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The 20 Most Anticipated Metal Albums of 2016

The metal renaissance looks to be alive and thriving this year

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With our Most Anticipated list of 2015, Jon Hadusek and I found ourselves amazed by the fresh spirit and incredible output behind this decade’s metal renaissance, and now, come 2016, we barely feel any different. Independent labels are growing with phenomenally talented acts, more prominent bands are feeling the pressure to put out their best work to prove they’ve still got whatever it was that made us fall in love with them in the first place, and the metal community is growing all the more inclusive, progressive, and hell, even caring (Check out #MetalBandcampGiftClub on Twitter for living proof).

This year’s list contains many bands whose names we already know very well, as well as several destined to rise among the ranks with their second or third albums. However, be sure not to take this list as one definitively predicting the best metal albums of the year. 2016 will surely have its surprises as well as its disappointments, and there are likely dozens of upcoming releases not on this list that we’ll have to return to sometime this year. Just look at the discrepancies between our 20 Most Anticipated, Top 10 (So Far), and our Top 25 lists last year! Those discrepancies are what make these lists worth crafting, and it’s the bright-eyed and eager feeling we get for all these albums below that inspires the deep passion we have for this genre.

–Sean Barry,
Staff Writer

Low Flying Hawks – Kofuku

Low Flying Hawks
Release Date: February 16th via Magnetic Eye

This mysterious post-metal duo from Mexico are about to release one of 2016’s best debut albums. Kofuku (produced by Toshi Kasai) finds the elusive middle ground between the drones of Sunn O))) and the melody of Deftones, all delayed guitars and dreamy atmospheres. My promo copy has been stuck in my car stereo all winter, a pleasant soundtrack to the Midwest snows and icy commutes. It’s a record for metalheads and shoegazers alike. –Jon Hadusek

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Vektor – Terminal Redux

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Release Date: March 11th via Earache

Vektor’s fourth album, Terminal Redux, follows Black Future and Outer Isolation — two of the strongest technical thrash releases this side of Rust in Peace — so the hype here is justified. “The final phases of our master plan are now complete,” read a Facebook post from last September. “The sonic wavelengths of guitars, bass, drums, and vocals have now been committed to the astral plane.” Quality thrash has waned with the surge in slow and atmospheric metal, but Vektor are proudly carrying the genre forward. –Jon Hadusek

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The Body – No One Deserves Happiness and One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache

The Body by The Body

Release Dates: March 18th/25th via Thrill Jockey/Neurot Recordings

By this point, it shouldn’t be too surprising that we’re getting new material from The Body this year. For the past five years, the experimental noise and doom duo out of Portland have released a string of well-executed collaborative albums (see: last year’s You, Whom I Have Always Hated with Thou or their collaboration with Krieg, as well as 2014’s I Shall Die Here produced by The Haxan Cloak), as well as shape-shifting LPs of their own that can always be expected to offer something new (see the difference between 2010’s horrific All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood and 2013’s more ritualistic Christs, Redeemers). This year, we can expect both a full-length solo LP in the form of No One Deserves Happiness, which has been dubbed “the grossest pop album of all time,” as well as a collaboration with harsh grind pioneers Full of Hell called One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache. If you haven’t caught on to The Body yet, now’s the time; and if you have, this is likely the year you’ll develop tinnitus. –Sean Barry

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Boris with Merzbow – Gensho

boris merzbow

Release Date: March 18th via Relapse

The Japanese metal/noise collab to rule them all. Expanding on their experimental history, droning post-metallers Boris and noise icon Merzbow return together next month with Gensho, a double album that reinvents some of the former’s classics on the first disc while introducing the latter’s newest work on the second and encourages the interweaving of the two through simultaneous playing “so that the listener can experience their own ‘gensho/phenomenon’ every time.” It’s sure to be a fascinating listen for fans of both as well as for newcomers. –Sean Barry

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Blood Ceremony – Lord of Misrule

blood ceremony
Photo by Ester Segarra

Release Date: March 25th via Rise Above

Occult rockers Blood Ceremony will return this year to charm us all again along the left-hand path, with their acid-soaked brand of flute-infused psychedelia. If label mates Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats were meant to score some late ’60s grindhouse horror film, Blood Ceremony would be the bewitching secret society terrorizing the small town in said film. –Sean Barry

