Hands down the most emotionally draining album of 2016 has to be Trees of Eternity’s debut full-length release “Hour of the Nightingale”. Filled with lush Atmospheric/Gothic Doom songs, this release is nearly as emotional as its back story. After a few years in limbo and a bit too late for some, released under Svart records, this release will definitely crawl up under your skin and fill you with melancholy.
Opening with Swallow the Sun-esque heavy riffs, “My Requiem” sets the listener into an emotional journey for over 62 minutes of unparalleled melancholy. As the band’s singer Aleah Stanbridge first showcases her vocal talents, the music quickly becomes even darker and more emotive. Unluckily for the world, Aleah’s talents will no longer be present as she passed before the release of this album. However, her presence in this release at least shines light of her talents and dedication to the band.
Making their triumphant return after their mostly Post-Rock only release “Shelter”, today we have Alcest and their latest effort “Kodama”. Stepping a bit back into their darker and ‘heavier’ days, this release delivers 48 minutes of the band that so many Metal heads secretly love. The band’s magical sound returns with seven songs that feature a bit of an ideological change into Japanese culture.
The album opens with the whimsical “Kodama”, a very ethereal piece that brings back memories of “Écailles de lune” and “Les Voyages de l'âme”. The dreamy vocal arrangements are made even stronger with guest vocals from Kathrine Shepard of Sylvaine. Continuing in the same vein, the quintessential Alcest shoegazy riffs open “Eclosion”, a piece that nicely builds up while delivering goose bumps. This track marks the return of Neige’s harsh vocals, something that fans thought “Shelter” was missing.
As one of the biggest surprises of 2016, today we have the return of Madder Mortem and their whacky Progressive Metal with “Red in Tooth and Claw”. Always hard to peg down and describe, this Norwegian band has consistently released very unique album and with this one they sound as crazy as ever. Delivering over 50 minutes of music, this release was definitely worth the 6 year wait.
Opening with the funky “Blood on the Sand” we are instantly transported to the band’s unique musical world. Agnete’s signature vocals perfectly lead this very engaging track that features tons of odd tempo changes and has a certain circus vibe to it. The madness continues in very different shapes as “If I could” and “Fallow Season” deliver funkadelic rhythms and very playful combinations of intricate bass guitar lines and heavy riffs.
Pushing the limits of what is defined as extreme; today we have Anaal Nathrakh and their latest crushing release: “The Whole of the Law”. Ever since the band moved to Metal Blade Records, they have been on a warpath of destruction and insanity. Delivering over 42 minutes of brutal aural devastation, the band cranks up eleven of the most chaotic and abusive songs we have ever heard.
After the slow atmospheric intro, the band opens their portal to hell with the crushing “Depravity Favours the Bold”. This track is filled with atmospheric arrangements paired with Dave Hunt’s multi-faceted range of vocals. The release continues to punish the listener with the brutal Grindcore onslaughts of “Hold Your Children Close and Pray for Oblivion”, the eerie Industrial elements of “We Will Fucking Kill You”, and the totally deranged vocals and Death Metal vibe of “So We Can Die Happy”.
Perfectly arriving for Halloween 2016 via Ván Records, today we have Urfaust and their fourth full-length release “Empty Space Mediation”. After a considerable number of single and split releases since the last full-length, this Atmospheric Black Metal duo returns with one of the most disturbing and yet captivating releases the year.
The opener sets a very hypnotic atmosphere with very minimal elements and throat singing passages which send chills through the listener’s spine. The album continues with the incisive “Meditatum II” and its brilliant atmospheric keyboards. This track quickly changes the pace of things with a perfect balance of majestic clean vocals and harsh vocals. The music is perfectly delivered in a wide variety of tempos which showcase melodic riffs and blistering drums.
As one of the most awaited Thrash Metal releases of 2016, today we have Testament and their latest opus “Brotherhood of the Snake”. As one of the originators of the Bay Area Thrash movement, Testament seems to only get better with age as this album delivers over 45 minutes of no-holds-bared Thrash-tastic music.
Opening with the intense album title track, the band quickly fires the first round with blistering drumming and crushing riffs. Paired with Steve DiGiorgio’s intricate base guitar line, this song fires on all cylinders and delivers a hectic opening that will instantly raise your pulse. The intricate guitar work of Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick brilliantly shines on killer tracks like “The Pale King”, “Seven Seals” and the amazing leads of “Neptune’s Spear”, which almost make this track, be more along the lines of Power/Progressive Metal bands.
Making a triumphant return in 2016, today we have Amaranthe and their latest opus “Maximalism”. Being one of the most polarizing bands in Metal, you either love or totally hate the band. We took a bit of warming up to the band, but with time we have grown to appreciate their efforts in bringing two different worlds together in a very bombastic and creative way.
The album opens with the startling “Maximize”, a track which features all the traditional staples that have made Amaranthe world known: catchy vocal melodies, hip beats, and an addictive chorus section. The band has never denied their Pop/main stream influences and “Boomerang” is a pretty good example of this, regardless of the growls or heavy guitars.
Djent wizards Meshuggah return with their first release in four years titled “The Violent Sleep of Reason”. While we never been huge fans of the band, tons of our readers and friends always continue to rave over the band’s polyrhythmic exploits and the acrobatic merits of the band’s intricate music. In this release, the band delivers nearly 60 minutes of music split in ten tracks that while heavy and punishing, and indeed more diverse than some of the band’s earlier material, still not quite our cup of tea.
As the release opens with pummeling tracks like “Clockworks”, “Born in Dissonance” and “MonstroCity”, we clearly appreciate the technical prowess of Fredrik Thordendal and company, but can’t quite get into the music. The songs are different from each other, but they somewhat still feel very similar thanks to the guitar work and the music time signatures. Other tracks like
By the Ton”, go as far as reminding us of a more technically engaging version of Static X or Powerman 5000.
Leveling everything on their path, today we have Neurosis and their devastating release “Fires within Fires”. Unleashed after a period of high activity from the band which saw them tour the world with handpicked 30 years anniversary shows, this release delivers over 40 minutes of soul crushing music. Featuring five songs, the album will satisfy any follower of the band and “power of the riff” connoisseurs.
Ripping things wide open with the relentless riffing of “Bending Light”, the band starts on a high note with massive walls of sound and the signature Neurosis vocal attack. Going into more hypnotic territories with the tribal-influenced “A Shadow Memory”, Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till continue their riffing onslaught in this punishing song. The atmospheric elements, courtesy of Noah Landis, in “Fire is the End Lesson” make this track one of our favorite ones.
As one of the premiere Power Metal bands in the world, Finland’s Sonata Arctica needs no introduction. Arriving early October 2016, the band unleashes their ninth full-length release appropriately titled “The Ninth Hour”. Filed with eleven tracks and around 60 minutes of high-octane music, the band is at the top of their game and delivers the levels of epicness that fans expect from them.
Opening with the dynamic “Closer to an Animal”, the band starts in typical Sonata Arctica fashion with playful guitars and keyboards and the signature Tony Kakko voice. The album continues with excellent over the top tracks like “Life”, the brilliant “Fairytale”, and the mellow “We Are What We Are”, which adds medieval/folk music influences into the mix.