With our Most Anticipated list of 2015, Jon Hadusek and I found ourselves amazed by the fresh spirit and incredible output behind this decade’s metal renaissance, and now, come 2016, we barely feel any different. Independent labels are growing with phenomenally talented acts, more prominent bands are feeling the pressure to put out their best work to prove they’ve still got whatever it was that made us fall in love with them in the first place, and the metal community is growing all the more inclusive, progressive, and hell, even caring (Check out #MetalBandcampGiftClub on Twitter for living proof).
This year’s list contains many bands whose names we already know very well, as well as several destined to rise among the ranks with their second or third albums. However, be sure not to take this list as one definitively predicting the best metal albums of the year. 2016 will surely have its surprises as well as its disappointments, and there are likely dozens of upcoming releases not on this list that we’ll have to return to sometime this year. Just look at the discrepancies between our 20 Most Anticipated, Top 10 (So Far), and our Top 25 lists last year! Those discrepancies are what make these lists worth crafting, and it’s the bright-eyed and eager feeling we get for all these albums below that inspires the deep passion we have for this genre.