2015: One O' Dem Best Of Lists (Jan-Jun)

Cos by this point it's almost mandatory. I've made a pretty slow start to the year but hopefully I'll start catching up soon enough.

Created by: musclassia | 02.02.2015

1. A Forest Of Stars - Beware The Sword You Cannot See
2015 [9.0] - A delightful art cover with equally satisfying music held within, this delivers weird black metal that can regularly be fast and furious, but often has either metal or non-metal melodic instrumental accompaniments, and often showcases moments where black metal is abandoned altogether, and happens in several moments during the epic Pawn On The Universal Chessboard. This epic features furious black metal (Part V) sandwiched but also enjoyable melodic diversions, up to and including the synthesizer-introduced and strings-driven closing segment. Vocals on the album are predominantly male, whether typical BM shrieks, or unnerving spoken narration or even occasional singing, but female vocals do turn up from time to time with great effect. Describing everything on this album in a small space here seems ultimately futile - just be aware that if you fancy some unconventional and interesting yet restrained and penetrable black metal, this is firmly worth your time. Their best, at least since the debut Corpse of Rebirth, if not ever.
2. Maladie - ...Still...
2015 [9.0] - Another truly remarkable black-based album from the first half of 2015. It features a fairly melodic, rather progressive black metal base with plenty of intensity but not all that much extremity, and songs that are generally long and rather convoluted. It features black metal riffs and tremolo guitars combined with acoustic guitars and melodic guitar lines, commonly at the same time, as well as regularly simultaneous passionate clean vocals and fierce extreme BM vox. It also whips out some non-metal instruments, with more than one prominent sax solo, but never in a way that feels done just to be wild, rather in a way that fits. An ambitious and far-reaching yet cohesive album with a clear and striking voice, definitely one to check out.
3. Dekadent - Veritas
2015 [8.9] - A really excellent album which has a core genre (black) with which it plays around with in different styles without sounding disjointed or inconsistent. The first couple of songs have something of an extreme Devin Townsend vibe, particularly due to the vocal approaches but also the industrial tinges to the sound, whilst the closer is a glorious sad-yet-uplifting grand epic based upon a repeating guitar lead line and gaze-y background that sticks with one central idea throughout without ever getting boring. Real standout from Q1 2015.
4. Sylosis - Dormant Heart
2015 [8.5] - Less varied or inspired than the last couple of albums, this is the sound of a band consolidating their sound rather than pushing into new territory. The resulting package does fall a bit short of their last two efforts, but still offers up a number of highly engaging tracks, from faster efforts to more mid-paced, and more aggressive to more melodically inclined, and even in the case of the big sonic departure, the closer Quiescent, soft, slower material. A couple of tracks (Leech, Servitude and the bonus tracks) fall a bit short of the expected level of the band, but as far as the rest of the songs go there's plenty of great riffs, melodic elements and fine solos, and the trademark sweeps turn up in double on Harm. The lead vocals are continuing to improve, with increasingly strong extreme vocals mixed with some sparse but effective cleans, both muted like on Quiescent and startlingly high-pitched such as in To Build A Tomb and Overthrown. Perhaps a slight disappointment given their recent stunning form, there's nevertheless plenty of dark, heavy, hooky material here to sink into until next time, when hopefully they'll be willing to push themselves a bit more once again.
5. Marriages - Salome
2015 [8.5] - A really well done somewhat 80/90s throwback alt rock/metal album; definitely get vibes of, for example, Tori Amos from the vocals, whilst the music brings to mind a few 80s and 90s alt rock, grunge, shoegaze and other bands, but with a really distinctive and powerful voice and sound. One of this year's better discoveries.
6. Weedpecker - II
2015 [8.5] - Faced with the intimidating task of following up a debut that mixed a confident, reassured sound with well-written and well-judged songs, Weedpecker performed admirably on this second album to make something that stands up nicely to the first. Offering up the same lush, expansive, smooth sound of the first one, the songs on II generally are more explorative, each one generally taking a while to get heavy. Also, there are few, if any, moments with the driving stoner power of Mindbreath and (at times) Berenjena Pipe, instead offering up an almost exclusively relaxed effort. This is probably the biggest weakness of the album, its lack of variation, but aside from that it is enjoyable throughout and cements these guys' place as possibly the most exciting emerging name in the stoner scene.
7. In Each Hand A Cutlass - The Kraken
2015 [8.5] - Discovered this one late in the year but turned out to be an inspired discovery. A really well-done (mostly) instrumental post-rock/metal album which effortlessly shifts between light and dainty and heavier and powerful yet moving, and with no qualms about introducing not only neat lead guitar melodies but also effective guitar solos. Not perfect but quite possibly the best post-metal 2015 has to offer (although Sunpocrisy may beg to differ).
8. Enslaved - In Times
2015 [8.4] - A tough album to really judge on first listen, this extends the mix of black, melodic prog, and anthemic viking moments from the past couple of records with similarly impressive results. Not quite at the level of AEO, it compares favourably to the strong RIITIIR and in songs like One Thousand Years Of Rain and the title track, there are some new top-class songs to add to this bands extraordinary back catalogue. Update on subsequent listens: This is a fantastic album. Really, right up there with AEO - it's imperfect but has a ton of great parts to it.
9. Leprous - The Congregation
2015 [8.4] - Another fine release from arguably the strongest new prog metal band around (as long as we exclude Riverside), continuing a very impressive beginning to their career. Following on from the less intense nature of Coal, this is more of a refinement of their approach rather than a grand departure. Perhaps a bit less emotionally volatile than Coal, and with less standout impressive tracks (although Rewind is certainly amongst their best songs), it is a more consistent effort than its predecessor and arguably slightly better. And their incredible lead singer continues to impress with his increase vocal prominence.
10. Wilderun - Sleep At The Edge Of The Earth
2015 [8.4] - One of the better folk metal albums of recent years, and highly intriguing mix of genre elements, particularly the moderate paced grandeur of Moonsorrow, but without really replicating any of the iconic genre bands. It also has in addition to the usual folk instruments some tasteful symphonics, particularly brassy instruments, as well as some progressive directions in their songwriting, some tasteful soft acoustic songs and sections, and a fair share of more extreme moments that bring to mind Enslaved amongst other bands. They also have clean vocals that at various points reminded me of Enslaved, Turisas, even Trivium, as well as no one in particular. Really impressive package all in all, with everything sounding very cohesive and resulting in a sound that is familiar but not a simple retread of a previous band's work.
11. Moonspell - Extinct
2015 [8.3] - Far and away the strongest Moonspell album I've encountered, despite it's dreadful album artwork. The music is replete with moving guitar melodies and leads, well-balanced mixes of evocative cleans and powerful barks, and accompanied by intelligent background orchestrations. As someone without much interest in gothic metal, this was a major surprise.
12. Neurotech - Stigma
2015 [8.3] - In a similar vein but arguably trancier and more instrumentally-driven than the previous album, this thing is heaps of fun and if you like your metal poppy and danceable yet subtle and non-cheesy, this really hits the spot.
13. Guardians Of Time - Rage And Fire
2015 [8.3] - It's always a nice surprise to find a new power metal album that is consistently enjoyable throughout. Filled front-to-back with strong PM songs in the vein of Firewind and their ilk, melodic but powerful, well-written and managing to keep songs maintaining an individual identity despite a lack of variety in the setlist. Strongest PM I've heard so far in 2015.
14. Royal Thunder - Crooked Doors
2015 [8.3] - A really emotionally moving, sad but not morose hard rock album with fantastically pained and powerful vocals, interesting instrumental work and powerful drums. Songs like Time Machine and One Day are lengthy for this style but well-constructed and carried by interesting melodies and riffs along with the aforementioned powerful vocals. Really fine hard rock album.
15. Tribulation - The Children Of The Night
2015 [8.3] - Less intense than The Formulas Of Death and arguably simpler, this however still acts as a fine piece of hooky and ambitious extreme metal, with a number of memorable riffs and guitar lead melodies. In addition, there is a slight gothic vibe on this album, particularly with some of the keyboards that make brief cameos.
16. Elder - Lore
2015 [8.3] - A strong proggy stoner release that features 5 long songs that explore extensive territory rather than acting as repetitive colossi or brooding plodders like some other stoner acts. The first song exhibits an array of Mastodon-esque lead guitar playing alongside the riffs, but other songs feature more expansive, uplifting sections (lots of Lore but particularly its later phases), picturesque acoustics (introduction to Spirit of Aphelion), and a range of more driving, groovy riffs as well as more melodic, spacier ones (well displayed in Legend). Well varied but consistently very strong, its biggest weakness is probably its somewhat limited vocals, because the instrumental work is great and compositions are excellent.
17. Pyramids - A Northern Meadow
2015 [8.3] - A highly intriguing mix of mid-tempo black metal tremolo dissonant guitar, industrial percussion, predominantly dreamy soft clean vocals and phases of almost dream-pop-esque lightness, plus other minor elements. A lot safer musically than the debut album, but far more appealing to me.
18. Ufomammut - Ecate
2015 [8.3] - Some nice tasty psychedelic stoner/sludge doom that offers up some crushing metal with psychedelic flavours added to spice things up. Not immediate music, the core base fluctuates from fuzzy bass-driven murk, often with interesting tribal-esque drumming, to thunderous sludge-y power, and vocals shift from stoner-esque echoes to more sludge-y howls. And some songs don't even necessarily follow that - the sparse Chaosecret is particularly barren to begin with but then has an almost industrial feel later on alongside it's fuzzy riffing. And alongside all this there is psychedelic sound, whether from riffs, lead guitars or other instruments, that add extra levels to the music. Noice.
19. My Sleeping Karma - Moksha
2015 [8.3] - Sweet-ass, smooth, mellow but groovy instrumental stoner rock, alternating between strong songs and intriguing interludes.
20. Midnight Odyssey - Shards Of Silver Fade
2015 [8.3] - A hugely impressive effort from one man, this is probably one of the more successful combinations of ambient black metal I've encountered in my limited experience. At a whopping 142 minutes in length and in a style I'm not that big on, it is easy to admire the ambition and talent going into this. Somewhere between a more atmospheric and melodic take on the spaciness of Progenie Terrestra Pura and the songwriting tendencies of Summoning, with the black metal often more in the mix rather than up front, this uses a range of different sounds alongside synths and guitar in a reasonable range of style to produce something interesting throughout its huge runtime.
21. Barús - Barús
2015 [8.3] - A very entertaining little blast of inspired modern death metal, with a fairly distinctive sound, other people have used such bands as Meshuggah, Gojira, Triptykon, Diskord and more as reference points and they're not unreasonable comparisons. "Cherub" in particular is excellent.
22. Barren Earth - On Lonely Towers
2015 [8.3] - I was very hot on the previous album by Barren Earth with its release, but time has reduced my interest in it. However, On Lonely Towers has reignited said interest in the band, and shows a group truly developing their sound. This one starts out with that Amorphis-esque melancholy feel mixed in with melodeath, prog (and in some moments, doom) in a somewhat similar but arguably more accomplished way than the previous album(s), but gradually grows during the album, keeping the melancholy and melodeath elements but also bringing in shades of Opeth along with a whole heap of progginess, particularly on the three closing tracks. The music is well-written, avoids ever becoming dull within short or long songs, and the new vocalist has both good cleans and fierce growls that complement the instrumentation well. There's life in this supergroup yet.
23. Arcturus - Arcturian
2015 [8.3] - Not quite as good as Sham Mirrors, but a step up from Sideshow Symphonies, it has the hallmark unorthodox songs, predominant synths, dramatic vocals and more that the band is recognised for, within the context of consistently enjoyable songs, most notably Warp.
24. Alkaloid - The Malkuth Grimoire
2015 [8.2] - Having previously lost my patience with a lot of tech/prog-death a while ago, I found this to be somewhat refreshing. It has something of a similar feel to Omnivium, although perhaps at the same time both more prone to melodic proggish moments and more generic tech-death tendencies. It doesn't always completely shine, but particularly the lengthy opening two tracks and closer offer a solid range of sounds and elevate the album to a contender for this year's best tech-death release.
25. Native Construct - Quiet World
2015 [8.2] - Really strong melodic prog metal, from the same school as the likes of Haken, Symphony X and earlier Dream Theater. Not usually too heavy, it contains the usual jumpiness of elaborate prog but doesn't sound unnatural, and between powerful vocals and intelligent songwriting it makes a number of really effective songs, most notably the varied closer.
26. Steven Wilson - Hand. Cannot. Erase.
2015 [8.2] - Slightly artsier and poppier than 'The Raven...', I prefer that album to this one but HCE is still a very interesting album that still retains prog sensibilities in exciting songs like Regret #9, Ancestral and Happy Returns whilst being comfortable with spreading its wings to territory covered not only by Porcupine Tree, but also Blackfield and other projects.
27. Izah - Sistere
2015 [8.2] - Extremely lengthy but rather accomplished sludge/post-metal that conforms to the usual genre sound and conventions but does distinguish itself. With very long songs, most notably the 30-minute colossal closing title track, it does offer up plenty of instances of sludgy post-metal power and lighter, daintier soft-ish moments, but it does also manage a fairly successful cohesion of metallic power with post-rock euphoria and atmosphere, particularly on the title track. In addition, there are also some quite interesting clean vocals alongside the typical barks, and even some non-metal instruments including horns (!) during the grandiose climatic sections of the aforementioned title track. A bit too long for its own good, it could do with some refining but the material on display is generally very strong.
28. Leviathan - Scar Sighted
2015 [8.2] - My first taste of Wrest and Leviathan (I will listen to Lurker Of Chalice eventually!), it's an interesting little budgeoner of a black metal album. Between the wide array of vocal approaches, from standard BM shrieks of varying position in the mix, to deep growls, to occasional horrific howls, and even something approaching clean approaches, and the range of black metal approaches from pure fury to more moderate marches to madness with appropriate guitar accompaniments, and even some more ambient and/or melodic moments, it's a furious odyssey but one well worth checking out for your latest black metal fix.
