20 Best Metal Albums of 2016

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

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40 Watt Sun, 'Wider Than the Sky'
20
19/20

19. 40 Watt Sun, 'Wider Than the Sky'

On 40 Watt Sun's second effort, the British trio, led by ex-Warning singer and guitarist Patrick Walker, make a definitive break from the doom-metal tag they were saddled with following their 2011 debut, The Inside Room. The new album's six often-very-long songs are cleaner-toned, less densely arranged and more expansive than anything on Room, resulting in something more aching and melancholic – not to mention beautiful – than doom-y. This is metal in name only, heavy in sentiment rather than sonics, with Walker's ever-so-slightly fuzzed-out chords and watery single-note lines hovering weightlessly over the rhythm section's spare and deliberate accompaniments. The results are particularly stunning on something like "Another Room," which incorporates what feels like chasms of empty space between each instrumental accent. And throw a guitar solo into the elegiac 16-plus-minute opener "Stages," and you'd have something resembling a post-metal version of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer." R.B.

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