The Best Alternative Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2016





Amendfoil takes that deep, buzzing guitar tone favored by so many alt rock bands and teaches it to do interesting tricks while layering overhead with criminally catchy vocal lines. Empyrean & Ophidian certainly begins in a rather familiar place, but wanders off down so many paths, visiting so many styles and flavors, that it is impossible to accurately capture the "direction" of the album; it meanders into sudden epic choruses, through expressive exhibitions of instrumental skill, and through the midst of crunching, heavy tones. Empyrean & Ophidian never hits the same notes twice; the only thing it does consistently is be entertaining.
This isn't your dad's Avenged Sevenfold (or... like... your Avenged Sevenfold from middle school). The Stage opens up a whole new avenue of sound for the band, still utilizing some of the old alt-thrash sound it became known for, but introducing much more thoughtful song structures and displaying a level of maturity you might not have expected. The Stage is surprisingly progressive and will likely disabuse some stalwart critics of their notions about Avenged Sevenfold.

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If Babymetal's self-titled debut was metal for J-pop fans, then Metal Resistance is J-pop for metalheads. With the songwriters given freer reign to experiment, Metal Resistance borrows enthusiastically from many metal subgenres, including djent, thrash, power, and nu metal. Metal Resistance feels like a much more serious effort, exhibiting stronger vocal and instrumental performances and more consistent songwriting. Like it or not, heavy metal's very first idol group is here to stay; just give in to the dark side and have a little fun.

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After a few Chino Moreno side projects, Deftones are back! No surprise here, their nu metal days are long-gone now, as once again Gore showcases a band that's constantly evolving. In Gore's case, it's a softer, mellower edge than previously, with more focus to nuance and detail than usual. Fret not, this is filled with brilliant tracks; it's inventive, personal, unmistakably Deftones!

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Gojira owns its sound wholly, which is something that many bands would love to be able to claim, so stepping outside the boundaries set forth by previous albums is risky - but Magma proves that Gojira doesn't need to rely on even its own unique formula. Gojira still has an impressive knack for riff-writing, but a lot of the passages this time around are imposing rather than crushing, sinister rather than forceful, mesmerizing rather than bulldozing. Overall, the album is somewhat more understated than previous releases; still quite heavy, but intense more on an emotional level than a physical one. Magma is rife with stunning examples of songcraft, though; the differences are merely cosmetic.
It's hard to believe that The Fall Of Hearts is already Katatonia's 10th album. But the longevity doesn't mean they are taking the foot off the pedal or becoming stale. If anything, the fire is back. You can't put Katatonia in a box, and this record is challenging, progressive, and subtle while maintaining their dark beauty and melancholic core. With the release of The Fall Of Hearts, Katatonia prove they are simply on a league of their own.
While in the biz for 20-plus years, Korn never shied away from trying new things; we all remember the semi-grunge, noise, or dubstep adventures of the band. But with The Serenity Of Suffering, Korn not only delivered, they delivered one of their best albums in quite some time. Yes, the similarities to their earlier ('90s) and their nu metal albums can be heard throughout The Serenity Of Suffering, but this is something old school Korn fans have been longing for. The crunch of the guitars, huge choruses, the aggression, the melody, it all works and puts Korn ahead of their peers.
Over the years Lacuna Coil strayed away from their original gothic roots and decided to dip their toes into the waters of alternative metal; not a bad move by any means. While their 2014 album Broken Crown Halo was maybe more 'radio-friendly', with 2016's Delirium the band proved once again that variety is the spice of their music. The overall feel of the album is a bit harder and more intense, and Lacuna Coil does a great job of keeping the listener on their toes. In short, it's addictive and will please old and new fans alike.

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The SLoT possesses versatility in spades and, as always, spares no expense in decking out Septima left and right with style. Vocally, Septima utilizes rapping, screaming, and the type of stellar singing that got co-lead vocalist Nookie to third place on the last season of Голос (the Russian version of The Voice); musically, the album combines nu metal, hard rock, hip-hop, industrial metal, and some elements that defy genre description; sonically, it's a melange of thick guitars, weeping keyboards, and a wide array of electronic effects at every corner. As catchy as the most brain-hugging of pop songs, as murky and melancholy as anything you'll find in the gothic category, and incapable of breaking its stride, Septima is brilliant - just par for the course for The SLoT.

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For fans of alternative metals, we're recommending the hell out of Elevation. In fact, this is exactly how to present a sophomore album: Keep all the things we loved about the debut while showing marked improvement, growth, focus, and a few new ideas. Elevation is a focused journey that still manages a sweeping range of emotion and styles, from heavy rockers to dark bursts of power to gentle and sorrowful suspension, and, of course, lyrics to match. Songs are immediately distinct, while providing the necessary depth for repeated listening and delicious new discoveries.

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