29. Finsterforst - Mach Dich Frei
2015 [8.2] - A highly satisfying mix of Moonsorrow's black-laced epic folk metal, Tyr-style clean viking vocals, and some sounds and motifs that are reminiscent of Equilibrium's Mana. Certainly has a 'done before' sound to it, but it is still done about as well as something like it can be. The length does occasionally drag at times, and the band isn't quite as proficient as Moonsorrow (but then, who is when it comes to this kind of music?), but overall this offers up a very enjoyable hour of epic folk/black metal.
30. Chapel Of Disease - The Mysterious Ways Of Repetitive Art
2015 [8.2] - Pleasantly ambitious death metal album that features moments of frenetic thrash, deep doom, aggressive death, and black elements within the OSDM package that still maintains the old-school feel at its core. Acoustics pop up briefly but effectively, and guitar leads act either as brief cameos or more substantial guest stars, adding in some tasteful menace. In addition, track 5 offers up some overt 'epic' melodicism with an almost doom-y slow feel. Altogether, the level of variety and experimentation within this OSDM release is thoroughly impressive and makes the resulting album firmly worth checking out.
31. Melechesh - Enki
2015 [8.2] - Very much ''The Epigenesis Pt.2'', the band delivers an hour of high-quality of 'Mesopotamian' black metal that impresses, although the lack of variety throughout does prevent tracks from truly shining and the package in general from reaching the heights of its predecessor. However, the closing track is similarly epic to the awesome title track of The Epigenesis and rounds out the album nicely.
32. Vattnet Viskar - Settler
2015 [8.2] - A wholly effective mix of atmos-black/gaze with some post-rock/metal, hints of sludge and brief instances of post-hardcore. There's a whole range of different BM riffs, many of which work very well, and cuts such as Yearn, Glory and Heirs display the range of different traits on offer here exquisitely, showing this to be one of the strongest efforts to come out of this scene - far superior to Bosse-De-Nage and so on.
33. Vallendusk - Homeward Path
2015 [8.1] - A very well-made atmos-black album with a more uplifting tone, it builds well on their previous album. A fair amount of variety, most notably the very folky "Eyes Of The Watcher", a very enjoyable song if a little less individual than some of the other songs given its similarities to other folk metal bands. Still, a strong song on a strong album.
34. Obsequiae - Aria Of Vernal Tombs
2014 [8.1] - A very enjoyable melodic black/folk metal album which steadily shifts along with pleasant guitar melodies, occasional solos, forceful but not obnoxious vocals, solid riffs and entertaining non-metal interludes/side-tracks. I know there's a better reference point out there, but the only band I can really think of at the moment is Forefather, but better.
35. Death Engine - Mud
2015 [8.1] - Black-tinged punky, noisy metal with a real acerbic feel to it, nevertheless willing to offer up some breathing space from time to time, particularly on the lengthy closer with murky semi-dissonant black-influenced riffing pushing forwards along with tribal drumming and squealing background guitar noise. Other tracks are very in your face, leaving just small snippets of time for musical contrast, however it never becomes overwhelming, and is well enough balanced such that all aspects of their sound can shine. If you're looking for something ugly but not unpleasant, this should do the job quite nicely.
36. Sulphur Aeon - Gateway To The Antisphere
2015 [8.1] - Ever-sinister, regularly entertaining black-tinged death metal that mostly acts in a mid-tempo, menacing mode but which is perfectly willing to ramp up the speed and the intensity if called for. Rather satisfying slab of DM.
37. Sigh - Graveward
2015 [8.1] - Another chaotic avant-garde album with plenty of pretty much everything. With a significant black metal component, it also features a broad array of various orchestral instruments adding plenty of bombast, and a range of vocals from regular band members and a range of guests; the main black metal shrieks can get tiring quite quickly, but the clean vocals are broadly entertaining. The songs are fairly varied, from the lengthy and ambitious A Messenger From Tomorrow to the straightforward driving closer Dwellers In A Dream, and consistently entertaining. There's something about Sigh that stops me fully falling for them, but for fans of the band this probably cannot disappoint at all.
38. Abyssal - Antikatastaseis
2015 [8.1] - From memory, the previous effort of this one-man group was an onslaught of dissonant brutality and menace, with little room for any rays of sunshine. This is a more rounded out affair, offering up respite from sheer brutality to venture into more black than blackened death territory on about half the songs, and even leaving room for less despairing atmosphere on tracks such as the huge closer and the relatively melodic The Cornucopian. Possibly a disappointment for those fans of their punishing previous effort, but this more balanced offering does allow them to present slabs of pain whilst still enjoying some relatively lighter fare.
39. Ereb Altor - Nattramn
2015 [8.1] - Pretty solid black-flavoured pagan metal, with big riffs, effective use of synths, well-written songs and well-judged use of shrieks, pagan cleans and more standard cleans.
40. Bong - We Are, We Were And We Will Have Been
2015 [8.1] - Rather effective atmospheric drone dominated by Eastern instruments and appropriate sparse melodies on a spacious, clear background of oscillating sounds. Great music for working to.
41. Pryapisme - Futurologie
2015 [8.1] - This cyber release is totally fun and suitably manic, often resting within cybergrind territory but living as often in almost dance music-esque ground too, whilst covering a number of other points within its 20-odd minute runtime, providing a highly entertaining blast of ambitious music.
42. Remmirath - Shambhala Vril Saucers
2015 [8.0] - A rough but imaginative avant-garde black metal release. The vocals are unrefined and slightly amateurish at times, but outside of segments of ferocious black metal, there are groovier BM riffs, imaginative guitar leads, effective use of keyboards and electronic SFX, and on songs such as album highlight The Gunfighter's Quest For Enlightenment, even moments of fun with some upbeat thrashy/heavy riffs or intriguing doom-y moments.
43. Akhlys - The Dreaming I
2015 [8.0] - From the man behind Nightbringer, this is another strong demonstration of thick, menacing black metal, full of furious edged riffs either full-pelt or marching and venomous. Not much here is of surprise to anyone well-acquainted to modern black metal, but the ambient SFX sandwiching Consummation and encompassing Into The Indigo Abyss add good contrast, and the piercing guitar leads on The Dreaming Eye really stand out.
44. Callisto - Secret Youth
2015 [8.0] - First quality post- release I've heard this year. Generally follows the genre tropes but is fairly distinctive, with prominent clean vocals that are quite evocative without being emotional, and songs both within the 'Eternal Kingdom' CoL-esque sound, but also rockier and groovier tracks. Entertaining and relatively varied effort.
45. Solefald - World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud
2015 [8.0] - Sounding a lot like Arcturus's weird cousin, they offer up a mix of black metal vocal sections oft-accompanied by various electronic/keyboard arrangements eliciting from techno to trance alongside metal guitars, but also often transition to exuberant clean vocal sections in a variety of styles. Consistently entertaining, has something of a kitchen sink approach but never sounds forcefully weird or out of control.
46. Minsk - The Crash & The Draw
2015 [8.0] - Some crushingly heavy atmos-sludge from these guys that exist in a far more punishing area of the post-metal spectrum than most of the big names and their followers. The band's less melodically inclined impetus does successfully differentiate itself but does make finding an emotional entry point a bit of a challenge. Still, it is rather satisfying and worth the price of entry.
