2016 flat-out ruled. Here’s ten of my favorites of the year, records I believe to be genre standouts, albums that set a new standard, or just unbelievably consistent pieces from start to finish. Let’s be honest, with so many great records (and some yet to come!) it’s hard to whittle down to only ten, but I’ve done my best to present a little something for everyone. So check out the Spotify playlist and kick the tires on something you haven’t heard, or give something a second chance, you never know when the time is right to hear something!
Astronoid, Air [thrash/blackgaze/prog] (Blood Music)
This blew my mind from the get-go, and while I’ll admit I’ve cooled down on it as the year went on, I still stand firm that this is a fantastic summertime album, and one that will be looked back upon as a conduit for many newcomers to the larger metal scene. Their homogeneous blend of black metal, shoegaze, pop, and prog is simply addicting and uplifting. Air feels like an adrenaline rush and has that over-before-you-know-it kind of catchiness.
Key tracks: “Up and Atom,” “Resin,” “Tin Foil Hats”
The Central, Discovery of a Rat [math/grind/indie/pop] (Blue Bedroom Records)
There was a ton of awesome grind this year, but The Central did it differently, and did it best. This is not your grandma’s grind. Much like the aforementioned Air, Discovery hits on something entirely new that lands in the overlap of The Number Twelve Looks Like You, early System of a Down, and indie rock favorites Of Montreal. The duo’s weirdo mathy ripping is complemented by some downright catchy melodies that’ll have you humming along in no time. I eagerly await their next offering, as they’ve shown to have unique potential.
Deftones, Gore [alternative/metal] (Reprise)
Gore isn’t like some album this year that is getting heaps of praise because it’s a decent release in a long line of disappointments. It stands on its own merits. It’s ultimately the best Deftones release in over a decade and a half. Featuring many of the best choruses of their career, Gore is a refinement of the best version of the band – one that balances allure with disgust, darkness with light, and subtle textures with brutal grooves. Every track has a solid hook, steadying some of the most unusual riffs in their catalog, maintaining a fresh sound while retaining their identity – something that other band couldn’t grasp for a while.
Key tracks: “Doomed User,” “(L)MIRL,” “Phantom Bride”