Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Best of 2016: Part 1, 2016 in review and honorable mentions

Man... what a fucking year.

In more ways than I could ever imagine, 2016 became one of the wildest rides I have ever experienced. Close to everything that could go wrong did, and even more to that. It has been very hard to endure it all, but we have finally reached the end of this year, now ready to look back at all this craziness that has happened. And it all started, with a little golden statue that broke the Internet.

Leo finally did it

After several nominations, and becoming a meme that grew to epic proportions, Leonardo DiCaprio finally won his Oscar. While I cannot say that he do not deserve it (he does), I am not sure if it was right to give it to him for his performance in "The Revenant". Do not get me wrong, he is awesome in this movie, but he has had so many more performances over the years that is even better. Just to name a few, we got "The Wolf of Wall Street", "The Departed", "Catch Me If You Can", "Blood Diamond" and "The Aviator". To say that it is a crime that he has not gotten that Oscar sooner is an understatement. And hey, no more "Leo has not won that fucking Oscar" memes, which is something.

And if you all wonder, my personal favourite movie from this year is, not surprisingly, "Deadpool". I love the character, and Ryan Reynolds is simply perfect for the role. Yeah, the plot is far from the strongest, but the humour, action and self awareness more than makes up for it. Should be noted though, I have not seen "Arrival" yet, which has gotten tons of great reviews. I have high hopes for it.

2016, the serial killer

Jesus Christ, this year has taken away tons of famous stars and idols, it is close to ridiculous. We in the metal world have been fairly saved from this plague, but we were not without our own casualties. Guys like Nick Menza (ex-Megadeth), Jimmy Bain (Rainbow, Dio), Adam Sagan (ex-Circle II Circle) and James Woolley (Nine Inch Nails) all died this year, and will all be missed.

But we saw several other major deaths from other mediums. The most notable ones happened in the beginning, with the passing of both Prince and David Bowie. While I personally have little to no real connection to them (being too young and all), I still have tremendous respect for them, and for the music they created. Both of them were incredibly unique in their approach, and they always pushed themselves to create something we have never heard, or seen, before. Just the fact that Prince used a still photo from a Dave Chappelle sketch in which he act as Prince for one of his singles is just amazing (and it also helps that the sketch itself is extremely hilarious).

Those two were not alone though. We also lost Muhammad Ali, Alan Rickman, Leonard Cohen, Arnold Palmer and Gordie Howe this year, and there are probably several others that I forgot. It is sad and all, but what is even sadder is that somehow, a GOD DAMN GORILLA is more remembered than any of these celebrities (although, most of these "mourners" just want to show their dick, so I do not take them all too seriously).

'Murica is (maybe) screwed

Donald Trump... President Donald Trump... still feels weird saying that.

We are definitely not gonna go and assume in advance that Trump will be the trigger to World War III, because technically, he has not done anything yet. Yes, his whole candidacy was one big controversy after another, from recreating the Great Wall of China, to grabbing pussies, but ultimately, it is his real decisions that will truly show if he is any good. Hell, Politicians lie all the time, so why should Trump be any different? Oh right... he is not a politician... he is a business man.

Still, it was a choice between AIDS and Ebola for Americans, as I think Hillary would not be that much better. Sure, she has more experience, but can we really trust her? I definitely feel sorry for all of you Yanks, and secretly, I rooted for Bernie Sanders, because he seems genuinely nice, like a sweet grand father that takes care of you and wants what is best for you.

Oh well, these next 4 years will be a hell of a lot interesting, that is for sure.

The resurgence of my childhood

To think that we would still talk about Pokemon in 2016, and that it is hotter than ever, is honestly baffling to me. I was among those who was in just the right age when those weird creatures first emerged into the scene, and just like everyone else at the time, I was hooked. I made my parents buy cards and figurines, and we would later battle and trade with them in the school yard (well, battle as in throwing the cards to a wall, and the one closest to the wall would win, not the actual card game battling). And then we had the video games and the anime. Oh my god the video games and the anime! Good times indeed.