47. Thurisaz - The Pulse Of Mourning
2015 [8.0] - A bit quiet perhaps, but that aside it's a really quite satisfying effort this one. Black metal is present but not dominant, drifting in and out in levels of prominence, but whilst its pounding drum beats might close the penultimate song "In All Remembrance", the extended guitar leads/solos, uplifting clean vocals and triumphant instrumentation defy classification. In general the album is pretty hard to define, perhaps falling under the 'dark metal' umbrella, with a number of tremolo riffs and harsh vocals, but also several periods of piano/keyboard-centred music, plenty of evocative cleans, regular powerful guitar leads and more. The kind of quasi-extreme powerful melodic album which offers a little for everyone, and plenty for those happy to juggle dark and light.
48. High On Fire - Luminiferous
2015 [8.0] - Loud, angry chunk of aggression with songs long and short, fast and slow, full of powerful riffs and menacing yells. The standout moments arguably come in the longer, more expansive songs such as The Falconist, The Cave and the closer The Lethal Chamber, but more straightforward cuts as The Sunless Years are similarly strong.
49. Paradise Lost - The Plague Within
2015 [8.0] - Not quite as good as Tragic Idol, but another strong release by this band in their apparent renaissance. Their darkest in a while, with the return of Nick Holmes' growls, much more vicious and well-suited than those found on Bloodbath's latest, this has a mix of death/doom with elements of gothic, symphonic black, and even the inclusion of some rocky riffs on the likes of Cry Out. The best song is Victim Of The Past, but the whole album, whilst not necessarily all that emotionally satisfying, is solid enough.
50. Beardfish - +4626-COMFORTZONE
2015 [8.0] - An interesting, fun and varied prog rock album that doesn't break new ground but should fully satisfy prog fans.
51. Ketha - #!%16.7
2015 [8.0] - A highly varied little EP which brings together a whole load of elements within an extreme but approachable sound. Featuring some weird and slightly dissonant riffing at times which is nevertheless accessible enough, there's also stompier metal riffs, more muted segments with background guitar pyros, industrial-ish crescendos and more, as well as multiple non-metal characteristics including trumpets and somewhat cabaret-ish parts, as well as sections with a funky, slightly jazzy feel to them, and even ones focussed on sustained noise accompanied with extreme vox. In between the more quasi-death parts and the groovier pieces such as Crank, there's enough musical variation in the metal side alone, and with all the non-metal quirks added in, it results in one entertaining EP.
52. Faith No More - Sol Invictus
2015 [7.9] - Not quite up with their finest efforts, it's still a respectable effort and arguably superior to Album of the Year. Considering how long they've been away, I think that's more than enough to satisfy. Another one for the good recent comeback album list, and Superhero in particular is damn fine.
53. Sunset In The 12th House - Mozaic
2015 [7.9] - A rather interesting but somewhat imperfect post-rock/metal release from the creative minds behind Dordeduh and formerly Negura Bunget. The album is predominantly instrumental, with growls only appearing on the album's heaviest cut, closer Rejuvenation. Other tracks feature several post-rock/metal hallmarks, including the Explosions In The Sky-style tremolo noodling on Arctic Cascades, and the soft/loud ebb and flow of opener Seven Insignia. On top of this however, there are other elements that distinguish themselves from the crowd. The nature of the heavy parts is less sludge-based than most post-metal bands, and quite dark, and the use of local folk instruments as in previous projects (the drums on Paraphernalia, most of Desert's Eschaton) is an inspired decision. What's more, the proggy elements on Paraphernalia... work very well. With all these ingredients, the album should be one of the strongest of the year - unfortunately, there are pitfalls with the songwriting which mean all these elements fail to fit together into a complete whole as much as one might hope. Still, there's plenty to enjoy, and enough to believe that a sophomore that builds upon this could be quite the album.
54. Kontinuum - Kyrr
2015 [7.9] - These guys play a fairly similar version of post-rock/metal to their countrymen in Solstafir, but this is arguably easier-going, more direct and less 'massive'. This makes it more easily likeable, and its moving vocals, pleasant guitar lines and song progressions and satisfying variety make it a worthwhile package, although its more direct tone leaves it lacking some of the edge that Solstafir thrive upon.
55. Ghost Bath - Moonlover
2015 [7.9] - Golden Number and Death And The Maiden are the strongest numbers off of a solid depressive black/blackgaze album.
56. Judicator - At The Expense Of Humanity
2015 [7.9] - One of the better power metal releases of recent years, an album with a real Twilight World/Middle-Earth Blind Guardian sense to it, particular due to the vocals and their similarities to Hansi Kursch. The rest of it is entertaining melodic metal with punchy riffs and solid hooks put together with decent writing. Not necessarily going to breathe new life into the genre but a nice genre piece at least.
57. An Autumn For Crippled Children - The Long Goodbye
2015 [7.9] - Some solid uplifting and entertaining blackgaze with prominent synths adding texture, melody and extra flavor to the good-natured blackgaze riffing. More enjoyable than Deafheaven and happier than Alcest's blackgaze phase, a nice moving release.
58. Primitive Man - Home Is Where The Hatred Is
2015 [7.9] - A highly mean and unpleasant EP, meant in the best way of course, it's not quite as raw and depraved as Scorn but offers plenty of cavernous, imposing, sinister trudging at minimal place, with noisy guitars and evil growls included in the fray. Rarely bursts out into full-pelt aggression, its slow and torturous pounding menace works just as well without it.
59. Au-Dessus - Au-Dessus
2015 [7.9] - An intriguing little blast of post-black metal, primarily driven by intense BM pounding and hoarse shrieking vocals, but also willing to slow down, zone out and allow post-metal influences to develop atmosphere, alongside some sparse but effective lead guitar moments.
60. Ghost Ship Octavius - Ghost Ship Octavius
2015 [7.9] - I was initially misled over this album's greatness by listening to its strongest track, Mills of the Gods, first. The whole piece isn't quite consistent enough to be truly great, but the mix of well-written and fairly restrained melodic prog, with catchy vocals in a similar vein to Evergrey and some prominent keys to add flavor to the music, makes this a nice little debut by some established names in the genre.
61. Oceanwake - Sunless
2015 [7.9] - Some rather solid post-metal that exists primarily as a regularly alternating split between typical quasi-sludge heavy post-metal and softer post-rock that at times bordered on Alcest-esque metalgaze. Each part was pleasant to listen to, but arguably could've had a more refined cohesion. The final track, Ephemeral is the main track that fuses the two, finishing the album with a heavy but uplifting post-metal riff with a repeating guitar lead line on top. Ultimately all rather good, if perhaps in need of a bit more refinement.
62. Autokrator - Autokrator
2015 [7.9] - A nice slab of intensity that meshes together industrial sound and misanthropy, drony atmosphere, hellish death vocals and extreme metal blasting percussion and cavernous production. Far more intense and nasty than most death metal.
