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2015: One O' Dem Best Of Lists (Jul-Dec)

Been a bit slow checking releases around the halfway point of the year, but should get back into it soon and hopefully flesh out this list.

Created by: musclassia | 14.08.2015

1. Amorphis - Under The Red Cloud
2015 [9.2] - This band really is amazing - their songs are generally verse/chorus standard structures, most-all built around the structure of folk-influenced lead guitar melodies and powerful growl/clean vox driving everything else along at a generally mid-tempo pace, but they're so adept at it that every melody pretty much works, and whilst songs are rarely by themselves incredible, it's the sheer consistency that makes them so good. The powerful "The Skull", the super-folky "Tree Of Ages" and more go straight into their outstanding recent catalog of great songs, and the album in general maintains their current streak of similar yet distinct and non-stale albums of real high quality.
2. Horrendous - Anareta
2015 [9.0] - A barnstorming mix of catchy, well-produced, and (relatively) light OSDM with a maelstrom of quality riffs and melodic guitar leads, some of which harken back to older days whilst others remind me of the likes of Fallujah. Altogether, you get a barrage of songs that are both punchy and heavy yet massively hooky.
3. Slugdge - Dim & Slimeridden Kingdoms
2015 [8.9] - Much like the last album, this is some delicious extreme metal. Packed with some incendiary riffs, well-matched with neat lead guitar lines and solos, and mixes of growls, shrieks and deep, menacing clean vocals. Hovering somewhere in the nexus between death metal, black metal, and other forms of unpleasantness, it produces something distinctly its own and distinctly satisfying. The Toxic Salts and Flying Snails in particular are riveting stuff.
4. Teramaze - Her Halo
2015 [8.8] - Melodic progressive metal done in a fairly conventional manner, but done in a pretty emphatic way. A combination of a fine, emotive voice, great vocal lines, beautiful guitar playing that hits multiple tonal bases, and quality songwriting regardless of whether it's a long song, a shorter song, a ballad piece or even an instrumental. The whole package is everything you could want from an album in this kind of style.
5. Regarde Les Hommes Tomber - Exile
2015 [8.8] - A solid debut is followed up by an absolute top notch sophomore effort. Just brings it on all fronts - song structures, black metal riffs, howling vocals, and some intangible spark I can't quite describe but which really makes it shine. Right up with A Forest Of Stars for best black metal album of 2015.
6. Intronaut - The Direction Of Last Things
2015 [8.7] - Full on groovy rhythms, intricate and relatively diverse instrumentation, and inventive songwriting, Intronaut are amongst the most interesting post-metal acts currently active. With greater harsh vocal presence than 2013's Habitual Levitations, and with perhaps a more direct and overt-sounding direction that its often quite non-obvious predecessor, this is nevertheless a very fine piece of work, with quality songs pretty much front-to-back.
7. Sunpocrisy - Eyegasm, Hallelujah!
2015 [8.6] - A really effective post-metal album which has a good mix of buildup/climax, moving cleans and powerful barks, good melodic guitar riffing and powerful, ominous mood.
8. Between The Buried And Me - Coma Ecliptic
2015 [8.6] - Another strong effort to sustain one of the longest and strongest hot streaks in metal at the moment. A more accessible strain of their quirky prog, with the extreme parts dialed down, but still displaying all the expected hallmarks of the band.
9. Anomalie - Refugium
2015 [8.5] - Tagged as post-black, I do definitely see it on some songs, but on a lot of it, it feels much closer to something like Ghost Brigade, melancholy, slightly Gothic melodeath. The Ghost Brigade-like songs are also more to my tastes than the more obviously post-black songs. On the whole, it really manages to deliver something impactful on the more melancholy, morose songs, with a real punch to the sound and a powerful production.
10. Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster - Wires/Dream\Wires
2015 [8.5] - It's not original, but this is seriously good post-rock/metal, just like Exegesis. Maintaining the usual genre balance of softer, ambient/atmospheric parts driven along by drums, heavy crushing riffs (but on the softer end of the scale), and lots of shifting to and fro in between, this won't throw any surprises, it's just highly enjoyable instrumental post-, with both rock and metal sensibilities, taking the best of both sounds.
11. Grey Heaven Fall - Black Wisdom
2015 [8.5] - One of the more extreme black metal albums I've encountered this year, with an atmospheric feel but plenty of fury and pieces of death metal in there. Aided by an effective production, there's ample punch to the heavier parts, plenty of creep to the slow-building atmospheric parts, and even some really effective sorrowful parts, such as a melancholy guitar solo in grand closer That Nail In A Heart. Fine effort all round.
12. Abigail Williams - The Accuser
2015 [8.4] - Another strong black metal album in a year dominated by strong black metal-based efforts, it marks another shift away from the band's more accessible and somewhat derided beginnings (although I like their debut album and particularly 2010's In The Absence Of Light) to an uncompromising and perhaps even respected outfit. This album is clean but not sterile in its production, which accentuates the fierce nature of a lot of it - the first two and a half songs are dominated with blast beats and pure fury, with some more mid-tempo menace only first appearing on Of The Outer Darkness. Following track Will, Wish & Desire is an overtly melodic piece that changes the mood, and from that point onwards there's a well-balanced mix of blasting, sinister marching, and exciting guitar lead moments (not pyrotechnic, but tasteful and well-used to develop songs and atmosphere). Perhaps not quite as good as Becoming, this is another fine record from AW.
13. Mesarthim - Isolate
2014 [8.4] - A really neat atmospheric space black metal album, with the vocals shrieking firmly in the background alongside the guitars as the lead guitar solos, piano/keyboards and electronics deliver the melody to accompany the black metal atmosphere background. There's a few missteps, noticeably a couple of quite irksome electronic keyboard sounds, but on the whole it is rather moving and delivers a delightful uplifting celestial atmosphere, reminding me on odd occasions of Moonsorrow in space.
14. Panopticon - Autumn Eternal
2015 [8.4] - Another fine effort by this prolific musician, continuing to craft uplifting atmospheric black metal that has some of the balls of black metal but some great guitar leads and a great sense of when to go heavy and when to lighten up.
15. Weeping Silence - Opus IV Oblivion
2015 [8.3] - A pretty fine effort as far as fem-fronted gothic doom goes; nice female cleans and sufficiently powerful male growls, alongside dainty pianos and strings used effectively, and moving guitar leads. One of the stronger albums in the genre I've come across recently.
16. Spectral Lore - Gnosis
2015 [8.3] - An extremely impressive Middle Eastern-influenced instrumental atmospheric black metal album, which takes more than a few cues from Melechesh and which manages to stay consistently engaging throughout its meandering 50 minute runtime.
17. Cattle Decapitation - The Anthropocene Extinction
2015 [8.3] - Absolutely fierce slab of extreme metal from the ever-impressive Cattle Decapitation, featuring a barrage of riffs, frenetic, hooky, or even sometimes slowed down and grimy, plus explosive drumming and a typically diverse vocal performance from Travis Ryan, with his range of extreme vox complemented ever more by those horrid, pained high-pitched clean vocals. It manages to fit in enough variety to stay fresh-sounding throughout, and songs such as Plagueborne are just killer.
18. Enshine - Singularity
2015 [8.3] - Atoma's debut is good, but Enshine is the more exciting of the spin-offs from one-hit wonder Slumber. This album could be considered too close to the band's excellent debut, but with its spacey and melancholy atmosphere, gothic elements, and variation between more sorrowful pieces and tougher, meatier songs, there's enough variety to stave off staleness, all combined with some highly satisfying songwriting.
19. Scale The Summit - V
2015 [8.3] - One of the finest instrumental bands going; they show off technical virtuosity but always manage to keep a solid song-centric core to their sound. The clear standout cut is Kestral, a great mix of crawling buildup releasing into a quality complex riff and culminating in some tasteful guitar pyrotechnics.
20. Dragged Into Sunlight - N.V. [Collaboration]
2015 [8.2] - A very effective collaboration, nasty and grim with plenty of howls and blasts and murk, but with some strong atmosphere and effective riffs.
21. Dreadnought - Bridging Realms
2015 [8.2] - An impressive sophomore effort after a debut that offered some future potential without delivering all that much great music by itself. What we have here now is an album in which the metal has become much less prominent, although BM shrieks and other metal elements do make their appearances, in favor of a sound featuring plenty of prog rock and jazz fusion, with all the flutes and energetic drums that goes with it. There's also more solemn, atmospheric moments, and more other inclusions that ultimately deliver a rather distinctive, chilled-out and quite rewarding effort.
22. Chelsea Wolfe - Abyss
2015 [8.2] - An album that starts off slightly unassumingly, as it goes on and delivers more of its dark, longing atmosphere, drenched in foreboding instrumentation, creeping vocals and imaginative song choices, it really begins to get under your skin; the last 3-4 songs in particular are very adept at this. Really neat piece of creepy here.
23. Zierler - ESC
2015 [8.2] - A good prog metal album, based in the typical European melodic prog metal sound, but with some more disparate influences that seemingly pop up occasionally, including Nightwish, Mike Patton, and more, and vocalist that likely inspired the guy from Myrath given their vocal similarities. The obvious reference bands aren't quite coming to my head, but you'll get a lot of heavy, punchy riffs, with some more melodic elements, talented guitar and keyboard solo work, powerful vocals, etc. Not necessarily an album to love but some pretty strong material consistently throughout.
24. Draconian - Sovran
2015 [8.2] - Perhaps not as compelling as Weeping Silence (the dainty piano is absent, the strings aren't quite as remarkable, the female vocals not quite as compelling), but with a sound more oriented towards the doom than the gothic with the bigger focus on riffs, and a strong set of songs, it's still a contender for their best album in the decade since Arcane Rain Fell.
25. Monolithe - Epsilon Aurigae
2015 [8.2] - Another strong doom release from these guys; faster-paced than IV, but featuring the same crunching riffing along with moving atmosphere and effective guitar leads.
26. The Moth Gatherer - The Earth Is The Sky
2015 [8.2] - A solid mix of some of Isis's songwriting tendencies and emotional tones with some of Cult of Luna's harshness, more esoteric feel and use of electronics and subtle atmosphere, to produce an unoriginal but effective post-metal album.
27. Soilwork - The Ride Majestic
2015 [8.2] - This kind of pumped-up energetic Gothenburg-style melodeath has never quite appealed to me compared to the slightly mystical feel of The Jester Race, or the keys-driven 00s Dark Tranquillity, or the melancholic Finnish style, and so on, and never got hooked on Soilwork albums, having tried some from beginning, middle and end of their career. This is just sweet as hell; full of hooky riffs, good pacing, and dynamite vocals, extreme and clean. I still can't say I love this particular style but if I ever want to listen to this kind of album, this seems like the optimal one to choose. Pretty much great song after great song throughout.
