Sunday, December 27, 2015

Top 10 Metal Albums of 2015

This is speaks for it's self the top ten metal albums of the year from every genre.This is what you should have been banging your head to this year.

10-Nevoa -"The Absence of Void"

 Portugal has been pumping out the metal this year. This album is surprising due to it's clean production.The guitar tones are very crisp and the mix leaves room to actually hear the bass , which is rare for black metal. One thing that is impressive with these guys is even when they fly into the blast beats everything retains a clarity and doesn't turn into a bunch of pots and pans are falling out of a closet. They are atmospheric without losing all form and function. They touch on a chilling drone that doesn't just become white noise and numb you out. Due to the Scandinavian roots of black metal bands they tend to get referred to as having a coldness, despite the geographical difference there is a similar starkness to the riffs that are more emotionally cold than musical translation of the physical nature of the cold lifestyle that haunts other black metal. More than likely the best black metal album you didn't hear this year.

9- Dodsferd : "Wastes of Life" This album is the kind of thing you might want to blare at some one you hate if you have them tied up in a dark room. Full of stellar guitar work that seldom graces black metal, come on admit it when was the last time you thought about shredders in black metal. When the actual metal kicks in they don't jump to a blast beat and churn on something that has more of a old Shining feel...the Swedish band not the spastic band from Norway. Speaking of location, location, location this Greek band has not aspirations to be Rotting Christ. They drone on with this one milking the mood for every drop of it's dark blood.

8 Tidemouth :"Velvet And Stone"

The trend in the maturation of hard core kids seems to be pulling out Nick Cave and Echo and the Bunnymen albums. This could be due to the interest in vinyl these kids took a few years back which might have caused them to stumble over these old 80s albums. I am fine with this as long as they do no become to slavish in their devotion only to Joy Division. I love Joy Division , but I do think dark music begins or ends with the. in the they do not abandon their hard core side. It is put through a darker filter. An incredible album that gives me just what I needed , they blend the "gothy" elements in a very fluid and natural manner similar to how Atriarch does this with metal. Each listen the more hard core emoish parts grew on me. It's one of those albums that becomes more enriched the further you dig into its grave. Worth your time for sure if you like dark and heavy music, these guys got the balance right without trying to hard.

7- Shape of Despair :"Monotony Fields"

 this Finnish band has taken the past fifteen years to perfect their very melodic and atmospheric brand of doom . The vocals range from are a low gurgle, to female oohs and aahs stacked like Type O Negative in the background. The stay on a depressing path through out. The oppressive feeling is almost tangible. The band is aware they have been notorious for putting long spans of time between releases, so everything is right where it should be with every nuance dialed in, so it was not time wasted. It might not dig as deep and dark of a grave as other funeral doom bands , but the songs are masterfully varied and dynamic to create an awesome album.

6-Nechochwen : " Heart of Akamon"

 West Virginia is an unlikely breeding ground for this kind of music. Roughly black metal in some sense, it is highly progressive in the same manner as old Agalloch. The clean vocals are stronger and they layer clean sounds and the more metallic grim ones through a different lens than the Portland band. In some ways these sounds are blended much like their label mate Panopticon. The clean tones are very organic and often allowed to stand along. The blast pretty furiously into "Lost on the Trail of the Setting Sun". The drums are masterful insanity in motion. The footwork pretty breathtaking even in a genre where it is expected. The vocals are well layered and punchy. While they work in many twists and turns over the course of a song they do not exceed the seven minute mark. They are also good at not placing the clean vocals in the obvious Killswitch places to make it the good cop/ bad cop dynamic.
5 -Strangeweather: "S/T"

