As we passed the Summer Solstice this week and are now slap bang in the middle of 2016, we thought it was time to reflect on the past six months of rock and metal albums. There’s been some good records, some great records, and some that have been on constant rotation for weeks. But which ones stand out amongst the hundreds of albums reviewed in the pages of Hammer this year? Here – in no particular order – are the 20 best albums of the year so far.
Oceans Of Slumber – Winter
“A spectacular metal record that wanders with ease and grace between thunderously extreme black and death metal through contemplative doomy crush and into mind-expanding prog.” Read the full review.
Anthrax – For All Kings
“For All Kings plays like Anthrax’s overwhelmingly successful attempt to consolidate and reconcile their past and present.” Read the full review.
Ihsahn – Arktis.
“Arktis.’s sheer scope and diverse range of emotions and sounds might just be the most complete and celebratory statement Ihsahn has ever conjured.” Read the full review.
Rotting Christ – Rituals
“Rituals is a heavy metal album powered by thunder and lightning, brutal dark and dazzling light, as Rotting Christ’s fearless humanity pushes them to the brink of transcendence.” Read the full review.
Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows
“Inter Arma have created the sonic equivalent of fashioning a raft from the bloated corpses of your shipmates in a vain and delirious attempt to escape your ultimate fate.” Read the full review.
Gojira – Magma
“Gojira are one of the greatest metal bands on the planet and, on this evidence, they’ve only just begun to blow our minds.” Read the full review.
Architects – All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us
“Architects now belong in an elite group alongside Deftones, Meshuggah, Converge and The Dillinger Escape Plan, bands that defy categorisation and simply are themselves.” Read the full review.
Letlive – If I’m The Devil…
“Letlive made something polished, cinematic and ambitious that stays true to their ethos yet opens them up to bigger stages.” Read the full review.
Deftones – Gore
“If you delight in being challenged, coerced and invited on a journey of oblique emotional mysticism then Gore is going to be one of your favourite albums of the year.” Read the full review.
Messenger – Threnodies
“While the very name suggests plodding funeral dirges, in fact Threnodies is a joyfully ambitious journey through edgeless realms of prog, folk, electric blues and 70s psychedelia.” Read the full review.
Cobalt – Slow Forever
“Slow Forever is a psychotic symphony of internal/external pain and disorder, a genuinely unsettling and gripping piece of art destined to set to shake the very core of extreme metal.” Read the full review.
Inverloch – Distance | Collapsed
“This long-awaited full-length is a deeply compelling experience, packed with a quarter-century of compositional expertise and ingenuity that elevates them head and shoulders above the doom/death scene they helped create.” Read the full review here.
Megadeth – Dystopia
“Dystopia sounds fucking monstrous, fervently modern and precise but underpinned by several fucktons of the kind of oomph that only emerges when bands are in the zone and high on passion.” Read the full review.
Hexvessel – When We Are Death
“This is an album that blows open not only the doors of perception, but also expectations of what Hexvessel are capable of.” Read the full review.
Grand Magus – Sword Songs
“Sword Songs is not so much a celebration of old-school heavy metal values as a sustained declaration of the genre’s ongoing relevance, virility and importance to the wellbeing of those who subscribe to its ethos.” Read the full review.
Jonestown – Aokigahara
“Aokigahara is so stacked with colossally heavy riffs and grooves that it’ll have you wanting to wave any nearby object deliriously round your head while screaming for Satan and spitting in tongues.” Read the full review.
Heck – Instructions
“Heck have rammed the naysayers’ jibes down their throat as similarly as they would ram a guitar through a Marshall stack.” Read the full review.
The King Is Blind – Our Father
“This band have summoned unfamiliar demons and plumbed unseen depths to produce a devastatingly potent and exciting heavy metal album that could have genuine crossover potential.” Read the full review.
Babymetal – Metal Resistance
“Babymetal are here to stay and Metal Resistance is a ludicrous but brilliantly executed delight.” Read the full review.
Ivar Bjornson & Einar Selvik’s Skuggsjá – Skuggsjá
“There is so much heart and soul on display throughout these 61 minutes, that Skuggsjá appears more like a work of profoundly challenging modern art than simply an earnest attempt to make great music.” Read the full review.