2016 marked another insane year for music, with many comebacks and surprises unleashed, it was hard to narrow it down to just these 20 releases. However, I did it and you can check out each of them below, via the Spotify playlist I’ve embedded. Let me know what YOUR top albums of the year were and what you’re looking forward to in 2017!
#20 Crystal Lake – True North
Tokyo’s metal/hardcore sensation Crystal Lake returns with a phenomenal answer to the question “can they beat an incredible debut like The Sign?” The answer is a resounding “YES!” Boasting a heavier sound, some choice guest vocalists and a refreshed attitude… you’d be a fool to miss this one.
#19 I Prevail – Lifelines
After taking the world by storm with their “Blank Space” cover, I Prevail needed something to prove that they’re more than just a cover band. That started with their debut EP, Heart Vs. Mind and continues with their debut, full-length album Lifelines. This album was exactly what they needed to prove that they’ve got what it takes to stand with the best in their genre.
#18 Hands Like Houses – Dissonants
UK’s Hands Like Houses is a band that has never ceased to amaze me but Dissonants truly takes the cake. Not only is it extremely well-written and catchy but these guys prove that they know how to write an album with a passionate meaning behind it. Don’t miss out on this one!
#17 Alteras – Grief
Revival Recordings continues to prove their worth in the music scene by signing this unbelievable Youngstown, OH quartet. Reminiscent of early The Used and incredibly powerful in both their delivery and their performance, it’s a wonder these guys took so long to get discovered! Grief will blow your mind, so don’t sleep on it!
#16 Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage
Avenged Sevenfold make industry history by surprise-dropping their 7th studio album, both physically and digitally, October 28th… preceded by an unforgettable performance, complete with projected CGI effects. This album tells of the dangers of artificial intelligence and where our world is headed, should we continue the path that technology is on, without proper precautions. 70 minutes of, arguably, Avenged’s best work yet, out now on Capitol Records.
#15 Too Close to Touch – Haven’t Been Myself
You want an album that will have you in your feelings, moments after starting it? Look no further than Haven’t Been Myself, this album sees the band at their most vulnerable with catchy hooks for days and unbelievable delivery on all fronts. If you don’t fall in love after one listen, then you have no heart!
#14 Invent, Animate – Stillworld
Being from the Southeast Texas area, I’ve watched these guys go from playing small club shows to the national phenomenon they are today. 2 label releases in and they’re getting ready to blow up, far bigger than anyone can imagine. Stillworld shows that they’re more than just a metalcore band, they’re masters of their art. Their sophomore Tragic Hero Records release will get you out your seat and have you begging for more.
#13 Halo Circus – Bunny
This album absolutely blew me away. Bilingual alternative rock band, Halo Circus, sees the return of American Idol alum Allison Iraheta, coupled with critically-acclaimed producer/musician/engineer Matthew Hager. It’s an album that teaches you that it’s okay to be different, to have feelings and it does it beautifully. This album has stayed on my playlist since I got it and it doesn’t look to be leaving anytime soon.
#12 She Pulled the Trigger – 10,000 Worlds Away
We started our relationship with these guys with the release of their debut single, “Stand Up and Fight.” Now, thousands of fans gained later, they’ve started to really grow a following and, to say that their debut EP is nothing short of spectacular would be quite the understatement. It’s literally 10,000 Worlds Away from anything the music scene has to offer these days.
#11 Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman
Sweet little Cat (Victorious) returns with her 3rd studio album and writes some of the most downright sensual songs of her career. Adding a little bit of dance flavor never hurt anyone but, it’s not hard to see why this album has found it’s way into MANY top album lists this year!
#10 Lady Gaga – Joanne
After her first 2 seasons with American Horror Story, Stefani Germanotta (better known by her stage name, Lady Gaga) returns with her best, most diverse work yet. Joanne really showcases every bit of talent she has, as far as songwriting, as a lyricist, a musician… a true jill of all trades in the music industry.
#9 Dance Gavin Dance – Mothership
Arguably, the most-debated thing about this band is who fronted it better: Jonny Craig or Tilian Pearson. As much as I love Jonny, Pearson has MORE than proved his worth, through 3 albums of incredible material. Mothership is a MUST-LISTEN for 2016, whether you have enjoyed DGD in the past or not.
#8 Jojo – Mad Love
She shocked the world after 10 years of inactivity by announcing, not only a new album but touring again as well! Clearly grown up, both physically and as a musician, Mad Love does not disappoint.
#7 Yellowcard – Yellowcard
A bittersweet feeling comes over me as I type this because, unfortunately, this is Yellowcard’s final album. You can feel the melancholic air surrounding each and every track, as they sing their final farewells to fans across the world.
#6 Demon In Me – Here’s Your Way Out
Emotive, beautiful and absolutely incredible on all fronts. These Cali “sad dads” knew exactly what they were doing! Here’s Your Way Out remains one of my most played albums of 2016!
#5 Vesuvius – My Place of Solace and Rest
This new Tragic Hero Records signing is truly a sound to behold.
#4 Saosin – Along the Shadow
Anthony Green’s return to the kings of emotional music, Along the Shadow destroys all pre-conceived notions you may have had about the band being unable to deliver, once more.
#3 Megosh – Apostasy
With a sound truly their own, Megosh blows just about everything else out of the water with the release of Apostasy. Heavy, yet emotive and eerily beautiful, you’ll find yourself hooked within moments of hearing them.
#2 (Tie) Versus Me – Changes/Sylar – Help!
Versus Me is a band that I got the chance to follow from the beginning. Forged from the remains (and one current member) of other bands, they bring a sound that is refreshing to the post-hardcore scene. Not to mention a live show that will blow you away! Changes will stay in your playlist for a long time, once you hit that play button.
Sylar is one of the bands that are bringing the nu-metal sound back in a huge way. Not only that, though, they’re bringing back ANGSTY nu-metal… listen to “Dark Daze” and tell me that you’re not impressed. Don’t miss out on Help! out now via Hopeless Records.
#1 (Tie)Famous Last Words – The Incubus/The Funeral Portrait – A Moment of Silence
The Funeral Portrait’s A Moment of Silence was one of my most-anticipated albums of the year but, even I couldn’t prepare myself for how amazingly it turned out. Sit back, put on your headphones and get lost in a story that will change everything you think you may know about the afterlife.
This is the 3rd time (3 albums) Famous Last Words has ended up in the #1 spot on my album of the year list. With their ability to weave a truly captivating story, musically and lyrically, it’s not hard to see why. The Incubus follows a woman in the 50’s, post-war who is dealing with sexual and domestic abuse, along with the gender stereotypes faced being a woman in that society. I find my emotions being taken to new heights with each play of this album and it won’t leave my car anytime soon.
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
Joey Cook & The Party Raddlers – Welcome to the Variety Show
Architects – All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us
I See Stars – Treehouse
Nick Fradiani – Hurricane
KING 810 – La Petite Mort or A Conversation with God
Asking Alexandria – The Black
Blaze Ya Dead Homie – The Casket Factory
G-Mo Skee – My Filthy Spirit Bomb
Letlive – If I’m the Devil…
The Weeknd – Starboy