#15 Haunted – Khemmis

#14 Atoma – Dark Tranquility

#13 For This We Fought The Battle Of Ages – SubRosa

#12 Shadow Sleep – Starkill

#11 The Arcane Session – Morphinist



Album: Higher Times
Artist: Electric Citizen
Genre: Psychedelic Metal
Origin: USA

Listen to Natural Law

This album pairs well with Spaten Optimator.

This 4 piece band is a reminder that there are a few core ingredients required for greatness.  Sometimes it is worth going back to your roots to remember what it is that defines you.  I am the first to criticize boring metal and simple beers, but it is impossible to improve on a genre or style if you don’t first understand the origins.   Spaten Optimator and Electric Citizen serve as homages to the sturdy shoulders thousands of others have stood on to reach the heights of our brave new world.



Album: Jomsviking
Artist: Amon Amarth
Genre: Viking Metal
Origin: Sweden

Listen to One Thousand Burning Arrows

This album pairs well with Revolver Blood and Honey

Raise your horns!  What could possibly satisfy your inner viking more than a cup filled with blood and honey to accompany an epic metal album?  There is no greater honor for a viking or metalhead than the promise of one day being surrounded by all your friends in Valhalla, and that’s what Amon Amarth are all about.  There are those who write off Amon Amarth as a cheesy viking metal band that is played out, but these are the same people who never fantasize about staring down their enemies on the battlefield.  It’s healthy to get lost in dreams of blood and visions of death and gore, from time to time.



Album: Grey Heavens
Artist: Omnium Gatherum
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Origin: Finland

Listen to Majesty and Silence

This album pairs well with 5BEANS by Sixpoint.

Sometimes you just need feel good music.  This is the perfect album to listen to when you need to raise your spirits.  Crack open a 5BEANS and play this album loud enough to make your heart start beating with the melody.  When everything in the world is trying its hardest to drag you down, a few 5BEANS and Grey Heavens will lift your spirits and make you realize there is no power or principality strong enough to break you.



Album: Jumalten Aika
Artist: Moonsorrow
Genre: Folk Metal
Origin: Finland

Listen to Ruttolehto sis. Päivättömän Päivän Kansa

This album pairs well with Obsidian Stout by Deschutes.

Moonsorrow always bring a somber and reflective mood to their work.  This can be a challenge for other folk metal bands, but Moonsorrow has no problem taking their craft seriously.  Deschutes has the same mindset with the Obsidian Stout.  When it is time to put childish things aside, pour an Obsidian Stout and listen to Jumalten Aika.



Album: Seraphical Euphony
Artist: Hyperion
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Origin: Sweden

Listen to Novus Ordo Seclorum

This album pairs well with Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA by New Belgium.

What do Voodoo Ranger and Hyperion have in common?  They are both amazing and new to 2016.  With their first full length album, Hyperion is reminding everyone how to make a truly great Melodic Death Metal album, and  New Belgium is raising the bar with their latest take on the imperial IPA.  They both do an amazing job of introducing a fresh level of complexity to an already loved and cherished style that will have you thirsty for more.



Album: Guardians
Artist: Saor
Genre: Atmospheric Folk Metal
Origin: Scotland

Listen to The Declaration

This album pairs well with Rapture by Rabbit Hole.


I have to admit that it was a tough battle between the Saor, Panopticon, Waldgeflüste, and the Panopticon / Waldgeflüster split album that came out this year.  All of these albums evoke beautiful mountain imagery that is capable of transporting you to a place and time when nature was viewed with reverence.  In the end Guardians won me over. 

Just as I was going to delve into the intricate details of what sets this album apart, my wife walked into the house and commented, “This reminds me of the soundtrack to Pocahontas.”  I still don’t know if that was supposed to be a criticism or a compliment.  Maybe listening experiences are subjective.  Maybe.  No, that can’t be right.  Put this album on and drink a Rapture or brown ale of your choice.  You will feel the chill as a cold mountain wind washes over you with all its colors.  Fuck!  It’s ruined forever now!