63. Irreversible - Irreversible
2015 [7.8] - The self-titled swansong of this group, the band took a different approach to the previous album by having more, shorter songs in place of 3 leviathan-sized tracks, which works in its favor; however, the decision to separate each 'proper' track with interludes is strange and perhaps unnecessary, although the interlude tracks work quite well. The music in general is somewhere within the same ballpark as the likes of Cult of Luna, particularly on the excellent Fade, but doesn't merely retread past ground by any means - the crunchily heavy, industrial-percussioned Mandatory Death is in stark contrast to the post-rock-heavy Undertow and the at times almost doomy Absent Help. A nice varied effort slightly dragged down by the diluted nature of its layout, it acts as a strong farewell piece from the band.
64. Cain's Offering - Stormcrow
2015 [7.8] - Rather pleasing power metal from this Finnish supergroup. It can get a bit 'same-y' over its near-hour runtime, and certain songs sound too similar to Nightwish or Sonata Arctica songs, but it's consistently enjoyable throughout, and the fairly restrained Timo Kotipelto vocal display is quite appreciated in keeping his more annoying moments in check. Some good songs throughout but Rising Sun is particularly strong.
65. Feared - Synder
2015 [7.8] - Gradually throughout listening to this album, I got gradually won over by it. A semi-extreme metal release that at various times brings to mind Sylosis with its thrash/melodeath hybrid sound, early Sepultura with its death-inclined thrash, more mainstream death metal bands with its accessible hooky death riffs and breakdowns, and more 'epic' melodeath bands with its grand melodic closer, plus a few more touch points. Not particularly original, but an enjoyable amalgamation of other sounds into a fairly satisfying final package.
66. Kingcrow - Eidos
2015 [7.8] - Another fairly strong effort by these Italian proggers, they display a melodic prog approach that features at different points some of the energy and slight skittishness or Leprous' sound, stretches reminiscent of Evergrey, more emotional segments, and a closing song rather similar to Pure Reason Revolution (especially "The Exact Colour"). This provides plenty to enjoy throughout; however, not all the songs are consistently great, with Adrift, At The Same Place and to a lesser extent If Only the clear standout efforts from the album as some of the other tracks fail to hit all the right buttons.
67. Desolate Shrine - The Heart Of The Netherworld
2015 [7.8] - A very imposing and sinister piece of work, flitting between the various tempos and percussive styles that black and death accommodate but maintaining a punishing blackened death atmosphere throughout with very occasional let-ups. The ability of the band in this venture is impressive, and certainly achieves what they set out to do, but the lack of variety does somewhat hamper songs from obtaining an individual identity outside of the collective sound of the album. Definitely interesting but is arguably limited to just being an exercise in intimidation - how highly you'll rate the album likely depends on how that works for you.
68. Dødheimsgard - A Umbra Omega
2015 [7.8] - An avant-garde black metal album that can be grating at times, particularly with the more dramatic clean vocals and blastier BM parts, but offers plenty of alternative music, of different moods and including other instruments, that commonly hit the spot, particularly the slower parts with imposing low-end BM tremolo on the final track.
69. House Of Atreus - The Spear And The Ichor That Follows
2015 [7.7] - An extension of the Forefather-esque viking metal + melodeath combination of the Into The Brazen Bull EP, however this time round with a cleaner production and a slightly trudgier tempo dominance. Not quite as impactful as the EP but still, if you like that sound you should be most satisfied by this debut full-length.
70. Zatokrev - Silk Spiders Underwater...
2015 [7.7] - Some solid post-/doom metal, nice and heavy and trudgy, with some hooky riffs and interesting post-style tom-dominated drumming. Somewhere in a similar ballpark to Kongh and Neurosis, it's not quite up with some of the best genre efforts, but it's a pretty satisfying release that definitely has its moment.
71. Downfall Of Nur - Umbras De Barbagia
2015 [7.7] - Pretty well-made atmos-black with a predominantly melancholy and powerful sound but occasionally more positive vibe, it uses an interesting range of folk instruments fairly well, it not always greatly, and is only really held back by the 'been there, done that' feeling it gives off from being so entrenched in the typical atmos-black sound. Still, very likeable for those wanting more of that type of music.
72. Blind Guardian - Beyond The Red Mirror
2015 [7.7] - Far and away the best classic power metal band, the band continues their moden spin on their distinctive sound, with a lower tempo, more symphonic, more grandiose and 'epic' sound, and underline their superiority over the other experienced bands and their mediocrity. This is not up with A Night At The Opera or A Twist In The Myth, but sits favourably with At The Edge Of Time as far as their post-00s music goes. No real surprises but should not overly disappoint those who like their recent stylistic move, even if it's unlikely to inspire excessive enthusiasm or proclamations of greatness from any beyond the rabid fanboys.
73. Chaos Echús - Transient
2015 [7.6] - A real unpleasant record with no qualms about getting grim and filthy. An album that alternates between disturbing intense odysseys featuring extensive atmospheric movements punctuated by twisting riffs, punishing tremolo, furious blast beats and harrowing screams, plus the odd guitar solo and even occasionally 'noisey' keys, and noise-based lengthy misanthropic 'interludes'. There are times it really drags, particularly Interzone IV, but its dedication to vileness is admirable and when it works it really pulls it off.
74. Toundra - IV
2015 [7.6] - Utterly pleasant, competent and enjoyable post-rock/metal with some nice strings, but without anything much to sell it on top of more inspired competitors.
75. Shape Of Despair - Monotony Fields
2015 [7.6] - On the one hand, this is a rather pleasant listening experience - a far softer and more uplifting strain of funeral doom than most. We have slow beats and heavy riffs, but also dainty, sorrowful melodies from keys, guitar melodies, and echoing female cleans, alongside a mix of male cleans and growls. However, it doesn't really manage to provide much variety - it does feel rather a lot like multiple versions of the same song. It's a question of whether the fact that it feels like a retread of well-trodden ground detracts from effectively doing that sound in a similar fashion - I guess it doesn't in several other genres for me, but in this case, given the difficulty of songs differentiating from each other in this style, it doesn't quite do enough to rise beyond a good repeat of similar previous work to me. But hey, I'm not a funeral doom guy so I don't aim to have a strong opinion on the matter, so it's not that important in the end.
76. Anekdoten - Until All The Ghosts Are Gone
2015 [7.6] - 40 years on and prog rock still manages to entertain in a way some of its counterparts long forgot. This follows plenty of the standard tropes of long songs, keyboards, saxophone, flute and more, but retains that all important emotive edge to keep songs from losing contact. "Get Out Alive" in particular works, and it's generally another pleasant display of what can be accomplished in this genre.
77. Katavasia - Sacrilegious Testament
2015 [7.6] - Solid slab of melodic black metal clearly influenced by Rotting Christ. Some songs, most notably the opener, offer up some full-pelt black metal fury, but the majority of the album moves at mid-tempo, with ghoulish vocals on top of groovy, hooky riffs combined with a number of entertaining guitar melodies, as well as melodic input from other non-metal instruments. Not great, but enjoyable and well-balanced.
78. The Gentle Storm - The Diary
2015 [7.6] - An interesting side-project from Arjen and Anneke that displays her unique and pleasant voice within a set of songs that come in softer, more acoustic and folky and also heavier and more bombastic forms. The songs are all fairly slow, quite musically subdued in the way Ayreon can be, which does give it a tendency to be a tad dull due to their lack of real direction or emotional core, but they offer a fair amount of pleasant listening in both forms, each of which comes with its own strengths.
