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HMS presents:
The best music releases for 2016

As editor-in-chief of Horror Metal Sounds, I listen to heaps and heaps of music. Not all of it tickles my fancy and my tastes can be subjective at times, but I thought it would be appropriate to get into the game with my thoughts for a top10 list of best releases in 2016.

I don’t normally do lists, mainly because it is a subjective process, but this year I felt strongly towards bands that I grew up with making big comebacks in 2016. So with that being said, I will reveal the top ten albums that really stood out for me and it is no surprise that this year (thrash metal) seems to dominate the list as the theme for 2016.

So let’s begin with…

Metallica Hardwired…To Self-Destruct
(Blackened Recordings)

I know this came out towards the end of 2016, but it has dominated with repeated spins every single day! The songs are bombastic, epic, and thrash-fueled throughout, often bringing to mind comparisons to…And Justice For All and The Black Album. The production is stellar and both James and Lars sound revitalized here, so I’m going with this as my top album of the year. You won’t find a better album than this beauty and with this release the band has found their niche again, coming full circle towards their thrash metal roots.

Megadeth Dystopia
(T-Boy Records/Ume)

Dave Mustaine actually got the jump on Metallica releasing Dystopia at the beginning of 2016. For my money’s worth, this release is razor sharp; delivering an album that draws its strength from the rebellious nature that spawned the band in the first place. It also helps to have the ever diligent and extraordinary talent of Kiko Loureio (from Angra) on guitar and Lamb of God’s Chris Adler on the skins to bring out the classic sound in the band again.

Suicidal Angels Division of Blood
(NoiseArt Records)

I’ve been a fan of this underrated thrash band for a while now. Hailing from Greece, Suicidal Angels deliver a vicious assault of furious thrash metal. All the songs on this release are short bursts, brimming with aggressive energy; bringing to mind early Slayer and Kreator. The band has been in existence since 2007 and if you haven’t heard of them, I suggest giving their latest release Division of Blood a spin. You won’t be disappointed! I’m hoping this release will bring them more notice here in North America and it will be criminal if the response isn’t better after Division of Blood is unleashed.

Anthrax For All Kings
(Megaforce Records)

As many of you may or may not know, I am a huge fan of Anthrax. I’ve been following them since the beginning and I was pleasantly pleased with the return of Joey Belladonna. What makes For All Kings even more special is the addition of latest guitar giant Jonathan Donais (of Shadows Fall fame) joining their ranks and delivering a blistering performance on leads. Jonathan has infused the group’s core sound with that metallic edge, anchoring the aggressive thrash tone that has been missing from this band for quite some time. I knew this album was going to sound great when news broke that Jonathan was their new guitar player, but I didn’t think it was going to exceed all my expectations. This album is that good and deserves to be in the top ten.

Death Angel The Evil Divide
(Nuclear Blast)

At the number five position is the latest release from Death Angel. The Evil Divide storms out of the gate with a renewed interest in returning to their thrashing roots. The opening track “The Moth” sets the tone straight-away and it never lets up. Frontman Mark Osegueda is stellar with the throat and it helps to have an ever dutiful partner in guitarist Rob Cavestany providing full-throttle riffs that don’t seem dated or tired sounding. This is the third album with this new line-up and I must say the sound of this release is solidified; patented and endorsed as a classic return to the days of Ultra-Violence in some respects. You won’t find a better Death Angel release than this one, so if anyone wants to challenge me on this assessment then please do.

Testament The Brotherhood of the Snake
(Nuclear Blast)

I was humming and hawing about where to slot this release, but much like Death Angel the renewed vigor of Testament’s thrash metal assault is cemented here; landing in at number six. The Brotherhood of Snake is a beast of an album; echoing moments from past efforts like Demonic and The Gathering, but controlling that killing instinct into a more succinct thrash attack. Chuck Billy continues to sound like a man possessed, not mention his bandmates kicking it up a notch on tracks like “The Pale King” and “Stronghold”. The band sound beefier here and you won’t find a better thrash album that continues to deliver the goods on every single track. This release is viable gold as far as I am concerned.

Flotsam & Jetsam Flotsam & Jetsam
(AFM Records)

The self-titled release from these Arizona thrash stalwarts is a return to form album as far as I am concerned. I’ve always been a long-time fan of this band and have lived through the ups and downs of their studio recordings the last few years. I felt re-recording No Place for Disgrace was a bit of misstep for Flotz, but landing in at number seven is their 13th studio recording. The album, appropriately self-titled resets the band in some ways, giving way to stellar tracks like “Seventh Seal” and “Time to Go”; proving that thrash metal can still be a viable genre in 2016. Much of their lyrics are topical and centrally themed doomy, reminding one of the days of Doomsday for the Deceiver. I would say the album is truly a return to form for Flotz.

Vader The Empire
(Nuclear Blast)

At number eight, I’m slotting in Vader. This is another band that found a certifiable brutal sound on past releases like Welcome to the Morbid Reich and Tibi et Igni, so I was quite excited for what they had in store for The Empire. Surprisingly, this release is a bit leaner, but still retaining that bombastic edge that made the past two releases so enjoyable for me. The opening track “Angels of Steel” is arguably one of the better death/thrash songs of 2016 and it sets the tone for the next thirty plus minutes, yielding no mercy whatsoever. Peter obviously was aiming for a no thrills approach and getting straight to the point, rather than presenting a grander version heard on the last two releases. This is still a strong album regardless and it deserves a spot on my top ten lists.

