What a year. Feels like you probably say that at the end of every year doesn't it, but without going in to too much detail away from our world, 2016 has been an exceptional one on so many levels. Socially, politically, artistically; there have been so many earthquakes shattering through our lives it's actually become almost difficult to remember everything. As far as the Rock/Metal/Punk world is concerned, 2016 has been equally exceptional in the fact that we've seen such an array of absolutely bona-fide classics being released and again, it has been hard to keep up. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that this year has provided us with more top quality albums than the last five years combined. Usually you'll scroll through those end of year lists and there will be that handful at the top 2with the rest being fleshed out - this year it has been a direct scrap to even have the chance to break in to a top 10/20/30 , the quality has been that high.

We've shaken up our yearly review piece this time round to give you a rundown of some of the album/EP reviews we posted this year to give you the chance to rediscover any bands or records that may have slipped under the radar. Alongside a rundown of some of our reviews across the year, we've also got our staff picks from 2016 as well! So without any further ado then...

January - June

Steak Number Eight - Kosmokoma - 11/13

"... An excellent album, that is inventive, powerful, and quite beautiful on some tracks. The production by David Bottrill, who has worked with Tool and King Crimson, is impressive and peerless. Listen in and you wont be disappointed." Gareth Allen - Jan 2016


The King Is Blind - Our Father - 11/13

"... Big riffs? Check. Shit load of attitude? Check. Filthy levels of aggression? Check. Well then, if you've never heard of them before, let us introduce you to the punishingly heavy British Metal band The King is Blind" Tom Donno - Jan 2016


Bury Tomorrow - Earthbound - 12/13

"... Let's just say that right from the off, you'll struggle to get past the first track, doing battle against your own thumb which will be resting firmly on the 'repeat' button. After impressing hugely on Runes in 2014, Bury Tomorrow have wasted absolutely no time in riding their wave of momentum, releasing their finest work to date just two years later." Tom Donno - Jan 2016


Conan - Revengeance - 10/13

"... With Revengeance Conan continue their deadly progress as a band, firmly cementing themselves as one of Britain's finest doom dealers." Ross Pike - Jan 2016


Simple Plan - Taking One For The Team - 11/13

"... When it comes to Simple Plan there are a few things that you can always expect from an album and this one does not fail to impress." Michelle Moore - Feb 2016


Heck - Instructions - 12/13

"... Instructions is the album Heck always threatened they had in them but had never quite delivered on. This is one of the most exciting albums of 2016 so far, and we're willing to say it will easily sit amongst the finest this year has to offer when all is said and done. Tom Donno - Apr 2016


Deftones - Gore - 12/13

"... It's often said that there are only two things in life which are certain - death and taxes. Well we'd like to seriously put forward a motion to revise that statement to include 'brilliant Deftones albums' as a life certainty as well. We're now eight albums deep in to the complex yet exceptional Deftones career, and there is just absolutely no stopping them." Tom Donno - Apr 2016


Boss Keloid - Herb Your Enthusiasm - 12/13

"... the second album from Wigan based Metal band Boss Keloid raises a lot of questions to the listener such as "Why have I never heard of this band?", "Has anything this cool ever happened before in Wigan?" and "Is this Doom? Sludge? Progressive Mystic-Spiritual Alternative Power Pseudo-Dance Thrash?". These questions don't necessarily need answering, but with a bit of research you'll find that Herb Your Enthusiasm may be the sweetest thing to come out of Wigan since Uncle Joe's Mint Balls." Dave Mulcrone - Apr 2016


Messenger - Threnodies - 11/13

"... At the end of the first listen it's not a case of thinking it's immediately brilliant, it's more that you need to listen to it again in order to understand exactly what's going on and to let it seep slowly into your consciousness." Andrew Latham - May 2016


Ihsahn - Arktis - 10/13

"... continues much of the Norwegian's past work; lyrics invoking struggle and strength while there is a bleakness to music, especially in the high drama songs that close the record, but equally these atmospheres are frequently interrupted by stylistic and instrumental shifts. Ross Pike - May 2016


Fallujah - Dreamless - 10/13

"... Overall though, Fallujah are without a doubt one of the most exciting bands in the Technical Progressive scene at the moment. The amount of bands who are simply churning out more of the same is disappointing so to have Fallujah pushing their own limits with each release is refreshing at least. Tom Donno - May 2016


