Jan
18
10.13am

Hysteria’s Top 20 Albums of 2016 (and 10 Honourable Mentions)


Acrimony. The only word to describe the Hysty Office while hammering out this best albums of 2016 list. The conflict raged on into the third week of January … there were no survivors. 2016 may have sucked if you were a celeb, but it was a great year if your rock ‘n’ roll loving ear holes had anything to say about it. We gorged on a smorgasbord of spicy and delicious albums—some twists on old favourites and some new delicacies from home and abroad. The quality can only get better from here, no?

Did your favourite slice make the list?


THE HONOURABLE MENTIONS

TESTAMENT
The Brotherhood Of The Snake
Oh Testament, poor Testament. The Big 4 of American Thrash are immutable as the stone faces on Mount Rushmore. The Brotherhood of the Snake is a blow-the-competition-out-of-the-water kind of effort from a band that’s pushing 30 years of age. The unholy triumvirate of Alex Skolnick, Eric Peterson and Chuck Billy sound as bloodthirsty as ever, still proving themselves world class even though most thrashers agree they’ve always been at the top of their game. //Tom Valcanis

 

STORM THE SKY
Sin Will Find You
Storm The Sky were a passable metalcore band on the UNFD roster. They coasted on through fairly enough. However, ditching screams and bringing vocalist Will Jarratt centre stage is the best decision they’ve ever made. Their rebirth in filthy electronic sin is one of the best surprises of 2016. Sin Will Find You’s self-described ‘death pop’ reaches the heights of loathing only this generation could reach. If Will fucking Jarratt can’t be happy then what hope do the rest of us have?

 

FRANK IERO AND THE PATIENCE
Parachutes
“With second record Parachutes (and first with new/old bandmates ‘the PATIENCE’), Frank Iero has managed to find himself. He makes no pretence that he’s done this alone. First single I’m A Mess feels even more appropriate after the two opening tracks, and still stands as one of the record’s best moments. New bassist Alex Grippo has his time to shine here and pops into focus long enough to make his mark, then retreats to let the real star shine chutes is his moment of bursting out into the sunlight.” //Jonty Simmons

DEFTONES
Gore
This album is pretty good, I have it on bone white vinyl. I played it a bunch of times, I thought to myself “Fuck man, Chino is the man, he must get mad pussy hey.” So I called up Chino and he said “How did you get this number, I am balls deep in mad pussy.” I was so aghast I almost dropped my burrito. You can probably get this album for $20 if you look hard enough. //Jane Sheridan

 

 

AVENGED SEVENFOLD
The Stage
Avenged Sevenfold releasing a concept album about self destruction and artificial intelligence? It may sound out of the ordinary, but these long standing metal favorites pulled it off with ease. The Stage is the longest A7X studio album to date, and it stays exciting throughout with tracks such as Exist and The Stage. Seven albums and no arthritis creeping in, A7X still shows us they still rip with the best of them. //Statler Willand

 

 

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
Transit Blues
Changing labels, parting ways with a founding guitarist Chris Rubey, and separating from drummer Daniel Williams, the time leading up to Transit Blues was anything but smooth. However, this didn’t stop The Devil Wears Prada from releasing arguably their strongest album since Zombie EP. The hurdles The Devil Wears Prada faced turned in their favor, and helped them put forth exciting new material. Make some coffee, check the weather, do yourself a favor and listen to this album. //Statler Willand

 

KANYE WEST
The Life Of Pablo
No matter the genre focus of a publication, there cannot be a best of 2016 list that doesn’t include Kanye West’s The Life Of Pablo. Probably the only gospel record you’ll ever hear where an artist pines for his genitals to have a GoPro (is he strapping the camera to his penis like it were a french tickler or does he want to lodge one in his urethra?), West’s 2016 offering was a kaleidoscopic insight into the bizarre life of a “38 year old 8 year old”. While 2016 would see people increasing turn on the artist who is our generation’s answer to Ernest Hemingway, the ultralight beam of creativity he rode to craft such a beautiful, engrossing record will continue to shine brightly as tabloid controversies undoubtedly lose their lustre. //Tom ‘The Source’ Hersey

TAKING BACK SUNDAY
Tidal Wave
After 17 years, and six albums Taking Back Sunday’s seventh outing signifies a return to form but change is style. From the opening moments with Death Wolf it’s clear the band has well and truly moved on from their noughties emo-pop roots into a heavy inspired Bon Iver or Coldplay, whether that’s good or bad is your decision. Tidal Wave offers strong musical moments, but struggles in the shadow of the band’s monumental history. //Nicholas Price

