Kerrang! Presents: The Best Albums Of 2016 So Far!
Holy passage of time, Batman! We're halfway through the year already! Naturally, this led to an impassioned exchange of words in the office about the best things we've heard in 2016. And so, without further ado, here members of the K! Team make a claim for their favourite albums of 2016 so far… FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
ARCHITECTS – ALL OUR GODS HAVE ABANDONED US
SAM COARE (K! FEATURES ED): "Where do you go when your last album sweeps the Best Album award at both the Kerrang! Awards 2014 and our year’s end critics’ list? In Architects' case, down – though, thankfully, only in mood rather than quality. All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us sees the Brighton quintet tackle questions of life, death and faith on their most ambitious, cohesive work yet, which both embarrasses their metalcore peers while simultaneously breaking free of the genre’s constraints. In years to come, we’ll be talking about it as one of the decade’s finest releases, let alone 2016’s."
PIERCE THE VEIL – MISADVENTURES
JEN WALKER (K! NEWS ED): "I vowed I would never love another Pierce The Veil album as much as I loved Collide With The Sky, but then Misadventures came along and I'm all like, 'Collide With The Sky who?' My favourite tracks are the heavy, hate-filled two: Dive In and Today I Saw The Whole World. Soooooo goooood."
ALL THEM WITCHES – DYING SURFER MEETS HIS MAKER
JAMES MCMAHON (K! EDITOR): "Though it was actually released in the U.S. in late October of the previous year, it wasn’t until the start of this one that Nashville’s All Them Witches and their staggering, extremely evocative Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, came onto our radar – and so we’re counting it as a 2016 release. Fitting really, given the length, depth and richness of the songs contained wherein; it was far from an immediate favourite. But such is the innovation contained within each song on the record – stoner Dire Straits! Satanic Slint! Boogie woogie Mastodon! – that repeated listens became frequent ones. There’s now little question that All Them Witches third full–length will feature towards the summit of our forthcoming end of year poll, proper."
DESTRÖYER 666 – WILDFIRE
NICK RUSKELL (K! ASSOCIATE ED): "If you want proper heavy metal with an enormous middle-finger attached to an iron fist, here’s a black eye for you. Brimming with uncompromising thrash attitude, Maiden-esque solos, and a surprising level of sing-ability, the Australian antichrists have here created an album of pure steely malevolence and righteous power that will light an inferno in any metal heart."
BLACK PEAKS – STATUES
JAMES HICKIE (K! WRITER): "Thanks to this stonking debut and an arena support slot with Deftones, it’s safe to say that Brighton quartet Black Peaks have firmly plonked themselves on the map – specifically at the intersection of Every Time I Die’s primal riffery and Arcane Roots’ bittersweet vocal histrionics. It’s a neighbourhood in which genres know no regimented boundaries – where prog, metal and hardcore live in productive harmony, housed within the likes of Glass Built Castles, Say You Will and Drones. Not to mention the fact that former Reuben leader Jamie Lenman pops into lend his pipes to the combustible cocktail of To Take The First Turn."
DEFTONES – GORE
GEORGE GARNER (K! DEPUTY ED): "What seems to be proving a grower for a lot of people – even guitarist Stef Carpenter – was love at first listen for me. Gore is an album full of stunning songs with an endless supply of stunning moments. The guest solo from Jerry Cantrell on Phantom Bride comes close, but the real star of the show for me is Geometric Headdress' celestial chorus. It's one of the best things they've ever put their name on. And that's saying something."
THE FALCON – GATHER UP THE CHAPS
ALISTAIR LAWRENCE (K! WRITER): "One of those groups who release an album every 10 years, The Falcon is how The Lawrence Arms frontman Brendan Kelly scratches his straight-up punk itch. Ranging from gonzo drug stories (Sergio’s Here) to twisted late night regret (Sailor’s Grave), it’s a reminder that Brendan’s adept at locating the line between funny and sad then snorting it right up. Anyone who knows their Alkaline Trio from their Loved Ones will recognise his impressive band of collaborators, too."
ROYAL REPBUBLIC – WEEKEND MAN
JAMES MACKINNON (K! WRITER): "Swedish rock'n'roll ruffians Royal Republic have been kicking out some of the most criminally underrated riff-rock for years. Their third smorgasbord of tunes may have toned down the distortion and swapped the leather jackets for sharp suits, but the innate catchiness has been dialed up to 11. Whether it’s spine-jerking indie punk (When I See You Dance With Another), monosyllabic headbangathons (Uh Huh), or just outrageously funky pop (Baby), the Royal dish it up with ease and flair. They're a band who know exactly what they are: consummate entertainers. Weekend Man is designed to get you strutting and pulling your best moves. Get down!"
GRAND MAGUS - SWORD SONGS
SAM LAW (K! WRITER): "Mightier than Conan The Barbarian and about ten times as beefily ridiculous, this eighth LP from Swedish riff-warriors Grand Magus might veer perilously close to self-parody (those 'VI-KING METAL!' chants deflating the atmosphere as well as piercing the fourth wall), but when it comes to sword ‘n’ sorcery-charged metal, they’re still at the head of the pack. From marauding lead-single Varangian to the clenched-fist majesty of Master Of The Land to aptly-titled, tireless closer Everyday There’s A Battle To Fight, it’s a record to absorb with a flagon of mead in your hand and blazing dragonfire in your heart."
