Hellbound’s End of Year Wrap Up: Part 4
Well, hell’s bells – 2016 was a hellride of a year, wasn’t it?! As the New Year comes creeping in with trepidation, the individual members of Team Hellbound take a look back at our favourites of the year, give our personal thoughts on the state of heavy metal in 2016, and take a look forward at what’s to come.
As always, we here at Hellbound thank you all for your continued readership, and we wish you a very headbanging Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Happy Holidays from Hellbound!
— Kyle Harcott
Best Metal Albums of 2016
1. Margo Price – Midwest Farmer’s Daughter (Third Man Records)
That’s right kids, there is a country-music record at the top of my list. Let’s set aside the fact that the closest thing you’ll hear to hard rock on the radio is often played on the “hot country” station nowadays—this is not one of those records, either. Price, an Illinois transplant to East Nashville, tackles the traditional country themes of drinking, hard living and relationships gone wrong with a traditional country backing band (that sometimes veers toward vintage funk/soul) and delivers a collection of songs that have resonated with me more than anything else I’ve heard this year. And hey, this is my list, so fuck you.
2. Superjoint – Caught Up in the Gears of the Application (Housecore Recxords)
Pantera was never much of a political band, sticking to the tried-and-true themes of drinking beer and kicking ass. Ditto Down, where Anselmo more typically tackled addiction, depression and the darker side of southern living. But after being publicly shamed for a boneheaded racist stunt, Anselmo takes on public shaming and online outrage culture with Superjoint (Ritual)’s comeback record. Throw in some vicious Jimmy Bower riffs and vintage hardcore breakdowns, and the end result really puts a banner year for internet outrage in perspective.
3. Neurosis – Fires Within Fires (Neurot Records)
Neurosis is still going strong after 30 years—by my humble estimation, Fires Within Fires is their best album since the 90’s!
4. La Chinga – Free Wheelin’ (Small Stone Records)
My top Canadian LP of 2016 goes to these Vancouver retro rockers. Man, if rock ‘n roll was still relevant, these guys would be huge!
5. Valley of the Sun – Volume Rock (Fuzzorama Records)
It was pretty much a toss up between this record and La Chinga’s, as they both have a similar heavy-rockin’ sound. I had to give the edge to La Chinga cuz they’re Canadian, but I wouldn’t sleep on Valley of the Sun, either!
6. Gruesome – Dimensions of Horror (Relapse)
Now here’s a band after my own black heart! With six tracks clocking in just shy of 20 minutes, this is really more of an EP… but it’s all killer, no filler, old-school death metal! They’ve even got a song called “Hellbound” on here, which pretty much seals the deal.
7. Fistula – Longing for Infection (PATAC Records)
These Cleveland vets offered up one of the most caustic sludge patters of the year, a dish served equally fast and slow… and incredibly potent, either way ya slice it!
8. Cough – Still They Pray (Relapse)
Trimming some of the fat helped this Virginia outfit deliver us their most dynamic, deadly, doom effort to date.
9. Sithter – Chaotic Fiend (Bonten Records)
This no-name Japanese band (how do you even pronounce that!?) completely caught me off guard. If the bastard son of Coffins and Church of Misery was raised on a steady diet of Sabbath, Sleep and EHG, it would come off sounding something like this.
10. Agoraphobic Nosebleed – Arc (EP) (Relapse)
Although this one’s just three tracks, it’s still over seven minutes longer than Gruesome’s Dimensions of Horror, so I don’t feel bad about including it. Arc was the first offering of 2016 to catch my ear, and these three heavy, sludgy tunes still have staying power nearly 12 months later. Hey, who expected a sludge record from Agoraphobic Nosebleed in the first place!?
Favourite Album-Cover Art of 2016:
Electric Magma’s Silver Ball has a cool, cosmic, pinball-themed cover. Plus, it’s got my name in the liner notes. 😉
Best gigs I attended in 2016:
PSYCHO LAS VEGAS. Hands fucking down. Don’t think we’ll ever see a stoner/doom fest of that caliber in North America again… although I’m still waiting on the full lineup for 2017.
Favourite physical-copy album I purchased in 2016:
Acid King’s Vegas set was unmercifully cut short, but the t-shirt I bought from them was pretty badass… Oh, and that Brujeria shirt with Donald Trump’s face getting slashed by a machete.
Most anticipated album for 2017:
I think I said the same thing for 2016, but Sleep is actually supposed to be entering the studio next year. Not sure if they’ll be able to recapture the magic after so many years without any new material (save one largely forgettable single), but I’ve definitely got an eye out for this one.
My 2016 in Metal:
In many ways, 2016 felt like the year shit really hit the fan—both within and outside of the metal scene. But looking back, my most memorable metal experience is going to be Psycho fest. You had a whole horde of headbangers (and more than a few hipsters) take over a Las Vegas resort for an entire weekend, peacefully co-existing in heavy riffs and harmony. Perhaps those Matt Pike for President memes actually had a point!
What you’re looking forward to in 2017, metal-wise or otherwise
Fuck man, I don’t even know. I’m half-hoping that the lineup for Psycho LV at least somewhat lives up to last year, giving me another reason to get away. I am digging the fact that Udo Dirkscheider is touring with a vintage all-Accept set—I’ll be checking that out in early January. I guess I just hope for more great shows and more great records in 2017. Can’t we all just get along!?
Biggest Loss to Metal in 2016
Could there be a bigger loss this year than Lemmy? That’s almost like asking who’d win an arm-wrestling match between Lemmy and God…
“Metal Person of the Year”
First name that comes to mind is Phil Anselmo. Hey, TIME once gave its Person of the Year to Hitler—of course that’s a terrible comparison, and I hate the “Anyone who disagrees with me is Hitler” crowd as much as anyone, but hear me out. The dude was responsible for one of the first major fuck-ups of the year, pre-dating the alt-right uprising and everything. But after taking it on the chin from everyone and their Facebook friends, he gets right down to brass tacks and writes an exceptional record about public shaming and online echo chambers, hitting the nail squarely on the head like the blow to that sucka’s face on the Vulgar Display of Power cover. I don’t think I’ve heard an album that captures the overall mood of 2016 as much as Superjoint’s latest… and in this case, I sure ain’t about to nominate a country singer for Metal Person of the Year! 😛