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Sonic Cathedral’s Best Releases of 2016
Written by SC Staff   
Monday, 02 January 2017

2016 was another good year for female-fronted metal. Major releases included Epica, Lacuna Coil, Delain, Amaranthe, and Tarja. Epica's new album, The Holographic Principle, was widely praised by fans and continues the heavier sound introduced by Design Your Universe. Simone's vocals have never been better. Lacuna Coil's new release, Delirium, was also widely liked by fans who hailed it as a return to the band’s roots (though this reviewer prefers their Comaliies sound). Meanwhile Delain released another excellent album, Moonbathers, after teasing with the Lunar Prelude EP. Moonbathers is a prime example of Delain's energetic sound and Charlotte's emotive voice and gothic lyrics. Finally, Amaranthe's new album, Maximalism, literally maximized that band's sound. It is simultaneously Amaranthe's poppiest and heaviest album and in this reviewer's opinion their best.

 Delain - Moonbathers Epica - TheHolographicPrincipleLacuna Coil - Delirium

In addition to the big releases, 2016 also featured many fantastic albums from up and coming bands. The sophomore effort from New Zealand's Devilskin, Be Like the River, picked up where We Rise left off, with fierce vocals and fresh, in your face music. Meanwhile, Mercy Isle, combined American rock with European symphonic metal on their first full length album, Undying Fire. Kassandra Novell's vocals on it are simply stellar. Other U.S. bands also made their mark. For example, September Mourning and Stitched Up Heart, both from LA, each released strong debut full length albums following previous EPs (and comic books in the case of September Mourning).

2016 was also an exciting year for concerts. Metal Female Voices Fest returned to Belgium after a year off, with headliner Tarja, and newcomer FemME had a great second year in the Netherlands with headliner Arch Enemy (who also filmed an upcoming DVD at Wacken). At Hellfest in France, Tarja and Within Temptation performed “Paradise” live for the first time. Nightwish brought their triumphant Endless Forms Most Beautiful world tour to a conclusion, filming a new DVD and preparing for a well-deserved year off in 2017. Epica’s new album served as a launching pad for their first North American tour in several years (following two unfortunate cancellations). And Delain celebrated their tenth anniversary with a special concert in Amsterdam (which will also become a DVD). They are also preparing for their first co-headlining North American tour next year.

And now our top ten lists. As you will see, the SC staff continues our tradition of diverse picks. Only one band got two #1 picks, Epica, and nearly everyone had favorites not mentioned by others. Even so, we all came together for a few widely recognized picks: Delain, Epica, Lacuna Coil, and Sirenia. Three newer bands also got three picks each: Mercy Isle, Oceans of Slumber, and Stitched Up Heart. But the band getting the most mentions, and also the highest weighted average, was long-time SC favorite Delain.

Allyson Kenning
Hypersonic - Existentia 
1. Hypersonic - Existentia
2. Celestial Ruin - Pandora
3. Delain - Moonbathers
4. Epica - The Holographic Principle
5. Vivaldi Metal Project - The Four Seasons

C.
Lacuna Coil - Delirium
1. Lacuna Coil - Delirium
2. Delain - Moonbathers
3. A Sound of Thunder - Who Do You Think We Are?
4. Tarja - The Shadow Self
5. Helion Prime - S/T
6. Mercy Isle - Undying Fire
7. Aggronymph - Far Away as we Fade
8. Sirenia - Dim Days of Dolor
9. Rhenium - Rise Above the Sea
10. The Spider Accomplice - Los Angeles: The Abduction

Doctor T.
Blackthorn - Witch Cult Ternion
1. Blackthorn - Witch Cult Ternion
2. Whyzdom - Alive
3. Evig Natt - Evig Natt
4. Lightless Moor - Hymn for the Fallen
5. Sirenia - Dim Days of Dolor
6. Delain - Moonbathers
7. Epica - The Holographic Principle
8. Mercy Isle - Undying Fire
9. Theatres des Vampires - Candyland
10. September Mourning - Volume II

Frozen Angel
Trees of Eternity - Hour of the Nightingale
1. Trees of Eternity - Hour of the Nightingale
2. Walls of Jericho - No One Can Save You from Yourself
3. Oceans of Slumber - Winter
4. Tarja - The Shadow Self
5. Deadlock - Hybris
6. Universe 217 - Change
7. Stitched Up Heart - Never Alone
8. Sirenia - Dim Days of Dolor
9. Otep - Generation Doom
10. Lacuna Coil – Delirium

John Thornburgh
Delain - Moonbathers
1. Delain - Moonbathers
2. Amaranthe - Maximalism
3. Devilskin - Be Like the River
4. Epica - The Holographic Principle
5. Mercy Isle - Undying Fire
6. Stitched Up Heart - Never Alone
7. September Mourning - Volume II
8. Theatres des Vampires - Candyland
9. Lacuna Coil - Delirium
10. Letters from the Fire - Worth the Pain

Max Levites
Epica - TheHolographicPrinciple
1. Epica - The Holographic Principle
2. Lacuna Coil - Delirium
3. The Pretty Reckless - Who You Selling For
4. Eths - Ankaa
5. Babymetal - Metal Resistance
6. Delain - Moonbathers
7. Deadlock - Hybris
8. Sirenia - Dim Days of Dolor
9. Amaranthe - Maximalism
10. Arkona - Vozrozhdenie

Robin Stryker
Oceans of Slumber - Winter
1. Oceans of Slumber - Winter
2. Evig Natt - Evig Natt
3. Delain - Moonbathers
4. Forever Still - Tied Down
5. Devilskin - Be Like the River
6. Letters from the Fire - Worth The Pain
7. Stitched Up Heart - Never Alone
8. Van Halst - World of Make Believe
9. Otep - Generation Doom
10. Celestial Ruin - Pandora

Ton Dekkers
Epica - TheHolographicPrinciple
1. Epica - The Holographic Principle
2. Lacuna Coil – Delirium
3. Oceans of Slumber - Winter
4. Diabulus in Musica - Dirge up the Archons
5. Sirenia - Dim Days of Dolor
6. Alarion - Waves of Destruction
7. Oracles - Miserycorde
8. Razend - White Goat II
9. For I Am King - Daemons
10. Blues Pills - Lady in Gold

Weighted Average
1. Delain - Moonbathers
2. Epica - The Holographic Principle
3. Lacuna Coil - Delirium
4. Oceans of Slumber - Winter
5. Sirenia - Dim Days of Dolor
6. Evig Natt - Evig Natt
7. (tie) Devilskin - Be Like the River
7. (tie) Mercy Isle - Undying Fire
7. (tie) Tarja - The Shadow Self
10. Stitched Up Heart - Never Alone

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