2016: Keeping Up With The Joneses (Jul-Dec)

Thumbs up: +1
Very late starting on this one, been rather unable to keep up with releases over the summer so will try to catch up on as many cool releases as possible in the last couple of months of the year. Be prepared for pithy reviews

Created by: musclassia | 06.10.2016

1. Ortega - Sacred States
2016 [8.8] - A fine extension of the recent EPs they've come out with, one of which, Crows, acts as the centrepiece epic on this record. The other four songs bring a fantastic collision of doom, sludge, and post-metal, producing a fiercely heavy and pounding sound that has a real explorative capacity and space for plenty of moments of nuance.
2. Riverside - Eye Of The Soundscape
2016 [8.7] - Part new material, part compilation of B-sides and bonus tracks from previous albums, the material here as a whole is excellent and exhibits the atmospheric imagination and emotional prowess of what is a fantastic band - even when operating outside of prog rock they can generate great ambient, electronic, and atmospheric work. Rapid Eye Movement is the standout track on a great compilation.
3. Oathbreaker - Rheia
2016 [8.6] - A thoroughly impressive mix of black metal, hardcore, post-rock/metal and more, led into action by a vocalist very competent at delivering harsh shrieks/screams but also dainty cleans, and effectively drifting between the two. The black metal parts are at different times sinister, and occasionally more uplifting, and the vocal/instrumental interplay is very well-judged. The dynamics also maintain a freshness throughout its lengthy runtime. Almost like a harsher Obscure Sphinx.
4. Devin Townsend - Transcendence
2016 [8.5] - A really enjoyable amalgamation of lots of aspects of Devin's sound - the wall of sound, weird and sometimes peaceful, sometimes dramatic vocals, wild exuberant orchestrations, varied song structures and more, in an approach that's catchy and anthemic (especially Offer Your Light) but also rich and deep in rewards.
5. Allegaeon - Proponent For Sentience
2016 [8.4] - Allegaeon really pulled out all the stops on this album. Pretty much the best thing from tech-death or melodeath circles for a while, it is full of technical yet hooky riffs, very meaty sound, intense vocals, and a smorgasbord of different elements up to and including extended flamenco guitar. The pinnacle of their progression over the last couple of albums, they take a sound that has been becoming stale for a good half-decade and make it feel totally and utterly alive.
6. Mouth Of The Architect - Path Of Eight
2016 [8.4] - A substantial shift in approach from the trudging, lengthy, crushingly heavy post-metal seen on Quietly and other albums. The songs are shorter, and the variety in approaches is greater, with the droning ritualistic feel of Ritual Bell, groovy melancholy of Fever Dream, languid acid bluesiness of The Priestess and more alongside the more typical heavy sludgy riffs and driven quieter moments that characterize the post-metal genre. Add in greater presence of the clean vocals as well as some female vocals on The Priestess to add some tonal variety, and you have a dynamic voyage of an album that really pushes Mouth Of The Architect into a territory that increasingly theirs alone, further away from the long shadows of the post-metal forefathers that loom over so many bands in this genre.
7. Aenaon - Hypnosophy
2016 [8.3] - Another quality release from these Greek extreme progsters. A variety of dramatic vocal styles, a number of different musical approaches (from intense to flamboyant, aided by different non-metal instruments including sax), and a high level of quality throughout makes for a very entertaining effort.
8. Moanaa - Passage
2016 [8.3] - A consummate follow-up to one of the best post-metal albums of 2014, a very strong year for post-metal. This band enters really heavy territory (reminiscent of the genre's sludge roots) relatively rarely for the genre, with a slightly lighter spectrum of dynamics. This isn't a bad thing, as the band stands out best with its softer playing, effectively using light guitar tremolos and dainty playing - see the intro of the closing track Grim Encounter for an example. The vocals have also softened up a bit compared to Descent, with a new vocalist present. Only on the last two songs are the traditional post-metal barks particularly abundant, with clean singing dominant on the first half of the album. This is the album's weakest point, as the vocals aren't great and are even almost bad at some moments. However, it isn't enough to detract from the rest of what is a quality album.
