Best Metal Songs of 2016 (So Far)
Another year means another batch of metal classics will be contributed to the ever-expanding 'greatest hits' of the genre. As 2016 rolls on and the new albums continue to pile up, more instant classics will undoubtedly present themselves as the tally rises. By year's end, it can be an arduous process to comb through all the glorious metal that has been bestowed upon us, which is why Loudwire is keeping track of the Best Metal Songs of 2016... So Far!
With albums from Megadeth, Abbath, Anthrax, Babymetal, Ihsahn, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Killswitch Engage and dozens more already out, the best song from each album has already found its way into this snowballing list. With more new albums on the horizon, we'll keep this post updated with the Best Metal Songs 2016 has to offer.
As for the Best Metal Albums of 2016 (So Far), you can find all of those at the bottom of this post.
Abbath made his solo debut in 2016, but the iconic frontman who formerly fronted Immortal has carried over the same icy ethos of his previous outfit. "Winter Bane" represents the second cut on his eponymous album, delivering Abbath's signature guitar work and vocal croak. Furious double kick drums set the breakneck pace which slows in favor of stomping anthemic moments.
Amon Amarth deal exclusively in the Viking realm and what's more fun than the Swedish melodeath favorites delivering a thundering tune about drinking? Nothing! The Jomsviking cut sways with an arena feel to the verse, but the tempo intensifies before the chorus where hulking frontman Johan Hegg bellows about drinking in honor of those who died. The simple and effective melody guides the chorus as warriors are instructed to "Raise Your Horns."
Anthrax's For All Kings is an exercise in classic thrash colliding head-on with the modern age. Perhaps the most interesting track, "Blood Eagles Wings" is the longest in the band's storied catalog. Moody elements give way to a lumbering and plodding rhythm, which is further exemplified in the chorus. The mid-section comes the closest to thrash here with a perfectly executed tempo change that truly makes "Blood Eagle Wings" epic.
Everyone's favorite Japanese teen idol metal band returned with a new album in 2016. Babymetal's sophomore effort, Metal Resistance, brought plenty to be excited about and "KARATE" might be their heaviest and catchiest song yet. With razor-tight musicianship effortlessly switching from massive, bending rhythms to jagged palm-mutes mirroring electronic beats, the girl trio deliver the cherubic element that makes Babymetal such a success.
Death Angel are a band that seems to get heavier and heavier with each release. "The Moth" comes off their newest effort, The Evil Divide, and, embodying the album title, the track opens up with a truly haunting melody. The divide comes with the familiar thrash territory which seeks to wreck necks before the groove-laden verse enters the fold. "The Moth" is a sure-fire pit anthem that can be added to a long line of Death Angel classics.
The Hellhounds in Destroyer 666 have stormed back with their finest release since 2002, though only one album stands between the two records. Wildfire boasts the infectious and equally devastating "Traitor," which straddles German thrash and melodic black metal in perfect disharmony. The band are renowned for their clever implementation of hooks, which often scream from the guitar rather than behind the mic.
The Devin Townsend Project released one of the best albums of their career in Transcendence. One of the uncontested highlights of the album is "Stormbending," opening with a gigantic guitar slide that truly roars before the more airy moments come into play. Putting listeners into a dream-like state, the song's lush atmospheres and pure ecstasy.
Fallujah stand out in the deep waters that is modern technical death metal. While their musicianship is still dazzling and over-the-top, they manage to keep the chains on their aggression with gleaming, simplistic leads that shine on "The Void Alone." It feels like adding more on top of the already complex formula would be overkill, but Fallujah use the technique flawlessly. The incorporation of ethereal female vocals only bring out these qualities even more.
Progressive metal veterans Fates Warning continue to evolve their sound over three decades into their career. Opening Theories of Flight is "From the Rooftops," a morose and moody piece that transitions into heavy mechanical rhythms with pounding ferocity. The chorus is one of the most memorable the band has ever assembled, with Ray Alder's honey-throated voice blending hardened conviction with somber beauty and elegance.
Fleshgod Apocalypse released the best record of their career in King. The Italian orchestral death metal maestros have perfected their craft and "The Fool" stands as the best new twist on their signature style that dominated the previous two albums. Rapid harpsichord playing opens the pummeling track as the rhythms burst through but quickly spiral down into madness with a demented tempo change. There might not be a better song than "The Fool" in the entire Fleshgod discography.
