Favorite Albums of 2016

This post is about music. Feel free to scroll over it if you’re not interested.

Spotify Playlist

Thrice – To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere

Let’s be real here, the chances of me not enjoying this album were very low. Thrice is one of my favorite bands and this is their first album in almost five years. I was going to be hooked on this for a month no matter what, so the big questions are did it hold up for the rest of the year and how does it compare to their other records.

The answer to the first question is yes. This was easily my most listened to album of 2016 and I keep finding new things to like about it every time. As for the second question, this is my favorite album they’ve released since Vheissu, which is saying something because I was a big fan of Major/Minor and The Alchemy Index. The great thing about Thrice is they can play just about any style of music and still put out a good record and they always want to test the limits of what they can do. They never lose their aggressive edge, though. Nope, that’s always going to be part of their DNA both lyrically and musically and this album is no different. Five years was well worth the wait because I can see this album being part of my regular rotation for a long time.

Favorite song: “Death From Above”

Architects – All Of Our Gods Have Abandoned Us

This was a pretty tough year and Architects do a better job did a great job of capturing the angry pessimist in me with this album. Musically, this record isn’t terribly different than their last album (why tamper with what isn’t broken) but most of the lyrics hit home for me. It is probably easy to write a bunch of songs about how messed up the world is. Constructing songs in a way that captures the state of everything is a tougher task, and it’s something that Architects nailed with this record.  It’s a dark, heavy record that talks about the failures of the human race & the place we’re at as a society now. They also tackle dealing with your own mortality throughout the album, something that hit even close to home after the passing of the band’s guitarist, Tom Searle, a couple of months after the album was released. This is a very negative record, but using music as catharsis is necessary sometimes.

Favorite Song: “Momento Mori”

Bayside – Vacancy

Speaking of cathartic records, here’s another great one. Most of the album is based on the lead signer’s divorce and dealing with the aftermath of it all. I, obviously, have never gone through that before. However, I’ve had some bad times and a lot of them were during this past year, so I know a little about having to pick yourself up off the floor when you’re feeling like dirt. It’s tough, especially when you’re stuck in a place you hate and can’t see yourself getting out anytime soon. That’s where I relate to Vacancy and it came out at a pretty critical time for me, so I kind of needed this record to help me get through the year.

Bayside’s last album, Cult, was like that for me too but I see Vacancy sticking around longer because the songs stand out a little more. They tried some new things and hit a few of them out of the park (I’ve Been Dead All Day, Mary & Not Fair in particular) and I think this is their most complete album since The Walking Wounded because of how much they explored outside of their comfort zone musically. It’s also insanely catchy, despite how depressing most of the lyrics are, so I haven’t gotten tired of listening to it.

Favorite song: Mary

Norma Jean – Polar Similar

I feel like Norma Jean is one of those bands that will always be underrated. I’m not sure why because they’ve consistently put out great albums and they’ve all been very different in their own right. Polar Similar is the latest addition and it’s completely new territory for them. There’s a couple of riffs that could fit on their last record, Wrongdoers, while others sound like they’re channeling Neurosis mixed with Rosetta. There’s also a couple of instrumentals throughout the album that just add to the cold, dark atmosphere. Sort of what they aimed to accomplish on their 2008 release, The Anti-Mother, but executed a lot better. Overall, the whole thing feels like one long monstrosity of a song that you can’t turn off because you can’t wait to see what direction it goes in next. Definitely their most impressive work to date and I’m excited to see what they come up with next.

Favorite track: Synthetic Sun

Letlive – …If I’m The Devil                                               

There were a lot of people who weren’t into this record and that’s okay. It’s a different animal than The Blackest Beautiful and might as well be a different species than Fake History, but I was into it just as much as those albums. It’s more of a pop record than those two, which is fine because this has always been a part of letlive’s sound and I like that they went all over the map on this record. It’s also more socially conscious and externally focused, which is a little different for them but I don’t think the quality of the music suffered. The latter half of this album is some of the darkest material they’ve ever recorded and makes the album for me.

Favorite song: Reluctantly Dead

Silent Planet – Everything Was Sound

I listen to a lot of metalcore but most newer bands tend to blend together for me, so it takes something special for me to get hooked. Silent Planet’s new album falls into that class. They have a pretty unique sound. There’s barely any singing and most of the lyrics are spoken/shouted word but it sounds a lot better than how I just described it. Think of them as long-form poems with occasional musical interludes and breakdowns. Still not sold? Well, then just listen to them or read some of their lyrics because that’s what makes this record. Each song tells a story from a third person’s point of view and cover some very complex topics. It’s another heavy record but I’ve found a lot of solace in it since this year was tough in a lot of ways and it’s always nice to listen to a song and be like “hey, someone else out there gets it!”

