Wolverine – Machina Viva
by Nathan Hare
Wolverine’s fifth album, Machina Viva, continues the amazing career arc the band has been on since Still (2006). There’s an added electronic element compared with their previous work, but Wolverine’s richly melodic prog is as emotionally potent as ever. The album’s standout to me is “Pile of Ash”—a minimalist track with just guitar and vocals, but with a massive emotional weight behind it. Machina Viva is the most heartbreakingly bleak album I’ve heard all year (and longer than that, probably), and thanks to its stellar melodies; subtle, elegant songs and Stefan Zell’s fantastic vocals I can’t stop listening to it.
Revocation – Great Is Our Sin
by Joshua Bulleid
Although Revocation’s eclectic blend of hyper-aggressive thrash and technical death metal has long set them up as being my favorite band on paper—and while I’ve enjoyed all of their previous records to some extent—for whatever reason, none of the band’s prior releases have ever really gelled with me. Until Great Is Our Sin that is. One of my major problems with Revocation’s previous albums was their tendency to all blend together, despite their impressive compositional variation. Great Is Our Sin rectifies that issue, by being packed full of big hooks and discernible melodies, while also making a strong claim at being Revocation’s most focused and fulfilled album to date.
Zodiac – Grain Of Soul
by Jamie Cansdale
It’s been two years since we heard new material from German hard rockers Zodiac, and it has certainly been worth the wait. Dropping the blues edge from their previous work, Grain of Soul may sound very stripped back and straightforward in comparison but this is far from a bad thing. Fitting somewhere between Thin Lizzy and ZZ Top, songs like “Animal”, “Ain’t Coming Back” and “Sinner” are bad-to-the-bone rock’n’roll without needing to sound flashy or pretentious; this is as honest as it comes. With catchy hooks and sing-a-long choruses that will make you dance as much as bang your head, there is enough swagger to make even the most serious of ‘heads get in touch with their inner boogie. Coming out on top of The Judge and Blues Pills, this is one rock record you need in your collection: it’s fun, it’s infectious, and cooler than anything else you’ll hear this month…if not all year.
Whipstriker – Only Filth Will Prevail
by Shawn Miller
Filthy, grimy, and sleazy metalpunk may seem to be all the rage these days—with bands like Midnight, Bunker 66, and Bulldozing Bastard carrying high the flag once shouldered by Venom, Tank and Motörhead—but if you want your metal raw, rabid and dirty as hell, look no further than Whipstriker’s third full length, Only Filth Will Prevail. Prepare to be assaulted by rollicking double kick drums, thundering bass lines and raging, full tilt speed metal riffing, all the while Victor Whipstriker’s crafts some of the catchiest and filthiest, speeding heavy metal this side of Lemmy, while his drunken, growled bark leads the charge.
Caina – Christ Clad in White Phosphorus
by Neil Bird
It can take a band a few albums to really discover themselves or to reach their true potential. The UK’s Caina, however, have had a good sense of themselves since the start. Over the years the project has evolved, but always released good material that felt as it it always improved on itself, with this new album adding a second member to what was previously a solo project and—wow!—what an amazing difference it made. It’s hard to say Christ Clad In White Phosphorus is really “reaching previously shown potential” but it definitely showcases these two musicians at the top of their game. Adding in so many new noise and electronic elements has given the band a fresh feel, while also allowed them to make one of the heaviest releases of Caina’s career, and possibly the best release from this long-standing act, and just goes to show that age can really do a project wonders.
Witherscape – The Northern Sanctuary
by Alex Melzer
Dan Swanö is back with his second Witherscape album and has hit the mix of melodic death metal, progressive metal and rock right on the head. Improved in every detail over the band’s already-strong debut The Inheritance, Swanö has created a magnum opus in The Northern Sanctuary that should have the rest of the progressive/death metal scene shaking in their boots.
Inter Arma – Paradise Gallows
by Ailo Ravna
Virginian post-metal luminaries Inter Arma continue climbing the entrancing peaks and valleys so familiar from the excellent Sky Burial. Their third outing, Paradise Gallows is haunting and vast in its sonic expanse, drawing together soaring soundscapes and crushing doom. It’s fiercely dynamic, and one of the most intense listening experiences of 2016 so far.