End of year lists are a blessing and a curse. They allow you to go back through a year of trials and tribulations to see the musical outputs that may have offered some respite from the daily grind.
Then you have to whittle them down to just 10…ugh.
2016 has been a great year for music and there are just as many albums that aren’t on my list as could have been included, with a phenomenal live album from Myrkur and a final offering from David Bowie in the form of Blackstar.
But with records from a multitude of genres, there really is something in this list for everyone. I hope you find your new favourite in this – enjoy!
“Good things come to those who wait”. Not a truer word can be said about Opeth as they unfurl their wings and soar. Showing off their metamorphosis from death metal gods to progressive rock legends, Sorceress is everything you would hope it be and more besides.
9. Sunwølf – Eve
Bleak, emotive and raw, Eve shows an entirely more untamed Sunwølf, and with tastes of hardcore, doom and drone this record is a wild card – but it’s certainly worth devoting some time to fall in love with its depth and emotional nuances.
8. Shield Patterns – Mirror Breathing
Manchester’s Shield Patterns are a new discovery of mine and their latest offering Mirror Breathing is the ultimate soundtrack for nocturnal wanderings. Its brightness and vibrancy is both charming and rewarding.
7. Pelander – Time
Side projects can be fraught with impenetrable arrogance and a lack of self awareness. Fortunately for Witchcraft main man Magnus Pelander, this isn’t the case. Time is a superbly constructed window into the mind of a unique and brilliant vocalist
6. Oathbreaker – Rheia
If ever there were an album made for winter, Rheia would be it. Its unrelenting surge of brilliance is blisteringly cold and superbly well balanced. With a bleak intensity that comes unmatched of recent years, Oathbreaker have in fact pulled out the best album of their career so far.
Silent Planet are a truly remarkable band. Their emotional post-hardcore-tinged metalcore is deep and intelligent. Everything Was Sound is a dive into the world of mental illness that refuses to give in to meaningless platitudes or tired clichés.
4. The Black Queen – Fever Daydream
Probably my most listened to album of the year, The Black Queen‘s retrowave masterpiece is the brainchild of members of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Pucifer. This intelligently cultivated outpour is both infectious and memorable, and tracks like “Ice To Never” and “The End Where We Start” are incalculably beautiful. The thirst for more material is most certainly real.
3. Nothing – Tired Of Tomorrow
Tired Of Tomorrow is the eventual outpour following the culmination of events that lead to almost complete ruin of the human spirit. A bleak view of the world that could have given into despair, making for a very miserable listen has instead been transformed into something brighter. Nothing have truly bloomed in the darkness.
2. Message To Bears – Carved From Tides
Another discovery of 2016, Carved From Tides could well be my favourite album of the year. It’s bright post rock excellence harkens to the likes of Nordic Giants. A culmination of swirling electronics, ambient synths, and wistful swells that make this one man project shine.
1. Mamiffer – The World Unseen
The pedigree of musicianship on offer within Mamiffer is astounding, considering that this band is effectively a husband and wife duo. Aaron Turner and Faith Coloccia are post-metal royalty; combine their talents and the results were always going to be awe inspiring.
This, their fourth album together is by far their most impressive. The unison of light and dark is both lingering and immediate. There is a duality to be found here that shows the band are more than capable of flexing their muscles into the heavier side of things as well as breathing out the gentle post-rock swells.