Another day, another list! This time, I wanted to delve into my music catalogue and pick my top five albums of the year. I found this much more difficult than choosing my Top 10 Films of 2016, as the majority of what I’ve spent the year listening to wasn’t even released this year… But, a few of my favourite bands have treated me to new material, which has earned them a spot on the list!
5) Chevelle – The North Corridor
Despite The North Corridor being their eighth album, you may not have heard of Chevelle. If you’re a fan of rock with a tinge of alternative on the verge of metal, then I suggest you rectify that now. The latest offering from the trio is undoubtedly heavier than their previous material with grungy guitar riffs and raspy vocals from the frontman throughout all ten tracks.
“Young Wicked” is the standout song on the album, epitomising the overall sound of The North Corridor, while “Punchline” is a surprisingly slow burner – reminiscent of “Twinge” from their previous LP, La Gárgola. With over half a dozen albums now in the bag, Chevelle has a pretty fantastic back catalogue to explore if you like the sound of The North Corridor. Give Stray Arrows a listen if you want to discover some of their best work over the past two decades.
4) Korn – The Serenity of Suffering
No, you haven’t fallen asleep and woken up in the 90s – Korn returned this year with an album that could very well have been released in their heyday. While their brief stint with Skrillex left many scratching their heads (and covering their ears), The Serenity of Suffering is exactly what Korn is known for – heavy guitars, angry vocals and relentless beats.
There are several strong tracks on the album, but “Rotting in Vain” and “A Different World” (featuring none other than Corey Taylor) are undeniable highlights. If you’re also a fan of maniacal laughs in the middle of songs – and quite frankly, you should be – then opening gambit “Insane” is for you. Hard-hitting and energetic, you won’t find a respite throughout the eleven songs, which is great if you’re in a really bad mood.
3) Rob Zombie – The Electric Warlock Acid Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser
Rob Zombie made a welcomed return in 2016 with The Electric Warlock Acid Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser – try saying that ten times fast. If the title didn’t already suggest it, the only word to describe this album is crazy. If you’re unfamiliar with Rob Zombie, chances are it’ll make absolutely no sense to you. But, if you’re like me, you’ll have come to expect no less from the horror-obsessed, sexually-charged metalhead.
“In The Age Of The Consecrated Vampire We All Get High” is one of my favourites from the twelve tracks on offer – although several are only 90 seconds long. It’s one of the heavier songs on the album and doesn’t let up. Coming in a close second is “Well, Everybody’s F***ing In A U.F.O.”, but don’t ask me what it means because I have absolutely no idea – I just know it’s catchy as hell.
2) Young Guns – Echoes
My favourite boys from High Wycombe returned this year with a point to prove. Minus a founding member (drummer Ben), they were determined to keep going and outshine the underappreciated Ones and Zeros from last year. While I still maintain Ones and Zeros features some of the best tracks Young Guns has ever recorded, you can hear the fire behind Echoes from the very first listen.
The band admitted they didn’t quite take off in the way they hoped after the success of their second album Bones, which saw the title track used as a theme for Wrestlemania 29 and gained them some traction in America. The subsequent turmoil of losing a band member, ending a relationship and going back to basics shines through every track on Echoes. Take the opener “Bulletproof” for instance – it’s powerful, punchy and packs a blatant message that Young Guns won’t be deterred by a few setbacks. My current favourites include “Careful What You Wish For” and “Living In A Dream Is So Easy”, but these change on a weekly basis…
1) Alter Bridge – The Last Hero
I don’t know how I survived so long without Alter Bridge in my life. Anyone familiar with wrestling will know this band from Edge’s entrance music, but they are so much more than that. I can’t quite remember how I discovered their back catalogue, but they have since become my most listened to band of the year by far – “Ties That Bind” is literally my most played song of 2016, according to Spotify. Coincidentally, the four piece released a brand new album this year, The Last Hero.
Politically-charged, the band’s fifth album focuses on war and corruption with intense passion. Opening track “Show Me A Leader” has shades of “Cry Of Achilles” about it, with a melodic start bursting into a crescendo that shows Alter Bridge is back with a vengeance. “The Writing On The Wall” continues this ferocity, as Myles Kennedy’s vocals dominate the song’s introduction, while “My Champion” encapsulates the spirit of hope that Alter Bridge elude. From start to finish, The Last Hero takes you on a journey that embodies the heart of what this band is about – using music as the purest form of expression.