Matt's Top 10 Albums of 2015
All December long, Metal Injection writers are counting down their favorite albums and moments of the year. Make sure to vote for your favorite album of the year in our Reader's Poll here…
Man, coming up with a year end list like this is always a challenge. 2015 has been a banner year for metal with stellar releases coming out by the bushel. I had a wonderfully hard time, as always, picking through and determining my favorite finds from the last year and tried to identify the records that resonated the most with me personally. The hardest part for me is always determining the criterion for inclusion, and of course, we all know that about six months from now I probably won't be listening to any of these, and instead will have stumbled across some other releases from 2015 that will have become my favorite… but fuck it, these records are damn good nonetheless.
10. Un The Tomb Of All Things
Every once in a while an album booms out of the underground and it totally takes you by surprise, getting your heart pounding and thoughts racing. Un's The Tomb Of All Things is one of those albums. With a majestic sound, and a crushing sense of melody, this album is heavy as all get out. Borne straight from the weird and ever expanding doom scene, this band only hinted at the triumph that was to come on their debut EP. Now we're left loving the magic that The Tomb Of All Things represents. Transcendent, overwhelming and simply beautiful this album has massive potential and should see the band exploding in the near future. It's hard not to fall in love with the swooping power of an album that never fails to impress.
9. So Hideous Laurestine
2013's Last Poem/First Light kind of hinted that So Hideous were on to something special. Yet the years of hard work that have gone into this band only really came into fruition on Laurestine, an album that pushes the very boundaries of what metal can be. So Hideous have put together an a release that ebbs and flows, much like a symphony. There is a weird existential might to this record: the soaring soundscapes and classical orchestrations speak to how fucking good this band is, and always have had the potential to be. Laurestine is a massive step forward, not just for So Hideous but for metal as a whole, and I genuinely feel that twenty years from now we are going to look back at this album as a cultural moment when things started to shift.
8. XII Boar Pitworthy
Every once in a while I start to fear that the essential spirit of rock and roll has faded and that our youthful rebellion was for naught. Then a band like XII Boar come along and prove me totally wrong. The bands first couple EP's were chock full of great riffs and powerful choruses. Pitworthy sees them pushing their trademark sound even further. XII Boar are perhaps the closest any band can come to Motorhead in this day and age without being redundant. Instead they harness their own brand of crushing sludge metal, to create an album that is punchy and to the point, belying impressive compositional techniques. Pitworthy is more than just a rock record, it's an album that brings an entire art form to a new level, whilst staying gritty, demented and far too much fun. Pitworthy will crack your skull and make you party.
7. The Body & Thou You Whom I Have Always Hated
This was one of my most hotly anticipated albums of the year because holy shit, these bands are so fucking heavy, demented and cleansing. You Whom I Have Always Hated sees these two quasi-legendary bands working together on what might very well be the darkest album of the year. The Body and Thou have both outdone themselves, crafting bleak sound worlds that resonate with the listener and drag them down into the nihilistic void that defines this music and helps to make it so great. What's fascinating to me about this album is how the bands seem to feed off of each other to create something greater. There is an eternal power about this album; it sings out across the ages and has the potential to devastate ear drums for centuries to come.
6. Ghost Meliora
What impresses me with Ghost is how every album seems to be chock full of classics. When I saw the band for the first time this year I was blown away by how everyone in attendance seemed to know every word… and with good reason. Meliora may very well be the band's best record to date. Brilliantly produced, always exciting, and wonderfully bombastic Meliora sees Ghost expanding their sound and helping to further establish their place in the scene, cementing their place as modern day heavy metal icons. Ghost have created an album with a distinct sound, a very rare occurrence in this day and age. There is something about this album that can't help but resonate with the listener and gives off an otherworldly vibe all of its own. Ghost are better than ever and are quite possibly the band that will define our generation. If you're still not on the bandwagon, you might just have to get used to it… this band is only getting bigger and better.
