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The 20 Best Hard Rock & Metal Albums of 2016 part 2, 10-1

10. Avenged Sevenfold- The Stage- Released with no advertising and as a completed surprise to both media and fans, Avenged Sevenfold's The Stage sold far less than the band's previous releases. Which is a shame because this album is a bold and exciting move for the band. Going for a more progressive sound, the songs are long and technically amazing. This isn't as great as Nightmare, but it still ranks among their finest work. It certainly is their most risk taking work. Songs like "God Damn" rank among my favorite songs of theirs, and the closer, "Exist" is the most epic tune they have ever written.

9. Testament- Brotherhood of the Snake- The absolute finest album Testament have put out since Formation of Damnation, Brotherhood of the Snake is a monster of a thrash album. A full throttle thrasher, this is Testament destroying all in their path. While, many older bands kind of just rely on their laurels, these guys are still giving it their all, which just happens to be filled with fury and speed.

8. The Pretty Reckless- Who You Selling For- The third release from The Pretty Reckless is a great album with wonderful mix of various styles, influences, and songs. This is the hard rock album of the year, for sure. Some songs rock with a headbanging groove, others with a real blues feel, and, yet others are beautiful ballads. The blusey "Take Me Down" is one of my favorite singles of the year, one that I cannot stop listening! Whatever the song may sound like, they are all united by Taylor Momsen's voice which as beautiful as is.

7. Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas- Mariner- The sleeper hit of the year, Mariner, is an album that exceeded my expectations and delivered one of the most beautiful, complex, and unforgettable music experiences of 2016. This collaboration between Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas will go down in history as one of the greatest, and most original, between artists in the history of metal music. My full review: http://themastergio.blogspot.com/2016/03/cult-of-luna-and-julie-chirstmas.html

6. Anthrax- For All Kings- Filled with a classic metal sound and their thrash speed For All Kings, has Anthrax showing that they still are masters of the style of metal that they play. This one will have you banging your head at a continuous, breakneck pace, throwing up the horns, signing along, and wanting to mosh straight into the pit. The way a great thrash metal album should make you feel! Oh, and "Breathing Lightning" is a modern metal classic!

5. Amon Amarth- Jomsviking- This is straight up THE best album the melodic death metal masters Amon Amarth have put out since With Odin in Our Blood. I've liked a lot of the albums that made post that classic, but none of them ever fully pleased in the way that one had. And, then comes this masterpiece. It reinvigorated my love for the band and never fails to get me pumped up. With its soaring guitars and vocals that sign of awesome and violent viking tales, its the type of metal album that you'll wanna sling a few beers to as you headbang and sign along. And, one more thing, that cover fucking rules!

3. Abbath- Abbath- This is the most fun black metal album ever made. I know that sounds like an odd thing to say, but it really is. Featuring great hooks, driving music, and the right amount of a cold and distant feel, this album has the former Immortal frontman take the best of the sounds from the last couple of albums from his former band and expands on it. By doing so he has birthed the greatest black and roll album of all time. It might inspire a lot of the opposite feelings associated with black metal, but who cares? This is one of my most played albums of 2016!

3. Killswitch Engage- Incarnate- Here is an album that yet again proves that Killswitch Engage are light-years ahead of the bands they inspired. They are without a shadow of a doubt the greatest metalcore band, ever. And, this is the best metalcore album of the year. Heavy and melodic with Jesse Leech's amazing vocals giving much heart to the band's excellent and powerful lyrics. Songs like "Alone I Stand", "Cut Me Loose" and "Hate By Design" have some of my personal favorite lyrics of 2016, which I think is pretty much a trademark of KsE. 

2. Metallica- Hardwired... To Self-Destruct- I very much liked Death Magnetic, but this album blows it away. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best Metallica album since ...And Justice For All. And, no this album does not match those first four albums, but hardly any album in this world does. What this album does do is rock and thrash hard. Speed metal lovers will love the title track and the destined to be modern classic "Spit Out The Bone". While other songs like "Atlas Rise" and "Now That We're Dead" pummel and pound the listener. In fact, the later is not just my favorite track of the album, it might be my favorite of the year. Note the words, might be. Anyway, there is some melodic heaviness with songs like "Moth Into Flame". Shit, they even have a song that mentions my lord and master Cthulhu in "Dream No More"! What the fuck more could you ask for?

1. Meshuggah- The Violent Sleep of Reason- This pummeling, driving, merciless, yet intricate and fury filled monster is the album of the year. Meshuggah have delivered a rage creature incarnate in The Violent Sleep of Reason. From the opening track of "Clockworks" to the closer in the form of "Into Decay" this album just beats you into submission till it kills you, then pummels your corpse until nothing is left. Songs like "MonstroCity" are destined to be classics in their sets. It serves as a shining example of how even the best of the bands that Meshuggah has birthed cannot hang with their brutal forefathers. This is truly the Violent aural masterpiece without equal of 2016.

The 20 Best Hard Rock & Metal Albums of 2016 part 1, 20-11