After four long years, Gojira are back with Magma. With a heavier emphasis on leaner songs, the French quartet wrought the three and a half minute "Silvera." Retaining the outfit's signature rhythmic onslaught, the band adds a new flair here, with dazzling cymbal work and simplistic melodic leads, still very much wrapped in a more rhythmic-centric bow. Joe Duplantier utilizes his cleaner singing, giving a further sense of dynamics to "Silvera."
It only took 10 collective years and reactivating the band for sludge quartet Graves at Sea to unleash their debut record and it's a monster. The Curse That Is sets the bar for the genre, propelled by the standout track "Dead Eyes." Blurring the lines between rhythm and lead, the band slugs its way through 11 minutes of seasick riffs backed by some of the most anguished vocals in extreme music.
Ihsahn's Arktis is a grower of an album, necessitating repeat listens as the subtleties and nuances of the mastermind's music begin to reveal themselves. The album has an intentional pop focus in the songwriting and "Celestial Violence" serves as the quintessential song that spans about everything heard on Arktis. A clean sung vocal gently caresses soft synth work before distorted chords crash in, giving way to Ihsahn's signature harsh shriek.
After a four year drought, Katatonia resurfaced with a slightly revamped lineup and the largely atmospheric The Fall of Hearts. "Serein" stands as one of the Swedish outfit's catchiest songs to date with shimmering, textured lead work weaving in and out of the uptempo rhythms. Combining new wave aesthetics with their signature brand of melancholic rock, Katatonia struck gold on "Serein."
Killswitch Engage are one of metalcore's premiere acts, stepping up their game on Incarnate. The second album since original singer Jesse Leach returned to the group, it is stacked with more Killswitch classics, but "Strength of Mind" sticks out for a multitude of reasons. A reckless, chugging rhythm is accented by dizzying guitar fills and Leach bears his soul in his self-empowering lyrics and dual threat singing.
Kvelertak defy being pigeonholed into certain genres and can be classified simply as downright fun. "Berserkr" starts with a black metal aesthetic and throat-ripping scream, but melody and punk-inflected guitar work begins to take over. Stylistically, the song is all over the place, but never suffers from an identity crisis as Kverlertak manage to wrangle it all into one cohesive five minute span.
Mantar are one powerful duo consisting of guitar, drums and scratchy vocal bites. Sounding heavier than most bands fully quipped with two guitars and a bassist, "Era Borealis" stands as a lumbering juggernaut with a taste of an anthemic feel. The cut off Ode to the Flame features single kick strikes during the chorus as frontman Hanno barks with chest-beating fury. Groovy, catchy and heavy is the name of the game here.
Over three decades into their career, Megadeth released one of the best albums in their storied career. "Dystopia" is the title track off the latest release, featuring ear-fetching melodies that easily bring back to mind the Rust in Peace years with a modern edge. The accented lead work during the verse helps emphasize Dave Mustaine's pointed delivery and some of his best recorded vocals in over a decade. Megadeth in 2016 doesn't get better than this.
Metal Church have released XI, their first record with singer Mike Howe since 1993. The album is a true, old-fashioned ripper and "No Tomorrow" embodies everything Metal Church are about. A snare march brings in Kurdt Vanderhoof's patented riffing style and Howe comes in sounding no different than he did over two decades ago. "No Tomorrow" is an apocalyptic tune set to re-energized songwriting with tight and clever drum fills boosting the song.
German techdeath masters Obscura roared back with Akroasis, their first album in five years. The right and left hand of mainman Steffen Kummerer are in a league of their own with his calculated approach. Fretless bass work adds a fresh sound to the genre and subtle guitar work lies underneath the relentless bed of technicality on the title track. These small leads texture the sound and add a new dynamic to a sound that can be easy to favor skill over songwriting, landing Obscura in the later category.
Opeth have dazzled once again with the remarkable Sorceress. The title track exciting fans with its lumbering rhythm and heart-stopping palm mutes. By far the heaviest song the band has authored since Watershed, it's contrasted by Mikael Akerfeldt's ever-improving clean voice, which couldn't be any stronger than it is on "Sorceress."