Album: The Cycle Never Ends
Artist: Ravensire
Genre: Heavy Metal
Origin: Portugal

Listen to Cromlech Revelations

This album pairs well with Yuengling Lager.

Dust off your denim jacket and grab a Yuengling, we are about to take a trip to a time when real heavy metal reigned supreme.  Just as Americas greatest strength is appropriating other cultures food and improving on it, Ravensire manages to produce an album in 2016 that would be the perfect cassette to keep in the glove box of your second generation Trans Am.  They do more than simply pay homage to the genre, they mange to make it their own and produce something is truly unique and capable of standing on its own.  It is impossible to listen to this album without feeling like it is your sole duty to show the world what it means to be the master of our own destiny. 



Album: Magma
Artist: Gojira
Genre: Technical Death Metal
Origin:  France

Listen to Stranded.

This album pairs well with Deviant Dale’s by Oskar Blues.

9:43AM     My body lurches, as if I just met the ground after a long fall, and I bolt awake.  The contractors will be here any minute now!  I peek out the window and don’t see any trucks parked out front.  In a series of events that I am unable to place in chronological order, I grab a Deviant Dale’s, check my phone, and hop into the shower.


10:11AM     Oh no.  I did it again.  I got lost in the shower and I have no idea how much time has passed.  Barely drying off, I run to the window.  Good, still no truck.  What is more concerning is that there is no message on my phone.  The contractors were supposed to be here at 10.  No, they did the siding last week.  But then why did I take today off work?  The hangover is messing with me.  I finish the beer, get dressed and stumble downstairs.

10:36AM     Breakfast helps, but eggs and hot sauce is getting old.  I really should change it up sometime.  Are the contractors late?  Did they already finish?  Ugh, this hangover isn’t helping.  At least I don’t have to hear the racket and banging as the workers tear down and replace the siding this morning.  I’m so thankful that they finished the job last week, or was it yesterday?  E-cig in hand, I walk into the back yard.  The siding on the chimney still looks awful.  OK, so they are just late.  Great… 

11:26AM     Now I am getting worried.  These guys have delayed and put this job off for six months!  I remember how loud it was in the house while they were working and my head throbs in anticipation.  As I look for the foreman’s phone number, I realize that I shouldn’t know what it will sound like since they haven’t started yet.  Voice mail.  Inbox is full.  Fuck it.  I grab another beer.

12:46PM     I put on Magma and pop the top on the Deviant Dale’s.  I drink this beer too much.  I can taste it before the glass even reaches my lips.  I’m getting behind on my top ten metal albums of the year reviews, and I realize that Gojira has to be on the list.  It’s an obvious choice since I listen to this album so much.  I know every line and riff.  Not that it’s a bad thing, this album is great, but anything can get old.  How many times have I listened to this album?  Come on! google music is never reliable with it’s “listened to” count.  I know it is more than 25 times.

3:16PM     BANG!  What was that?  Was I asleep?  BANG!  Oh, the contractors are working.  I guess they assumed I was at work and just got started.  Opening the back door, I am greeted with an aluminum ladder that I duck under and wander onto the patio.  “Oh, don’t walk under the ladder.  Bad luck!”  They laugh.  I’m not ready for this.  Glancing up at the workers I mutter, “looking good.”  “We didn’t know anyone was home.  We should be done today if we can work a little late.  Is that OK?”  The sun is bright and I haven’t left the house all day.  “Uh, yeah.  I can’t wait till this is all over.”  The foreman walks up to me and awkwardly shakes my hand.  “Hah, yeah, well, we just got started.  We’ll finish up today.  What a beautiful day!  I was up at the butt crack of dawn and I knew it would be a wonderful day. As soon as I saw the sunrise I prayed that this day would never end!  I have a lot of jobs that I could finish if today would just go on forever, heh.  Will you be around this evening?  You can give me the check as soon as we wrap up.”  BANG! BANG!  The Christmas stocking hanger!  I run back under the ladder and open the door, shouting, “Yeah, I’ll be here!”  Too late.  The reindeer stocking hanger is on the base of the brick fireplace an the metal antlers are bent out of shape.  This happens every time!  Why do I remember this?  As I bend the thin metal back into shape I slowly realize that I have been having one déjà vu after another all day.  I walk over to my laptop and open reddit.  Why are these links still blue?  I’ve already seen all these.  It’s like that episode of Star Trek The Next Generation where Crusher keeps remembering the poker game.  Could I be stuck in a time loop? 