5. Ensiferum One Man Army
I've always had a special place in my heart for Ensiferum. Maybe it's my upbringing as a metalhead in Europe, or maybe I'm just a hopeless romantic, but, in my opinion at least, One Man Army is one of the band's best releases to date. With party rockers like "Two Of Spades" and "Bonus Song" (possibly the best piece of bonus content I have ever heard) sitting alongside more traditional epics ("Cry For the Earth Bound" is one of the band's most memorable songs yet) as well as the traditional odes to war, One Man Army features some of Ensiferum's finest compositions: pieces that cover a wealth of emotion, from doomy soundscapes to death metal madness. What I'm trying to say is that One Man Army has it all,, and it remains one of the single most exciting albums of the year, one I come back to again and again.
4. Motorhead Bad Magic
Motorhead, perhaps more than any other band in the world, needed to put out a great record this year. With concerns about Lemmy's health reaching a fever pitch, the world was left wondering: does our greatest rock and roll badass still have it? And then that legendary cry of “Victory or die!” rings out and you immediately know: this is Motorhead and they play rock and roll. Brash, arrogant, and charismatic in a way that only Motorhead can be, Bad Magic is more than just a great rock and roll record, it's a great Motorhead record, one of their best in fact. Filled with badass track after badass track, some of which even push the boundaries of what Motorhead can be, Lemmy and the boys have proved once again that they are among the best and brightest, and have what it takes to reign proudly for years to come.
3. Napalm Death Apex Predator – Easy Meat
If Bad Magic is a party record then Apex Predator – Easy Meat is one to make you think. Napalm Death have experienced a stunning evolution with their past few albums and Apex Predator – Easy Meat is an exciting step forward for the band. While they definitely get into the grind stuff we love so much, it's the experimental moments that make modern Napalm Death so fascinating to metal nerds like me. The deeper I delve into the record the more I find myself charmed. Apex Predator – Easy Meat sees the founders of grind pushing the envelope on what grind can be, and how many of the other grind progenitors can claim that? After what bands like Full of Hell and Gridlink have done in recent years it would be easy for Napalm Death to just say 'fuck it' and go back to making old school grind. But they haven't. Instead Napalm Death have remained exciting and powerful for more than thirty years now and for good reason.
2. Noisem Blossoming Decay
It seems only fitting that both bands to beat out Napalm Death don't have any members who were alive when Scum came out. That being said, I get the impression that Noisem may very well be their generation's death metal lords. Blossoming Decay sees the band taking the vibrant youthful energy seen on Agony Defined and controlling it, manipulating it, and growing it into something very special. With a radical evolution on pretty much every front the band has been able to create something incredibly intelligent and yet still as painful as a raw nerve. The band has been able to inject their unique brand of mosh-inducing death metal with moments of unadulterated wisdom that force us all to bend the knee in honor of what these young men are capable of. With riffs galore and a wonderful sense of self, Blossoming Decay is THE death metal album of the year and hints at even better things to come.
1. Dreadnought Bridging Realms
This album is it motherfuckers. Using horns, strings, and keys to complement a traditional rock lineup, Dreadnought impressed on 2013's diverse but immature Lifewoven. Their sophomore release, Bridging Realms, sees the band bringing their work to a whole new level, and as you explore the record you slowly realize that there's even better stuff to come. Dreadnought are only in the very beginning of their development as a band, the ridiculous progression they've had so far only evidences this. As you find yourself getting lost in epic soundscapes and vibrant ambient worlds, crafted by producer Andy Patterson, it is impossible NOT to fall in love with what Dreadnought do. The raw talent of the band, and the passion behind the music resonates out of every soaring chord. With a wonderful sense of brutality and darkness mixed in with sensibilities that could even appeal to the most elitist of jazz or classical nerds ,Dreadnought have it all and are ready to change your world.
See all of our Best of 2015 coverage here.