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Articles Home » Best Of » Best Of 2016 - 2017 EnglandAshes, Chris
Best Of 2016 - 2017 EnglandAshes, Chris

CATEGORY: Best Of 2016
AUTHOR: EnglandAshes (Chris)
YEAR: 2016



The Good
Going to quickly burn through the year, so good things, so without stopping. The Japanese westcoast releases, Mo Farah in the Olympics and the resulting knighthood, the whole of the Olympic GB squad finishing second!

--Best book 'The Ghost Runner The Story of John Tarrant'

--TV Series being 'The Night Of', and 'Game of Thrones' with Jon Snow not dead and the insight of what happens to the Red Woman.

--Best musical discoveries outside those released this year, being Simple Minds especially 'Black and White', Keef Hartley Band, Sweet Billy Pilgrim (just listen to the song 'Archaeology'), Samuel Purdey, Talk Talk, getting hold of the majority of Michael Stanley Band and solo output very cheaply on CD.

--Best songs 'Hologram' by Crown The Empire, together with' Frontiers' by Omnium Gatherum and 'My Champion' by Alter Bridge.

--Concerts being hometown gig by Matt Berry, at the front, with Matt reeling off a list of local pubs he used to visit, and the mention of the supposed Oasis concert at the Esquires was comical timing of excellence.. of course it was actually played at The Angel, but he knew that.

--Running under 25 minutes for 5K, the first time in a proper race, although the bloody timing was faulty so only the gun time of 25.08 was published, but I know! Running at 6am on the beach at Bournemouth with my black Labrador Dawson, although walking round Bournemouth at midnight waiting for her to decide where she wants to go to the loo was painful.

--The Bad-
Again trying not to be too political only my stupid views.

--The Brexit result, OK while I have finally accepted the result but it's the on-going liability, really in terms of the time and cost it is actually going to take to leave the European Union, when really the Government and the opposition party should be doing much more useful things, with America it's going to be interesting to say the least.

--The demise of Classic Rock, which I would still read from time to time, celebrity deaths and those who were not celebrities they are just as important, various knighthoods and etc. for political cronies (there are a lot of people who work all their lives and never receive any thanks) and especially Victoria Beckham, why?

--My prolapsed disc and the endless recuperation that is still going on, meaning I have not being able to run since 26 August, and yes the pounds are piling on, 'maybe I should grow a little bigger, maybe that should be my goal'.. well Freddie I am unfortunately achieving that goal.

--X Japan cancelling the concert (the reasons totally understandable) when they would had been the first Japanese group to headline Wembley, even before Baby Metal, actually Doll$Boxx are so much better, and anyway looking forward to the 4 March 2017, when I see my heroes.

--Having tickets and not being able to see Band Of Skulls, why? Have I mentioned my back injury?

--Getting old sucks, and of course on a serious note the Nice and Berlin attacks.

--Finally the production of only 4 articles for GDM this year.. apologises.

The Results
Tenth placed is always the hardest to pick, there is a whole list of nearly, like Inglorious, Alter Bridge, Matt Berry and special mention for The Pineapple Thief being the one I would imagine will be in my top ten of 2011-2019, because like their previous albums these guys, just grow and grow even after years of playing them. They have quickly become one of my top three current bands, along with Anathema and Gazpacho. Another batch of worthy contenders are Kings Company, Sonata Arctica, Thy Catafalque, Mistur, Andy Black and Ravenia, but getting it down to the final three of Theocracy, Fates Warning and Insomnium, I finally went for Insomnium and boy, Theocracy only lost out at the eleventh hour, it was that close. So that's where I will start.

10 - Insomnium - Winter's Gate
While Omnium Gatherum 2013 album, 'Beyond' is still my favourite melodic death metal and would find itself a place in my top 10 of the last decade, it was their rivals, Insomnium who actually won this year's battle for the best melodic death album. This actually consists of one piece of music, which weaves, hits, and seduces the listener into submission, while having the required qualities to hold the interests right to the end. With the news that Agalloch have called it a day, Insomnium have finally come forward to fill the hole.

9 - Almanac VS - Tsar
Bordering on pompous, this is reminiscent of the golden era of Royal Hunt, from 'Moving Target' through to 'Fear'. Performed magnificently, all new compositions but the settings placed on an overdrive of classical interpretations. The interplay of the three vocalists actually works and rivals the forward line of Barcelona in quality. The VS refers to the captain of the ship, being ex-Rage member, Victor Smolski.

