2016 TOP 10 RELEASES! Desert Highways staff + special guests from Orange Goblin, Monolord, Pagan / Little Lamb & The Rosemary’s!!


Words Anthony Moore.

There were some amazing releases that come out in 2016, and as with every year, I start out with the best of intentions keeping a list of my favourites as they hit, only to let it fall by the wayside by about March. Yeah I know, it doesn’t last long! So undoubtedly I will forgot lots of great releases from 2016. There’s been the talked about releases like Metallica’s Hardwired… To Self Destruct (which for me has been quite a disappointment, some moments of clarity and power but as whole, it wasn’t the driving force I was hoping for), then there’s been some that have come out of left field that have really thrown me for six and impressed me quite a lot, like Electric Magus Olympus Noms, which is Raul Sanchez (Magic Dirt, River Of Snakes, Midnight Woolf) latest offering through Wild Animals Records. Like with John Frusciante’s solo albums, some sound quite unique and very different to his work with Red Hot Chili Peppers (which is an awesome thing these days!) yet his style and soul still comes through in various ways. Electric Magus is like this for Sanchez compared to his ‘usual’ guitar driven work. It’s totally different yet still somehow connects with me for the same reasons.

I still listen to loads of releases from all around the world, but more and more as time goes on I find myself mainly listening to local bands. Possibly for a few reasons, I like to support local muso’s and friends, it’s possible to see them more live which in turn gets us more stoked on listening back to a band later, and maybe most importantly, there are just so many fuckin incredible bands in Melbourne and throughout Australia that there’s not enough time to sometimes reach out further.

Few quick mentions for best live gigs that have really impressed me and stick in my head… Melbourne’s Little Lamb & The Rosemary’s, having NT’s Southeast Desert Metal on board for both the Melbourne and Sydney Brewtality festival’s, Monolord completely blow my mind, and finally seeing Weedeater! Absolutely impressed! Plus L7, The Archaic Revival, Clutch, Isaiah Mitchell (Earthless) with Seedy Jeezus, Rich Davies & The Low Road (with Ayleen O’Hanlon), Coffin Wolf (always put in 110%!), Ella Hooper, Head Like A Hole, Kadavar, Eagles of Death Metal, DEAD (one of the most underrated bands on the planet) and way too many more to mention!

I’d like to thank all those below who put together their ‘Top 10’s’, the Desert Highways vultures always put in a lot for this site and the label and I couldn’t do it without them all, and a big thanx to those special guests as well! See below! Much appreciated to you all!

TOP 10’s.

Martyn Millard – Orange Goblin:

10. Red Fang – Only Ghosts.
Masters of Melvins inspired rock’n’roll returned with a belter. Huge hooks and bigger riffs. Recommended track – Flies.

9. 40 Watt Sun – Wider Than The Sky.
Total emotion transferred into haunting songs which give a window into Pat Walkers soul.
Music that moves you like almost no other. Recommend track – Pictures.

8. Church Of Misery – And Then There Were None…
Bassist Tatsu found himself the only member of the band in 2015 so he went to the US to get the help of some renowned musicians for this release. The result was magnificent. As heavy and as groovy as ever. Recommended track – The Hell Benders.

7. Grand Magus – Sword Songs
Sweden’s Grand Magus get more ‘Metal’ with every release. But they also get better too.
The half-beat in the pre-chorus of ‘Freja’s Choice’ makes you want to overturn tables. Recommended track – Freja’s Choice.

6. Kvelertak – Nattesferd
One of the best live bands on the planet released one of my faves of 2016. A slow burner that didn’t grab immediately, but once it did it didn’t let go. Recommended track – Heksebrann.

5. Spirit Adrift – Chained To Oblivion
Stunning debut from America’s Spirit Adrift which takes Candlemass, Pallbearer and High On Fire on half speed and produces something majestic. Recommended track – Psychic Tide.

4. Blues Pills – Lady In Gold
Just when you thought a band couldn’t get anymore soulful, Blues Pills unleashed Lady In Gold. Taking late ’60s rock and soul and creating a wonderful thing. Recommended track – Bad Talkers.

