15. Graveshadow: Sacramento-based female-fronted power/symphonic/gothic metal group Graveshadow was formed in 2012, and so far has released a self-titled EP (2014) and a full-length called ‘Nocturnal Resurrection’ (2015). But they had their first real breakthrough this year by creating an extremely strong first impression with their performances on a short run of US dates supporting Anvil. Graveshadow’s high-energy exhibition of skillfully crafted metal emphatically won over the audiences at these shows and ensured that the band’s name would last very long in every single attendee’s memory. Even in a sub-genre of metal heavily pursued by many others, Graveshadow stand head and shoulders above the competition, simply because they’re great at what they do.
14. Authority Figure: LA sludge metal band Authority Figure released their six-song debut EP ‘Still Got It’ this year, presenting crushing riffs, a pounding rhythm section and fierce vocals with elements of hardcore punk, but the sheer monstrosity of these tunes is felt none more so than upon witnessing this band live, their set at Union in Los Angeles this year serving as the best possible example of it. It was one of the most extraordinarily intense performances of the year, an exorcism of sorts, and established Authority Figure as a band to keep an eye out for, because you cannot possibly be more shocked, stunned and amazed than you will be at your first Authority Figure show.
13. Aeonic Impulse: LA prog outfit Aeonic Impulse has been at it since 2011, playing local underground gigs and working on music in the meanwhile, constantly evolving and honing their creations in the process. Years of meticulous hard work and deliberation brought them to 2016 and the release of their debut full-length, a six-part concept album called ‘A Night For The Troubled’ which exudes top-class musicianship. The biggest fans of prog themselves, the musicians in Aeonic Impulse have channeled their musical influences and inspirations so beautifully, they have successfully completed the transition from the front row to the stage, and have a lot more to offer in the years to come.
12. Slow Season: Hailing from a place called Visalia in central California, psych rock quartet Slow Season released their third full-length ‘Westing’ this year and with the eight tunes they eventually put on this record, they hit the nail on the head in terms of mastering the classic ’70s hard rock sound which is really at the heart of all stoner/psych rock that is so abundant four decades later. Slow Season expertly portray their Zeppelin-esque take on the genre through this album, and indeed on stage, complete with the look and mannerisms that go with the aesthetic. Delightfully laid-back yet unmistakably powerful, Slow Season stand tall as one of the finest young psych rock bands to have emerged in 2016.
11. Weresquatch: Portland, Oregon thrash trio Weresquatch boast a debut full-length album that was produced, mixed and mastered by Joel Grind from Toxic Holocaust, but to present tunes from this 2015 release called ‘Frozen Void’, they needed a solid tour in 2016 and they sure succeeded in getting one this year, opening for Striker and fellow PDX band Spellcaster on a full North American run. Their straightforward approach to all things metal endeared and attracted first-timers straightaway, and with their scorching tunes, high-octane live shows and awe-inspiring t-shirt artwork, Weresquatch are already a force to reckon with, and will only rise up from here.
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