 

 

A DAY TO REMEMBER
Bad Vibrations
ADTR are right back at it again (ha), proving there’s no stopping this American punk/pop monstrosity went it comes to churning out stellar albums. Bad Vibrations saw the band locked up in the mountains of Colorado, the first writing session to have all members present since For Those Who Have Heart. BV is a mixed bag of pop laden anthems like We Got This, through to volatile tunes such as Exposed and Reassemble. This sixth studio album has the backing of music industry heavyweights, with Bill Stevenson of The Descendents, and Jason Livermore (Rise Against, NOFX), helping to forge one of A Day To Remember’s most angsty and lyrically charged albums written. //Statler Willand

DRIVEN FEAR
Free Thinker
Free Thinker will go down as one of the sleeper hits of ‘16 amid bigger names releasing PR preened albums. Free Thinker does what it says on the jewel case—hardcore music styled in the crucible of those anything goes 80s heydays. The Brissy boys are unapologetic tarring themselves in an 90s Aussie slacker band flavour (Jebediah, Grinspoon). Their more ponderous tracks shade certain Poison City rostered acts green as spring grass. If you’re finding something not to fall in love with on this record, you are trying way too hard. //Tom Valcanis


TOP 20 COUNTDOWN

20. HATEBREED
The Concrete Confessional
If you thought that in 2016, with 22 years in the game and seven full-length albums under their belt, that Connecticut mosh-purveyors Hatebreed were going to do anything other than produce punishing, metal-infused tales of hardcore justice and struggle, then you probably don’t deserve to rock that bandana. On The Concrete Confessional, Hatebreed weren’t looking to buck trends, as much they preferred to beat you over the face with them. It might be the case of ‘same shit, different album’, but when vocalist Jamey Jasta delivers powerful anthems of personal strife (Seven Enemies), deliverance (Looking Down The Barrel Of Today) and overcoming adversity (Us Against Us), over the top of some of the best Hatebreed tracks in a decade, you might just be thankful for every day you have left. //Owen Morawitz

19. VEKTOR
Terminal Redux
Waiting five years for another Vektor album proved difficult, but Terminal Redux was well worth the wait. Spanning over 70 minutes, Terminal Redux is a piece of thrash art, depicting a sci-fi epic. David DiSanto’s sprawling story only adds to the allure of this record. With complex and clean production, it’s difficult to argue that this isn’t Vektor’s top album. From start to finish, the Terminal Redux epic may cause you to reevaluate your entire life. //Statler Willand


18. I PREVAIL

Lifelines
Is it appropriate to thank Taylor Swift? It seems like it was just yesterday when I Prevail released their cover of Blank Space while working on their EP, Heart Vs. Mind. Could their debut album live up to the previous hype? In short, yes, without question, LifeLines’ raw emotion shows that I Prevail is a name the post-hardcore scene is going to get to know well. With a release like this, I Prevail has a bright future. //Statler Willand

 

17. LUCA BRASI
If This Is All We’re Going To Be
It’s been a whirlwind year for Tassie’s Luca Brasi, and it can all be attributed to the release of the band’s third LP. Once Triple J sunk their teeth into the record, it was just a matter of the band holding on for dear life. They scored a feature album spot, and managed to turn one of Paul Kelly’s greats, How To Make Gravy, into their own heartfelt punk rendition through the station’s Like A Version segment. If This Is All We’re Going To Be landed the band at #18 on the ARIA Album Chart, its success leading to a sold out Australian tour. Songs like Count Me Out saw Brasi go out on a writing limb, but its reception has been nothing short of amazing. //Owen Morawitz

16. THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN
Dissociation
If you love someone … you gotta not expect them to keep hanging from lighting rigs above mosh pits and breathing fire and ruining their bodies just so you can enjoy a wild show. That’s the adage right? When The Dillinger Escape Plan decided to do one more record and a few world tours and then call it quits, the news was as devastating as it was inevitable. The public acknowledgment of their mortality helped shape Dissociation into a record that sounds supremely focussed in spite of the jarring darkwave instrumentals and big gothy choruses. As much as Dissociation dwells upon the demise of one of the hardcore scene’s most beloved bands, these stylistic detours balance out the bleakness by pointing to what the future may hold for DEP’s members. //Tom Hersey

15. DARK TRANQUILLITY
Atoma
Eleven albums in and Dark Tranquillity have released their best album since Damage Done, a work of crushing darkness and faithlessness thought lost in melodic death metal. It really is a black celebration of everything that makes Dark Tranquillity so enduring. Riffs that signal the end, apocalyptic electronics and Mikael Stanne’s haunting vocals, both clean and brutal. //Tom Valcanis