Fast forward to today, and I still play with Pokemon, but on my smart phone now. Pokemon GO was an instant hit, and it struck my heart. Yeah, it has some flaws, and it is not completely accurate to how it works in the games/show, but it is a good way to get my ass off my chair and get some fresh air. It definitely beats Candy Crush 7 days a week.

It is simply amazing that these little fictional animals has stayed relevant for so many years, and that it keeps drawing in newer generations. Hell, my little sisters are drawn to the craze now too, and every time I get home, they jump on me and ask if I have caught any new ones. Pokemon, bringing generations together since 1996.

At least we got some great music

Despite all the negativity that has plagued 2016, I will look back to this year with memories of some great music. Metal has had a great year, with tons of great releases across all the genres. Yeah, it is like this close to every year, but this year was literally loaded with great albums, and they never seemed to end. My yearly top 20 was hard to make this year, forcing me to cut some albums that would have easily made it into last couple of year's lists. Let us analyze some of those who did not make it.

Honorable mentions

Abbath - S/T
The first solo record of the black metal legend is a fun one, a fast joy ride through blast beats and pitch black riffs. It is black and roll at its finest.

Amon Amarth - Jomsviking
For a first try at a concept record, Amon Amarth made a valiant effort. It is far from their best album, but it has its moments of brilliance, showing once again that these vikings are as ravenous as ever.

Anciients - Voice of The Void
An up and coming band that is only at the beginning of their journey, Anciients are getting some serious momentum with the release of "Voice of The Void". A fantastic record, showing metal has a bright future.

Dream Theater - The Astonishing
Yes, this album is way too long, and the songs are not too memorable, but I truly admire Dream Theater for pushing themselves, creating one of the meatiest concept records I have ever heard. Still think it would have been better as a play though.

Fates Warning - Theories of Flight
Their last album, "Darkness In A Different Light", was a return to form, but "Theories of Flight" takes it even one step further, showing off some magnificent progressive metal. That end song "The Ghosts of Home" is truly something special.

Flotsam And Jetsam - S/T
One of the biggest surprises this year, F&J delivered a really fun thrash record, one that is as far away from the albums they have done in recent years. Nice to see them back at their right element.

Ihsahn - Arktis.
The former Emperor member has created one of the most unique albums this year, and that is saying something. From the dark black metal roots, to the more ambient melodies, "Arktis." is for sure one of the most versatile records of this year, showing off every bit of Ihsahn's vast musicianship.

Mechina - Progenitor
You guys know that I love Mechina, so I do not think I need to say much more about them. After all, it will not be long until their next album shows up.

Metallica - Hardwired... To Self-Destruct
It did not suck! Was not great either, but anything but a "St. Anger 2.0" is a win in my book.

Oceans of Slumber - Winter
"Winter" is probably one of the smoothest records of this year, blending silky smooth riffs with a Cammie Gilbert that works her way through the corners with her wonderful voice. By no means the heaviest album you will ever hear, "Winter" is still one that everyone can enjoy.

Source - Return To Nothing
While waiting for Tool to stop procrastinating, Source works as a sweet substitute. This debut album has some rough edges here and there, but is overall a really enjoyable effort that gives us hope about the future for this band.

Textures - Phenotype

I am always a sucker for technical, ethereal, progressive metal, and Textures does it really damn good. "Phenotype" is truly a beautiful record that takes you away to a different place, a better place.

Vektor - Terminal Redux
Most will probably put this in their lists, but I am still not fully convinced. It is a great record, that is for sure, but it is so much to take in here, making it a chore from time to time. And I still cannot stand the singer, his style is not gentle on my ears. Nonetheless, it would be unfair of me if I did not put this record among my honorable mentions.

So that is part 1 done. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 in the coming days

Stay metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

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