79. Scarab - Serpents Of The Nile
2015 [7.6] - Entertaining Eastern-influenced modern death metal, which is relatively accessible for the style, with a low level of real intensity, and several long songs that remain interesting pretty much throughout.
80. Klone - Here Comes The Sun
2015 [7.6] - A pleasant, fairly subdued alt/prog metal album that offers up intriguing, restrained songs carried by unconventional structures, moving vocals and distinctive percussion. However, the songs do fail to rise above intriguing into becoming alluring - they lack that necessary spark to be more than good, holding the album back from being truly great.
81. Nibiru - Padmalotus
2015 [7.6] - Not necessarily an easy album to work through. There's a fair number of groovy sludge/stoner riff sections that are very neat, but then substantial stretches of various sounds and noises that, as personally not a fan of drone, don't do anything for me, and then other styles as well. The closing track gradually moves into a metal part flitzing between meaty grooves and blast-beat driven borderline black metal, before going on an extensive noisy drone detour and eventually reappearing with some softer mid-tempo melodic metal with fem-vox that ultimately concludes in more blasting. The album in general fluctuates like this in a hit-and-miss manner, but has some great hits and is generally good at what it does.
82. Three Steps To The Ocean - Migration Light
2015 [7.6] - Enjoyable and well written, if slightly unremarkable, short little instrumental post-rock/metal album utilising both crunching heavy metal riffs (sometimes bordering on doom) as a contrast to tremolo post-rock jangling, and sometimes both light and shade join together. Its tone varies between brooding and uplifting, and nails everything well, but doesn't act as anything new.
83. Misþyrming - Söngvar Elds Og Óreiðu
2015 [7.6] - Angry, mean black metal with some stunning cover art. Generally pretty rampant throughout, and rather cavernous and misanthropic, it does still have an element of melody to it, particularly in Söngur Uppljómunar.
84. A Swarm Of The Sun - The Rifts
2015 [7.6] - An interesting amalgamation of a number of post-rock/metal touches - mostly instrumental with some occasional softish cleans, there is foreboding heaviness, more sorrowful power, lighter touches, and some dreamy parts; at one time I even thought of modern Anathema. The variety is a strength as it keeps the album interesting, but I would say the actually music within those stylistic choices aren't quite as great as more proficient post-rock bands. Rather likeable nevertheless.
85. Spectral Lore - Voyager
2015 [7.5] - Like Progenie Terrestre Pura last year, Spectral Lore release an EP focussed entirely on the ambient side of their sound, and it works pretty well. The odd-numbered tracks are pretty sparse and ultimately slightly lacking, but 2, 4 and 6 are a bit more musically substantial, and rather enjoyable because of it. In fact, the final track even starts bringing in some metal guitar as the EP builds towards its climax, and it works moderately well. It all has quite a space-like feel and interesting euphoric sheen to it, and, from my hugely limited experience of ambient music, is generally a decent release.
86. Caïna - Setter Of Unseen Snares
2015 [7.5] - Some Rust Cohle quotes lead into 4 interesting variants on black metal, whether straight-up raw and angry, more restrained and rockier, or slightly sinister, before the second half is rounded out in one long, post-rock infused black epic. A very brief album, and one in which certain aspects and moments work better than others, but an interesting little listen at least.
87. Outre - Ghost Chants
2015 [7.5] - Straight up black metal, with a bit of a discordant tone to it (but not to BAN/DsO levels), primarily shifting between sinister, slow and evil, furious blast-beating, and most other territories in between as long as it's not too happy-sounding. The riffs are good, the vocals are fierce and everything works well - it's not particularly standout but it does what it does very well.
88. Death Karma - The History Of Death & Burial Rituals Part I
2015 [7.5] - After two Cult of Fire releases and now this album, I'm yet to be fully won over as a follower of Infernal Vlad. This is solid death-flavored black metal, with relatively melodic powerful black riffs and tasty accompanying lead guitar elements mixed with some of the fire and foulness of death metal. Consistently hooky, interestingly atmospheric and generally competent, it still doesn't quite win me over fully.
89. Subterranean Masquerade - The Great Bazaar
2015 [7.5] - An intriguing prog album, covering a whole gamut of intensities, emotions and sonic choices, with prominent strings and somewhat quirky sounds, but also extreme moments and more bombastic melodic passages. The variety never comes across as forced or ill-judged, and the whole package is entertaining and different-sounding, but it lacks a little something at its core to make it a more fulfilling listen.
90. The Neologist - Coming Full Circle
2015 [7.4] - Fairly conventional, slightly proggy, and firmly melody-focussed melodeath, operating within the same realm as Scar Symmetry and other more expansive Gothenburg bands. Even if fairly typical, still of pretty high quality.
91. Lord Dying - Poisoned Altars
2015 [7.4] - Some tasty mid-tempo sludge/stoner with plenty of groove along with some thrashier segments and even some exciting solos, with a particularly flashy one in the final track. Slightly monotone in terms of feel but nevertheless firmly entertaining.
92. Periphery - Juggernaut: Alpha & Omega
2015 [7.4] - A far more commercial and poppy twist on the djent/math 'new prog' scene, it is more engaging and enjoyable that anything those hook-less bands manage to achieve. On the flip side, the simplified sound, the large length, and the not entirely convincing commercial stylizings ultimately make it a somewhat imperfect and flawed outcome. Nevertheless, it's one of the albums of this style I've found myself enjoying the most, probably because I do have a side to me that enjoys more commercial, angst-y style metal if done well.
93. Monolord - Vænir
2015 [7.4] - A step up from the previous album, it has a good number of heavy AF riffs, the distant echoey vocals suit well, and songs mix it up just enough to avoid tedium, but it's still not as compelling as some of the strongest stoner doom bands and Monolord could work on where it takes its ideas.
94. Undersmile - Anhedonia
2015 [7.4] - Honestly, this one does drag at times. Particularly at the beginning and in the final track, it's a fairly sparse, shapeless slowness that fails to offer much to get enthustiastic over. However, it does the old SubRosa 'whip out the strings' well, as well as some fairly respectable heaviness throughout most of it, with some quite effective stoner-ish guitar leads at times too.
95. God Is An Astronaut - Helios I Erebus
2015 [7.4] - Pretty pleasant, solid variety in songs, with a heavier tone perhaps than on previous releases to some songs that works well alongside some more ambient tracks, arguably more accomplished than some previous efforts. There's no standout songs a la Echoes, Snowfall, Suicide By Star etc., and it isn't the revolution to their sound the band could arguably do with, but it's a perfectly pleasant effort from a consistently competent group.
96. Death Grips - The Powers That B
2015 [7.3] - Far more up my streets than Kendrick Lamar as far as hip-hop is concerned, this is a chaotic beast of an album, running over 80 minutes. It's less focussed than The Money Store, my other encounter with the band, and lacks the same spark that album has, whilst also becoming draining over its running time. It is still a kinetic powerhouse which demands your attention, and if you like this kinda thing it's well worth a listen.