28. Deafheaven - New Bermuda
2015 [8.2] - After a debut I disliked and a sophomore I failed to see the reason for the hype over, I was willing to write off Deafheaven. However, I couldn't help but be won over by this effort. Unlike so many similar bands (see: Bosse-De-Nage from this year), the soft, clean parts actually feel like they have a purpose rather than to just sound different to the BM and give bands indie points, and usually work for me. As far as the black metal goes, the more melancholy mid-tempo parts and the blackgaze sections are consistently engaging, and relatively diverse between songs (the best potentially being closer Gifts for the Earth, with its indie-esque beginning shifting to a heavy riff section into something more euphoric, before closing with a dainty piano outro). The more extreme BM (which takes up most of Come Back) is full-on harsh, but manages to never overstay its welcome, and strikes a good balance with the rest of the music. Against all odds, I like a Deafheaven album.
29. Cradle Of Filth - Hammer Of The Witches
2015 [8.2] - I basically tried this on a whim but found it thoroughly enjoyable, filled with a number of songs packed with hooky riffs, entertaining interplay of instruments and decent male/fem vox appearances. Not quite sure what it counts as, but I like it a fair bit.
30. Myrkur - M
2015 [8.1] - Despite all the hype and controversy regarding who's behind this project, on the face of it Myrkur is a solid project. Not the most challenging BM but it doesn't need to be, aiming for a more atmospheric and melodic form. Alongside a fair share of BM riffs, some in the vein of Agalloch, some rockier, there's also lots of piano, a number of atmospheric passages built around ambience and strings, and probably the album's biggest ace card, the ethereal clean fem vox that add an element largely absent from most black metal projects. It's not perfect - not all songs work great, the atmospheric parts are a bit hit and miss and the flow of the album is slightly disjointed, but what it gets right it gets pretty damn right, and it's overall an enjoyable effort at the more approachable end of black metal, and could quite easily appeal to fans of the more lo-fi efforts by Agalloch (I felt a lot of Marrow Of The Spirit in this effort at times).
31. Sunless Rise - Unrevealed
2015 [8.1] - Hailed by many as something of a spiritual successor to early Children of Bodom, there is definitely an element of that sound to their music, but there's more going on besides it. It calls to mind several power metal acts, both extreme and non-extreme, and also has a sizeable portion of melodeath in its sound, particularly with some of the lead guitar playing and song structuring, and even a bit of melodic metalcore, particularly in the emo-ish clean vocal choruses. There are also bits of EDM in some of the keyboard lines and electronic effects on the vocals. It's pretty damn enjoyable throughout, as cheesy as it is, but it does get a bit same-y towards the second half, and there's definitely a number of people that the vocals, occasional use of autotune, and mainstream Gothenburg elements. However, it just about ends up on the right side of me.
32. Swallow The Sun - Songs From The North I, II & III
2015 [8.1] - Three discs, one their typical melodic extreme doom, the second an all-acoustic melancholy folk effort, and the third a crushing quasi-funeral doom album. Without ever being stunning, the band sounds good throughout all three discs, maintaining a consistent level of quality throughout the 2+ hours of music on offer here. The difference in style between two strong songs such as the soft 66°50´N,28°40´E and the vicious yet sometimes dainty and light Empires Of Loneliness (which becomes almost post-rock partway through) is really impressive and the whole package is really admirable, even if it isn't necessarily all great music.
33. Ahab - The Boats Of The Glen Carrig
2015 [8.1] - A reversion back to their pre-Giant sound (with a few elements from that album left over), this is another crushing release from one of the heavier bands around. Full of slow, crunching, extreme doom, both the more moderately-paced 'The Divinity...'-like sound and occasionally moments harking back to the funeral doom of 'The Call...', there are also a number of soft, ambling moments that could be found on a non-metal release, plus some rich, evocative cleans. Probably the nicest surprises are the powerful and effective guitar leads that make several appearances throughout, and the real unusual treat that is the mid-paced and quite conventionally-sounding death/doom song 'Like Red Foam', which demonstrates another side to the band and plays to my own interests most, given my general disinterest in slow, crawling funeral-like doom. Not quite as good as 'Divinity', but another fine release from one of the few bands in the genre I pay attention to.
34. Caligula's Horse - Bloom
2015 [8.1] - A solid follow-up to the previous album (I won't try and write the title), this form of spunky, Karnivool-esque prog doesn't always hit the right note but is generally successful and delivers some very nice songs when it does, such as Turntail and Daughter Of The Mountain. The bonus track This City Has No Empathy isn't the greatest, with swearing and attitude that really doesn't fit, but aside from that and a few missteps early on in the tracklist, it's a solid modern prog album.
35. Kauan - Sorni Nai
2015 [8.1] - Possibly the band's best since Kuu..., it's a very solid album that flows together as one long, mellow, slowly unravelling atmospheric trek in the desolate but beautiful winter wilderness. It has more vocals than some of their albums, most of which work well, and there's a nice use of acoustic guitars and non-metal instruments alongside slow and steady metal guitar atmosphere through leads and slow doomy riffs. Not quite special, but a really nice return to form after two somewhat middling efforts.
36. Stratovarius - Eternal
2015 [8.0] - It's been a good year for Timo Kotipelto, with first the solid Cain's Offering sophomore Stormcrow, and now this, a relatively strong follow-up album to the well-received Nemesis. The opening song, My Eternal Dream, is the standout track and one that the album slightly fails to live up to during the rest; nonetheless the whole tracklist is full of fun and generally successful power metal songs, and is certainly a more consistent effort than the likes of Elysium and especially Polaris. I can't say I've ever really loved Stratovarius but for such a veteran band, they're doing better than most of their peers in their genre.
37. Baroness - Purple
2015 [8.0] - Like Kylesa, I have surprisingly little experience with Baroness, which like Kylesa is something I should probably rectify, especially considering what great discoveries Spiral Shadow and other Kylesa albums were. As it is, this is a really interesting stoner album - the first song opens up with some very Mastodon-esque guitar playing, but the whole album is pretty variable. The lush and anthemic Chlorine & Wine is a particular standout, but there's an interesting mix throughout of lighter and heavier parts, and pretty much every song offers something of real interest, even if a few of them fail to deliver the whole way through. Nice album.
38. Ixion - Enfant De La Nuit
2015 [8.0] - Some fairly solid melodic atmospheric doom, which tasteful use of synthesizers and electronics amongst hooky riffs, powerful growls and decent, if not great, cleans, and well-structured songs.
39. TesseracT - Polaris
2015 [8.0] - TesseracT are one of the more interesting bands to emerge from the djent scene, with their focus on atmosphere and melody and less so on the down-tuned polyrhythmic riffing and so on. Such riffs do appear, and like other djent bands they do seem to struggle to write vocal lines that actually go somewhere at times, but this is a generally pleasant listen that balances the atmospheric and emotional elements well with the djent side. The closing song in particular is a very cohesive mesh of all the band's tendencies into a atmos-djent piece. Hitting notes that bring to mind the likes of Faith No More and Karnivool, it's a relatively well-rounded and pretty satisfying album considering the genre.
40. Queensrÿche - Condition Hüman
2015 [8.0] - Not up with the classic QR albums, but the best thing by them in a while and a big improvement on the first Todd de la Torre album, who now sounds like Geoff Tate reincarnate, in contrast to Geoff Tate, who now sounds like shit. The songs are all pretty enjoyable, whether heavier or more ballad-oriented, and the whole thing feels like a modern update of the Empire formula at times, which is by no means a bad thing.
41. Ouroboros - Emanations
2015 [8.0] - A different beast from the death-thrash riff animal that was Glorification of a Myth, this thing is slowed down, stretched out and (occasionally) symph'd-up, with pummelling riffs replaced with more mid-tempo stompers, and greater focus upon lead guitar melodies than frantic solos. It's still a good listen and an interesting step for the sophomore effort, but in my opinion it doesn't hold a candle to the frantic monster that their debut was.
42. Symphony X - Underworld
2015 [7.9] - This album isn't quite as inspired as SymX at it's Divine Wings - Paradise Lost peak period, and the songs aren't as memorable as they could be, but the needlessly macho aggressive tone of Iconoclast has definitely been toned down in favor of something approaching a more classic SymX sound, and for the better. Particular treats are the closer Legend, soft ditty Without You and grandiose special To Hell And Back.
43. Raum Kingdom - All We Expected / Raum Kingdom [Split]
2015 [7.9] - A nice split between these two bands, featuring two approximately 10-minute songs from each. All We Expected are more of an instrumental post-rock/metal band something within the same spectrum as Tacoma Narrows..., and are pretty competent at it, if not as good as that band. Raum Kingdom are more sludgy, and closer to the likes of Cult of Luna with the heavy riffs, harsh vocals (plus some neat echo-ey clean shouts) and soft/heavy shifting, plus some neat prominent bass-playing. Probably the more impressive side of the split is Raum Kingdom's, but both are very enjoyable.
44. Black Space Riders - Refugeeum
2015 [7.9] - A rather interesting proggy version of stoner metal, a slightly subdued effort with foggy and withdrawn vocals, but still its fair share of groovy riffs and exciting moments.
45. Neurotech - The Ophidian Symphony
2015 [7.9] - Another 2015 effort from this prolific musician. Whilst Evasive was a pleasant sojourn into ambient electronic music, it was lacking that *something* that allows Neurotech to stand out compared to more experienced electronic musicians. With the return of heaviness on this extended song we're getting back into territory where Wulf can shine a bit more.
46. Gazpacho - Molok
2015 [7.9] - Interesting atmospheric chillaxed prog, which brings Om to mind at times in its more Oriental music-influenced moments (e.g. closer Molok Rising). Rarely heavy, but it does vary between almost ambient music such as the previously mentioned song, to more direct and (occasionally) pyrotechnic prog rock. It maintains reasonable variety throughout and consistently delivers pleasant music.
47. Dead To A Dying World - Litany
2015 [7.9] - A rather well-made morose blackened doom album featuring a good mix of quiet, contemplative moments, and angry heavy sections, along with prominent violin effectively used and a well-balanced mix of extreme vox and melancholy cleans.
48. Paul Wardingham - The Human Affliction
2015 [7.9] - Another nice album from this guitar lead demon, it has a more uplifting feel and more joie de vivre than Jeff Loomis' solo stuff, perhaps even with a bit of a Satriani feel, but whilst sounding nice throughout, does have the same old problem of guitar virtuoso stuff in struggling to rise above technical ability to individual music. Still, as far as this stuff goes, Paul is one of the most impressive proponents of the style.
49. Crown - Natron
2015 [7.9] - An effective crunchy mix of industrial mechanism and drum machines with the punchy crunch of sludge. This is mean and menacing, and very effective, although it does drag slightly at certain points, particularly during the climactic "Tension Of Duality".
50. Subsignal - The Beacons Of Somewhere Sometime
2015 [7.8] - A pleasant album which features most of the things that made Touchstones such a great album, but just perhaps lacking the special touch that album had to bring it all together.
