10. Kryptos – Burn Up The Night: Hailing from Bangalore, India, longstanding quartet Kryptos have carried the flag for all things old-school metal for nearly 20 years, and judging by its sheer quality, their fourth full-length ‘Burn Up The Night’ is the album they’ve been gradually building up towards, the album they were always capable of, the album they’ve really been wanting to make. In the songwriting, lyrics, performances and even in the cover artwork, ‘Burn Up The Night’ showcases the undeniable expertise the four members of Kryptos have developed in themselves when it comes to this brand of heavy metal. When four of the most dedicated old-school metal fans on the planet jam together for years playing the music they love and become great musicians through the process, this is the result. A must-listen for every metalhead.
9. Kyng – Breathe In The Water: Los Angeles metal trio Kyng have made rapid, constant progress to come a long way since their 2008 inception, turning first-timers into lifelong fans with their first two albums ‘Trampled Sun’ (2011) and ‘Burn The Serum’ (2014) and all the touring that came with it, and they’ve taken another giant step in the right direction with the latest release ‘Breathe In The Water’. The band leaves no stone unturned in making this as complete and comprehensive of an album as they could in terms of what it offers to the listener, and as the output shows, they were clearly not short on musical ideas, as they transition seamlessly between fast-paced ragers to mid-tempo groovy jams to slow ballad-like compositions, and even a Zeppelin-esque acoustic guitar piece or two. The dynamism is evident from song to song as well as within each one. Eddie Veliz (vocals, guitar), Tony Castaneda (bass, backup vocals), and Pepe Clarke (drums) tend to find their individual and collective peak every time they write an album, and raise it higher on the next one. Their current peak, i.e. ‘Breathe In The Water’, stands strong amongst the best in 2016.
8. Death Angel – The Evil Divide: San Francisco Bay Area thrash veterans Death Angel continue to extend the purple patch they’ve found themselves in during the last six years of their career with one scintillating album after another, and their latest LP ‘The Evil Divide’ not only does complete justice to the band’s unbound talent and energy, but also comes across as a real lesson in what a thrash album in 2016 should ideally sound like. Guitarist Rob Cavestany’s seemingly endless and ever-replenishing supply of riffs and songwriting ideas has done this album wonders, as vocalist Mark Osegueda pushes himself harder and the rest of the band delivers the goods in their performances. A magnificent embodiment of real thrash metal.
7. Spellcaster – Night Hides The World: Portland, Oregon traditional metal quintet Spellcaster have hit the home run with their fourth LP and Prosthetic Records debut ‘Night Hides The World’, a true album lover’s delight with eight songs that each stand on their own as well as together as one, in an unabated exhibition of soaring guitar and vocal melodies backed by a lively rhythm section. This album’s impact is long-lasting and commands repeat play to a greater extent than most other releases this year. This is Spellcaster’s finest hour, this is traditional metal done right.
6. Gygax – Critical Hits: Ventura, California’s finest nerd-themed boogie rock group Gygax has arrived in our world in the most impressive manner possible, i.e. their debut album ‘Critical Hits’, technically a full-length but the 9-track, 30-minute effort only leaving the listener starving for more. Thin Lizzy being the most obvious influence they’re channeling in their music, Gygax was founded by Gypsyhawk members Eric Harris and Bryant Throckmorton and for the writing and recording of this album, included (the now Night Demon guitarist) Armand John Lizzy in its ranks. Through instant classics like ‘Draw Breath’, ‘Chain Lightning’, ‘Demons’, ‘The Hunter’s Heart’ and many others that deem this album worthy of its title, Gygax carries on from where Gypsyhawk left, does it better, and makes their mark as a love-at-first-listen band.
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