It’s December, which means that everyone’s starting to look back at the year that was, even though we’re not quite through it yet. Over the next several weeks, Metal Insider will be bringing you our picks for the best albums of the year, as well as those from some of the artists that made some of it. Below are the ten albums picked by Metal Insider contributor Chris Colgan, and if you saw what his favorites were at the end of June, you probably won’t be surprised by the picks made here. Want to hear what he’s writing about? Check out the Spotify playlist at the end of the chart. And hey, you can also follow us there too.
WHAT A YEAR. Let me say it again – WHAT. A. YEAR. I’m left speechless when I’m forced to consider just how much music came out in 2016, as well as how much of it was absolutely, mind-blowingly great. I could easily make this list five times longer than it currently is, but no one wants to read that much gushing from me, so here are my Top 10 of this incredible year.
10) Serpentine Dominion, Serpentine Dominion (Metal Blade)
Adam Dutkiewicz is an unheralded musical genius. There really is no other way to describe this man. What he can do with just the slightest prompts of inspiration leaves most other songwriters and composers in the dust. Serpentine Dominion is just the latest example of wizardry that Dutkiewicz has created, and if you listened to this record without ever hearing a note of Killswitch Engage, you would never know that the guy writing these songs has spent the past 15+ years in the biggest metalcore band on the planet. This is seemless, highly intelligent, and crushing death metal at its finest, with the inimitable vocals of George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher and the lightning drum skills of Shannon Lucas bringing everything together perfectly. I really hope this isn’t a one-off album because this project is fantastic.
Highlights: “Vanquished Unto Thee”, “This Endless War”
9) Solution .45, Nightmares in the Waking State – Part II (AFM)
Solution .45’s slide from #5 on last year’s Top 10 to #9 this year is not indicative of any decrease in talent or skill, but rather a sign of just how overloaded 2016 was with outstanding music. If anything, Nightmares in the Waking State – Part II is at least equal to, if not better than, last year’s Part I. Longer songs, more ambitious compositions, and an overall willingness to push the band’s horizons even further make this record a joy to experience. Christian Älvestam once again delivers a breathtaking vocal performance, maintaining his position as one of the most well-rounded and highly-skilled singers on the entire planet. Whether there is a Part III coming soon, or an entirely new saga waiting in the wings, I already can’t wait to hear what Solution .45 has in store for us next.
Highlights: “The Faint Pulse of Light”, “What Turns the Wheels”
8) Omnium Gatherum, Grey Heavens (Century Media)
Despite being from Finland, Omnium Gatherum’s style of melodic death metal has evolved to the point of sounding more akin to America’s melodic death metal scene, rather than that of their native region. This is not a bad thing, though – frankly, most American melodeath bands could learn a thing or two from the flawless execution on Grey Heavens. The compositions on this record are among the best of Omnium Gatherum’s entire career, injecting elements of thrash, prog, and traditional death metal into the existing melodic framework. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard an aggressive melodeath record that pulls me in and retains my attention like Grey Heavens does, and I’m hoping that this style continues from Omnium Gatherum in the future.
Highlights: “Frontiers”, “The Great Liberation”