 

14. BEACH SLANG
A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings
In 2015, Beach Slang released The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us, an action that spoke louder than words ever could. Turns out the people that feel like them feel a lot. James Alex, the band’s frontman, wrote its follow-up based partly off his life and partly by stories told to him by fans all over the world who had his band impact their life. Teenage Feelings was a beacon of hope to those that needed it—even Alex himself, who went through band member splits and gear getting stolen. Onwards and upwards. Play it loud. //David James Young

13. KNOCKED LOOSE
Laugh Tracks
Sometimes expectations mean absolute dick. Out of absolute nowhere, guilty pleasure mosh hurtled through the internet underground. Filtering through word of mouth (Facebook tags you digital heathen, who actually talks these days?) Knocked Loose’s breakout debut Laugh Tracks hit hard. Constant pit calls and breakdowns are often like junk food but this ain’t Mickey Deezys. It’s a record of clenched teeth and jumped mic grabs that managed to bash out emotion from the youth begging for a real throwdown. It doesn’t matter if it’s real lyrics or a barked call, we’re swinging for blood. //Jonty Simmons

12. THE BLACK QUEEN
Fever Daydream
Side projects can be hit and miss. With The Dillinger Escape Plan announcing and releasing their epic swan song this year, it seems that The Black Queen arrived just in time for vocalist and human live-wire Greg Puciato to side-step creative stagnation and boldly journey into a new frontier. Puciato’s smooth and sultry croon has always been one of Dillinger’s artistic hallmarks, and on Fever Daydream the true breadth of his talents as a performer are laid bare, over the top of seedy nightclub bangers, luscious soundscapes and pulsing, 80’s rhythms. It’s a far cry from the sheer ferocity of DEP, but with help from Joshua Eustis (Nine Inch Nails and Puscifier) and stage tech Steven Alexander (Nine Inch Nails and Ke$ha), The Black Queen delivered some of the most interesting and addictive synth/electronic music this year. //Owen Morawitz

11. NAILS
You Will Never Be One Of Us
“No truth/All lies/Disgrace/We are not the same/Fuck your trends, fuck your friends/Fuck your groupies that try to pretend that you’re down/You’re fucking not/Nobody wants what you’ve fucking got.” These are the words that make up the opening barrage from Oxnard, California outfit Nails, on the penultimate title track of their third album. Within mere seconds of it’s arrival and delivery, a gigantic, high-charged beatdown explodes into the listener’s cranium, with such force that it should be wrapped in a shell-casing and fired from a fucking cannon. Building off their previous albums, Nails stripped things down to their bare essence on You Will Never Be One Of Us, and what’s left is a 22 minute blast of powerviolence and grind suffused with spit, bile and hatred. This record is the distillation of pure, unadulterated aggression, and the message is clear: if you don’t get it, you never will. //Owen Morawitz

10. EVERY TIME I DIE
Low Teens
This album rules. We gave it a perfect score. Oh, you don’t agree? Controversial you say? Well, too fucking bad Ponyboy. It happened, and It Remembers is still a total banger. Vocalist and lyricist Keith Buckley took his stage persona to the deepest, darkest depths of his very own tortured hell, while his sonic brothers-in-arms provided a raucous soundtrack to match each one of Dante’s blazing circles. It’s essentially the Divine Comedy put to tape, with southern rock solos, drums that sound like a brick-throwing party, and even a Metallica joke thrown in for a laugh. Now doesn’t that sound like a lot of fun? Low Teens is undeniably heavy, insanely catchy and a roaring good time. If you slept on this record, then keep those catching z’s you god-damn nerd virgin. //Owen Morawitz

9. WHITE LUNG
Paradise
Was Paradise the poppiest punk record of the year or the punkest pop record? Who’s to say, really. In any context, listening to Paradise is a win-win situation. It’s White Lung’s most accomplished, striking collection of songs thus far—across just 28 minutes, the band make their presence felt through radiating guitar tones and Mish Way’s snarling Courtney Love-esque delivery. The album charges out of the gates and refuses to let up for one moment—and, really, why should it? If sharp, succinct and effortlessly cool guitar music is on your agenda, then you’d best run to Paradise. //David James Young

8. AGAINST ME
Shape Shift With Me
Billed by frontwoman Laura Jane Grace as the trans answer to the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street or Liz Phair’s Exile In Guyville, Shape Shift With Me is the most solid Against Me release in years. 333 and Crash bring the alt radio rock choruses and songs like Boyfriend give voice to trans perspective on gender expectations. //Sophie Benjamin

