Dec 122016
 

listmania-2016

 

(This is the second installment in Andy Synn’s series of year-end lists, which began last week with a list of favorite EPs and splits. The opinions represent those of the author rather than the site as a whole, especially in the case of one of these 10 “disappointments”, the selection of which is an invitation to pistols at 20 paces come the dawn.)

…and so it begins.

For this year’s listravaganza I’ve decided to change things up a little by kicking off with the “Disappointing” albums, rather than the “Great” albums. It’s a small change, but it means we can build up towards the best of the year, rather than spiral downwards.

Now although we don’t do negative reviews here at NCS, I still feel like there’s a place for reasoned criticism in what we do.

That doesn’t mean tearing bands down or belittling their efforts, it simply means acknowledging that not every album is a 10/10, and that sometimes even the best bands slip up.

Ultimately this isn’t a list of “bad” albums. It’s just a bunch of releases from bands who could (or should) be able to do better.

 

Now, I understand that some of these picks may prove a little controversial.

On the one hand I realise that some of these albums may have been praised by other sites and publications, for various reasons, so I might be going a little against the grain here.

Plus I’m very aware that there are always going to be those people who absolutely lose their shit at even the barest hint of criticism directed towards their favourite band, and that those people will most likely shoot straight down to the comments section to attack my character, my abilities, and accuse me of bias/elitism/ignorance (delete as needed), in an effort to delegitimise my opinion.

But I am confident that most of our readers aren’t like that and, even if/when they disagree with my choices here, they’ll be able to express their disagreement in a rational and respectful way.

As a matter of fact I welcome a rational discussion about the relative merits of any of the albums or artists mentioned here. All I ask is this – before you fly off the handle and race to the comments section to give me a piece of your mind… take a breath, try and see things from my perspective, and understand that I’m not doing this because I have any sort of dastardly agenda.

I mean, I do… but it’s got nothing to do with music…

 

 

Aenaon-Hypnosophy

AENAON – HYPNOSOPHY

Don’t get me wrong, there is a LOT to like about this album. But… and it’s a telling “but”… it’s also frustratingly unfocussed, and lacks the clarity of vision and purpose that made Extance such a stunning piece of work.

On the plus side however it does help me to immediately illustrate the fact that an album doesn’t have to be BAD to be considered a bit of a disappointment, as although Hypnosophy is a good album in many ways, it simply doesn’t live up to the standards set by its predecessor.

 

 

BLACK CROWN INITIATE-SELVES WE CANNOT FORGIVE

BLACK CROWN INITIATE – SELVES WE CANNOT FORGIVE

I feel like I made my feelings about this album pretty clear in my review, but perhaps they bear reiterating. I wanted to like this album a lot more than I ended up doing. I’m still a fan of the band, and I do still think there’s a brace of really good songs to be found on here. It’s just that, particularly when compared to Song of the Crippled Bull and The Wreckage of Stars, too much of Selves We Cannot Forgive feels fragmented and awkwardly put together. Things just don’t seem to gel or flow as well or as smoothly as they have previously. This doesn’t make it a “bad” album though, just a bit of a disappointing one.

 

 

deftones-gore

DEFTONES – GORE

This is the first of several potentially controversial entries on this list, and for that I (semi) apologise.

It’s not that there aren’t good songs on Gore though. I’m particularly partial to “Prayers / Triangles” and “Hearts / Wires”. But the majority of this album is just so… bland.

It’s nowhere near terrible of course. These guys are far too talented and far too experienced for that. But this is far from their best work. Which is unfortunate as I was really hoping the band would go three for three after how good both Diamond Eyes and Koi No Yokan were.

 

 

Enthean-Priests of Annihilation

ENTHEAN – PRIESTS OF ANNIHILATION

As much as I wanted to like Priests of Annihilation, the final product doesn’t quite live up to the band’s obvious potential. There’s enough material here – “Before You, I Am”, “Dysthnasia”, “Bring Forth the Raven”, “Invalesc de Profundis” – to make a REALLY good EP but, as an album, it’s only as good as it’s weakest link(s).

 

 

The Foreshadowing-Seven Heads Ten Horns

THE FORESHADOWING – SEVEN HEADS, TEN HORNS

Not a terrible album by any means, the chief issue with Seven Heads, Ten Horns, is its general lack of pizazz. There’s nothing really that stands out or makes a major impact. It’s competent, well-polished, and obviously sincere, but it never quite rises above merely “adequate”.

 

 

Omnium Gatherum-Grey Heavens

OMNIUM GATHERUM – GREY HEAVENS

If you’ve read my review of this album then you probably won’t be surprised to see it on this list. After two absolutely stellar albums in New World Shadows and Beyond, album number seven saw the fabulous Finns dropping the ball pretty hard.

It will have its defenders of course, but I can’t for the life of me understand anyone claiming that this is “one of the best albums of the year”. It’s just so… so… lacklustre.

Though there are some good tracks here and there, the majority of Grey Heavens sounds like the band trying to replicate the same formula which made both their previous albums so successful, but with none of the same spark. It’s the very epitome of the law of diminishing returns.

There’s a handful of really good songs (“The Pit” and “Storm Front” in particular), but a good 60-70 percent of this album is upsettingly skip-worthy.

 

 

Opeth-Sorceress

OPETH – SORCERESS

Despite what some of you might think, I’m actually quite sad to be including this one here. I enjoyed Pale Communion quite a bit, and my early impressions of this album were (cautiously) positive.

Unfortunately it’s been ten years since Opeth last released a truly “Great” album (Ghost Reveries), and now that they’re properly settling into their new-found pure Prog groove, Sorceress really should have been a home-run, grand-slam, three-point touchdown.

Shut up, I know sports.

But it isn’t. Not because it’s “not Death Metal”, or anything like that, but because it’s just so depressingly unremarkable.

And we know that Opeth can do better than that. They have before, and I believe they can do again.

 

 

walls-of-jericho-no-one-can-save-you-from-yourself

WALLS OF JERICHO – NO ONE CAN SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELF

You may not be aware of this, but I’m actually a big fan of Walls of Jericho. And, in fact, I’m a big fan of a lot of this album. More specifically the second half of this album, which picks up significantly after “Cutbird”.

In fact, the run of songs from “Cutbird” – “Relentless”, “Damage Done”, “Reign Supreme” – is actually pretty damn hot, the band cranking out those Hardcore-ised Slayer riffs and raging, impassoned vocals, like their lives depend on it.

But in the end this one is mainly a bit of a disappointment because of it’s 50:50 ratio between killer and filler. When it’s killer it’s really killer, but when it’s filler… well… it’s hard to keep your finger away from the ‘skip’ button.

 

 

Whitechapel-Mark of the Blade

WHITECHAPEL – MARK OF THE BLADE

Let me make one thing clear. This Is Exile, A New Era of Corruption, Whitechapel… these are all good albums. I’m a well-documented fan of the latter in particular. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who was disappointed by this album.

Of course the band still have a hardened cadre of fanboys (and girls) willing to defend everything they do as amazing and new and totally unique… but I’m pretty sure even some of them must be able to smell that something’s not quite right here?

To be fair there’s nothing intrinsically terrible about Mark of the Blade. I’ve heard enough albums over the years that are badly written, badly played, or badly produced (often all three) to be able to say with confidence that this isn’t one of those. It’s just the sound of a band aiming straight for the middle.

You see, although some might claim that this is a “fresh, new direction” (for Whitechapel it may be, I suppose), in reality there’s nothing new or original here, as it’s mostly just a bland and toothless mash-up of torrid cliché and mawkish melodrama pulled straight from the Stone Sour/Slipknot Guide to Mainstream Success.