3. Mondo Drag – The Occultation Of Light
Mondo Drag enveloped the spirit of Tull, Sabbath, Atomic Rooster, Floyd and many more to produce an incredible record that just oozes early ’70s prog jams and great riffs. Recommended Track – Rising Omen.

2. Witchcraft – Nucleus
Undoubtedly Witchcraft’s heaviest and best release to date. The songs twist and turn without ever getting dull , capturing heaviness and subtleties others simply cannot create. Recommended track – The Outcast.

1. Opeth – Sorceress
My favourite album of 2016 by some distance. Opeth provided a masterclass in songwriting and musicianship that no one came vaguely close to. Sorceress is total master piece and opens the door for stadium rock domination. Wonderful stuff. Recommended track – Will O The Wisp.

Esben Willems – Monolord:

(In no particular order)

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell – Keep It Greasy!
Super standard greasy rock’n’roll, barely reinventing the wheel. Maximum cliché, but still completely sincere. And groovy as hell, I love it.

Age Of Woe – An Ill Wind Blowing
In stark contrast to the majority of metal releases, this actually is a ton of bricks in audio form. Crazy intense, fiercely aggressive and non stop relentless.

Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker
That voice. This is pure laid back coolness, a blueprint for unapologetic music. A brilliant final release.

Brant Bjork – Tao Of The Devil
The King of Cool at his best. I never got how he creates these minimalistic soundscapes of mesmerising grooves and I still don’t. This is genius.

Neurosis – Fires Within Fires
All the larger-than-life superlatives used in most metal reviews, they apply here. This is majestic, in the truest sense of the word. I’ve listened to this so many times and it still keeps growing for every spin.

All Them Witches – Lightning At The Door (Reissue)
This band and this album is dynamic in every aspect. Seamlessly going from bulldozing heavy to whispering soft, leaving me forced to want to listen to it just one more time after the final song ends. One of very few bands with a unique sound.

Ufofolket – Ingen Förmildrande Omständighet
Yes! Just yes! Hardcore punk when it’s hardcore, pummelling through the entire album with any introduction or without giving you any chance to adapt. Yes!

Cough – Still They Pray
One more of the few doom/sludge/stoner/whatever-forced-genre-label that actually is knee-shattering heavy. This album is an avalanche with finesse.

Ancient Ocean – Blood Moon (Released 2015 – Ed).
No beats, no rhythm, just dark, eeire soundscapes. This album has been the soundtrack to many early morning espressos, sleepless tour bus drives and late night sloth behaviour.

Domkraft – The End Of Electricity
In a genre that tend to be a bit repetitive – our genre – Domkraft stands out with this crushing release. A breath of fresh fuzz in a tsunami of standardized doom, sludge and stoner.

Nikki Brumen – Pagan / Little Lamb & The Rosemary’s:

Peaches – Rub
Easily my favourite record of 2016. The first time I listened to it, it made me want to laugh, cry and get my tits out all at once. Powerful stuff.

Oathbreaker – Rheia
An incredible, unique piece of art and a revolution to heavy music. One of the best heavy albums of 2016, by far.

Totally Unicorn – Dreamlife
The only band that I know of who can create such a dark, powerful album but then be the most hilarious live act I have ever seen.

Violent Soho – Waco
A beautiful journey from start to finish and lyrical perfection. Every single song on Waco is a hit.


Against me – Shape Shift With Me
The first time I heard this album I fell in love. Although I don’t know them personally, I feel proud of what Laura Jane Grace and Against Me have achieved. Easily one of their best.

Kvelertak – Nattesferd
This album reeks of two of my favourite things- 80’s power ballads and black metal blast beats. What more could a girl want?

Head Wound City – A New Wave of Violence
Being the biggest Yeah Yeah Yeah’s fan in history, it’s only natural I would show an interest in Head Wound City. My interest proved to be more an obsession and the anticipation for this album proved more than worth the wait.

