A Bard’s Eye View: 2016 – A Love Story


2016

A Love Story

Last year, I made a list of about 12 songs that particularly made an impact on me in 2015.  This year, I wanted to make a much larger and inclusive list.  The playlist will be linked from Spotify and accessible to listen to at your leisure and I also thought that I would pick twelve (was going to be thirteen but the Meshuggah song wasn’t available on YouTube) that stuck out really well to me and talk a little bit about them.  This is the final post for 2016 and I will be talking boat stuff in the month of January.  So, here are the twelve that I am featuring and the full list will be below:

TRACK #1: SOLUTION . 45 (SWEDEN) – BUILT ON SAND, FROM NIGHTMARES IN THE WAKING STATE, PART II

Christian Alvestam and the gang return for the follow up album from 2015.  Continuing with his particular brand of singing, the clean/harsh transitions are just as strong as when he was in Scar Symmetry, if somewhat less abrupt in nature now.  The guitar in particular strikes me very strongly, as it showcases a tremendous amount of talent that is shown again and again just in this song as well as in the rest of the album.  This song  absolutely had to begin my playlist.

TRACK #4: AESOP ROCK (UNITED STATES) – KIRBY, FROM THE IMPOSSIBLE KID

There were so many song to pick from (and I picked three for the playlist itself) this album.  I really feel like I missed a significant amoiunt of hip hop this past year and I would like to rectify that in 2017 but Aesop Rock brought the energy with this album.  “Kirby” is the ultimate party song and the perfect song that even a five year old could enjoy (she’s six now).

TRACK #7: ALLEGAEON (UNITED STATES) – PROPONENT FOR SENTIENCE II – THE ALGORITHM, FROM PROPONENT FOR SENTIENCE

Fort Collins bred Allegaeon returns with their best record to date.  One of the songs even managed to pull Bjorn Strid from Soilwork to perform guest vocals.  Additionally, they embarked on some pretty sweet tours across the United States.  I’m hoping their hard work pays off soon as they absolutely deserve it.

TRACK #12: NIGHT BEATS – NO COPS, FROM WHO SOLD MY GENERATION

2013 ushered in an awesome release for Night Beats.  This release doesn’t have the same surf rock vintage sound that they had in the last album, but it did amp up the sound of the garage rock subgenre that I also enjoy.  This one is probably the best on their record.

TRACK #16: ANIMALS AS LEADERS (UNITED STATES) – ARITHMOPHOBIA, FROM THE MADNESS OF MANY

Despite falling from #23 to #56 on the Billboard 200 from one release to the next, Animals as Leaders has released their most ambitious album to date (in my opinion) since their self-titled debut in 2009. “Ectogenesis”, the second song, is also super cool and worth checking out, you can find it further down the list.

TRACK #21: EPICA (NETHERLANDS) – ASCENSION – DREAM STATE ARMAGEDDON, FROM THE HOLOGRAPHIC PRINCIPLE

You may have caught my update on the new Epica album a couple months ago, but in case you didn’t, you should definitely check this album out.  In my opinion, it’s their best, if not right behind “Design Your Universe” (2009).  There is more symphonic, more operatic singing, heavier guitar.  I mean, just more…everything.  This song stood out on the album, but there are a ton of great ones to look at.

TRACK #24: ATMOSPHERE (UNITED STATES) – PURE EVIL, FROM FISHING BLUES

I think this album was released to shut up naysayers who claimed that Slug no longer had the same skill he did in his 20s.  I think he is just making different kinds of albums now and this song epitomizes his skillset and ability to bring light to situations that might otherwise be often overlooked.  In a hip hop soft year, this album was one of the best.

 

TRACK #33: FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE (ITALY) – IN AETURNUM, FROM KING

Though this album is no “Agony” (2011), “King” is a still close to masterpiece.  It comes in hard and fast and leaves just as aggressively.  There are a couple other tracks I featured in my list.  The masters of speed and symphonic technical death metal are not to be trifled with,

TRACK #41: FALLUJAH (UNITED STATES) – THE VOID ALONE, FROM DREAMLESS

Like Fleshgod Apocalypse, these guys are paving the way for their own subgenre.  This one combines atmospheric music with technical death metal.  This album was pretty amazing.  The guitar is so freaking cool in this song (and the rest of the album as well).  If you are unfamiliar with Fallujah, I definitely suggest checking them out because they’ll be blowing up.

TRACK #44: BLACK CROWN INITIATE (UNITED STATES) – BELIE THE MACHINE, FROM SELVES WE CANNOT FORGIVE

Pennsylvania-bred progressive death metallers return for their second full length album. This one is their longest song and one that I really enjoyed upon multiple listenings of it.  I also included two more songs from the album worth checking out.