 

 

Zeal and Ardor-Devil Is Fine

ZEAL AND ARDOR – DEVIL IS FINE

The idea of mixing Black Metal and African-American slave music undoubtedly sounds good on paper. After all, Black Metal often thrives when blended with folk and traditional elements. But where Zeal and Ardor is concerned, the execution simply doesn’t match the intention.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the songs here are pretty good on their own terms. But the whole package is notably less than the sum of its parts.

And, largely, this is because the two main musical elements – Black Metal and traditional slave chants – just aren’t blended together all that well in my opinion. As a matter of fact the divide between the two sides is often pretty striking, with whole segments (sometimes whole songs) cordoned off for one or the other, with not much in the way of “blending” going on at all.

Ultimately, while this album is certainly an interesting concept, it feels like a lot of the hype and praise it’s been getting has been for how interesting it is as an idea, more than how it sounds in actuality.

 

******

 

Now hopefully I won’t have pissed off too many of our readers here, and I hope that whatever criticisms I’ve laid out above come across in a way that’s as fair and as balanced as I’ve tried to be.

I’m not trying to start any shit-stirring flame-wars, or trolling for clicks (we don’t make any money off ads, or anything else, here at NCS, so there’d be no incentive towards any of that, even if I/we were so inclined). All I’m doing is offering an opinion.

And, since it’s an opinion, you’re free to disagree with it!

But I also hope that you can respect it. Only time will tell…

 

Anyway, onwards and upwards to bigger and better things. Tomorrow is the list of all the albums from this year (the ones I’ve heard anyway) that sit somewhere under that big ol’ bell-curve marked “Good”.

And it’s a big list, so I’m hopeful that there will be lots of new delights for you all to discover.

Until then, I bid you, adieu.

  74 Responses to “2016 – A YEAR IN REVIEW(S): THE DISAPPOINTING ALBUMS”

  1. Good call on both Aenaeon and Z&A . Hypnosophy falls apart for the exact reasons you delineate. As for Zeal and Ardor…this is a collection of excellent, fragmentary ideas which might be used for a cohesive album in the future…and I don’t think Manuel Gagneux EVER intended it to be more than that. The critical attention it has received is a bit jarring, to be frank.

    • That’s very well put about Z & A to be honest. And sounds much less negative than what I wrote (even though I purposefully tried not to be a douche about it).

      • I understand and even agree with these sentiments — it is an uneven and disjointed release. But it’s one of those rare releases where I thought the bright spots shown so brightly that it deserved all the attention it eventually received. I could never bring myself to call something this interesting “disappointing”, despite its flaws.

        I have had a feeling that for those who have expressed disappointment, it may have been the result in part of measuring the listening experience against all the hype. I heard it the day it came out, before there was any buzz at all, and it floored me (I guess I may have then contributed to the hype by writing about it immediately).

        • Yeah, that’s my view. It’s uniqueness combined with some genuinely catchy and memorable songs (I defy anyone not to have Come On Down stuck in their head for days) means it’s a worthwhile release and quite fun if taken for what it is.

          I too was lucky to discover it before the hype train arrived and still genuinely enjoyed the spectacle of simplistic, yet effective, combination of unusual elements. It’s a fun exercise witnessing the reaction, often flat out indignation, of many who didn’t like it though. I still think “disappointment” should really be reserved for something that carried a more long-term expectation though; not something that simply failed to live up to the hype where the term “overrated” would more likely be employed. For me having the likes of Opeth here doesn’t really quality as disappointing seeing as most it would seem had very low expectations, though that really depends on how you felt about Pale Communion.

          • You and I are seeing this the same way. This says it well: “I still think “disappointment” should really be reserved for something that carried a more long-term expectation though; not something that simply failed to live up to the hype where the term “overrated” would more likely be employed.”

