2016 has produced some great releases. First up a few honourable mentions:
Cursed Earth: Enslaved By The Insignificant. Two new tracks and a re-recording of the Vae Mortis demo, Cursed Earth slay all the pretenders. If you miss the lack of Extortion in your life, let Cursed Earth fill that void.
Babymetal: Metal Resistance. Scoff all you want, the second album from the J-pop/metal wonders has some really great songs and riffs.
The Levitation Hex: Cohesion. Prog, thrash and death metal all mixed in to create a unique and heavy sound.
Oranssi Pazuzu: Värähtelijä. Psychedelic. Spacey black metal. Meditative.
Here’s the five that stuck with me through the year:
5. Ripper: Experiment Of Existence
The Chilean four-piece blend chaotic thrash and death metal with a technical proficiency that (despite that being contradictory) rages with a fury rarely seen. Ripper carry the flame lit by Chuck Schuldiner with pride.
4. Vektor: Terminal Redux
Vektor’s raspy brand of space/sci-fi thrash adds some slight surprises (check the weird vocal harmony ending to Charging The Void) that prove that thrash can still be more than skateboards and pizza. Stunning.
3. Iconoclast: Hallucination
Perth-based Iconoclast blindsided me out of nowhere with this release. Distilling modern death metal via Meshuggah and 90s cult weirdos Human Remains with modern production techniques, Hallucination is crushing. Skip this at your own peril.
2. The Devin Townsend Project: Transcendence
The Canadian mad scientist of metal strikes again. By stripping back and cutting some of the fat *Ever* so slightly, Hevy Devy has made an excellent prog/metal/ambient album that will satisfy long term fans and newcomer alike.
1. Darkthrone: Arctic Thunder
Fenriz and Nocturno Culto are now set, whether they approve or otherwise, as heavy metal tastemakers. Black metal at heart (always), they go deep with influences from old cult heavy metal to crust punk. Best in the business, simple and effective, Arctic Thunder is my favourite album from 2016.
Scott Bishop is a regular host on RTR FM 92.1's Critical Mass, which airs every Wednesday from 9PM (GMT+8) in Perth, Australia.