Mantar – Ode to the Flame

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Release Date: April 15th via Nuclear Blast

This German two-piece absolutely rips, and they’ll drop their new album in April on Nuclear Blast. It’s a major leap for Mantar, whose 2014 debut, Death by Burning (which saw a low-key release on Svart), perked the right ears with its onslaught of sludgy riffs. That album didn’t break out of the underground, but talent like this won’t go unnoticed for long. –Jon Hadusek

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Electric Citizen – Higher Time

Electric Citizen
Photo by Jon Hadusek

Release Date: April via RidingEasy

April can’t come soon enough. “Evil”, the lead single from Electric Citizen’s sophomore album, is a hook-laden ripper — all swagger, just like their fiery live performances. Frontwoman Laura Dolan is one of the best in the business, and she sounds fantastic on this recording, wailing over heavy organs and a chugging riff. Electric Citizen have the most breakout potential of all the young bands on this list, and with songs this good, they deserve to blow up. –Jon Hadusek

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Kvelertak – TBD

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Photo by Stian Andersen

Release Date: Spring via Roadrunner

Norway’s impassioned hard rockers are set to return this year with another kinetic black ‘n’ roll album that’s sure to be as catchy as it will be exhilarating. 2013’s Meir was rightfully lauded for its brawling attitude and relentless fun, and Kvelertak is sure to deliver this spring with another entry into their kick-ass oeuvre that shows how much fun metal can actually be. –Sean Barry

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Deftones – TBD

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Release Date: April 8th via Warner Bros.

Deftones’ eighth studio album and the follow-up to Koi No Yokan was originally slated for last September, but the band held off to spend more time perfecting it. Now, the album is finished, and guitarist Stephen Carpenter recently confirmed an early April release date. The moody, melancholic vibes of Koi No Yokan and Chino Moreno’s work in his highly underrated side-project Palms hint that Deftones are moving into even more ambitious territories with their blissful metal. –Jon Hadusek

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Gojira – TBD

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Photo by Lim Sang

Release Date: Spring via Roadrunner

French progressive metal band Gojira will release their follow-up to 2012’s L’enfant sauvage this spring. The brothers Joe and Mario Duplantier have been busy not only recording the new album, but physically building a studio to record it in. Constructed by hand in Queens, Silver Cord Studio will be open to the public in the near future, offering rehearsal and practice spaces, as well as recording packages. Gojira have always supported a positive, environmentalist message through their music, so it’s no surprise that the Duplantiers intend to give back and share their creation with the community. –Jon Hadusek

Dimmu Borgir – TBD

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Release Date: Summer/Fall via Nuclear Blast

Nearly six years after releasing Abrahadabra, the Michael Bay equivalent of symphonic black metal albums, Norwegian titans Dimmu Borgir return this year with what undoubtedly will be another heavily orchestrated and overblown work of theatrics set to melodic riffs and blast beats, and we can’t wait. Inside every metalhead, there exists a craving for the gaudy and ostentatious, where metal’s deep-rooted love for all that is gothic and dramatic is unrestrained and allowed to thrive as if the world portrayed in Metalocalpyse were reality and bands like Dethklok could become the biggest band in the world thanks to their own self-aggrandizing and affinity for being over-the-top all the time. Dimmu Borgir satisfies that craving all too well. –Sean Barry

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The Well – TBD

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Photo by Jon Hadusek

Release Date: Late 2016 via RidingEasy

Austin heavy psych trio The Well are in the writing process for their sophomore album and should be ready to record in the coming months. 2014’s doomy Samsara stands as one of the genre’s finest offerings, featuring both massive riffs and the eerie harmonies of Lisa Alley and Ian Graham. Nobody sounds like The Well, and the scene has taken notice, with the band landing a set at the now legendary Psycho California fest last May, a supporting slot on Kadavar’s tour, and an opening slot for Roky Erikson to end 2015. –Jon Hadusek

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Suma – The Order of Things

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Release Date: TBD

Sweden’s sludgiest are hard at work on their fourth album, recording with Billy Anderson at his studio in Portland. That means it will sound fucking great (some of Anderson’s recent credits include Bell Witch’s Four Phantoms and Pallbearer’s Foundations of Burden). Suma has flown under the radar with some excellent material — they’ve actually been around since 2001 — so hopefully this new album with a big-time producer will spark some long-deserved interest in the band. –Jon Hadusek

