Wow. 2016. Amirite? Personally, it’s been a year of adventure for my family and I – losing weight, new job, new car, new baby. It’s definitely had its ups and downs. However, it’s been a great year for music. You know the drill: five main picks and three honorable mentions. I’ve restricted myself to stuff that has come out this year so this really is a “Best of 2016,” not just my personal favorites.
TOP PICKS FOR 2016
Anthrax, For All Kings – Every single one of the big four put out albums this year. How awesome is that? We also got albums from Testament and Death Angel. It was a good year for thrash fans that’s for sure. I could probably fill a list with just thrash. I’m not going to do that though. Out of all the amazing thrash discs I heard this year, Anthrax’s latest stayed at the top. This was truly a modern classic with some of the best songs of their career. Keep in mind Megadeth and Metallica put out some great stuff too. In the end, though, there was no contest For All Kings was king.
Steve Hindalong, The Warbler – Steve Hindalong is not known for his singing prowess. I did not expect his solo album to be one of my favorites of the year. His first solo album, Skinny, decent but I wasn’t totally enamored. The Warbler, however, is probably a better Choir record than some of the more recent Choir records. Great songs, strong production, much improved lyrics over the past few Choir albums. I listened to this one over and over. Just writing this makes me want to listen to it again.
Knifeworld, Bottled Out of Eden – Knifeworld came back this year with the bizarre brand of progressive psychedelic pop. I don’t think it quite reached the highs of 2014’s The Unravelling but there’s just nothing like them out there.
Amaranthe, Maximalism – Like I said in my review, Maximalism is like an energy drink in music form. It’s an instant mood lifter and motivator. Even though the band has gone in a more pop direction with this album, they haven’t sacrificed heaviness and – I think – made their strongest record yet. Still don't like the title, though.
Scandroid, Scandroid- Well, well, well…Klayton has certainly been a busy little bee this year. He’s rereleased all the Circle of Dust albums (as well as the stellar new album, Machines of Our Disgrace) as well as putting out the debut album of Scandroid. Scandroid is Klayton’s synthwave project that is a love letter to the Eighties synth music we know and (some of us) love. I didn’t think this would appeal to me at all, but I was hooked from the first track I heard. Not to mention we get a fantastic cover of Tears For Fears “Shout.” I will review this proper but I haven’t gotten a chance since I got it for Christmas. Yes… got it for Christmas and it’s one of my top picks.
The Jelly Jam, Profit
Panic at the Disco, The Death of a Bachelor
XL & Death Before Dishonor, Offensive Truth
Disappointments of 2016
Dream Theater, The Astonishing – I am shocked at the amount of love this album gets. I must be in the minority. I found The Astonishing to be a ridiculous waste of my time. The story is rubbish, pure and simple. The music has little in the way of hooks and little in the way of progressive mastery. If doesn’t have any of that stuff then why am I even listening to Dream Theater? I can just play Final Fantasy IV…or VI…or VIII. At least the story would be better. I was never one to say that Mike Portnoy was the “talent” behind the band, but this is the second album in a row on my disappointments list. I’ll give you one more, guys. Then I’m done.
Devin Townsend Project, Transcendence – Wait….what? Yeah… I had some pretty high hopes for this one. It’s not bad. Let me repeat, it’s NOT bad. It just didn’t stick with me like I hoped it would. I didn’t find myself wanting to go back to it again and again like most DTP albums. I’m hoping it will grow on me throughout the years. Maybe it was the gear shift between the more pop oriented albums to a more progressive one.
Favorite Random Music Things of 2016
Circle of Dust Remasters – Klayton (mastermind behind Celldweller, Circle of Dust, and Argyle Park) finally bought the masters to his old music. He remastered them from the ground up and added several discs worth of unreleased material and remixes. It made for a very fine year. And to top it off we also got a new (awesome) Circle of Dust album!
The Genesis Project – Yes, I am not technically done with this project, but it has been a lot of fun. I’m a bonna –fide Genesis fan now. So far my favorites are Selling England By the Pound and A Trick of the Tail. I’ll do a “summary” write up after I finish the final review. It should be at the end of this month. Should be.
Thank you for reading everyone! I hope you have an awesome and blessed new year! Looking forward to all the cool music that’s destined to come out.