Monday, December 26, 2016

Best of 2016: Part 2, top 50 songs of the year

Every year, it is the same old story. I take on the challenge to pick my top 50 songs of the year, and it ends up with two empty Jack Daniels bottles, chocolate smeared all over my face, and the feeling of complete self hatred. Knowing this, why do I keep putting myself through this torment every year? Simple, to remind myself of all the great music that the previous year has offered us.

To go through all of the music I have listened to and like over the year is really soothing, a nostalgic peace to my soul. It is when it comes to cutting them down to only 50 songs and then rank them when my cool starts to wear off. But hey, it is still worth it, and I only have to do this once a year, so that is something.

This year's list is a lot like previous years. The top was not hard to chose at all, and most of them was long and epic songs that has stuck with me over the year. Only real rules here are one song per band, and only songs that are included in albums or EPs that were released this year (sorry Overkill). The list also includes some choices even I am genuinely surprised over, some that might even anger you all (I guess that you will hate me for number 50, 44, 34, 7, and possibly a lot of other ones too). So read at own risk, and feel free to leave your opinions and questions in the comment section below, or on Twitter (@ForsakenGates).

50. Amaranthe - Boomerang
It is weird, I know, but it keeps coming back, like some kind of weapon made by some Aboriginal tribe.

49. Sirenia - Dim Days of Dolor
There is always that one Sirenia song in an album that sticks with you. Needless to say, this is that song from the last album

48. In Flames - Through My Eyes
Through my ears, this is one catchy song, with a very interesting and weird verse riff.

47. Headspace - Road To Supremacy
It may be a discount Threshold, but it is still really good

46. Bloody Hammers - Stoke The Fire
A groovier song about witch burning is very hard to find

45. Fleshgod Apocalypse - And The Vulture Beholds
This is probably as symphonic as it can get without involving Mozart, and with a touch of metal, it is pure magic.

44. Lordi - Demonarchy
It beats the American democracy system, that is for sure.

43. Kvelertak - Nattesferd
There is nothing stopping this groovy nattesferd... wait, what the hell is a nattesferd anyway?

42. Astronoid - Tin Foil Hats
This is truly a spiritual song, and unlike real tin foil hats, it does not make you look crazy.

41. Killswitch Engage - The Great Deceit
One of the bigger surprises this year, KE being heavier than the average thrash metal band.

40. Bombus - Repeat Until Death
Don't mind if I do! That main riff is stuff that groovy dreams are made of.

39. Thrawsunblat - In Mist We Walk
These guys sure knows how to create epic and wild progressive death metal, as organic as the trees in your yard.

38. Anciients - Ibex Eye
One of the biggest rising stars search for their inner Tool, and delivers a grand strike.

37. Witherscape - The Examiner
Dan Swanö... Do I really need to say more?

36. Borknagar - Winter Thrice
A great emotional song that will give you the chills, so be sure to sit by a fire place so hypothermia doesn't catch you.

35. Volbeat - The Loa's Crossroad
With that "Seventh Son..." bass line, you simply cannot fail, even if you play Elvis metal.

34. Pain - Call Me
Joakim Brodén singing about prostitutes instead of war is extremely weird, and extremely fun. This song also has the best music video of this year, because Puppet Tägtgren is simply the best.

33. Katatonia - Passer
Could literally chose any song from "The Fall of Hearts", because it is so even. Ultimately though, it was the beauty of this song that spoke to me, and that opening helped out a lot too.

32. Mob Rules - Dykemaster's Tale
This tale is about some dykemaster, and it is a really nice speedy tale that might be one of the most epic and impressive creations we have ever seen from Mob Rules.

31. Evergrey - Passing Through
One song that did not pass me through was this one from Evergrey, a band I have not fully appreciated all the time. I really love the catchy groove the verse possesses, and the classic Evergrey emotions tops it off nicely.

30. The Algorithm - Pointers
A futuristic techno djent instrumental, hacking with ease into your head.

29. Anthrax - Breathing Lightning
An electrifying performance from one of the big 4 of Thrash, with some great riff and an amazing (but short) solo.

28. Sunburst - Out of The World
I think the name speaks for itself, it is simply a song that is not Earth bound.

27. Nemesea - Forever
That epic chorus and those choirs will most certainly stick with you all... forever

26. Meshuggah - Clockworks
There is no other band in the world that can make a song like this, without it ending up as a big, sloppy mess. Meshuggah is not like any other band, they work like a well oiled machinery that pulverizes boundaries and common sense.

