Edge Of Forever
    Mithras-On Strange Loops
    Latitudes-Old Sunlight
    Wayfarer-Old Souls
    Hail Spirit Noir-Mayhem In Blue
    Cult Of Luna-Mariner
    Minarchist-In Absence
    Lotus Thief-Gramarye
    Départe-Failure, Subside
    Dementia-Dreaming In Monochrome
    Hammers Of Misfortune-Dead Revolution
    First Fragment-Desain
    Obsidian Kingdom-A Year Without Summer
    Russian Circles-Guidance

    Top 5 were probably Astronoid,Cult Of Luna, Hail Spirit Noir, Ancients and Entropia.
    Biggest dissapointments? I’d say Fleshgod Apocalypse, Alcest and Be’Lakor. I was just expecting so much more, especially from the last two…

  20. Great lists so far! I really enjoyed many of these albums. To avoid repetition here’s some great stuff which has not been mentioned yet (I’m referring to album releases by these bands):
    – Latitudes
    – Ehnahre
    – Ecferus
    – Pogavranjen
    – Mesarthim
    – Krater
    – Goatpsalm
    – Cantique Lépreux
    – Vlk
    – Palace Of Worms
    – Jute Gyte
    – Blizaro
    – Wendess
    – Darkestrah
    – Mur
    – Book Of Sands
    – Haunter
    – Toska (well ok, this one’s an EP)
    – Funeral Moth
    – Subterranean Disposition
    – CB Murdoc
    – Internal Suffering
    – Fange
    – Black Fucking Cancer
    – Ahpdegma
    – Circle Of Ouroborus (Uskottomien Kirkossa / Tarpeeton)
    – Medevil
    – Cognizant
    – Odal
    – Seputus
    – Forgotten Spell
    – Goes Cube
    – Tardigrada
    – Helcaraxë
    – Jassa
    – Downfall of Nur & Selvans
    – Scum (because it has just been released this year, actually it’s a 90s release)

    • Latitudes was great 😉

      • Was a great year for post metal 🙂 latitudes (my favourite among these) cult of luna, sumac, russian circles, mouth of the architect, make, pyramido and ofc Neurosis! Post metal isnt dead yet 😀

    • Cognizant, hell yes. I also dig the new Wake, may be overshadowed by others though.

    • Great list! One day when I have a lot of free time I’m going to lock myself inside and listen to Jute Gyte until I can wrap my head around the music. I have a feeling it might be one of the best things I never had the patience to get into.

  21. Deathspell Omega — The Synarchy Of Molten Bones
    Gorguts – Pleiades Dust
    Ulcerate – Shrines Of Paralysis
    Gevurah – Hallelujah!
    Throane – Derrière Nous, La Lumière
    Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä
    Zhrine – Unortheta
    Urfaust – Empty Space Meditation
    Aluk Todolo – Voix
    Qrixkuor – Three Devils Dance
    Irkallian Oracle – Apollyon
    Schammasch – Triangle
    Vektor – Terminal Redux

  22. Vlk – Of Wolves’ Blood
    Darkestrah – Turan
    Vektor – Terminal Redux (AotY)
    A.M.S.G – Hostis Universi Generis
    Daedalvs – Apotheosis
    Fromhell – March On Gravitation
    Mithras – On Strange Loops
    Balance Interruption – Door 218

    Singularity – Void Walker

  23. Pretty much everything i got this year.

    In alphabetical order:
    An Abstract Illusion – Illuminate the Path
    Alcest – Kodama
    Alter Bridge – The Last Hero
    Anup Sastry – Bloom
    Barishi – Blood from the Lion’s Mouth
    Chthe’ilist – Le Dernier Crépuscule
    Crisis Actor – Rape Crisis Actor
    Départe – Failure, Subside
    Devildriver – Trust No One
    The Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence
    Dormant Ordeal – We Had It Coming
    Dream Theater – The Astonishing
    Enigma – Stars Misaligned
    Entheos – The Infinite Nothing
    Fallujah – Dreamless
    First Fragment – Dasein
    Fuath – I
    Gojira – Magma
    Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust
    Infant Annihilator – The Elysian Grandeval Galèriarch
    Intonate – The Swerve
    Korn – The Serenity of Suffering
    Lustmord – Dark Matter
    Mare Cognitum/Aureole – Resonance: Crimson Void
    Martröð – Transmutation of Wounds
    Neurotech – In Remission
    The Noumenon – Terminus
    Periphery – Periphery III: Select Difficulty
    Perturbator – The Uncanny Valley
    Perturbator – The Uncanny Valley (Expansion)
    Plebeian Grandstand – False Highs, True Lows
    Setentia – Darkness Transcend
    Slabdragger – Rise of the Dawncrusher
    Slice The Cake – Odyssey to the West
    Summit – The Winds That Forestall Thy Return
    Sunless – Demo
    Writhe – Writhe
    Wanzwa – Wanzwa IV
    Wormed – Krighsu
    The Zenith Passage – Solipsist
    Zhrine – Unortheta

    • Nice to see Setentia get a mention. That Sunless demo is wicked. And I’m personally gratified that you dug Crisis Actor enough to put it on a list. 🙂

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