51. Khemmis - Absolution
2015 [7.8] - A slightly limited if still fairly effective mix of doom with plenty of stoner and some sprinklings of sludge metal, it does however go out on a cracking closer in The Bereaved, a nice, atmospheric, sorrowful piece that still manages a pulse and some cool stoner riffing and strong clean vocal work. The rest of it is enjoyable even though it fairly regularly falls under 'functional' rather than truly impressive.
52. Amiensus - Ascension
2015 [7.8] - A rather nice extension of the meloblack of the first album, with some lovely instrumental work, intriguing song structures and enchanting clean vocal choruses and fem vox. However, whilst starting and ending very strongly, it does lose some momentum in between, which is a shame.
53. Locrian - Infinite Dissolution
2015 [7.8] - A very pleasant piece of background music formed from light black metal, ambience, noise and drone, experimental natured rock and electronics/synths.
54. The Black Dahlia Murder - Abysmal
2015 [7.8] - Exactly what you might expect from TBDM, but consistently hooky and entertaining in its melodeath aggression throughout. Up there with Noctural and Ritual amongst their best albums.
55. Skepticism - Ordeal
2015 [7.8] - One of the more energetic funeral doom bands I've encountered, they have a bit more forward momentum than the likes of Evoken and early Ahab. In doing so they deliver some effective morose doom with a thick heavy crushing sound, fierce growls and pretty much everything you'd expect from a more melancholy strain of funeral doom. Its one little trivia piece is that it was recorded live and then mixed in studio; as such, listeners will notice snippets of audience applause at the end of each song.
56. Shepherds Of Cassini - Helios Forsaken
2015 [7.8] - A rough but intriguing prog/post-rock/metal album featuring some peaks and troughs in quality during its potentially overlong songs. From regular moments of clear Tool homage, to string-driven prog moments, and also sections fitting into the typical post-metal sound. there are plenty of things to enjoy, but at times the songs can overly meander, the violin parts don't always work, and the more extreme vocals aren't great and the more intense moments might perhaps be unnecessary. Furthermore, the production works fine when there isn't too much going on, but at times when one anticipates a powerful emotional peak is trying to be reached, the muddy sound betrays the music somewhat. Nevertheless, it is a perfectly enjoyable listen throughout its span.
57. Antimatter - The Judas Table
2015 [7.8] - A rather dainty heavy atmospheric rock album in the vein of earlier Anathema, it features longing Cavanagh-esque vocals accompanied by predominantly acoustic playing, but with a number of heavier moments. The most overtly moving song is perhaps Hole, but a number of songs are effective throughout a generally consistent album.
58. Dark Buddha Rising - Inversum
2015 [7.7] - A mildly dark and ominous, but also quite meditative, piece of relatively accessible drone/dark ambient. The way it slowly layers up is effective, and there's just enough of a driving feel to it to not alienate me in the way some of the dronier bands such as Earth and Sunn O))) do.
59. Mono - Transcendental [Split]
2015 [7.7] - A fairly interesting split featuring solitary lengthy tracks from Mono and The Ocean. Mono's effort is arguably the stronger of the two, which might be a surprise given the relative weakness of their past couple albums. However, their song recaptures some of the post-rock spark of You Are There and Hymn... The Ocean, on the other hand, released a quite interesting but slightly weird song, featuring chorus moments that could've appeared on Karnivool's Themata album - the song has a definite alt metal vibe which is a new feature from Pelagial, and perhaps not a great addition. All in all, a flawed but worthwhile split.
60. Terzij De Horde - Self
2015 [7.6] - Anyone who checks this out will get a reasonable slab of post-/atmospheric black metal, with plenty of blasting and solid creepy softer parts, accompanied by a solid production. It's not quite as convincing as some other efforts from recent years, particularly due to the less-than-great vocals, but overall it's likely to satisfy those interested in the genre.
61. Nile - What Should Not Be Unearthed
2015 [7.6] - I've never been a big fan of Nile, but enjoy them when they deliver that occasional satisfying song (Kafir, Even The Gods Must Die, etc.). This album was pretty fun, but for the most part landed few punches on its (fairly entertaining) trip in one of my ears and out the other. However, they manage to deliver some tasty riffs during the runtime, and the moments it explores the Egyptian side of things more help to elevate it further. Finally, it does manage a song or two, most notably Evil To Cast Out Evil, that stands above the rest and elevates the album up. As for the rest, you're unlikely to remember much anything of it once it's over, but it'll satisfy a death metal appetite fairly well.
62. Spock's Beard - The Oblivion Particle
2015 [7.6] - Spock's Beard continue their record of releasing good-if-not-great music, as there's a fair amount of enjoyable music on here, particularly the first couple songs, without anything truly outstanding, and a couple of annoying songs as well, particularly Get Out While You Can.
63. Mechina - The World We Lost
2015 [7.6] - Another effort from one of the more prolific bands around (Senmuth takes first prize on that front though), a solid 20-minute song (although probably about a quarter of that is vocal samples and 'scene-setting') including the same crunchy industrial guitar, dramatic synths, fierce growls and robotic cleans and so on that they've displayed for a while. This one is predictably enjoyable but arguably adds little new to their sound.
64. Tyrant Of Death - Ion Legacy
2015 [7.6] - An instrumental electro/industrial metal album which opens with a trio of full-out addictive percussion-driven fun 'heavy electro' songs, following which it features slower, more varied and more 'experimental' songs which aren't perhaps as captivating as those early songs. It's still an enjoyable album but delivers very different things at the beginning compared to what follows.
65. Neurotech - Evasive
2015 [7.6] - Slightly typical as far as electronic music it goes, however I found this to be a very pleasant listening experience, both in its more throbbing new wave parts and the softer, more atmospheric moments. The shift from industrial metal away from metal towards more electronic music might disappoint long-time fans but having heard music from each period I find him effective at all of them.
66. Echoes Of Yul - The Healing
2015 [7.6] - Obviously outside my usual listening, nevertheless this was some interesting listening. Some kind of ambient, noisy post-rock with samples a'plenty throughout. Some tracks work better than others for me as far as atmosphere and connectability go, with Organloop amongst the most successful, but it works as both background music as well as something worth focussing on.
67. Riverside - Love, Fear And The Time Machine
2015 [7.6] - A nice album, but a big step down from their stellar previous work. Few songs truly stand out, although Under The Pillow, Caterpillar, and particularly album highlight Saturate Me are amongst the strongest moments. It's possibly their softest yet, which is fine, but it lacks an edge to the songs that helped lift up the greatest shorter songs from their past, like Loose Heart, Conceiving You, 02 Panic Room and so on. Whilst previous soft Riverside efforts, and related project such as Lunatic Soul, have still remained compelling, this album at several moments becomes irritating or even just dull. Overall, the album is a generally solid listen and would be a good effort from a less reputable prog band. Still, it's Riverside, and they're arguably the greatest straight-up prog rock/metal band since the turn of the millenium, so I don't feel harsh in expecting something more satisfying from them. Enjoyable but still something of a disappointment.
68. Cruciamentum - Charnel Passages
2015 [7.5] - Tasty old school-style death metal with some expansiveness to it.
69. Windhand - Grief's Infernal Flower
2015 [7.5] - This new slab of stoner doom was pretty decent, particularly on the longer songs such as Forest Clouds and the two ~15 minute climactic tracks, but some of the other songs felt a bit lacking in inspiration. Opener Two Urns in particular was rather unengaging and was a strange choice to lead off the album, and some of the other shorter songs didn't land the kind of punch one might've anticipated. Decent with some good songs, but a bit of a drop down from something as good as Soma.
70. Saurom - Sueños
2015 [7.5] - A double album is somewhat excessive for this style of music, namely clean-vocalled European folk metal with some power metal in there. The vocals are mostly good although can get a bit irksome, and the instrumentation is generally pretty satisfying, although less so in the parts that are more metal-oriented; the album works best when the folk side is towards the front. It has a range of instruments and song styles that keep it relatively fresh; a revamping of the album to fit the best songs on one disc would make it a solid 8.
71. Odious - Skin Age
2015 [7.4] - Like if SepticFlesh used Myrath-esque orchestral arrangements, basically symphonic extreme metal using Eastern influences in the orchestrations. It's good and of relatively comparable quality to the last two SF albums, but it does sometimes have unconvincing orchestral arrangements (most notably, a very uncomfortable mess in the middle of A Picture Of Dead Art). It also suffers the same problem as SF in terms of actually having individual songs that stand out and distinct from each other, with a very same sound throughout.
72. Arsafes - Revolt
2015 [7.4] - Some fairly entertaining and quite varied industrial and slightly poppy metal. Not particularly challenging and not truly gripping, but enjoyable and occasionally quite imaginative.
73. Kekal - Multilateral
2015 [7.4] - More interesting avantgarde craziness than the likes of Unexpect or Akphaezya, this is very electro-dominated with pulsating beats, synth lines and more, and with a less intense approach than some other avantgarde bands, particularly with the dominance of clean, restrained vocals and more mellowed out songs. It does go weird sometimes, and doesn't really pull it off that well, but the more atmospheric electronic parts are pretty convincing.
74. Jess And The Ancient Ones - Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes
2015 [7.3] - Some decent retro psychedelic rock; however, at no point did I ever find it truly take a grip on me and win me fully over. The 23-minute closer arguably does not need to be 23 minutes, and the other songs never quite seem to find the focussed direction to become great.
75. Gloryhammer - Space 1992: Rise Of The Chaos Wizards
2015 [7.3] - One of the cheesiest albums ever made, it does get a bit nauseating eventually. However, for what it is, it is a rather effective flower metal album.
76. Spelljammer - Ancient Of Days
2015 [7.3] - Some pretty functional and enjoyable doomy stoner metal, albeit a bit unspectacular.
77. Gorod - A Maze Of Recycled Creeds
2015 [7.3] - Fine enough, but it's always difficult to keep it fresh in this genre where everything eventually blends together in a fury of technical riffing and 'wankery' - the only time I went from "this is fine" to "I'm rather enjoying this" is the second half of the closing song. That enough isn't sufficient to rise this genre leader above 'technically impressive' into something I'm actually digging - at least we'll always have Transcendence, eh Gorod?
78. Thy Catafalque - Sgùrr
2015 [7.3] - A competent and satisfying release by this guy, but lacks a lot of the incendiary inspiration that made many parts of Rengeteg so special. The long songs here are arguably the highlights, particularly Oldodo Formak..., with groovy almost stoner-ish riffs appearing, whilst the electro breakdown/guitar lead combo in Sgurr Eilde Mor acts as a strong conclusion to a slightly meandering song. The shorter songs are fine enough, and the record is generally nicely varied, but there's no Trilobita or Kel Kelete Szel to be found here.
