But we’re not done yet! Here are five more standout tracks from 2016.
Devin Townsend – Offer Your Light
One of the things I enjoy about Devin Townsend is his fearlessness. Few artists match his indifference to pleasing others while exhibiting such range in their songwriting. Unlike much of his work, however, it’s the sugary sweetness of Offer Your Light that’s likeliest to repel the metal faithful. The nursery rhyme-like repetitiveness and the K-pop overtones will definitely act like garlic and sunlight to the true kvlt. And in the hands of a lesser craftsman, this could have been awful. But Townsend’s signature galactic production and sparkling vocals make this three minute equally powerful and dessert-like.
Kreator – Gods Of Violence
One of the culprits in the marginalization of thrash over the years has been the genre’s leaders inability to evolve. At best, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer have recorded some nice tracks here in there, but nothing you’d ever trade for their old material. But don’t tell Kreator, who quietly just released one of the best tracks in their 30 year history with Gods Of Violence, that the ability to write great metal fades with age. Gods Of Violence taps into the melodic hooks and catchiness that secretly powered Metallica without sacrificing any of Mille Petrozza’s trademark dirt.
Heaven Shall Burn – Passage Of The Crane
For our money, little metal was as good as In Flames three-album run from 1997 to 2000. Sadly outshined by Ozzfest nu-metal at the time, Jesper Stromblad’s and Bjorn Gelotte’s blend of folk, melody and death defined the Gothernburg sound. Passage Of The Crane, by Germany’s Heaven Shall Burn, does a first-rate job replicating this classic sound, replete with a Moonshield-like intro, ferocious Swedish riffing and dynamic interplay between vocals and guitars.
Machine Head – Is There Anybody Out There
When he’s on his game, as he is on Is There Anybody Out There, nobody manufactures metal quite as effectively as Robb Flynn. Is There Anybody Out There does not stray far from Machine Head’s proven formula – the production is slick, the harmonics are immaculate, and Flynn’s vocals carry the song in a way that makes you wonder why this band hasn’t had more mainstream success. Not only that, Flynn deserves credit for lyrics which unambiguously denounce racism in metal – something we’d like to see more bands do.