    • Well I hadn’t heard or heard of the Z&A until this very post, but the combo certainly sounded intriguing. I’ll be honest, I love the first song, where the blackened elements are subtle and in the background. The second song I cannot get behind at all. They don’t sound even remotely part of the same release to me. I’d like to hear him try and expand on the sound he created in the first track, because it’s definitely unique, and catchy to boot.

      • Woops, apparently there are more than two songs, I’m just going by the two on spotify/bandcamp (Devil is Fine and Children’s Summons). I’d like to hear the whole thing.

        • Yes, you should definitely listen to the whole thing. Granted, the first song is the stand-out, and there are some weird twists and turns ahead, but I think you’ll find some other things to like along the way.

      • That is a good point in itself, many of the tracks sound, if not from different artists, then definitely like they should be from different releases.

  2. *Aenaon.

  3. I actually agree with all of this, except for Zeal & Ardor. I figured if Gojira was going to be on a list it’d be on this one, though.

  4. Completely agree with Omnium Gatherum release. I thought Frontiers was their only listenable track. Not really ‘Adult oriented death metal’.

  5. I’d put Numenorean – Home here.
    Not because of the controversial cover which I find a rather childish (no pun intended) way of attemption seeking.
    But after their EP which I absolutely love “Home” was a rather run of the mill post-black/shoe gaze whatever release.

    • Yeah, I didn’t think that was a very good album myself. I probably should have included it (especially since I included Ghost Bath last year). Good catch!

  6. Thank God someone else said it about ZEAL AND ARDOR. Sooooooo overrated and not a very good outing in general. I don’t know what everyone else is hearing but I hear nothing enticing at all with this release.

  7. Cobalt for me. I had a lot of expectations on that record and couldn’t have imaged it would turn out so bloated and dull. What a shame

    Bolzer’s was a little underwhelming too, most notably those cringe-inducing clean vocals which sounded like they belonged on a cheesy EBM or industrial record or something.

    Blut aus Nord’s split alongside Ævangelist is more evidence that Ævangelist need to get a decent producer in if they’ve ever going to match Omniquity and De Masticatione Mortuorum in Tumulis in terms of brilliance, and that Blut aus Nord really need to take a break as they haven’t been worth listening to since Liber II.

    Terra Tenebrosa struck me as being really clownish sounding as well so that was a definite let down.

  8. “Deftones”? That’s laughable! Rob Zombie put out the worst 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!

    Ok, I know there’s a pretty big distinction between “disappointing” and just plain “bad”. It’s been so long since I was drawn to Opeth that I can’t muster any disappointment for “Sorceress”. “Gore” was a definite drop-off after “Koi…” but for some reason I was expecting that.

    I know that pistols at dawn are an extravagance permitted only to gentlemen, but perhaps my own disappointments will at least inspire a cosh to the back of the head?

    Chthe’ilist was a letdown. I dug the EP but the album falls flat. I’m a huge fan of Demilich, and I don’t think Chthe’ilist is guilty of the straight up worship they’re accused of, but I do think they were more concerned with sound and style than songwriting here. Nothing stuck (except maybe those great solos). Similarly, I was unmoved by the latest Zealotry, which I didn’t think lived up to the promise they had shown. Altarage seemed like they were trying really hard to cover up a lack of riffs and songwriting with murk and distortion. Bölzer seemed like they led with their best track, and I found the album a whole underwhelming, but i need to go back and be fair to it.

    Forteresse and Uada (and honestly Hyperion, even though i do like it) all irritated me with their unwillingness to break out of the little melodic boxes they’d built for themselves. I see those names on a lot of lists and I don’t get it, seems like they’re just flogging the same chord progressions that have been done to death since the mid 90s, with slight differences in execution that feel more like window dressing than originality. Schammasch could have had a really solid (single) album if they’d trimmed the fat and arranged things differently; I’m not opposed to the atmospheric stuff, but it didn’t pull its weight, I found myself wishing I was listening to Lisa Gerrard, and the marketing concept (brilliant triple album! Three movements! High art!) came off as some pretentious BS.