Deux Furieuses - Tracks Of Wire - 13/13

"... There's a legendary name in Rob Ellis as co-producer on this album, on this evidence Deux Furieuses are heading into the legend status direction. Already receiving plenty of airplay on 6 Music, it won't be long before the rest of the country wakes up to the talent on display here." Neil Richardson - May 2016


Fangclub - Bullet Head - 11/13

"... Although there may only be five tracks on this EP, this short sharp snippet of what the band is capable of creatively demonstrates some excellent examples of passion and dedication to the craft." Michelle Moore - Jun 2016


The Order Of Israfel - Red Robes - 12/13

"... The Order of Israfel from Gothenburg in Sweden, have produced a doom masterpiece on this their second album Red Robes." Gareth Allen - Jun 2016


Nails - You Will Never Be One Of Us - 12/13

"... You Will Never Be One Of Us is a record which, across 10 tracks and just shy of 22 minutes, wrenches the ugliest side of humanity up from a festering and putrid bog of bile, monstrosity and barbarism. And it's simply glorious. Strap in, and listen to NAILS." Nick Spooner - Jun 2016



So that's a summary of January-June then, and what a bunch of albums we had there. This isn't the full list of albums reviewed in this time though, so please head across to the Reviews section on here to find the rest! So then, as we have done for years now, see below for some of the top staff picks in 2016. Our only criteria was that we had to look at our favourite albums/Eps, live shows and singles, choosing a maximum of three for each. With that said then...

Tom Donno - Editor


Architects - All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us

This won't be the first time I mention Architects in my 2016 favourites as frankly they've been the band of the year for me. Considering the fact that they so tragically lost their brother in arms Tom Searle in August it shows the astonishing heart and passion of Architects for them to release both the album of the year and deliver the best live performance of 2016 as well. Musically and lyrically this record is the most powerful thing they've ever put together and with the fact Tom worked on it all the way through, emotionally it surpasses anything else recorded this year. Crushingly brilliant from beginning to end.

The Dillinger Escape Plan - Dissociation

It was confirmed early on in the year that The Dillinger Escape Plan were going to be calling it a day, releasing one final album and embarking on their last ever tour in one big last hurrah. When a band releases their last album it usually means they've either hit a paralysing artistic wall or they've been around well beyond their use by date. For The Dillinger Escape Plan, not only have they delivered an album so ferociously complex and brilliant, they may well have released the crowning moment of their whole career. Going out with a bang doesn't seem strong enough a description, astonishing.

Gojira - Magma

Magma is a bit of a strange one in Gojira's already incredible back catalogue in the fact that it's actually on the whole been greeted with relatively mixed reviews. Admittedly this was an album which did need to grow on me as well but when it clicks, my god does it click. Atmospherically there is a different vibe on this record to their previous output, but the heaviness, the craft and the overall brutality is all still there in spades. Gojira continue to get bigger and bigger and we cannot wait what the future holds.


Architects - Brixton Academy

As noted, Architects feature very heavily in my end of year summary for 2016. Riding high on the success of releasing the astonishing All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us these tour dates were of course at risk after the tragic passing of Tom Searle but the band soldiered on to incredibly positive effect. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this was one of the finest displays Brixton Academy has ever seen. Those familiar with the venue know that the walls by the bar at the back are adorned with historic moments in the venue's history, this Architects show did more than enough to take it's place amongst them.

Iggy Pop - Royal Albert Hall

After the release of the truly excellent Post Pop Depression, Iggy Pop celebrated by playing several special one-off shows across Europe including London's Royal Albert Hall. Going deep in to his discography, smashing through hits and new ones Iggy Pop rolled back the years to deliver one of his finest live performances in recent memory. Helped by Josh Homme and co. this was one of those shows that genuinely felt like a moment in time that will be hard to top. It has since been released on DVD/CD so there is now every opportunity to try and relive some of the magic from that very night.

Gojira - Download Festival

Considering the fact I spent most of the weekend pissing and moaning because I thought Gojira deserved to be on the Main Stage this year, by the time they did hit the stage I couldn't have been more thankful for it being under tent cover after the biblical levels of misery the weather managed to bring this year. Gojira are the best live band in heavy music at the moment, this frankly flawless display accentuated that even more. Blending newer tracks with old it was easily the best performance of the whole weekend.


Metallica - Moth Into Flame

It feels incredible that I've got this far and not even mentioned Metallica yet. 2016 of course marked the return of the Metal giants and following on from the initial slab of new music in the track Hardwired the band followed this up with a song of such high quality you couldn't help but be left frothing at the mouth for the upcoming new album. Moth Into Flame is such a strong Metallica track it should take up its place in their live sets going forward and not be touched. Brilliant.