 

 

7. PUP
The Dream Is Over
If the three years of critical acclaim and world touring on the back of their breakout debut record went to their collective head, you sure wouldn’t be able to tell so listening to PUP’s The Dream Is Over. On their sophomore record, the Canadian punk rock quartet doubled down on the self-loathing, doubt and angst, as well as crazy infectious power pop choruses, to make what might be the strongest second record since Weezer’s Pinkerton. To quote our man Rivers, “how cool is that?” //Tom Hersey

 

6. BLINK-182
California
There’s not much room for dead weight in a trio, but if you could point the finger at a culprit in Blink-182, it’d be Tom DeLonge. Replacing him with fellow punk luminary Matt Skiba breathed new life into Blink and gave them a second singer who could actually sing. Easily the best comeback of 2016. //Sophie Benjamin

 

 

5. ARCHITECTS
All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us
Only know what we have when we’re gone? Nope. We all knew Architects were reaching lofty heights on Lost Forever//Lost Together. But the passing of Tom Searle made their latest All Our Gods Have Abandoned (unfortunately) make perfect sense. In hindsight, the fear and final acceptance of death, the rage against a world he’ll never see cured were all too clear. The performances from every member, notably Sam Carter’s strained screams, are so clean and crisp that it’s a difficult listen knowing the future may not be so bright. If they give up after this, no one will begrudge them a thing. If this is the highest they reach, it’s fine for them to rest up in the skies. //Jonty Simmons

4. LETLIVE.
If I’m The Devil…
Few bands quite make the personal into the political in the realm of punk and hardcore the way that letlive. do. On their fourth studio album, Jason Aalon Butler righteously rages against every man, machine and mere mortal that dares stand in his line of fire; guns blazing. Whether he’s marching with the oppressed or turning the weapon on himself, he still delivers with the utmost conviction and vitriol. It’s an album that comes from the gut as well as from the soul; an album of fighting off demons and staying true to who you are. The good fight continues. //David James Young

3. VIOLENT SOHO
WACO
After the runaway success of their ARIA Gold-certified album Hungry Ghost, many within the music industry wondered if Mansfield’s favourite sons could back it up with another smash-hit success story. But as soon as How To Taste hits the stereo—with it’s soft guitar lead, cracking snare and guitarist/vocalist Luke Boerdam’s emphatic “Yeahhhhhhhh!”— any doubts were put firmly to bed. Violent Soho’s fourth album was everything it needed to be, and so much more: stadium-sized hooks (Blanket, So Sentimental), fuzzy guitar riffs (Like Soda, Viceroy) and mosh-ready rhythms (Evergreen, Holy Cave). Not only that, WACO earned the band ‘Best Group’ & ‘Best Rock Album’ wins at this year’s ARIA Music Awards, and the Brissy boys showed themselves to be effortlessly humble, kneeling in front of presenter and all-round Aussie legend Jimmy Barnes for a Wayne’s World-esque, “We’re not worthy!!” moment. Hell fuck yeah. //Owen Morawitz

2. HELLIONS
Opera Oblivia
We gave Opera a perfect 10, and that hasn’t wavered in the months since it’s release. Hellions would have Crown Casino goons beating them in the basement below if they’d tried this kind of gamble in their neck of the woods. Luckily this is a game of skill rather than chance because the theatrical production of Opera is second to none in 2016. Excuse us because we’re still figuring out how they manage to fit seventeen words into five seconds, not fall flat on their face, and still create the second best record of the year. //Jonty Simmons

1. TROPHY EYES
Chemical Miracle
Following up a popular debut album is typically a difficult thing, which is why the ‘sophomore slump’ isn’t exactly a positive description. Yet for Newcastle punks Trophy Eyes, their second full-length album Chemical Miracle made organic musical progression look effortless. Building on the passionate, melodic hardcore foundations of Mend, Move On, the five-piece outfit managed to expand and sharpen their sound on LP #2, without losing any of the vitality and edge that makes their live show so infectious and captivating. Tracks like Heaven Sent, Home Is and the fantastic Breathe You In showed a young band ready to challenge themselves as songwriters, as well as being respectful of their fans and their burgeoning career. Detractors may have decried the lack of screams, but the speed and edge of tracks like Suicide Pact and Rain On Me proved that the beating heart of Trophy Eyes was still there, pulsing stronger and more vibrant than ever before. //Owen Morawitz


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