Wil Cifer's Top 10 Heavy Albums of 2016
Former members of the Accused formed this band back in 2007. Perhaps back then they might have been doom, but now they are proggy death metal. The vocals are varied and a good blend of sung vocals and growls. The opener has almost a black metal like throb to it. I like the fact that these guys are really dark. In some ways it makes me think of what might have happened if Acid Bath collided with Cynic. There are space like keyboard sounds zooming out of the corners of the song not inhabited by guitar solos.s I really like the weird myriad of genres that combine in the most twisted way possible. Sure it's proggy , but never awkward and puts being mean and heavy before showing off their chops.
9- Tombs "All Empires Fall"
What happens on Tombs new album should not come as a surprise considering how they have evolved with each album. The last album might not have been as dark as the previous, but Mike Hill and company continue to evolve. With the inclusion of Fade Kainer into the fold on "All Empires Fall" it made me think the industrial influence that has lurking under the surface would rise like Godzilla. This is not the case. They make it clear the metal isn't going anywhere. They kick the fucking door down with a neck crushing riff on the opening instrumental "the World is Made of Fire". They lash into something closer to straight up black metal for "Obsidian". It's not just full blast ahead. These guys have more tricks up their sleeves. Does Kainer's synths bring another sonic layer? Yes, but it doesn't compromise their sound.
8- Purson "Desire's Magic Theater"
While summoning a retro vibe is part of their sound there was more of a hard rock under current to their sound which this new full length turns away from in favor of something that is supposed to be a rock opera aiming for Sgt. Pepper and Ziggy Stardust. Right from the get go it feels like it has more in common with T-Rex before colliding into more of a folkish hippy haze of secon hand smoke. They throw a ton of colors at you so it can be overwhelming at first but at the end of the day I found this album stuck
7- Anthrax "For All Kings"
Anthrax used to be one of my favorite bands and to this day "Among the Living " is without a doubt one of the best metal albums ever with "Spreading the Disease" not too far behind. I hung tough with the band for the first six albums, even liking Jon Bush's first album. Then we grew apart. "Worship Music" saw the return of singer Joey Belladonna, but I never gave it a shot. I am giving them a chance here and while Belladonna might be 55, but age might have helped Anthrax here , because with age Belladonna's voice is lower than even on "Persistence of Time" , but it gives him more aggression, which might have helped on albums like the almost too happy "State of Euphoria". There is younger blood injected in the band as Jonathan Donais from Shadows Fall is now in the band. They a surprisingly melodic section into the middle of the opener before thrashing back into it. They do not let up on the heavy with "Monster at the End", though it has a smoother groove allowing Belladonna's vocals to coast into a hookier chorus. A little less thrash and closer to mainstream metal, it's still a solid headbanger
6- Khemmis "Hunted"
At times more NWOBHM than doom and "3 Gates" starts off to uptempo to be doom at all, but in the end it got the most play time and had enough melancholy to qualify as doom, after all Black Sabbath albums didn't always crawl all the way to the finish line so something can be said for the dynamics.Of all the so called doom albums, This one earned it space because it was the most dismal, but because I listened to it the most, which at the end of the day is what matters.
5-Nails "You Will Never Be One of Us"
I predicted 2016 as the year grind-core and power-violence breaks through into the metal mainstream. What Weekend Nachos failed to deliver is being jack hammered into your face by this band. Their guitar tone is as nasty as you can get and still play riffs that hold together actual songs. Even then when I used the word songs here I am describing sharp bursts of anger. Grind-core has never been my forte, typically because of the genre's limited range of dynamic expression. Coloring with only the red crayon of anger can limit what you do, this band from Southern Los Angeles colors with this crayon so well, I know what I'm in for and can hold on for the jolting ride. The first song and title track fakes you out as it seems so maturity might have come into the song writing process for these guys.Fans of their previous work are getting what they asked for after "Abandon All Life " made them scream for more. For them to have sold me on this genre was pretty impressive.
The narrative these songs are woven around provides a more personal touch then most black metal band's allow themselves to create. There are no arctic wastelands or occult gibberish to hide behind. In some ways if it was not for the sonic storm cloud raging as this album's heart beat you might mistake this for hardcore. The vocals keep their scathing snarl as a static coat of white noise to a similar effect as Deafheaven. Their approach to black metal is less atmospheric and the ambiance if of a more emotional nature. It is without question one of the better black metal albums I have come across recently and these guys have really stepped up their game when it comes to song writing.
3-Planes Mistaken for Stars " Prey"
These guys were always ahead of their time and finds music of today coming a little closer to meeting them in the middle. There has always been an unhinged side to the band and this is what the new album opens with. "Til it Clicks" is less explosive, but more of what I want from this band. The darker melody hangs around on "Riot Season" even after the pace picks up. The yowls of self loathing still haunt Jared's gravelly vocals riding the line between screaming and singing. The guitar to "Fucking Tenderness" carries some melody before tightening the tension. The vocals fill the spaces in the song perfectly and the band touching perfectly on all their trademarks without feeling like this song is any less urgent than it is.They are back in fine form and not standing stagnant in the legend of yesterday.
2- Fistula "Longing For Infection"
Raw and rooted in punk, this Ohio band is more about nastiness and being loud more than adhering to the expectations of any genres. When their singer snarls about some one being stabbed in the face forty time, he proves to be a storyteller who needs little suspension of disbelief. The verse to grind down into a more metal groove, but this feels more real than most metal. The samples of news stories covering sexually assaulted corpses, gives this a similar shade of gruesome glory that Acid Bath once had. He gurgles lyrics like "mommy told me not to play with dead things" to create a wonderfully morbid web of white trash horror stories, this could be "the Hills Have Eyes" set to music.
1- Youth Code "Commitment to Complications"
Production wise things have stepped up another level along with the song writing. After a melodic and perhaps dramatic synth intro the kick into the first proper song which kicks more like a rock song energetically than your typical industrial. Unlike your typical industrial there is not an obligatory layer of 90s thrash metal guitar over it. The synths are capable of summoning their own heft. This is in no way saying that there is not metal influence in place or this album isn't heavy. Ben from Goatwhore lends his snarl to the title track. It's interesting as he is not doing anything different from his normal delivery, but it's over a bunch of hammering synths. These kids are the real deal and not just hipsters playing dress up.