4:00     I realize now that all of this has happened before.  The only question is for how long.  I glance over at google play and it says that I have listened to Magma 25 times.  Did the album play on repeat 25 times today?  Have I relived this day 25 times?  I need food.  I know I shouldn’t drive, but Taco Bell is right around the corner.  “Whatever,” I mumble to myself, “worst case, I’ll die in a car wreck and wake up again this morning.” 

4:04PM     I slam on the brakes as a giant SUV launches across 4 lanes of traffic in a valiant attempt to turn left out of the Home Depot parking lot.  I knew that would happen.  I need to get out of this loop!  I need to change sometime!  I can’t go to Taco Bell again, the cycle will never end.  I slam the gas pedal to the floor and make an illegal u-turn.  My head is pounding.  I have to end the cycle!  I have to make a change!  The car door doesn’t close all the way as I run back into the house, but I don’t care.  BANG! BANG! BANG!  Make it stop!  I can’t go through this for even one more day!  Tears begin to stream down my face as I drop my knees and grab my ears.  “MAKE IT STOP!” I manage to choke between gasps for breath. 

4:56PM     Silence.  They must be painting now.  What do I do?  Pounding another imperial IPA sounds like a good idea. 

6:14PM     Empty cans surround me on the floor in the front room when my phone rings.  “Hello?”  I can see the foreman’s smug grin in my mind when his insidious voice comes through.  “We are just wrapping up now.  Are you home?  I’m out back if you want give me that check.”  I assume he can hear my breathing because he doesn’t hang up during the awkwardly long pause.  I stand up not knowing what to do next.  “Yeah, I’ll be right out.”  Walking through the kitchen, the glimmer of a passing car’s headlights reflect off the blade of the Cutco chef’s knife that I got from my mother-in-law last Christmas.  I slide it into my back pocket and feel the point cut through the denim as it slips down until the handle catches on the top of my jeans back pocket.  The ladder isn’t in the way anymore and foreman is standing in the middle of my back yard looking at his cell phone.  My mind is blank as I close the distance, draw the knife and drive it into his throat.  “Se lo chingaron!” one of the contractors exclaims as the warm spray of blood soaks my face.  One, two, three… I’m keeping count with each thrust.  Twenty-four, twenty-five, and I’m finished.  The knife is still stuck in the foreman’s chest as he lays, motionless, on the grass.  I stand up, take a deep breath and look up into the darkening sky.  I did it.  I broke the cycle.  Back in the house, my finger slips as I pop the tab on another IPA, but it’s okay.  My hangover is finally gone.  



Album: Vessels
Artist: Be’lakor
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Origin: Australia

Listen to Whelm.

This album pairs well with Theobroma by Dogfish Head.

Historians believe that music has been around for around for 50,000 years and it is possible that it existed before what we think of as the human brain developed.  In fact, some argue that music may predate language its self.  Beer, on the other hand is a much more recent invention.  The oldest archaeological evidence of beer is just under 7,000 years old.  This, however, still predates the written word of God and almost anything we have resembling human history. 

What is unquestionable is that both beer and music possess a primal force that has shaped civilizations and defined what it means to be human.  If you indulge yourself with a Theobroma and listen to Vessels, you will experience the same feelings that your ancestors had and reunite with the spirits of those who created the world we live in today.  There is a thread running through all of us defines the human condition.  Anyone can all feel it if they just drink enough and listen to great metal.





