So extreme music went to crazytown this year. Lots of sweet releases. Guess who didn’t get around to just about any of them? This guy!
But hey, I was supposed to put one of these lists together. So here go my 10 favorites of 2015 in no particular order!
I might be just a bit biased here, as this one comes right out of my homeland of upstate New York.
Oh, boo hoo, a regional black metal band you haven’t heard of? Fear not! If you have any taste-at all-for atmospheric extreme metal, I promise you won’t be disappointed! Enthauptung‘s sophomore effort to date, this release tears it up with some truly outstanding riffs, haunting shrieks, and an exquisitely paced flow. Never too overpowering, Adirondack is nothing less than a delicately crafted masterpiece from a band that shows not only promise, but a songwriting capability to stand among the best of today’s wave of sophisticated, American black metal.
For fans of: Ash Borer, Mutilation Rites, Wolves in the Throne Room
Amorphis: Under The Red Cloud
Breathtakingly melodic! Amorphis knock it out of the park with another fantastic album! Under The Red Cloud is very similar in its creative direction to 2013’s Circle, but perhaps realized with just a bit more maturity. Not so bogged down with campy wind sections as their previous offering (well, maybe they’re still a bit campy, but they got better!), and loaded with harmonies that add a breadth to the sound that was never there before, these veterans of melodic music remind us why Finland should still be any epic metal fan’s go-to.
For fans of: Kalmah, Dark Tranquillity, Eternal Tears of Sorrow
Spock’s Beard: The Oblivion Particle
Ever spacey, ever groovy. After an impressive career spanning over 20 years, Spock’s Beard have long since earned their place as one of progressive rock’s genre ambassadors. Standing out among their peers for their music’s relative accessibility, Spock’s Beard show that their new lineup is still picking up sweet-sweet upward momentum. Another fun, organ-soaked jaunt into the zany world old school acid and space rock, The Oblivion Particle is another appetizing feast for both over-the-top guitar dorks, and for the newly initiated prog curious.
For fans of: Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Kansas
Widek: Journey To The Stars
So there’s a lot to be said for Widek‘s newest album.
Journey To The Stars is beautiful. It fell just a bit too far into the shadow of other prominent “djent” releases this year for my liking. Intervals, Scale the Summit, and TesseracT all had stellar offerings for 2015, but I actually stand by this release as being vastly superior to any of them. It is an aural experience that, while perhaps not entirely unique amongst its ilk, still paints a deeply emotional celestial landscape, and you all know I’m just a sucker for ‘dat space stuff.
For fans of: Intervals, Scale the Summit, TesseracT
Soilwork: The Ride Majestic
Aptly named, The Ride Majestic forged ahead where Soilwork left us off on The Living Infinite. You can wade through all of my fanboy splooge here.
…The Ride Majestic stands on its own as an outstanding release from a veteran six piece that just seems to keep moving in the right direction. Heavier, catchier, and more powerful than ever, Soilwork have truly blown me away once again.
I’ll just leave it at that.
For fans of: Scar Symmetry, Mercenary, Nightrage
Archy Marshall/King Krule: A New Place 2 Drown
So, I’ve been waiting a long time to bust out of the shed as a King Krule fan. I’ve always dug the way the guy plays and pieces together his tracks. Unfortunately, I just could never get behind his voice. I’d always maintained that if he just sat down and pulled together a soundscape/instrumental, I could be all about it.
Just a few days ago, my wish came true! While not a true instrumental, Krule‘s voice is segregated to a completely spoken voice role on most tracks, and it’s bearable. The end result is sort of an out-of-the-way, left-field pick for one of my favorites of the year. Why?
Science damn it, the atmosphere! Marshall’s compositional prowess is at its best yet. The Zoo Kid really does it for me on A New Place 2 Drown, and to hell with any haters. I’m excited to see where he takes this musical direction.
For Fans of (as Last.fm says) Makeout Videotape, Homeshake (not my strong genre, sorry folks).
Gorod: A Maze Of Recycled Creeds
A long time favorite of mine, Gorod reminded us this year that they remain one of tech death’s finest. Maze is loaded with some killer tracks, each worthy of the band’s prior offerings. Blistering speed, catchy hooks, absolutely brutal drumming-the controlled chaos of Gorod is borne with the same grace fans have come to know and love. Raw, ballsy, and utterly unpredictable, adjectives, adjectives, adjectives… Prepare to get rocked once more by these French masters of disaster. Guitar masturbation level over 9000.
For fans of: Obscura, Necrophagist, Rings of Saturn
Enslaved: In Times
Enslaved have consistently been at the vanguard of black metal’s little-appreciated progressive sub-sub genre scene for quite some time. Awakening the slightly more sophisticated viking in all of us. the band returns with the fantastic In Times. Loaded with plenty of classic, romantically-tinged black metal riffs and some simply brutal passages, the album also demonstrates amazingly dynamic songwriting and vocal performances.
For fans of: old Opeth, Ihsahn, October Falls
Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress
Post rock instrumentalists, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, return with my favorite release since F#A#infinity. The more rock instrument-driven direction is extremely welcome. It also brings with it a number of harmonic passages that are demonstrative of how far the band has come in songwriting ability. I swear I’m not just throwing this one up here for hipster cred. If you’re in the mood to wind down, get some reading done… and feel a little uncomfortable, give Asunder a spin. It’s a perfect introduction to the world of ambient music for metalheads.
For fans of: Russian Circles, Mogwai
Coheed And Cambria: The Color Before The Sun
You had to know this one was coming. You had to.
If there’s an album that I can name as my absolute favorite of 2015, it’s this one. Hands down. No contest.
Despite the fact that it’s Coheed‘s least “metal” (and perhaps least progressive) release in over a decade, I can honestly say that no other album captured my heart this year quite like Color.
It’s certainly not an axeman’s album, but the compositions on The Color Before The Sun all feel meaningful and thoughtfully arranged.
While initially skeptical of the “less-nerdy”, more stripped-down approach this album was promised to take, I’m really glad that Claudio and the boys ended up with tunes they did. It’s pure emotion. A real tearjerker. The fans were promised something different, deeply personal, and down to earth.
And shit, did we get it.
For fans of: Coheed and Cambria
Well, that’s enough 2015 for me! Over and out! Until next time, baby!