It’s apparent 2016 was a hard year for everyone, and it was the year bands’ desire for stylistic changes caused an obvious divide within their listeners’ respective communities. A handful of artists decided to take their music in one of two directions and ultimately either delivered an album significantly heavier or softer than their former work with no real in-between. Here are the top ten albums of 2016 as decided by the CaliberTV staff with the help of our Discord server.
- Saosin – ‘Along The Shadow’
Anthony Green returned to Saosin for ‘Along The Shadow’, the band’s first album in seven years. This wildly anticipated release came full circle, as it reclaimed the band’s original vocalist who departed to form Circa Survive and pursue his solo endeavors, and delivered an intense, unforgiving energy that hit home for many listeners. Both refreshing and nostalgic, ‘Along The Shadow’ takes you on a journey from “The Silver String” all the way to “Control and The Urge To Pray”, channeling what people liked most about Saosin’s prior releases in a forthright manner.
Crown The Empire – ‘Retrograde’
Controversial amongst long-time fans of the band, ‘Retrograde’ defined a new era for Crown The Empire’s sound by abandoning the band’s heavier roots. Before listeners knew anything of the band’s ability to write a song like “Blurry”, an arguably god-tier regarded radio-rock anthem, they were introduced to songs like “Aftermath” and “Are You Coming With Me?”, and the album’s almost cinematic space theme was conceptually supported by ominous, industrial instrumental tracks like “The Fear Is Real”.
10. Invent, Animate – ‘Stillworld’
Another experimental metalcore band, Invent, Animate made waves with the refined diversity ‘Stillworld’ presents. Heavier sections of the album are accompanied by low, guttural screams of brutality, and the polar opposite is equally evident through the album’s softer, ethereal counterparts. What’s most noteworthy about ‘Stillworld’ isn’t its birthing of cult favourites like “Darkbloom”; it’s how it pushed the band’s musical limits without ever raising question of how genuine doing so was; the balance is near perfect for what the record is.
9. Silent Planet – ‘Everything Was Sound’
Silent Planet have never been a band to choose silence over spreading awareness on socially relevant topics holding significance in our day to day lives, and the band seamlessly intertwines these ideas with pushing boundaries as a metalcore act on their sophomore album ‘Everything Was Sound’. Self explanatory tracks like “Understanding Love as Loss” show themselves alongside others like “Panic Room”, an account of the constant pain and fear those living with PTSD endure, and other tracks inspired by vocalist Garrett Russell’s personal interactions with people feeling overwhelmingly alone and devoid of being understood like “Nervosa”.
8. Periphery – ‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’
For fans of ‘Juggernaut’, ‘Periphery III: Select Difficulty’ was a continuation of the progressive metal sound enthusiasts of the band and genre enjoyed. Broadening their musicality with technically complex instrumentation and vocals that stylistically bounce between triumphantly melodic singing and angsty in-your-face screaming, songs like “Marigold” were certain to hold listeners attention.
7. Too Close To Touch – ‘Haven’t Been Myself’
A complete 180 from the band’s debut, ‘Haven’t Been Myself’ is a softer, somber, and mature account of Too Close To Touch’s experience inspired by grievance, loss, and heartbreak. What wasn’t groundbreaking in the realm of post-hardcore was redeemed in tenfold by its thematic elements and vulnerability. “The Art of Eye Contact” creates an intimate atmosphere that dwells on the acceptance of separation, and vocalist Keaton Pierce has previously described ‘Haven’t Been Myself’ to contain a memoir to his late sister Eiley, whose respectively titled song is hands down the most heart-wrenching track on the entire album.
6. Knocked Loose – ‘Laugh Tracks’
With the release of ‘Laugh Tracks’, hardcore act Knocked Loose not only put Oldham county, Kentucky on the map, but became a prominent topic of music discourse by proving the opposite “theory” that bands need to move in a softer direction to gain the respect of a broader audience. ‘Laugh Tracks’ was mercilessly heavier than the band’s first two EP’s, having relentless beatdown mosh pit calls-to-action like “Deadringer” and “Oblivion’s’ Peak”, and “Counting Worms”, a song that unassumingly raised the bar with its iconic pre-breakdown dog bark.
5. Fit For A King – ‘Deathgrip’
Fit For A King took the brutality their listeners enjoy and combined it with exploration of a darker, more atmospheric and melodic sound on ‘Deathgrip’, an album chock full of hooks, riffs, breakdowns, and strong choruses. “Pissed Off” starts ‘Deathgrip’ off as exactly that, arguably delivering the heaviest song the band has ever written, and the album’s title track quickly became a favorite among listeners, to the extent of it becoming a song the band can’t leave out of a live set.
4. Every Time I Die – ‘Low Teens’
Whether you classify Every Time I Die as hardcore, punk metal, or southern rock, they’re nonetheless legends in heavy music who never fail to consistently deliver albums that exceed expectation. ‘Low Teens’ is an endurance of raw emotion, captivating listeners with the duality of dynamic musical presence and introspective lyrical insight. If you know nothing about Every Time I Die (see: one of the best bands of all time), ‘Low Teens’ can give a brief aural history of the band for you— for long-time listeners, it’s aligned with the rest of their discography and laced with a few curveballs; for anyone new, it’ll implore you to travel backward and delve deep into their former discography. “Glitches” and “Map Change”— that’s the sentence.
3. Dance Gavin Dance – ‘Mothership’
‘Mothership’ solidified vocalist Tilian Pearson’s belonging as the frontman of progressive post-hardcore group Dance Gavin Dance. Musically and lyrically experimental in true Dance Gavin Dance fashion, ‘Mothership’ abandons traditional song structure, persistently carries fluidity between vocal styles that would otherwise exemplify polarity, and impeccably reformulates post-hardcore. In 13 songs, Dance Gavin Dance personify every bit of this album’s character, ultimately encouraging “Chucky vs. The Giant Tortoise” and “Betrayed By The Game” to become iconic in the eyes of lovingly dubbed Swancore enthusiasts and members of surrounding music communities.
2. Sylar – ‘Help!’
An S-tier album from the last 5 years in the heavy music community and Queens metalcore group Sylar’s strongest work to date, ‘Help!’ is a key example of a time when a band decided to showcase their versatility in a softer, more vulnerable way and executed it marvelously. Sylar already brings something different to the table by incorporating urban hip-hop influences and nu-metal revival into their music, but ‘Help!’ earned ample positive responses due to how seamlessly it touches raw, unfeigned topics whilst keeping hard-hitting heavy energy where it belongs. With songs like “Assume”, “Soul Addiction”, and “Pleasure Paradise”, there’s no argument here— Sylar has choruses for days.
1. Architects – ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’
The most viscerally aggressive and emotionally heavy exposition in Architects’ catalogue, ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’ is a refined and vicious dialogue of retribution, death, and loss delivered from a simultaneously bleak and hopeful perspective. Singlehandedly the most impactful record of 2016, ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’ not only solidified the band’s importance in metalcore, but threw whatever standards listeners had set in anticipation of this record out the window. Chillingly beautiful and powerful, songs like “Gone With The Wind” and “Memento Mori”— a track that explored a side of music other acts in metalcore were hesitant to even consider— took on a whole new meaning after the passing of the band’s guitarist Tom Searle.