Album: Empires of Ash
Artist: Sojourner
Genre: Castle Metal
Origin: New Zealand / SwedenListen to Homeward.This album pairs well with Dogfishhead Red & White.


There is tremendous debate in the metal community right now about the genre, “Castle Metal.”  Some say it is metal that was crafted to played in a castle, while others argue that it is the type of metal that castles would play if only they were capable of using instruments.  Obsequiae, with their 2015 album Aria of Vernal Tombs are often credited with bringing the previously obscure genre onto the main stage, but the paltry number of bands who can be classified as such has been the main source of criticism for those who question whether or not it should be recognized as a distinct genre at all. 

But, with the release of Empires of Ash it is clear that Castle Metal is here to stay.  In much the same way the style “beer-wine,” (a beer that uses a substantial amount of wine must in the fermentable bill of ingredients) will cause critics to argue endlessly about its utility, “Castle Metal” will always be controversial.  What is not up for debate is the mystifying sense of enduring solace and contentment that one receives when they polish off a bottle of Red &White while listening to this album.  






Album: Empress/Abscess
Artist: Immortal Bird
Genre: Grindcore
Origin: ChicagoListen to To a Watery Grave

This album pairs well with Hopadillo IPA by Karbach.

Somehow, every time I put on this album or crack open a Hopadillo I think, “this isn’t bad.”  Then, in an instant, it’s all gone.  The deep seated pangs of withdrawal start creeping through the marrow of my bones and all my mind can focus on is getting more.  On my weaker days, I have been known to start this album over immediately or sneak into the garage and hope that no one noticed that I’m already on my second beer before the head in everyone else’s glass has had time to settle.


Album: Songs from the North I, II, III
Artist: Swallow the Sun
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Origin: FinlandListen to Rooms and Shadows

This album pairs well with Japanese Green Tea IPA by Stone.

How long should an album be?  They say a good paper or article is like a skirt, it’s long enough to cover the relevant material and short enough to still be interesting.  Most people take this advice to mean that, given the appropriate amount of effort, shorter is better.  We’ve all been there, you open a 22oz bottle of imperial, barrel aged, something infused, double, chocolate/coffee/vanilla, bourbon, limited edition, burtango, and all you can think is, “Wow, that is great.  I would have loved a few sips of this while I contemplate life while sitting next to the fire, but since I opened the bottle, I guess I have to finish it.”  The Japanese Green Tea IPA is not like that.  It is a journey.  Each taste opens up new flavors and sensations.  As it warms up, the full bouquet expands and tells a story.  “Songs from the North I, II, III” is the same way.  At first, you might think, “Zomg, that is a long album!” (albums?) but give it a chance.  There is a clear progression that, given the appropriate measure of attention, makes it clear that there is a narrative and a purpose.  Swallow the Sun were not simply trying to make a long album.  There is no filler.  If your album only needs be 30 minutes long, then make a 30 minute long album.  If you have over two and half hours of a musical story to tell, then do it.


Album: One Man Army
Artist: Ensiferum
Genre: Folk Metal
Origin: FinlandListen to One Man Army

This album pairs well with Prairie Gold by Prairie.

There are three kinds of people in this word: Those who LOVE Ensiferum, those who got burned out listening to them too much in the early 00’s, and those who are secretly lizards hiding under a thin layer of human skin.  Prairie Gold is the same way.  I have met men who claim that they used to love sours, but then they drank too many and now they just don’t desire them anymore.  These men are weak.  They will die off in the first wave of the human uprising against our secret lizard overlords.  After they fall, the rest of us will ride into battle to the majestic, galloping riffs of Ensiferum’s empowering music!


Album: Stellar
Artist: Der Weg einer Freiheit
Genre: Black Metal
Origin: GermanyListen to Repulsion

This album pairs well with The Honesty of Reason by Southern Star.