    I’m sure there are others that aren’t coming to mind right now. Ultimately it’s not important. I do plan to revisit several of them, but now I need to finish my coffee.

    • Forgot about Chthe’ilist. I totally agree. After the crushing demo I was expecting something astounding but as you say it was style and sound over substance. Interestingly I thought the ending track ‘Tales of the Majora Mythos Part I’ is where they need to head on the next record. Genuinely pretty fine and expansive black metal track that one. Didn’t see the fuss over Altarage either. I think we’ve had enough of that type of record for the time being.

      • Yeah, that Profound Lore-style murk doesn’t really work unless there’s an actual gem underneath that’s worth uncovering. I remember a similar letdown from Abyssal’s “Antikatastaseis”, after loving their first two albums.

    • Good assessment of Forteresse and Uada. Solid efforts and Uada is fucking awesome live, but in both of those records I am missing the hooks and surprises that would have me coming back to them in the future. Perhaps I just haven’t put in enough time with them yet, but there’s plenty out there I’d rather revisit.

    • That Chthe’ilist actually gets a mention at the start of my “Great” list as one of the albums whose name I’ve seen around everywhere, but which I never got round to checking out.

  9. As a defender of Prog Rock Opeth, Sorceress was a bit of a let down. Not a bad record by any means, but I haven’t been compelled to play it since I spun it a few times when it came out. That being said, I’d love to finally get to see them with Gojira next year. Hopefully I can make one of those dates.

    Hearing the preview tracks for Whitechapel’s latest just didn’t excite me for the album, to the point where I never actually listened to it.

    Only one I disagree with is Deftones, which is on my short list of my favorite albums of the year, but I will admit to being somewhat of a fanboy of theirs and can totally respect where you and others are coming from.

    Keep up the great work and can’t wait to see what you put on your “Good” and “Great” lists. Have a great day!

  10. I would definitely agree that the Black Crown Initiate and Opeth albums were a complete let down. I really wanted to like them both, but I just couldn’t find enough good in either of them to make the experience worthwhile.

  11. I didn’t think half of these bands were really covered here on NCS. But here’s what I thought was lackluster:

    I thought Ulver put out a throwaway record.

    Anaal Nathrakh successfully made the same record 4 times in a row.

    This was not among Neurosis’ best by any means. Who on earth would even rank it in their top 7?

    Meshuggah’s was laughably bland. Does not reach the technical ecstasy of their upper tier.

    Devin Townsend needs to stop thinking about his live shows’ bottom line, Transcendence was only slightly better than the terrible run of records since what…. goddamn Epicloud?

    Katatonia was totally forgettable. Oh, what are they doing new?… nothing? Cool.

    In Mourning had an awful production job, barely listenable.

    Cobalt was full of those ‘this goes on for how long?’ moments.

    Obscura put out a Cynic tribute record without a single memorable hook. Incredible feat. It did have some nice artwork though.

    In some ways this year saw the old names attempt to remain in the public consciousness, trapped in the 2 year cycle, without the leeway to sit down and make the record they should have.

    • Well someone’s a negative nancy today…

      In all seriousness though, I covered 6 of those myself, and several of them (not just the ones I covered) are going to appear on the “Great” list on Wednesday.

      It seems we may not have complementary tastes!

      • Fair enough, where there’s little cross-over there’s diversity and surprise.

        • Both tomorrow and Wednesday are BIG lists though, so hopefully you will still find some stuff you like.

          • This year was strange for me in most ways. The old favourites disappointed, while my least sought-after genre, black metal, provided the sheer highlights. With Thrawsunblat, Ihsahn, Skuggsja, Astronoid, all delivering surprisingly great records, I suppose I’m now more open to the idea of ‘surprise’, as it were.

