Best of 2016

Avantasia - Ghostlights
Spread the metal:

As always, the top albums of the year are for full albums (no EP’s or demos) released in 2016. They are new studio albums for the year, not re-recordings, re-releases, cover songs, or live albums. Below the combined TOP 30 are links to each individual staff members’ personal “best of” lists which besides their top albums contains such things as best new band, best DVD/Blu-Ray, best metal book, disappointments of the year, greatest hopes for 2017, personal metal discovery of the year, and various other categories. Enjoy!

1. Avantasia – Ghostlights

Avantasia - GhostlightsComing in at #1 in our BEST OF 2016 list is a masterpiece from the Edguy mainman who is no stranger to GHOSTLIGHTS is the seventh full-length album by Tobias Sammet’s metal opera project Avantasia. The album takes listeners on a journey into the mystic and dramatic; with variances and layers that are required of operatic/epic/power metal. As with all Avantasia albums, it was produced by Sascha Paeth and Tobias Sammet, a relationship that has worked since day one and continues to produce quality material. Some of the notable guests on the album include: Jørn Lande (ex-Masterplan, ex-Ark), Michael Kiske (Unisonic, ex-Helloween), Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Geoff Tate (Operation: Mindcrime, ex-Queensrÿche), Marco Hietala (Nightwish, Tarot), and many more. Well worth the time to check out.


2. Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake

Testament - Brotherhood of the Snake`

Just a couple points behind Avantasia comes Testament with the #2 spot. BROTHERHOOD OF THE SNAKE is this Bay Area thrash band’s 11th studio album. The band has really been slaying with recent releases (THE FORMATION OF DAMNATION (2008), DARK ROOTS OF THE EARTH (2012)) and BROTHERHOOD is no exception. The band is a riff machine of pure brilliance. The songs on this album cover some of the most extreme musical things they’ve done along with a couple of mid-tempo songs reminiscent of some of their lighter material – however there’s nothing on here like “The Ballad” as the band mainly stays towards the brutal side of things and kicks ass all the way showing their peers how it’s done.


3. Anthrax – For All Kings

Anthrax - For all Kings

Anthrax continues with the thrash metal album domination of 2016. Like Testament’s album, FOR ALL KINGS is also the 11th release from another long-running leader in the American thrash metal scene. One of the major strengths of the album is its consistency.  It feels as though keeping a constant energy going throughout the whole record was a concept the band brought into the studio with them and insisted on sticking to. Consequently, you can hear the immensely hard work that every member obviously put into these recordings. When a band works hard to earn your trust—especially after 35 years when it must be tempting to rest on their laurels—it really establishes a relationship with the listener.


4. Megadeth – Dystopia

Megadeth - Dystopia
Megadeth came back with a vengeance with DYSTOPIA. The band’s 15th album saw the band returning to more of a RUST IN PEACE era style. Along for the ride were two new members – fill-in drummer Chris Adler (Lamb of God) and Angra guitarist extraordinaire,  Kiko Loureiro. It’s great that so many of the legendary thrash bands are still ruling today.


5. Metal Church – XI


Is XI the comeback album of the year? Well Mike Howe’s return to the band arguably is! Howe retired from the music business back in 1995, then dropped out of the public eye entirely. His return in 2016 showed that not a single step was lost. Also of note, this is the band’s 11th studio album (is 11 a lucky number for top albums this year or what?). It’s cool to see the band getting the recognition it deserves, with the band charting well and Metal Church being sought for prestigious festivals and tours rather than obscurity. Hail the return of Mike Howe, for there is no denying he is the catalyst that has sparked Vanderhoof and band to reach for greater heights. Lets hope this line-up has more albums in them!


6. Evergrey – The Storm Within

Evergrey - The Storm Within

Some 20 years into their career, this progressive metal band still has it and provides fans with fresh ideas. Returning after 2014’s excellent HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN is Evergrey with their milestone 10th LP. THE STORM WITHIN features the same lineup and eleven new songs that capitalize on the momentum of their previous release. Much as expected, the band finds ways to integrate new sounds and ideas on THE STORM WITHIN while remaining true to their painstakingly developed style through the years. As the band celebrates its 20th anniversary, the new album embraces equally their past and present, while looking confidently to the future.