9. Subrosa - For This We Fought The Battle Of Ages
2016 [8.3] - I do like this band, and I fully understand why quite a few people love them, but their sound is just a bit outside of my taste range for me to fully dig it. However, the quality of this album is undeniable - the perfect mesh of the uncompromisingly heavy sludgy doom sound, the violin used to great effect in several different ways, the good balance of heavy and softer passages, the intelligent use of percussion, and the alternating delicately soft and more powerful and hazy vocals. Wound Of The Warden and Killing Rapture are the best songs.
10. In The Woods... - Pure
2016 [8.3] - Existing somewhere at a crossroads between Green Carnation, Arcturus and Swallow The Sun, plus features from other bands, this comeback album is filled with atmospheric dark metal, with evocative musicianships, rich vocals and tasteful ambience. It takes a couple of songs to get into its stride but is very potent for the last 3/4 of the album. The vocals are arguably the weakest aspect, lacking a real dominance that the likes of Garm, ICS Vortex, Nordhus and others accomplish, however they are more than adequate and generally do not detract from the sometimes delicious instrumental arrangements.
11. Hemina - Venus
2016 [8.3] - Very enjoyable follow-up to Nebulae. The brief appearances of extreme vocals are a little bit off-putting, and like many modern prog bands, occasionally the songwriting takes somewhat unfulfilling detours, but for the most part, the effective mix of emotive vocals, tasteful guitars, keyboards, and sax, and engaging drumming produce a moving and rewarding listen.
12. Third Ion - Biolith
2016 [8.3] - Real top quality modern prog metal - great vocals, tasteful yet impressive guitar playing, interesting song structures and stylistic choices, and all of it coming together into a fully successful package.
13. Wardruna - Runaljod - Ragnarok
2016 [8.3] - I previously found myself somewhat underwhelmed by previous listens to Wardruna several years ago. Now, however, whether due to changing tastes with age, a successful gateway to the sound with Skuggsja earlier this year, or a change in quality, I found myself enjoying this a lot more than I've previously liked the band. There is a sense of sameness to the music throughout, however the haunting atmosphere, effective drums and vocals, and evocative folk melodies produce a powerful and grandiose combination that becomes spiritually arousing.
14. Anciients - Voice Of The Void
2016 [8.2] - Building on the promise of their debut, this is another strong effort by this interesting prog band. With a sound built arguably most around stoner, there are also pieces of sludge, black and death squeezed into this, adding hints of menace alongside the groove, hooky riffs, and interesting song directions.
15. Obscure Sphinx - Epitaphs
2016 [8.2] - A strong follow-up to their 'breakthrough' album Void Mother. A strong mix between softer melancholy moments, driven progressions of the songs towards heavier moments (powered by exciting percussion), and intense, sludgy climaxes with fierce vocals and chunky riffs. I still don't quite love the sound, but overall it's a fine effort.
16. Spaceking - The Piper At The Gates Of Stone
2016 [8.2] - Slick, catchy and groovy instrumental post/stoner metal with satisfying fuzzy riffs, song developments and dynamics.
17. Deathspell Omega - The Synarchy Of Molten Bones
2016 [8.2] - Pure fucking fury from the leaders of frenetic dissonant black metal. A half hour venture in relentless chaos, centered around the fantastic 10-minute song Onward Where Most With Ravin I May Meet. The other tracks are all powerful, but this song is the clear highlight, with its variation between mid-tempo groove and pure intensity and, during the second half, even allowing the intensity to ebb and flow, adding a real dynamic feel to the nevertheless relentless onslaught. Short but sweet, and definitely worth investigating for this song alone.
18. Avenged Sevenfold - The Stage
2016 [8.2] - Where did this come from?! Their last album was incredibly unoriginal and derivative, yet somehow they follow it up with a complete departure from pretty much everything they've done before - a huge progressive metal concept album. I will say that not all the songs are all that impactful, and the music on the whole doesn't demand attention all that well on first listen, but it's a brave attempt and has definitely produced some diverse and entertaining material, with a pretty solid production job on top. I almost wonder if I didn't have M Shadows' vocals reminding me of the band's past how I would see this album, given how different it is to almost everything I can remember hearing from them in the past. I'm actually impressed in a way I never expected to be again by Avenged Sevenfold.
