Best of 2016: Celtic Bob

Spread the metal:

2016 By Celtic Bob

That time has come yet again for our annual list of what we personally and collectively thought were the best releases of 2016. As with previous years, my list has both Rock and Metal where I handle the Lets Get Rocked portion of the site. Yet again I have to say, “Is it still 1989?”. The vast majority of my list is compromised of bands and artists I listened to back when I was in High school from ’86 to ’89. Not much has changed it appears.

#1. Tygers Of Pan Tang

I discovered the Tygers through my journey into the NWOBHM. With the Tygers it was deeper. I went past just an anthology of ‘Hits’. I needed more as these guys were exactly what I loved about the genre and early 80’s Metal.

#2.Anthrax – For All Kings

Perfect follow-up to WORSHIP MUSIC. This is an excellent LP that has gotten many spins and will continue to do so. It’s classic 80’s ‘thrax for the future.

#3. Megadeth – Dystopia

I loved Megadeth back in the 80’s. They were one of my favourite bands. I remember picking up the KILLING IS MY BUSINESS tape back in February of ’88 while on a road trip to see Alice Cooper with Motörhead opening. After COUNTDOWN they lost me but by ENDGAME I started listening again. The past few have been hit and miss with some great music here and there but nothing that was really memorable, until now. DYSTOPIA is their best since COUNTDOWN in my mind. Let us hope the Dave’s continue down this path.

Diamond Head

This album took me by surprise, no two ways about it. Like many, I heard of Diamond Head due to Metallica covering them. A couple years ago I dug a little deeper into the NWOBHM partially due to Martin Popoff’s fantastic books on the genre which led me to John Tucker’s book on Neat Records. That started my journey outside the songs that were covered. Then I hear that Diamond Head were releasing an album so I was interested and lo and behold when my CD arrived I was surprised. They maintained that classic, early 80’s sound, yet made it fresh and modern. Cannot wait for my LP to arrive and give it a spin while enjoying a cold British bitter.

Death Angel – The Evil Divide

Another band I loved in high school. I wore out my ULTRA VIOLENCE tape during my senior year I think? Lost track like I did with many in the 90’s but got back on board with their last one. THE EVIL DIVIDE is the perfect follow-up to THIS DREAM CALLS FOR BLOOD. I loved that album and it got countless plays here in the Celtic house, in the vehicle and at work (yes, my co-workers were subjected to the glorious sounds of Death Angel playing from my desk). This new one will get just as many spins as its predecessor.

Flotsam & Jetsam

Pattern here I am thinking. Heard of them when Newstead joined Metallica so I bought the tape of NO PLACE FOR DISGRACE. I enjoyed it but never went any further until UGLY NOISE came out. Loved that CD so was interested in this new self-titled release. It never disappointed. It’s a great release and my LP just arrived which I look forward to spinning soon.

Rock Wolves

The debut of the year for me. When I read the press release, it sparked my interest but never gave me that high interest feeling. When the video for “Rock For The Nations” premiered all that changed and I immediately placed an order for the LP (which looks beautiful by the way). A solid Hard Rock album from the ex-Scorpions drummer.

Beasto Blanco

Sophomore album from Alice Cooper bassist Chuck Garric and Alice’s daughter Calico. This continues on where LIVE FAST, DIE LOUD ended with dirty, raw heavy Rock with a Punk influence. The Alice cover is quite interesting to say the least. Adds a whole new dimension to the Classic track. If you need a comparison for this it’s like Rob Zombie meets Ramones meets a darker, heavier Alice Cooper. Fantastic album.

Glenn Hughes – Resonate

I love Deep Purple so this sparked my interest from that angle. I liked Black Country Communion but couldn’t really get into it like I wanted. My initial feelings on this where skeptical at best but still interested to hear it. When I first heard “Heavy”, that did it for me, I was in awe. This was going to be good. As I listened to the digital copy I was really digging it and began raving about it on my social media. An excellent Hard Rock album.

