Continuing with our annual end of year awards, this time it’s the turn of James Weaver (who when he’s not writing for us, also contributes to Terrorizer. Oh, and he runs his own magazine, Distorted Sound too). Here’s what James had to say about the releases and happenings of the last twelve months:
Album of the Year – Allegaeon – Proponent For Sentience
Allegaeon have been on of the bands that have remained consistently solid but still flying under the radar for many metal fans. The Colorado outfit’s blend of technical death metal reaches new heights with 2016’s sensational Proponent For Sentience, a record that showcases the sheer talent at the band’s disposal. The first album to feature new vocalist Riley McShane, whose vocal deliveries explored new territories for the band, Proponent For Sentience dazzles with mesmerising lead guitar play and relentless tech-fused ferocity. A record that ebbs and flows from start to finish with so many stand-out moments, Proponent For Sentience is a master class of modern metal and one that showcases Allegaeon raising their game to the next level.
Gojira – Magma
Oathbreaker – Rheia
Song of the Year – Gojira – Stranded
Gojira’s Magma ended up on many end of year lists and the record came after a lengthy wait since the French metallers last export. Stranded was the first single to be unleashed by the band and with momentum building at an alarming rate, the reception to the single could have been make or break as Gojira aimed to rise to the summit of modern metal. In the track itself, Stranded captures the essence and excitement of heavy metal; from the crushing riffing to a hugely emphatic chorus, the track demonstrates a band who are truly unique. Now a staple in the band’s live set, Stranded ignited the fuse that saw Gojira explode in 2016 and become one of the heavyweights in our world.
Oathbreaker – Second Son of R.
Allegaeon – All Hail Science
Music Video of the Year – Amon Amarth – Raise Your Horns
These days, it takes a lot for a music video to impress. As streaming services and access to music has given fans instant access to the music they cherish, music videos in the modern age have to be something special to truly stand out. As Swedish Viking horde Amon Amarth continued to maintain hype surrounding their latest release, Jomsviking, the music video for anthem Raise Your Horns features an ensemble cast from the metal world and beyond. From featuring members of bands like Megadeth, Behemoth, Nightwish, King Diamond for example and beyond to the world of sports, the video for Raise Your Horns captures the essence of what heavy metal is about; community. The video is testament to the community spirit which holds heavy music together and is a perfect example of the friendship within our scene.
Carach Angren – When Crows Tick On Windows
Slayer – Pride In Prejudice
Gig of the Year – Burning Manc Festival – Sound Control, Manchester
Whilst technically, this is classed as a festival, the one day event held in Manchester proved to be one of the stand-out shows of the year. With a lineup showcases the sheer talent in the metal underground headlined by black metal titans Melechesh, the event featured hours of pummelling extreme metal with all bands who performed firing on all cylinders. Yet the reason why Burning Manc holds itself above the competition for this award is that the event showcased just how solid the metal underground is in 2016, especially from the UK scene. That, and the crowd-funding effort that occurred behind the scenes to ensure the event went ahead demonstrates that the heavy metal community is stronger than ever, despite critics who claim otherwise. Burning Manc Festival was a beaming example of a community coming together and celebrating all that is heavy.
Ne Obliviscaris – Rebellion, Manchester,
Alter Brige – Manchester Arena, Manchester
Festival Performance of the Year – Memoriam – Bloodstock Festival
This year saw many bands deliver hugely emphatic festival performances. From Gojira’s earth-shattering performance at Bloodstock Festival to Electric Wizard’s magical journey at Damnation Festival, 2016 was littered with bands delivering on the big stage. From the ashes of Bolt Thrower, Memoriam made their UK debut on The Sophie Lancaster Stage at this year’s Bloodstock Festival to glorious effect. Showcasing old school death metal performed at its most relentless, Memoriam brought the sound of the battlefield to Bloodstock and the tent erupted into a warzone. That and the addition of Bolt Thrower tracks to the set made most in the crowd feel like kids at Christmas. Death metal may have evolved a lot since its explosive entry but Memoriam served a performance that captured the essence of metal’s most aggressive style.
Venom Prison – Damnation Festival
Gojira – Bloodstock Festival
Electric Wizard – Damnation Festival
Most Disappointing Album: Killswitch Engage – Incarnate
After the sensational Disarm The Descent, released back in 2013, whatever Killswitch Engage offered next was always going to be presented with a huge challenge. Whilst there are certain moments on Incarnate that captures the brilliance of Killswitch Engage, as a whole, the record feels fairly forgettable. The usual iconic riffing and fine balance of harsh and clean vocal exchanges felt strained and lagged way below the standards we have come to expect from Killswitch Engage. With only one or two stand out songs on the entire record, the record feels like a misfire. When the band usually deliver records to excellent quality, it’s just makes Incarnate feel even more disappointing.
Anthrax – For All Kings
Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder
Band of the Year – The King Is Blind
All in all, 2016 has been a solid year for heavy music. With every sub-genre of our world delivering solid records and emerging talent breaking through around the globe, the achievements from the UK’s The King Is Blind has been nothing short of sensational. Releasing their debut full-length, Our Father, back in January to rave reviews from the press and fans alike, the stage was set for the band to conquer. Through their ferocious sonic assault performances at Download and Bloodstock only reinforced the excitement surrounding the band and a supporting run to returning extreme metal favourites Akercocke crowned a hugely successful year for The King Is Blind. With the band planning to release album number two in 2017, things are only going to get better for one of the UK’s most explosive new bands.
You are also more than welcome to catch up on the awards from other members of staff that we’ve published so far: