The 20 Most Anticipated Metal Albums of 2016

The metal renaissance looks to be alive and thriving this year


    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

    Vektor – Terminal Redux

    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

    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

    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

    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

    mantar (1)
    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

    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

    Kvelertak – TBD


    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

    Deftones – TBD

    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

    Gojira – TBD


    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