Not all our Canadian favourites made it to this year’s top ten list (hellbound.ca/2016/12/hellbounds-top-10-canadian-albums-2016). For that reason we share with you here the top Canadian metal picks from each of the Hellbound writers who chimed in for our end-of-year Canadian metal ‘best of’.
Hellbounders’ Canadian picks of 2016: the individual lists
1. La Chinga – Free Wheelin’
2. TMHM – Stage Names
3. Ayahuasca – Yin
4. Anciients – Voice of the Void
5. Blood Ceremony – Lord of Misrule
6. Warsnake – self-titled
7. Electric Magma – Silver Ball
8. Gypsy Chief Goliath – Citizens of Nowhere
9. Ol’ Time Moonshine – The Apocalypse Trilogies
10. Comet Control – Center of the Maze
1. Anciients, Voice of the Void (Season of Mist)
2. Gorguts, Pleiades’ Dust (Season of Mist)
3. Voivod, Post Society (Century Media)
4. Blood Ceremony, Lord of Misrule (Rise Above)
5. Untimely Demise, Black Widow (self-released)
6. Cauchemar, Chapelle Ardente (Nuclear War Now)
7. Cauldron, In Ruin (Earache)
8. Striker, Stand in the Fire (self-released)
9. Devin Townsend Project, Transcendence (InsideOut)
10. Gatekrashör, Revenge at Midnight (self-released)
Jay H. Gorania
1. Voivod – Post Society (Century Media)
2. Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust (Season of Mist)
3. Anciients – Voice from the Void (Season of Mist)
4. A.M.S.G – Hostis Universi Generis (Profound Lore)
5. Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence (HevyDevy Records)
6. Blood Ceremony – Lord of Misrule (Rise Above)
Fuck, the hosers were doing it right this year. I am especially proud to see such a great host of British Columbia bands putting out some great records this year. So many great bands right here in our own backyard. Must be something in the water, eh?
Spell (Vancouver, BC) – For None and All (Bad Omen Records)
Spell are one of those special bands who wear their influences like a shiny badge, but they deftly manage to blaze their own trail while paying homage to a sound older than any of the members. Cam Mesmer’s voice alone, reminiscent of classic Geddy, sets them well apart from the pack. Catchy as fuck, eerie as hell, and an album I found myself going back to again and again.
Gomorrah (Kelowna, BC) – The Haruspex (Test Your Metal Records)
Incredibly ambitious death metal that recalls the aural assault of Anaal Nathrakh, Gomorrah have knocked it out of the park with The Haruspex. Barely-controlled chaos that sweeps like an Okanagan thunderstorm, this one caught me seriously offside. One of the best progressive death metal albums of 2016.
Holocaust Lord (Victoria, BC) – Violence Beyond Death (Barbarian Wrath Records)
Raw, ripping black metal from Ross Bay that takes inspiration from old D666 and Venom. Holocaust Lord bring the kind of fist-in-your-face oldschool blackened thrash that doesn’t think about much beyond getting ripped, and ripping up your shit. Chug a few beer and bang along with wrathful fury, eh.
A.M.S.G. (Edmonton, AB) – Hostis Universi Generis (Profound Lore)
Gargantuan, consciousness-corrupting black metal that is as ambitious as it is all-negating. Swirling, sweeping riffs surrounded by a creeping malevolence constructed to set the listener off-kilter. Discombobulating and wondrous in its ruination.
Medevil (Chilliwack, BC) – Conductor of Storms (Independent)
Do you remember the first you felt empowered by sound of heavy metal? That fist-in-the-air, “Fuck yeah!” feeling? Medevil does; these young bucks from Chilliwack pack a punch with their technical power-metal. Liam Collingwood’s vocals, a raspy bark recalling Udo and Biff Byford, are alone worth the price of admission. Keep an eye on these dudes.
Chthe’ilist (Longueil, QC) – Le Dernier Crépuscle (Profound Lore)
Well, I don’t know much about who sounds like what, or what influences Chthe’ilist apparently wear on their sleeve, but I know what I like. This chokes with smoke-cloaked riffs sporting vocals buried in all sorts of cemetery filth. Grim and gross and grimy, and I love it.
Begrime Exemious (Edmonton, AB) – The Enslavement Conquest (Dark Descent Records)
On their 3rd full-length, Begrime Exemious churn out a brutal homage to the best apocalyptic death metal of the 1990s, even throwing down a grotty Incantation cover. Claustrophobic, martial, and vicious, The Enslavement Conquest is a violent look back at where death metal came from.
Anciients (Mission, BC) – Voice of the Void – (Season of Mist)
Anciients have outdone themselves with the sophomore effort, crafting an album progressively reminiscent of their first, but with an increased urgency that takes a darker, heavier left-turn from the hopefulness of debut Heart of Oak. True to their form, though, these riffs still run circles around most bands’.
Bushwhacker (Vancouver, BC) – The False Dilemma (Independent)
Progressive death metal usually leaves me cold, but when it’s done well, I can’t deny its power to crush skulls. Bushwhacker, with their forward-thinking riffs a la Cormorant, was one hell of a surprise to me. It’s prog, but not the kind of wheedling for wheedling’s sake that usually bores me to tears. Sharp and clever.
Black Wizard (New Westminster, BC) – New Waste (Listenable Records)
Ditchweed-and-Pilsner-soaked riffs from some of the lower mainland’s finest, but here’s the trick that stoner metal so often fails to live up to: New Waste is catchy as fuck. The Wiz knows how to fire up them Thin Lizzy harmonics like nobody’s business and keep the party going.
1. Blood Ceremony: Lord of Misrule
2. Forteresse: Thèmes pour la rebellion
3. Chthe’ilist: Le dernier crepuscule
4. A.M.S.G: Hostis Universi Generis
5. Phobocosm: Bringer of Drought
6. Sanctuaire: Le sang sur l’acier
7. Wake: Sowing the Seeds of a Worthless Tomorrow
8. Sorcier des Glaces: North
9. Nadja: The Stone Is Not Hit by the Sun, Nor Carved with a Knife
10. Begrime Exemious: The Enslavement Conquest
Honourable Mentions: Dopethrone – 1312 EP, La Chinga – Free Wheelin’, Thrawsunblat – Metachthonia, The Night Watch – Boundaries, Panzerfaust – The Lucifer Principle
10. Domestikwom – Pater Vita EP (self-released)
Domestikwom is a one man black metal project from Jonathan Petkau. I like to think “domestikwom” means “pet cow” in a language I don’t know. But this isn’t a funny EP. It’s admirably bleak and cut with electronic touches and somewhat morose spoken word. The atmosphere is spread thick over the dynamic whole. This project has plenty of potential. Wait, were those horns?
9. Harangue – No New Prey (Pluto Records)
I’ve been repping Harangue since Day One, yes. But this TOHC crew continues to impress. No New Prey shows an increased range while still managing to piledrive the listener into paralysis. Well, at least you’ll be paralyzed after moshing like a madman to their take on ‘90s Hardcore. I can still hear those little hints of Helmet too. This band is underappreciated to say the least.
8. Black Wizard – New Waste (Listenable)
Who doesn’t love a good riff? I know I do. Black Wizard do too. So they packed New Waste with riffs. Of the stoner rock kind. I’ve passed a joint and drank beers with these guys so I know their laid-back-but-edgy sonic aesthetic isn’t a put on. Some good times were had in 2016 getting wasted with New Waste!
7. Forteresse – Thèmes pour la Rébellion (Sepulchral)
I can be pretty picky with my black metal but I like this kind. Depraved vocals, soaring tremolos blazing across dark skies, and jackhammer percussion. It’s relentless and epic if not exactly original. Originality is hard come by while staying within genre boundaries but when done this well it doesn’t matter. It’s one of my favourite black metal albums of the year, Canadian or otherwise.
6. Olde – Shallow Graves EP (self-released)
Do you like Eyehategod, Buzzov*en, -(16)-, Bongzilla, Crowbar and other sludge acts of that ilk? Then you’ll like Olde. They’ve got an LP coming out on STB next year but this year’s EP is enough to satiate even the biggest Olde appetite. Gravelly vocals, endless killer riffs, tone for days and an all-star cast from the Toronto scene. What more do you want? How about a Motörhead cover? DONE. Besides, have you seen how cool those motherfuckers look in their bandcamp cover photo? DOOM ON!!!
5. Begrime Exemious – The Enslavement Conquest (Dark Descent)
I can get picky with my death metal too (note the lack of Chthe’ilist, Auroch or Phobocosm) but I’ve no problem with the raw, raging death of Begrime Exemious. They’ve got the kind of old school, foot to the floor approach that causes concussions and makes chiropractors see dollar signs. I really should get a copy of this on CD but it might make driving dangerous. Oops. Just ordered the t-shirt bundle.
4. Astrakhan – Reward in Purpose (War on Music)
Like their Vancouver brethren Anciients, Astrakhan can be classed as progressive sludge. Astrakhan however replace the former’s deathly edge with an almost doomy feel. And more melody than you can shake a stick at. But their real game changer is the vocals. Toth and Zawistowski soar and scream and harmonize and raise the album above the considerable heights achieved musically. The reward here is letting the album consume you.
3. Public Animal – Palace Arms (Yeah Right!)
I knew a couple of Public Animal songs before I saw them play with Olde. And I was somewhat familiar with Bionic and C’Mon. But now nothing makes me feel as good as Palace Arms. It’s an instant pickmeup. Ian Blurton is a national treasure. Caitlin Dacey is as wondrous as DisneyWorld fireworks. Eric Larock and Ryan Gassi are the rhythm section sent from the gods. Palace Arms is psychedelic garage/prog rock fire to fall in love with.
2. Blood Ceremony – Lord of Misrule (Rise Above)
I literally cannot get enough of this album. Keys, flute and all. Alia O’Brien is incomparable. But that wouldn’t mean a thing if the band didn’t rock like they do. Vintage occult rock virtually without equal. Their spell over me cannot be broken. There hasn’t been a single moment since I got the promo that I didn’t want to listen to and absorb this. Captivating doesn’t even scratch the surface. And my kids don’t run away when I play it.
1. Anciients – Voice of the Void (Season of Mist)
Recently someone commented that Voice of the Void is soulless and boring. I don’t want what they’re smoking because I find this soulful and exciting. The multi-faceted vocals are spectacular, the solos deliver all the goods and the prog on display is well-crafted and balanced with the crushing sludge. This is only their second full-length, man. You could say they haven’t even hit their stride yet as you know, that’s kind of the point of progression. This is even better than Heart of Oak so I’m really looking forward to loving what’s next even more.
1. Anciients – Voice of the Void (Season of Mist)
2. Chthe’ilist – Le Dernier Crépuscule (Profound Lore Records)
Death metal is a pretty common extreme genre now a days but it takes guts, dedication and chops, to create something unique. And that’s just what these gents from Quebec did here, playing old skool atomspheric death metal, it pulls the listen down to those underground abysmal depths found only in the Mines of Moria during the fellowship of the rings journey , you know the one with the Balrog. The sounds and feelings bring to ones soul a complete front darkness of cavernous size along with ripping guitar shredding and pay homage to themes from the Legend of Zelda, what’s not to like about that.
3. Blood Ceremony – Lord of Misrule (Rise Above Records)
4. Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust (Season of Mist)
5. Begrime Exemious – The Enslavement Conquest (Dark Descent Records)
What do u get when you combine the best parts of Bolt Thrower and Dark Throne? Well why not say it’s these guy. The ripping fast blasts, ferocious vocals, atonal and absolutely epic guitar riffs are just some of best elements feature in this neck snapping release.