    • Regarding Meshuggah and Neurosis, I don’t agree – I think both albums are the best they’ve done in a while. Neurosis stopped offering anything new years ago, but they don’t sound tired on this one, at least… Not that it wound up on my list, mind you. Meshuggah’s album is a bit flawed – I think the vocals drag it down, and it could have used more textural variety – but it’s the best collection of songs they’ve put together since Nothing IMO. Destroy Erase Improve is still their high point to me.

      I agree about Katatonia, thoroughly uninteresting album that sounded like a collection of cutting-room-floor ideas from their last few.

    • “Anaal Nathrakh successfully made the same record 4 times in a row.”

      Holy shit…this x100!

  12. I’d add:

    Alcest “Kodama”- Even though this more of a return to form after “Shelter” I just can’t seem to find anything remarkable about it. Les Voyages de l’Âme was a tough act to follow. I find myself liking “Shelter” even more now, if only to listen to “Away” endlessly on repeat.

    Inter Arma “Paradise Gallows” – How can a band that made the most engaging, enjoyable 45 minute long song (The Cavern) ever written follow it up with such a dull, dragging album? It’s got some of the variety of styles that made “Sky Burial” such a great album, but there’s an overabundance of dull doom. After the raucous “Transfiguration” everything afterwards that’s not “Potomac” or “Where the Earth Meets the Sky” just sucks the life out of this album.

    • I agree with Alcest for sure. “Kodama” wasn’t awful but it wasn’t on the same level as Ecailles or “Les voyages de l’ame”, or even “Shelter”, really.

    • I’m a converted Inter Arma skeptic. To me Inter Arma made the epic, sweeping record with lots of memorable hooks that I had been hoping for from Cobalt this year. (While Slow Forever is a good record, there’s no way it can live up to Gin.) Inter Arma on the other hand managed to create a record that mixes phases of crushing heaviness and driving beats with moments of respite while never losing focus. It doesn’t get boring to me. Perhaps seeing them play many of those songs live also won me over.

      • They were phenomenal when I saw them a few years ago with Ulcerate. Great sound and performances, and their vocalist was captivating. Something about the recordings hasn’t clicked for me yet. I want to enjoy them more than I do.

      • I actually prefer Slow Forever to Gin myself. Though pretty much every Cobalt record is awesome.

    • Damn, I agree, the only good thing about the new Alcest is the drums sound.

  13. Totally agree with your assessment re Zeal & Ardor. Not bad at all, lots of potential, some good moments, but the hype far exceeds the actual merits of the record. I think I had it in the 30s in my top 50 list intermittently and as I held it up for comparison with other records by bands who had spent more years honing their craft and writing cohesive songs it progressively slipped in my ranking, until it dropped out altogether. Clearly a talented individual though.

  14. I was kind of disappointed in the new Jon Pardi album. For all the hype it just sounded stiff and uninspired. The new Miranda Lambert double disc is way, way better.

  15. Definitely agree on BCI – I’ve loved everything they’ve done, but for me this new one just didn’t stick. When I’ve occasionally listened to it I’ve found it enjoyable, but then I just straight up forget about it for months. Ditto for Deftones – I was fine with Gore when I listened to it, but I had no desire to keep going back to it like I did with Koi No Yokan.

    I actually rather liked the new Opeth record, and at this point my expectations for them aren’t sky high so I couldn’t have called it disapppointing. And I’m inclined to disagree on Zeal and Ardor, but I haven’t actually spun it in a bit, so I don’t feel like I should pass judgment on it for the moment. I did come into it pretty early on, before the hype got overblown, so, as with other commenters, that might color my impression of the disc.

  16. There’s only one album I like on here, usually there’s a handful to get me all rustled in the pants. I thought Sorceress was the best of the new-era Opeth, I still spin it often.

  17. Im also feeling strangely bland on the new Cobalt. Just felt so long. And it even started off so good, but I felt like it was just doing the same thing, rinse and repeat, for sooooo long.

