Hello and welcome to my annual musical extravaganza that’s my countdown of the year’s best album releases from across the rock and metal spectrum. As usual, you’ll find just about everything in this list, from black to death metal, from prog rock to extreme prog metal and plenty in between. I am a fan of heavy music in most of its guises and that, I hope, will be reflected in this list.
In keeping with last year, I have decided to keep the ‘top 30’ format, just bescause I quite enjoy writing these posts and because 2016 was an insanely great year for rock and metal music. The quality has been unbelievable at times and hopefully this is something that can be underlined by the albums that made it on my list as well as those that have just missed out.
However, this year, I will do things slightly differently. This is the first year where I have reviewed albums exclusively on my blog. As such, everything in this list will have been reviewed by me at some point in the year on the Blog of Much Metal. Therefore, I shall keep these posts quite short, adding a brief commentary about my thoughts on the album some days, weeks or months on from their release. In addition, I will quote a passage from the review, with links to the full article and, where possible, will include different sample tracks, possibly different photos too – we’ll see how I get on with that.
As always, I love the banter that this series initiates – please keep it coming. I know that there will be some releases that don’t feature that you think should and vice versa. Let me know what you think as we go along & hopefully get some debate going in the process.
There are also links to the previous series from 2012-2015 at the bottom of this post, so if you’re new to these and you’re intrigued by my choices from other years, feel free to check them out.
Ok, on that note, let’s get down to it. From this point on, there’s no going back…
“…above all, when all is said and done, who doesn’t like a good dose of feel-good, memorable music that perhaps doesn’t require a huge amount of effort to enjoy? Sometimes, we’ve all got to rock out, yes? Sometimes, we all need to hear something that you can sing in the shower, yes? Well, in that case, there’s no one better than Amaranthe.
Once again, the sextet has delivered an excellent album that will almost certainly hit all the right notes in the live arena. ‘Maximalism’ demonstrates yet again that Amaranthe are consummate professionals at writing and performing music that is succinct, powerful and infectious as hell. Amaranthe are no longer a guilty pleasure; they’re simply a pleasure.”
After a few initial misgivings, I really grew to like this polished and pristine slab of modern melodic metal from Amaranthe. As the quotes above indicate, ‘Maximalism’ is big on excess, be it in the form of huge choruses, over-the-top vocals or the massive mainstream pop influences.
I accept that Amaranthe is a love or hate band but I’m a lover – the whole thing is so damn catchy that it is almost impossible not to get swept up in it. So why is it not higher in my top 30? Good question.
The answer, quite simply and honestly, is that it is a victim of an impossibly strong year where I have been inundated with superb music left, right and centre. Another year, ‘Maximalism’ may have found itself within my top 20 or higher. But as it is, as excellent as it is, it only just sneaks into the list. But don’t let that put you off – ‘Maximalism’ is a great record, deserving of your attention.
And from previous years: