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Album Reviews

Chris Latta’s Top Albums of 2016 (20-16)

A lot has been made of the losses that we have experienced in 2016. Losing such figures as David Bowie, Nick Menza, and Jimmy Bain among countless others is not something to be taken lightly. It serves as a grim reminder: we are all human and none of us will be around forever, including the legendary artists that we deem invincible. But while we should continue to honor the old guard while they are still with us, they should not be the only artists acknowledged.

The nostalgia circuit can only sate a culture for so long before new blood needs to be given its equal time in the spotlight. 2016 has produced a grand slew of albums that are just as good as the classics, if not better. A good bulk of my list consists of bands who are on their third, second, or even first studio release. And to prove my point on how good this year has been for new music, I had to put more spots on my list than the usual fifteen…

20) Slow Joe Crow and the Berserker Blues Band: Long Way Home

-While stoner rock has always been deeply rooted in old school blues, it’s rare for the two styles to be paired as perfectly as they are here. The shuffle on “Broken Voodoo” is straight out of the Willie Dixon playbook and you’ll find a powerfully integrated mix of heavy riffs and moody builds throughout. Highly recommended to fans of All Them Witches, The Midnight Ghost Train, and The Drive-By Truckers.

19) Holy Grove: Holy Grove

-This Portland quartet’s debut album has been highly lauded in doom circles for very good reason. They navigate the dark tone with confident vocals and a couple blues shuffles on the title track and “Hanged Man” that’ll stay in your head for weeks on end. I can only hope the future is as bright for them as it seems to be.

18) Church of Misery: And Then There Were None

-The first Church of Misery album to feature an American lineup alongside founding bassist Tatsu Mikami is a little cleaner than the traditionally Japanese entity’s past efforts, but it still manages to be an excellently filthy slab of doom. While this early favorite fell slightly to the wayside, “Make Them Die Slowly” features the most infectious riff I’ve heard all year. I love it so much that I would, in fact, marry it if I could.

17) Stagecoach Inferno: A Town Called Atonement

– A late but worthwhile entry to my list, Stagecoach Inferno’s debut offers what can only be described as cowboy metal. Gruff power metal is combined with gunslinger narratives, western movie score ambiance, and the odd freight train rhythm in a way that doesn’t seem as gimmicky or trying too hard as, say, some of their pirate counterparts. I’m still waiting to see if country metal will ever be a thing but this will suit me just fine.

16) Foghound: The World Unseen

-Foghound’s second album is definitely one of the more fun albums on this year’s list. The driving stoner rock energy works quickly to draw your attention and the endless earworms on songs like “Serpentine” and “On A Roll” really make it worth your time. If you like what bands like Clutch and Monster Magnet have been up to lately, then this will be right up your alley.

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