Top 10 Heavy Metal Albums Of 2016

We wrap up another year and it is time for the annual “best of” list for 2016 heavy metal releases. Old school thrash metal acts like Testament and Sodom released stellar albums this year. Symphonic metal band Delain’s newest record was a solid metal record with commercial appeal. 2016 will be remembered as the “Year of Death” due to the passing of so many celebrities this year. However, metal was alive and well this year.

Testament – The Brotherhood of the Snake

This lean and mean release is unapologetic thrash metal. Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson unleash a hailstorm of riffs and Chuck Billy’s vocals are as biting and vitriolic as ever. Brotherhood faced stiff competition from releases by Anthrax, Megadeth and Metallica, but this band managed to stand out.

Crowbar – The Serpent Only Lies

The return of original bassist Todd Strange certainly played a factor in Crowbar returning to its roots on Serpent. Frontman Kirk Windstein remarked in interviews the he listened the band’s older records for inspiration and it certainly shows on this album. Songs like the title track and “Surviving The Abyss” would easily fit on Odd Fellows Rest or the self-titled album.

Sodom – Decision Day

The teutontic trio had a stellar year with its 15th album. The band’s raw, ripping sound has not dulled after 35 years and it shows on tracks like “In Retribution,” “Caligula,” and “Blood Lions.” A head banging affair from start to finish.

Nails – You’ll Never Be One Of Us

California grindcore act Nails separate the strong from the weak with this release. Clocking in at 21 minutes, You’ll Never Be One Of Us pulls no punches musically or vocally. Napalm Death and Terrorizer made the path for extreme metal and Nails is laying pavement over it.

Delain – Moonbathers

There is a zeal of commercial appeal on Moonbathers, but the heaviness is still present. This record successfully fuses symphonic metal, pop and electronic and makes for an interesting listen. Charlotte Wessain’s angelic help drive the music, soaring like a bird over a stream of riffs.

Prong – X: No Absolutes

Prong maintains the creative renaissance it’s enjoyed since 2012’s Carved Into Stone. There are elements of hardcore, thrash, industrial and a little avant garde on No Absolutes, which made for a diverse album. Tommy Victor’s guitar playing is second to none on this record with the face ripping “Sense of Ease” and sludgy “Belief System.”

Amon Amarth – Jomsviking

Amon Amarth can do no wrong and it shows on Jomsviking. The tales of viking, raids, blood, and victory never get old and the music complements the subject matter. The band’s sound is consistent and still potent almost 25 years since the band’s formation in 1992.

Witchery – In His Infernal Majesty’s Service

The blackened-thrash supergroup return from a six year absence with this 11 track hellraiser, that puts the dead on the notice. Tracks like “Lavey-athan” “The Burning of Salem” and “Escape From Dunwich Valley” showcase the band’s uncanny ability to thrash and groove without issue.

Entombed A.D. – Dead Dawn

L.G. Petrov and company continue to explore to death n’ roll sound created by his previous band Entombed. The doom of “As The World Fell” neatly parallels the battering hardcore of “Total Death”. The band’s sophomore album is much more cohesive than its debut album and shows a very confident band.

Product of Hate – Buried in Violence

I have said this band is America’s answer to The Haunted. Buried in Violence is modern American thrash sans the retro vibe that saturated the American metal scene for several years. “Blood Coated Concrete” is an aggressive pit-inducing track that will satisfy metalheads old and new.

CD Review: ‘Dead Dawn’ by Entombed A.D.

Entombed AD return with a lethal dose of death n’ roll on its sophomore effort, Dead Dawn. This record reminds me a lot of Entombed’s 2003 record, Inferno, both in terms of production and songwriting. The band mixes elements of thrash, death, doom and punk and it makes for a fun recipe. The initial single “Midas in Reverse” has a punkish grit to it. The track is fast paced with a smidgen of death metal. “Down to Mars to Ride” is straight hardcore swag. It is straightforward death n’ roll in attitude, guttural vocals and lo-gi guitar. The dirgey “As The World Fell” lumbers along with sorrowful guitar lines that evoke a deep sense of hopelessness. The band then speed things up on “Total Death” with its razor sharp riffing and L.G.’s somewhat deciperable vocals. This track does not relent for one second and the guitar solo blasts through like a laser. The foreboding “Hubris Falls” combines classical music and doom for a regal, but downbeat ride to Hell. Baroque guitar chords collide with grinding riffs and deranged screams.

The confidence and bravado exuded by the band makes this record so enjoyable. Entombed AD are not trying to prove anything to anyone, the guys just want to play heavy music. The band stumbled a bit on its 2014 debut, Back to the Front. However, any shadow of uncertainty or doubt is nonexistent on Dead Dawn. The songs are diverse and the band does not make the mistake of recycling riffs. Entombed’s longevity is largely attributed to the band’s ability to reinvent its sound. This has drawn criticism from some in the metal genre, but acclaim from others. The band has so much to draw from that the album does not suffer from monotony. Album closer “Not What It Seems” provides a hellish end to this album with its dreamy guitar phases and rolling drums.

In all, Dead Dawn is an improvement over Back to the Front as the guys have rediscovered their confidence. The album is heavier than its predecessor and more adventurous. Entombed was at its best when it plays outside the box and Entombed AD operates in much the same way. Fans of Entombed AD’s first album or latter Entombed records will enjoy this record. The Swedish Death Metal legends are finally back to the front.

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