Favorite Song: Understanding Love As Loss

Touché Amore – Stage Four

This is a beautiful album and has some of the most brutally honest lyrics you’ll hear from a hardcore band. The album takes you through the journey the band’s lead singer went through when his mother died of cancer and anyone who has experienced a loss of a loved one can probably connect to this in some way. For that reason, this record is also a tough listen because Jeremy Bolm’s lyrics hit really close to home and describe how he felt in his most vulnerable position. The way he details these events make the album tough to get through at times but they’re also what makes it special.

Favorite song: Benediction

Every Time I Die – Low Teens

I don’t know how this band manages to get better with every album, but they did it again with Low Teens. They’re one of the best heavy bands in the business when it comes to songwriting and really upped their game here, delivering 13 memorable tracks. The band sounds tighter than they ever had before and I feel like this is one of their most personal records to date. Keith talks a lot about his past problems and what it’s like to feel completely powerless over a situation, and that’s something I connected with. Musically, it’s closer to Ex Lives than From Parts Unknown, as there’s more Sabbath-influenced riffs than the last record and it fits the mood of the album well. It’s been cool to see this band’s sound evolve over the years.

Favorite song: Glitches

Neurosis – Fires Within Fires

Believe it or not, this was my second most listened to record of the year, at least according to my music library. I listen to a lot of slow metal while working and Neurosis is usually one of my go-tos for that and I got attached to the new record for a couple of reasons: 1. This is their first record in four years. 2. It’s REALLY freaking good. There’s only five tracks and most of them are pretty long, but Neurosis is a band that doesn’t “waste” any time on their albums and there’s always something worth paying close attention to. In this case, it’s the entire record.

Favorite song: Broken Ground

Vanna – All Hell

I saw this band at Warped Tour without knowing a single song by them and was impressed. Bought their CD at the tent later and kind of glossed over it for awhile. Then the song “Flower” came on while I was walking home from the gym one morning and it was the most I’ve connected with a song that came on shuffle in well….forever. If the rest of the list wasn’t clear, this year was kind of a shitshow for me but I also met someone special and that was one of the few things that kept me around while things were bad. That song symbolizes everything I was going through at the time and I eventually revisited the album. It’s a pretty straight-forward metalcore album but sometimes things don’t need to be too complex.

Favorite song: Flower

Emarosa – 131

This is probably way off base, but this album reminds me of what Circa Survive would sound like if they played pop music and had a different vocalist. I only started listening to Emarosa this year so their history and older material is mostly irrelevant to me. All I know is that I like what they’re doing now and this record is super catchy. It also has a TREOS reference at the end, so that’s a plus.

Favorite song: Young Lonely

Saosin – Along The Shadow

Should I admit now that this is the first Saosin album that I truly enjoyed from front to back? Well it’s true. It’s not even because of “nostalgia” or anything like that. The band sounds 10 times better than they did before and Anthony Green’s performance on here is pretty outstanding.

Favorite song: Ideology Is Theft

Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas – Mariner

Adding Julie Christmas to this album was a great decision because her vocals add another layer to Cult of Luna’s sound and it’s something that the band hasn’t really tried before. It’s another album that I listened to at work a lot and still has a lot of replay value because there’s always something new I pickup with every listen.

Favorite song: Cygnus

The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation

Apparently TDEP’s way of going out was to give us something of everything. The first track on the album is probably the heaviest song they’ve ever recorded and later in the record they start to sound like Faith No More (even moreso than usual) and they close it with one of the more emotional tracks. The album’s quite a roller coaster but I’m sure that’s exactly how the band intended it to be.

Favorite song: Nothing To Forget

White Lung – Paradise

I’m not sure what’s the best way to describe White Lung’s music, but all I have to say about this record is that it’s insanely catchy, fast and you’ll want to listen to it on repeat because it’s a fun listen and not very long.

Favorite song: Narcoleptic

Brian Fallon – Painkillers

Brian Fallon is one of my favorite singers & song-writers and I was stupid for being skeptical about this record. It’s also closer to Gaslight than Horrible Crowes, so that was a nice surprise

Favorite song: Nobody Wins

Other Albums I Liked:
Deftones – Gore
Trap Them – Crown Feral
Balance & Composure – Light We Made
Basement – Promise Everything
The Amity Affliction – This Could Be Heartbreak
Beartooth – Aggressive
Tiger Army – V
Killswitch Engage – Incarnate
Rarity – I Couldn’t Be Weaker
Gates – Parallel Lives
Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues
The Hotelier – Goodness
Into It. Over It. – Standards
Moose Blood – Blush
blink-182 – California
Capsize – A Reintroduction: The Essence of All That Surrounds Me
The Color Morale – Desolate Divine
Dance Gavin Dance – Mothership
Dinosaur Jr. – Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not
Fossil Youth – A Glimpse of Self Joy
Nails – You Will Never Be One of Us
O’Brother – Endless Light
Periphery – Select Difficulty
Opeth – Sorceress
Sumac – What Becomes One
Russian Circles – Guidance

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