My Top 20 Albums Of 2015

Another year, another asinine list which tries to objectively measure music when in fact, it’s just a bit of fun isn’t it?I guess the reason i still do one of these every year it threefold:

  1. I like music, a lot. I know it will annoy people if i constantly post about it on social media, so i try and bottle everything up for this time of year.
  2. I genuinely think a lot of people like me writing these, so they can check out things they might have missed during the course of the year.
  3. It’s the holiday season and i have to do something constructive or creative, otherwise i feel like i’m just wasting time.

So just before we kick into high gear, i normally start with a Top 5 EP mini-list. However this year has been somewhat quiet on that front, so in short just listen to Opacities by Sikth and Vitamins by Milk Teeth, they’re right good. Different ends of the spectrum. In the blue corner mind melting, tech riffery pushing the concept of what a song can actually be. In the red corner the 90’s alt rock movement happening in Britain 25 years after it’s inception, pulling from the greats, tonnes of Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Sonic Youth in there.

Big boy time now, let the serious listing and extended list of synonyms for “this is kind of good and i like it” to begin!


#20 – Sylosis – Dormant Heart

19

Josh Middleton and the boys are back. Defending the title of “The Best Josh Ever To Play Guitar” admitted, as a body of work Dormant Heart may not be as cohesive a journey as previous effort Monolith. But instead it just aims to show every single band that they just can’t play thrash properly anymore (sorry Slayer) The amazing thing about Sylosis is the inclusion of influences from bands such as Crowbar and Neurosis, giving them something impossible in a post big four thrash age: a unique sound of their own.


#19 – Leprous – The Congregation

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Yo Dawg, i heard you like odd time signatures, so here is a whole album full off them. Two things really add to this release: the fantastic musician ship and the Norwegian inflection on the English language whilst singing. If you want to see this in full force i would suggest listening to the fourth track on the album “The Flood” one of the best vocal melodies of the year, bar none.


#18 – The Armed – Untitled

The Armed

Admitted, i’ve only had a few days with this album, it may of made it higher up the beanpole if i wasn’t on my fourth listen and was instead on my fourteenth. To make chemical X, just take a pinch of The Dillinger Escape Plan and letlive. throw them in a locked cage and make them have a knife fight to the death. Someone seriously got up on the wrong side of the bed when making this. Authentic anger, not synthetic menace just for the sake of sounding brutal.


#17 – Enabler – Fail To Feel Safe

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Regular readers of my list may remember i gave Enabler a lot of praise for All Hail The Void back three years ago, since then they’ve had a bit of a wobbler, amongst semi boring releases and spousal abuse claims, i started to give up on Enabler, but then this came as a surprise. Everything i loved about All Hail The Void, with an expansion of scope. Well done Jeff Lohrber, now just stop hitting women, it’s not the key to why Chris Brown is so big.


#16 – Deafheaven – New Bermuda 

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I was cautious going into this one. Mainly because Sunbather, Deafheavens last effort was the top knot and pulled pork of the metal world. Pitchfork literally used this as a wazz off device for the whole of it’s album cycle, when not occupied by activities such as: Gentrification, Being Offended and Explaining Why You Need To Buy Beard Oil. However Deafheaven have done something great here and actually decided to use riffs this time. There is also a chord progression in Brought To The Water which is identical to Sixpence none the richer’s Kiss Me.


#15 Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic

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A few steps behind magnum opus “Colors” Coma Ecliptic however delivers on many fronts, thanks to being manhandled by the prog darlings that are BTBAM. It’s a formula that can’t fail Dream Theater with added death metal bits and less James Labrie. It’s a solid solid listen and Memory Palace’s may be one of the best concepts for a band to write a song about.


#14 Tesseract – Polaris

17

Well the lads are back again, i’m sure if you’ve followed these for a couple of years you’ll know the wazz factory my life turned into over Altered State. Which to this day i still think is a genre defining and defying masterpiece. Polaris does something different, the scope switches from labyrinthian prog epic, to more navigable, accessible album. Bound to win over plenty of new fans and ultimately give them what they deserve. Still a fantastic album, just falling short of my masterpiece level expectations.


#13 – Periphery – Juggernaut

13

Okay, i admit it, i’m cheating here. Juggernaut is technically two separate albums. But i’m counting it as one elaborate double album. Misha and the boys deliver some of their best ever “songs” on this album. It’s tooled to do something a little different and be an actualisation of Periphery as an established band, rather than a band of rouges playing Misha Mansoor’s parts. That and the riff from “The Bad Thing” is most likely the heaviest groove riff since Sandblasted Skin. Jetpack Was Yes!


#12 – The Hell – Brutopia

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Right, prog splurge over now. Back on track with some juvenile, ham fisted hardcore. I think the thing i’ve appreciated about The Hell more than their music, is the level of irony and self awareness in the lyrics. They’re just taking the piss and getting bigger because of it. I would liken this album to a dirty protest, it’s not tactful in it’s execution, but there is some reason behind it. I have nothing to add, watch The Hell cover Nickleback.


#11 – Napalm Death – Easy Meat

11

Unlike The Hell, Napalm Death know the exact message they want to get across and put out one of the best albums of their career. I have a suspicion this would have ranked higher if i had spent a little more time with this. But a few things need to be said here: 1) Kudos for being able to stay as pissed off as ever, despite being 34 years deep as a band. 2) Mitch and Barney are local treasures, as a local Brummy it makes me proud that along with inventing metal, we have the two of the heaviest bands (Anaal Nathrakh) out there today kicking ass and taking names. 3) Listen to Metaphorically Screw You and punch someone in the neck, then apologise and buy them a pint.


