With numerous comeback records, flawless debuts, sensational sophomore full-lengths and a handful of highly anticipated releases hitting stores this year, our ears haven’t stopped buzzing from everything 2016 has provided thus far.
Honestly, after last year, we didn’t think it was possible for there to be a bigger and better year for music. But just six months into 2016, we guess we were pretty wrong with our assessment as this year’s catalog is pretty jaw-dropping.
Now, similar to our approach last year, in order to highlight a few of best albums released so far, we’ve decided to once again create a list A-Z showcasing the best of the best from each letter.
So enjoy and remember, if you’re favorite record didn’t make the list, that’s probably because it’s lame…
A) Angel Du$t - Rock The Fuck On Forever
Sorry, Asking Alexandria fans. When it comes to Angel Du$t’s new record Rock The Fuck On Forever, there are two words that makes this record stand out significantly: “saxophone” and “solo.” That’s right, memo to any bands out there who want to be a lock for our Best Of list, throw a saxophone solo in the middle of your punk-y swing-like track (like Angel Du$t’s “Stranger Things”) and you’re a shoo-in to make it. Plus, releasing videos like the one above doesn’t hurt either.
Notable Tracks: “Toxic Boombox,” “Stranger Things,” “Twist N Shout”
Honorable Mentions: Abbath - Abbath; After The Burial - Dig Deep;
Amon Amarth - Jomsviking;
Anthrax - For All Kings; Architects - All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us; Asking Alexandria - The Black
B) Beartooth - Aggressive
Every time we’re reminded of Beartooth head honcho Caleb Shomo and his staggeringly low age of 23, a piece of us dies inside. No, not because we’re jealous (okay, maybe a little) but mainly because we realize at that age we’d never be able to write anything as impressive as he has – especially his latest hook-laden, riff-heavy album Aggressive. #ShomoForPresident.
Notable Tracks: “Aggressive,” “Always Dead,” “Rock Is Dead”
Honorable Mentions: Basement - Promise Everything; Bury Tomorrow - Earthbound; Babymetal - Metal Resistance
C) Can’t Swim - Death Deserves A Name
As surprising as your longtime best friend telling you he/she can’t hold their own in the shallow end of a kiddie pool, New Jersey’s emerging emo outfit Can’t Swim completely blew our swim trunks off with their out-of-nowhere, cannonball of an EP Death Deserves A Name. Making huge waves with little to no expectations, Can’t Swim is definitely a band we want to hear more from as soon as possible.
Notable Tracks: “Your Clothes,” “Come Home,” “Way It Was”
D) Deftones - Gore
Honestly guys, this one is a no-brainer. And for those questioning us: IT’S NEW MUSIC FROM DEFTONES FOR GOD’S SAKE. Now thanks for listening, let’s just move on.
Notable Tracks: “Prayers/Triangels,” “Doomed User,” “Gore”
Honorable Mentions: Death Grips - Bottomless Pit
E) Erra - Drift
In three year’s time since their previous full-length release Augment, Birmingham, Alabama outfit Erra has made quite the transition. Not only have they pivoted from frontman Garrison Lee to Ian Eubanks to now newly added unclean vocalist J.T. Cavey, but the band has also finally fully embraced their progressive metal roots. Continuing to build on the emerging role of guitarist/vocalist Jesse Cash, it’s exciting to see what the Sumerian Records act will evolve into next.
Notable Tracks: “Luminesce,” “Irreversible” “Hourglass”
F) Fall of Troy - OK
Okay, so before we get into any debate as to why or why not Fall of Troy deserves to claim the “F” throne, remember we make the rules around here. So for all those “the” police out there, buzz off. Now, releasing their first new music in over seven years, Fall of Troy’s OK is more than just okay – it’s a brilliant return to form more people need to get behind asap. Plus, the band released the record for free, what’s not to love?
Notable Tracks: “Inside Out,” “Savior,” “A Single Word”
G) Gojira - Magma
Coming in as probably one of if not the most anticipated metal albums of 2016, Gojira’s Magma without question lives up to the hype. After just one listen to the opening riff of “Stranded” or “Silvera,” you immediately know these Frechmen aren’t fucking around (not saying they have before). And, even if Magma didn’t end up being as great as the band’s previous releases, there’s no way Gojira doesn’t make this list.
Notable Tracks: “Silvera,” “Stranded,” “Magma,”
H) Hands Like Houses - Dissonants
It’s really no surprise that Aussie post-hardcore act Hands Like Houses keeps getting better and better with every piece of music they release. Continuing to evolve and build on their budding popularity here in the States, the Emarosa from Down Under is a band we’ll never get tired of listening to and Dissonats is proof of exactly that.
Notable Tracks: “I Am,” “Colourblind” “Stillwater”
I) Issues - Headspace
If we were to assemble this list based on favorites, we’re not afraid to admit, Issues’ Headspace would certainly make our top five for sure. Combining a smorgasbord of influences into one djent-hop-filled release, this record is exactly what Issues is meant to be – all your favorite artists from all different genres rolled into the best and most flavor packed djent-rrito you’ve ever had in your life.