 Another album that forsakes metallic overdrive and instead employs a more organic yet dark hearted Neo-folk with an Appalachian breeze blowing through it. The members switch off vocals resulting in a wide range of moodiness to the dirge like mourning allowing each instrument and voice embraces while adding another swathe of gray to the sonic tapestry. hey have really created something unique here. The lyrics carry the indignant unease of post- punk, while they set upon a soundtrack with the elegance that is the x-factor many a wanna-be goth bands just doesn't get . This brings the emotional weight making it heavy in feeling rather than metal.When I played this for my wife just dismissed it as more of the droning drug music I like, so you have to listen to this as a whole work to really get the full effect or have to have been involved with heavy narcotic use for a period of more than five years. Do not play while operating heavy machinery.
4- Iron Maiden- "the Book of Souls"

 Right behind Black Sabbath when it comes being one of  the most revered classic metal bands  of all  time. This is for good reason as they have they have maintained tons of integrity over the years even if they did break down and use keyboards and made the poor choice of trying to replace Bruce with Blaze. This album upholds their legacy and I would not be surprised if it was their last as it feels they want to try everything they have yet to do and make the most of every solo. It would not be out of place if I decided to make a top ten power metal albums of the year or a top ten prog albums of the year... the latter being more likely as I doubt I listened to ten power metal albums this year, however they transcend both of those genres. Have done better and it might not be on the level of the albums that came before "Fear of the Dark", which is a bar held incredibly high, But they never outright miss the mark and even if this was just dialed in it would still be better than everything else. But that is the beauty of this they are still committed to putting their all into what they do and there is a lot of heart put into this, they are just older and wiser with that wisdom compensating for the fire that was in their music when they were a younger band, this is still an album made by one of the greatest bands ever.

3- Eye of NIX : "Moros"

 This is more experimental than prog, though it is progressive in the sense the songs go somewhere. That is more can be said for many so called prog bands that remain stagnant in favor of wanking on the fret board. The album starts off as a more post-rock version of Dead Can Dance. Lead singer Joy Von Spain lets it all out in an operatic soprano as things get blasty beneath her. Male growls add a grit to their shifts into crustier paces. While Mykur gave us similar dynamics earlier this year, each end of the dynamic range here is pushed a little further. Joy is dynamic range extends into the not afraid to shred her vocals chords a little with some screams. Sometimes they play by the more typical metal rules and the veer off into slow-core. They sometimes build into the type of chaos that can be found in some of Swans' freak out moments but with a more metallic command.They incorporate every element of music that love into this one album in a cohesive fashion.

2- Kylesa : "Exhausting Fire"

 These Savannah rockers continue to evolve, in someways that makes them progressive , since they are not where I first found them when I picked up a copy of "To Walk a Middle Course" ten years ago. There sludge roots are still intact but they have enough dark psychedelics is place to appeal to the hesher sect. They used to cover Pink Floyd, so this side of the band should come as not surprise.  Laura's vocals which have continues to grow sometimes take on a more Siouxsie like croon to them. There are plenty of balls this times around injected to these heavy grooves. After a dazed and glazed cover of the Sabbath classic "Paranoid" the path of the band is best in explained in the lyrics of the closing song where Laura says she is throwing caution to the wind and taking her chances again here. Even when they wander off into a more heady direction the bass line holds down the fort, until they bring the smack down the happy ending that blazes out with solos in true rock god/goddess fashion. Another moment of triumph for this band.

1- Tribulation - the Children of the Night

 Was a little torn as to if this album even belonged here, until I went back and listened to the album and "Music From the Other " sealed the deal. While I liked the band's last album, but found them much more fascinating of a creature on stage when I saw them open for Watain, so I am hoping some of those more progressive and wandering qualities have carried over from the road and right from the first few chords of the opener it seems like they have. There is an almost Opeth like lushness to the sound. They don't use the traditional metal crunch, instead just going for an organic tone that they are playing loudly. The vocals are more intelligible than the previous album. When they dive deeper into the darkness answering the question what would it have sounded like if DeepPurple had written the soundtrack to the Exorcist. This is another step forward for the band that continues to grow with every album, they blend the more classic metal elements in with their more ethereal colors with ease, as they are not afraid to push the bounds of what death metal can be.

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