2016, the year of dead gorillas and political tragedies but also a year of some great music, the best of which is covered below.
Tweak – I Am Overcome With Hate
Hateful in name and hateful in sound, Tweak channel early Daughters, Hayworth and such great, noisy and experimental music on this short but sweet debut EP.
Ion Dissonance – Cast The First Stone
Ion Dissonance came back after a while away but obviously lost none of their vitriol in the interim. 8 string grooves and mathcore intensity. What more could you ask for?
And now, for the main event, counting down the top 10 of 2016:
10. Cold Night For Alligators – Course of Events
Although Course Of Events doesn’t necessarily go the road less traveled, Cold Night For Alligators manage to make the most out of their sound. A djenty, progressive album filled to the brim with catchy, technical and intense moments.
9. Norma Jean – Polar Similar
Norma Jean have a great track record already so going in a different direction is a risky move and one that they could have easily skipped in favour of releasing more of the same.
Luckily Norma Jean are not that sort of band and Polar Similar brings both the band’s catchiest and some of its heaviest material to date. They may not have Scogin anymore but album opener “I. The Planet” proves quickly that Norma Jean can conjure the same face-punching aesthetic as The Chariot could at their finest.
8. Septa – Sounds Like Murder
I’ve previously (several times actually) mentioned my love for Septa‘s 2014 EP Destroyer so the hype for their first full length was astronomical – while also plagued with the concern that the foray into this territory would render their quality control lax and cause them to release a lacklustre album.
Luckily that was not the case and Septa have released their most varied album, filled with both more experimental and catchier material than ever before.
7. Car Bomb – Meta
It’s a rare pleasure that a band seems to listen to your wishes, especially when they’re halfway across the world from you. This, however, seems to be what has happened with Meta, Car Bomb‘s newest release.
After flirting with clean vocals on bits and pieces of songs on previous albums, letting some Deftones into their Meshuggah and Dillinger-influenced sound, they’ve finally merged it fully into their sound creating their most fully realised album to date. No longer do you need to replay the chorus of “Lower The Blade” and imagine an album that could have been; Meta is here.
6. The Dear Hunter – Act V: Hymns With The Devil In Confessional
When The Dear Hunter announced a new addition to the Act story arch so soon after Act IV, mixed feelings arose. On the one hand a new The Dear Hunter album is almost guaranteed to be a top ten contender – but at the same time, Act IV is a hard act to follow.
These mixed feelings were more or less on the money, but even though it’s not as instantly gratifying as Act IV or as effortlessly beautiful as Act I, Act V has its own feel to it and one that definitely rewards repeated listens. Being a slight step down when your band is essentially the Everest of music still puts you above most others.
5. Black Peaks – Statues
Black Peaks released one album, then opened for Deftones at Wembley. That should be enough on its own, but to add a bit on top they absolutely deserved that spot.
Catchy and intense in equal amounts and vocally pretty damn incredible this dynamic album offers something simultaneously accessible and quite unique. Get in on Statues while they’re still playing intimate shows, ’cause stadium tickets are expensive as shit.
4. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation
Similar to The Dear Hunter, a new album from The Dillinger Escape Plan is always going to be an event. Sadly this event is the series finale for good ol’ Dillinger, but they sure know how to go out with a bang! “Limerent Death” and the title track in particular showcase the band at their strongest, and based on recent live videos they don’t seem too fussed with coming out of this final world tour in one piece so see them before its too late, one way or the other.
3. Oathbreaker – Rheia
Do you like Julie Christmas? Did Amesoeurs‘ break-up leave a hole in your heart? Do you get oddly cathartic when listening to women screaming over intense music?
If you answered yes to any of the previous questions then Oathbreaker may very well be right for you!
An intensely satisfying and emotional album that should not be missed by anyone who can handle its raw power.
2. Dance Gavin Dance – Mothership
Dance Gavin Dance have been called many things throughout the years – my favourite insult being the ‘white trash Circa Survive‘ – but I’ve always had a soft spot for the California post-hardcore group and with Mothership, the band are at their strongest since Happiness. Tillian had been able to stretch his vocal chords more properly on Instant Gratification than before but on Mothership he soars to new heights. “Young Robot“, “Deception” and “Inspire The Liars” are some of the catchiest and best written songs the band has ever released and from recent live dates its clear that the whole band is on top form overall.
Without a doubt my most listened to album of the year.
1. Slice The Cake – Odyssey To The West
If you arrived here from the previous blurb, thank you for not just skipping ahead but also, you may be wondering why my most listened album has not taken the number one spot.
If you’ve heard Odyssey To The West already you probably understand but just in case you don’t, here are some more words:
Slice The Cake probably could have released this album in any of the last 5 years and it would have been the best album of the year, every year. This album is so spectacularly written, produced and performed on an instrumental, lyrical and vocal perspective that it made me break my own promise of not falling into the trap of hyperbole while writing this.
Odyssey To The West genuinely feels, as the name suggests, like a grand journey; one that’s filled with some of the most emotionally intense vocals, most dynamic writing and some of the best riffs this year has to offer. If you enjoy progressive, conceptual music and haven’t heard this album you have no one but yourself to blame when you wonder how shit 2016 has been.
It may have been the year of Trump for some. It may have been the year of Brexit for others. For me, it was the year of the Odyssey and I’m glad Slice The Cake could be the soundtrack to it for 9 out of the 12 months.
Stay tuned for further lists from The Monolith staff, including our overall Best of 2016 list!