19. Thy Catafalque - Meta
2016 [8.2] - Not quite at the level of Rengeteg, but a big step up from the last album. Fairly varied, floating between meloblack, symphonic black, big epic stuff a la Grand Magus, folkier music, and the likes of Siraly, Angstrom, Osszel Otthom and the huge Malmok Jarnak are quality songs.
20. An Abstract Illusion - Illuminate The Path
2016 [8.2] - A very effective progressive melodeath album, filled with several very lengthy songs permeating with an atmosphere somewhat reminiscent of Insomnium and their breed, but with more progressive and explorative writing, and a very nice mesh of extreme and powerful clean vocals that are somewhat comparable to Persefone. Not super-hooky or memorable, but consistently pleasant throughout.
21. Ulcerate - Shrines Of Paralysis
2016 [8.2] - The past couple of Ulcerate albums I've tried listening to didn't quite do it for me, but I rather like this effort. Dense, regularly dissonant, atmospheric death metal, with subtle hints of melody and groove to add flavour to the sound, pretty enjoyable on the whole.
22. Hammers Of Misfortune - Dead Revolution
2016 [8.2] - Latter 2016 has been an unusually strong period for melodic prog metal, and this is another very interesting addition to the year's lineup of good albums. Far away from the Dream Theater sound, this has a real psychedelic rock feel for a lot of it, particularly due to the keyboard tone, and also slightly due to the vocals, which sound more like to be found on an Alter Bridge album or a stoner rock album (the latter most obviously on real stoner-influenced closer Days of '49) than a Circus Maximus effort. It also finds on several songs (with some slower moments to add variety) a real driving energy to it, more in tune with 80s NWOBHM/ thrash metal than Pull Me Under. There are also some Pink Floyd moments, most notably on Here Comes The Sky. Taking all of this together and producing a sound that is relatively distinctive, and in which they produce compelling and entertaining songs, and HoM have created a really fine effort.
23. Wolverine - Machina Viva
2016 [8.1] - This follow-up to Communication Lost has been a long time coming, but is a worthy release and arguably a step up from the previous album. One from the lush, emotional end of the prog rock/metal spectrum, there's little in the way of heavy riffs or dramatic musical shifts, with the sound dominated more by delicate guitar playing, warming keyboard/electronics filling the atmosphere, and moving vocals carrying songs along.
24. Insomnium - Winter's Gate
2016 [8.1] - In a year in which Omnium Gatherum have dropped the ball, Insomnium have finally restored their advantage over their fellow Finns. Whether this needed to be a single song album, given the clear breaks between sections and relative lack of repeated motifs, is questionable, as is the novelty of this music; however, at least one can appreciate that the band hasn't sounded this good since at least Across The Dark.
25. Monolithe - Zeta Reticuli
2016 [8.1] - Despite their prolific output, these guys haven't quite become tiresome yet. Possibly an improvement on last year's Epsilon Aurigee, also filled with 3 15-minute colossi, this makes some really effective use of keyboards/electronics, as well as increased prominence of clean vocals, particularly on standout closing track Zeta Reticuli, which also has some very effective riffs and guitar leads, and is an altogether pacier beast then some of their other songs.
26. Trees Of Eternity - Hour Of The Nightingale
2016 [8.1] - Emotive Gothic doom, generally pretty light on the metal front, with a lot of dainty playing ahead of crushing riffs. The vocals of the sadly departed Aleah Stanbridge are clearly the focal point of the album, combining with the instrumentation to produce lush but morose music. There's also a guest appearance from Nick Holmes on the last song, possibly the heaviest song on the album.
27. Witherscape - The Northern Sanctuary
2016 [8.1] - Entertaining melodic extreme progressive metal powered by Dan Swano's evocative vocals, very much within the same territory as The Inheritance. Not at the same level as Moontower but more quality material from a prolific and talented musician and songwriter.
28. Anaal Nathrakh - The Whole Of The Law
2016 [8.1] - The usual relentless fury of Anaal Nakhrath, with the occasional falsetto vocal and electronic moment thrown in. Tasty.
29. Lesbian - Hallucinogenesis
2016 [8.1] - A pleasant cacophany of tempos, vocal styles, and musical approaches, from black metal shrieks to stoner howls, and from fast paced stoner romps to slower softer and/or doomier parts, as well as several sections leaning towards black metal atmosphere and even death metal parts (see intro to Kosmoceratops). Not an easy one to sum up in a couple of sentences, but a very interesting journey well worth taking.
