Top 30 albums of 2016! Number 1
#1 Avantasia - Ghostlights
Tobias Sammet has finally done it. Between Edguy and Avantasia he has released 17 albums! Most have been really really solid releases, but IMO none have been a genuine 10/10 record, until now. This album was pretty much the first album I bought in 2016, and it's still on high rotation at my place 12 months alter! Ghostlights is just a masterclass in power metal. In fact, with guests that range from Dee Snider, Geoff Tate, Jorn Lande, Ronnie Atkins and Sharon den Adel, this covers a wide range of genres such as hard rock, heavy metal and even classic rock (check out the 70's Meatloaf sounding 'Mystery Of A Blood Red Rose' below). The 12 minute epic 'Let The Storm Descend Upon You' is an incredible piece of work and Dee Snider channels his inner Alice Cooper on 'The Haunting'. Even Geoff Tate sings on the best track he has been involved in for years with 'Seduction Of Decay', while Tobias keeps the variety coming with the goth inspired 'Draconian Love'. Old school Avantasia fans will love songs such as 'Babylon Vampyres', 'Unchain The Light' and 'Ghostlights' while the jaw dropping 'Lucifer' sounds like a song Savatage would be proud of. This is just an album that I will never grow tired of. I love most of Tobias Sammet's work over his lengthy career, but this is his masterpiece and also my favourite album of 2016!
Top 30 albums of 2016! Number 2
#2 Biffy Clyro - Ellipsis
I just love this album. It rocks, it's heavy in parts, it's beautiful in other parts, it's slightly quirky at times, but what I love is that when you put that all in a blender, the songs are infectious. I know a lot of old school Biffy Clyro fans were turned off by this album as it is clearly their most accessible album to date, which appeals to me as I was only a casual fan of their past work. That has definitely changed. 'Animal Style', 'Howl' and the beautiful 'Re-arrange' (see below) all should be massive radio hits. The bonus track 'Don't, Won't ,Can't' is also another song that has huge crossover appeal. The album has a huge amount of variety, yet seems to work. I still play this album pretty much every day. You cannot help but tap your feet or bang your head to this album from start to finish. I never thought I'd have a Biffy Clyro album in my top albums of a year, let alone my second favourite, but here they are with Ellipsis. I recommend all modern rock fans to give this album a few spins. There is something on here for everybody and it deserves to be #2 on my best albums of 2016!
Top 30 albums of 2016! Number 3
#3 Sixx:A.M. - Prayers For The Damned, Vol. 1
Motley Crue was the first band after Kiss that I discovered as a kid. Sure, they weren't the best musicians, and they don't appeal to everyone, but their underdog attitude really attracted me in their music and lyrics. Nikki Sixx of course was THE integral part of that band and I believe he has finally replicated that attitude with Sixx:A.M's fourth album 'Prayers For The Damned, Vol. 1'. This album is like a call to arms for all the underdogs and people who have been alienated in life for whatever reason. the bands first couple of albums were written from a more personal perspective from Nikki, but this one seems to be written for us the fans, just check out the clip for thetitle track below. DJ Ashba does his finest work too on guitar and James Michael's vocals just compliments this type of music perfectly. Every song is a winner IMO and this is the best album Nikki has been involved in since Dr. Feelgood. Unfortunately Vol. 2 didn't live up to the quality of this album, but that too is worth checking out. It's amazing Nikki Sixx was a huge part of my life back in the early 80s, and here he is 30+ years still making records that I love and are a part of my every day life.
Top 30 albums of 2016! Number 4
#4 Megadeth - Dystopia
This is the best Megadeth album since the underrated Youthanasia record. That covers over 20 years of albums. Granted, MegaDave has released some hit and miss albums, but still, I cannot remember playing a Megadeth album as much since 1995! This is just classic Megadeth. It has all the elements that made Megadeth so good. Fast paced thrash, solos galore and Daves venomous lyrics. Dave's vocals cop a whack, but he hasn't sounded as good in years. And the band are smoking too with the addition of Chris Adler on drums which seems to have lit a fire under Mustaine. Too many great songs to mention, but the sound of the record is first class and I could not help but be transported in time back to the late 80s, early 90s when listening to songs such as 'Dystopia', 'Lying In State' and 'Post American World' (see below). It really has been a great year for old school thrash fans such as myself. If you're an old school fan of the band and you don't like this record, then there really is no pleasing you. Dystopia deserves to be the best thrash album of the year, in what was a huge year for thrash releases, and it also deserves to be in most metal fans top 5 albums of the year.