Notable Tracks: “Coma,” “Flojo,” “The Realset”
Honorable Mention: I See Stars - Treehouse
J) JMSN - It Is.
While we patiently await for Jinjer’s Napalm Records release to drop in July, here’s a bit of a curveball. Okay, a bit of a HUGE curveball. But really guys, after just one stream of JMSN’s soul-laden, almost Stevie Wonder-like music, there’s no denying It Is. deserves to be on this list. Just give it a try, would ya?
Notable Tracks: “Fuck U,” “Hypnotized,” “Fantasize”
Honorable Mention: Jim Breuer and the Loud & Rowdy - Songs from the Garage
K) Killswitch Engage - Incarnate
Continuing to reign dominance over the metalcore genre – a genre they pretty much helped formulate here in the US – Killswitch Engage’s Incarnate is yet another impressive addition to the band’s hardy discography. After 15-plus years of nonstop riffage, you’d think Killswitch would eventually lose a step here or there. But then you remember it’s the Killswitch Engage you’re talking about and tracks like “Hate By Design” and “Strength of the Mind” remind you to never badmouth the forefathers of metalcore ever again.
Notable Tracks: “Hate By Design,” “Strength of the Mind,” “The Great Deceit”
Honorable Mentions: Kvelertak – Nattesferd, Kanye West - The Life of Pablo (kidding… sort of)
L) letlive. - If I’m The Devil…
If you’re a fan of breakdowns, mosh-pits and stage diving, there’s a chance you may have missed out on the brilliancy of letlive.’s latest If I’m the Devil… Skipping out on screams in turn for more soul-focused singles this time around, letlive. released the record they wanted to make resulting in probably one of their “heaviest” LPs yet.
Notable Tracks: “Good Mourning, America,” “Nü Romantics,” “A Weak Ago”
Honorable Mentions: Lacuna Coli - Delirium, Like Pacific - Distant Like You Asked
M) Modern Baseball - Holy Ghost
Like the steroid era of the 1990′s, you can’t stop Modern Baseball; you can only hope to contain them. Are we suggesting that this fun-loving Maryland quartet will one day shrivel up, fade away and ultimately be brushed under the rug like nothing ever happened? After hearing Holy Ghost, that answer is a define no way José… Canseco.
Notable Tracks: “Wedding Singer,” “Everyday,” “Breathing In Stereo”
Honorable Mentions: Megadeth - Dystopia; Milk Teeth - Vile Child
N) Nothing - Tired Of Tomorrow
Following up 2014′s impressive LP Guilty of Everything might have seemed like a daunting task for other bands, but for Philadelphia’s Nothing, it was a piece of cake (or cheesesteak). Honestly, there isn’t anything bad to be said about the free-flowing full-length Tired Of Tomorrow. While it’s pretty easy to be lulled to sleep when it comes to the shoegaze genre, Nothing certainty excels with the best of them.
Notable Tracks: “The Dead Are Dumb,” “Vertigo Flowers,” “Eaten By Worms”
O) Outline In Color - Struggle
If you like your post-hardcore with a major dose of catchiness you can sing along to until your vocal chords strain, then Outline In Color’s Struggle is definitely for you. Seriously, we’re not sure how they do it, but every track clean vocalist K.C. Simonsen get’s his pop-sounding voice on, there’s a pretty good chance there’s a chorus you’ll be stuck singing for weeks. And, if you’d rather go for the heavier sounding breakdowns, unclean vocalist Trevor Tatro totally has that covered too.
Notable Tracks: “Dead Gardens,” “Eat Your Heart Out,” “I Will Struggle”
Honorable Mentions: Obsidian Kingdom - A Year With No Summer; Obscura - Akróasis; October Tide - Winged Waltz; Omnium Gatherum - Grey Heavens; Oranssi Pazuzu - Värähtelijä
P) Pierce The Veil - Misadventures
With probably the hardest decision to make letter wise, coming in at “P” is Pierce The Veil’s Misadventures. We mean c’mon, when one of the biggest bands in your scene drops a record debuting at number four on the Billboard Charts, you’re not not going to feature it right? Right? Sorry PUP and Pinegrove but today we saw the whole world and are going with Pierce The Veil for the win. (That’s a reference to Pierce The Veil’s “Today I Saw The Whole World,” by the way.) Plus, including lyrics to Ahmad’s “Back In The Day” on your album’s closing track is pretty damn cool.
Notable Tracks: “Texas Is Forever,” “Floral & Fading,” “Circles”
Honorable Mentions: PEARS - Green Star, Pepper - Ohana; Pinegrove - Cardinal; Plague Vendor - Bloodsweat; PUP - The Dream Is Over
Q) The Qemists - Warrior Sound
Oh, so the “the” police are back again, huh? Well, fuck off. We found something that fits for “Q” and we’re going with it. Don’t think this should have made the list? Well, listen to the Prodigy-influenced single “Anger” above and try and tell us that doesn’t belong somewhere. Go ahead, we’re waiting. Yeah, that’s what we thought. Crossfaith’s Kenta Koie has that kind of effect on people.
