Wade Reitz – Staff Poll 2016

Top Metal Albums of the Year

1. Incarnate – Killswitch Engage
Well , they did it again. One of my favorite bands put out one of my favorite albums. The reunited duo of Jesse Leach and Adam Dutkiewicz continues to to help take Killswitch’s music to new heights. There’s not a skipper on this record, that’s for sure.

2. Theories of FlightFates Warning
Another one of my favorite bands produced a great album this year. Theories of Flight is an instant classic, and definitely Matheos and company’s best record since Parallels

3. ProfitThe Jelly Jam
I certainly did not expect to like this record, let alone have it end up in my “Best of” list at the end of the year. I think this was the record I had always hoped for from these guys. Link to review

4. OutlierTwelve Foot Ninja

I was blown away the first time I heard this band. This was probably the album I was anticipating the most this year. Outlier is the best possible way Twelve Foot Ninja could have followed up Silent Machine.

5. SilhouetteWhite Widdow
This was the next biggest surprise on this list. I had not heard of these guys, so I didn’t know what I was missing. What a fantastic find at the end of the year. Link to review

6. Breathe In The WaterKyng
For Kyng, Breathe in the Water is another upgrade in an already solid resume of work. The album is loaded with impassioned vocals and blues-soaked riffs, all over a vise-grip tight rhythm section. Kyng resurrect pieces of the greats of old, all while doing it with their own sound, their own way.

7. PhenotypeTextures
This album was at the top of my list at the beginning of the year, and thought it would also be there in the end. Phenotype is one of the strongest albums in Textures’ catalog, and is one of the strongest on my list. Link to review

8. AffinityHaken
Another surprise for me this year. I’ve been a low-level fan of Haken for years, but this record put me over the top. Affinity is definitely my favorite album from them so far.

9. Serpentine Dominion – Serpentine Dominion

Simply put, Serpentine Dominion makes you want to destroy everything. These guy’s grooves are as infectious as they are brutal. Adam D’s pristine production only makes this album that much easier to get into. It’s too bad this is probably a one off project, as I can’t imagine what the follow-up would be like.

10. For All KingsAnthrax
I started my list with one of my favorite bands, and I’m ending it with one as well. Much like Killswitch Engage, Anthrax has been rejuvenated with the return of original vocalist Joey Belladonna. For me, For All Kings is the perfect blend of old and new. Link to review

Best Newcomer of the Year

Air – Astronoid

Ok, I suppose this band doesn’t necessarily qualify as a newcomer, but their sound definitely is. Astronoid have had two previous albums, but it was not until this year’s album, Air, that they hit a home run. They combined two of my least favorite genres of rock/metal, shoegaze and black metal, and made a sound that not only surprised me, but hooked me as well.

Best Metal Songs of the Year

“Invincible” – Twelve Foot Ninja

On one of my favorite albums, this was definitely my favorite track. Nothing stuck in my head like this song did this year.

“Lost” – Death Angel

This track from The Evil Divide was not only a departure in style for the band, but THE stand out track on the album.

“Stranded” – Gojira

What can I say about Gojira that hasn’t already been said. They continue to put out powerful music, and “Stranded” from Magma is just another great example.

Best Videos of the Year

“Sick” – Twelve Foot Ninja

If there’s one thing TFN have besides talent, is a sense of humor. Never to take themselves too seriously, the video for “Sick” is great example of just how wacky they can get.

“Blood Eagle Wings” – Anthrax

Taking a page from the band’s affinity for horror movies and the like, they created a video that was even creepier than the lyrics of the song.

“Silvera” – Gojira

Another killer track off of an already killer album, Gojira’s video for “Stranded” just shows how well their music translates into art.

 

Biggest Surprise of the Year

ProfitThe Jelly Jam

As I mentioned earlier, I really did not expect to like this album so much. I don’t know if my tastes have matured, or if things just finally clicked between my ears and their sound, but Profit was definitely one of my favorite jams (!) this year.

Top Artist of the Year

Protest the Hero

My reason for naming Protest the Hero my artist of the year aren’t necessarily for what they did this year, but more for what they started last year. When PtH enlisted the help of their fans through a subscription service, it was something that had never been done. In the end, it was extremely successful, not only for the band, but also for the fans like myself that subscribed. The final payoff was the album Pacific Myth, a culmination of the singles PtH had released only to subscribers up to that point. Not only was this “experiment” successful, but it laid the ground work for what will hopefully be a new way for artists to survive in the ever changing “business” of making music.

Top Concerts of the Year

Live at Rockefeller Music Hall – Leprous

I was not able to attend any live shows this year, so I will instead default to a live concert DVD. I have only recently gotten into Leprous, with their latest album The Congregation being the one that really sucked me in. Live at Rockefeller Music Hall was a great way for me to experience them performing those songs and many others live.

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

My biggest disappointments this year would have to be a tie between the latest Opeth album Sorceress, and the latest Megadeth album Dystopia. The reason for my disappointment is because I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaallly wanted to like them, especially the Megadeth.

Dave and company’s last record was such a dud, and the new line up that included Lamb of God’s Chris Adler sounded like the way to go. Unfortunately, for me, it still fell flat, leaving all of Adler and Guitarist Kiko Loureiro’s stellar playing going to waste.

As for Opeth, I suppose I expected not to be a big fan of Sorceress, but I still had to give it a shot. Opeth and I have a past, and I never want to give up on them. However, I still can’t wrap my head around Mikael Åkerfeldt’s obsession with 70’s prog, especially when there are so many other bands out there doing the same thing, and some are a lot more fun to listen to.

Biggest Wishes for the coming Year

With as messed up as 2016 was, my wishes for 2017 are boundless. So, “Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.” – Benjamin Franklin

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