25. Textures - Timeless
When the going goes technical, you know that I will be there and enjoy it. Textures delivers a beautiful strike, one that is not unique in any way, but still really satisfying. Yeah, that is it, this song is satisfying as fuck.

24. Dark Tranquility - Atoma
Choosing anything from "Atoma" is hard, but the title track just stuck with me, mostly because of that fantastic keyboard melody, but also for Stanne's brilliant performance, mixing his harsh and soft vocals with perfection. The whole sound image is just so striking, so fascinating, so beautiful.

23. Oceans of Slumber - Suffer The Last Bridge
Oceans of Slumber, lay that name to your memory, because I got a feeling we will hear more from them in the future. This song alone is a clear evidence of that, a magical, almost doomy and groovy progressive effort that sticks out from the crowd. So wonderful.

22. Fates Warning - The Ghosts of Home
Like the two last albums was not enough to declare the return of Fates Warning, they had to make an amazing mastodon song to shove it down our throats. These guys truly acts like prog legends, delivering a magnificent song that shifts and turns as it well pleases.

21. Epica - Divide And Conquer
Even if Epica was one of my major disappointments of this year, they still made sure to deliver at least one great song. "Divide And Conquer" is just what we want to hear from Epica, it is a grand epic that takes space, doing just like the name suggests. Man, that orchestra is just amazing in itself.

20. Allegaeon - All Hail Science
If you did not believe in science before you heard this song, then you might reconsider afterward. Allegaeon does what they do best, fast and technical death metal with some sparkle in the eye. Science, gotta love it.

19. Holy Grail - Black Lotus
Damn, there are a lot of great 10+ minute songs this year, and to think that one of them comes from Holy Grail... that is just insane. The last album was kind of mediocre, but this is an exhilarating ending to it. There is a lot of action put in here, and if it had not been for that dumb metal core breakdown ending, I might have declared it my favourite Holy Grail song to this date.

18. Fallujah - Dreamless
It is so hard to chose a single song from the latest Fallujah effort, but the title track is simply magical, a new emotion that words or sense cannot easily explain. The beauty of this song is blended perfectly with the pummeling drums and the heavy guitars towards the end, fusing it all to something truly special.

17. Artillery - When The Magic Is Gone
What is Artillery talking about here? I can clearly sense the magic in this smooth, 80's inspired rock melody. It is a hypnotizing rhythm that pulls you in, relaxing your body into a lumpy mess, taking away all of your worries. In an album that is filled with fast thrash candy, we have this little gem that changes things up just the right amount.

16. Megadeth - Fatal Illusion
"Dystopia" may not be the new "Endgame" that I hoped for, but it does have some great thrash in it. "Fatal Illusion" is vintage Megadeth at its finest, with some nice bass lines from Ellefson, and a nice synergy between Mustaine and newcomer Loureiro. That second half is just amazing, but it also leaves me with this question. WHY DO WE NOT GET MORE OF THAT?!?!?!

15. Alter Bridge - Show Me A Leader
Alter Bridge is truly hitting their stride right now, and the opening track from "The Last Hero" is quite possibly their most powerful outing yet. "Show Me A Leader" takes no prisoners, showing off every last bit of Tremonti's wild guitar skills and Kennedy's fantastic vocal range. If this song is leading the charge, then I know that I would be safe.

14. Amon Amarth feat. Doro Pesch - A Dream That Cannot Be
Amon Amarth singing about a love story, with Doro Pesch as the female lead? Now that is something I think no one expected or ever wished for, but it turns out to be a match made in heaven. It is a catchy and epic tune, and Doro is lovely as always, bringing out her inner Viking Amazon. Most certainly a better love story than Twilight.

13. Ihsahn - Celestial Violence
Ihsahn arguably put out one of the most diverse records of the year, and it all ends in a dramatic and grand epic in "Celestial Violence". It is one of the most emotional songs this year, and it strikes you through the heart multiple times with its pain and suffering. The guest appearance from Einar Solberg of Leprous enhances the experience even further.

12. Avantasia - Let The Storm Descend Upon You
Tobias Sammet really knows how to utilize his guests to their full potential, even when the songs are 12 minutes long. Together with Jorn Lande, Ronnie Atkins, and Robert Mason, "Let The Storm Descend Upon You" becomes one of the focal points of "Ghostlights", truly starting up the story that acts as a sequel to "The Mystery of Time". Simply incredible that none of the 12 minutes here are dull.

