We Picked the Best Songs of 2016


Our writers have each selected their favorite track of the year. Get in here and share yours.

My favorite track of the year is a Sisters of Mercy cover by one of the toughest d-beat bands to come out in the last decade. LA’s Nomads threw listeners for a wild left turn with the last entry on Love it or Leave It. Listeners got 10 tracks of hard as nails punk and then “Lucretia, My Reflection”, a song that was pretty cool when the Sisters of Mercy did it, but cartoon-character-smoking-a-cigarette cool when Nomads offer their take. –Joe Thrashnkill

The final crescendo in Oranssi Pazuzu‘s much-acclaimed Värähtelijä, Valveavaruus breaks the listener’s earthly bonds through a massive auditory dose of mind-altering Spice and sends them gently floating through space (0:00 to 2:53), hurtling through hyperdrive (2:53 to 6:30), wrestling with gravity wells (6:30 to 8:57) and finally drifting freely into the waiting unknown (8:57 to 10:17) with no means of return. –CyBro

How to choose the best song in an album full of nothing but instantly memorable, high quality choruses? An arduous task, but at the end of the day I have to go with the one that hits me hardest in the feels. “Caverns”, a complex number where Thank You Scientist start out heavy on the prog, has a beautiful buildup that leads to a chorus both catchily upbeat and fundamentally dark. The melody being sung over the simple bar-chord guitar progression, accompanied by the counterpoint flourishes provided by the violin, sax and trumpet, create the best chorus of the season bar absolutely none. Top that with depressing lyrics, cool bass lines, an amazing guitar solo and a freakin’ theramin, and you have the best song of this nerd’s 2016. –Mosh Hoff

This album wasn’t in my top ten (it was close), but that doesn’t matter when it contains THE MOST BADASS SONG OF 2016. Eternal Champion’s “I Am the Hammer” makes you feel exactly like the band’s namesake. The guitars and drums steadily march forward as vocalist Jason Tarpey warns incoming armies of his power. This is all just set up for an incredible chorus, one where the guitars seemingly ascend to Valhalla chord by chord as Tarpey howls “I command the guards of Lourn, I am the hammer.” It’s getting me pumped just thinking about it. A great album, an unfuckwithable song. –Leif Bearickson

THUNDERCHUNK – Hammerhands (Largo Forte) — A violent anthem for the toxically masculine. The riffs pound you into the ground like a railroad spike driven into unforgiving earth by a man with everything to lose and absolutely nothing to gain by it. Heed its warning well: bare your teeth and flex your muscles, but in the end there will be nothing left. Listen loud, preferably in a space that is not occupied by fragile or valuable objects. –Old Man Doom

I don’t know if future me will forgive myself for not including Moon Tooth’s Chromaparagon on my top 10 list, but I hope this makes up for it. From the crazed but perfectly matching vocals to the unique stylings of the guitar, it is somehow heavy, accessible, and totally weird all at once. I don’t see how you can not pay attention while this song plays. –Joaquin Stick

I am ever so tired of writing about the music that is already on my Top 10 list, so I’m going off list to choose my favorite song from my favorite album that did not make the list. Soft Kill‘s Choke is a great addition to the exciting modern post-punk thing, and only really fell off my Top 10 because their previous album, 2015’s Heresy, was sooooooo much better. “Wake Up” is one of those songs that inspires happiness and sadness at the same time. It has an upbeat rhythm and bright chiming guitar tone, but the low breathy mumble of the vocals and the bittersweet guitar melodies keep any true hope from breaking through. Best served driving in winter with the windows down and the heat on for maximum sensory confusion. Shocker: it’s not even a little bit metal. –Richter

There are three songs from Zeal and Ardor that have conveniently disappeared from the internet that I would’ve put down as song of the year here, but I’ve decided to soldier on without them with a more than worthy replacement. I have Sect’s “Curfew” on standby to fill the void. When I think of a song, it’s music and lyrics working together to achieve maximum effect. Sect released this song well in advance of their self-titled debut in response to the police shootings of African Americans over the course of the summer. Lyrically, Chris Colohan is at the top of his game on this track as he lays down a scathing indictment of the systems and institutions that enable cops who kill unarmed citizens to essentially get off scott free with no accountability for something any other ordinary civilian would certainly be tried and sentenced for. Musically, the band channel’s 90’s death metal from the likes of Entombed and Cannibal Corpse and deliver it through the lens of a crusty hardcore band. It’s a molotav cocktail of a song in every aspect. Click on the link that will take you to the Bandcamp page and follow along with the lyrics as you listen. It’s been a great year for music, but pretty awful in just about every other aspect so this song will most certainly not cheer you up, but it will offer confirmation of just how rotten everything has been. –Ron Deuce

Cop out choice? Not at all. Unlike virtually every other progressive metal concept album that is “meant to be listened to as a whole”, every riff in these 33 minutes of music actually seem like logical extensions of one another. “Pleiades’ Dust” is not 4 different 8 minute song arbitrarily lumped together in a single track, nor is it a repetitive, droning undertaking ala Dopesmoker, nor is it merely riff salad. This is a unified piece with peaks, valleys, a consistent vision, and a tragic story at its core. It is a unique accomplishment, and therefore the best song of 2016. –HessianHunter

2016 has been an interesting and fortuitous year in the continuation of my life-long musical journey. I have listened to more music than any year beforehand and 2017 looks like it will be just as intense. However, one thing remains for certain; I will not be able to rediscover Dungeon Synth. Now, so far this year you have heard my ramblings regarding this mysterious genre and dealt with a number of articles depicting my discoveries. it should be fairly obvious that I enjoy this music and and its surrounding mythos. To signify this momentous occasion I have chosen “In My Medieval Dreams” as my personal song of the year. It is the song that I feel best represents my newfound passion for this genre and the friendships that have, in turn, grown from that seed. Join me now in remembering a time far gone as we look forward to the new year. –Boss the Ross

Above all else, VRTRA‘s competence lies in harnessing the power of the riff. Genres be damned (or in this case, perfectly blended), as long as the riffs are right, you’ve staked a claim in this packed metal underground. And in VRTRA’s case, it’s a mighty big claim. At just 3 tracks, “My Bones Hold a Stillness” stands as one of the best releases of the year. This track tells the whole story. –Celtic Frosty



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