The Julie Ruin – Hit Reset
As empowering, poignant and fun as ever, Kathleen Hanna has found her voice in this new album, as she always does.

Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder
Pure fuckin’ black metal. My only complaint about this much anticipated album, is that it’s not twice the length.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity
Not my usual jam but this album is an undeniable masterpiece from start to finish. The best part is that it never really ends, as it’s on an infinite loop.

Anthony Moore – Desert Highways (head honcho!)

Witchthroat Serpent – Sang-Dragon
Only heard this band and the release for the first time in December and it instantly dug in deep and grabbed hold of me. The opener sets up Sang-Dragon like it’s a ‘70s cult classic from the getgo. Retro cruisy wah’d up guitar, simplistic yet mysterious. Love how the entire thing wraps your heart up in dirty fuzz. Stand out: Lady Sally.

Monolord – Lord Of Suffering / Die In Haze
This 10” is a steady driving beast that sinks you deeper into its riffed up abyss. Canyons envelope and open up a new universe where fuzzy six-string and bass driven guitars are the blood meandering through your veins. Stand out: Lord Of Suffering.

Sun God Replica – Grandular Fever
There is so much I love about this band and this album encompasses the lot! Really well constructed songs, awesome sound, amazing muso’s and always a smorgasbord of styles from garage, to rock to Sgt Peppers, hard to pinpoint, except it’s awesome! Out through Melbourne label Spooky Records! Stand out: Celestial Building Block.

Gozu – Revival
The kind of album you’d have crankin as you’re haulin ass out of town after robbing a bank, cops in tow, loot blowing out the windows as you tear away from the city limits and out into the desert. Some killer stoner style riffs, devil horn throwing solo’s and fuckin sweet ride the entire way through. Stand out: Big Casino.

DEAD – Untitle
One of the most underrated bands on the planet. A two-piece with the sound of ten. End of the world thunder and destruction amidst soul shattering weight one minute and chilled out the next, but it’s always heavy in one way or another. Everything about DEAD rocks; the music, the art, the members themselves and their unashamed love of summer footwear. Stand out: Don’t Pray For Us.

Pagan came to power quickly and took control of every stage they played upon. Each release is the perfect blend of guts, emotion and fuck you attitude. They’ve released four digital singles throughout 2016 with Mike Deslandes at the helm, who is not only a kick arse guitarist (High Tension, YLVA) but also a phenomenal audio engineer. Pagan may not have released an album but four solid singles makes this well worth including. Stand out: Wine and Lace.

The Archaic Revival – Rock n Roll Holocaust
’80s LA rock on an acid induced binge worshipping satan at the gates of hell! The Archaic Revival play hard, rock hard and party even harder! They’re way too awesome for just one band and are fully worth the psychotic breakdown after a 3 day bender! Stand out: Morning Star.

The Ruiner – Self-titled
Does it matter that Desert Highways released The Ruiner’s debut? Who cares. I’m not ashamed to fuckin dig the shit of this. Long time listener of all the members projects and the caliber is huge; Christbait, Blood Duster, Dern Rutlidge, Legends of Motorsport, Pillow and more, yet this album is perhaps their combined best to date. Absolutely massive! Stand out: Smoke.

Whores – Gold
There’s an immediate energy and compulsion to go nuts whenever I hear Whores. Although unfortunately I’ve never seen them live, listening to them makes me feel like it would be dangerous, out of control, things would get messy and uncontrollable. How a gig should feel. Their releases have a true ‘this is how we are live’ vibe and sound and the band keep on going from strength to strength with every release. Stand out: Mental Illness As Mating Ritual.

Highly Recommend:

Tranquonauts (Isaiah Mitchell from Earthless with Seedy Jeezus), Brant Bjork, Nopes, Descendents, Kvelertak, Wo Fat, Brant Bjork, The Well, WItchcraft, Holy Serpent, Child, Mt Mountain, Dumb Numbers, Electric Magus, Geezer, Red Fang, TV Haze, Flour, Beastwars, Bonnie Mercer & Steve Patrick, Dawn, Little Lamb & The Rosemary’s, Holy Serpent, Meantime (Helmet) Compilation out through Magnetic Eye, Grindhouse, Goatsound Hard-Ons Dickcheese Re-Interpretation with the accompanying doco by Adam Russ – Right Eye Media Australia.

