Welcome to day 24 of my annual ‘Album of the Year – top 30 countdown’.
Thank you everyone for the absolutely wonderful support throughout this series. It is a list that I put a lot of effort in to because I want the bands and albums featured to have one final and well-deserved moment in the spotlight.
Remember that this end of year list is not an exercise in rewarding those already successful acts in the hope that I draw more attention to my blog. It is a list of 30 albums that I have heard in 2016 that have had a positive impact on me. Some are unsigned, some are debut albums and others are delivered at the hands of more well-known household names. But they all have that one thing in common – they are full of superb music that has made 2016 a better year for me.
If you’ve missed any of my previous posts in this series, please check out the links at the bottom of this page. There are also links to my similar countdowns from previous years, so feel free to check them out too and let me know what you think.
And now all that’s out of the way, here’s today’s choice at number 7…
Century Media Records
“In a nutshell, ‘Atoma’ is just about the perfect blend of the catchiness and immediacy of ‘Haven’ or ‘Character’, the more extreme elements found within ‘We Are The Void’ or ‘Construct’ and the more atmospheric and rich sounds of ‘Projector’, an album which remains a firm favourite to this day. Allow me to elaborate just a touch.
The title track begins with an electronic melody before bursting into life. ‘Oh mama, Stanne has brought back his clean vocals’ I exclaim with barely contained joy on a first spin, having sorely missed this ingredient in recent years. The chosen vocal delivery immediately provides a wonderful ‘Projector’ feel, one of my favourite albums from the strong discography.
Just when I thought 2016 couldn’t get any better, up pops Dark Tranquillity to send me into a spin of emotion and elation. As I said at the outset, Dark Tranquillity have always been very important to me. However, what ‘Atoma’ does so wonderfully, is draw all of their key ingredients together into one 12-track album to create a thrill-ride of expertly-crafted, engaging and elegant melodic death metal. My love for Dark Tranquillity has been well and truly cemented and right now, I can’t think of a better band within this particular genre. They helped to create it, they have helped to shape it and now, in 2016, Dark Tranquillity have proved that they are still, unquestionably, the masters of melodic death metal.”
Once again, I have quoted my review and left little need for significant embellishment as they pretty much say it all. However, despite Dark Tranquillity’s eleventh album being a relative latecomer to this year’s competition, there was never any doubt it would find a place in this list.
As my review explains, Dark Tranquillity hold a special place in my heart but that alone would not be enough for it to feature here. It adds a certain ingredient to the mix but the music has to be sufficiently strong first and foremost. And on that score, Dark Tranquillity have excelled. A month or two down the line from its release and I am beginning to firmly believe that this could be their best release within an already strong back catalogue.
I was always a sucker for the ‘Projector’ era with the clean vocals from Stanne, but I have also enjoyed their heavier, more extreme side. ‘Atoma’ is the perfect blend of both but it all comes together so smoothly and expertly to leave the listener in no doubt that they belong together. In fact, when dovetailed together like this, both of the distinct elements sound somehow more striking and powerful.
And then, as always, the album delivers strong grooves and sumptuous melodies, adding that irresistibly playful and memorable magic. I have lost count of the number of times I have listened to ‘Atoma’ and I adore it as much now as I did at the beginning. And those I meet when I take the dog out for a walk must know when I’m engrossed in ‘Atoma’ because I’m nodding my head, singing along and smiling broadly. That’s the magic of Dark Tranquillity and that’s why ‘Atoma’, for me, is the best melodeath album of the year in the face of some exceptionally strong competition.
In case you’ve missed any of the other posts in the 2016 series, here they are for you to explore and enjoy:
Album of the Year 2016 – number 8
Album of the Year 2016 – number 9
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 10
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 11
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 12
Album of the Year 2016 – number 13
Album of the Year 2016 – number 14
Album of the Year 2016 – number 15
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2016 – number 17
Album of the Year 2016 – number 18
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2016 – number 20
Album of the Year 2016 – number 21
Album of the Year 2016 – number 22
Album of the Year 2016 – number 23
Album of the Year 2016 – number 24
Album of the Year 2016 – number 25
Album of the Year 2016 – number 26
Album of the Year 2016 – number 27
Album of the Year 2016 – number 28
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 30
And from previous years: