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: “Decision Day” by Sodom

It took three years, but the legendary Teutonic thrash outfit Sodom is back with its fifteenth record, Decision Day. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the band’s formation in 1981. However, the band still retains the aggression and Satanic vigor of its early years. The opening track, “In Retribution,” blasts through with reckless abandon with its chainsaw riffing and maniacal drumming. Frontman and bassist Tom Angelripper’s fiendish shrieks are as menacing as they were on Persecution Mania. The title track has a strong Slayer influence with its dissonant guitar chords and double bass drumming. It is a thrasher with a solid groove but a little underwhelming compared to the initial track. However, the barraging “Caligula” is a mammoth tribute to the decadent Roman emperor. The lumbering guitar riffs sound like a centurion of demons clearing a path for Caligula himself. A Sodom record is not complete without a blasphemous track, and “Who Is God” fulfills that requirement. The punkish tempo moves things at a hellish pace before it is drowned by a molten breakdown towards the end of the song. Another standout is the hellish “Belligerence” with its sinister meld of groove, blast beats and punk. The schizophrenic nature of the track puts the listener on alert for its duration, never knowing what will happen next.

Decision Day does not attempt the reinvent the wheel. Sodom is more than able to do what it wants at this point. Still, the trio deserves props for not simply dialing it in. Decision Day has great songs and there is some solid musicianship. One should not forget that Sodom was the least technical band out of the “Teutonic Three” with Destruction and Kreator pushing the musical envelope. Still, Sodom won the award for being the most extreme out of the trio both in music and lyrics. Decision Day shows the band playing blackened thrash the way it is meant to be played, nothing more and certainly no less. The production is slightly murky, and it works as it gives the music a raw edge.

Well, the grizzled trio have created another devilish treat with Decision Day. The are some solid songs on this record that will cause headbanging and moshing on the band’s upcoming tour. That is all that matters at this point. Sodom have a winning formula and it sticks to it on Decision Day. If one decides to purchase this record they will not be disappointed.

For news and tour dates, check out the band’s website http://www.sodomized.info/?l=en

CD Review: ‘Mass Confusion’ by Dust Bolt

German thrash outfit Dust Bolt cut to the chase on Mass Confusion. The opening track, “Sick X Brain” is one minute of full on crossover thrash. The blitzkrieg rages on with the title track which starts with chugging riffs before the band launches a thrash onslaught. There are strains of Metallica, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, and Destruction on this track, showing the versatility of the band. The pummeling breakdown in the middle of this song is gold. The initial single, “Allergy” is a frantic riff tornado that that gives the listener little room to breathe. Things get a hectic on “Mind The Gap” with its time signature changes, but drummer Nico Remann keeps it all together. It is one of the more interesting tracks on the record especially with its shredding lead. “Exit” is a somber semi-acoustic number that breaks up the ferocity of the record. It is not filler and prevents the record from sounding monotonous.

Mass Confusion is thrash metal played right. The Teutonic quartet has done its homework, drawing influence from the thrash and hardcore groups of the 80s. Mass Confusion is not too crossover or too thrash and finds a solid median. The musicianship is top notch as guitarists Lenny Breuss and Flo Dehn play well with each other. The duo seamlessly trade riffs and keep a tight rhythm. The album is produced well as there is no clipping and the instruments do not bleed in to one another.

Dust Bolt were not confused when recording Mass Confusion. The band has all its marbles on this, its third record, and plays them well. Mass Confusion is a great thrash/crossover record that is a cut above the current but stale thrash revival scene. The band puts its own unique spin on an older subgenre to good results. Fans of The Haunted, Municipal Waste and Toxic Holocaust should pick up this record. Dust Bolt bring the speed.

For news and tour dates, check out Dust Bolt’s website: http://dustbolt.com/