What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment. Having spent the last month counting down my favourite 30 albums of 2016, I thought that it would be a great idea to shine the spotlight on the best individual songs of 2016.
If you’re interested in checking out my top 30 albums of 2016, here’s the link:
These songs are in no particular order, except my first choice below, which has turned into my anthem of the year, the song that I have been far and away most obsessed with.
So here goes:
Borknagar – Winter Thrice
This is my song of the year without any shadow of doubt. When I first heard it even ahead of receiving the promo, I listened to it about five times back-to-back. And it was around midnight. That should tell you something about it.
The four vocalists, the huge melodies, the extreme bombastic sections, the atmospheres and the lyrical content…this song has it all. It is arguably the most perfect and accessible extreme metal song of the year, if not longer. Even now, I get the urge to listen to it from out of nowhere and when I placate the cravings, I enjoy it as much now as I did at the very beginning.
Katatonia – Takeover
The masters of dark melancholy had to feature on this list somewhere. There are many contenders but it has to be ‘Takeover’. It is an exquisitely-crafted piece of music that sums up Katatonia perfectly for me. The bleakness, the serenity and the feelings of darkness, loneliness, despair and anger are all encapsulated here. The ebb and flow as well as a bittersweet recurring melody make it an addictive listen.
Haken – Earthrise
The sound of my ringtone for the last few months, I love the gorgeously melodic opening and the way in which this track has a refreshing positivity about it. Others might have chosen ‘1985’ or ‘The Architect’. However, it is this track that puts me in a good mood and gives me goosebumps the most.
Maschine – Make Believe
This was the first song on this impressive album that gave me the chills and had that ‘wow’ factor for me immediately. The entire album is staggeringly good with time but this track remains the stand-out for me. I love the almost ethereal female vocals and the strong melodies, as well as the dark undercurrent that accompanies this sumptuous piece.
Odd Logic – Lighthouses
Like an oasis of calm in an intense progressive metal concept album, ‘Lighthouses’ is a luxurious neo-prog-meets-AOR-meets pop workout with serene melodies and expressive lead guitar work. It’s beautiful and begs to be repeated.
Enbound – Feel My Flame
Quite frankly, this is the ultimate melodic metal track. Nothing in 2016 even came close and I seriously wonder when a contender will challenge for the honour. I hope there will be something in 2017, but I’m not convinced. It is just so damn catchy with one of the most upbeat and catchy choruses I’ve heard in a long, long time.
Big Big Train – Brooklands
On an album where there are some many strong compositions, this is, for me, the very best. The way in which the music so eloquently fits the subject matter and then also delivers one of the stand-out melodies of the year. What a cracking song.
Witherscape – Marionette
I love the way in which this song builds from quiet beginnings with clean softly delivered vocals before erupting with a massive catchy chorus. The fact that the music explodes with a keyboard drenched AOR-esque chorus overlaid by guttural death vocals is inspired and just adds to the sense of the epic.
Evergrey – Disconnect
Given that it is my number one album of the year, Evergrey had to have a representative here. So many options but I have plumped for a slow-burner that has become my favourite track on the album. It comes out of the blocks with heavy intent before opening up into one of the most cinematic and epic tracks on the album. It brings something new whilst being faithful to the old days and the vocals from Tom are just so impassioned. Killer.
Frost* – First Day
It might be a tad controversial to pick an intro song as one of my favourites of the year, particularly when it is only around 90 seconds in length. However, I find it a hugely rich and emotional piece of music. It sets the tone for the album perfectly, but it moves me too – to the point when I press repeat frequently.
Sadly, I can find no link to embed, so you’ll have to buy the album or just trust my opinion!
Airbag – Broken
When I first listened to ‘Disconnected’ by Airbag, I was convinced that the opening track, ‘Killer’ would feature on this list. As it turns out, as good as that song is, ‘Broken’ has become even more captivating to me. The poignant and heartbreaking lyrical content marries with some of the most beautifully elegant music to create something very special and rather moving in the process.
Alcest – Onyx
To quote my review: “Given the effects, sounds and textures at play, this instrumental track is claustrophobic, dark and menacing, verging on noise at times. However, underneath the apparent tumult is a softer, more haunting and somber underbelly that sends shivers down my spine every time I listen. The melody conveys such loneliness, emptiness and melancholy that it strikes straight at my heart.” I stand by every word. This is spine-chilling.