El Jefe (writer):

Well, fuck me. 2016 is done and dusted. Been a busy year, and has brought me some great times and changes (personally) including changing jobs after 11 years! and quite a few shitty times (globally). On the music front, I’ve been hit with some brilliant releases, particularly on the heavy side of things. It’s a bitch of a task to collate and evaluate into the ten best, but I’ve got beer to facilitate the process, and no-one had to twist my arm to trawl through this years meaty haul, handpicking my faves either.

10. Youngblood Supercult – High Plains.
Topeka, Kansas. It ain’t Detroit, LA or New York, but these dudes (and gal) run a cool line in heavy, melodic rock’n’roll. Their second LP, and the fucker certainly works for me. Not ya typical band either. They’ve got a very distinctive style which is all their own.

9. Blues Pills – Lady In Gold.
I already loved this band. The self-titled LP was a pure fucking killer.  Elin and co didn’t try to rewrite the debut for their follow up. They took a way more diverse path, and opinions of this record seemed fairly polarized. Some loved it, some thought it sucked arse. For me, I was hooked from the get-go. It borders on being cheesy K-tel rock, but somehow slipped the noose on that fate and wound up being pure ’70s rock’n’roll with Elin’s huge voice icing the cake.

8. Shadow Witch – Sun Killer.
Stumbled on this band via Bandcamp. I know nothing about them, but they play a killer style of stoner with some taut DK’s vibes tossed into the cauldron for good measure. Got some feckin’ killer tunes on it. I hope they keep it up. Check ‘em out here! Shadow Witch – SUN KILLER – YouTube

7. The Archaic Revival – RNR Holocaust.
Sydney’s own satan-worshipping motherfuckers from hell. After a couple of singles over several years, they finally hit us with a full-length. If you’re into heavy (and if you’re reading this, I’d guess you are), you need to add this to your collection. Great songs, they can play like motherfuckers, and a totally unique and cool entity.

6. Throttlerod – Turncoat.
Seven years between drinks (albums) but it was worth the wait. Throttlerod had already covered a tonne of ground with their records, and Turncoat is no different. Pure rock’n’roll, and never misses a chance to put the pedal to the metal.

5. La Chinga – Freewheelin’.
Coulda been released in ’76, not ’16, but is chock-fulla big hits, riffs and R’n’R! Loved it from the first listen, but it grew on me like a fungal infection that just won’t go away. It goes particularly well with large doses of Mexican mouthwash!

4. Wo Fat – Midnight Cometh.
The Texan stoner psyche blues jukebox. Long jammed out riffs, and everything is hotter than hell. I love the smell of burning valves in the morning. Smells like…Wo Fat!

3. Foghound – The World Unseen.
Equal parts Fu / Nebula style stoner and something darker and heavier. Bridge Of Stonebows was a standout for me, but on the whole, this one is a flat-out monster. Great songs, and dirty as fuck beer-drinking music.

2. The Cult – Hidden City.
After 35 years in various incarnations, many bands would be a mere shadow of the glory years, possibly even just a risible caricature of what they once were. Not the Cult. This is an absolute killer record, and they can still strut it live. Whilst they still sound like the ‘80s version of the band, they most certainly don’t repeat the old riffs and hope no-one notices. And they possibly got even leaner and meaner as they get older too. ‘GOAT’ is high on the list of my fave songs on Hidden City as well. It’s a ball-tearing guitar showcase.

1. Monster Truck – Sittin’ Heavy.
Loved the first LP, caught ‘em live last year (see review here) and waited eagerly for this one to be released. I was not let down by even a single song. Fantastic record, and totally balls out ‘70s riff-a-rama. Organ, epic guitar solo’s, a big dirty blues-rock set of pipes with everything punched forward by a ripping rhythm section. They should be huge, got talent, style and songs. It’s the whole shebang in one fat duffle-bag, and just sitting there waiting for us to take more than we’re owed straight outta it. For me, this is the clear winner for this year’s flag!