8 - Myrath - Legacy
There is some pretty excellent stuff coming out of the Middle East, for instance Aviv Geffen with his work with Blackfield, my favourites Orphaned Land who are still the Kings of Israel in my opinion and I have high expectations of newly to be received Winterhorde album (I wonder where I nicked that one from?) and we can add to this line up the magnificent Myrath. I love all this stuff, it all seems to be cinematic, the effects, layers of guitars, the orchestration makes it all very melodic, without losing the power. With the use of instruments that are native to their country it quickly becomes the soundtrack to Lawrence of Arabia. The expanse, the flamboyance, the frilly shirts, is an example of why I love this music so much and why I loathe Adele, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran..

7 - The Struts - Everybody Wants
I really can't add anything to Malcolm's article; he covered all the bases, my personal highlight being the track 'Black Swan' which is buried deep in the track listing. My question is I just wonder what the next option is for the band. Yes I don't mean to record another great album, but more than that what actually gets them to the next level of success. This album finally brought them recognition (I missed it in 2014) but can they financially survive, because out of all the new rock bands, they do appear to be on the point of something really big and even if their follow up is equally as good, it may still not be enough to start selling out bigger venues. Maybe being able to tag onto a major tour, Deep Purple? Def Leppard? because this band is something special.

6 - The Cult - Hidden City
With the odd hint of Killing Joke, The Cult has produced their most brash, evil sounding album. The violins contained in 'Deeply Ordered Chaos', to the energy of 'Dark Energy' (naturally) to the bleakness of 'Birds Of Paradise', incidentally this being my second best song of the year. Is black melodic rock even a genre? Well if not it fits. With the blood splattered on the cover it's also splattered with greatness.

5 - Shiraz Lane - For Crying Out Loud
My conclusion on this is that I feel these guys in many quarters took an unfair battering, specially, due to the vocals of Hannes Kett. I personally love them and really they are a major part of what's makes these Swedes to be able to offer something different. Think Dangerous Toys, think the sleaze and hair bands of the 80's, and really hope they continue with Kett because if they do drop him and enlist the services of a boring straight and narrow accepted style (even unadventurous) vocalist then no doubt they will have good songs but no spark. So to those in disagreement, as a Wolverhampton Wanderers supporter I have learnt to be careful what you wish for.

4 - Jack Savoretti -Sleep No More
After 5 albums, Jack is still just simmering, on the verge of breaking big, even though his last two albums have reached the top 10 album charts in the UK. Is this album as good as 'Written In Scars'? That one of course was my number 1 of 2015. Well in Kerrang terms, that one was a KKKKK, this new one is a high KKKK, although I am finding after time that it keeps improving and heading to its boiling point. I still feel that Nuclear Valdez is an undefined and unaccredited influence on the story of Savoretti's work.

3 - Treat - Ghost Of Graceland
Basically one of the most played album's this year, maybe because I never could be bothered to take it out of the car? Classic melodic rock, catchy tunes, all individual each providing a different chapter in this classic, Treat always managed to remember what writing a great album means, and how to achieve that objective which is something many bands fail to do in this crowded genre. They are still making melodic rock with heaps of originality. So in record company terms, no splash pages, no exaggerating the merits, no need to quote other bands as influences to push the listener into buying the album, just a definite pre order.

2 - Long Distance Calling - Trips
These Germans have been introducing vocals to some of their tracks, but to a much larger extent of the very fine 2013 release of 'The Flood Inside' and this one released during the year. If you desperately need a genre, then maybe be post rock, but with the instrumental songs they come across as providing the backdrop to the Grand Theft Auto series of games to the film classic To Live and Die on L.A. The sirens on the opening track, 'Getaway' always have me checking my rear view mirror. When they add the vocals, they come across naturally and not just laid on top. For this album, they have introduce Petter Carlsen and with songs like 'Reconnect' and 'Lines' he comes across as a young James LaBrie, and sometimes very akin to an early melodic Dream Theater.

1 - Crown The Empire - Retrograde
Wow! A metal core album at Number 1? it's like saying Leicester City can win the Premiership? Seriously how does this album appeal to a guy in his late 40's? Well because this is deeply melodic, this is not lost in trying to zap the listener with hundred notes a minute, metal core vocals are used selectively, this is not over complicated for the sake of it. Just listen to my song of the year, being 'Hologram', and when the metal core vocals are switched on, it is actually the best part of the song. Due to Crown The Empire, I have also picked up on I See Stars, Asking Alexandria although the seeds were probably sown earlier in the year with Bring Me The Horizon's album 'That's The Spirit'. Go on I challenge you.

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#1 | gdazegod on January 10 2017 09:21:33
I thought Myrath were quite decent. I love how they achieve that exotic middle eastern sound in amongst the melodic metal.

Crown Of Empire unfortunately, were just too metalcore for my tastes.
#2 | englandashes on January 10 2017 22:31:11
Thank you for checking them out George, quite understandable.
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