Sadly, I fall into the large category of people who seem to also view 2016 as a bit of a write off. Even when it came to discovering music I found it hard to make a top 10 at all until the last couple of months when suddenly I was barraged by a fair few albums that were all great in their own respect. Here are the top 10 albums and 5 EP’s that made 2016 that bit more bearable for me.
10. Giuseppe Ottaviani – Alma
After discovering Trance artist Ottaviani through his previous album, Magenta, Alma sees more of his signature uplifting melodic trance, built up via progressive layering.
His use of electronics in these layers is subtle and effective, making sure that, when the driving beats do break into melodic choruses that they are certainly noticeable and – more importantly – memorable.
9. Carcer City – Infinite // Unknown
Carcer City‘s long awaited album, Infinite // Unknown boasts slick riffs, crisp production and rich synth layers that really sets them apart from their metalcore counterparts.
Here is a band who have worked extremely hard to ensure that their music is nurtured and engaging and here’s hoping that it won’t be as long a wait before we hear more heavy hitting, electronic infused goodness.
8. Broken Teeth – At Peace Amongst Chaos
With riffs that blend hardcore with thrash, Broken Teeth have managed to blend all the most intense parts of Hatebreed and Metallica together into an unstoppable hybrid. Memorable riffs make sure that you have these hooks wedged into your mind for days. Definitely one to blow some steam off to.
7. Knocked Loose – Laugh Tracks
Managing to gather quite a buzz in the build up to their debut release, Laugh Tracks, Knocked Loose bring a new metallic spin to the beat-down scene.
With riffs almost more at home in nu metal than hardcore, they mix simple riffs with ever changing tempos that make their music ravenous and at times unpredictable.
6. Oathbreaker – Rheia
While their first two efforts teetered along the boundaries of black metal, crust and hardcore, Oathbreaker now encompass all these styles effortlessly. Caro Tanghe’s tortured vocals bend between Bjork-like atonality and serene melodies before breaking into her visceral shrieks. Their use of experimentation has propelled their music beyond previous efforts, with acoustic passages and ambient interludes.
5. Alcest – Kodama
Kodama saw Alcest take yet another change in the way they approach their uplifting, black metal and folk-influenced post-rock that steered them away from the shoegaze that they offered in Shelter and back to a heavier sound. While the shoegaze influence remains, they have infused the songs with more distortion once again.
4. After The Burial – Dig Deep
Following the tragic events that befell guitarist Justin Lowe, it was quite a bittersweet surprise that After The Burial managed to pull together so quickly and release another album.
Utilising many old demos that Justin had written, the album is a testimony to Lowe’s amazing skill in writing not only furious and intricate riffs, but also threading together extremely well structured songs.
3. The Naked And Famous – Simple Forms
Quenching my thirst for the infectious synth pop that CHVRCHES managed to create in 2015 with Every Open Eye comes the band that, it could be argued, gave the Scottish trio their inspiration.
Simple Forms boasts huge electronic rock tunes. The Naked And Famous blend emotional alt rock with soaring electronic pop to create something heavier than their peers but still hugely catchy.
2. White Lies – Friends
Having seemingly missed much from their previous release, I found White Lies‘ boost in 80s-tinged alt rock a brilliantly enjoyable personality to it. While their Joy Division-esque influence is obvious, there is still something wonderfully modern about their approach to writing great songs. Friends comes at a brilliant time when retro revival fever has hit the mainstream hard with shows like Stranger Things and synthwave’s popularity.
1. Biffy Clyro – Ellipsis
Scottish rock trio Biffy Clyro have managed to win over my heart yet again with their wonderfully quirky yet catchy newest record Ellipsis. It does an excellent job in blending the various styles that the band have explored across all seven of their albums to date, from the Puzzle-like overtone to the quirky musical flourishes of their math rock leanings in Infinity Land. Ellipsis remains colourful and memorable throughout, despite its quirks and peculiar lyrics, and manages to blend both stadium-sized rock anthems with emotive acoustic songs.