The end of the year is nigh. Top 10 lists are being published – you can view mine here, and check out all of the lists published by Metal Insider here. As the lists appear, the last of 2016’s releases trickle in. If you’ve waited to make your own Top 10 list, give these a listen and see if they make the cut. And be sure to come back next week for the end of the year and a big announcement. Until then, enjoy!
Zao, The Well-Intentioned Virus (Observed/Observer)
The last Zao full-length, 2009’s Awake?, was one of the last releases on the now-defunct Ferret Records. After its release, Zao went on an unofficial five-year hiatus while all of the band members worked on other projects. The band came back together last year and recorded the EP Xenophobe, which contained the song of the same name and the b-side “Fear Itself”. The track “Xenophobe” was an unexpected preview of this new album, as it also shows up here among the ten songs contained here. This full-length marks the first studio release to feature guitarist Russ Cogdell since 2004’s The Funeral of God.
Those Who Fear, State of Mind (Facedown)
Originating in Pittsburgh in 2005, Those Who Fear is a Christian metalcore band with the Healy brothers (vocalist John and guitarist Luke) as its core. Working their way up through the underground in the Northeast, the group was signed to Facedown 2012 and have stayed there ever since. State of Mind is the group’s third studio album, following in the wake of 2013’s Unholy Anger and 2014’s Death Sentence. However, because of the group’s relatively low profile in the scene, they are not known to many. TWF will be most enjoyed by fans of other Christian metalcore bands, such as Gideon, Sleeping Giant, and For Today.
Dreamshade, Vibrant (Artery)
Dreamshade is a melodic death metal band from Switzerland that got their start in 2006. Rising up through the Swiss underground, they were first noticed by Spinefarm Records in 2010. They released two albums through Spinefarm before moving to Artery, and are releasing their third album through Artery today. Dreamshade shares a loose affiliation with Swiss death metal band Roots of Death, in that some current and former members of Roots of Death make up the lineup of Dreamshade. Give these guys a listen if you’re a fan of melodic death metal heavily influenced by the Gothenburg and Finnish styles.