When we were younger, people discovered music from fewer places. MTV. Radio. Magazines. Friends. Whatever you were listening to, chances are there were millions and millions of others listening to the same thing.
Not only that, it was much more expensive to record. Self-financing was hard, so most bands had to go through labels which were more likely to fund commercially viable music.
Today, there’s no limit to the number of places you can discover music. And because recording has become relatively cheap, there’s more music than ever to discover. But the number of hours in the day has held steady, and as a result, people are less likely than ever to have overlaps with others in their musical tastes.
Bottom line – it’s harder than it used to be to discover new music. But that doesn’t mean it’s not being produced – you just have to look for it.
While many of our fans are steeped in metal, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite tracks from 2016. In fact, we have so many, we’re going to make this a four-part series!
So without further adieu, and in no particular order…
Haken – Earthrise
Progressive metal’s answer to Stranger Things? Cynic with a predisposition for major keys? Whatever the label, Earthrise by UK’s Haken was the best track from one of the year’s most brilliant albums. Somehow blending Dream Theater with the soundtrack to 80s era NBC Saturday morning cartoons and pulling it off, Affinity is the polar opposite of a Black Label Society SMDF vest. Like most Haken tracks, Earthrise is not music that metal fans are likely to appreciate at first glance – only through repeated listens do the subtleties emerge.
Greenleaf – A Million Fireflies
When a band is called Greenleaf, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect both musically and facially. Unlike most Sabbath acolytes, however, A Million Fireflies offers more than generic detuned progressions at 72 BPM. A Million Fireflies delivers perhaps the year’s best pentatonic-based riffage, pairing perfectly with a Hellraiser-grade chorus hook. The perfect accompaniment to an evening of binging retro Italian horror like Suspiria or Lisa And The Devil.
Humanity’s Last Breath – Harm
Is it electronic? Is it djent? Is it hardcore? Is it death metal? Whatever it is, the track Harm from Buster Odeholm’s one-man project Humanity’s Last Breath is a severe blunt force that pummels without discrimination. Beneath the guttural vocals and sub-sonic Morse code lies as thoughtful and deliberate a composition as you’ll hear. Every buzz, whir and chunk has been methodically assembled into a deadly contraption that’s best avoided if you’re sitting in a traffic jam trying to stave off road rage.
Jorn – I Know There’s Something Going On
For some metal fans, no taste is as sweet as the willful disregard of commercial viability. Sometimes though, you just need to lighten the fuck up and let the power of gated-reverb snare drum take you to the boozy arena in your imagination. In other words, relax and listen to Jorn – the famed Norwegian vocalist who released an album of cover songs titled Heavy Rock Radio. I Know There’s Something Going On, the album’s featured track (originally done in 1982 by Abba’s Anni-Frid Lyngstad), is five minutes of Dio-caliber righteousness, fortified by perhaps the year’s best vocal performance.
Equilibrium – Prey
Your feelings about Dark Tranquility are likely to mirror your attitude towards Prey by Germany’s Equilibrium. Prey is a clean, polished piece of melodic death metal that veers closer to traditional, symphonic goth than the folk-inspired riffs of classic Gothenburg. A very strong take on a proven formula.