20 Best Metal Albums of 2016

Vintage thrashers, modern mathletes and more: The year in heavy

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Gorguts, 'Pleiades' Dust'
20
16/20

16. Gorguts, 'Pleiades' Dust'

When Luc Lemay writes a record, he goes deep. With 2013's Colored Sands, the leader of veteran Quebec death-metal band Gorguts crafted a dauntingly technical yet profoundly moving concept album inspired by Tibet's troubled cultural history. On this follow-up he tackled another PBS-worthy topic: Baghdad's House of Wisdom, which housed the world's largest library before it was destroyed during a 13th-century Mongol siege. The guitarist/growler traces the center's rise and fall in an enthralling 33-minute suite that ranges from white-knuckle blastbeat barrage to atmospheric prog breakdowns to ominous ambient soundscapes. In Lemay's hands, what could have been a tedious history lesson became a passionate and – in keeping with Gorguts' boundary-pushing back catalog – radically unorthodox vision of extreme metal's potential. H.S.

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