Every year… every goddamned year I am faced with the nearly impossible task of picking my favorite album of the year. In the past, I have always just picked a Top Album and then listened a top 10 in no particular order. This year, I challenged myself and really made myself sit, listen, analyze, and list my albums in order of favorites. Needless to say, even the last of the list is still a fantastic album and a favorite of mine but again, this list was damn near impossible for me to come up with.
Once again, Sweden came in on top with my two top albums of the year but the good ol’ US did awesome delivering six albums that killed me this year. Our friends of the north in Canada delivered a smoking dose of classic 80’s sounding metal, Norway dropped a hot one in our laps,and our friends across the pond in the UK gave us one. This year’s list was a great representation of the great music that was released this year and as always, I can only hope that if you haven’t heard most or any of these albums this year, maybe you will discover a new favorite from this list. If so, please let me know!
Well, let’s do this…
Album of the Year
Sabaton – The Last Stand
Release Date: August 16, 2016
In all honesty, even I was completely surprised by this one! In the past, Sabaton hasn’t been known to put out my favorite studio albums but for some reason, it all just came together on The Last Stand and absolutely blew me out of the water. For the first time, the energy, fire, and passion of a live Sabaton performance was captured on an album and it really shows. From the massive, epic opening song, “Sparta” to the bonus track closer, “All Guns Blazing”, song after song, it’s a metal classic for a whole new generation and my favorite release of 2016! Bravo fellas! Y’all did good!
Blues Pills – Lady in Gold
Release Date: August 5, 2016
Blues Pills returned in 2016 and much like Graveyard did last year delivered an album that completely caught me off guard. Lady In Gold was such a shift in sound for Blues Pills and instead of just resting on their laurels and putting out an album that would take them in a predictable direction, they delivered an absolutely amazing album that tipped their hats to the old school soul sounds of old and even having at times a kind of Staxx influence to it. Lead singer Elin Larsson delivers her best performances to date and as a whole, the band plays like a refined, matured, and inspired unit. A fantastic album that is not to be passed up by anyone so if you missed this one, get on it.
Electric Citizen – Higher Time
Release Date: May 6, 2016
Electric Citizen is a band that I feel like I have watched grow up and with their sophomore release Higher Time, it really shows just how much this band has grown. This is a band that cut their teeth out on the road touring relentlessly across the US and all over Europe so when it came time to write and release Higher Time, they were a tight, yet loose in all the right places, unit. Songs like “Social Phobia”, “Higher Time”, and “Misery Keeper” show a maturity in the writing while still maintaining that psych rock vibe that they do so well. This album has me so excited for the future of this band without a doubt.
Savage Master – With Whips and Chains
Release Date: April 22, 2016
Much like with Electric Citizen, Savage Master is a band that I feel like I have literally watched grow up. The first time I saw them I remember thinking, they’re not quite there yet but they’re onto something. A year later, they returned sounding like a band who has been at it for 10 years or so. With Whips and Chains picked up where their debut album left off but has the band sounding so much more confident and full of fire. If you listen to the song “Ready to Sin” and you’re not throwing horns and headbanging like Beavis and Butthead, there is no hope for you and you are pretty much dead inside.
Crobot – Welcome to Fat City
Release Date: September 23, 2016
Crobot really unleashed the massive face gravy this year with Welcome to Fat City. The minute the opening title track kicked in, I suddenly felt my chest go out like a proud papa bird. It absolutely blows my mind that these kids have grown into the massive band that they are. What I love the most about this album is that it captures the very essence of this band and what they’re capable. Brandon Yeagley needs to be considered one of this era’s greatest vocalists and that’s all I gotta say about that. “Easy Money”, “Not For Sale” and the epic “Temple in the Sky” are just a few examples of the power, fire, and energy that Crobot oozes from their greasy lil pores. If you haven’t already, you gotta put this shit in your pipe and smoke it… NOW.
