(Each day last week we rolled out a part of DGR’s list of his favorite 50 albums of 2016. In this 6th and final installment of his year-end list we have not-metal favorites, awards, confessions of shame, and other miscellaneous stuff. Follow these links for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 of the list.)
I often try to include a small segment of not-metal shit that I’ve listened to during year soon ending, and to be honest, the rotation kind of stays the same. But it’s only because I feel like these groups absolutely nail it. However, I can fully understand that the “DGR pitches Fixt-label and Celldweller music” paragraph can be tiring, which sucks, because both of Klayton’s Scandroid and Circle Of Dust discs came out this year and they’re both GREAT.
However, that’s not going to fully stop me from putting all my credibility underneath a dump truck’s tires and then backing over it until it is a fine paste, so here’s a small taste of the rock and electronica stuff I got around to this year.
The Algorithm – Brute Force
I have an immense soft spot for The Algorithm, an electronica artist gone mad with his ability to program drums and play guitar, basically sounding like a djent group at war with a dj. His songs seem to bounce back and forth constantly and you can never quite tell where you’re going next, other than that you’ll probably be nodding your head along.
Brute Force is more in line with his album Trojans than his previous release Octopus4 — there’s even a Trojans remix on this disc — but Brute Force remains as noisy and chaotic as ever. It proves to be a ton of fun.
Invocation Array – Onyx Philomeda
It makes sense that Bay Area-based Invocation Array have started making music for video games, because they feel like the sort of artists who would make that sort of music. The Invocation Array concept is straight out of a cyberpunk novel, and the music is electronic and guitar-driven to follow.
Onyx Philomeda serves as a follow-up to the group’s last release A Color For Fiction and basically picks up right where that left off… if not slightly more dystopian-feeling, but that may just be chalked up to aggressive opener “Nigredo”. Invocation Array appeal to a very particular Venn diagram of people, and that Venn diagram has started to look more and more like a sniper’s laser sight placed directly on my forehead, because I have enjoyed the hell out of the time I’ve had with Onyx since its release.
Katatonia – The Fall Of Hearts
Look, I adore Katatonia. I’ve loved their sad-sack brand of bullshit since I first heard it, but I think now’s the time to recognize that the Katatonia crew have moved far out of the heavier metal sphere and into a more melancholic rock one. Does that mean it’s bad? Fuck no. The Fall Of Hearts is the album that has had Katatonia playing with their sound the most to date and it includes a handful of fantastic songs like the soft acoustic number “Pale Flag” (personal fave), the actually traditional up-tempo track “Serein”, the Katatonia-as-all-hell songs “Old Heart Falls” and “Decima”.
The Fall Of Hearts may not be my favorite Katatonia album, in fact it took a while to grow on me, but I still enjoy the hell out of it.
Thenighttimeproject – Thenighttimeproject
While I’m in the melancholic rock section, lets talk about Tobias Netzell getting his clean singing on alongside Fredrik Normann for the new group Thenighttimeproject. I reviewed that disc here on the site and stand by a lot of what I said. It’s a meditative and pensive album, one that I go back to constantly (2016 was good year for sad-sack DGR, as this list demonstrates) and I remain impressed with just how far the band can travel on the tiniest melody. I loved the hell out of the song “Caustic Reflection”, though “Desert Prayers” and “Amends” grew on me a ton as well throughout the year.
Ghost – Popestar EP
Here’s your obligatory reminder that I happen to really enjoy Ghost. The new song “Square Hammer” is the catchiest and most radio-friendly rock song the band have ever done and I genuinely enjoyed all of the covers that made up the rest of the EP. Part of me wants to high-five the group in general for reminding people that there is actually another Eurythmics song out there other than “Sweet Dreams”.
Hey! Listen to this disc because I’m fucking done trying to figure out the release date situation surrounding it and honestly who gives a shit at this point because the album is out in much wider release and should be heard:
The Infernal Sea – The Great Mortality
I have had so much fun this year trying to figure out what we should actually consider The Great Mortality’s release date that now I don’t have it in me to give a shit. The Infernal Sea themselves claim that its official release was this year; Metal-Archives claims it was 2015 since there was a release of it then on the uber-kvlt kassette tape edition.
I know I for sure wrote about it last year, pining for the fact that it did not get a wider release. So this year it gets the much-vaunted and much-desired “I don’t know when your disc came out and don’t care anymore” award. And you know what? That’s fine. Because The Great Mortality is great.
Were it an official 2016 release The Great Mortality would’ve absolutely made the cut. Hell, I put it down here because I want you guys to see it if you haven’t, because The Infernal Sea put out a fantastic bit of snarling black metal in The Great Mortality. It’s such a dynamic album as it sweeps through its collection of songs about the plague, all of it backed by an absolutely vicious vocal performance that is so shrill at times I don’t think I could ever ask the frontman to talk because I’m sure he has no voice left.
The Great Mortality has knife’s-edge-sharp guitar playing and some fantastic blast-heavy drumming. You can’t help but headbang to it as the band rumbles along during eight songs. I know it’s a little late for me to be waving the neon-lit “Holy fuck you guys should listen to this!!” sign, but trust me on this one. The Great Mortality is a fantastic release and you should absolutely check it out.
2016’s 2010 Album of the Year: Gojira – The Sea Shepherd EP
Keepin’ the dream alive y’all!
SHAMES – DISCS I DID NOT GET AROUND TO
This collection is probably misnamed because I did take the time to sit down and listen to all of these albums multiple times, but I just am not confident enough in my opinion of them to really have much to say, unlike the fifty or so discs above where I was completely talking out of my ass. I will try to keep these short, as I do recommend them for sure.
First Fragment – Dasein
This is one of my bigger misses, as the times I’ve listened to First Fragment’s Dasein it has proven itself to be one of those hyper-technical death metal albums that are absolutely up my alleyway. I’d been meaning to review this for some time but kept pushing it to the side. It hasn’t quite stuck yet, but holy hell, if you’re looking for some death metal pyrotechnics then First Fragment have you covered.
The Ritual Aura – Taether
Speaking of feats of amazing fretwork, Australian tech-death group The Ritual Aura are another one where I didn’t get a chance to really dig into their new disc, which makes me feel like shit because I enjoyed the fuck out of their previous album Laniakea. The few listens of Taether that I’ve gotten show that it’s a very different disc, a little slower, a little more -core at times, and a fucking hell of a lot bigger.
This is one that I would absolutely recommend for the deep-dive treatment, because while Laniakea may have been a huge, everything-at-once disc, Taether seems built to have something for everyone, so the expert rhythm section really gets a chance in the spotlight this time.
Polyptych – Defying The Metastasis
Defying The Metastasis is another huge album, and I came across it so late in the year that I deeply regret not getting around to it in depth. It’s clear the Polyptych guys are on to something with this disc. They make the longer songs feel like no time at all has passed, and the disc as a whole is some heavy-as-hell death metal.
Metastasis is one of those albums I would absolutely recommend to people even though I personally only have three listens on the thing. I can, however, recognize that it is pretty goddamned good.
Hannes Grossmann – The Crypts Of Sleep
Here’s one that we actually posted about a bit in its lead-up to release, especially on account of its crowd-funded launch, and then I never really got around to having a proper deep-dive listen to it. I am a garbage person.
Hannes Grossmann has shown himself to be a masterful drummer and tech-death luminary, and his Crypts Of Sleep release largely had the same lineup as the Alkaloid project, but he handled the songwriting. As a solo composer, Hannes clearly likes some complicated songwriting, even when you keep it simple with a song like “Hail Satan”. This is one for the tech-death crowd for sure.
Shoutout: Mick Gordon – Doom OST
I feel that in some way I need to include a shoutout to Mick Gordon for his work on the 2016 Doom OST. Partially because it is such a heavy groover of a video game soundtrack but also because it does a fantastic job serving as a mirror to the current metal scene, much in the way that the original Doom soundtrack did.
When the original Doom was released, metal was thrashier and more lead-driven, and I think the soundtrack (whilst being done in .midi) is a large reflection of that. It’s a time-and-place situation, and the original Doom reflected metal’s thrashier and more hair-metal sounds while still being the first-person Satan shooting game. The 2016 Doom game is full of djent guitar chugging, heavy grooving, and some proper death metal riffage. It reflects where popular metal is in 2016. It’s heavily groove-focused and reflects the constant race to down-tune.
I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t feel like I could destroy someone to the sounds of the song “BFG Division”, and you know what? I sounds like the game developers even recognized it, as that song pops up constantly.
The soundtrack has recently been made available for purchase, and if you like some heavy instrumental metal with some narration about hellwalkers and doom slayers, then I absolutely recommend it. The campaign on the game is great as well, but that’s a talk for another time.
A SMALL MORATORIUM
Please, for the next three months or so can we avoid naming bands with some sort of permutation of cemetery, grave, piss, or flesh? I get it, those are metal as fuck, but man some of these names are starting to blur just as bad as the “verb the noun” nomenclature of the metalcore explosion. I feel like the universe is going to fall up its own asshole the moment I see a band named GraveCemetaryPissFlesh.
Although I am reserving Piss Flesh. It is mine. You may have Flesh Piss. All other band names are yours — except Piss Flesh, attempt no name reservation there.
There we have it, the only music released this year in 2016 that matters. Obviously everything else is absolute garbage that isn’t worth the disc it is printed on.
Seriously, though, 2016 had so much goddamned music that I would absolutely not be shocked if you folks had whole lists of your own that contained absolutely nothing that I wrote about. You know what though? That’s fine. It is what I love about this year.
I told so many people that the 2016 release lists were going to be such a disparate bloodbath that we could be well into 2017 and worrying about playing catch-up with stuff we’ve pulled off of 2016 lists. I know I’ve already got three from some of the more major site lists that I may take a look at, on top of a silly-as-hell notepad file that just has this fucking massive list of bands I’d been meaning to check out throughout the year. It’s what I’ve been using as the seed some of my current review adventures and hopefully will continue to do so.
I also hope that 2017 is a little calmer, but if not, then this has been a fantastic few years for metal, because it feels like the scene has just exploded. That’s great. I want metal to thrive and I want it to buzz constantly with activity.
This year has been amazing, hence a top fifty and then some and I still haven’t covered everything I want to talk about. I sometimes wonder how it is that every year I can build up the will to sit down and write a tremendous list about music, retreading over stuff I’ve already reviewed, but I’ve found that I enjoy the trip backwards. It helps me catch up and burn so many fantastic songs into my brain, it reminds me of the music that I loved that year, and it feels good to do so. It’s not just out of obligation, it truly becomes a labor of love.
But alas, I can’t drown you all in text forever, so I’ll wrap it up and hope that you guys find some fantastic stuff to listen to throughout Listmania this year.