6. Voivod – Post Society EP
7. Black Wizard – New Waste (Listenable Records)
Yes the retro rock doom trend is in full affect but when has party doom not been fun. Here we find these BC boys paying homage to the likes of sleep, witch , electric wizard and of course Thin Lizzy.
The improvements are more then vast on this one they are stadium rock huge, the riffs, grooves , tempos and vocals harken back to a time when both Priest and Maiden were young and in their prime, so why not grab a brew or two and rock out like it’s 1982.
8. Cauldron – In Ruin (The End Records)
9. Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence (New Damage/InsideOut)
10. Striker – Stand in the Fire (Record Breaking Records)
1 VOIVOD – Post Society (Century Media)
My favourite Canadian metal album of 2016 is actually an EP, but wow, what an EP it is! The first VOIVOD release since new bassist Rocky joined the band, it contains a number of songs that came out on vinyl splits with both At The Gates and Napalm Death, as well as a great cover of the Hawkwind classic “Silver Machine”, and a few other new cuts. The band absolutely cooks on this, even more so than they did on Target Earth. I cannot wait until their do their next record.
2 ANCIIENTS – Voice of The Void (Season of Mist)
More aggressive, more technical and more dynamic than their debut record was, Anciients really manage to beat the sophomore slump with this new platter. Kenny Cook is all over the place on his guitar, with some damn impressive soloing that means one thing: these songs are going to rule live.
3 CAUCHEMAR – Chapelle Ardente (Nuclear War Now!)
Montreal doom combo Cauchemar released their second full length album this year, a stunning Quebecois heavy metal album in the vein of classic Candlemass and vintage Sabbath. Singer Annick Giroux nails her performance this time out: her slightly dreamy delivery of all-French lyrics gives the album a slightly gothic feel that is both comforting and mysterious at the same time. Perfect for a late night seance.
4 BLACK WIZARD – New Waste (Listenable)
Third record’s a charm for these New Westminister rockers. New Waste is their first album with the current line up, with Daniel Stokes replacing Kenny Cook on guitar, and this band is quickly becoming one of the band Canadian metal bands. Love the twin leads all over this record, and vocalist Adam Grant turns in his best singing performance yet. Makes me wanna shotgun a beer!
5 BLOOD CEREMONY – Lord of Misrule (Rise Above)
Toronto occult rockers Blood Ceremony go for an even more rock feel on their latest album, but the songs are so well constructed and catchy that it’s hard to deny. Songs like the ultra catchy “Loreley” may not be metal songs per se, but they are a real pleasure to listen to anyway. Sean Kennedy can still whip out some fantastic riffs as well.
6 GORGUTS – Pleiades Dust (Season of Mist)
Headfuck album of the year right here, as Quebec prog-death originators Gorguts return with a one track album that is nearly forty minutes in length. Luc Lemay really takes the band on a musical journey this time out, incorporating some of his modern classical training into a modern metal composition that is both beautiful and jarring. It’s a difficult listen, but one that’s rewarding as well.
7 ASTRAKHAN – Reward In Purpose (War On Music/Sunmask)
Vancouver has some of the most epic bands in Canada these days, with Anciients, Black Wizard and Astrakhan all sitting high in my top 10 albums of the year. Their 12” on War On Music a few years back was great, but this new full length is even better. Great chops and a lot of potential here, and I am pretty confident that their best music is still ahead of them.
8 UNTIMELY DEMISE – Black Widow (Self-Released)
Saskatoon’s brightest keep on trucking with another great record of inspired Prairie thrash. Guitarist Matt Cuthbertson may be the most underrated guitarist playing thrash in Canada right now and his band’s songwriting skills are starting to catch up to his killer chops. Why is this band unsigned, seriously!
9 CHTHE’ILIST – Le Dernier Crepuscule (Profound Lore)
I took way too long to check this band out, thinking it was black metal, so imagine my surprise when I discovered these Quebec heathens to play brutal early 90s style death metal with a capital D. If you like early 90s Finnish technical death metal like Demilich, Xysma, etc then you need to check this record out as soon as possible. Devastating stuff.
