20 Best Metal Albums of 2016

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

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Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas, 'Mariner'

9. Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas, 'Mariner'

When Swedish post-metal band Cult of Luna embarked on writing their collaborative album with Brooklyn-based singer Julie Christmas, they were inspired by the concept of "a journey into the unknown." Each of the record's five dynamic cuts bring out new shades in both the band's long-form ambient metal and Christmas' elastic vocals – ranging from Björkian squeals and whispers to harrowing screams, as displayed previously in groups Made Out of Babies and Battle of Mice. Unlike the group's kinsmen Neurosis who, on their joint album with Swans' Jarboe, offloaded vocal duties to her, Cult of Luna keep roaring on Mariner, meshing their bellows with Christmas' croons and cries in a way that make her feel like a true member of the band, not a onetime guest. When the tight interplay reaches its climax in the upward-spiraling crescendo of closer "Cygnus," it's hard to deny that this journey into the unknown has landed somewhere revelatory. B.G.

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