Ross Pike - Writer/Editorial

Trap Them - Crown Feral

I was a big fan of this band's last album Blissfucker though I understand others did not share my enthusiasm. That cannot be the case on Crown Feral which ups the ferocity on a compact beast of a record.

Martyrdod - List

Keeping the D-beat theme going, Swedish crew Martyrdod released a great album in Listthis year. Less pummelling than Trap Them with a wider palette and the odd classic metal guitar solo thrown in for good measure too.

Kvelertak - Nattesferd

Loved this. No 'third album' anxiety required as Kvelertak continue to bring the mosh ready jams and grow into softer realms on tunes like the thoughtful Hakesbrann.


Subrosa - Underworld, Camden

Powerful and intimate stuff from the Salt Lake City gothic Mormon avant-doom rockers. Much more affecting and thought provoking than that sentence lets on. Happened to release another of the year's great albums too.

Black Mountain - Tufnell Park Dome

Hardy perennials that they are, Black Mountain were not going to let a whole load of nicked gear stop them from dealing out magic old rock grooves never more so than on an epic Don't Run Our Hearts Around.

Gareth Allen - Writer


Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas - Mariner

Album of the year, without a doubt! Cult of Luna, from Sweden, have pioneered what is often labeled as post-rock or post-metal music.Their partnership with Julie Christmas on the album, Mariner is quite simply a match made in metal heaven. Julie Christmas, from New York, has the most amazing of voices, that can range from softly beautiful to full on metal scream.

Delain - Lunar Prelude

Delain's EP Lunar Prelude was a symphonic metal tour de force, full of passion and fresh new musical ideas. The lead track Suckerpunch really impresses with its great heavy guitar work from Timo Somers and Merel Bechtold, and the orchestral arrangements are a fully integrated part of the music. Throughout Charlotte Wessels vocals provide real emotional depth.


Blood Ceremony - Glasgow Audio

Blood Ceremony, from Canada, played a triumphant gig at Glasgow Audio early in 2016. Their melding of doom metal, progressive music and psychedelica, is completely irresistible live, and the reaction from their Glasgow audience, matched the musical heights they were able to scale, at a packed out Audio. Playing tracks from their new album Lord of Misrule, the intense and lyrical guitar and flute solos just flew off the stage. Alia's expressive voice and captivating hand movements illustrated and brought to life a great set of songs.

Akercocke - Bloodstock Festival

Akercocke's return to the live stage at Bloodstock was one of the most anticipated events in the metal calendar. After an absence of 5 years, the band got the warmest of Bloodstock welcomes. Their fiery mix of black metal and progressive music still feels completely vital, as was emphatically demonstrated with the new material they previewed live. Highlight of the set was a transcendent version of The Dark Inside from the Antichrist album. Never before played live, its dynamic mix of death and black metal, progressive time changes, and a heart achingly beautiful melodic middle section, is a musical experience you never want to end!

Vodun - Bloodstock Festival

Vodun in the Sophie tent at Bloodstock, were the most powerful symbol of how creative and vital metal remains. A strikingly heavy psychedelic sound, is permeated with the most amazing soulful vocals from Oya. The sound of melodic heavy riffing, and a polyrhythmic drum sound, filled every corner of the Sophie tent. Oya's vocals elegantly float through the music, giving it a real emotional impact. They generate a really intimate connection with their audience, and are a very special band indeed.

Nick Spooner - Writer


Architects - All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us

One of the shining lights in British metal, Brighton metalcore heroes Architects brought us another stellar record jammed full of gargantuan riffs, rhythmical mayhem, haunting vocals and melodies, and a barrel-load of fury at the state of our planet. On tracks such as Phantom Fear, Deathwish and A Match Made In Heaven, Architects sounded angrier than ever before, taking aim at our lack of common humanity, environmental disintegration and Western intervention, respectively. Heartbreakingly, this album has turned out to be the final masterpiece from Tom Searle adds another level of emotion to an album already full to the brim with it. R.I.P. brother.

The Dillinger Escape Plan - Dissociation

It's Dillinger, come on, it was always going to be amazing. However, not even the most ardent follower of the math-metal 5 piece could have predicted how utterly devastating a record Dissociation would be. It is an album that encapsulates everything great about TDEP: the spell-binding musicianship, the Mike Patton-esque melodies, the quintessentially avant-guarde nature, and yet seems to be so much more than all of that. Whether you're here for the straight-up savagery or the brain-tingling free jazz moments (the answer is both, of course), this record has it all and sits comfortably at the top of a discography that very few bands will ever come within an Atlantic's width of.

