10. Høurs: San Diego based ambient doom metal group Høurs introduced themselves this year with the two-song debut EP ‘Different Executions’, but marked their real arrival when they opened a SubRosa show in the Los Angeles area, leaving an entire audience absolutely spellbound. Høurs hasn’t popped up out of nowhere; its members pursue other musical endeavors as well, some much far more experimental than Høurs, but in this band, they excel at creating something simple and relatively stripped-down, yet the magic is in the execution – in the tender, minimalistic vocal delivery, in the guitar tone, and in the steadiness of the rhythm section. Høurs’ inception is greatly welcome, and their next step in eagerly awaited.
9. Teeth: LA-based quartet Teeth started out very promisingly in 2014 as perpetrators of dissonant doom/death metal, and have only gone from strength to strength each time they’ve taken a stage since then, specially in 2016. They played some truly crushing sets, delivering such heaviness in the 30 minutes typically allotted to them, even bands getting much longer sets couldn’t have matched it. But there is a method and structure to their destructiveness, which is what makes them so powerful. Whatever it is that fuels the members of this band to create this type of music, they are harnessing and expressing it to perfection.
8. Sweat Lodge: Austin, Texas stoner/psych rock band Sweat Lodge take massive influence from ’60s and ’70s hard rock and the foundation of their sound is in blues-based rock, as evident on their 2015 debut LP ‘Talismana’. Those who listened to this delightful set of retro-metal tunes were immediately impressed by Sweat Lodge, but this year the band took it beyond the mere local/underground circles and did a full North American tour supporting Monolord and Beastmaker, expanding their outreach much further and enlightening people all across the continent with their stellar jams. Watching them perform, it’s clear that the music comes naturally and organically to these guys, and there is nothing forced or contrived whatsoever. Sweat Lodge is in the zone at all times, and in studio as well as on stage, has all it takes to achieve absolute greatness.
7. Heaven Below: LA based metal group Heaven Below formed in 2008 and their potential was noticed by many early on in their career. They suffered through several lineup changes which kept slowing them down, and Lita Ford took frontman Patrick Kennison as the second guitar player in her band in 2014. But instead of it ending Heaven Below, Kennison’s move only resulted in rejuvenating the band. In 2016, they released their third full-length album, the concept creation ‘Good Morning Apocalypse’, which in every sense comes across as the album Heaven Below were always capable of, and with the progress made through previous releases, they finally reached this point. The band’s current lineup of members is its best ever, and they can almost start afresh from here as a brand new entity, as the 2016 incarnation of Heaven Below is its most apt representation that does it full justice. Heaven Below have claimed their rightful spot as saviors of no-bullshit heavy metal.
6. Substratum: Based out of Seattle, Substratum were formed in 2013 but rapidly gained a fan-following in the Pacific North West circles on the strength of their tremendous live performances, as they often served to be the ideal local support for touring bands coming through the area. They took three years to complete their self-titled debut full-length, finally releasing it in late 2016, and it has turned out to be worth the wait and more, a righteously epic slab of pure-as-gold, strong-as-steel heavy metal with some of the finest singing you’ll hear, and highly competent instrumentation to go with it. Substratum is the best new old-school metal band you hadn’t yet heard of and will keep listening to for years to come.
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