Hello everyone! You may not recognize my name here. I'm fairly new to Metal Injection. I started the new Funeral Doom Fridays column here and I also add in some new music here and there. I also do some contributions to a couple other websites as well as my own. Oh man, did this take a lot of work… I spent numerous hours listening and re-listening to albums trying to figure out which ones I liked a little more than the others. I whittled all the incredible music that 2015 had to offer into my final ten albums. Within my top ten you will find a couple new discoveries, a couple from some of my favorite bands, and a lot of black metal. Enjoy the list and let me know what some of your favorites are!
In the sentiment of honesty, this album kind of scared me the first time I listened to it. I was in the midst of trying to fall asleep one night with my headphones on, which happens from time to time, and the desperate screams in the song "Dawn Vibration" jarringly woke me up. I was immediately hooked. "Within Thrall" also has one of the greatest opening riffs I have heard in a while. Leviathan a.k.a. Jef Whitehead made a bleakly triumphant return in 2015 after shaking off some personal/legal troubles. Scar Sighted is one of the best one-man black metal albums this year.
The medieval/atmospheric black metal trio of Obsequiae was one of my two biggest discoveries in 2015 and they should be one of yours too. Their second full-length LP, Aria of Vernal Tombs, is the most unique album I have heard this year. How many albums can you think of that effortlessly blend a medieval harp into black metal? It is grandiose in its delivery and extravagantly poetic as a whole. "Autumnal Pyre" and "Pools of a Vernal Paradise" serve as great introductory tracks to this folk-tinged piece of Renaissance.
Seattle's He Whose Ox Is Gored is my other biggest discovery of 2015 and, again, they should be one of yours too. If you took YOB, ISIS, Torche, early Mastodon, and Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, ran them through a cement mixer, and laid it out as the foundation for a massively promising future, you would get The Camel, The Lion, The Child. From the opening "Oathbreaker" to the closing "Weighted by Guilt, Crushed Into A Diamond", it all exudes radiant genre fusion, resulting in an incredibly refreshing album. Remember this band.
A multi-part concept album dealing with the struggles of extinction? Sign me up. Infinite Dissolution is the latest addition in a long-standing discography from Chicago's experimental/drone/black metal Locrian. Hellbent on forging a more forward-thinking brand of experimental metal, they have created an album that will serve as a benchmark for the genre for years to come. I was blown away by this record and even more blown away when I saw them perform it live in Raleigh earlier this year. If you have the opportunity to see them, make every effort you can. I promise you will not be disappointed.
The mysterious Bay Area Bosse-De-Nage imposes a grittier and rawer version of post-black metal than some of their counterparts. All Fours is perverted in nature and unforgiving in execution, effortlessly melding touches of shoegaze, indie rock and experimental noise into a strong black metal base. All Fours also features some of the most eloquently debauched lyrics I have ever read. Vocalist/lyricist, Bryan Manning, produces full-length poetry for every song and delivers them in an almost painful manner over chaotic blast beats, idiosyncratic tremolo picking, and airy post-rock rhythms.
Profound Lore Records had a very dark and depraved spring of 2015. Between Leviathan, Bosse-De-Nage, and this album from Texas-based atmospheric black metal group, Pyramids, I spent most of spring laying flat on back listening to these albums instead of going outside and enjoying the beautiful weather. I'm certainly not complaining though. A Northern Meadow's album cover was what initially attracted me to the record; the unnerving aura and sound of this album as well as the incredible production team (which included Colin Marston and Vindsval) kept me coming back for more. This album is epic in scope, you can almost feel like you're standing in a meadow surrounded by your thoughts.
Austin Lunn's musicianship is undeniable. He has been creating masterful black metal laced with Appalachia folk under the guise of Panopticon for years now but on his latest album he has abandoned that formula. Autumn Eternal sees Lunn take a more melodic and darker approach to his brand of one-man black metal. This is particularly true on tracks like "Oaks Ablaze" and "Sleep to the Sound of Crashing Waves". It can be posited that this shift in music comes from the number of changes Lunn has experienced in his personal life lately. He has moved to Minnesota and opened a brewery among other things over the past few years. What ultimately makes Autumn Eternal so brilliant is the introspection that coincidentally occurs when you listen to it. The album is deeply enthralling and invokes incredible mental imagery and allows the listener to explore a large breadth of emotions.
When New Bermuda was announced, I am certain I was not the only one wondering how Deafheaven planned to top the marvelous Sunbather. With the inclusion of other musical inspirations, a full five-piece band intact, and what I can only assume to be a little help from black magic or a deal with the devil, they have in fact outdone themselves. New Bermuda jettisons any debate as to whether or not Deafheaven is a metal band (as if they weren't on Sunbather for some reason). Their third album is much darker, grittier, and possesses an inner demon of thrash and outright black metal. However, that doesn't necessarily mean they shed the shoegaze and indie influences. Quite the contrary, they have found a way expertly blend prior and new influences.
2. Vattnet Viskar – Settler
Don't call them Blackgaze. Vattnet Viskar make a bold case to carry the flag for US Black Metal on Settler. They're more refined and focused now, their music is unrelenting and fiery. They fit the same amount of black metal bravado that some bands need over an hour to craft, into less than forty minutes without sacrificing any quality. Settler also possesses a strong auxiliary post-rock influence as well, adding another layer of depth to their best work to date. They don't pigeonhole themselves into one style or pseudo-genre like some other bands, instead opting to explore the deep expanses of their influences. The New Hampshire quartet tours vigorously and their live shows match the intensity of the music they release. I have had the great privilege of meeting these guys and they are some of the coolest and most humble people you could meet. There is a reason this album is popping up on a multitude of year-end lists. They have all of the necessary traits to become the leaders of this ever-changing genre we call black metal. They have also become one of my favorite bands in music, period.
There is only one progressive metal album this year and it is Between the Buried and Me's masterpiece, Coma Ecliptic. Just when you thought they couldn't top themselves after the brilliant Parallax series, they go and make a rock opera that is the best music they have ever released. Every song is infectious and every member of the band stepped up in contributions. Tommy Rogers' vocal range has never been wider or more complex, Paul, Dan and Dusty's guitar work is masterful, and Blake's status as one of the best drummers in progressive metal remains unquestioned. As with The Parallax series, Coma Ecliptic follows a conceptual story. This one about a man who builds a machine that allows him to explore other possible realities and choose which one he wants to live, ultimately learning that the one he was living was the best option. If I had to summarize this album into one word: flawless. Between the Buried and Me is forever one of my favorite bands, The Parallax II: Future Sequence was my favorite album and Coma Ecliptic is my favorite of 2015.
See all of our Best of 2015 coverage here.