TRACK #46: THE DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT (CANADA) – HIGHER, FROM TRANSCENDENCE

Unfortunately, this was the only video I could find of this song but at least the sound quality is there.  Devin Townsend returned with what I feel is his most progressive release of all and this album is absolute love.  He also recently got added to a tour with Opeth and Gojira next year so I am beyond stoked for that.  This song has the most intense climax of all.

TRACK #48: PAIN (SWEDEN) – CALL ME, FROM 

This video is absolute chaos.  Calliing on Joakim Broden from Sabaton to help in this song about escorts and whatever else you might be looking for, this song quickly became one of Pain’s most comedic songs of all time.

TRACK #50: KATATONIA (SWEDEN) – THE NIGHT SUBSCRIBER, FROM THE FALL OF HEARTS

With a brand new guitarist and drummer, Katatonia came in kicking with some of the most technical riffs they have ever written.  To me, this is their best effort yet, rivaled only by “Viva Emptiness” in 2003.  This song has that forlorn quality to it but also packs a mean punch toward the end of the song.

TRACK #55: OPETH (SWEDEN) – STRANGE BREW, FROM SORCERESS

This album is growing on me. I wasn’t impressed early on, but songs like this one are helping me gain a heavy appreciation for it.  I suspect it may end up being a favorite of mine as time goes on.  This is a super progressive song and hopefully indicative of a sound to come for this band.

TRACK #56: BORKNAGAR (NORWAY) – TERMINUS, FROM WINTER THRICE

Another juggernaut releasing their best effort yet, this album is probably my favorite of the entire year and I am eagerly anticipating a tour next year here.

TRACK #57: WATSKY (UNITED STATES) – KNOTS, FROM x INFINITY

I was actually very surprised when this song opened his set earlier in the year because I feel like this is the perfect closer. Seriously, put on some headphones and drown out the world and love the power in this.
Here is my full list:
1)  Solution .45 – Built on Sand*
2)  Dark Tranquillity – Forward Momentum
3)  Epica – The Cosmic Algorithm
4)  Aesop Rock – Kirby*
5)  Sodom – Rolling Thunder
6)  Vader – Genocidius
7)  Allegaeon – Proponent For Sentience II – The Algorithm*
8)  Avantasia – The Haunting
9)  Dream Theater – A Tempting Offer
10) Fallujah – Abandon
11) HammerFall – Dethrone and Defy
12) Night Beats – No Cops*
13) Fleshgod Apocalypse – The Fool
14) Black Crown Initiate – Sorrowpsalm
15) Katatonia – Pale Flag
16) Animals as Leaders – Arithmophobia*
17) The Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence
18) Gojira – Only Pain
19) Ulver – Father’s Feud
20) Aesop Rock – Blood Sandwich
21) Epica – Ascension – Dream State Armageddon*
22) The Heavy – Goodbye Baby
23) Kveleterak – 1985
24) Atmosphere – Pure Evil*
25) Black Crown Initiate – Selves We Cannot Forgive
26) Rotting Christ – Ze Nigmar
27) Mountain Dust – Evil Deeds
28) The Pineapple Thief – The Final Thing on My Mind
29) Allegaeon – All Hail Science
30) Gojira – Magma
31) October Tide – Swarm
32) Borknagar – Panorama
33) Fleshgod Apocalypse – In Aeternum*
34) Megadeth – The Threat is Real
35) Amon Amarth – Wanderer
36) Aesop Rock – Molecules
37) Haken – 1985
38) Leather Lung – Freak Flag
39) Meshuggah – Ivory Tower
40) Grand Magus – Freja’s Choice
41) Fallujah – The Void Alone*
42) Sabaton – Last Dying Breath
43) Allegaeon – Proponent for Sentience III – The Extermination
44) Black Crown Initiate – Belie the Machine*
45) Dinosaur Jr. – Be a Part
46) The Devin Townsend Project – Higher*
47) Tarja – Demons in You
48) Pain – Call Me*
49) Witherscape – In the Eyes of Idols
50) Katatonia – The Night Subscriber*
51) Gojira – Low Lands
52) Animals as Leaders – Ectogenesis
53) Insomnium – Winter’s Gate, Pt. I
54) Fleshgod Apocalypse – Syphilis
55) Opeth – Strange Brew*
56) Borknagar – Terminius*
57) Watsky – Knots*

That’s it for 2016! Get ready for four weeks of Pre-cruise articles!

-Ryan

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