Kevin’s Top Ten Albums of 2016

“Dreams of salvation through nuclear hell…”

2016 was a pretty shitty year for most things, but for lovers of aggressive music there was an overabundance of great material to help with the much needed catharsis. Lots of people have made the joke that punk, metal and hardcore were going to get angrier now, but the purveyors of the sonically pissed off were plenty busy in 2016 even before America elected a misogynistic, homophobic, racist and all around unpleasant sentient Cheeto as its President. If musicians really do want to get even more enraged though, I’ll be happy to do a top 20 list for next year. But until then, here’s my top 10.

10. Bossk – Audio Noir

“Audio Noir splits the difference on most tracks between the agro and mellow, as on Sabbath worshiping doom throwdown “Heliopause” and the shades of Angelo Badalmenti’s immortal Twin Peaks theme on “Relancer”, but Bossk comes on strongest when they blend the styles on single songs, like the record anchoring epic “Kobe”. We gotta be metal dorks though, with our favorite being the aptly named crusher “Atom Smasher”. Still, the mosh ready bangers carry even more weight butting heads against the melancholy dirges, not that they really need the help, powered by the band’s tight instrumentation and the menacingly vague, techno-brooding, nihilistic sci fi lyrical flavor delivered with an ear shatteringly raw hardcore wail.”

Read the full review HERE.


9. Kvelertak – Nattesferd

Nattesferd opens with a blast of icy death called “Dendrofil for Yggdrasil”, a blastbeating, speedpicking ode to sexual attraction for the “life tree” of norse mythology, sort of the reverse of The Black Dahlia Murder’s classic Evil Dead inspired “Raped In Hatred By Vines Of Thorn”. Lead single “1985” is up next, a mid-tempo scorcher where the band’s arena ready triple guitar harmonies gloriously butt heads against the dry throated rasp of vocalist Erlend Hjelvik. This is a black metal track that sounds for all the world like 38 Special’s “Hold On Loosely”. I don’t need to tell you why that’s amazing.”

Read the full review HERE.


8.  Venom Prison – Animus

“VP then switches it up with epic length album anchor, “Immantize Eschaton” a doomgrind dirge of apocalyptic proportions, and similarly descend into sludge territory on closer “Womb Forced Animus”. But Venom Prison’s multi-faceted, razor sharp attack works best at lightspeed, as on lead track “Abysmal Agony” and the aforementioned stop/start thrash scorcher “Perpetrator Emasculation”.”

Read the full review HERE.


7.  Oathbreaker – Rheia

“Like something of a female fronted Deafheaven upon first listen, Oathbreaker eventually blossoms more akin to Converge at their most gut wrenchingly tumultuous, fronted by goth enigma Chelsea Wolfe. But even on stripped down straight ballad “Stay Here/Accroche-Moi” (one of the record’s most effective and affecting) vocalist Caro Tanghe resonates profoundly, though she’s at her rawest and most tormented on “Being Able To Feel Nothing”, churning in a sea of turmoil, adrift in the undertow.”

Read the full review HERE.


6. Gatecreeper – Sonoran Depravation

“Gatecreeper throws down with “Craving Flesh”, a driving thump courtesy of bassist Sean Mears’ world trembling low end, giving way to a demonic, positively  evil guitar riff, mean enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck and the dead from their graves. “Sterilizing” leads with a dissonant speed picking cacophony, from a thundering chug to an agonizing crawl. GC quicken the pace with thrasher “Desperation”, arch skinsman “Metal” Matt Arrebollo’s double bass and drum fill whirlwind keeping pace with Chase Mason’s no nonsense growl. Clocking in at less than two breakneck minutes, the track is one of the record’s best, anchored by an excellent melodeath flavored breakdown before the punishing buzzsaw bark kicks back in.”

Read the full review HERE.


5. Nails – You Will Never Be One Of Us

“An even grimier, rustier chainsaw of a guitar sound greets fans this time out, the double bass drumming becoming an endless barrage of deafening thuds and the punishing bass low end, as heard in all its glory around the halfway mark of “Friend To All”, barges through the ears like a face across concrete. As with most of your thrash, grind, punky quick but brutally heavy stuff the catchiness of the riffs and drum patterns keep the listener coming back, but more so than anything else, and different from anyone else Nails just has a fucking sound that completely envelops, accomplished faultlessly here with Ballou’s production wizardry and of course the incredibly tight unit of mouthpiece/axeman and figurehead Todd Jones, bassist John Gianelli and drummer Taylor Young.  These guys have only been around since 2009 but you’d never guess, laying down earth shattering perfection in league with 20+ year vets like Behemoth, the aforementioned Converge or fellow grind heroes Napalm Death.”