Fallujah - Dreamless

The San Franciscan quintet's follow-up to the simply sublime The Flesh Prevails, saw them branch out into further progressive fields than before, though still maintaining that skin-flaying intensity when the moment called for it. As on previous releases, the sheer level of technical proficiency on show here is enough to make the eyes water, but the trick Fallujah have mastered is to twin this with the knack of writing actual songs, which they continue to do with aplomb. Fallujah's knack of shackling ferocious death metal to spine-tingling atmospherics continues to put them well ahead of the pack in the technical death metal field.

Refused - 2000 Trees Festival

The band responsible for one of the greatest albums in the history of recorded sound closed out easily the UK's quaintest heavy-tinged festival, the delightful 2000 Trees. As the late summer sun began to fade over the surrounding Gloucestershire woodland, the Swedish heroes produced a set so utterly spellbinding that anyone there will be talking about it for years to come. Whether you were yelling "Can I scream?" at the top of your lungs during New Noise, or hip shaking to Elektra, the unmatched brilliance of the songs on offer here, and the intensity with which they were delivered, was, at times, breathtaking. That vocalist Dennis Lyxzen used the opportunity to rail against gender imbalances in the music industry, specifically in this case at music festivals, demonstrated that this is a band that has lost none of its fire when it comes to speaking truth to power.

Black Peaks - Wembley Arena

Picture the scene: you're a young, virtually unknown, band from Brighton. You release a debut album so stunning that people are falling over themselves to heap praise on you. A little-known US outfit by the name of the mighty Deftones then invites you to open up for them at Wembley Arena about a month and a half later. You proceed to wipe the floor with said band. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, Black Peaks achieved the seemingly impossible this year with a performance so confident, so heavy, that it left jaws on the floor of the London arena. The album Statues is magnificent, but this is a band that is, somehow, even better live; occasionally feeling as though they're teetering on the edge, but consistently so exciting and dynamic. Vocalist Will Gardner put in a commanding performance as always, and when that final riff of Saviour comes swinging out of left-field, thousands of heads were banging simultaneously. Stunning.

Gojira - Download Festival

We say it a lot on this site, but French metal titans Gojira are the best live band on the planet right now. As the rain bucketed out of the Leicestershire sky, and more and more people crammed into the tent to witness the carnage, Gojira flattened everyone in the vicinity with a show so powerful that at times it felt as though one's intestines were going to come cascading out onto the mud and beer coated ground. The fact that new songs Silvera and Stranded sat perfectly alongside certified crushers such as The Heaviest Matter of The Universe and Flying Whales proved that, whilst more progressive and lighter as a whole, the material from Magma slams live.


NAILS - You Will Never Be One Of Us

The angriest band of all time returned in 2016 with a record that was, as expected, the aural equivalent of sticking your head in a washing machine on a 90C express wash. The title track and lead single, the new anthem of global inclusivity You Will Never Be One Of Us, was a perfect scene-setter for the rest of the record, complete with a rhythmical shift so groovy it will make you want to do the conga round your kitchen. If by conga you mean: smash the living shit out of everything in your vicinity.

Grove Street Families - The Right To Remain Violent

On The Las Venturas EP, the UK's rising crossover thrash stars brought some serious swagger into a year which, outside of heavy music, has been especially bleak. Highlighting police brutality, The Right To Remain Violent roars out of the speakers at blistering speed with a riff that will be lodged in your head for days before launching into a meaty beatdown displaying the band's hardcore credentials. All the while, an assured and impassioned vocal performance spits a narration thick in global injustices. If that mid section, loaded with more groove than a recently-ploughed field, doesn't get you moving then you must be dead inside.

While She Sleeps - Civil Isolation

Following a joyous performance at 2000 Trees festival, the Sheffielders graced us with two fresh slabs from 2017's up-coming release, the confusingly-titled You Are We. Civil Isolation is, arguably, one of the best moments the Sleeps boys have ever committed to tape; a track that perfectly fuses that skate punk pace with the metalcore stylings to perfect effect. As the name suggests, 'Civil Isolation' is a furious dismantling of an economic system that champions profits over people, and is stuffed full of infectious riffing, pulverising drum work and a breakdown following a mosh call so anthemic that one can picture the bedlam in the pit almost instantly. If the rest of the record is this good we're looking at a worldy, people.