Honourable Candidates.

Ok, so it’s been a great year for me musically as I said before. This list could easily be a top 50, so I feel the need to throw in a couple who nearly made the cut.

– The Watchers – Sabbath High (couldn’t be included on a technicality; not an LP!) killer Sab meets Deep Purple.
– Fall Of An Empire – Croweater. They returned from the grave with a vision. It’s almost a rock-opera, but not a wank like it could have been. A cool LP, and a bitch to pigeon-hole stylistically.
– The Judge – S/T. More ‘70s rock, which I can never get enough of. Heavy, and rockin’.
– Samantha Fish also came into my life. She (and her music) has the power to heal all the wounds in my very soul. Magical! Seriously magical!!

So there’s my (music) year in review. It’s been awesome, both on record and live. After 15 years of loving them, I finally got to see High On Fire play, Weedeater toured too. Plenty of other awesome shows as well. The local scene continues to struggle for venues, but the bands are there should you want to track ‘em down. Sadly, too few want to make the effort. Now let’s bring on 2017!!

Kim Anderson – Shoot The Wicked Witch (photographer):

10. SUM 41 – 13 Voices.
It sounded good. So I added it here. Thumbs Up!


9. Ohm Rune – Star Destroyer / Adrift.
Not exactly and album or an EP but given that 2 songs go for about five hours its basically an album. It’s on vinyl. So it’s an album.

8. Blindspot – Selfie Titled.
Perth Pop Punkers released a pretty cool EP this year.


7. Two For Flinching – So We’ve Got That In Common.
If I don’t give them a mention the manchild will cry. Yes Leigh I mean you.


6. Dividers – Clockwork.
Another Sydney band who know how to rock and all round super nice guys!


5. Violent Soho – WACO.
Do I have to say something? How about an interpretive dance? How about many exclamation marks?!!!!!!!

4. NOFX – First Ditch Effort.
Fun times all round.


3. Rick Dangerous and the Silkie Bantams – Thrust Machine.
Sydney band who need to take over the world NOW! I got to see them in Melbourne earlier this year when they were touring for the release. Everyone needs to buy the CD and see them pronto!

2. DMA’s – Hills End.
Because not everything in life involves screaming and heavy guitars.


1. Green Day – Revolution Radio.
Green Day are my fav band of all time and it thrilled me so much to hear this album after the atrocity that was 21st Century Breakdown. It’s like Green Day found their balls again.

Mikaelie A. Evans (writer):

Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
Surely this speaks for itself?


The Murlocs – Young Blindness
Crisp guitars melt into cracking drumming patterns; elusive harmonica parts and whimsical bass riffs are distorted through the sweet sound of their deafening amps that continue to nail that rockin’ out-of-date garage sound to perfection and beyond.

PJ Harvey – The Hope Six Demolition Project
Controversy, controversy, controversy and PJ Harvey is back! Harvey’s unique sound and lyrical composition is distinguished early in the album, all the while giving a voice to the social injustice of Hope VI, which is clearly referenced in the opening track The Community of Hope. It’s a political stab, while still it is a raw and artistic expression.

Dope Lemon – Honey Bones
A friend showed me this band and I instantly fell in love. I don’t think it’s just because I have an unannounced crush on Angus Stone either; the lyrics are serenading, relatable and enticing. I love the breezy guitars and the flow of the track listing that I have listened to on rotation an embarrassingly great number of times. If life gives you lemons, just hope that they’re dope.

The Mirror Trap – Simulations
The Mirror Trap are a Scottish quintet that deserve more international recognition. Their rhythmically punchy songs incorporate a mix of hard hitting – sometimes growling – lyrics, heavy bass lines and guitar hooks, with drumming to fuel the fire of their alternative indie rock songs.

Descendents – Hypercaffium Spazzinate
This album was released with precise timing for me and it just proved that not Everything Sux. I like that they’re still themselves… Maybe just with a bit of wear and tear added that sounds particularly prominent in No Fat Burger. C’mon! It’s their first album in over ten years – and another tour!

