"Which Way is Up?" Jackson Taylor & The Sinners. If any song perfectly encapsulates 2016, it's this title track from Jackson Taylor's latest release. It expressed my feelings exactly as most everyone around me seemed to lose their minds in a particularly nasty election year. It's a message that I believe everyone needs to hear before this year is over.
"Dream No More," Metallica. Hardwired ... to Self-Destruct is not likely to crack my final top 10 for the year. To be honest, I find the record mostly boring, but there are a few standout tracks. This is one of them.
"Scandal," Delain. I admit that Moonbathers does not have the immediate appeal of the band's last outing, but it's still a solid record. Here, they embrace those 1980s influences by taking on a quintessentially '80s Queen tune and doing it well.
"Raise Your Horns," Amon Amarth. What's not to like about a Viking drinking song? This is what I imagine Amon Amarth would sound like if Christopher Bowes of Alestorm were a member of the band, and it's fantastic. Jomsviking, like many concept albums, gets lost a bit in the story at times, but this track alone makes it worth picking up.
"Blood of the Warrior," Wicked Realm. Most of my memorable music moments from 2016 were from well-established acts, but I always love surprising new discoveries. I learned about Wicked Realm from a live review on Something Else Reviews, went to check them out, and "Blood of the Warrior" has been a staple of my playlist ever since.