10 CAULDRON – In Ruin (The End)
If it ain’t broken then you shouldn’t fix it. Toronto trio Cauldron know this and have made another in a long line of 80s tinged metal albums with great riffs, strong choruses and just enough oomph to make any metalhead smile. Always solid, these guys never disappoint. An album that will be at home in any discerning metalhead’s collection.
I’m not Canadian, so I’m not as immersed in the scene as those just a border away. But for what it’s worth, here is my top 5. And I’ll admit that at least two or three of these will likely end up in my top 10 of the entire year.
Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust
It’s almost overwhelming how good this is. I mean, Colored Sands was good and definitely had its moments, but this churning beast of an EP is so good that I’d want them to play it at every live show forever. Gorguts was already legendary in my book, but Pleiades’ Dust might be my favorite thing they’ve ever released.
Gevurah – Hallelujah!
This album is tough to form an opinion of on initial listen. It’s black metal, but it’s so complex that it finally made “sense” after I heard it all the way through a few times. And now, I can’t get away from comparing it to genre elites like Mgla, with a healthy dose of newer Behemoth. If I want blasphemy, I want Gevurah to serve it with a side dish of weird esotericism.
Forteresse – Themes pour la rebellion
In a year rife with good black metal, this album will sit at the top of the pack. I’ve already thought this band put out super solid atmospheric black metal, but perhaps their older material was stronger than the two more recent ones. Well, they’ve achieved greatness once again, and there are some just breathtaking guitar riffs permeating this album. I don’t speak French, but I don’t think I need to in order to understand the angst and immediacy of this music.
Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence
What an aptly titled album. Almost breathy in its approach, this album can make me tear up when it reaches its high points. “Stormbending” in particular is just majestic, and there are some serious feelings of nostalgia and yearning that I think only Hevy Devy can accomplish. Seeing some of these songs at ProgPowerUSA earlier this year was a huge highlight too!
Thrawsunblat – Metachthonia
Jesus Christ these guys rule. I remember hearing “Canada 2010” and not at all knowing that it featured David Gold from Woods of Ypres. That being said, the ties to Woods… is still prevalent in 2016, which is a fabulous thing. And Metachthonia is stunning. I’ll also say that lyrically, this is probably some of the best I’ll read all year. There is some real heart and soul going into this, which is something I always respond to.
Voivod – Post Society
Another EP, but god damn is it fun. And Voivod is still putting out solid music after all these years. I think I really got into these songs as it came out RIGHT BEFORE I saw them live for only the second time, so I was playing it hardcore for a couple weeks. But it’s stupid how much better these guys are than their younger colleagues. Can’t wait for a new album.
1. Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence (New Damage/InsideOut)
2. Anciients – Voice of the Void (Season of Mist)
3. Blood Ceremony – Lord of Misrule (Rise Above)
4. Cauldron – In Ruin (The End)
5. Vile Creature – A Pessimistic Doomsayer (Independent)
6. Thrawsunblat – Metachthonia (Ignifera Records / Broken Limbs)
7. Phobocosm – Bringer of Drought (Dark Descent)
8. Striker – Stand in the Fire (Record Breaking Records)
9. Olde – Shallow Graves (Independent / STB)
10. Ayahuasca – Yin (Independent)
1. Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence (New Damage/InsideOut)
2. Striker – Stand in the Fire (Record Breaking Records)
3. Gorguts – Pleiades Dust (Independent)
4. Anciients – Voice of the Void (Season of Mist)
5. Castle – Welcome to the Graveyard (Van)
6. Blood Ceremony – Lord of Misrule (Rise Above)
7. Vile Creature – A Pessimistic Doomsayer
8. Cauldron – In Ruin (The End)
9. Volur – Disir (Prophecy)
10. Thrawsunblat – Metachthonia (Ignifera Records / Broken Limbs)