As 2016 gets closer to the end, it’s becoming more evident it has been a really good year for heavy music. October was no exception, with a plethora of excellent releases that easily could have made our list of the month’s best. Some worthy releases had to be left out, but here are our choices for October 2016’s best heavy metal albums.
1. Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason (Nuclear Blast)
Even with sky high expectations for every new album, Swedish juggernauts Meshuggah still manage to meet or exceed them. That’s certainly the case with The Violent Sleep Of Reason, their eighth studio album.
Their patented technical mastery and complex arrangements are on full display, but Meshuggah add the creativity needed to make the album greater than the sum of its parts. From the epic opener “Clockworks” to the stellar closer “Into Decay,” the band deliver songs that are intricate, varied, memorable and flawlessly played. You’ll be seeing this one on a lot of “Best of 2016” lists in a couple months.
2. Khemmis – Hunted (20 Buck Spin)
Hunted is composed of only five songs, each of which is multifaceted and thought-provoking, providing a landscape where crushing heaviness coexists with buoyant melodies. Each song twists and turns in unexpected ways, always leaving the listener to wonder exactly what’s going to come next.
Serpentine double riffing might give way to a dirge-like breakdown. Pendergast’s clean vocals are often punctuated by harsh growls. At their heart, Khemmis are really just a damn good rock band that draws from an impeccable array of influences old and new, from Judas Priest to Iron Maiden to High on Fire.
3. Testament – Brotherhood Of The Snake (Nuclear Blast)
There isn’t a misstep to be found on this album. At only 45 minutes there isn’t any room for filler. Tracks like “The Pale King,” “Stronghold” and “Seven Seals” make for an incredible upfront experience as each track is like a clinic on thrash metal. The material bounces from blazing fast to mid-tempo head crushers as the songs are precise and some moments verge on death metal.
Brotherhood Of The Snake never lets up and is face melting front to back. Their most aggressive platter since 1999’s The Gathering, the material fits perfectly among the Testament catalog. It’s equally on par with their last two offerings as Testament still shows this willingness to expand their sound and blend new styles with their classic thrash approach.
4. Crowbar – The Serpent Only Lies (eOne)
The music on The Serpent Only Lies is as heavy and painful as ever. Kirk Windstein masterfully balances his enormous riffs with pained and croaked vocals. Album opener “Falling While Rising” is a perfect song to introduce someone to sludge: the tempo is slow, the riffs are slow and Windstein sounds like he has been through hell.
Crowbar are some of the founding fathers of sludge. The genre may not be for everyone, but what is found within sludge in general and this album in particular is a bunch of tortured souls who want nothing more than to show their emotion in sonic excess.
5. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation (Party Smasher)
After nearly two decades, the Dillinger Escape Plansay they are going to hang it up following the tour cycle for their latest effort Dissociation. If that’s the case, they are going out on a high note.
The album has all the twisted, complex riffs you’d expect from DEP, but also some unexpected moments like the sometimes danceable, sometimes disjointed instrumental “Fugue.” Greg Puciato’s vocals vary from passionate screams to smooth crooning. The creative songs bounce back and forth between intense, groovy and experimental, played with flawless musicianship. Unpredictable and eminently listenable, Dissociation will leave fans wanting more.