Top 30 albums of 2016! Number 5
#5 Testament - Brotherhood Of The Snake
Unlike Metallica, Testament have never disappointed. Always staying true to their thrash roots, if there was to be a Big 5 in thrash metal, Testament deserves that spot. I honestly cannot think of a bad Testament album. Since the return of Alex Skolnick on guitar though, the band have been on fire. Out of those 3 albums, this is the closest to old school Testament. The first 3 tracks are simply outstanding with 'Stronghold' (see below), 'Brotherhood Of The Snake', and 'The Pale King' all among the bands best songs of their career. The rest of the album is solid too with guitar solos all over the record and Chuck Billy again proving why he is the best thrash vocalist of all time. Production is near perfect and every song literally kicks your ass. Incredibly consistent band who has released an album absolutely worthy of any metal fans top 5 albums of the year!
Top 30 albums of 2016! Number 6
#6 Metallica - Hardwired...To Self-Destruct
Metallica are the biggest metal band on the planet! So it is a big event when they release new material. Personally, I feel most of the big thrash bands have released much better albums in the past couple of decades, so it was nice to finally be able to slot a Metallica album into my top 6 albums for the year. I'm not really a fan of double albums. Most double albums could honestly be cut down to make 1 album. This is also the case with 'Hardwired', with the first disc much much stronger than the 2nd. There is simply not a bad song on Disc 1. All of them are cracking tunes that cover most of Metallica's past era's. 'Halo On Fire' sounds like Load era, 'Hardwired' could be lifted from AJFA, while 'Now That We're Dead' sounds like classic Black Album era. The Iron Maiden influence is strong too on 'Atlas, Rise!'. Disc 2 also finishes with the most thrashiest moment in Metallica's career since AJFA with 'Spit Out The Bone' (see below), however 'ManUNkind' and 'Am I Savage?' really don't live up to the quality of the rest of the album. Overall though, this is the most I have enjoyed a Metallica album since the Black Album. It has some serious groove, it's heavy, it has some really great tunes that will be a part of their set for years to come.
Top 30 albums of 2016! Number 7
#7 Last In Line - Heavy Crown
Thoroughly enjoyed this album. I was not expecting much from the release, so I was very pleasantly surprised at how good it is. Ronnie James Dio was a legend, and to think that his band from the classic 'Dio' era days would reform to create an album, was met with fan excitement but also reluctance. How could the band get close to the classics they created with RJD all those years ago? Well, I must say that they go pretty damn close. Andrew Freeman handles the vocals superbly, and the sound of the album is undeniably classic Dio. The songs stack up great with 'I Am Revolution' bringing the energy, 'Devil In Me' (see below) hitting you with classic heavy metal blues, and
'Blame It On Me' recreating the classic Dio sound from the 80s perfectly. It really is a great metal album from start to finish that Ronnie James would be proud of. I really hope the band continue making records after the sad passing of bassist Jimmy Bain earlier in the year too. Great album and definitely worthy of being in a top 10 list for 2016!
Top 30 albums of 2016! Number 8
#8 Evergrey - The Storm Within
'Hymns For The Broken' was my #1 album of the year in 2014, so to say I was excited about the follow up would be an understatement. While this album doesn't quite reach the lofty heights of the previous record, it is another amazing release by these underrated Swedes. Heavy and epic are two words that come to mind when listening to this album, yet the melodies Evergrey always seem to produce on every record are still there. Nightwish vocalist Floor Jansen appears on a couple of tracks as well which is a nice bonus, including the amazing 'In Orbit' which you should check out below. Tom S. Englund has really put together a great band which has delivered two jaw dropping albums in a row which just add to a near faultless discography.
Top 30 albums of 2016! Number 9
#9 Gojira - Magma
It has been a slow and steady rise from French metal band Gojira. With their last album 'L'Enfant Sauvage' the band finally reached a wider audience and gained recognition as one of the best metal acts in the world. The bands brothers Joe and Mario moved to America and lost their mother in the process of writing this album, so it is an album of transition, and boy do they deliver. Every note, every lyric is thought through and memorable. 'Stranded' (see below), 'Silvera', 'The Cell' and 'Only Pain' will be are among the bands best tracks, and while some fans might be unsure on the use of more clean vocals, the creative side of this record surely makes up for any misgivings. Time will tell if 'Magma' ranks as highly with the fans as 'L'Enfant Sauvage', but at the very least they have delivered another cracking album!
Top 30 albums of 2016! Number 10
#10 Death Angel - The Evil Divide
Even though the songs on this album are some of the heaviest thrash of their career, the message throughout the album is more positive than previous releases. 'The Moth' opens the album superbly with one the finest songs of the bands career, and the quality is just top notch from start to finish. Although there is not a bad song on the album, other highlights are 'Father Of Lies', 'Cause For Alarm', Breakaway' and 'Hatred United/United Hate' (see below). Great album and right up with the best of the bands long and glorious career...
Gojira: Magma, by Simon (Sun 11-09-2016)
All good things come to those who wait! Never a truer word said when it comes to the new album from Gojira in Magma.
Jorn: Heavy Rock Radio, by David (Mon 27-06-2016)
Jorn adds his power vocals to some hard rock and metal classics and adds enough surprises to make this a worthy purchase...