The intersection of art and power can be found in The Honesty of Reason and Stellar alike.  There is so much going on that you can’t help but grab the nearest human you can find by the collar and passionately explain to them how much of reality they have completely failed to comprehend.  This beer and this album deserve to be appreciated over and over again.  On the surface, they are great.  However, there are several layers waiting to be explored by those with sufficient attention to detail.  At a cursory glance, you might think you understand what I’m explaining here, but until you take the time to savor the intimate details and explore everything that exists in these two works you will never know.


Album: Vænir
Artist: Monolord
Genre: Stoner Metal
Origin: SwedenListen to We Will Burn

This album pairs well with Founders Breakfast Stout.

You wake up later than expected.  Normally the mid-morning rays of sunlight stream through the window and force you to enter the realm of the living, but the sky is gunmetal grey.  The laden clouds are doing a top notch job of blocking out most of the photons that normally strike your heavy eyelids and force you to remember that the world continues to revolve around the sun.  You drank too much last night, but the tell tail signs of a hangover don’t seem present.  After glancing at the time on your phone, you decide to roll out of bed.  As you wander into the kitchen an overwhelming sense of hunger overtakes you.  Time passes.  You realize that you have been staring into the refrigerator for an indeterminable amount of time.  You imagine the expensive, cold air pouring out of the fridge like so many ping pong balls spilling out around your feet.  Instinctively, you close the door.  It’s Saturday and the thought of the weekend brunch at your favorite pub makes your mouth water.  As you pick a lightly worn shirt out of the pile and pull on yesterdays pants, you think about nothing other than the nourishment that eggs, cheese, carbs, and deliciousness will bring you.  Pulling up to the first red light, it hits you; the reason you are not hung over is probably that you are still a little drunk.  Eh, no one gets pulled over for drunk driving on a Saturday morning.  You pause in the parking lot before killing the engine.  The sound of Monolord flowing from your speakers has never sounded more pertinent.  Somehow the patter of raindrops striking the windshield seems to match the eternal drone of Vænir.  After the song ends you walk into the bar.  The smell of bacon and fried potatoes greet you.  There are less than half a dozen people sitting at the bar and you pull up a stool next to someone who is watching women’s beach volleyball on the TV off to the right.  Thoughts about saying some sort of vapid platitude are brushed aside as he takes a deep swig of a beer that is darker than the night, and he gazes back at the fit women diving into the sand on the forty-two inch screen.   What to order?  Is there a wrong decision at this point?  Everything on the brunch menu looks amazing.  Just as you narrow it down to two options, the bartender strides over and makes eye contact.  “What’ll it be?”  Before you can answer, the person to your right turns around.  “He’ll have the Founders Breakfast Stout.”  The fear takes much too long to sink in.  Shock is screaming in your subconscious, begging to be heard through the dreary haze.  As you stare into your own eyes, you mutter, “Yeah, I’ll have the breakfast stout.”  You turn away from yourself before you do and glance down at the menu.  The eggs Benedict sounds good.


Album: Aphotic Veil
Artist: Exgenesis
Genre: Death Metal
Origin: SwedenListen to Cloudburst

This album pairs well with Oak Aged Yeti.

Most oak barrels are made out of trees that are 100 to 200 years old.  It kinda puts your whole life into perspective.  There is something ancient sounding hidden in the subtle interludes of Aphotic Veil, that also makes you realize how short your life really is.

The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem:
“Futile! Futile!” laments the Teacher,
“Absolutely futile! Everything is futile!”
What benefit do people get from all the effort which they expend on earth?
A generation comes and a generation goes, but the earth remains the same through the ages.
The sun rises and the sun sets; it hurries away to a place from which it rises again.

Exgenesis understand the Teacher more than most people who do their time in seminary, and I would argue that the good people at Great Divide do as well.  We are all but a vapor, nothingness, lost in the wind.  The world is, and has been, and will continue to be.  All that we have is to make the most of our time on this earth.  A deep seated knowledge that permeates our most private thoughts tells us that there is more to follow this short life, but yet, we hope that what happens in the here and now must have some everlasting value.  If you relax, pour an Oak Aged Yeti, and listen to Aphotic Veil, you will live a more meaningful life.