July - December

So then we reach the latter stages of our huge 2016 review! Here are some of the notable reviews covered in the latter half of the year!

Gojira - Magma - 12/13

"... whilst we were going to be served with a very heavy Gojira album, we were also going to be getting a very different one. Well should you consider it as a risk, or whatever you want to call it, it has absolutely paid off as once again these French Metal masters have displayed a level of ingenuity and intelligence many within this scene can only dream of having." Tom Donno - Jul 2016


Moose Blood - Blush - 10/13

"... This Canterbury quartet has created an album packed to the brim with punchy melodies that give off a bounce, melodic guitar rock and a massive infusion of emo." Michelle Moore - Aug 2016


King 810 - La Petite Mort or a Conversation With God - 10/13

"...a solid Metal record which (if you're prepared to leave your cynicism at the door) can make a real impression. This band have a 'no fucks given' approach which whilst at times appears completely ridiculous, is actually startlingly refreshing in a genre which has too many bands playing it safe at the moment." Tom Donno - Sept 2016


Against Me! - Shape Shift With Me - 11/13

"... Whilst maintaining some consistency with the last few records, this doesn't quite hit the sweet spot as much as they did, but that doesn't stop this being a very strong record though and one that Against Me! fans and casuals new to the band will be able to click with very quickly." Tom Donno - Sept 2016


Carnifex - Slow Death - 9/13

"... Overall, then, Slow Death is aggressive and violent whilst simultaneously pushing deathcore into exciting new realms, which itself is long-overdue, and for which Carnifex should be roundly applauded." Nick Spooner - Sept 2016


God Damn - Everything Ever - 10/13

"... God Damn have consciously rode on the momentum and success borne out of the tour around Vultures last year and not hesitated with getting another new record out as quickly as possible. A lot of bands would falter in this haste, but looking at Everything Ever as a full collection of songs, this may be their best album to date. We're interested to see where they're headed next." Tom Donno - Oct 2016


Big Jesus - Oneiric - 11/13

"... Big Jesus are a four piece from Atlanta who have taken the idea of being thumbed in to a particular genre and torn it shreds, producing riff lead, awkward sounding melodic pieces of music which scale from dark and brooding to outright euphoric." Tom Donno - Oct 2016


Of Mice & Men - Cold World - 11/13

"... They hit on the emotions of a listener while subconsciously getting those feet tapping and heads bopping along and leaving you wanting more." Michelle Moore - Oct 2016


Opeth - Sorceress - 7/13

"... On Sorceress Opeth continue to dance to their own beat and although the musicianship may continue to impress it less likely to enthrall. They have asserted their right to pomp as showcased by the glorious, bloody peacock atop the human remains on the cover. Frilly wins." Ross Pike - Oct 2016


Red Fang - Only Ghosts - 11/13

"... On announcing that they were bringing Ross Robinson in to produce Only Ghosts there was admittedly a little concern that they'd lose this fun edge to a more serious approach. But if there's one thing Ross Robinson knows how to do, it's to grasp the already present level of quality by the throat and expand that in to an absolute force." Tom Donno - Oct 2016


Dillinger Escape Plan - Dissociation - 13/13

"... this is a masterpiece of an album which will be revelled and looked back on in many years to come. If this is the start of their swansong, what a way to exit. Please go and listen to this immediately. Saying goodbye has never sounded this good." Tom Donno - Oct 2016


This Be The Verse - This Be The Verse - 10/13

"... The songwriting is at times challenging as it throws you across so many different styles but when you break down the simplicity of the structure within some of these tracks you really understand why this makes for such infectious, addictive listening." Tom Donno - Oct 2016


Metallica - Hardwired... To Self-Destruct - 11/13

"... the wait is finally over and thankfully Metallica have produced an album which is on the whole very impressive. Yes there are tracks which probably could have been cut far shorter, but there is absolutely no denying the fact that Metallica have marked this next phase in the best way they possibly can at the moment. This year has been frankly extraordinary as far as new music has been concerned, but with Hardwired... To Self Destruct the biggest Metal band of all time have displayed exactly why they still occupy the throne at the top." Tom Donno - Nov 2016


What a way to end this piece, with the biggest Metal band of all time. As already noted, 2016 has been an extraordinary year in the world of Rock and Metal and we're very excited to see whether it will serve as a stepping stone to a new golden age.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us here at Room Thirteen - we've got a host of new and exciting things in the works for 2017 so keep your eyes locked on the site and on both our Facebook and Twitter pages. Keep those heads banging, those toes tapping and those horns raised.