King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity
Fast, erratic and psychedelic rhythms are what these Melbourne guys are renown for, and their latest album has given us even more of a reason to love ‘em. These recordings are mentally transporting to what their lives shows are: fun, energetic and a bit fucking crazy.

The Growlers – City Club
This album’s a bit different and I like it for more than just Brooks Nielsen’s voice… Swoon. It’s got that vibe of balmy Californian nights that are danced through, to the albums bouncing beat and guitar distortions. Breezy lyrics, a bit of heartache, give me a cocktail to drift through the electronic layers and to sway through the track listing.

A Tribe Called Quest – Thank You 4 Your Service
Still executing their impeccable techniques and beats 18 years after their last album, ATCQ have delivered a tribute to the late Phife, as well as a masterpiece that’s reflective of the 21st century and the state of American politics after the recent election. Q-Tip’s rapping spirals through the beats, with tongue twisting flows that are spat at an exceptionally fast pace. Featuring several current hip-hop heavy weights alongside other musicians who appear on the record, they’ve maintained their East Coast cool while again raising the bar of hip hop.

Will Oakeshott (writer):

10. Totally Unicorn – Dream Life
Easily the most entertaining live band in Australia party-wise finally came out with a blast of sophisticated math-metalcore for their overdue debut album. Converge, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch, Poison The Well and The Chariot have respectable nods from the quintet and incorporate their genius into the eleven tracks – if that doesn’t have you intrigued, just see them live and you will NEVER forget it.

9. Amon Amarth – Jomsviking
Viking death metal – those three words and this scribe is obsessed. Not the quintet’s finest work but certainly a worthy addition to raise horns to and drink mead.

8. Zao – The Well-Intentioned Virus
In an ocean of mundane supposed “Metalcore” bands who are destroying what was an astonishing hybrid, masters of the genre return with a progressive uppercut of gloom-ridden metalcore. This is arguably the most bleak and disturbed Zao has sounded in their 23 year career, but this discomposure is simply astounding.

7. Heck – Instructions
Imagine The Dillinger Escape Plan playing their version of punk music with the same live show? That’s what these four Brits have accomplished with unbelievable ability and NEED to tour Australia.

6. Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
The punk-master returns to prove he is more than a fairytale and “once upon a time”. The legend is in fact untouchable.

5. Dustin Kensrue – Thoughts That Float On A Different Blood
Somewhat overshadowed by the return album from Thrice {by no means a bad sentiment, that album is sensational}; but this collection of live cover songs is remarkable. In a way the LP feels like a massive weight has been removed from Dustin, most likely from his departure from his duties with his prior church; in short it is a breath-taking performance which takes the listener to the front row of when the show took place.

4. Wardruna – Runaljod / Ragnarok
Globally adored for supplying the soundtrack to the best show on television “Vikings”, Wardruna are as authentic as they come to nordic/pagan spirituality which they exquisitely express through their nordic folk. This album transports the listener to another world of bewitching elegance.

3. Myrkur – Mausoleum
Probably the most controversial artist involved with Black Metal but easily one of the most talented. This is a live album which reaffirms Amalie Bruun’s intoxicating talent for orchestral magnificence and to this writer, she is a spiritual awakening.

2. Trade Wind – You Make Everything Disappear
Members of hardcore bands Stray From The Path, Stick To Your Guns and Structures team up to create an alternative rock group in a different dimension to stunning results. An amalgamation of influences not necessarily known by Trade Wind including: City & Colour, Karnivool, Joy Division and Quicksand combines to a journey of heartbreak which most anyone could relate to.

1. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
An adventure of torment, loss and pain in sombre beauty. The ambient post-punk created from the catastrophe of the loss of Nick Cave’s son Arthur is felt in these eight songs, but not easily read and obviously understood to only a marginal degree – yet the record is another masterpiece. James Huneker {former critic RIP} once said: “Great art is an instant arrested in eternity”; personally I could not put a phrase more suited to Skeleton Tree.