Read the full review HERE.


4. Youth Code – Commitment To Complications

“If you had to put a label on Youth Code’s aural masochism, most would choose industrial, and their methods are truly industrial, perhaps more industrial than industrial, electing to record harsh, everyday real world sounds rather than relying on purely synthesized elements, and the fruits of their labor hit hard, like having your head slammed into the curb and then hit with a pipe hard. This is no mere disjointed sound collage though, and that’s where the connections to punk and metal come in. A veteran of the LA hardcore scene, George knows his way around a riff and a bassline and how he layers his collected samples over thrashing, pounding, plodding beats is almost melodic in a way, as catchy as it is crushing. A beautifully unsettling attack reverent of drum machine powered hardcore institution Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s classic output.”

Read the full review HERE.


3. Trap Them – Crown Feral

“Crown Feral may be the most relentless record of the year, even more so that the mighty Nails’ crushing “You Will Never Be One Of Us”. After the hackle raising, near spoken word intro “Kindred Dirt” (Shades from “Fucking Viva” off of “Seizures In Barren Praise”), Ryan McKenney, Brian Izzi and co. hardly take their feet off the gas pedal, Which isn’t to say it’s all just an impenetrable wall of noise, fast and heavy doesn’t mean much without catchy and that’s never been an issue for Trap Them. McKenny’s breathless rasp is still one of the best in the business and Izzi’s riffs are as earwormingly clever as they are poundingly heavy. Which is to say nothing of the technical wizardry behind the kit of human drum machine Brad Fickeisen and the punishing low end of bassist Galen Baudhuin, easily discernable from the rest of the cacophony due to the genius of production deity Kurt Ballou.”

Read the full review HERE.


2. Whores – Gold

“Lembach’s lyrical vitriol and glass fed rasp may be the main selling points here, but the super fuzzed (pun intended) out, Melvins on steroids approach reaches full speed thanks to the equally excellent contributions of his co-conspirators Casey Maxwell and Donnie Adkinson, forming a tight unit primed for destruction. WHORES’ previous EPs “Ruiner” and “Clean” were great, but failed to capture the sonic sludge tsunami of their live performances. This record, their first full length, distills that essence perfectly, with excellent production keeping the powerful, disparate elements of the assault un-muddled, especially in headphones. “Gold” sounds like something I should’ve had on a tape in middle school, in the best way possible.”

Read the full review HERE.


1. Ghoul – Dungeon Bastards

“The speed and chug of “Shred The Dead” continue the beating, though it’s not all ass kicking this time out, even though Ghoul could totally pull off playing it straight in their sleep, there’s still plenty of the act’s patented gallows humor on DB. Hardcore influenced gang vocals and a killer melodic riff anchor “Ghoulunitics” and Creepsylvanian manifesto “Word Is Law” places bloody tongue firmly in rotted cheek. Ghoul bring it all together with hard charging instrumental/sound collage (Beneath The Planet Of The Apes FTW) “Guitarmageddon”, calling to mind early 90’s slabs of industrial punishment from the likes of Ministry or KMFDM, showing they really can do it all.”

Read the full review HERE.




2016 really was packed to the gills with great aggressive music, and some of the stuff I really enjoyed listening to but did not enjoy leaving off of the list proper were classic powerviolence supergroup Deny The Cross, darkwave/noise punk alchemists Death Index and Arizona horror metal madmen Take Over And Destroy .



Check out my top 10 albums list from last year, and look for more year end lists from our other contributors coming soon!


Kevin Hawkey is the co-founder, head writer and editor of Riot-Nerd. He enjoys Fighting Games, Metal, Marvel, Horror and all the weird shit in between. A lifelong Philadelphian just as comfortable in a circle pit at Underground Arts as he is drooling over the new Hot Toys figures at Brave New Worlds, Kevin’s idiosyncratic sensibility gives this site it’s unique dichotomy between “riot” and “nerd”.

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