30. Cloak - 2016 EP
2016 [8.1] - A really tasty 2-song EP of mid-tempo, crushingly heavy black metal, full of punchy, hooky riffs and neat guitar lead parts.
31. Inquisition - Bloodshed Across The Empyrean Altar Beyond The Celestial Zenith
2016 [8.0] - Very hooky black metal, only let down by rubbish Abbath-esque croaky vocals - the fact that these are supposed to be an improvement on vocals on previous albums is a bit shocking.
32. Nadja - The Stone Is Not Hit By The Sun, Nor Carved With A Knife
2016 [8.0] - An album that's longer, noisier, but also to a degree lusher than this year's earlier release Sv. Whilst that album was a single, contained, almost timelapse-esque evolution of a single thought, here we have something a bit closer to 2014's Queller in terms of variations in tone and approach. However, it is clearly a Nadja release and if you like their recent output, this will probably satisfy nicely, even if it adds little new to their sound.
33. Mono - Requiem For Hell
2016 [8.0] - Another strong album from one of the leading post-rock acts, and a notable improvement on their past couple of albums. The songs have the typical uplifting guitar tremolos and slow songs, but with a somewhat melancholy sense on this album, and each track, both those coming in around 5 minutes, and (in the case of the title track) those coming in at upwards of 15 minutes, is well-paced and effective.
34. Mesarthim - TYPE III
2016 [8.0] - Mesarthim have now released 4 EPs plus an LP in this year alone - whether all the material is varied and of sufficient quality to justify this Buckethead-aspiring level of output is questionable, but this release in particular is one of the stronger attempts. A good mix of black metal or more strompy metal riffing humming beneath bouncy and dramatic electronic 'strings' arrangements and other effects, this is more sinister-sounding than some of this year's other releases and better for it.
35. Thank You Scientist - Stranger Heads Prevail
2016 [8.0] - Some pretty neat progressive rock. Whilst a couple of tracks (The Amateur Arsonist's Handbook most notably) derive a lot of influence from jazzier progressive rock, with plenty of saxophone, brass, strings and so on, the chief reference point for a lot of the music, especially vocally, is Coheed and Cambria, with perhaps some Fair To Midland and The Mars Volta territory being covered. Arguably more interesting than a lot of recent C&C, the vocals most immediately grab attention, but the songwriting and musicianship are also entertaining and involving.
36. Disillusion - Alea
2016 [8.0] - Very enjoyable 10-minute burst of progressive metal; the upcoming full-length should be a treat.
37. 40 Watt Sun - Wider Than The Sky
2016 [8.0] - Whilst I've never been particularly fond of Watching From A Distance by Warning, I did quite like 40 Watt Sun's debut, and the same applies here. A very stripped down affair, with minimal guitar distortion, this is a light but melancholy affair. Starting off with its best song, Stages, a 16-minute mammoth that slowly twists through its emotional bends, the rest of the album doesn't quite match up to that, but it's still a fine effort.
38. Throes Of Dawn - Our Voices Shall Remain
2016 [7.9] - I spent the whole first listen of this trying to remember what band it really strongly sounds like. Having failed to remember what that band is, the best I can mention as possible comparisons are Ghost Brigade, early Anathema, later Katatonia, soft Swallow The Sun and Draconian. What we have here ultimately is extended tracks of soft, melancholy doom driven by baritone vocals, atmospheric synths, mellow acoustic guitars and lead guitar playing, with semi-regular moments of heavier playing. The emotion generated is relatively potent, and the music fairly compelling, although it does feel sometimes like it's not quite reaching for what it's fully capable of. The first track is arguably the strongest, but every song has good moments, even if a couple also have some slightly offputting parts as well.
39. Inter Arma - Paradise Gallows
2016 [7.9] - Impressive in its variety, from punishing blackened sludge, to cavernous doom, to the driving emotional forces of top picks Potomac and the title track, all rounded off with a stripped-down morose acoustic folk effort. Exhaustingly long, but containing plenty of good stuff in that length.
