Many believe that we’re past the “golden age” of extreme metal. Many claim we’ll never have death metal as good as the nineties, but I think that’s bullshit. There’s tons of incredible music coming out each year, but it doesn’t get as much attention as individual albums did in the nineties because we’re in the digital age now. Anyone can make music, and anyone can hear music for any corner of the globe. There’s too much to listen to and too little time to listen to it, so it isn’t possible for a handful of albums to be agreed upon as the best in the metal community.
I love music. But I recognize that music is subjective, so it is worth noting that the most powerful music to me is brooding death metal, caked in atmosphere and dissonance. That should give some context to my top picks (although I enjoyed a lot of stuff that isn’t death metal too, as you’ll see). My top list includes demos, EPs, and splits, since I don’t think an album should be excluded based on length. I wouldn’t get caught up in the order of the list. What should be taken away, is that all of these are killer albums worth checking out if you’re into extreme metal (and if you’re not, still check out the Plini album). This is certainly not a complete list, and I’m sure it would change in a few years, as some albums stick with me more than others.
There’s a lot of text here, so I’ll limit my explanation for each of the first twenty albums to five words as to why you should check it out.
Here it is, my top 100 albums from 2016:
- Chthe’ilist – Le Dernier Crépuscule
Cryptic and with sexy bass.
- Blood Incantation – Starspawn
Death metal from Dark Descent.
- Deathspell Omega – The Synarchy of Molten Bones
It met impossibly high expectations.
- Ihsahn – Arktis.
Ihsahn can do no wrong.
- Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust
Giant song with Martyr’s drummer.
- Mare Cognitum – Luminiferous Aether
Beautiful one-man atmospheric black metal.
- Zhrine – Unortheta
Sister band to Svartidauði delivers.
- Khthoniik Cerviiks – SeroLogiikal Scars (Vertex of Dementiia)
Re-released in 2016. Worth it.
- Schammasch – Triangle
Three discs of avant-garde black.
- Memoriam – The Hellfire Demos
Yeah, Bolt Thrower is back.
- Convulsing – Errata
If Portal went death doom.
- Vulture – Victim to the Blade
No way this is 2016.
- Ash Borer – The Irrepassable Gate
U.S. black metal that’s good.
- Voidspawn – Pyrrhic
Nasty, nasty, nasty death metal.
- Defeated Sanity – Dharmata
Cynic and Death had sex.
- Mithras – On Strange Loops
Are we in outer space?
- Wormrot – Voices
Grindcore good enough for goats.
- Dehumanized – Beyond the Mind
When the slams are good.
- Alcest – Kodama
Post-black (insert pretentious descriptors here)
- Plini – Handmade Cities
Not a death metal album.
- Mitochondrion / Auroch – In Cronian Hour
- Xenomorphic Contamination – Colonized from the Inside
- Sorcier Des Glaces – North
- Virvum – Illuminance
- Hannes Grossmann – The Crypts of Sleep
- Teitanblood – Accursed Skin
- Vainaja – Verenvalaja
- Inverloch – Distance/Collapsed
- Vanhelgd – Temple of Phobos
- Clouds – Departe
- Grave Miasma – Endless Pilgrimage
- Denouncement Pyre – Black Sun Unbound
- Swans – The Glowing Man
- Nightmarer – Chasm
- Behold… The Arctopus – Cognitive Emancipation
- Nucleus – Sentient
- Svartidauði – Hideous Silhouettes of Lynched Gods
- Krypts – Remnants of Expansion
- First Fragment – Dasein
- Ripper – Experiment of Existence
- Phobocosm – Bringer of Drought
- Hobbs’ Angel of Death – Heaven Bled
- Nails – You Will Never Be One of Us
- Black Sabbath – The End
- Antaeus – Condemnation
- Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä
- Martröð – Transmutation of Wounds
- Vektor – Terminal Redux
- Dead Congregation – Sombre Doom
- Witch Vomit – A Scream from the Tomb Below
- Animals as Leaders – The Madness of Many
- Nerodia – Vanity Unfair
- Ulcerate – Shrines of Paralysis
- Fetid Zombie – Epicedia
- Inquisition – Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith
- Acherontas / Slidhr – Death of the Ego / Chains of the Fallen
- Dark Funeral – Where Shadows Forever Reign
- Mephistopheles – In Reverence of Forever
- Katatonia – The Fall of Hearts
- Warfather – The Grey Eminence
- Borknagar – Winter Thrice
- Profanal – Supreme Fire
- Onirism – The Well of Stars
- Interment – Scent of the Buried
- Wormed – Krighsu
- Desaster – The Oath of an Iron Ritual
- Sentient Horror – Ungodly Forms
- Watchtower – Concepts of Math: Book One
- Malignancy – Malignant Future
- Flvx Capacitor / Gnarly Death Split
- Neurogenic – Ouroboric Stagnation
- Dawn of Dementia – Immolation of Avernis
- Sacramental Blood – Ternion Demonarchy
- Rhapsody of Fire – Into the Legend
- Breeding Filth – Perverse Devolution
- Cult of Fire – Life, Sex & Death
- Verberis – Vexamen
- Panphage – Drengskapr
- Embalmer – Emanations from the Crypt
- Hellish God – Impure Spiritual Forces
- Bölzer – Hero
- Eternal Champion – The Armor of Ire
- Winterfylleth – The Dark Hereafter
- King – Reclaim the Darkness
- Inanimated Existence – Calling from a Dream
- Katalepsy – Gravenous Hour
- Weekend Nachos – Apology
- Uškumgallu – Rotten Limbs in Dreams of Blood
- Gatecreeper – Sonoran Depravation
- Départe – Failure, Subside
- The Zenith Passage – Solipsist
- Lycus – Chasms
- Draugnim- Vulturine
- Martyrdöd – List
- Obscura – Akroasis
- Abnormality – Mechanisms of Omniscience
- Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder
- Asphyx – Incoming Death
- Kroh – Altars
- Nervosa – Agony
Occult Deceiver – Dark Ritual would likely be on the list, but I haven’t heard all of it yet. I own well over a thousand albums, hundreds of shirts, and I highly encourage all fans to support the bands they enjoy. Buy merchandise and support live music!