Welcome to day 7 of my ‘Album of the Year 2016′ top 30 countdown. That’s right, that’s the first week of posts complete and I’m nearly 1/4 of the way through now. And, honestly, I’m enjoying writing this series more than any other. The sheer quality of every album mentioned here is staggering and it is a complete joy to be re-listening to them all whilst I write.

But that’s just me. How are you all enjoying it so far? Judging by the feedback, I’m not going too far wrong yet, but that can change very quickly I’m sure. Judging by some comments, I fear that there will be a few disappointed people when they realise that some albums have not even made it into this list. But the beauty of doing a countdown is that no-one will realise the omissions until right at the very end. Exciting huh?…

As always, permit me a quick reminder that all of the previous posts in the 2016 series can be found via links at the bottom of this post along with links to the entire series’ from 2012-2015 inclusive. Perfect if you’re new to the Blog of Much Metal or if you’re just curious.

And now, onwards, with my next choice….

Number 24



The Northern Sanctuary
Century Media Records


“However, to refer to Witherscape as purely a melodic death metal is a little misleading and slightly disingenuous as well. Theirs is a hybrid of styles that borrows from 90s death metal, melodic rock, AOR, progressive rock as well as classic metal and even an occasional touch of thrash for good measure. Blend into the mix a fair amount of atmospherics courtesy of Swano’s bold keyboard style and it’s fair to say that my mouth begins to water at the prospect.

‘The Northern Sactuary’ contains a little bit of everything that I like in my metal these days. Yes it’s heavy but if you take the time to take a close listen to the music of Witherscape, you’ll hear so much more. ‘The Northern Sanctuary’ is a beautiful album that blends the extremity of death metal with so many wonderfully engaging sounds and textures. Oh and I guarantee you’ll be humming several of these tracks for weeks on end. You have been warned.”

Read the full review here

Pic: Erik Ohlsson

Pic: Erik Ohlsson

Dan Swano and Ragnar Widerberg have teamed up once again to bring something quite magical to the lover of extreme metal in 2016. ‘The Northern Sanctuary’ is an utter delight from start to finish, full of brutal metal and plenty of melodic excess, led by some brilliant clean vocals, expressive lead guitar lines and some gorgeous keyboards that bathe the whole thing in some kind of warm glow. If melodeath could ever be classed as ‘happy’, then ‘The Northern Sanctuary’ is the immediate and perfect example of this apparently contradictory description.

And, to top it all off, this album features one, maybe two contenders for ‘song of the year’, in the form of the beautifully epic, ballad-like ‘The Examiner’ and ‘Marionette’ which is, if anything even better. The marriage of melody and brutality is inspired as Swano’s growl acts as the perfect counterpoint to a chorus that is so enormous, it borders on AOR territory. Trust me, it’s magnificent.

In short, ‘The Northern Sanctuary’ is a triumph.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fcj2w4R0cz4]

In case you’ve missed any of the other posts in the 2016 series, here they are for you to explore and enjoy:

Album of the Year 2016 – number 25
Album of the Year 2016 – number 26
Album of the Year 2016 – number 27
Album of the Year 2016 – number 28
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2016 – Number 30

And from previous years:

Album of the Year 2015
Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012