Dec 082016



As part of our year-end LISTMANIA series, we bring you lists of the year’s best metal from a few print zines with wide circulation and from some cross-genre web platforms that get orders-of-magnitude more eyeballs than we do. In the case of most of these other lists, we do this as a way of peaking at what the wider world sees, since our world is very narrow and subterranean. In this post, we’re looking at Rolling Stone and NPR. It won’t take you long to read the metal names on these lists.


Last week, the venerable Rolling Stone magazine posted on their web site a list of the 50 Best Albums of 2016. This list isn’t limited to metal. In past years, Rolling Stone has published a separate list of the year’s best metal, but I’m not sure if they will do that this year. So what I did was to scroll through that “50 Best” list and carve out the metal names, which I’m listing below along with their rank on the list.

The full article appears here, with accompanying explanations for the choices:

36.  MetallicaHardwired… To Self-Destruct

Yep, that was it.

Beyoncé’s Lemonade grabbed the top spot.






I’ll repeat what I’ve written in years past, because it remains true: NPR (formerly National Public Radio) is an American national treasure, one that has somehow survived as a non-profit national radio and on-line broadcaster (with 900 public radio station members) despite largely weaning itself from governmental support and being the target of repeated political attacks by the American right wing. According to the web analytics site Alexa, its online site is the 124th most popular of all U.S.-based web sites and the 630th most popular in the world.

A few days ago NPR Music posted a list of its “Best 50 Albums of 2016“. It’s a cross-genre list, reflecting the broad demographic of NPR Music listeners. In past years I’ve siphoned off the metal albums from the overall list and have presented them as part of our LISTMANIA series. This year, not a single metal album appeared on the list.

Not one.

You may nevertheless wish to peruse the list, and you can find it here:

NPR did include this statement elsewhere on the NPR Music part of the site: “The NPR Music team will publish genre-based lists throughout the month of December. Check back frequently for deeper dives.” Maybe there will be a separate metal list, even though no metal was deemed worthy of their Best 50 Albums list, but I doubt it.

P.S. As noted by heisshane in the Comments below, NPR also put out a list of their top 100 songs of 2016, and it included three metal tracks:

78. Vektor – “Charging the Void”
82. SubRosa – “Troubled Cells”
92. Oathbreaker – “10:56 / Second Son of R.”


  1. I’m not surprised by Rolling Stone’s list although I do approve of their inclusion of “Hardwired”, but I would have expected at least a couple metal albums on NPR’s list.

    • Perhaps there was one writer at NPR who hooked up their past album streams and covered metal, and that person left? At these bigger media organizations it takes just one or two knowledgable people to give voice to an entire subculture. See Kim at Noisey. If that person leaves, the coverage goes to shit, because there is no institutional commitment to it.

  2. “_______”? That’s laughable! Gorguts put out the best METAL album this year – don’t deny it. Stop trying to be different – you’re only appealing to hipsters. Have fun with that. I thought i’d found a credible metal music site to frequent. Apparently not – laters!

  3. “36. Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct”

    Rolling Stone is a boil on the ass end of music….At least NPR has the good taste not to try and shoe-horn some token shit onto their list for metal credit

  4. I might be reaching a bit, but NPR did include my favorite hardcore album of the year (Pure Disgust – S/T) at 42. Pure Disgust has a bit of metal influence, but it’s primarily rooted in the 80s-style DC hardcore camp ala Minor Threat. The fact that NPR included that surprised the hell out of me:

    NPR also put out a list of their top 100 songs of 2016, and there were a trio of metal tracks there:

    78. Vektor – “Charging the Void”
    82. SubRosa – “Troubled Cells”
    92. Oathbreaker – “10:56 / Second Son of R.”

  5. ^^^ What he said ^^^^

  6. The NPR list is really disappointing. It’s one I usually go through every year because of the variety of music there. It isn’t just the lack of metal this year, the whole list feels generic.

  7. I just keep being disappointed at where Blackstar is located in these lists and what is beating them.

  8. AFAIR from previous Listmania editions feat. Rolling Stone metal song/LP/whatever mentions, this seems to be a kind of RS tradition (quite frankly, I’ve never considered RS to ever seriously deal with music of any sort). On the other hand I must say you can be pretty grateful you can complain that a sort-of-nation-wide music-ish magazine mentions a once considered metal band’s release in its AOTY list as the only metal release worthy of attention – in my geographical location nation-wide music press is pretty oblivious to the existence of any heavier musical stuff (while pretending to shape the tastes of those who care to read their writings) – otherwise, it treats long-established and renowned bands as novelties and “#{some heavier-and-more-obscure-musical-genre} answer to some recent hipster fodder.

  9. The Hip-hop and R&B picks are for the most part solid. The Solange album is pretty amazing, if you like R&B, as is Lemonade, especially given that it is one of the biggest pop albums of the year. I was expecting the list to be more upper middle class 30 something white people, but it’s more diverse than that which is good. Lars will get his picks in.

    I’m more bummed that Stosuy left Pitchfork – his year-end lists were always pretty solid, and he did a lot to champion heavy music to a non-metal audience.

  10. Well that was fun. I recognized (recognized, not have heard) 8 artists from NPR’s list and about half of Roling stones list. I am obviously not in touch with the kids anymore….

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