It seems like each year is a banner year for music, especially metal, with so many bands making incredible records, it is nearly impossible to whittle it down to just 15 albums. Here are the top 15 of 2015.
Publicist UK: Forgive Yourself
The National meets post rock, meets new wave, meets heavy music. Members of Revocation, East Of The Wall and Municipal Waste combine to create something that sounds nothing like any of those bands, and nothing like metal. Forgive yourself is emotional, dark and slow but filled with raw power.
Album covers are hit or miss when it comes to depicting the contents within, in this case, Elder’s Lore could not be more correct. With long, winding songs that sound like something out of a 70’s rock album mixed with modern production, it calls to mind the likes of Mastodon, Truckfighters and Baroness. Lore is entirely its own beast but also an ode to the best elements of the past.
Rivers Of Nihil: Monarchy
For a young band Rivers Of Nihil sure don’t sound like it. In Fact, Monarchy sounds like something a band five albums into their career would record, not a sophomore release. Monarchy is progressive, crushing and contains some monolithic riffs with even more monstrous vocals.
Sulphur Aeon: Gateway To The Antisphere
My love, bordering on obsession, with H.P. Lovecraft is no secret to those who know me, and it seems to be the same case that plagues Death Metal band Sulphur Aeon. The songs are epic, filled with ominous intros and ramblings of madmen, praising Yog-Sothoth and Cthulu, the album is an ode to the best of Lovecraftian myth. If it wasn’t for poor production, this album would be far higher on the list, as it stands, Gateway To The Antisphere is still a superb Death Metal album.
High On Fire: Luminiferous
High On Fire is a band that when you hear them, there is no mistaking who they are. Every album is consistent and Luminiferous is no different, being their best release since Death Is This Communion. Fans of rolling, heavy. riff focused metal will find much to love, just try not to think too hard about the absurd lyrics and conspiracy theories found within.
Call Of The Void: Ageless
Call Of The Void is ripping, harried and brutal, their blend of crusty, grind infused punk is exhausting and beautiful. Songs are quick, the album is quicker and it leaves you wanting more in the best way possible, Ageless is a perfect example of an album with zero frills and even less filler.
Baroness do not need me to heap any more praise that anyone else hasn’t already. It is more Baroness, it is great and has some of their best tracks. ‘Chlorine and Wine’ in particular may be the best song the band has written despite competition from ‘March To The Sea’, Purple is more consistent than Yellow And Green ever was, it may be a little less groundbreaking but Purple is all the more vital. Nonetheless, it shows one of the best bands currently in existence only getting better.
Soilwork: The Ride Majestic
Soilwork is just plain fun, their music is catchy as hell, and full of depth and energy. The Ride Majestic is were I would point new fans immediately, providing all the wonders of The Living Infinite but none of the glut. Every track is essential and full of life, the vocals are amazing and the instrumentation is equally impressive, Soilwork have made one of their best ever.
August Burns Red: Found In Far Away Places
Found In Far Away Places shows August Burns Red finding themselves for lack of a better term. It is when all the pieces finally fell into place and the work done on Rescue and Restore, Leveler and Constellations all came together. The result is nothing short of astounding, turning Metalcore on its head entirely.
Sylosis: Dormant Heart
Sylosis is beyond underrated, the very fact that they are not more well known is a travesty in metal music. Monolith was incredible, Dormant Heart is incredible, there is no question about it, you should be listening to Sylosis if you aren’t already. The melodies, the riffs, the songwriting, all superb and at the top of the Thrash/Melodeath genres. Dormant Heart is as essential as any album this year.
Fit For An Autopsy
Fit For An Autopsy broke serious ground as a band with Hellbound and Absolute Hope Absolute Hell pushes it even further. Deathcore at its absolute finest, the album is just ferocious, and some of the best breakdowns in recent memory help create a bone crunching aesthetic around the sound.
Faith No More: Sol Invictus
Listening to Sol Invictus turned me into a huge Faith No More fan, after largely writing them off once I heard ‘Epic’ once or twice. The album is just so varied, so genius and so catchy I just cannot handle it as human on this earth. Every album sees the band change and Sol Invictus is no different, Patton mixes things up for seemingly the millionth time at this point and to great success. Originally the dud of the last song really soured my feelings on the album, but in hindsight it is not a major blemish on what is otherwise an incredible album.
The Black Dahlia Murder: Abysmal
The Black Dahlia Murder are just so good, so consistent and so damned entertaining it is hard to ever not enjoy what they do. Trevor Strnad is one of my favorite lyricists in modern music and Abysmal sees some of his best work, ‘Threat Level No.3’ being a highlight of disturbing, disgusting and downright horrific storytelling. The band always seems to go places you don’t expect them to and Abysmal is absolute perfection of what The Black Dahlia Murder is all about.
Cattle Decapitation: The Anthropocene Extinction
The biggest surprise this year is Cattle Decapitation not making number 1 on the list, in actuality it was there up until the last minute. That doesn’t mean it isn’t deserving of the spot, in fact it is more than deserving. The album is progressive, innovative and downright catchy and its a damned Deathgrind album. Between “clean” singing and just the delivery by Travis Ryan, The Anthropocene Extinction is just the best gruesome, grimy, hunk of metal that has been released in a long time.
Deafheaven: New Bermuda
New Bermuda is absolutely incredible, the vision is so singular and the divide between fans and critics could not be bigger. I only heard the album a week or so ago and it absolutely floored me, to be so taken aback by Deafheaven so quickly, so fully and completely surprised me beyond belief. Despite many claiming it is not kvlt enough or being true Black Metal, New Bermuda is something far more powerful. Deafheaven have created something emotionally manipulative, astoundingly powerful and altogether without the need for classification. Just owning the album and having the capability to listen to it on command gives me a sense of comfort, knowing that the 47 minute ride that is New Bermuda is always available creates a wholly new emotion as a listener. New Bermuda is so powerful, with its mix of harsh, intense metal leanings and downright indie, post rock and piano interludes, that it creates something original within a genre so needing it. New Bermuda is worthy of every note of praise and criticism it gets, because the greatest of albums engender the most fervent discussion and the most devoted fans and detractors.
And that is it! 2015’s best albums, unless…
The Dear Hunter: Act IV: Rebirth In Reprise
The Dear Hunter is not metal in any sense, but they are progressive and complex, appealing to any metal nerd, but also catchy and poppy enough to appeal to indie rock and rock fans alike. The fourth in a continuing series of concept albums, each telling the next part of a story, Rebirth In Reprise is astounding, filled with emotion of every kind and multiple genres of music. While not included on the list proper, as I felt I should stick to metal albums, The Dear Hunter’s Act IV is easily a top five if not higher album and should not be missed by anyone. Rebirth In Reprise is just so powerful, and following the story is a journey unlike any on your typical album.