97. Domovoyd - Domovoyd
2015 [7.3] - Some solid psychedelic stoner metal, which starts and ends with two colossal tracks that use almost drone-y tones to slowly build up towards a (for stoner metal) almost violently aggressive zenith. Arguably the strongest track is Ambrosian Perfume, which is also lengthy but has a more compact structure and the pick of the album's riffs. The shorter songs are slightly lacking compared to some of the genre greats, offering up some almost mean aggression at times amongst the heavy, groovy fuzzy stoner riffs, whilst the two lengthy bookenders could perhaps do with some contraction. However, it is still an intriguing and entertaining stoner odyssey worth checking out for fans of the genre, as well as of some variety within that genre.
98. Embrional - The Devil Inside
2015 [7.3] - Relatively solid death metal with hints of black, full of aggressive and fairly often hooky riffs, as well as consistently engaging lead guitar and solo work. The vocals are a tad amateurish but not too distracting, and the whole package is somewhat retreading old ground, but done well enough and without being too derivative that genre enthusiasts should enjoy.
99. Orden Ogan - Ravenhead
2015 [7.3] - A nice slab of folky European power metal with enticing vocals and enjoyable riffing. Not pulling up any trees but with enough conviction and solid songwriting to act as one of the more engaging releases in the scene recently that I've encountered.
100. Napalm Death - Apex Predator - Easy Meat
2015 [7.3] - Straight-up meaty death/grind with plenty of aggression, hooky riffs and everything else you'd expect. Unlikely to disappoint fans of the band or genre.
101. Rosetta - Audio​/​Visual Original Score
2015 [7.3] - Rather pleasant post-rock/ambient instrumental music with a chilled-out and expansive sound, but perhaps a little samey and insubstantial, at least to elicit enough enthusiasm from myself.
102. Bell Witch - Four Phantoms
2015 [7.3] - I'm not a big funeral doom fan, and this album does have some of the main problems I have concerning a lack of direction and too much trudging build-up for too little reward, but there are some nice rewards at time - certainly, there's more pay-off with the atmospheric clean vocal parts or prominent lead guitar sections to give some flavor to the music. Also, it's highly impressive the fact they make such sound with 2 members and no guitar.
103. Weedeater - Goliathan
2015 [7.3] - Pretty satisfying fuzzy, groovy, somewhat doomy mid-tempo stoner/sludge effort with with a couple of country experiments fitted in to mix up the running order. The harsh barked vocals are perhaps a bit unrefined but in general it's a fun enough effort.
104. Nightwish - Endless Forms Most Beautiful
2015 [7.2] - Given that Shudder Before The Beautiful sounds like a rip-off of Dark Chest Of Wonders, and motifs from Ghost Love Score pop up in Alpenglow, the band clearly wants to get back to a 'Once' vibe, which is fine cos that album had some fine songs, if some meh ones too. As it is, the first couple of songs are a bit lacking and Elan is as flat now as it was on first listen. However, the rest of the album is surprisingly enjoyable - a bit lacking in killer songs, but there's a fair amount of enjoyable material in there, even with the children's chorus on Sharbat Gula. The album does feel like it's missing something, but it's also far more satisfying than the first few songs indicated it might've been.
105. Evoke Thy Lords - Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms In Your Cellar!
2015 [7.2] - Fairly enjoyable stoner pschedelic doom, but perhaps not as good as the first one. The first two songs are very promising - laid-back, loose and airy, but the more intense, metal edge it acquires beyond that does take away some of the flavor.
106. Ensiferum - One Man Army
2015 [7.2] - Not a great album, ultimately an improvement on Unsung Heroes and a rather entertaining album. Cry for the Earth Bounds is a dull and overly long song, but is followed by the obvious standout song Two Of Spades, and in general the rest of it offers up music with a sufficiently high quality and entertainment factor that it's very difficult not to be won over. Not as good as From Afar by any means, but the band seems to be getting back to some sort of form.
107. Rosetta - Quintessential Ephemera
2015 [7.2] - A second Rosetta release this year, this one was more conventional post-metal than the ambient Audio/Visual Original Score. A perfectly pleasant record, it does however feel like it's lacking some of the inspiration you would anticipate from one of the big hitters of the genre, and it ultimately glides by enjoyably but somewhat forgettably.
108. Psycroptic - Psycroptic
2015 [7.2] - Pretty entertaining tech-death with a bit more soul to it than most modern bands in the genre (outside Obscura's recent output), which could be said for the last album, which this is quite similar to. However, both albums don't really manage to inspire much more excitement than, this sounds pretty nice.
109. Sannhet - Revisionist
2015 [7.2] - A post-black band which seems to inhabit a space between Deafheaven and Cult of Luna. There's plenty of more uplifting blackgaze-y parts during the runtime along with customary blastbeats, and I don't necessarily think the band pulls these off all that well. They are stronger when they get darker into black-tinged post-metal that combine punchy low-end mid-tempo riffing with slightly black guitar tones and the occasional tremolo cameo on top; these parts can be seen in the likes of Enemy Victorian and Empty Harbor and are well-executed. A greater focus of these parts and a reduction in the less interesting blackgaze elements and their next release could be the real deal.
110. Santo Rostro - II: The Bleed
2015 [7.1] - Decent doomy stoner metal, which sometimes ups the pace to more rampaging and drive tempos, but which also operates quite often in the slow-to-mid speed range. Is surprisingly sonically versatile within the style, and offers up some solid riffs and lead guitar work alongside okay vocals. Not truly compelling but entertaining enough.
111. Mechina - Acheron
2015 [7.1] - This still maintains the band's typical sound but lacks sufficient variation to separate it from the albums only recently released. Tracks 4 and 5 rank among their better efforts, but there are several filler mood-setters, and generally the album not only follows in the footsteps of Empyrean and Xenon, but is also stuck firmly in their shadows.
112. Kamelot - Haven
2015 [7.1] - Silverthorn was a decent but fairly mild introduction to the band for Kaverik, but I hoped that with some bedding in time this album would allow the band to come back into their own again. As it is, there's some good music on the album, but some substantial stretches where it is somewhat dull, and ultimately the band is nowhere near their peak music. Nevertheless, like Blind Guardian and (to some extent) Nightwish, Kamelot working at 70% peak does outdo the majority of power metal bands at 100% so it's still an enjoyable enough release. I'm still waiting for them to deliver again what I know they're capable of, but songs like Liar Liar suggest that that kind of level might not be entirely a thing of the past.
113. Wovoka - Saros
2015 [7.1] - Competently-done and perfectly enjoyable but extremely derivative heavy post-metal that doesn't quite know when to stop at the end.
114. Område - Edari
2015 [7.1] - Vaguely interesting avant-electro, predominantly subdued, somewhat in the vein of Perdition City, but not quite as alluring. Songs basically based around muted background electro beat with more electronics intervening in the foreground, plus a range of other cameos from traditional rock instruments, plus saxophone and other non-standards. Add in some unconvincing growls and half-spoken vocals, and it's all quite passable and fairly successfully atmospheric, but not a shade on some other similar albums.
