For the most part, metal can’t catch a break when it comes to mainstream media. Whether it’s indie rock purists with outdated ideas of what “metal” is, or others that just don’t take it seriously, even though it’s a banner year for metal and hard rock already, you’d be hard-pressed to find metal getting a fair shake in mainstream press. There are some exceptions, however, and Consequence of Sound, Stereogum, have weighed in on the year so far, as have NPR and Rolling Stone. The latter two are the stingiest with their metal picks, with only one of Rolling Stone’s 45 best albums so far a metal one. That honor goes to Deftones’ Gore. NPR also has only one metal album on their list of 30, but let’s be honest, no one’s really expecting that much out of NPR on the metal front, regardless of how much they’ve ramped up their coverage. Their sole pick is a surprising one, choosing Vektor’s Terminal Redux. It’s an ambitious album that hasn’t been covered too much outside of metal circles, so they should be commended for that.
Stereogum ups the ante, including four metal albums among their Top 50 albums. Oranssi Pazuzu’s Värähtelijä is a ballsy pick. The Finnish black metal quintet’s fourth album comes in at #40. Astronoid’s Air also makes the list at #31, with the five piece’s album being called “an album I’ve been waiting years to hear, an album I didn’t even know I was waiting for.” Kvelertak’s Nattesferd comes in at #16 of the year so far, and Cobalt’s Slow Forever is their highest-ranking metal album, coming in at #13. If you want to count Diarrhea Planet, there’s five releases in their top 50. Not bad.
Consequence of Sound came up with their own list of the top 10 metal albums of the year. It’s a much more indie list, and there are some releases on their list that didn’t wind up on any of the others, including albums from Wode, Sarcoptes, Mondo Drag, Ustalost, Eight Bells and The Body. Their #1 album of the year is Deftones’ Gore, with Kvelertak, Vektor and Cobalt also winding up on their list. So if you’re going by popularity, the must-own albums of 2016 (that showed up on multiple lists) are Gore, Kvelertak’s Nattesferd, Vektor’s Terminal Redux and Slow Forever. If you’re interested in hearing what Metal Insider was listening to this year, you can find our list here.
UPDATE: Rolling Stone seems to have realized that there was more than one noteworthy metal album this year, and has released a column of the year’s best metal albums so far. Along with some of the others mentioned above (Kvelertak, Cobalt, Vektor, The Body), they also shout out Megadeth’s Dystopia, Wolvserpent’s Aporia: Kala: Ananta, Zeal and ArdorGrave Miasma, and Palace of Worms, among others.