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Here is BeatIt’s selection of the most interesting international albums of 2016, also drumwise

Drummers and Drummerettes! As another year reaches its end, time has come for rankings galore. We have also decided to propose a series of our own ratings of what we think was worth listeners’ attention this year.

Below, is a list of the most interesting albums of 2016 released internationally. Naturally, we are interested in excellent songs, great riffs, catchy melodies, awesome vocal parts as well as accomplished guitar and keyboard solos. However, we refuse to ignore a job well done by all the drummers involved, who did their best to write and perform parts that would drive the songs, make the listener swing, headbang, dance, jump or contemplate the music as it flows in a majestic manner.

Obviously, it IS a subjective list, which will include those performances that the BeatIt team has remembered best. Some of you may decide our choice is incomplete or even wrong. In such case, don’t shoot your verbal ammunition at us. Write to us, feel free to share your opinions! Who knows? Maybe there will be enough comments for us to write a complement article?

Top international albums of 2016 according to BeatIt

Periphery – “Periphery III: Select Difficulty” (drummer: Matt Halpern)


The latest release from Periphery is just stunning, both as far as arrangements, musical ideas and sound are concerned. Explosive stuff, this! It grooves and it’s heavy at the same time. Odd time signature? Nothing to it. Matt Halpern spices it up with some wild accents, fitting grace notes and blast beats. Tastes great!

Gojira – “Magma” (drummer: Mario Duplantier)


The new Gojira offering can be described in one word: power! Heaviness is mixed with some quite catchy parts (not in a metalcore kind of way, though). Mario Duplantier‘s drum parts are solid and creative. Notice the way the bass drum work interconnects with the other instruments. Also, the beautiful used when least expected. Bravo!

Joe Bonamassa – “Live at the Greek Theatre” (drummer: Anton Fig) / “Blues of Desperation” (drummers: Anton Fig, Greg Morrow)


The Saviour of the Blues released two records last year. The live album pays homage to three blues legends: B.B Kinga, Alberta Kinga and Freddie King. Drummer Anton Fig plays with a funk energy and joyfulness rather than blues nostalgia, weaving in many interesting licks which make the standards sound fresh. The studio album, in turn, brings an excellent refreshment of the blues rock formula while drummers Anton Fig i Greg Morrow provide the leader with all the necessary assistance.

Terrace Martin – “Velcet Portraits” (drummer: Ronald Bruner Jr.)


A solo effort by a respected producer, known mostly for his work with hip-hop stars. The album includes what is the most important for the man – soul, R&B i funk. Roland Bruner Jr.‘s playing is exquisite! A true human groove machine! Anybody who has seen this player live knows there are no accidents here…

DeJohnette/Coltrane/Garrison – “In Movement” (drummer: Jack DeJohnette)


Over half a century ago, Jack DeJohnette worked with John Coltrane and his double bass player Jimmy Garrison. Now, it is time for the younger generation to take over. Enter Ravi Coltrane and Matthew Garrison. The trio rediscovers musical areas explored by their ancestors, which is mixed with original tunes. Jacka DeJohnette’s playing knows no compromise on this album. A true essence of the jazz feel. Hats off!

Rival Sons – “Hollow Bones” (drummer: Michael Miley) 


This is what rock’n’roll sounded like in 2016! Heavily Zeppelin-infuenced, but sounds much more gritty and a splash of stoner power. Such style requires a Bonham-like groove maker behind the drums and that’s exatly what Michael Miley provides. Apart from playing with a great feel, the man also puts on a spectacular show, which we witnessed at the band’s gig supporting Black Sabbath in June.

Meshuggah – “The Violent Sleep of Reason” (drummer: Tomas Haake)


Meshuggah‘s music hasn’t evolved too much in the recent years, nor has it explored new sonic territories. Good! Tomas Haake never ceases to amaze with the precision of a watchmaker and this album proves his position of a point of reference in the drumming community, a performer in a class by himself.

Metallica – “Hardwired… To Self-Destruct” (drummer: Lars Ulrich)


Yes, Megadeth, Testament and Anthrax did release theor new records in 2016 and they probably ARE more interesting, while Chris Adler, Gene Hoglan and Charlie Benante play drums much better. It just so happens that THIS is the album everybody has been talking and writing about since its release and THIS is the best-selling album the world over. Like it or not, one of the top albums of 2016. And we kinda like it…

Leonard Cohen – “You Want It Darker” (drummer: Brian MacLeod)

Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker

With this album, Leonard Cohen said farewell to this mortal coil. And a beautiful album it is. The best in years. No drummer could stand in the way of reaching such a goal. It had to be a top-drawer player, who would play very little but in a big way. That’s exactly what Brian MacLeod (a session ace with over 30-years’ experience) did.

