The best of the year.
Top ten lists have always seemed a little odd to me. Choosing ten things that I like in a period of time—why do we do it? I am not trying to sound like an ultra-hipster here, it is odd that we catalog music in a yearly cycle. I get that we have to for awards and such. One thing that always throws me off is I see each year in the academic cycle, and not our calendar cycle. When I began compiling this list I kept picking albums from 2015. I began to wonder if 2016 was a bad year for music. Yes, and no. As I now live far away from any friends with similar interests I find myself marooned from what is up and coming in the metal world. Distance, mixed with my increasing age (things were better in my day dammit!) seems to be limiting me in finding new bands. Instead, I find myself more irritated with old favorites than falling in love with new acts.
He is where I will discuss the biggest disappointments of the year. Opeth’s Sorceress marks the final departure of what the band used to represent. They have fully embraced their 1970s worship and any ghost of progressive mastery has long since departed. Lacuna Coil’s Delirium is probably the lowest point of the music world for me this year. How both of these albums received high praise is beyond me. Both belong in the trash can. The weirdest disappointment of the year was Cradle of Filth choosing to remaster an older version of Dusk… and Her Embrace what prompted this decision ($$$) at this time is not entirely clear. The album adds nothing to what is probably their best album. An odd decision.
Aside from disappointments, there were also albums that simply didn’t impress. Amon Amarth’s (also known as “holy crap they still make music?”) Jomsviking didn’t break the formula the band has been pushing for the better part of twenty years. Ihsahn’s Arktis proves that he is more interested in pushing boundaries of genre more than crafting a coherent narrative. Katatonia’s The Fall of Hearts solidifies the band’s shift to a more progressive sound (although I found it a little lacking). None of these albums are bad, but none of them really impressed me. Further, none of them stayed in my listening cycle too long.
Overall, 2016 in many ways seems to be a recovery year from the hipster-metal surge of 2015. Groups that are more avant-garde (a term which I hate) are emerging, and the genre(s) seem to be evolving into something new. There were some excellent albums this year. Without any more rambling, here is my top ten:
- Prosternatur- Abyssus Abyssum Invocat
- ColdWorld- Autumn
- Imperium Dekadenz- Dis Manibus
- Insane Vesper- LayiL
- Terra Tenebrosa- The Reverses
- Downfall of Nur- Umbras de Barbagia
- Behexen- The Poisonous Path
- Casket Huffer- Gospels of Scum
- Downfall of Gaia- Atrophy
- Sorcier Des Glaces- North