11. Testament - Brotherhood of The Snake
Testament is doing Testament things in the title track of their latest full length effort, and you cannot do anything else but to love it. Skolnick and Peterson shredding it out, Chuck Billy rambling in his unique and lovely way, and Gene Hoglan bashing that pigskin like it deserved every hit. Simply put, it is the sweetest of thrash candy we are being spoiled with here, a taste you want to get back to a lot of times.

10. Abbath - Fenrir Hunts
I do not know if it was the rage from his split with Immortal, or that he was just in the mood, but no matter what the cause was for Abbath's debut being so furious, I cannot stop loving it. Chosing a song from "Abbath" was not easy, so I just went with the one with the most fury in it, which is "Fenrir Hunts". This is just pure awesome black 'n' roll, faster than a Formula 1 car, and wilder than Bigfoot, Abbath unleashes an unstoppable monster that is out to destroy everything. Brutal.

9. Subliminal Fear - Evilution
This band made a huge evolution to their sound in "Escape From Leviathan", and it paid off real good. "Evilution" is a fast and thrilling ride that takes you through many highs and lows. It is an exciting song that shows off just how good cyber metal can truly be. I sure hope that the band continues down this path, because if this song is any indication at all, they might have found something really good here.

8. Devin Townsend Project - Failure
Do not get fooled by its name, "Failure" is as far from one that you could go. It is one of the more unique songs off the album "Transcendence", relying on its heavy riffing, while Devin delivers one of his most fragile vocal efforts in recent times, creating an atmosphere that is unlike anything else. And to top it off, we got something that is quite rare for the Canadian, a guitar solo that takes one of the bigger roles, and is not just a side step from the main path. A clear win in my books.

7. Ghost - Square Hammer
The Ghost hype train does not seem to have a break, because they keep delivering great stuff in an inhuman pace (well, they are ghouls after all...). "Square Hammer" is arguably their grooviest song up to date, but it is still Ghost to the core, having that demonic aura that they have presented since they started. It is a hell of a farewell anthem, or at least I think so, from the third Papa Emeritus.

6. Be'Lakor - Withering Strands
This song probably wins the award for "most beautiful guitar work" for this year, because the melodies in this songs are so god damn perfect. They flow seamlessly to one another, twining together an amazing song that clocks in at just under 11 minutes. The really heavy part towards the end might be off putting at first, but it works as an effective tempo changer, giving the song that final edge that sets it towards the top of the charts.

5. Gojira - Silvera
It is kind of funny that "Magma" is the most experimental Gojira album thus far, and the best song out of it is the one that looks back to the past the most. "Silvera" has the crunchy, polyrhythmic riffs that we all know and love from the band, and together with an epic chorus, it might change your view on how we can bring change to the world. Vintage Gojira at its absolute best.

4. DGM - The Secret Pt. 1
DGM is a better Dream Theater than Dream Theater these days, and this opening master piece from "The Passage" just confirms it. It is just how you want a progressive metal song to sound, it is diverse, long, and filled with so many sparkling details that it takes a lot of listens to even catch half of it. The second part of this song is nice too, but the first part is just so magical, a masterpiece indeed.

3. Cloudscape - In Silence We Scream
This song did not really strike me that much at first, I just saw it as a really nice ending to a very uneven album. But as time went by, I kept coming back to it, loving it more and more. The slow beginning might have been the reason to this, but it does set the mood nicely, building up the emotions further and further into the song. But it is the climax that is simply the best thing about this song, a long solo followed by what I think is the absolute best riff melody of all year. They could play that alone, and I would still love this song and never get tired of it.

2. Mechina - Starscape
There is always that one song in every new Mechina album that just blows me away and stays with me during the entire year. "Progenitor" does not disappoint, delivering "Starscape", a beautiful song that might be the band's most memorable one. It also is one of the nicest lyrics the bands have created, not only going well together with the album's concept, but also as to what we are doing to this planet as well. The words of the bridge part will stick with me forever.

1. Haken - The Architect
I have stated my love for this song so much, and even after listening to it consistently since "Affinity" was released in spring, I still love this song as much as I heard it the first time. This 15 minute monstrosity is quite possibly the greatest progressive metal song in the last decade, bringing together so many elements of both the genre, and the band's musicality. We have the heavy riffs, the soaring vocals, the sing along friendly chorus, a huge solo part that is exciting from start to finish, and a guest appearance from Leprous' Einar Solberg (his second on this list!). And like that was not enough, we have an ultra epic ending that will not only give you goosebumps, but maybe even an angelic out of body experience.

If you are curious to what all these songs sounds like, then look no further, I have gathered them all in one single Spotify playlist, which you can find just below this very text.

I'll see you all for the final part of the "best of 2016", and remember to stay metal!
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

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