Michael Sweet – One Sided War

This is quite possibly the heaviest and best thing Michael Sweet has ever done in his career. It’s heavy, melodic and just kicks ass. No other description comes to mind.

Phil Rudd – Head Job

Where to begin? Former AC/DC drummer reemerges with an album that proves to the world that he was an integral part to the AC/DC sound and an essential part of the groove that they once had. It was him and Mal that gave the band the groove. Good to see him cleaned up and back behind the kit.

Shakra – High Noon

80’s influenced Metal with a bit of a Glam Rock thrown into the mix. Need I say more? Fun album to crank up and have a few with.

Metal Church – XI

Mike Howe returns!! For many he was the only singer for Metal Church. I liked Metal Church back in the day and one of the first CD’s I bought was BLESSING IN DISGUISE (which I ended up trading with Evil G in the 90’s for a Jeff Healey one). I loved GENERATION REALITY from a couple years ago so change of singer’s had me wondering where that was my re-introduction to the band. It works, he’s back and the classic sound is intact.

Grim Reaper – Walking In The Shadows

SEE YOU IN HELL was the introduction to the band and I am embarrassed to say that is all I know outside this album. That WILL change in 2017 as both are excellent albums. Unfortunately Nick Bowcott is no longer in the band and all is left is original vocalist Steve Grimmett. Either way, an excellent Metal album for all you NWOBHM fans.

Prong – X

BEG TO DIFFER was my introduction to Prong. Lost track after that but reintroduced myself with RUINING LIVES. This album took just the initial spin to get into, same as RUINING LIVES did. Can Prong do no wrong?

The Roth-Brock Project

A solid Melodic Hard Rock album. Not much more need be said.

Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake

Loved ‘em in the 80’s, lost track in the 90’s but got back on board with DARK ROOTS. Heavier now than ever and are quite possibly the heaviest band I listen to along with Kreator and Slayer.

Rob Zombie – The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser

Who doesn’t love a little Zombie? A heavy, fun listen. A must for all Zombie and Cooper fans.

Airbourne – Breakin’ Outta Hell

A fun album, like Rock n Roll should be. Simple and straightforward.

Vardis – Red Eye

More new NWOBHM. Excellent album from top to bottom. True to their roots with no change in direction.

LGR Top 6

David Bowie – ★

Not jumping on the bandwagon by any stretch of the imagination as I have been a fan for well over 20 years. I had ★ pre-ordered from the official site a month prior. It was instantaneously SOLD OUT and my copy never shipped so I scrambled to locate a copy as they were selling out everywhere then finally it shipped but in the meantime I received a digital copy. From the first note onwards, I was transfixed. It was haunting, yet stunningly beautiful all at the same time. By the time I heard it, Bowie had passed so the album took on a darker meaning. Here we are, a year later still in shock that he is gone and this album is still in rotation and sounds as fresh as that initial spin.

Cheap Trick – Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello

Anyone that knows me personally can attest to my love of Cheap Trick. The first LP that I ever bought with my own $$ was Cheap Trick’s Budokan for $7.49 back in the day. I have seen them three times (Twice with Bun E.) so my love of Trick is undeniable. This new LP is fantastic on every level. If you enjoy the classic songs but unfamiliar with anything else, take a chance on this one as you will not be disappointed. It has a bit of the 80’s Power Pop feel to it but rocks hard like their 70’s material.

Jeff Healey – Heal My Soul

Unearthed album from the late Jeff Healey. What is there to say? He was always on top of his game. This along with the unreleased Demo’s CD a few years ago are a testament to that even his unreleased music is better than most of the current drivel that is issued. Thankfully these recordings saw the light.

Damn Pigeon – Whisky Sinners

Independent artist Damn Pigeon from Ontario, Canada released the excellent Whisky Sinners CD. This is not quite a Metal album but it it much heavier than he average Rock record. I have struggled on where to put this release on my list. Some of it is Metal, some Hard Rock and other parts just good ‘ol Rock n Roll. Tough call. Either way, an excellent CD that you need to check out.