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Mutilation Rites – TBD

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Release Date: TBD via Gilead Media

Blazing and brutal, Mutilation Rites is one of the roughest and filthiest black metal bands to come out of the United States, and it’s with great excitement that we look forward to their third album this year from Gilead Media. 2014’s Harbinger found the band’s violence and ruthlessness polished somewhat (thanks to some superb production), and yet, thankfully, none of their ferocity was withheld. Now among extreme metal greats like False, Yellow Eyes, and Thou, the band should be free to further explore their merciless and progressive tendencies. –Sean Barry

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Cough – TBD

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Release Date: Fall via Relapse

Cough will make their return this fall on Relapse. It’s been slow going for the Virginia doom band, with bassist Parker Chandler also playing bass for Windhand, who just completed their album cycle for Grief’s Infernal Flower. That means more time for Chandler to concentrate on Cough. If the band’s set at Psycho California last May is any indication, they’ve only gotten heavier. –Jon Hadusek

Neurosis – TBD

Neurosis2015Band
Release Date: TBD via Neurot Recordings

The bastions of sludge hit the studio to record a new album with Steve Albini in late December, so here’s hoping the recordings make it out in 2016. It feels like forever ago since 2012’s Honor Found in Decay, and Neurosis fans are growing antsy for new material. In the meantime, guitarist and vocalist Scott Kelly has teamed up with Sanford Parker (Buried at Sea) to form Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, and they’re dropping an album (release date TBD) on Neurot Recordings in the coming months. It’s setting up to be a big year for Kelly and the Neurosis camp. –Jon Hadusek

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Greenbeard – TBD

greenbeard The 20 Most Anticipated Metal Albums of 2016
Release Date: TBD

The Austin scene is always churning out quality heavy music, and like The Well and Sweat Lodge last year, Greenbeard is poised to break out. Their self-released debut, Stoned at the Throne, barely missed the cut on our 2015 year-end list, and the band will record new material in Seattle later this year with Matt Bayles (The Sword, Isis, Mastodon, Minus the Bear). The band also have a slot on the stacked bill alongside Pentagram, Bongzilla, and Weedeater for American Icon Records’ Heavy Metal Parking Lot 3, set for SXSW weekend. Kyuss and QotSA fans take note: Vocalist/guitarist Chance Parker sounds remarkably like Josh Homme, and he has a similar penchant for pop hooks and earworm riffs. I expect big things from Greenbeard in 2016 and beyond. –Jon Hadusek

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Om – TBD

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Release Date: TBD via Drag City

Following up the immensity of Advaitic Songs is no easy task, so it’s understandable that Om have taken their longest break between albums. Also, Al Cisneros has been more involved with Sleep and playing shows with both his bands. No complaints here. While I expect an Om album in 2016, I wouldn’t be surprised if the band spends even more time on this one. –Jon Hadusek

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Pallbearer – TBD

Pallbearer-2014

Release Date: TBD via Profound Lore

Following up 2014’s greatest metal album is a mighty task, but Pallbearer is a mighty band. Foundations of Burden found the Little Rock quartet exploring the depths of human sorrow with hooks and warmth and sometimes a little optimism. Just a few days ago, the band started posting pictures of themselves working tirelessly in the studio on their Instagram, and it took this writer those few days to move beyond “hands raised in celebration” emojis and put his excitement into actual words. Social media’s hype machine aside, Pallbearer’s upcoming album is sure to impress as it explores untrodden doom metal soil. –Sean Barry

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Tool – TBD

Tool-band
Release Date: TBD

Truthfully, Tool could have been included on any list of this ilk for the past decade and found themselves topping each and every one of them. Our own Jon Hadusek wrote on how the band’s self-imposed elusiveness and frustratingly high level of perfectionism is doing little but hype their 5th LP to the highest degree, and it seems that this year we might actually see its release. And even if we don’t, let’s be honest here, how surprised would we really be? In any case, Tool’s trademarked mind-bending prog metal is currently traversing the southern half of the country this month, thereby whetting our anticipation to a remarkable level worth its weight in all this conjecture. –Sean Barry

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