If there’s one set of memes floating around on social media that everyone seems to believe, it’s that 2016 was a shit year. The election was particularly messy, with proponents for both candidates treating their pick for POTUS as though they were some sort of elderly messiah. People deleted each other on Facebook, protested in the streets, and everyone seemed to believe their political acumen was that of a tenured law professor at Harvard.
On top of the media circus, everyone fucking died. Lemmy died at end of 2015 and ushered in a wave of celebrity death in 2016. First we lost David Bowie, then Nick Menza, then Glen Frey of The Eagles, Prince (he was he one everyone pretended to love after he died),Leonard Cohen, and George Michael. It wasn’t only music that took a hit; we also lost Gene Wilder, the mom from the Brady Bunch, Alan Rickman (better known as Professor Snape), and, the one that hit the hardest, Carrie Fisher. More celebrities died of course but the list is exhaustive so I’ll just stop there.
2016 only redeemed itself with its metal. This year saw great new releases from giants like Testament, Darkthrone, and Destruction. Even the new Metallica album was an adorable attempt from them at being a thrash band again. The underground metal of 2016 was particularly exciting. Here are my top six picks.
6. Desaster- Oath of an Iron Ritual
I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Desaster is probably the most fun band to see live on this list. The German black/thrashers have steadily been upping the ante with their most recent releases and The Oath of an Iron Ritual the pinnacle of circle pit, fist pumping success for the band, as far as quality goes. Memorable thrashy riffs, breaks, and soloing set this album apart. Blackened Teutonic bliss.
5. Murdryk- Antologi MMXV
Murdryk’s Antologi MMXV makes the number five spot despite the band’s weird aversion to being compared to being compared to Dissection. Killer riffs nonetheless, as well as emotional solos, and haunting atmosphere made this one memorable for me.
4. Baphomet’s Blood- In Satan We Trust
Thrash! Death! Sex! Destruction! Baphomet’s Blood easily takes the number four position for top picks of the year with their release of In Satan We Trust. The band’s flirtation with Motorhead’s gritty vocal stylings and riffing, combined with anthem-ic choruses and slaytanic solos make for an unforgettable sound. Think fist pumping, pentagrams, and broken necks.
3. Wode- Wode
I got hip to this album later in the year. Holy shit! Amazing! The riff progressions on Wode’s debut self titled release are masterful. This is definitive orthodox black metal tempered with unparalleled melody and emotion. The raspy vocals and slightly lo-fi production give this release a chilling atmosphere. Truly memorable.
2. Destroyer 666- Wildfire
D666 always destroys but 2016 was a particularly good year for the Australian blackened thrashers. Ignoring the whole racist scandal, the band released Wildfire, which stands alongside Cold Steel as an equal. Fearlessly epic and heartlessly blackened simultaneously, Wildfire gets a lot of rotation on mine and so many others laptops and record players.
- Mare Cognitum- Luminiferus Aether
This is the album I can’t leave alone. Blackened melodic atmosphere with depressive and ambient interludes woven throughout, pair beautifully with Jacob Buczarski’s tortured vocals and melancholy guitar solos. This is a memorable release that I’ll continue to return to for years after its release. Luminiferus Aether slides easily into the number one spot for 2016.
Embalmer- Emanations From the Crypt: This one was well worth the wait. Probably the most brutal release this year.
Dark Funeral- Where Shadow Forever Reign: This was a great comeback for the band. Melodic and frostbitten.
Nokturnal Mortum & Graveland- The Spirit Never Dies: Epic and amazing. Double props to Rob Darken for ruffling Antifa’s sensitive little feathers.
Condition Critical- Extermination Plan: Thrash-terpiece
Vindland- Hanter Savet: Beautiful traditional, no bullshit, black metal with the melodious chill of Sweden’s best
There are so many more great albums I could mention but I have to stop somewhere. List your favorites in the comments. Happy listening! Hails!