Sally Townsend – Sally Townsend photography (photographer):

Ok these are in no particular order and I could EASILY have made it a top 20!
Here we go…

Sumac – What One Becomes
So I guess the underlying theme to most of my top releases is intensity… Sumac’s second album is challenging, intense and confrontational. You know with Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom) Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) and Brian Cook (Russian Circles) involved it’s going to be an epic and really interesting album.

Favourite tracks: “Clutch Of Oblivion” “Image Of Control”
File under: Soundtrack to anxiety and your psychic distress.

Nails – You Will Never Be One Of Us
You cannot fake this kind of intensity! Each track is punishing and makes me feel a bit sick. That being said, I cannot get enough of this record!!

Favourite tracks: “They Came Crawling Back” “Violence Is Forever”
File under: Uneasy Listening.

Cough – Still They Pray
6 years I’ve been waiting for this! And I’m not disappointed. Cough are a sludge-y, garage-y fuzzy doom band with heaps of groove, sounding like the pissed off younger brother of Electric Wizard. I turn this up LOUD and get totally lost in the wall of sound they create.

Favourite tracks: “Masters Of Torture” “The Wounding Hours”
File Under: Speaker Abuse.

Conan – Revengeance
No surprise one of my favourite bands made the list. “Revengeance” though crushingly heavy like previous releases, has a new furiosity with Rich Lewis on the drums. And this is exactly what I’ve been craving this year, something faster and they gave it to me. Thanks Conan!
Favourite tracks: “Thunderhoof” “Earthenguard”
File Under: Future Classic.

David Bowie – Blackstar
Not everything I love is metal, and being a lifelong fan (Thanks Mum!) I was eager for this release. It came out on a Friday and I had a few short days to absorb it before his death on the Monday. Which changed EVERYTHING. The content of the album is full of clues and goodbyes that us Earthlings didn’t even realise that blissful weekend he was still with us.

Favourite tracks: “Lazarus” “I Can’t Give Everything Away”
File under: Perfect Endings.

Oranssi Pazuzu – Varahtelija
This psychadelic black metal record from Finland’s Oranssi Pazuzu is psychotic and I can’t get it out of my head. I haven’t heard anything quite like this. A reinvention of black metal. This album is weird. Get onto it ASAP!

Favourite tracks: “Vasemman Kaden Hierakia” “Saturaatio”
File under: Game Changer.

Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows
Mixing death, black, post, sludge and doom metal, it’s always a good year when you get a new Inter Arma release. Monumentally heavy and simultaneously heartbreakingly beautiful.

Favourite tracks: “Primordial Wound” “The Summer Drones”
File under: Genre-busting.

Neurosis – Fires Within Fires
Album number 11 from the masters of doomy post metal is the kind of all-encompassing magic we expect from Neurosis. They’ve inspired so many great bands but remain in a league of their own.

Favourite tracks: “Broken Ground” “Fire Is The End Lesson”
File under: Living Legends.

Subrosa – For This We Fought The Battle Of Ages
One of my most highly anticipated sets at this years Psycho Las Vegas, they didn’t disappoint and they also released this incredible record around the same time. Beautiful doom with violins this is a powerful, important album.

Favourite tracks: “Wound Of The Warden” “Black Majesty”
File under: Gothic Tragedies.

Cobalt – Slow Forever
I came to this album late but boy am I glad I checked it out in time to make this list! I know I’m only going to connect more with this in time, it’s genre-busting, gut-wrenching, inspired and motivating. I only wish I’d discovered it sooner.

Favourite tracks: “Beast Whip” “King Rust”
File under: Must Haves.

Also worth listening to…

Agoraphobic Nosebleed – Arc
Graves At Sea – The Curse That Is
Lycus – Chasms
Holy Serpent – Temples
The Well – Pagan Science
Oathbreaker – Rheia
Ash Borer – The Irrepassable Gate
Russian Circles – Guidance
Lord Mantis – Nice Teeth Whore
The Body – No One Deserves Happiness