40. Evergrey - The Storm Within
2016 [7.9] - I clearly need to listen more to Evergrey, because I'm not sure I can remember enjoying them as much as this. Some solid rocking tracks, with exciting riffs and lead guitar, plus quality vocals both from Tom Englund, and also Floor Jansen on her guest appearances. Probably one of their better albums.
41. Mesarthim - The Great Filter
2016 [7.9] - A single 20-minute song EP (although quite why it's a single song when there's a very obviously break point right in the middle - it even goes fully silent), not quite as adept as Pillars but a more potent mix of atmos-black and spacey/electronic atmosphere than Absence, it has a few really powerful moments during its runtime.
42. Neurosis - Fires Within Fires
2016 [7.8] - Not the band's greatest effort by any means, the heavier trio of songs that open the album don't have that pure inspiration of the likes of Given To The Rising or To Crawl Under One's Skin. However, the more contemplative and dynamic Broken Ground and Reach reveal the band's true qualities. Not up there with The Eye Of Every Storm or Through Silver In Blood, it's also not a notable drop in quality from their relatively consistent output from the past few decades.
43. Emma Ruth Rundle - Marked For Death
2016 [7.8] - The solo work of Marriages singer/guitarist Rundle, this definitely has vibes of that band's sound, but with a sound that actually feels closer to something that Tori Amos might've once produced. With occasional appearances of drums/bass, the sound is primarily stripped down to guitar and vocals, with a mellow but melancholy feel. The top picks include Medusa, Heaven and Furious Angel.
44. Spectral Lore - Fossils
2016 [7.8] - An interesting ambient effort, utilising on different tracks tortured strings, dainty acoustic guitar, or just stripped down ambient noise. History Of The Displaced is the standout track.
45. Alcest - Kodama
2016 [7.8] - A significant shift back towards black metal after Shelter, this album is still mostly dominated by -gaze and post-rock daintiness. The added steel in the album does help to return some of the substance that made the likes of Ecailles de Lune so satisfying. The music in general is probably the best since that album, although there is perhaps still a slight lack of the raw inspiration of that record. The strongest song is Untouched, with its real Percees de Lumiere vibe. Overall, a big step in the right direction after a couple of missteps from Alcest, but not quite a full return to their peak powers.
46. Truckfighters - V
2016 [7.8] - Following from the very good Universe, this is another strong release from these guys. At their best playing driving stoner rock, when they slow down (such as on the closing track) they still manage to sound convincing.
47. Tycho - Epoch
2016 [7.7] - Another nice record from this ambient downtempo electronic act, arguably more subdued and less vibrant than Awake and my personal favourite Dive. I think it's slightly lacking in charm compared to those two but it still makes for rather pleasant summer afternoon background chillout music.
48. Krypts - Remnants Of Expansion
2016 [7.7] - Fairly solid cavernous death metal, with extremely deep growls (but growls that are somewhat unrefined aside from the depth) and appropriate atmosphere. A decent mix of slower, trudging grime and incendiary, murky blastbeats with a production that brings out its good qualities. On the flip side, not a great departure from nor a notable example of this old-school style death metal sound.
49. Dark Tranquillity - Atoma
2016 [7.6] - On first listens, it felt like a step up from Construct. However, on repeat listens, whilst I still thoroughly enjoy opening track Encircled and a number of other moments, I feel like the softer moments (which are more plentiful than previously) fail to live up to what they've shown themselves to be capable of on the likes of Projector, and I feel too much of the album sounds like Fiction/Character B-sides.
50. The Dillinger Escape Plan - Dissociation
2016 [7.6] - Like the previous album, less manic and mathy compared to the earlier albums, but otherwise no big surprises as far as the sound goes. I would say it's all pretty diggable, but it is lacking the truly memorable moments of songs such as Farewell, Mona Lisa or Widower.
51. Urfaust - Empty Space Meditations
2016 [7.6] - An interesting venture into staunchly mid-tempo territory, with a consistent restrained groove throughout varyingly accompanied by shrieks, throat singing, sitar, synths, and more. Delivers on the meditation vibe, but is slightly one-note and underdeveloped.