“Anger,” “Warrior Sound,” “Requiem”
R) Real Friends - The Home Inside My Head
Once you’ve dubbed yourselves as American Sad Boys, it’s pretty tough to shed that stereotype. So, when it came to Real Friends’ highly anticipated sophomore full-length The Home Inside My Head, what did the Tinly Park quintet do? Well, they created some pretty sad-as-fuck-sounding songs of course! And let us tell you, we wouldn’t want it any other way. Honest.
Notable Tracks: “Keep Lying To Me,” “Scared To Be Alone,” “Well, I’m Sorry”
Honorable Mentions: Red Hot Chili Peppers - The Getaway
S) Saosin - Along The Shadow
Similar to why we picked Deftones’ Gore (don’t worry, we’ll leave the caps lock off for this one), this record is another absolute no-brainer. Honestly, even if Along The Shadow was a complete bomb – which it isn’t – it’s a new Saosin album. A few years ago, some of us never thought we’d ever get to hear Anthony Green back with his former bandmates, and now we have and the world is a much better place for it.
Notable Tracks: “The Silver String,” “Racing Toward A Red Light,” “Drinking from the Fountain”
Honorable Mentions: Swans - The Glowing Man
T) Thrice - To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere
Hopefully you guys are starting to catch on, we’re sort of suckers for comeback records. That said, even if this album wasn’t Thrice’s back-to-life release and promptly followed 2011′s Major/Minor, we would have still included To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere on our list. As sentimental and nostalgic as it may be, this album is as perfect as perfect gets. From front to back, listeners are left scratching their head’s pondering what life was like without Thrice around for all those years. Thankfully though, it looks like we won’t have to experience that again for quite some time.
Notable Tracks: “Hurricane,” “Black Honey,” “Whistleblower”
Honorable Mentions: Tiger Army - V•••–; Tiny Moving Parts - Celebrate; The Word Alive - Dark Matter; Trash Boat - Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through
U) Uh-Huh Baby Yeah - Illuminasty
We’ve said it before and and we’ll say it again, there’s something about sounding like a heavier version of Head Automatic that we absolutely love about Uh-Huh Baby Yeah. No matter what kind of track they release, be it a louder and in-your-face song like “HollyHood” or a poppy and more party-friendly single like “Natural Born Thriller,” there’s always an uncanny level of awesomeness with this band. And thankfully, with their latest six-track EP Illuminasty, it confirms just that.
Notable Tracks: “HollyHood,” “Natural Born Thriller,” “#nofansjustfriends”
V) Violent Soho - WACO
If you’ve yet to dip your toes into the face-melting, beer-centric world of Violent Soho, we’ll make this easy for you: This Aussie four piece is the cool older brother most of you have always wanted. And, following along with this made-up scenario, the band’s latest album Waco is the faded jean jacket covered in endless band patches your imaginary brother would where everyday to school, band practice or concerts you were way too young (or cool) to attend. So yeah, needless to say, these dudes are rad and so is Waco.
Notable Tracks: “How To Taste,” “Viceroy” “Like Soda”
W) White Lung - Paradise
Desperate and dark almost like a guitar-driven Rise-Against-meets-Joy-Formidable love child, White Lung’s Paradise is without a doubt a career changing record for this Canadian three piece. After hearing “Kiss Me When I Bleed,” we instantly knew we needed as much of Mish Barber Way and her angst-riddled vocals as we could get.
Notable Tracks: “Dead Weight,” “Kiss Me When I Bleed,” “Sister”
Honorable Mentions: Weezer - White Album; Whitechapel - Mark Of The Blade; Wolfmother - Victorious
X) Xiu Xiu - Plays The Music of Twin Peaks
If you’ve ever wondered what music would be playing if you were to watch the world crumble in some sort of cinematic slow-motion-like sequence, this would probably be it. And if the title didn’t already give it away, that’s mainly because Xiu Xiu’s (pronounced Shoe-Shoe) latest is an experimental cover of the Twin Peaks’ soundtrack. That said, even though these are cover songs, there’s no denying Xiu Xiu’s recent venture is one of their absolute best.
Notable Tracks: “Audrey’s Dance,” “Blue Frank/Pink Room,” “Dance Of The Dream Man”
Y) Yüth Forever - Skeleton Youth Forever
Never before have we been met with such confusion that we also instantly fell in love with. Honestly, Yüth Forever’s Skeleton Youth Forever hits you like a ton of bricks – that is, a ton of bricks you willingly fling into your own dying corpse to revive yourself back to life. Seriously, this record will fuck you up in the best way possible.
Notable Tracks: “Suicidal Pistol Grip Pump,” “People Pleaser,” “Growing Pains”
Honorable Mention: Young And Heartless - Stay Away
Z) Zun - Burial Sunrise
Aw yes, we’ve finally made it to the last letter. Now that we’re here, really, is there any better way to wind things down than with the soothing stoner-ish sounds of desert rock supergroup Zun? Don’t answer that, just click play on the track above and ride your way “Into The Wasteland.”
Notable Tracks: “All For Nothing,” “Come Through The Water,” “Into The Wasteland”