The Sludgelord's Official Top 25 Albums of 2016
As Christmas edges ever closer and 2016 begins to wind down we have taken the time to present our official top 25 albums of 2016, as voted for by our contributors. Sure you may feel there are obvious omissions, however the chart was compiled based on our favourites albums of the year. We can only hope you enjoy some of these albums as much as we have ourselves, some you may have yourselves, some you may not, but ultimately we feel there isn’t a album that doesn’t deserve to be there. All that is left to say is thank you, thank you so much for your support as ever, we are simple fan boys sharing ours views about something that means to so much to us and I know you feel the same too. Please show your support to these amazing bands and thanks again for reading. Merry Riffmas.
All reviews can be viewed by clicking the artwork and we have included album streams wherever possible.
25). Tides of Sulfur - “Extinction Curse”
This is an astonishingly confident and assured record for a debut LP, helped by excellent production by Chris Fielding. He has managed to capture the filth of the band’s undeniable heaviness, whilst retaining the clarity of their epic song writing. “Extinction Curse” is a bold and compelling statement from Tides of Sulfur. The shockwaves from this seismic detonation are sure to be felt throughout the UK underground and far beyond.
24. Lesbian – “Hallucinogenesis”
“Pyramidal Existinctualism” sounds like Mastodon after their drinks have been spiked with LSD and “Kosmoceratops” is epic fist-pumping thrash that takes a left turn into weird, uncharted territory. “Labrea Borealis” and “Aquilibrium” contain more melodic passages that expand the band’s horizons further into cinematic grandeur before crashing back to Earth for further, wild fretboard explorations. Overall “Hallucinogenesis” sees Lesbian achieve a perfect balance of labyrinthine complexity and headbanging simplicity.
23). Khemmis - “Hunted”
Overall, ‘Hunted’ is an extremely solid follow-up to their critically acclaimed first album. It is a melting pot of some hugely powerful styles of heavy metal music and the flawless coalescence between cataclysmic doom and melodic prog is a truly impressive feat. Khemmis are a band on a mission and so far, they’re doing it all right.
22). Cult of Luna + Julie Christmas – “Mariner”
While both artist’s individual talents are showcased this effort never feels like the two artists were unfamiliar with each other. Rather, this album can trick you into thinking this is one artist rather than two. There is an utter lack of competing sounds, styles, or egos. The spotlight is entirely shared and makes “Mariner” a highlight of a how a seamless collaboration record can sound.
21). Inter Arma – “Paradise Gallows”
“Paradise Gallows” is a monstrous monument to Inter Arma’s colossal ambition that captivates for every second of its mammoth 70 minute duration. Few other bands blur the boundaries between genres as effortlessly while still delivering songs of this quality.
20). Wrong – “Wrong”
From the first second to the last, Wrong maintain a constant flow of gold standard, armour-piercing riffage and somehow manage to maintain this onslaught of barely restrained energy with no let-up for 30 minutes, like The Melvins being forced into playing at double speed, with a cattle prod. This is a flawless debut from Wrong, an addictive adrenaline rush that’ll be lodged in your brain for months to come. When the tunes are this good there is no alternative but to surrender to the power of the riff.
19). Brant Bjork – “Tao of the Devil”
In short, “Tao of the Devil” isn’t much different than Brant’s other albums in that it’s both a look back and a step forward. And like his other solo albums, this one can stand alone as a prime example of what Brant Bjork does best.
18). Witchthroat Serpent – “Sang – Dragon”
This is a dominating record and something which the band can be sure will appeal to all kinds of fans of stoner doom and sludge. Witchthroat Serpent have left a deep scar in the genre and it will take a long time to heal with a record so devastatingly heavy.
17).Mars Red Sky – “Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul)”
"Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul)" is a crazy psychedelic trip and Mars Red Sky is your tour guide. Pras leads the way with confidence and the full support of a hefty rhythm section. From the album’s plodding bookends to Side B’s catchy space rock explorations, there’s a gorgeous chemistry at play here. The result is one damn fine psychedelic stoner rock record
16). Causa Sui – “Return to Sky”
From being filled to the brim with grooves, lush tones, psychedelic travels, and so much more, “Return to Sky” is a trip well worth taking. Causa Sui are on top of their game here, playing off one another in musical unison. There’s not one moment during these five tracks that the instruments are pushed in separate corners. The jam is alive and well.
15). 40 Watt Sun – “Wider Than the Sky”
Although the record may find itself on the fringes of metal, the empathetic feelings Walker shares over soaring ten minute tracks should cause anyone who has felt anything before to reflect in some meaningful way. “Wider than the Sky” challenges its listeners to reflect for themselves, because after all it’s important to remember where one stands. 40 Watt Sun’s latest record is likely to find itself among the best records released this year.
14). Gozu – “Revival”
At their core, Gozu is a bad ass American rock band. They’ve got heavy riffs in tow and bang out tunes loud enough to piss off the neighbors. But Gozu is more than this. Gozu is a songwriting machine, one that is able to churn out eight loud, hard hitting compositions without sacrificing the meaning behind the songs or the band. Gozu’s “Revival” is gruff and dirty when it needs to be just as it’s swift and soulful when the time is right.
13). The Body + Full of Hell – “One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache”
“One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache” is a nightmarish journey to the outer limits of sound; a cold, dark creation of cathartic noise almost entirely devoid of standard structure. Covering so much ground over the course of a single album could easily make for a messy, disjointed experience. Somehow The Body and Full of Hell manage to pull these disparate styles and approaches together to make a coherent and consistently unsettling record. “One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache” is every bit as terrifying as you would expect from these two trailblazing acts.
