But there was so much good metal last year, we couldn’t keep our list to just five. Without further adieu, here’s what else turned our crank in 2016…
Nails – Savage Intolerance
Is it possible to make an angrier song than Savage Intolerance by Nails? If this song was any longer than a hair over two minutes, I feel like I’d need to attend court-ordered counseling. There’s no cartoonish metal tropes here. No tongue-in-cheek glorification of the macabre. No adulation of things that go bump in the night. Just pure 190-proof rage that’s best enjoyed when unleashing violence upon an inanimate object (or perhaps a willing participant).
ColdWorld – Void
If ambient, shoegaze and black metal can be used to describe music, there’s a pretty good chance it won’t be my jam. But somehow, Void by Germany’s one-man ColdWorld works. It’s melancholic, haunting, yet truly beautiful. If you need a powerful guitar riff, chorus hooks or “brootality” to get it up, this won’t be for you. That said, I can’t think of a better backing track for six minutes spent ruefully contemplating the afterlife.
Helix Nebula – God Is God?
Frankly a masterpiece. God Is God? by the Madrid-based Helix Nebula has everything you want out of an epic-metal track and more. God Is God? is somewhat unique in that the technicality is on the lighter side compared to a lot of progressive metal. But the (relative) simplicity of the tablature belies the complexity of the composition. There’s a lot going on here, and the skill needed to make all the disparate little elements work together is substantial.
Ghost – Square Hammer
Being born in 1979, I often wonder what it must have been like to be into metal when Master Of Puppets was released. I assume people knew it was great, but did they know it would be historically great? Continuing to fire up Ghost in my car is likely the closest I’ll get to replicating this feeling today. It’s been a long time since a band has had the three-album run of greatness that Ghost is currently on, and the late 2016 single Square Hammer took it to another level. Compositionally, Square Hammer is perfect, and the execution is equally flawless. Eventually this band will disappoint me, but for now, I’m just enjoying the ride. Watch the video and prepare to be insulted by YouTube’s suggestion that you might enjoy watching anything else.
Evergrey – In Orbit (featuring Floor Jansen)
Few tracks underscore the difference in European and American taste in metal like In Orbit by Evergrey. In Orbit, featuring the inimitable Floor Jansen in a supporting role, should absolutely be a mainstay on commercial radio. And in Europe it is – the album reached #29 on the Swedish charts. Unfortunately in America, it’s too metal to be truly hip, but not commercially crass enough to move any Jägermeister, thus relegating it to niche status. If nothing else, In Orbit is the perfect track to start drawing your significant other into metal – don’t worry, they’ll get into Carcass eventually.