115. Forefather - Curse Of The Cwelled
2015 [7.1] - Forefather offer up some more of their moderately entertaining mid-tempo folk/black music, although perhaps not as inspired as my last encounter with them. Whilst the last album had stunning songs like By Thy Deeds, there's nothing here that truly stands out from the decent but unremarkable pack, although Rustics To Remain is arguably the pick of the bunch.
116. Mourning Mist - Mourning Mist
2015 [7.0] - Moderately interesting mix of blackened doom that fluctuates between mid-tempo riff- and tremolo-dominated accessible black and slower, more mellow parts, which once or twice bring to mind earlier Draconian-esque gothic-ness. However, the sound is often dominated by enjoyable violin or almost strings-esque lead guitar, adding interesting flavor to the music. Ultimately producing a pleasant and rather accessible package, Mourning Mist doesn't quite manage to be truly remarkable.
117. Peste Noire - La Chaise-Dyable
2015 [7.0] - An enjoyable new effort from the band, but one significantly less noteworthy than L'ordure et L'etat Pur.
118. Shepherd - Stereolithic Riffalocalypse
2015 [7.0] - Unremarkable but entertaining sludg-y desert rock, built about hazy groovy riffs and echoe-y vocals, but murkier than many of its counterparts. Closing track Stalebait and its extended guitar soloing is the highlight of the album.
119. The Monolith Deathcult - Bloodcults
2015 [7.0] - Symphonic death metal EP with a greater focus on the death metal part of their sound than e.g. Fleshgod Apocalypse and Septicflesh. On the flip side, it's not necessarily all that interesting beyond that, although it is well-played and generally appealling. Additionally, the electronic dance-style track Die Waffe Mensch RMX is a somewhat entertaining diversion, if perhaps a bit overlong for the number of ideas they brought to it.
120. Angelus Apatrida - Hidden Evolution
2015 [7.0] - Fairly strong thrash that takes notes from a variety of classic thrash bands, particularly Overkill, but also includes some Iced Earth-esque US power metal (particularly on First World Of Terror), and with vocals situated between a number of thrash vocalists including Mustaine, Blitz and Stu Block. The thrash is solid and entertaining and I imagine genre enthusiasts will heavily dig it; only my current indifference to the genre and generic-sounding bands within it prevents me showing greater enthusiasm.
121. Volahn - Aq'Ab'Al
2015 [7.0] - The general black blasting sections of this can be draining, the some cool guitar melodies pop up fairly regularly, e.g. towards the end of Quetzalcoatl and Nawalik, and the riffing is different, if a bit muddy and not all that alluring. Additionally, there are some interesting acoustics closing Koyopa.
122. Defaced - Forging The Sanctuary
2015 [6.8] - Fairly standard black-tinged modern death metal with some black elements, filled with forceful intensity, gruelling growls, reasonably engaging riffs, strong soloing and functional changes in pace from frantic pounding to groovier, blacker mid-tempos with more black vocals. Good and regularly engaging but a bit typical. The last track, a slower, grander piece that morphs from a death metal dirge to an anthemic black metal outro is of particular note.
123. Helloween - My God-Given Right
2015 [6.7] - Standard modern Helloween, but bloated. Ultimately most of the songs are enjoyable, but rather too much of it is similar given just how long it goes on for. Songs such as the lengthy, ambitious You, Still Of War and the cheesy Dungeons & Dragons feel of Battle's Won give a bit of flavor to the album, but in the end there's not enough to maintain enthusiasm throughout.
124. Bosse-De-Nage - All Fours
2015 [6.7] - Black metal fairly similar to the Deafheaven hipster BM/gaze sound, particularly towards the later half of the album. The 'happy' BM songs aren't all that interesting, particularly Washerwoman, and the high levels of blastbeating become a chore, but there's some rather solid stuff towards the front of the album.
125. Marilyn Manson - The Pale Emperor
2015 [6.7] - Some decent industrial-tinged blues-y alt rock, which is enjoyable enough and solid but a bit lacking in anything that truly excites me.
126. Code - Mut
2015 [6.4] - Somewhat interesting and fairly bold, but quite flawed proggy post-rock attempt. The vocals take a few minutes to get used to, but once you do they're quite intriguing and sometimes moving, but also not that compelling and slightly jarring. As for the music behind it, it's quite different and certainly not just retreading common ground, but at the same time it doesn't quite manage to fully work as a whole, although it offers up some interesting moments. Ultimately, quite noteworthy in being a fairly unconventional post-rock effort, but one which can certainly be improved upon.
127. Sleep Terror - Unihemispheria
2015 [6.3] - There's some decent melodies and riffs in here, but I struggle to call Alkaloid wankery when this kind of thing exists.
128. Lindemann - Skills In Pills
2015 [6.3] - Knowing this comes from Till Lindemann, you won't be surprised to hear the final product - plenty of Rammstein in this project's DNA. We get English lyrics here, however, so non-German speakers get to enjoy the silliness Lindemann likes to provide in some of his lyrics. The music itself is perfectly entertaining and quite good at holding attention, even if not that remarkable and with sometimes overly long songs. As far as mainstream metal projects go, one of the more satisfying recent ones.
129. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly
2015 [6.2] - Arguably not worth listing on here, but I listened to it so might as well comment. I like a fair few 80s/early 90s hip-hop songs and artist, but aside from Eminem and a couple of other songs, not much in the past decade or two has done much for me in the genre - however, the rave reviews of this album tempted me to give it a go. In its favour, it does have quite a bit of variety in its sound, which is handy considering just how long it is, and sounds natural at most of it. However, considering how important the rapper's tone of voice and the memorability of musical motifs is to me in the genre, I just didn't find any songs particularly memorable or his voice all that engaging. I'm sure I'm missing out by not digging into the lyrics, which is clearly an important aspect of the genre, but I usually need music to grip me on a surface level to expend the energy digging into lyrics - I wouldn't know how excellent the lyrics to Kezia were if Protest The Hero's music wasn't so excellent. Guys like Chuck D and Melle Mel had such compelling voices that they inspired me to dig into the lyrics, but this music just doesn't, and what I did pick up isn't all that inspiring either, a load of 'n' words and fairly unexciting messages, albeit obviously flowing well. I suppose I can see how this could get such rave reviews, but to be honest this pretty much acts as a death knell regarding my interest in modern hip hop goes.
130. Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth - Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth
2015 [6.1] - A fairly average doom album with varying influences of sludge and stoner throughout. Songs are long and become overly repetitive before they are done, but tracks like La Mano Poderoso and I Am have some interesting stoner grooves and sludgy doom riffs during their runtimes, and the tribal drumming sustaining The Immutable Path is of passing interest too. Overall, however, it is a rather limited effort.
131. Malthusian - Below The Hengiform
2015 [6.1] - A somewhat charmless murky death metal EP, which spends most-all i

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Comments: 2   Visited by: 90 users
30.03.2015 - 21:09
Au Pays Natal
I will be following you
You should check out Izah - Sistere
30.03.2015 - 22:12

Written by tea[m]ster on 30.03.2015 at 21:09

I will be following you
You should check out Izah - Sistere

Don't worry, it's on my (intimidatingly long) list of stuff from 2015 to check out

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