12). Hush – “Nihil Unbound”
HUSH. deliver a satisfying brand of molasses-thick sludge, rich in lumbering doom riffs dredged from the darkest bowels of the earth. Their intensity and aggression is offset with an expansive, exploratory edge adding a psychedelic hue to these tracks. "Nihil Unbound" is an impressive statement from HUSH. No second is wasted on this EP, every track a tantalising glimpse of the cosmic devastation that lies ahead of you.
11). Crowbar – “The Serpent Only Lies”
Each album is demonstrably different while maintaining a common thread so no record is out of place within the discography. Stylistically, I would say that this is closer to “Symmetry...” than “Lifesblood”, and perhaps is a little closer to the band's earliest material, but at the end of the day: it's Crowbar. Where this album sits in the band's discography will only be fully revealed over time, but I can say that it has got better and better with each listen. What a band. Appreciate them while they are here.
10). Oranssi Pazuzu - ‘Värähtelijä’
Taking the album “as is”, ‘Värähtelijä’ contains flashes of brilliance, plenty of greatness, but a general need to be a bit more concise and efficient. It’s not every idea that deserves five minutes of exploration. In fact, very few ideas deserve that kind of focused repetition. Still, there’s no doubting that Oranssi Pazuzu are one of the few truly unique metal bands going in 2016, and that counts for a lot.
09). Helms Alee – “Stillicide”
Helms Alee have created a perfect fusion of big riffs, noise rock rumble and muscular indie rock filtered through a cloud of woozy reverb. Every track on this album is stuffed to the gills with choice riffs and klller hooks that will be embedded deep in your mind for years to come. “Stillicide” is a stellar release that sets the bar for heavy music in 2016.
8). 11Paranoias – “Reliquary of a Dreamed of World”
What sets 11PARANOIAS apart from other bands operating in the realms of psychedelic heaviness is the otherworldly atmosphere they conjure. Every note is enshrouded in a hazy fog that lends their music a darkly unsettling feel.
7). Ghold – “PYR”
“PYR” is an exceptional release from Ghold that really cements their position as the finest heavy act in the UK right now. It is the sound of a band who exist in a world of their own, above and beyond our plane of existence and drifting ever closer to the outer limits.
6). Slabdragger – “Rise of the Dawncrusher”
Taking us on a galactic mission, Slabdragger open up with 'Mercenary Blues' with its crushing stoner groove causing many an involuntary head nod (as well as plenty of voluntary ones). The riffs are typical of the Slabdragger style we've come to know and love, pentatonic flourishes and doomtastic hammer blows holding everything together, with utterly pummeling riffs smacking you around the head. This is the sound of a band attempting to reclaim their throne atop the UKunderground doom/sludge scene, judging by the 5 tracks here, they've certainly succeeded. Long live the kings.
5). Elephant Tree – “Elephant Tree”
If you’re on a quest for the next hit of sludgy psychedelic riffing to satisfy your music addiction, Elephant Tree is the thing to go for. They offer up the heaviness of slow, European doom and counter it with a classic rock swing. This is blended seamlessly with melody, both in the riffing as well as the vocals, drawing as much from the annals of rock music as it does from the modern stoner scene. The album is made up of riffs that beg to be played over and despite the amount of repetition Elephant Tree does in fact use, the inherent quality of these riffs is that they aren’t given their due no matter how many times they get thrown at us. The quality of this album will prove itself once year-end list season comes around.
4). Sumac – “What One Becomes”
The fact is, this is a monolithic, multi-faceted, beast of an album. Rigid Man” sees Sumac in familiar territory, relentless riffs raining down on the listener like an armour plated Shellac playing Isis’ “Celestial”. The band weave seamlessly between periods of crushing heaviness, fragile calm, hypnotic repetition and mind-bending mathematical chaos and overall “What One Becomes” sees Sumac taking all of their previous achievements as a foundation and building something even bigger in their own unique vision. This album sees Sumac really find their voice and deserves to see them mentioned in the same breath as their forbears.
3). Conan – “Revengeance”
The song 'Every Man Is An Enemy' has one of the most metal sounding titles I've ever heard and the violent intentions inherent in the brooding, bruising riffs put the bands money where its snarling mouth is. 'Earthenguard', the final track of the 6 on offer, is a song so heavy it has its own gravitational pull. Its 12 minutes of neanderthalic doom which also swims and swirls thanks to the phased guitars. It's an odyssey, a massive trek through mountainous chops and pounding beats that are designed to systematically cave your head in. Have Conan outdone themselves? Quite possibly.
2). Slomatics – “Future Echo Returns”
When a band's guitarist has their own signature fuzz pedal, it's a safe bet that they can cut through solid rock with their riffs; when both guitarists have an alternate version of the same pedal then prepare your eardrums for some serious, rock crushing heaviosity. The towering heaviness of the riffs and the images of the infinite, shimmering darkness of space is executed and captured perfectly. An amazing album worthy of any and all praise it will undoubtedly receives.
1). Neurosis – “Fire within Fires”
As this decade has yet to close, it's difficult to define what Neurosis are...but herein lies their beauty; you define who and what they are to you. After 30 years, these guys know what needs to go into a Neurosis record and will continue to do so until the music is finished with them.