52. Metallica - Hardwired...To Self-Destruct
2016 [7.6] - I basically was just hoping this wouldn't suck, and it managed that, with a few songs that are genuinely good. Atlas, Rise, Moth To Flame, Halo On Fire and Spit Out The Bone are the four clear highlights out of the twelve songs, and disc 1 in general is notably stronger than disc 2, but there's no inherently bad songs and almost every song has at least a few moments of merit going on in them. The solos are broadly unmemorable, but the production at least is much better balanced than Death Magnetic. Not a great album but a pleasantly decent one.
53. Mesarthim - .- -​.​.​. .​.​. . -. -​.​-​. .
2016 [7.6] - Not as captivating as Pillars, but still a solid space/atmos-black album, with the black arguably more prominent than on this year's other releases. Of note is the very Summoning-esque closing song, arguably the least interesting. Other tracks work much better, but the mix of synths, electronics and black metal is not as effectively used than on Isolate and Pillars.
54. Meshuggah - The Violent Sleep Of Reason
2016 [7.6] - A thunderous album, and one that's slightly more appealing than I can vaguely remember past Meshuggah sounding. Still, amongst the proggy grooves, crushing deep, thick sound, and the titillating moments of more melodic ventures, it does ultimately end up sounding somewhat monotonous after a full album of this sound, and I'm sitll yet to be won over by Jens Kidman's vocals.
55. Theocracy - Ghost Ship
2016 [7.4] - No grand departure from their past stuff (if you're looking for a reference point, perhaps Avantasia?), but suitably enjoyable. The first couple of tracks are stronger than the few that follow, but if you're a fan of melodic power/prog stuff this should satisfy.
56. Negură Bunget - ZI
2016 [7.4] - Satisfying mixture of black metal and Romanian folk elements, albeit not at a level such as Dordeduh or OM. The vocals vary wildly from evocative singing, murky low spoken/shouted vocals, and the typical black metal shrieks, all used appropriately and effectively. Not great, but an enjoyable ffort.
57. Revocation - Great Is Our Sin
2016 [7.4] - Enjoyable collision of thrash and tech-death metal, producing some fairly nifty riffs, and combined with half-decent extreme and (occasional) cleans. The dynamic Cleaving Giants Of Ice is probably the best song on the album.
58. Saor - Guardians
2016 [7.3] - Decent atmos-black dominated by strings.
59. Orphaned Land - Kna'an [Split]
2016 [7.3] - Features aspects of Orphaned Land and Amaseffer's sounds that have made each band popular - the Middle Eastern melodies and orchestrations of instruments, the evocative vocals of Kobi Farhi, and the mystical feel to the music, but this rather lacks for the most part the inspiration behind the writing that have made the likes of Mabool and Slaves For Life so popular. Likeable by all accounts, but not a rival to either band's best work.
60. Horseback - Dead Ringers
2016 [7.2] - Like recent efforts I gather, less dense, heavy, and relentlessly drony than The Invisible Mountain, this is a lighter, jinglier affair, with some interesting song developments, but also some moments that feel somewhat aimless, particularly on the lengthy closer. A lot of the songs feel somewhat like lowkey Southern rock tracks, whilst others are a lot noisier and dronier.
61. Mizmor - Yodh
2016 [7.2] - A suitably nasty and unpleasant monolith, with lengthy, heavy, abrasive songs. I would've preferred a bit more variety in tone and intensity - an hour of slow-to-mid-ranged sludgy, black-tinged doomy music can be quite a chore, and so it is here at times. Nevertheless, as far as the genre goes, it's a pretty worthy effort.
62. Periphery - Periphery III: Select Difficulty
2016 [7.1] - More of the same from this band - great technical talent and powerful vocals that regularly go nowhere that satisfying. The standout track is the closer Lune, which has a more clear direction and is far more effective because of it. Still, on the whole an enjoyable enough listen.
63. Opeth - Sorceress
2016 [7.1] - A setback from Pale Communion but still superior to Heritage. Too many tasteless 'wank-y' prog moments such as the intro to Sorceress and the heavier part of Strange Brew, and to a lot of the rest of it there's just still too much of the quintessential Opeth feel and emotional power that made them such a force. Nevertheless, between the mellow Will O The Wisp, (the majority of) A Fleeting Glance, and the strongest track, Chrysalis, which harkens back to their more energetic days, there is still enough to like about this album, and even the weaker tracks are still for the most part decent. The only one that really fell flat was The Seventh Sojourn, which is what Voice Of Treason would've sounded like if it was an instrumental and completely uninspired.