7. Primal Fear – Rulebreaker

Primal Fear – Rulebreaker

Primal Fear are a band that shows the world that power/traditional metal is alive and well.  Primal Fear make our top 10 at #7 with  RULEBREAKER which is the band’s, you guessed it, 11th studio album. RULEBREAKER is chock full of Primal Fear’s patented power metal anthems that will instantly stick to the band’s impressive fan base. Primal Fear has been on an incredible roll and RULEBREAKER does nothing to derail that progress. With every year that passes, it is abundantly clear that this band is one of the most pristine power metal legacies in the business.


8. Death Angel – The Evil Divide

Death Angel - The Evil Divide

THE EVIL DIVIDE  is the eighth studio album by the American thrashers Death Angel. A tad more aggressive and heavy than its predecessor,  the band has shown with their last three releases that their return is no mere coincidence. They still have plenty of anger and venom to inject.

9. Sabaton – The Last Stand

Sabaton – The Last Stand

Metal’s foremost military historians are back with another metallic musical lecture on some of the world’s most impressive final bastions of battle – hence the title THE LAST STAND. The sound is unmistakably Sabaton. It’s difficult to imagine how a band that tours as incessantly as Sabaton found the time to devote such detail and attention to the arrangements of each song, but clearly, this is an album they shed some blood, sweat, and tears over. With THE LAST STAND Sabaton’s music becomes even more of a calculated march to victory – these guys simply don’t back down.


10. Abbath – Abbath

For fans of Norwegian black metal pioneers, Immortal, the last few years have been a bit dicey. Regardless, vocalist/bassist Abbath soldiered onward with a new self-titled band featuring bassist King Ov Hell (Gorgoroth) and Creature (AKA Kevin Foley of Benighted) on drums. ABBATH (the album!) by Abbath (the band!) featuring Abbath (the man!) kickstarts a new chapter in the hallowed metal world. Abbath has delivered a crushing first blow that sets the bar high, surrounding himself with (since-departed) band members capable of helping to bring his vision to life. Expectations were high but Abbath has silenced anyone doubting whether or not there will be life after Immortal.


11. Prong – X (No Absolutes)

Prong – X (No Absolutes)

12. Striker – Stand In The Fire

 Striker – Stand In The Fire
13. Almanac – Tsar

Almanac – Tsar


14. Asphyx – Incoming Death

Asphyx - Incoming Death
15. HammerFall – Built to Last

HammerFall - Built to Last


16. Pretty Maids – Kingmaker

Pretty Maids – Kingmaker


17. Flotsam and Jetsam – ST

“Flotsam and Jetsam”


18. Fates Warning – Theories Of Flight



19. Crowbar – The Serpent Only Lies

Crowbar – The Serpent Only Lies


20. Rhapsody of Fire – Into the Legend

Rhapsody of Fire - Into the Legend


21. Vader – The Empire

Vader – Empire


22. Zakk Wylde: Book of Shadows II

Zakk Wylde: Book of Shadows II


23. Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole Of The Law

Anaal Nathrakh - The Whole Of The Law


24. Glenn Hughes – Resonate

Glenn Hughes - Resonate

25. Dream Theater – The Astonishing

Dream Theater – The Astonishing


26. Metallica – Hardwired…to Self-Destruct

Metallica - self-destruct


27. Sodom – Decision Day

Sodom - Decision Day

28. Iron Savior – Titancraft

Iron Savior - Titancraft


29. Denner/Shermann – Masters of Evil

Denner/Sherman - Masters of Evil
30. Amon Amarth – Jomsviking


Staff Lists



Celtic Bob


 Peter Atkinson


 Infamous Butcher




Robert Williams

 Aaron Yurkiewicz

 Lord of the Wasteland



Anders Sandvall