Album: Singularity
Artist: Enshine
Genre: Atmospheric Death Metal
Origin: SwedenListen to Dual Existence

This album pairs well with Cantillon Gueuze.

“In the 18th century, a Benedictine monk, dom Pérignon, discovers the champaign method by blending different non sparkling white wines. One century later, a Brabant brewer blends different lambics and brings about a spontaneous fermentation in the bottle. The Gueuze is born.”

Singularity by Enshine speaks to the desire to uncover hidden knowledge that only the Belgians understand.  Everything that is required to make the perfect beer already exists.  All the pieces needed for the best metal album are already available to us.  The act of making a great beer or an amazing album is not one of creation.  It is a work of discovery.  When you drink Cantillon Gueuze and listen to Singularity, you are not partaking in anything new.  You are simply learning to appreciate the work that has gone before. 

Do not let this be misconstrued as petty sentimentalism.  Everything is additive.  What is the best age to live in?  It’s this age!  We have learned from all those who went before us.  We must give them respect, but at the same time we must recognize that, at one point, they were just like us, looking to those who came before, consuming everything beneficial, and discarding everything that is useless.

I want to live on in the future.  Our lives are short.  Are the accomplishments of your life counted among those that will be remembered by future generations, or will your entire existence be discarded?  When you listen to Singularity, you are faced with this question. 


Album: Saros
Artist: Wovoka
Genre: Sludge Metal
Origin:  The desert outside of Los AngelesListen to Lament

This album pairs well with Walloon by Southern Star.

The saros is a period of approximately 18 years, 11 days, and 8 hours, that can be used to predict eclipses of the Sun and Moon.  Walloons are a French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia. 

Southern Star and Wovoka understand that anything worth consuming is something that must be steeped in knowledge of the ancient and the exigent.  When listening to this album and / or drinking this beer, one’s mind will drift, not into the vapid doldrums that pop music and American lagers descend, but into thoughts about our place in the vast landscape of history and the universe.


Album: Ungod
Artist: Morgoth
Genre: Death Metal
Origin: GermanyListen to Snakestate

This album pairs well with Josh The Revelator Double IPA by Clown Shoes.

“One nation, one aim.  Somebody to acclaim.  You follow your leader.”  Josh and Morgoth revealed his forthcoming at nearly the same time.   There is no better narrative that describes the Antichrists ascension than the Lyrics to “Snakestate.”  Toss back an amazing Clown Shoes IPA and revel in the prophetic bath of nationalistic hate put forth by Morgoth.  This will come to pass; the world we knew has passed away.  What side will you take?  Is it better to be tortured and suffer till death of the side of the righteous, or will you join me on the side that might hath made right?  All hail God Emperor Trump!  This is the dawn of the Antichrist!


Album: Under the Red Cloud
Artist: Amorphis
Genre: Melodic Folk Metal
Origin: FinlandListen to Death of a King

This album pairs well with Big Bad Baptist by Epic. 


Epic is a word that is often overused.  However, every time I listen to “Under the Red Sun” it is the word that comes to forefront of my mind.  There are a plethora of good albums and beers that I will never hesitate to recommend, but not many can live up to the title of “epic.”  It takes more than a modest effort to produce something that inspires and fills you with a desire to go forth and do something great.  Listening to this album and drinking this beer is a motivational experience.  This world is forever attempting to beat you down and fill you with existential and cosmic terror.  Music and drink can provide a healthy dose of perspective, but deep down we all know that there no substantial difference between a realist and a pessimist.  The lyrics of “Under the Red Sun” by themselves are quite depressing.  Big Bad Baptist is heavy and dark.  Yet, there is so much lurking in the subtlety.  Vapid feel good music and light drinkable beer are an excellent way to delude yourself.  A normal dark chorus and a typical heavy beer can bring about an honest, albeit depressing, perspective.  It takes so much more to make you see the world as it really is, and say, “challenge accepted!”