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Best of 2016 - A very late best of 2016 in metal and rock according to Neurotic
2016 was personally an excellent year of releases in the realms of rock and metal. Of course the Grim Reaper took quite a few legendary musicians last year, which put an unfortunate black line around 2016, but in this piece I want to focus solely on the best 10 releases according to my infinite wisdom (okay and a bit of personal taste). DISCLAIMER: While I have listened to a huge amount of albums last year, I couldn’t form an opinion on every album, because of too few spins (Oceans of Slumber come to mind for example). Next to that there are albums that I just haven’t got to yet (Meshuggah, Testament etc.).So basically this is a list with album I listened to frequently enough to form an opinion and which I enjoyed the most out of all those albums
It was really difficult this year to form a top 10 and I noticed while writing this article the order of top 10 or even which albums were or weren’t in the top 10 changed almost daily, which is a testament about what a great musical year 2016 was. So I included a honourable mention for those great albums, which just missed the cut this year.
Honorable mentions (in no specific order):
·         Anthrax – For All Kings: Good album, but no Worship Music or We’ve Come For You All. While there are some excellent songs (‘Breathing Lightning’ for example), it had less replay value for me than their previous two.
·         Megadeth – Dystopia: One of my favorite all time bands. Dystopia was one of the last cuts. Really good album and a return to form after Supercollider and Thirteen.
·         Dear Delusion – Sleep Of Reason: A January release and for me a totally unknown band, but I really am impressed with this really. Highly recommended for people who have a weak spot for a grungy, dark rock sound.
·         Textures  - Phenotype: Was floating for months on the top of my list, but also failed to make the top 10. A few really great songs, but with two instrumentals I felt that it could have used a bit more “real” songs.
·         Wolfmother – Victorious: It was nog given as much attention as the first two albums and it is not in the same league, but highly enjoyable!
·         Alter Bridge – The Last Hero: An album I first was a bit let down with compared to for example Fortress, but it is creeping up in my rotation and I tend to go back to it quite often.
·         Ignite – A War Against Us: Not much to say about it, just pure quality.
On to the top 10!
10. Metallica – Hardwired….To Self Destruct
Worked its way into my top 10 just barely. This is basically because of the stiff competition of for example Megadeth (how fitting). I read numerous reviews on Hardwired and they are really divisive. I am in the group of people, who really enjoyed the album. A mix between Load, The Black Album and ..And Justice For All, but still with a somewhat bluesy like undertone. Some real bangers like ‘Moth To Flame’ and ‘Atlas, Rise’, but I also got sucked in songs like ‘Am I Savage?´ and ‘Dream No More´. Much better in my opinion than Death Magnetic, but I do share the opinion that it is a bit too long and there are also some skip worthy songs on it.
09. Dark Tranquillity – Atoma
Dark Tranquillity had lost my interest a bit with lacklustre efforts like Construct and We Are The Void, but with Atoma they are back in the mix. It brought me back to albums like Damage Done (my favourite DT album) and Character. Excellent melodic death album that brings the melodeath champions back on their throne!
08. Black Income – Noise Pollution
What is it with me and Danish rock bands? A few years ago Malrun surprised me, two years ago Saint Rebel and now Black Income. Grunge was booming during my formative years, I exactly know when it was the first time I heard Nevermind and Ten. Superunknown is still one of my favourite albums ever made. Black Income’s Noise Pollution is of course not up to that level, but it is still highly enjoyable and highly recommended for people who have a soft spot for grunge music. I am very sorry that I don’t hear that many new and upcoming bands that play this kind of music anymore (the last band in this vein that impressed me was Battalion Of Flies, a Scottish band who stopped after one album). Black Income has pumped some fresh blood into my veins!
07. Walls Of Jericho – No One Can Save You From Yourself
The best hardcore album of 2017 came from Walls Of Jericho. After a very very very long lay of, they finally returned to the scene. A very empowering and positive record, despite all the rage that found  its way on the album. ‘Relentless’ is one of my favourite and most played songs of 2017. The intro and the subject really brought chills to my bones.
06. Death Angel – Evil Divide
The old thrash giants all came with some excellent albums. Hardwired made it to my top 10, Dystopia just missed the cut and also For All Kings I enjoyed. The Testament album is still on my “to listen list”, but got some really good reviews. Of all the thrash albums I listened to though, there was only one that topped them all. Relentless Retribution was a huge let down for me after Killing Season and it hasn’t left my cd collection after the first few spins when I just bought the album. The Dream Calls For Blood was already a tad more interesting, but I didn’t know that the sympathetic fellows of Death Angel had it in them to write such a great thrash album (again). It even tops Killing Season for me and that says a lot in my book. Great album, can’t wait to see the guys again in The Netherlands!
05. A Day To Remember – Bad Vibrations
A band that frequently popped on my lists of bands that I still had to listen to sometimes. With Bad Vibrations being their sixth studio album and my introduction to the band. I had a blast listening to this album, it showed to be an excellent album for in the car when I was on my way to some uninteresting projects for work. It definitely gave me a good feeling to start the day ‘Naievty’ is, I think, one of my most played songs of 2016, but the rest of the album is also more than worthy of your time. How does it stack up against their previous albums? I don’t have a clue, but what I do know is that I am going to spit around in their back catalogue a bit.
04. Giraffe Tongue Orchestra – Broken Lines
A supergroup in the truest sense of the word. No guys that played only on tours with a well known band or interim drummers of a Billboard darling, but real artists that play big roles in their respective bands. The biggest surprise is William Duvall, while I like his vocals on the Alice In Chains records, what he shows here is really remarkable. Multiple great songs with interesting build ups makes Broken Lines a must hear.
03. Highly Suspect – The Boy Who Died Wolf
A late inclusion in this top ten, but it stormed it’s way near to the top immediately. For me this album came literally out of nowhere. It was recommended through Youtube, when I was listening to some run-of-the mill band, which didn’t stuck with me. The moment I heard ‘My Name Is Human’, I was sold. This album has everything I like in a good rock album, anthems, clever hooks, excellent vocals and interesting chords. Rock it is, no metal to be found here at all. The vocals of Johnny Stevens pulled me in, but the mix of various genres is what made me stay.
02. The Temperance Movement – White Bear
When I take my notes on their self-titled album, it basically reads like it was an uninteresting album. After multiple listens to White Bear and the love I have for this album though, I assume that I listened to their self-titled when I was not in the mood for some high quality bluesrock. White Bear breathes atmosphere and positivity. ‘A Pleasant Peace I Feel’ and ‘Get Yourself Free’ are on
continuous heavy rotation.
01. Gojira – Magma
I am not alone in my opinion on this album nor am I very original for making it my number one album, but how on earth could I make a different decision? L’Enfant Sauvage was for me already a step in the right direction, but Magma expands and improves Gojira their sound in every way. Songwriting has been stepped up a notch and feel less repetitive than previous records. This is also one of the main critiques a lot of people had on this album it is too song orientated and less riff orientated, it is indeed less heavy than their previous efforts, but I don’t give a damn if less heavy means better songs. ‘Stranded’, ‘Silvera’, ‘The Shooting Star’….this disc is filled with some marvellous songs, which also translate excellently to their live performances.
Concluding, music wise 2016 brought me a lot of great discs and tunes. Happy to see my favourite bands came up with some quality material, although Rival Sons and Amon Amarth releases let me a bit down compared to their previous work.