64. Enslaved - The Sleeping Gods - Thorn
2016 [7.1] - Weaker than pretty much any of the material featured on their full-length EPs, a throwaway compilation is the best place for this material. The more black metal oriented songs are okay but you would never choose them over their other songs unless you'd burnt out on everything else they have. The less metal tracks on The Sleeping Gods, such as Nordlys and the trad Nordic folk The Sleeping Gods, are probably the most worthwhile listening here.
65. Forndom - Dauðra Dura
2016 [7.0] - From January, but I only heard it in December and ran out of space on my other list so here it is. Very much in the same vein as Wardruna, but not quite as well-developed and powerful as their release from this year.
66. Testament - Brotherhood Of The Snake
2016 [7.0] - Good for a 2010s thrash album, but unlike Vektor, if you're as sick of thrash as I am, this isn't going to revitalise your passion.
67. E-An-Na - Jiana
2016 [7.0] - Decent folk metal EP, with the standard mix of bouncy folk melodies and instruments and heavier extreme riffs fluctuating between each other; heavier than the likes of Ensiferum, less catchy than Equilibrium, perhaps closest to Arkona out of the more popular folk metal bands.
68. Equilibrium - Armageddon
2016 [6.8] - A perfectly adequate extreme folk album, but nowhere near the quality of Sagas or Erdentempel. Most notable I guess are the couple of later songs (Rise Again and Prey) that sound closer to Omnium Gatherum material than Equilibrium songs. Something of a disappointment.
69. Hannes Grossmann - The Crypts Of Sleep
2016 [6.7] - Everything you'd expect from this artist, nothing more, nothing less.
70. Bölzer - Hero
2016 [6.7]
71. Arizmenda - Beneath This Reality Of Flesh
2016 [6.7] - A chaotic black metal album with some highly distinctive vocals, which I found at different times intriguing and annoying. Beyond this, the music is dominated by a furious tempo and blastbeats, alongside a regular combination of low-end riffs with high-end dramatic guitar tremolo and screeches, with only the occasional respite for more moderate tempos accompanied with less piercing guitar work, all shrouded in a muddy production. The album does have a fair number of satisfying moments, but the sheer relentlessness does get tiring at times, and the more chaotic moments can be offputting depending on tastes in black metal.
72. We Are The Catalyst - Elevation
2016 [6.6] - Moderately good, if somewhat dry, mainstream-esque alt/nu metal mainly carried by the vocal prowess of the frontwoman. The songs are catchy without being cheesy, although the lyrics can get overly repetitive, but the music could probably do with a bit more flourish than a fairly consistent array of mid-tempo heavy but not overly memorable riffs.
73. Mesarthim - Spire
2016 [6.5] - A shift away further from atmos-black sheen to an even more electronic-driven sound, this 2-song EP is ultimately a bit insipid, thin on sound, but nevertheless somewhat charming due to the nature of the sound.
74. The Sword - Low Country
2016 [6.4] - Even if it's just an acoustic reworking of High Country, it's nice to have something from this band that isn't the same old, same old. They've become increasingly uninteresting since Gods of The Earth, but this does have some merit to it, as they've made some interesting choices whilst adapting these songs into an acoustic arrangement.
75. Amaranthe - Maximalism
2016 [5.5] - The Nexus is a rather entertaining album, and whilst Massive Addictive isn't at the same level, there's still enough entertaining stuff on there to make it a guilty pleasure album. This album isn't as bad as the atrocious lead single That Song suggested it could be, but this is, bar some entertaining moments here and there, a progression of the downwards trend in terms of quality. Poppier than ever before, there's some real unpleasant cheese found in here on some songs. Tracks such as Faster are more in line with what's expected of Amaranthe, but as listenable as this is, it's really not particularly good.

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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Comments: 2   Visited by: 17 users
13.12.2016 - 04:59
I didn't even know Hemina had a new album!
13.12.2016 - 14:05
Written by Diverge on 13.12.2016 at 04:59

I didn't even know Hemina had a new album!

I gave it a playthrough yesterday at work - I was only half-listening (work) but I enjoyed it on the whole

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