Kyng – Breath in the Water
Release Date: October 7, 2016
Ah, my boys Kyng. It’s damn near impossible for me to not feel a sense of strong pride when talking about this band. With every passing album, Kyng becomes a stronger, more confident, and more monumental band. With Breathe in the Water, Kyng definitely lives up to their name as this album is massive beyond words. This particular album is Kyng’s most diverse album to date and proves that all the years of relentless touring has helped them to mature and grow as writers. “Closer to the End” is without a doubt one of their most shining moments but as a whole, Breathe in the Water is without a doubt Kyng’s greatest collection to date. I love it when a band challenges themselves and with this one, Kyng has once again set the bar even higher for themselves.
Scorpion Child – Acid Roulette
Release Date: June 10, 2016
Scorpion Child is a band that completely defied the odds over the past couple of years. At the end of their touring cycle for their debut album, the entire band pretty much quit leaving lead vocalist Aryn Jonathan Black and guitarist Chris Cowart holding the keys. Well, they assembled a new lineup featuring Jon Rice on drums, Alec Padron on Bass, and AJ Vincent on keys and together, Scorpion Child not only made one of the best albums this year but their best album to date. It’s such a shame that this album didn’t get more attention because it’s such a solid, passionate, and even at times frustration fueled album that touches on so many emotions. If there was ever an album that made me proud to be a fan of a band, it’s an album like this. Hell, just the opening track “She Sings, I Kill” alone is worth owning this album. You need this album.
Striker – Stand in the Fire
Release Date: February 5, 2016
Striker is a band that has been flying just below my radar for some time but this year, with the release of Stand in the Fire, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. The production of this album is absolutely mind blowing and along with catchy, melodic songs and the facemelting vocals of Dan Cleary, Stand in the Fire is a fucking platter of facemelt. Hell, they even wrote a song called “Phoenix Lights”! Ancient Astronaut theorists call this album a fucking masterpiece!
Jorn Lande – Heavy Rock Radio
Release Date: June 3, 2016
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a huge fucking hard on for just about anything Jorn Lande does. Hell, even his shitty videos are the fucking shit but that’s beside the point. This year, Jorn put out his covers album, Heavy Rock Radio where he did his own metal take on such odd classics as “There’s Something Going On” by Frieda, “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush, and “Rev It on the Red Line” by Foreigner. Like everything that Jorn does, this album was thoughtful, perfectly executed, and done so with class and with respect to the songs that he considers to be some of his all time favorite songs.
Purson – Desire’s Magic Theatre
Release Date: April 29, 2016
Purson is a band that is just pure magic to me. They are so full of depth, color, and imagery and on Desire’s Magic Theatre, Purson brought their Technicolor psychedelic face rock to life. It sounds like it was recorded 50 years ago or so which gives it an already timeless quality. With songs like, “Electric Landlady”, “Dead Dodo Down”, and “The Sky Parade”, Purson shows that even a band as young as they are, they are more than capable of creating a timeless landscape of music that can appeal to music fans today and even the oldest of music fans. Desire’s Magic Theatre is a classic rock masterpiece for the ages and hopefully a gateway drug for a younger generation to a time when music was organic, real, and full of imagination.
Widow – Carved in Stone
Release Date: June 24, 2016
North Carolina NWOTHM masters Widow came out of nowhere this year putting out an album that absolutely blew my mind. Not only is it without a doubt the best album of their 16 year career, it was a solid, facemelting, no frills classic heavy metal masterpiece. While there isn’t a sleeper track on the whole album, stand out tracks such as “Burning Star”, “Wisdom”, and the stellar “Anomaly”, Carved in Stone has Widow standing tall at the front of the pack as true defenders of the classic metal faith. With Carved in Stoned, Widow got everything right and has me very excited to see just where this band will go from here. Carved in Stone also proves that this long running band’s best days still lie ahead. This is an album that every fan of classic, melodic metal should own, listen to, and love with all of their cold metal hearts.