David Bowie – “Blackstar” (drummer: Mark Guiliana)

David Bowie - Blackstar

We should actually say the same of this record as in the case of Leonard Cohen’s final work. The difference is that the drumming ace is one of the brightest-shining stars of the recent years – Mark Guiliana. He plays sparingly, tastefully and with a lot of feel. In 20 – 30 years, this is going to be a point of reference for all drummers wanting to learn how to play for the song, not themselves.

Devin Townsend Project – “Transcendence” (drummer: Ryan van Poederooyen)

Devin Townsend Project- Transcendence

Devin Townsend is an extraordinary artist, slightly mad perhaps? There’s a method to his madness, which seems to be mixing industrial, opera, symphony and topping it all off with heavy riffs. His drum partner in crime is the precise, musical and creative Ryan van Poedrooyen. Congratulations on this one!

The Mute Gods – “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me” (drummer: Marco Minnemann)

Mute Gods - Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me

Very, very good quality prog. The band is led by a gentleman still remembered from his days in Kajagoogoo, who has provided very interesting vocals and juicy bass lines for this album. On the drums, we have many drummers’ fav player Marco Minnemann, who proves with his performances here that he’s nothing short of a drumming genius.

Dream Theater – “The Astonishing” (drummer: Mike Mangini)

dream theater - the astonishing

Almost 6 years into the partnership between Dream Theater and Mike Mangini, the band keeps up a busy touring and recording schedule and a high musical standard. As for Mike, his drumming still charms, fascinates and gives people the inferiority complex. If such is Mike’s and the band’s role in the music business, so be it…

Will Calhoun – “Celebrating Elvin Jones” (drummer: Will Calhoun)

Will Calhoun - Celebrating Elvin Jones

Making a tribute record for such a musical and drumming icon as Elvin Jones reqires a lot more than just aping the style. A player must understand its origins, know its development and a splash of individuality wouldn’t hurt either. We think Will Calhoun has pulled it off.

King Crimson – “Live in Toronto” / “Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind” (drummers: Pat Mastelotto, Gavin Harrison, Bill Rieflin)


A single record ans a box set portraying the most recent incarnation of King Crimson, featuring three drummers. The list of highlights includes Jako Jakszyk’s excellent singing, the inclusion of the band’s classic repertoire, the return of sax player Mel Collins and the fact that three top-dawer drummers don’t try to outplay one another complementing each other’s parts. Even the fact that all the noises made by the audience have been removed (which is potentially contoversial) allows the listener to enjoy the performances by all the musicians more.

Animals As Leaders – “The Madness of Many” (drummer: Matt Garstka)

Animals As Leaders - Madness of Many

Tosin Abasi and co have yet again proved who rules the world of heavy prog/djent. Drummer Matt Garstka once again will cause his drummer fans countless sleepless nights. His parts on the album are virtually unplayable! We can imagine all those nutters sweating blood behind their kits, armed with calculators, trying to work out what goes on here. Just don’t forget to groove because this guy always does!

Beth Hart – “Fire On the Floor” (drummer: Rick Marotta)

Beth Hart- Fire on the floor

An excellent album. One might think it was impossible to squeeze anything more from the blues-rock-meets-American-ballad formula. Nothing could be further from the truth, provided the recipe includes a lot of heart. It IS there, also in Rick Marotta‘s drumming. Not a single unnecessary note in his performances, while providing Beth with everything she needs to start that fire on the floor…

New Model Army – “Winter” (drummer: Michael Dean)

New Model Army - Winter

A great album from a great band. It follows in the stylistic footsteps of the band’s classics, such as “No Rest for the Wicked“, “Thunder and Consolation” or “Impurity“. Respect for NMA’s tradition can also be heard in Michael Dean‘s drumming. He pays homage to the late Robert Heaton while maintaining his individual character at the same time.

The Dillinger Escape Plan – “Dissociation” (drummer: Billy Rymer)

dillinger escape plan-dissociation

The alternative metal scene has quite a lot to offer, including incredibly gifted young drummers. Billy Rymer certainly is one of them and it breaks our collective heart to see that he’s not as celebrated and appreciated as he deserves to be. His seemingly chaotic and aggressive parts fit the band’s music perfectly, which is probably th emost important thing in this kind of expressive music.

Avenged Sevenfold – “The Stage” (drummer: Brooks Wackerman)

avenged sevenfold-the stage

Brooks Wackerman proves his playing skills one more time. When it comes to music styles based on heavily distorted guitars, he certainly has become the go-to drummer. Bad Religion, Infectious Grooves, the crazy Tenacious D. and now very demanding, progressive, fast, melodic and still metal Avenged Sevenfold. Great job, Mr. Wackerman!

Sting – “57th & 9th” (drummers: Vinnie Colaiuta, Josh Freese, Zach Jones)

Sting - 57th & 9th

After 13 years of flirting with early music, musical, symphonic music and God knows what else, Sting’s new record marks the return to pop rock mainstream. A return with style it is, too. This alone guarantees the album a place among top releases of 2016. Add Vinnie Colaiuta and Josh Freese to the equasion. What more can you want?

(Jan, Vik)