The Top 10 Metal Albums of 2016

Jimmy Hubbard

2016 reminded those of us who love heavy metal why we stick with it for life. An abundance of bands stretching the boundaries of the genre showed that there are still new musical planets to explore, while an equal abundance of groups stuck to tried-and-true methods to show that sometimes great metal is more like slipping comfortably into an old pair of shoes. We also got a Metallica album that was pretty damn good, though our picks below for the top 10 metal albums of 2016 were better.

The Top 10 Metal Albums of 2016
Prosthetic Records

10. Take Over and Destroy, Take Over and Destroy
This Phoenix group’s 2014 record, Vacant Face, made our top 10 that year thanks to the band’s expertise at infusing a psychedelic goth-rock aura to songs that were built on a foundation of groove-laden Swedish death ’n’ roll riffs. Take Over and Destroy’s newest record took that mix and cranked up the melodic goth-rock. Vocalist Andrew Leemont stood out on double duty this time, juggling his Sisters of Mercy–ish croons and death barks while also stepping in and delivering delightfully creepy organ work after the band’s keyboardist position opened up.

The Top 10 Metal Albums of 2016
Edged Circle Productions

9. Reptilian, Perennial Void Traverse
Norwegian extreme-metal label Edged Circle Productions does a stellar job finding and nurturing the next wave of Scandinavian greats. Reptilian’s debut full-length is not a pretty listen, instead hearkening back to a time when death metal was an all-around ugly sound. The frenetic musical chaos and tortured screams of vocalist/guitarist C.B. would have made this record fit in well in 1991 alongside era greats such as Autopsy. In 2016, that ugliness is a breath of fresh air and foretells a promising future for Reptilian.

The Top 10 Metal Albums of 2016
Dark Descent Records

8. Blood Incantation, Starspawn
This Denver death metal act’s first proper full-length showcases some of the best all-around musicianship to be found in 2016 metal circles. The group balance both technicality and brutality while also shrouding their din in a cocoon of progressive atmospherics, displaying an ambition that goes far beyond showing how heavy they are. The result is a compelling, complex album that reveals new tricks with each listen, from another newer death metal band with a bright future ahead. '

The Top 10 Metal Albums of 2016
20 Buck Spin

7. Khemmis, Hunted
On their second record, this Denver quartet’s brand of melodic doom metal exploits the conflicting dissonance between darkness and harmony that has propelled many genre greats to success in the past. The group’s hard-rock riffs and compositions have more in common with the head-banging faster cuts from classic acts like Trouble and Candlemass than the slow-paced sludge that has swarmed the doom genre in recent years. Guitarists/vocalists Phil Pendergast and Ben Hutcherson shine with melodic vocals that attain the perfect balance of beauty and melancholy, making this strain of metal truly great.

The Top 10 Metal Albums of 2016
Metal Blade Records

6. Amon Amarth, Jomsviking
Ten albums into their career, there really are not any surprises left from Swedish metallers Amon Amarth. You know you are going to get well-made, melodic death-metal odes to Vikings, Norse mythology and battles of ages ago. You know that Johan Hegg’s growly barks are going to lend extra weight to catchy compositions that gallop along with heavy metal thunder. Amon Amarth are done breaking new ground and locked into a comfortable groove, and heavy metal is all the better and more awesome because of it.

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