TeamRock's 21 Best Albums Of 2016 So Far...

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It only feels like five minutes since we crawled out of bed at the crack of lunchtime on New Year’s Day, blinking and trembling in the harsh light of 2016.

In the last six months, there’s been a steady cavalcade of albums. Some were pretty good, others OK, while a few served well as coasters. A big handful, however, were write-to-your-mother levels of fantastic.

Here then, in no particular order, are the 21 best albums of the year so far from TeamRock, Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, Prog and The Blues Magazine…

SAVAGES – Adore Life

We say: “An unflinching, unashamed and uncompromising examination of love’s capacity to empower, elevate, crush and destroy, Adore Life may draw inspiration from Britain’s post-punk past, but it emphatically demonstrates that the London quartet are as vital and thrillingly alive as any band making music in 2016.”

JOE BONAMASSA – Blues Of Desperation

The Blues Magazine said: “He’s never been prone to missteps, and Blues Of Desperation keeps Joe Bonamassa’s career firmly on course.”

PUP – The Dream Is Over

We say: “The difficult second album is something of a cliché, but for Toronto’s PUP is was also a total reality. Two years on the road promoting their debut self-titled LP left them exhausted, and gave vocalist Stephan Babcock a haemorrhaging cyst on his vocal chords. That prompted a doctor to tell him ‘The dream is over’, something this collection of emotive, visceral and intelligent punk songs proves is anything but true.”

THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT – White Bear

Classic Rock said: “The Temperance Movement do what they do with a rare and exquisite panache. They’re no mere barroom honkers.”

BLACK PEAKS – Statues

We say: “An album so strongly influenced by whimsical prog shouldn’t, on paper, be the monumental post-rock juggernaut that it is. But Black Peaks have proved that not only can they make the seemingly obscure accessible, they also know how to write intricate and memorable melodies. A beast of a debut.”

HAWKWIND – The Machine Stops

Prog said: “The album is typical Hawkwind fare, and the mix of hypnotic riffs, driving rhythms and swirling synths will sound a familiar chord with long-standing devotees. Brock himself is in fine voice, his distinctive tones seemingly ageless and impervious to time…”

CHEAP TRICK – Bang Zoom Crazy… Hello

Classic Rock said: “Every album they’ve released since 1980’s All Shook Up has been hailed as a comeback, a return to form, their finest since… (insert title of last great Trick album, usually 1979’s Dream Police). This time, though, it might be true…”

IGGY POP – Post-Pop Depression

Classic Rock said: “A quintessential Iggy album… a magnificent testament to a man who has been scarred and damaged by his journey, but whose lust for life remains gloriously intact.”

WEEZER – Weezer

We say: “With their latest album, Weezer channelled their essential elements – the catchy surf pop of The Blue Album, the heartbroken geek narrative of Pinkerton, and the summer fun of The Green Album – and hit the home run their diehard fans have been waiting almost a decade for.”

OCEANS OF SLUMBER – Winter

Metal Hammer said: “This is 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.”

THE STRUTS – Everybody Wants

Classic Rock said: “The Struts could easily end up working the fryer in the Derby branch of Chicken Cottage. But given the fact a) America is warming to them as you read this, and b) they’ve made the greatest (sort-of) debut of 2016(ish), it’s a fairly safe bet to say that rock has finally found its new heroes.”

GRAND MAGUS – Sword Songs

Metal Hammer said: “Grand Magus have never shied away from their influences in the past, but this time it feels like they have stripped metal down to its purest, most concentrated and potent essence. It’s not the music of yesterday. It’s the music of right fucking now and it’s going to make a lot of metalheads very, very happy.”

ERIC CLAPTON – I Still Do

The Blues Magazine said: “If you like your blues with a bit of grit and a bone to pick, the last few Clapton records probably haven’t been for you. Largely, they’ve been gentle, laid-back affairs, the work of a man with nothing more to prove to the world, who simply wants to enjoy playing his favourite songs with his friends. It’s a perfectly laudable philosophy, and a similar approach makes I Still Do, to these ears, a soft-sung, slow-burning pleasure.”

GOJIRA – Magma

Metal Hammer said: “There are plenty of moments when Gojira break into some devastating syncopated, unison riff and tectonic plates seem to grind and groan beneath our feet. They’re one of the greatest metal bands on the planet and, on Magma, they’ve only just begun to blow our minds…”

ARCHITECTS – All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us

Metal Hammer said: “In an album full of loud noises, the loudest noise above it all is the sound of every other metalcore band on Earth choking on Architects’ dust. They now belong in an elite group alongside Deftones, Meshuggah, Converge and The Dillinger Escape Plan: bands that defy categorisation and simply are themselves.”

BIG BIG TRAIN – Folklore

Prog said: “For the last two years, Big Big Train’s time machine has hoovered up facts and fables from megalithic sites, 17th-century rituals, modern-age action adventurers and more. Folklore is a perfect fit given that these nine yarns were envisioned as twilit stories shared around a roaring campfire as family and friends draw close and imaginations spark. Whereas the previous English Electric sets are near-perfect articulations of modern progressive soul music, Folklore is a slightly more fantastical collection. But as a final lyric says, ‘The joy is in the telling.’ Spread the word.”

LETLIVE. – If I’m The Devil

Metal Hammer said: “They’ve made something polished, cinematic and ambitious that stays true to their ethos yet opens them up to bigger stages… and it’s the album of their career.”

DREAM THEATER – The Astonishing

Prog said: “Sonically, it’s their best album in years. It’s also Dream Theater at their most progressive, as they dip into more styles than ever before. This isn’t a band who are going through a midlife crisis. This is a band who are reclaiming their own destiny.”

HAKEN – Affinity

Prog said: “The album’s spine, 15-minuter The Architect, is the jewel in the crown. It crystallises what makes Affinity special, with its dextrous next-generation prog metal juxtaposed with some retro pizzazz, hooky refrains and rollercoaster riffs. After the hour is up, you can’t help but excitedly ponder just what Haken will conjure up next. To Affinity, and beyond.”

RIVAL SONS – Hollow Bones

Classic Rock said: “It’s seriously impressive, bolstered by a hyperreal production and edge-of-the-seat performance… respectfully updating the past with a considered modernity and their own flair. One could say they use every trick in the book but, of course, they’re not tricks at all.”

DEFTONES – Gore

We say: “For more than two decades, Deftones have been exploring new ways to re-define the concept of ‘heavy’: intense, emotional, seductive and richly textured, Gore is the sound of a band of brothers still questing, still progressing and forever issuing fresh challenges to both their audience and one another.”

Classic Rock's 26 best albums of 2016 so far

Metal Hammer's 20 best albums of 2016 so far