This is probably one of the hardest lists I’ve had to make in a while. 2016 has been such a great year in terms of metal music, and even in other genres of music as well. This list will just be in alphabetical order. Having to put everything into only a top 10 was more difficult and I feel that if I had to rank them even further that my brain would explode. Anyway, take a gander and check out the bands. For the ones you don’t know about, I urge you to check them out and form your own solid opinion about them. Speaking of opinions, this list is my own and I hope you use it to find something new out there. That’s what these things are all about!
Allegaeon – Proponent For Sentience
Ugh, such an underrated band. Allegaeon release their fourth full length record, Proponent For Sentience, which I feel is some of their best work to date in terms of songwriting and sound. This is the first album to feature their new vocalist, Riley McShane, who does an outstanding job all around. I was hesitant to give him a listen when they released the first single of the album, but after a few ear sessions I felt like he had to be the best fit for the band next to their previous vocalist. Also, “All Hail Science” is such a kick ass song.
An Autumn For Crippled Children – Eternal
This band is somehow able to combine so many conflicting ideas into one and make it sound extraordinary. Eternal fuses anguish and depression with subtle sounds of dreams and hope, ultimately creating a true translation of the process of life. Uplifting guitar riffs combined with moaning screams of pain will definitely confuse the listener their first time through but once you let it all sink in and adjust to the storytelling it all makes sense in practically an instant. This is a great record to listen to when you have some time to yourself and want to reflect.
Bölzer – Hero
Finally, a full length album from this up and coming project. Bölzer’s sound is hard to pinpoint, but one could describe them as an epic, tribal death metal band. Their sound is primal yet so boisterous. The vocals are one of the key listening aspects of the band, definitely falling outside of the boundaries of what you’d normally hear from pretty much any group within the same vein. Hero is great to listen to when you want a loud yet meditative experience.
Dark Tranquillity – Atoma
The Swedish melodic death metal masters are back and going back to some of their roots with Atoma. While I did like their previous full length, Construct, I couldn’t help but feel that it lacked something. Atoma washes these feelings away and instead instills a thirst. Dark Tranquillity attack with a vengeance and even throw in some flare with the addition of clean vocals on a few tracks. I’m glad to see a legendary band continue to pump out quality music that sounds like their own yet still find ways to change up little details to give it a more invigorating vibe.
Dissona – Paleopneumatic
This is a band that isn’t too well-known. Hailing from Chicago, Dissona play in an interesting vein of progressive metal. Soaring melodies, crushing riffs, and beyond extensive songwriting. This band helped me appreciate progressive music more as a whole and are one of the few reasons why I gave the sub-genre a chance. Paleopneumatic is a prog fanboy’s wet dream, including a lot of different influences and structures without taking away from the music at all. It is far from pretentious and I will always love that about the band.
Fallujah – Dreamless
I didn’t even know that death metal could have such an atmospheric tone to it until I heard of this band. After hearing The Flesh Prevails, I wasn’t sure that the band could top the quality the record set, but they did. Dreamless continued the sound of the group and furthered it even more. Dark ambient interludes leave the listener in a continuous dreamstate while the melodically crushing passages went in the totally opposite direction. Dreamless was an easy album to get into but one could find so many details with every listen that replayability was inevitable.
Frozen Ocean – The Prowess of Dormition + A Faded Missive Therefrom
Ok, so The Prowess of Dormition is more of an EP than an album, but when you combine it with the dark ambient electronic release A Faded Missive Therefrom, it could definitely be considered a full length. These two works create a cold, atmospheric world that you don’t want to leave and immediately calls for repeated listening. I haven’t taken the time to insert the tracks from the compilation into the EP to make it work like some sort of concept album but you can listen to them separately and still feel fulfilled by the experiences.
Heaven Shall Burn – Wanderer
This record took some time to get into, but after a few listens I was hooked. Heaven Shall Burn play a fusion of melodic death metal and metalcore. I’m not talking about some later In Flames type of stuff, I’m talking about the ferocious punch of melodic death metal meeting face to face with some heavy riffage and structure of metalcore. This is the type of album that you’d take with you to the gym and somehow end up lifting twice your body weight effortlessly. Also, the vocals here are phenomenal and I need more of them in my life.
The Browning – Isolation
I totally understand if you feel like I should be showing off my poser card with this one, but honestly I don’t rightly care. The Browning have created one of the coolest and catchiest electronica deathcore albums ever. I had heard of the band before, but holy shit does Isolation bring out something fierce. The songwriting comes off as simple but when you dig a bit deeper, everything feeds off of one another. Deathcore provides a vast amount of momentum with its anger and ferocity while the electronica amps up the energy to 13. This never-ending circle gives this release life in so many ways. I find myself hitting the repeat button multiple times in one sitting listening to this.
Trees of Eternity – Hour Of The Nightingale
This is definitely a doom album. And what makes it even more of a doom album is the fact that the vocalist on Hour of The Nightingale had died in April of 2016. It’s sad to see a project lose one of its key voices to something as shitty as cancer. Aleah Stanbridge will always be remembered for her amazing talent, and it’s good to see that in the final days her voice made its way to this opus. This record is the very definition of emotion and haunting. Think of those horror stories of a woman in black/white, aimlessly making her way through the forest, casually singing her beautifully morbid siren song to those nearby. If I had to choose one item on this list as my absolute favorite, it would most definitely be this one. R.I.P. Aleah Stanbridge. You will be forever remembered.