Dead Rhetoric.com Halfway Through 2016 Best-Of

Thursday, 30th June 2016

Everyone loves making lists. Halfway through the year, it’s nice to look back on the best of what has come around so far. We at Dead Rhetoric do thrive with making and maintaining lists so that deserving albums don’t fall through the cracks. As per the usual, many of these lists will see some significant changes by the end of the year, particularly with every band seemingly aiming for that fall release schedule to head out on the road, post-festival season, with a new album in tow. Check out each of our picks for 2016 so far!

David E. Gehlke
Lots to be happy with thus far in 2016, although don’t tell anyone we said that—we have to keep it mean and pouty. Per the usual, there’s simply too much to gobble up, although it doesn’t take a great deal of hair-splitting to separate the wheat from the chaff, which is where the below five come in. Sylvaine’s Wistful is a serene gem of the highest order, an album without menace or imposition, but that’s fine—nothing wrong with exploring one’s feminine side. And this scribe’s rather overwhelming bias toward Katatonia has been rewarded with The Fall of Hearts; the Swedes know how to throw a curve or fifty. And look out for Australia’s Be’lakor, a band who could very well re-write the melodic death metal rulebook, oddball name and all.

1. Sylvaine – Wistful (Season of Mist)
2. Katatonia – The Fall of Hearts (Peaceville)
3. In Mourning – Afterglow (Agonia)
4. Abbath – Abbath (Season of Mist)
5. Be’lakor – Vessels (Napalm)

Kyle McGinn
So, so much great music so far in 2016! Being a perpetual nerd when it comes to keeping track of the best so far, there’s already a list of 10+ albums for a personal year end list on this writer’s desktop as well as a separate Bandcamp column – so these below represent the absolute cream of the crop. Going to be a nail-biter by the end of the year, with fresh albums from Oracles and Black Crown Initiate soon to hit the market, and the year’s two most anticipated (Amaranthe and Allegaeon) awaiting release. Plus there’s Epica, The Agonist, Starkill, Aether Realm, and much more to come this fall! There’s always no better time to love metal than the present, particularly if you seek out new bands.

1. Fallujah – Dreamless (Nuclear Blast)
2. Countless Skies – New Dawn (Kolony)
3. Product of Hate – Buried in Violence (Napalm)
4. Persona – Elusive Reflections (Self-Released)
5. First Fragment – Dasein (Unique Leader)

Matt Coe
Quantity of releases still reigns supreme in this digitally driven marketplace. Which can make siphoning through gems difficult in a period of time where the metal supply often outweighs the quality delivered. Trusting colleagues and primal research unearth many offerings otherwise that would remain local favorites – so far the first half of 2016 has been enlightening as this scribe digs deeper into talent close and far. Here is what has been playing most in my stereo or laptop for albums in 2016.

1. Vektor – Terminal Redux (Earache)
2. Fallaujah – Dreamless (Nuclear Blast)
3. Striker – Stand in the Fire (Record Breaking)
4. Haken – Affinity (InsideOut Music)
5. My Missing Half – A Proper Hangman’s Knot (Self-Released)

Matt Bower
Last year, I ended my Best of 2015 column with my most anticipated release of 2016 being Avantasia’s Ghostlights, so it’s fitting that the seventh studio album from Tobias Sammet’s metal opera super group would lead off my Halfway Through 2016 Best Of list. In addition to a number of talented guest vocalists, the album features some of Sammet’s most ambitious songwriting. Having never heard of the Norwegian one-woman act Sylvaine, her sophomore effort Wistful snuck up on me but quickly rose to the top with its ethereal melodies and Alcest-like atmosphere. Rounding out the list are the latest offerings from two sure-fire Canadian heavy metal sensations in Striker and Cauldron, with Stand in the Fire and In Ruin, respectively. Both are filled with addictive melodies and headbanging riffs. Speaking of riffs, the old school flavor and bluesy gallop of songs like “Looking for a Sacrifice” and “With Whips and Chains” on Savage Master’s well-crafted second full-length can’t be denied.

1. Avantasia – Ghostlights (Nuclear Blast)
2. Sylvaine – Wistful (Season of Mist)
3. Striker – Stand in the Fire (Record Breaking)
4. Cauldron – In Ruin (The End Records)
5. Savage Master – With Whips and Chains (High Roller/Skol Records)

J. Coleman
So, here we are mid 2016 already. The year is speeding by and there have already been numerous quality metal albums released and many more slated for the second half of 2016 I think part of the reason there has been such quality output is due to the tumultuous few years our world has ventured into. Sure, happy times can yield fine tunes as well, but when you get enough people pissed off, who already make pissed off music, I think that’s when you start to see some of the more interesting releases come along (Nails, Architects), especially in the metal world. I’ll admit, I’m fairly lazy about searching for every new band these days, so some of my list is made up of things I’ve known about or been recommended (Destroyer 666, Katatonia), but when I do find something new (Havukruunu, Forndom), it’s always exciting. So here’s to the next six months in metal! One consolation, if the world ends soon, at least we’ll have a really bad ass sound track.

1. Destroyer 666 – Wildfire (Season of Mist)
2. Architects – All Gods Have Abandoned Us (Epitaph)
3. Havukruunu – Rautaa Ja Tulta (Naturmacht Prodcutions)
4. Katatonia – The Fall of Hearts (Peaceville)
5. Forndom – Daudra Dura (Nordvis Productions)

In the hunt: Nails – You will never be one of us (Nuclear Blast)

Thomas Clifford
Almost as soon as the year began, Abbath released one hell of an album (it is actually playing in the background as I write this). I wasn’t expecting it to be very good at all and actually just checked it out to have some inkling of what it would sound like when they opened for Behemoth in Gothenburg. Let’s just say both those bands delivered top notch performances. Next up is the crushingly groovy black/punk album by Germany’s Mantar. Their Ode to the Flame has been in my stereo and in my car for weeks on end. Killer stuff. Third on my list is the 90’s black metal flashback Where Shadows Forever Reign by Dark Funeral. Even though the album received a bland review by DR editor David, I think it deserves to be on this list. Sure, it doesn’t add anything new to the table but that’s the whole point. Tried and true blastbeat-rife melodic black metal. And new frontman Heljarmadr is great. What’s not to like? Fourth up is ”sognametal” band Mistur, Norwegians (no less) playing blackened folk death. Never heard them before but was taken in by the sheer scope of the album. Long, progressive songs that still keep it together and are just really well written. Good production too. Nice. Fifth and final was a total surprise and a newcomer for me: First Fragment. This album is super technical and normally I find that stuff to be boring. But First Fragment deliver so much more, the album Dasein is full of weird and strangely fun parts that blend really well with their tech-death onslaught. Well done boys.

1. Abbath – Abbath (Season of Mist)
2. Mantar – Ode to the Flame (Nuclear Blast)
3. Dark Funeral – Where Shadows Forever Reign (Century Media)
4. Mistur – In Memoriam (Dark Essence)
5. First Fragment – Dasein (Unique Leader)