The votes are in! 2016 may have been an overall shit year but in the world of metal, ambient, and synth there was a huge boost in quality and quantity. 2016 was arguably one of the best years for music overall. I reviewed close to 200 albums this year, and that was only in the last six months. It has been a privilege and an honor to be able to do what I’ve done this year. I have a lot of people to thank for believing what I was trying to do. None of what I have done would have been possible. I have made friends and new associates from this venture that will last a very long time. I have been able to refine my goals and I’ve discovered what I can do for the culture of metal, the culture that has given me so much.
It was really hard to pick just four albums that could be considered the best in each area but once I did the choice was really clear in each category. So without further ado….
The best metal album in 2016 is…
Forteresse – Thèmes pour la rébellion
I was blown away when I heard this album for the first time. I had never heard of Forteresse before and didn’t know anything about the wealth of music that exists in Quebec. If you are unfamiliar with the scene, you really need to look because in my opinion it rivals that of early 90s Norway and Finland. Forteresse is the cream of the crop there. Thèmes pour la rébellion was the sort of album that hits you hard with the music and even harder with the message. It’s brilliantly framed and it’s even more brilliantly executed. Thèmes pour la rébellion will go down as a classic of the black metal genre I have no doubt.
The best ambient album in 2016 is…
Cryo Chamber Collaboration – Nyarlathotep
I had pretty high expectations for this album based on the Lovecraftian collaborations done in the past but even then I was blown away. The power and the subtlies that punctuate every second of this three-hour opus cannot be understated. 26 artists came together to put their mark on the album, each of them shine in their own light. And there is no “too many chefs” syndrome here, every artist works on their own part and the whole is brilliant and dark because of it. It’s a beast of an album but it’s worth every second.
The best demo in 2016 is…
Horrenda – Neronian Times
This was the album that started Resounding Footsteps. But Neronian Times is more than that, it’s an artist’s vision of what the past was (both in terms of history and of black metal) and what we can look forward to in the future. I’ve called them the Mayhem of Irish metal and aside from the frustratingly unintentional yet comedic drama that has followed Outis and company through the year the sound and dedication to the craft of black metal is clear. Horrenda is a band with a bright (black) future.
The best dungeon synth in 2016 is…
Barak Tor – Silent Passages and Hidden Realms
When I first realized dungeon synth was an actual thing, it was because of Barak Tor. The music is all about atmosphere, nostalgia, and the shadowy spaces that exist within black metal. Barak Tor’s February release opened a massive world to me. Its music exists at the more lo-fi end of the spectrum but manages to paint a vivid picture of a fantasy realm we all need to visit from time to time.
That’s all for this year! 2017 is poised to be just as good or even better than 2016. I look forward to pushing forward, finding new music, and bringing it to all of you. Cheers!