79. Nadja - Tabernanthe
2015 [7.2] - Not as good as my previous experience of Nadja (2014's Queller), but this is still halfway decent; with a very muted sound that seems almost resistant to turning up the volume, it features a lot of skipping sounds alongside mellow ambient tones and spacey sounds sometimes accompanied by echoing electronic drums. Featuring two tracks that are the inverse of each other, it's an interesting effort, if not a great one.
80. Consciousness Removal Project - Tides Of Blood Pt. 1
2015 [7.2] - This band's previous full-length was a really fine instrumental post-metal album. To be honest, perhaps this should've stayed instrumental given how poor the harsh vocals are. Aside from that, the music is pretty effective, although not really at the same level as on Tacit.
81. Clutch - Psychic Warfare
2015 [7.2] - It's Clutch just as would be expected; if you're into this kind of hard rock then you'll like it I'm sure. For me it is a tad SS,DA after having heard so many similar songs in the past, but I can appreciate it's good for what it is.
82. Wolfheart - Shadow World
2015 [7.2] - Satisfactory but forgettable Gothenburg-ish Finnish MDM.
83. Wild Throne - Harvest Of Darkness
2015 [7.2] - Reasonable zany prog in the vein of The Mars Volta.
84. We Lost The Sea - Departure Songs
2015 [7.2] - A pleasant instrumental post-rock album, but too long and with too much flab on the longer songs to allow the stronger parts to really shine.
85. Iron Maiden - The Book Of Souls
2015 [7.2] - Well, well. What to say about this. First of all, I might end up rewriting this with future listens and getting to know the album better. But based on first listens, it's... decent. Good. Reasonable. But Bruce clearly isn't in best condition, the vocal lines are far from memorable compared to most of Maiden's stuff, and the more song-oriented, shorter tracks fail to land strong punches. Like on The Final Frontier, the best songs are the long ones, particularly The Red And The Black and the imperfect yet highly impressive Empire Of The Clouds. I'm impressed by their sheer ambition with this album, so I hope my opinion changes with further listens and I come to love it, but on first listens, it's not one of the best albums, even amongst the re-union albums.
86. Kylesa - Exhausting Fire
2015 [7.1] - I haven't heard their previous, more lauded, work yet, but this was some fairly enjoyable sludgy/stoner-y psychedelic hard rock. However, it does waver in the strength of the songs - some are a little directionless and toothless. Also, the vocals sound a bit off and out of tune at times, and the closing cover of Paranoid is not a classic.
87. Lamb Of God - VII: Sturm Und Drang
2015 [7.1] - Not up there with the likes of Ashes Of The Wake, it does still feel a bit dry and lacking in true inspiration. However, it is a notable step up from Resolution, with a number of quite effective songs, and some interesting clean vocal cameos on the likes of Embers and Overlord to spice things up. Torches is also a late album highlight, with some sweet solos and punchy riffs.
88. Blliigghhtted - Kosmoskampf
2015 [7.1] - Very lo-fi black metal, the details are regularly lost amidst the fuzz of the black metal backbone. However, it is surprisingly compelling, with the music flickering between slowed down hypnotic black metal droning driven by powerful if somewhat amateurish drumming, and faster bits which deliver some somewhat hooky riffs. It does get a bit chaotic, to a point of irritation on Nephesous, and the sheer low production qualities prevent it accomplishing much more than developing a slightly enthralling air of mystique, but it's a reasonably satisfying effort.
89. Mgła - Exercises In Futility
2015 [7.1] - Perfectly satisfying but fairly unremarkable and sometimes slightly dull (particularly on track III) straight-forward modern black metal album. The first song is a pretty good indicator of whether you'll enjoy the album or not, and IV is particularly pleasant, but even then it's quite far back on the list of recent black metal albums to check out, so only recommended if you've already absorbed all the other black metal from recent years and need something new, in which case it'll likely fit the bill.
90. Children Of Bodom - I Worship Chaos
2015 [7.0] - Not a classic COB album but continues their vague track of improvement after Halo Of Blood. Far away from the neoclassical extreme power metal of classic days, several tracks (most obviously I Hurt) are much closer to Gothenburg MDM, and this sound is much more obvious on the songs that leave the keyboards in the background, as sadly all too common fate for them on this album. But the songs are still fairly decent, and with some variation, between the fast I Hurt, the slightly poppy Morrigan, the slower Prayer Of The Afflicted and the quite anthemic Suicide Bomber.
91. Coheed & Cambria - The Color Before The Sun
2015 [7.0] - I did moderately enjoy this record, and it's more consistent than either of the two Afterman albums, but it would be nice if C&C eventually released something approaching the quality of the Good Apollo albums or In Keeping Secrets... The songs here just don't have the distinctiveness and inspiration that many songs of those albums did, and their softer efforts continue to fall short of their heavier or punkier songs.
92. Phantasma (NED) - The Deviant Hearts
2015 [7.0] - A pretty typical symphonic metal album, and one that doesn't even dally in extreme vocals. We have soaring male/female vocals, soft verses/bombastic chorus songs, typical guitar melodies and keyboard (and occasional orchestral) accompaniment. But at the end of the day, as generic as it is, it is at least fairly pleasant, and I've heard worse within the genre. This is probably helped by the presence of the Serenity vocalist, and the likely influence his band had on this album, due to similarities in the sound. There's also the odd moment that almost makes me think of Subsignal. Throw all of that into a slightly less inspired melting pot moving mostly at mid-tempo and accompanied by symphonics, and there you have Phantasma.