Lee Aaron – Fire and Gasoline

The ‘Metal Queen’ returns with a not so Metal album. Personally, I love the album otherwise it would not be in my list. I chose to put it in my Rock list as it’s not a Hard Rock or Metal album. At places it does get a bit heavy but it’s mostly a Rock album. I love Lee’s voice and she still has it. This is a great Rock record and I have hopes that the next one will be heavier.

Bobnoxious – Mark Of The Devil

Again, anyone that knows me personally know I am a huge Bobnoxious fan. This release is a little different as it seems more geared toward Halloween from the pumpkin cover to the first single, “Halloween Baby”. Regardless of that it is a good solid ‘noxious disc.

Best Live Album

Motörhead – Clean Your Clock
We lost Lemmy in 2015 but we get one of the final shows in 2016 to remind us of his greatness and that he gave his all right to the end.

Best EP

Ghost – Popestar

One of my favourite bands of recent years. This EP of covers is fantastic and their version of “Missionary Man” is worth the price of admission alone. Let us hope 2017 brings us a new LP.

Best Covers album

Toque – Giv’er

Todd “Dammit” Kerns and Brent Fitz’s new project. This album is the ultimate in Canadian Classic Rock. It was released just in time for Xmas and immediately went on repeat and was turned up for 2 days straight. I was never big on cover songs but it doesn’t get any better than this. I hope they issue it on LP and it’s follow-up includes some Helix, Killer Dwarfs, Kick Axe and Coney Hatch.


Comeback of the year is a two-way tie. Both of these classic NWOBHM bands released stellar self-titled LP’s in 2016.
Tygers Of Pan Tang
Diamond Head

Best Book
Metallica: Back To The Front by Matt Taylor

An excellent hard cover book filled with amazing photos documenting Metallica’s last great album. It’s too bad the band never released the PUPPETS box to coincide with this book coming out.

Best DVD/Blu-ray
Extreme – Pornograffitti Live 25

WOW! Just…WOW!
I first received an online stream of this and thought it was killer but once the Blu-Ray showed up and I was able to enjoy it on my large screen plasma with the audio pumping through the speaker it was beyond phenomenal.

Best Concert

Being isolated on a small island the concerts are minimal at best. This past April I did travel to see Iron Maiden and it was easily one of the best concerts I have seen in my life.

Best new band (their debut full length is a 2016 release)

Rock Wolves

Ex-Scorpion Herman “Ze German” Rarebell’s new project. Nothing I can say except “Buy It”. This is easily the debut LP of 2016 and needs to be in your collection.

Major event

The death of Bowie, hands down was the biggest event for me. Like the loss of Lemmy just weeks prior this one had an impact. I love his music and it was just the day prior that I mentioned to a promoter of trying to get him to play the local Festival. Bowie was not Metal but his influence is felt in the Metal community.

Packaging of the year

This is an idea that Evil G gave me a few years ago due to the fact that I primarily buy records rather than CD’s. This years award is not Metal but his influence is felt by many in the Hard Rock and Metal community. I am referring to the late David Bowie. Not only was his final studio album ★ incredible, the packaging was unique and equally interesting. From the die-cut star front of the jacket showing the black (or clear if you were fortunate enough) record to the inner section that once held up to the sunlight displays a galaxy of stars. As the year went on it was discovered that a reflection of Bowie in the inner gatefold is reflected if held a certain way. another fan counted the total number of points on the black stars in the booklet, and realised they total the number 69 which was his age when he died. Since then, the album designer has said that there are many aspects to the cover that fans (and Bowie himself never knew) have yet to discover. He went on to say that there is one big one that has yet to be discovered.

Predictions and hopes for 2017

With huge box sets coming out hand over fist I would love to see a properly mastered, cut from the original tapes LP set for Motörhead come out in 2017. All the albums in one nice ‘Road Case’ looking box with a double LP collection of rarities and unreleased.