THE STRUTS – EVERYBODY WANTS
STEVE BEEBEE (K! WRITER): "Like Asking Alexandria and Def Leppard, The Struts are a British band who’ve been warmly welcomed in the U.S. – Everybody Wants will undoubtedly bring their rising buzz home to roost very soon. This is an album that’s riddled with a starry-eyed sense of mischief, but also keeps you guessing as to where the hell it’s going next. With a frontman (Luke Spiller) who possibly is Freddie Mercury reincarnated, and a band peddling jaunty ditties with irresistible sing-alongs, Everybody Wants is the long-awaited rock'n'roll gift that keeps on giving. This is a band striking blows against sullen political correctness and basically doing their damnedest to make the corners of your mouth turn upwards. There’s ballroom blitz rock-outs (more cheek than chic) in the form of The Ol’ Switcheroo and These Times Are Changing, but even those massive tunes can’t compete with closer Where Did She Go, the biggest anthem British rock has seen since The Darkness believed in a thing called love. Despite their Stateside success, there’s something about The Struts that’s as British as drinking tea and queueing – and you won’t be complaining about the latter if there’s tickets for one of their UK shows at the end of it."
SEVEN SISTERS OF SLEEP – EZEKIEL’S HAGS
DAN SLESSOR (K! WRITER): "Having dropped a series of killer releases over the last six years, with Seven Sisters Of Sleep’s Relapse debut they have elevated themselves to essential listening status for anyone with a hankering for the heavy stuff. Though rooted in the murkiest of sludge, they effortlessly incorporate elements of blistering black and death metal, alongside some seriously epic progressive flavours. In doing so, they are able to shift between the vicious blastbeat attack of Jones, the doom-drenched lithe dexterity of Third Season and the apocalyptic trudge of Plateau with grace, albeit grace of a severely ugly form. This all coheres to create the kind of record it’s easy to get lost in, and is best experienced in a single sitting, but select any song at random and you’re going to find something both moving and monstrous. Though it is perhaps easy to drop their name into sentences alongside the likes of Mastodon, High On Fire and Tombs, they are arguably following in nobody’s footsteps, carving their own bloody path, and doing so magnificently."
NAPOLEON – NEWBORN MIND
JAMES HINGLE (K! LISTINGS ED): "As debut albums go, it's very hard to sound this established so soon into your career. Napoleon are producing a breed of metal that combines all the mind-bending riffs you'd associate with the likes of Meshuggah with the brutal honesty of Architects. The intricate melodies are powered by an assault of King Kong-sized breakdowns and vocal work coming from the depths of Wes Thompson's gut. If you like things loud, this is the album for you, so prepare yourself for many bangovers."
MODERN BASEBALL – HOLY GHOST
RYAN DE FREITAS (K! WRITER): "Modern Baseball have been a very good band for quite a while now. They’ve been one of the shining lights of that whole ‘emo revival’ thing you probably heard so much about. Now, though, thanks to third album Holy Ghost, they’re not just a very good band, they’re a great band. They’ve taken their honest, down-to-earth approach to pop-punk songwriting and improved every aspect of it. The lyrics are more impactful, the guitar lines are more memorable and the hooks are more singable. This is the sound of an exciting young band coming into their own and it’s bloody brilliant. If you don’t believe me, they’ve also got the Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell seal of approval – and you’d better believe him."
AMON AMARTH – JOMSVIKING
PAUL TRAVERS (K! WRITER): "Despite taking their name from Tolkien, Amon Amarth have always had a thing for Norse myth and history and that obsession evolves into its final form in Jomsviking. It’s a concept album about Vikings and if there’s anything more heavy metal than that, Manowar have it locked away in their walk in wardrobe of steel. The melodic aspects of their death metal are given freer rein but the aggressive rush is still there and Jomsviking hits like a +3 cursed berserking sword upside the head."
BRIAN FALLON – PAINKILLERS
EMILY CARTER (K! NEW MUSIC ED): "Part-Gaslight Anthem, part-Horrible Crowes, part-Molly And The Zombies but also it’s own thing entirely, Painkillers is a wonderfully-written, uplifting, feel-good album that sees Brian Fallon returning to his rock'n'roll roots after the emotional (but no less brilliant) Get Hurt. It’s got everything you’d want from the former Gaslight man – from heartfelt acoustic tracks to an awesome curveball country number – and it’s cemented Brian even further as one of the best songwriters in the game. I can’t wait to see where he takes things from here – but, equally, I’m happy to just listen to this on repeat until the end of time."
PUP – THE DREAM IS OVER
MATT DYKZEUL (K! DEPUTY ART ED): "PUP’s new album The Dream Is Over delivers what any fan of their debut record wants: fast, catchy punk rock filled with sing-alongs and melodies. Considering how bleak the build up to making this was for the band, it’s pretty amazing how fun it actually is. If you listen to this and you don’t want to dive off your wardrobe onto your bed, then I don’t know what’s wrong with you."
KVELERTAK – NATTESFERD
STEVE BEECH (K! ART ED): "I used to spend ages trying to think of what to play on the K! office stereo… and now I don't. Kvelertak's latest album Nattesferd is basically all I ever want to hear. Fackin' stunning. 'AVE IT!"
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