In 2016 alone, we lost Prince, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Scotty Moore, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, and a great many music legends. For a time, this really seems like the year that music died.
Still, we look at the bright side, for the year has been good to audiophiles too. The rock releases this year have been nothing but stunning, be it from new or veteran bands. As 2016 comes to a close, I review my overworked Spotify app and list ten of my favourite new albums, out of at least a good twenty. Rock is dead? I think not, Gene Simmons.
Enjoy the read, and listen:
10. Jessikill – Metal Knights
Far from her X-Factor days, Jessica Marie Espinoza has long since traded her pop hits for heavier originals in Hessler. Yet it is in young metal quartet Jessikill, where her powerhouse vocals finds her rightful place. With echoes of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, Metal Knights gives her talent adequate room to shine. The band does more than well to accompany.
Bassist Arturo Alvarado and drummer Alan Cisneros lay down bold notes and powerful rhythms, as guitar virtuoso Jyro Alejo leads a stunning shred fest atop like no other. That is, except perhaps for his former Immortal Guardian band mate Gabriel Guardian, who shreds on guitar and keyboards. At the same time.
What a legend.
9. Ondt Blod – Finnmark
New Norwegian band Ondt Blod barges into the hardcore scene in full force, laden with ample groove to keep one craving for more. Marrying metal and punk elements, their strong debut Finnmark executes a thoroughly infectious riot of ferocious riffs and catchy hooks. That is even if all of which ends too soon.
Traces of punk bands à la Gallows can be heard, but the tracks are far from derivative. There is no doubt they will be sharpening their style into something more distinct, given time.
8. Hacktivist – Outside The Box
Djent started off as a rather annoying fad, but it is an interesting sound that has really started to grow on me for the past year. This owes thanks to bands that do it well, the standout for me being Hacktivist.
With rap over the pummelling beats, Outside the Box is an eclectic and bold debut, with politics and social issues the main fodder for some great lyrics. Bringing in solid collaborators including Heart Of A Coward‘s Jamie Graham and Enter Shikari‘s Rou Reynolds, this English djent band know exactly how to get the crowds moving.
7. Motorowl – Om Generator
Mastodon and Black Sabbath fans should really enjoy this one. German doom metallers Motorowl shrouds 70s-inspired psychedelic rock in inviting atmospheric gloom, with lingering keyboard riffs that feel almost ethereal.
Never sounding quite as sullen as the genre’s heavyweights, Om Generator is rockin’ proof that good music should never have to stick to the rules. Not even their music video does, by modern standards anyway. And so the weird side of metal lives on with pride.
6. Otep – Generation Doom
When it comes to politics, Otep Shamaya has some strong divisive views. And she is not afraid to put them out there. Never fearing the risk of her reputation for a cause she believes in (and even if I don’t agree with her every word), she has remained one of my life’s inspirations for good reason.
While never quite matching Sevas Tra, Generation Doom still sends pulses racing with some signature spoken-word tracks like God Is A Gun, and an impressive cover of Lorde’s pop hit Royals. Above all, the unabashedly angst-ridden anthems are nothing short of cathartic.
More on Page 2.