One week from now, 2016 will be halfway over, and it’s already been a hell of a year for music. Regardless of what genre you like, there have already been some releases that we’ll be listening to long after the year is in the books. And while we’ve got a solid five more months of great releases coming (let’s be honest, December hardly counts with new music), we thought it’d be cool to have some of us higlight our favorite albums of the first half of the year. With releases from countless other bands coming in the back half of the year, our lists could look totally different come December, but for now, here are our picks:
Bram Teitelman (in no particular order)
Megadeth, Dystopia (Tradecraft/uME)
It’s been a while since I’ve cared about a Megadeth album. Don’t get me wrong, their Rust In Peace era was phenomenal, and they’ve rightly earned their Big Four status on their ’80s and ’90s output alone. But after the exit of Marty Friedman and Nick Menza (R.I.P.), the band’s output has been solid, but unremarkable. With no disrespect to Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover, there isn’t one must-listen album. After those two left the band, Mustaine knew that there was a lot at stake for their fifteenth album. Bringing on Angra’s Kiko Loureiro was a great first step. Megadeth’s never been hurting for shredders, and Loureiro fit right in. Then to get Lamb of God’s Chris Adler to drum on the album was an even better move. But the musicians are only as good as the material. Thankfully, this is their most inspired and heavy album in a while, and probably their best since Countdown to Extinction.
Astronoid, Air (Blood Music)
I could feel totally different about this at the end of the year, but right now, it’s the perfect Summer album. It’s like Torche, Deafheaven and Coheed and Cambria had a happy baby. Some people are calling it black metal, but this is pretty much the opposite. Upbeat, positive, happy, melodic and with blastbeats. I can get behind this.
Gojira, Magma (Roadrunner)
This will be a polarizing record to some Gojira fans. It’s definitely their least heavy, which will alienate some fans. But listening to it is almost like meditation. And if you have a sweet spot for Voivod and Killing Joke, this might be your the first Gojira record you get into. In short, it’s a compact, yet immensely satisfying album.
Black Mountain, IV (Jagjaguwar)
Metal? Not particularly, but I’ve probably listened to this album more than any other this year. Elements of stoner rock, psychedelia and prog rock combine in an hourlong album that’s equal parts Sabbath stomp and indie rock.
Nails, You Will Never Be One of Us (Nuclear Blast)
This album is so overhyped it’s ridiculous. That being said, it’s still enough to make it into my top five of the year. Compact and brutal, with the exception of the last song, it’s pretty much a 13-minute album. And while I haven’t heard the new songs played live yet, the band is such a beast live that it’s hard to imagine the new stuff not crushing.