2016: My Top Ten Albums
1 – Architects – All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us (10/10)
There’s not a huge deal to say about this album that hasn’t already been said. But in summation – the most exciting and hard-working metal band in Britain release the most exciting and interesting metal album of the year. Nobody was surprised that they headlined Brixton Academy off the back of this.
2 – Dilinger Escape Plan – Dissociation (10/10)
I’ve always dismissed Dilinger as being a bit ‘too much’ for my tastes, and I still don’t fully understand the appeal of the hugely critically acclaimed Calculating Infinity. It’s hugely surprising, then, to discover how much I love this – to be their last ever album.. The tech-metal craziness is still there, but on Dissociation everything from hardcore to jazz, to straight up alternative rock and nu-metal is woven together seamlessly, often within the same song. From speaking to various Dilinger Fans, the general consensus is that Dissociation is by far their best album to date, which, given their imminent split, is no mean feat.
3 – Touche Amore – Stage Four (10/10)
Whilst on stage in 2014, Johnny Bolm, vocalist with LA post-hardcore band Touche Amore learned of his mother’s death from cancer. Stage Four tells the story of the aftermath. It’s as difficult a listen as you can imagine, and you WILL cry if you’re listening to this in public.
4 – Pup – The Dream Is Over (10/10)
Over the top, intense, violent, self-loathing and determined, The Dream Is Over is the story of impending adulthood, told kicking and screaming by Canadian punks.
5 – Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me (8/10)
I’ve been a huge Against Me! fan since I read the lyrics to Reinventing Axl Rose on a punk forum, and this increased tenfold since Tom became Laura and released the seminal Transgender Dysphoria Blues in 2014 – in my opinion the most important punk rock album of a generation. Obviously Shape Shift With Me was never going to live up to that accolade but it’s nonetheless a solid album full of tight, three minute singalong anthems delivered with Laura Jane Grace’s trademark roar.
6 – Brian Fallon – Painkillers (8/10)
Ok, so it’s not a new Gaslight Anthem album, but it’s the next best thing. The attitude of Gaslight might be lacking, but the Springsteen singalongs and stories of dives, drives, diners and Steve McQueen are all there in spades.
7 – Bear’s Den – Red Earth and Pouring Rain (8/10)
Bear’s Den perfectly evoke the spirit of the 1980s on this, their second full-length. In the absence of anyone else sounding like this in 2016 they are unfairly lumped in with friends Mumford and Sons – but better comparisons would be Tears For Fears’ Shout, Cutting Crew’s I Just Died In Your Arms, Don Henley’s Boys of Summer and other 80s pop delights. The band wanted Red Earth and Pouring Rain to be a companion to driving late at night, and it’s faithfully served that purpose for me in 2016.
8 – Black Peaks – Statues (8/10)
If you’re still waiting for that new Tool album (Got to be one for 2017 – surely!) and were not sufficiently impressed with Deftones Gore (I was, but it just missed out on the Top 10) this will definitely fill your post-rock/experimental/prog metal/math rock void. It is actually unbelievable to think that this is a band’s debut album.
9 – Skepta – Konnichiwa (8/10)
Impossible to leave this one out given the time I’ve spent in the last couple of years charging around with total bangers That’s Not Me and Shutdown on a loop in my head. Clearly not a rock/metal album, but Konnichiwa has more energy and attitude than all manner plenty of bands who claim to be punk in 2016.
10 – Bury Tomorrow – Earthbound (7/10)
A band who have come on leaps and bounds since their last release Runes (which wasn’t anywhere near my Top 10 albums in 2014) Earthbound is the definitive BT release, full of technical riffery, pace, crushing heaviness and – for anyone lucky enough to witness their Download 2016 performance – circle pit starting anthems.