#10 Monolord – Vaneir

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2015 is the year Doom metal became a strong subgenre in my listening cycle. With excellent bands popping up all over the place, it feels like one of the few genres which still has a “scene” and Monolord have really contributed to that here. The stand out track on this album by far is “Died A Million Times” which is crushing, yet hauntingly beautiful in parts. It’s time to grow a beard, buy a pint and not your head really slow whilst grimacing.


#9 – Faith No More – Sol Invictus

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It’s hard to make a comeback album. We have seen many “failures” over the last few years Refused, Black Sabbath, Soundgarden. Whilst the aforementioned may not strictly be bad albums. They don’t innovate, push forward or expand the bands sound. Faith No More however have absolutely smashed it, they sound like Faith No More in 2015, grizzled, raw and expansive as ever. Shades of light and dark appear all over this album, two songs next to each other Sunny Side Up and Separation Anxiety sound like they could have been written by two different bands. Additionally every member has their MVP moment, the proceedings aren’t just overshadowed by Patton’s amazing vocal range.


#8 – Ghost – Meliora

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The Ghouls are back in town with their third album, usually the tricky one which begins to cement the size of the band you’ll be. Happy to confirm they’ve done a really really good effort here, it’s the best of both worlds from the previous two albums, the satanic themes and guitar focused songs of Opus Eponymous and the huge melodic choruses and majesty of Infestissumam. I have just one question. CAN YOU HEAR THE RUMBLE THAT’S CALLING?


#7 – Goya – Obelisk

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If any album title was a self fulfilling prophecy it’s this one. Every single riff sounds like a big chunk of obsidian being dropped into place. Combined with amazing vocal melodies, Goya have release what i think is one of the strongest albums in the genre since Dopethrone. The title track and The Devils Prey will have you feeling like you could fight a brick wall and win. Absolutely crushing.


#6 – Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

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“I need that Brazilian wavy 28 inch.” I can’t tell whether it’s been a poor year for rap or whether i’ve paid less attention to the genre as a whole. But here is  the required “Pitchfork Approved Entry” for my playlist and the oddball entry. To Pimp A Butterfly touches ground with far more influences than the expected Compton G-Funk sound touching on shades of Free Jazz, Fusion, Gospel and World Music. I have a feeling as a body of work, this may be considered THE rap album of the 10’s in years to come.


#5 – Clutch – Psychic Warfare

4

Clutch are becoming old dependable when it comes to showing up in a top 20 end of year list. Neil Fallon and co just cannot do any wrong. It’s amazing to see the elements of punk come flooding back in on this release, keeping the songs more upbeat, whilst keeping that familiar blues rock feel. I also feel that “Sucker For The Witch” will hold a special place in my heart for years. Neil Fallon’s take on always falling for alt girls. Along with that tracks like Firebirds and Your Love Is Incarceration are just fun. Cult band status = maintained.


#4 Lucifer – Lucifer 1

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This held the number 1 spot for several months on my top 20 list, but a few changes happened to displace it. Essentially Lucifer is what Black Sabbath would sound like if they were female fronted and formed in 2015. Amazing, doom laden groove, with haunting choruses. Everything just works. Sometimes with a new band it takes time for all the planets to align and  for all the parts to work. Lucifer 1 however is the perfect example of when everything just clicks. I dare you not to get at least one vocal melody from this album stuck in your head.


#3 Baroness – Purple

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I think i’ve been waiting pretty much all of 2015 for this album, thanks for the wait lads. However, you know when they say tense circumstances make for the best art? Well almost kill Baroness in a bus crash, make two band members leave and then ask them to record an album after losing all the momentum and hype surrounding their last effort. Purple is their punch in the face after you did that to them. There is not a wasted second on this album. It’s also the first time they’ve combined “riffs” with “songs.” It flourishes in so many ways and it’s absolutely beautiful. I really hope they become the next tokenistic Jools Holland metal band and just blow up. Shock me, i needed a surprise.


#2 – Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.

2The first phrase that comes to mind when listening to this album is life affirming. This album focuses around the dark tale of Joyce Carol Vincent, who died and was left undiscovered for three years, despite having friends and family. It’s a sad reflective tale of a 21st century problem and the risk of isolation we all risk, despite being more connected than ever. Despite the amazing concept. Musicianship and songwriting is at it’s highest level here. Songs like 3 Years Older and Happy Returns are the kind of songs which say “Hey, i’m going to be with you for the rest of your life now, you better be okay with that.” Steven Wilson is one of the crown jules of British music today. Sod off Adele, he even does being melancholic better than you.


#1 Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction

1 This album is the equivalent of sucking on the barrel of a flame thrower. Disgusting, jagged and unapologetic. This album is essentially game changing in the death metal scene, adding elements of melody, black metal and everything we love about heavy music. The musicianship on this thing feels like it was created from pure spite, just to lay down a gauntlets to someone. By no means would i suggest you bother with this album if you don’t like the heavier end of things, but if you do you’re in for a treat.

That’s me done, over and out until 2016, where i still won’t be able to put a Tool album on my list. Peace out goobers.

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