93. My Dying Bride - Feel The Misery
2015 [7.0] - My Dying Bride have never been my thing, their trudging gothic (death) doom with few exceptions coming across as quite dull to me. However, this album is a respectable effort - dominated by woeful clean vocals with the odd growls and groans, it maintains the same slow tempo throughout but does deliver some decent doom riffs along the way, and utilises the string accompaniments moderately well. Probably its best asset is its use of lead guitar melodies, which are very effective at multiple points during the album and allow the album to express more than sheer morose despair.
94. Ghost - Meliora
2015 [6.9] - A somewhat interesting but slightly unexciting listen. A lot of the music ends up feeling quite monotonous with single-chord chugging riffing and unvarying vocals, but then they whip out songs with some more musical variation to lighten things up. I understand the appeal of the vocals, but I struggle to be won over by them. Probably the better moments are when they bring in different flavors, such as the creepy piano on the otherwise slightly tedious Mummy's Dust, and the poppier sentiments of songs such as From The Pinnacle To The Pit. Probably the best songs are Majesty and the almost Madness-esque closer Deus In Absentia.
95. Chaos Moon - Amissum
2015 [6.7] - A first half of some half-decent and well-balanced but unmoving ambient black metal followed up by some harsher and less inspiring rawer BM in the second half. Fine and good for enthusiasts but missing some kind of spark to reel me in.
96. The Sword - High Country
2015 [6.6] - Another okay and sufficiently entertaining stoner rock album by these guys, but another album that fails to really impress much beyond that. They started off promisingly, but The Sword never really got past the potential of their first couple albums. This one has some nice songs, but no classics and they are separated by too much interlude/filler music.
97. Black Tongue - The Unconquerable Dark
2015 [6.3] - I liked the idea for this, and there were certainly moments early on which made me think I might come to quite like it; however, the execution is not as great as the premise, and in between middling vocals and somewhat haphazard writing, there are more moments drag or sound awkward than which genuinely excite.
98. Motörhead - Bad Magic
2015 [6.3] - In a turn of events as shocking as Tuesday following Monday, this album sounds like standard Motorhead. And it's a perfectly competent effort, albeit not quite as strong as some of their other post-millenials, including immediate predecessor Aftershock. Likely to please old fans and unlikely to go down as more than a footnote in the band's history, the Sympathy For The Devil cover is at least a curious and entertaining addition.
99. Movimento D'Avanguardia Ermetico - Torri Del Silenzio
2015 [6.1] - A very one-note atmos-black album, starts off with painfully monotonous mid-paced BM riffing, followed by some blast-beat accompanied one-note BM riffing, before finally adding in a little more flavour with certain guitar lines. Not bad and passably enjoyable but extremely unremarkable.
100. Annihilator - Suicide Society
2015 [6.1] - Rather bizarre opening song that sounds like it could've come out around the turn of the millenium from a Kerrang band, followed up by a selection of fairly listenable but ultimately unnoteworthy thrash-lite metal.
101. Trivium - Silence In The Snow
2015 [5.8] - What are Trivium doing? There's a number of moments that I enjoy in this album, but a lot of it just feels really insipid and lacking in inspiration. And what on earth has happened to the vocals? They sound so bizarre in their deepened tone, like really strained and kinda inauthentic - I still like them, but I'm not sure it's a great idea for a new direction. It's such a passingly satisfying but ultimately forgettable effort, fairly disappointing even if my interest in Trivium has diminished over the years from love towards a more nostalgic appreciation.
102. Bullethorn - Colliding Natality
2015 [5.7] - Some fairly dull but not entirely incompetent and occasionally rewarding doomy post-metal, that spends too much time mindlessly trudging in a way that is made worse by the mediocre production, but which still delivers some decent moments and sections.
103. Slayer - Repentless
2015 [5.6] - Pretty unremarkable and relatively sedate for Slayer, but having subsequently revisited the album it's slightly more listenable then World Painted Blood.
104. W.A.S.P. - Golgotha
2015 [5.5] - This album is a lot more pleasurable for me to listen to that the dullfest that is Slayer's latest. However, whilst that band has stayed fairly invarying in their sound during their career, I'm not sure I've ever noticed such bare-faced self-ripping-off from them as I heard from W.A.S.P. with the first couple of tracks of this album. Opener Scream is a complete copy of Crazy from Babylon, and the next track Last Runaway sounds very similar to Die Another Day, the second track from Babylon. It doesn't maintain this mirror image the whole way through, and we then get a couple of nice songs such as Shotgun, but some of the later songs, whilst containing good stuff, are too long, and Miss You is just plain dull.
105. Ysengrin - Nigrum Nigrius Nigro [Split]
2015 [5.1] - Somewhat interesting weird semi-extreme metal, but at the same time pretty amateurish.
106. Operation: Mindcrime - The Key
2015 [4.0] - Not a truly awful album like the last two Geoff Tate albums supposedly were (never listened to them), but it's just an uninspired, simplified and amorphous '-lite' version of early 90s QR with a muddy production and lacklustre songs and riffs. And yet its main weakness is how bad Geoff Tate's vocals apparently are these days. The songs have their moments but are mostly boring, with little chance of worming their way into your head, and the vocals are a mess - so those moments aren't really worth trudging through the rest to discover when so many moments as good or better as the best things here have been recorded so many times in the past and packaged in much better wholes.
107. Gnaw Their Tongues - Abyss Of Longing Throats
2015 [3.5] - Trivium might be fully uninspired, but at least it's competent. This thing will work for esoteric music enthusiasts, but even some GTT devotees have been muted in their enthusiasm for this release. As for me, I found the monotonous nature of it, faded sound and general feel so dull that I gave up listening halfway through. Not for me I guess.

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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