The time has come for me to crown the following bands -with the absolute legitimacy this .wordpress blog carries- within this list as the Top 25 Metal Albums of 2016. This year was another great one in metal with so many rad releases and exciting returns for some bands to show they can still shred and make us bang our heads.

I would’ve loved to have done a longer list, but I’m afraid if you’re here that you wouldn’t stick around for over 50+ albums, so 25 seemed a good number … well 30 if you count my Honorable Mentions section at the bottom for the albums that were “on the bubble.” Here’s No. 11 – No. 25.

25. Serpentine Dominion – Serpentine Dominion (USA)

Metal super team, assemble! George Corpsegrinder headlines this three piece. I am digging hearing George on tracks outside the Cannibal Corpse norm. Really liking this act and their melo death free for all.

24. Ash Borer – The Irrepassible Gate (USA)

They grow stronger every album, Ash Borer continues to beat the hell out of their material with each release and The Irrepassible Gate is just another example. If you don’t like “Grey Marrow” there is something wrong with you. This is some great black metal.

23. Fuath – I (GBR)

Taking a slight departure from his Saor sound, Andy Marshal carves out an icier, sorrowful atmospheric black metal sound that really strikes the eardrums well. While only four tracks, this debut is great and a fine addition to his body of work.

22. Vermin Womb – Decline (USA)

Heavy, fast and full of rage, I can get down on some Vermin Womb because of that and the sharing of vocalist Ethan Lee McCarthy from Primitive Man. Snack sized tracks with razor blade filling. Crunchy, rapid guitars and the McCarthy roared vocals earn a thumbs up. The Primitive Man influence is palpable.

21. Vanhelgd – Temple of Phobos (SWE)

Not sure about the rest of their back catalog, but this album is awesome. Part death, part black and part doom, this conglomeration of sounds really fit together and Sweden is home to awesome metal, so it’s no surprise that this album kicked ass. Thanks to Dark Descent Records for getting them out there for us to hear.

20. Svartelder – Pyres (NOR)

Coming with an interesting sound that takes some cues from early Dimmu Borgir, Norway’s Svartelder is solid with their more accessible sounding black metal. It really is an album that makes you scratch your head. On one hand, it sounds familiar, but on the other, it has a unique, new, catchiness to it. The closer “Devil Of The Flesh” is great.

19. Them – Sweet Hollow (USA/GER)

I wasn’t going to not love some King Diamond worship. Plain and simple channeling of King Diamond with a bit heavier heavy metal behind KK Fossor’s inspired vocals. Great sound and atmosphere. There’s one clunker on it, “Ghost in the Graveyard,” but “Forever Burns” fucking kills and the rest of the album is pretty smooth.

18. Wayfarer – Old Souls (USA)

I’m gonna go ahead and say I like their second album a touch better than their debut. Children of the Iron Age was really good, but I think this one speaks to me a bit more with the increased aggressiveness in their sound. It also has “Catcher” which just jams hard.

Image result for darkthrone arctic thunder

17. Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder (NOR)

The mighty Darkthrone have bestowed us with what amounts to a surprise album. There was not a lot of time between the announcement of its coming and the actual release. Super excited to get new material and it’s sure to piss off all the folks who thought THIS would mark their return to black metal after hearing “Tundra Leech.” Not quite so. Carrying on from where The Underground Resistance left off,  I am digging this one a bit more.

16. Vindland – Hanter Savet (FRA)

France, you make some good black metal. Seven years after their first EP, Vindland has unleashed their debut album and it just kills. Great riffs, a tight sound and all around mastery, if you like Dissection, you should like Vindland. I am looking forward to more from these guys.

Image result for winterfylleth the dark hereafter

15. Winterfylleth – The Dark Hereafter (GBR)

The kings of “hipster black metal” are back and better than ever. If you like Winterfylleth then you won’t be disappointed, I know I wasn’t. Love these guys and their sound is just so smooth and measured on this one, they’ve definitely stepped up, just check out “Pariah’s Pass.”

14. Zealotry – The Last Witness (USA)

Unleashing a killer second album out of Boston, Zealotry does death metal in such an awesome way that this album is pretty mind blowing on a few tracks while the rest is still kick ass. A lot of cool technical and progressive elements keep it interesting. Very solid follow-up to their 2013 debut.

13. Vale of Pnath – II (USA)

Pretty similar -at least for me- to TBDM, Pnath fivesome from Colorado can tear it up with their own flare for melo death. A really fun, heavy album that just burns riffs. Great album for repeat listenings of “Klandathu,” which absolutely destroys.

12. Uada – Devoid of Light (USA)

If you put this on after last year’s Exercises in Futility by Mgla, you’d have a tough time really hearing a lot of differences. These guys from Oregon play some great black metal with that central European touch of galloping guitars we got from early Gorgoroth.

11. The Lion’s Daughter – Existence is Horror (USA)

I love both sludge and black metal genres and this band makes it all work with this atmospheric slice of dark, heavy riffs. Really great tracks that just keep delivering as the album progresses. A few are going to be on repeat in regular rotation, like “Mass Green Extinctus” and “Nothing Lies Ahead.” Plus, look at that amazing album art from Paolo Girardi!

I’ll be releasing the second half of my Top 20 list soon, so stick around for No. 1-10!

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake

Asphyx – Incoming Death

Oak Pantheon – In Pieces

Krypts – Remnants of Expansion

Morgue Whore –Morgue Whore

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