2016 has been a phenomenal year for music, so let’s not delay. Here are five albums that are currently ruling my speakers:
5) Katatonia, The Fall of Hearts (Peaceville)
Katatonia sets the bar very high for doom-inspired ambient metal, and The Fall of Hearts is one of their best albums to date. The rise and fall of this album’s tone and atmosphere make for an unforgettable experience, both in its connection to the listener and its aural landscape. With gorgeous melodies and beautiful transitions woven into each song, this is the perfect album for a fit of melancholy that demands emotional companionship.
4) Amon Amarth, Jomsviking (Metal Blade)
If this isn’t one of the top three albums of Amon Amarth’s career, I don’t know what is. Every song here is a pinnacle of compositional excellence, drawing on Amon Amarth’s rich history and incorporating new elements that expand the sound of a band that is already at the top of their genre. Some diehard fans may dislike the melodic pieces of this album, but they only serve to make it better in my eyes.
3) Death Angel, The Evil Divide (Nuclear Blast)
I don’t see a way that this doesn’t end up being my favorite thrash album of 2016. Death Angel has been absolutely on fire since their reformation in 2001, and each album they’ve released since the end of their hiatus has been better than the last. The Evil Divide has all the ferocity and energy of The Dream Calls for Blood, while adding a classic ’80s thrash aesthetic that gives the album a very unique feel amidst a bloated thrash scene.
2) Killswitch Engage, Incarnate (Roadrunner)
Jesse Leach is an absolute titan of a vocalist. We’ve known this to be true for 15 years. But Incarnate is easily the best performance of his career, even topping the legendary Alive or Just Breathing. Purist fans of the band will be loathe to admit this, but Incarnate is the greatest album that Killswitch has ever put out, and it cements Killswitch’s position as the greatest metalcore band in the history of the genre.
1) Fallujah, Dreamless (Nuclear Blast)
If The Flesh Prevails shocked me and made me a fan of Fallujah, Dreamless subdued me into reverent worship. This album is equal parts technical wizardry, ambient calm, and crushing intensity, all of which is stunning. Stylistic changes within songs, the flow from one song to another, the internal evolution of the album from start to finish – it’s a masterwork of genius. It will take a miracle for this not to be my #1 album of the year.