    Bolzer was only okay. I really had hoped for a clear winner, but its not anything worth revisiting to me.

    Terra Tenebrosa was another big let down. The preview song was amazing and I had only recently gotten into them and was wowed by the experience, so I really had gotten my hopes up quick, but it just never gelled with me like the last two releases.

    Aenaeon was another. I kept trying and somehow never penetrated it. I thought maybe I’d just need more time, but I don’t have tons of time, so I’d rather listen to a pure winner than an album I feel Im struggling with.

    The Chthe’ilist EP was so murky and amazing, I really had hoped for something incredible this time around. Instead I felt like it was less murk and more wank.

    Speaking of Wank. Vale of Pnath also let me down. By no means a bad album, but sorely lacking just about everything that made The Prodigal Empire amazing in every way.

    Mare Cognitum, Thy Catafalque and Inquisition all were “ok” albums, but all were a definite step down from at least two great albums in a row from each band.

  18. I agree with Omnium Gatherum. They leapfrogged to my favorite melodic death metal band after Beyond was released. I thought they really hit their stride with that album and NWS. Gray Heavens is solid but nowhere near the others. As you said, a good 70% is skip worthy. In fact, I only like 3 songs: Storm Front, Obsidian Sunrise and Frontiers.

  19. Honestly, I didnt run into too many disappointing albums, but, then again, I tend not to pay attention to a lot of the bigger name releases like Opeth or Whitechapel.

    The only ones that didnt really do it for me are:

    Bolzer, which I think zigged when a lot of people, including me, expected them to zag. They were never going to live up to the hype of the EP’s, but I think focusing on the cleaner vocals with less emphasis on the great riffs made this one D.O.A.from the start

    Ravencult: This one really just came down to production for me. This style of punk influenced, thrashy black metal benefits from a rougher sound. Getting picked up by Metal Blade seems to have given them access to a better production budget, and like a lot of bands, they made use of it to their detriment.

  20. In “defense” of The Foreshadowing, the 14-minutes long closer Nimrod (which admittedly is composed of five almost seamless movements) is a great song. Other than that, the album wasn’t particularly memorable. More like “okay”. Very disappointing if compared to their debut. A debut they never seem to outdo.

    • Perhaps I need to go back to it again. But it doesn’t seem to have given me any reasons to do so. It’s a conundrum.

  21. ZEAL AND ARDOR – DEVIL IS FINE is the most overrated shit of the year. Apart from 1 track, the rest is really forgettable and dull.

  22. There are a couple I have a thing or two to say about. However, one disclaimer: I really enjoy your lists Andy, so thanks!

    DEFTONES – GORE
    Personally, I feel the album is very much on par with Koi No Yokan. Not quite as strong as a whole, but a few standout tracks (like the ones you mentioned) that are superior to any individual material on their previous release. I’d say Gore was exactly in line with my personal expectations.

    OMNIUM GATHERUM – GREY HEAVENS
    At first, I was disappointed, much like yourself. But somehow, after giving it spin after spin, I have got to give Grey Havens credit for one thing: it’s an enjoyablably catchy release. Indeed, nowhere nearly as groundbreaking as New World Shadows or carrying as much weight as Beyond, but to me still a very pleasant record to listen to.

    OPETH – SORCERESS
    I hated Heritage so much that Opeth would have to catch me off guard very severely to disappoint me again. Pale Communion was actually a brilliant record, while the current Sorceress to me is just very average. So all in all, not a truly disappointing one for me.

  23. You’re fucking high! Black Crown Initiate was not only their best effort, it’s the best metal album of 2016! The songwriting? Impeccable! The arrangements? Phenomenal! Production? A tad bass heavy, but still, crystal clear and nearly perfect sounding. SWCF is EVERYTHING Magma should have been, but wasn’t. It sounds like Behemoth, Gojira, and The Mars Volta had a gangbang. It’s fucking perfection in every way.

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