Poltergeist Back to the Haunt
(Pure Steel Records)

At number nine I decided to go with a true comeback release from a band that hasn’t released an album since the early 90’s. I’m talking about Poltergeist; hailing from Switzerland and returning to the thrash metal arena with Back to the Haunt. I love the title and the ghoulish cover art, and it only helps to accentuate that point. The group released three albums beginning in the late 80’s and ending in 1993, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear the band reformed and was releasing new music. Andre Grieder is back on vocals and he is joined by original guitarist V.O. Pulver as the only two founding members. The rest of the members are all new and the band sound refreshed and revitalized here. It’s definitely worth a spin or two in my books.

Entombed A.D. Dead Dawn
(Century Media Records)

Finally rounding out my top ten lists is the second release from the newly formed offshoot band from Entombed A.D. After the legal hassles and emotional fallout between L.G. Petrov and his former mates, it was decided he would continue under the band’s name with the adjustment of A.D. added on to the end to avoid further trouble. What resulted was a new album in Back to the Front in 2014 that proved the singer still had some fire left in him. Now two years later, the band returns with a solid effort entitled Dead Dawn. Much of the music on this release harks back to Wolverine Blues and Serpent Saints, keeping faithful to that greasy-low registered sound, but expanding on progression and other mixed variables we have come to know and love about the band. There’s not a bad song in the batch and this is a solid release from L.G. and his new crew.

Kenneth Gallant, HMS

I will start with and this is in no particular order but I think you'll figure things out. Ok. Well the fact Metallica actually dropped a new album after 8 years, is that right? Yep a new album Hardwired…to Self-Destruct. Is it any good? Its ok; certainly a step in the right direction. It's definitely better than Death Magnetic with that awful guitar sound. 

Testament delivered. They rarely disappoint though. Very solid album. 2016 seems to be the year of the thrash resurgence doesn't it because Death Angel delivered too with Evil Divide.

There's a band from Vietnam well 2 actually that people should check out. My band had the pleasure of playing with them in Vietnam on tour. They are Voluptuary and Windrunner. They are very solid bands. Voluptuary are Melodic death and Windrunner are in the vein of Upon A Burning Body. Find them on Facebook the world has a wealth of metal talent from all over this planet. Rip Off from India, Dying Out Flame from Nepal (yep we played Nepal Deathfest with both of those bands) are also worth checking out. We are talking underground here. There's a wealth of talent in the underground scene.  

I think my favourite discovery this year has been Serpentine Dominion (in the main stream) a band made up of among the best talents in extreme metal. Check them out. I can't recommend this brutal album enough.  

The death of David Bowie should feature because the man was not only a music legend who was an innovator in music, but a music icon too. A huge loss to the music industry. Tin Machine was a hard rock creation of his. He'll be sadly missed and he is irreplaceable in the music industry. A true pioneer whose music pushed and created musical boundaries. Gone but never forgotten. He left a wealth of much loved music. Inspiration for future musicians.

Speaking of legends. Black Sabbath is in the dying throes of their “The End” tour. Again the inspiration for not just doom but also Thrash and Death bands worldwide. They'll be sadly missed but never forgotten.  

Obituary is still cutting it. Live though, they're awesome amongst the best live acts out there. Studio, well like Slayer it's what it says on the tin.  

I'm enjoying Fleshcrawl (German death metal legends) hopefully they'll drop some new music next year. Ah speaking about Germany isn't the new Kreator song Gods of Violence so good?

Merry Christmas and a brutal new year for 2017... Oh did I mention Meat Train will release Random Acts Of Carnage early 2017. It's brutal. Check our page for the video to Block 11 early 2017.

Meathook Mike, HMS

Scattered Hamlet – Swamp Rebel Machine
Steven Wilson – Hand.Cannot.Erase
Voivod – Target Earth
Megadeth – Dystopia
TailGun – Comin in Hot
Motorhead – Bad Magic
Nukem – The Unholy Trinity
Joel Hoekstra – 13
Archer Nation – Culling the Weak
Kill Ritual – Karma Machine

Tim Duran, HMS

Megadeth – Dystopia
Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct
Rob Zombie – The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration – Dispenser
Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Ghoul – Dungeon Bastards
Astronoid – Air
Zakk Wylde – Book Of Shadows I
Gojira – Magma
Death Angel – The Evil Divide
Gorguts – Pleiades Dust

David Bronstein, HMS

Volbeat – Seal the deal and let's boogie
Tailgun – Tailgun
Atler Bridge – Show Me a Leader
Iron Savior – Titancraft
Mystic Prophecy – War Brigade
Breaking Benjamin – Dark Before Dawn
Conflict of Interest – Conflict of Interest
Adelitas Way – Getaway
Otherwise – Peace At All Costs
Monster Truck – Spittin Heavey

Stephen Duran, HMS

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