The Best Albums Of 2015

I recently updated my Best Records List to tidy up the annual AotY entry and I also included the best of 2015. What follows is that article (The Best Records Of The 2010s). Enjoy!

2015 was a rather weak year with this list generally being a ‘least-worst’ list rather than a ‘best of!’ It’s also very varied both in musical style and country of origin. Shall we?

8: Ghost: Meliora (Sweden)
I never really got into this band. Satanic, Beatles-inspired metal? Just weird. But with the release of the single Circe, I was sold. The album is
pretty solid, catchy and the evil undertones are worthwhile. I don’t know if it has the longevity of other great albums, but it’s good enough to land at #8.

7: Lamb of God: VII: Sturm Und Drang (U.S.A.)
I like these guys, then I love ’em, then I don’t…however this album is easily better than the last. There are some killer, catchy riffs and I haven’t any real complaints. However, that’s only enough to place it at #7 on this list. Good album.

6: Amorphis: Under The Red Cloud (Finland)
So, Tales is now 20+ yrs old. They went prog rock and arose back on the metal side years ago. I think this is their 6th album since ‘coming back’. I find every second album is great and I quite liked their last. This is another solid album with some varied, worldly themes and the staple Amorphis sound. I like it, but like Lamb of God, I don’t love it.

5: Sulphur Aeon: Gateway To The Antisphere (Germany)
OMG, this band is heavy. Their second album is the first I’ve heard by them and while it’s a bit heavier than a lot of what I listen to, it absolutely crushes. This needs to be played loud. And repeatedly. Not an every-day listen for me, but one that impresses me every single time I give it a spin.

4: Korpiklaani: Noita (Finland)
I never really liked these guys but for some reason, months after this album came out, I gave it a try. And I dug it! It’s catchy, cheesy, ridiculous and awesome! Its upbeat rhythm and sound are a complete opposite of Sulphur Aeon. But that’s OK and Finland makes its second offering in my top 10.

3: Svartsot: Vældet (Denmark)
Another band I liked but never loved. There are some excellent tracks on this album, mostly in the second half. The last two are spectacular and capture what Svartsot does best. I only wish there were more just like these. Ultimately, it’s an excellent record, but it wouldn’t have landed in last year’s top 5. Or 7. This year, it’s my #3.

2: Tempel: The Moon Lit Our Path (U.S.A.)
Now the list goes from least-worst to BEST. These next two albums make me roar and press play again.

Tempel is a band I only heard of in December and within one month it raced to the top of my list. This US duo’s sophomore instrumental effort is a triumphant journey. This record is utterly amazing. The first tracks of my first spin left me indifferent but the soaring peaks of track 3 left me overwhelmed. By the end, it was another “I MUST LISTEN AGAIN” album and one that impressed more with each subsequent experience. Bits hearken to Opeth and entire segments call to Agalloch but this is an example of not even realizing I needed this in my life. As cliché as calling an album an ‘experience’ might be, this one as a whole is a remarkable voyage that grips and doesn’t let go.

American atmospheric doom, progressive, instrumental black metal? *Shrug* OK! Second-best album of 2015!!!

1: Soilwork: The Ride Majestic (Sweden)
The coveted AotY award goes to the same band who won all the way back in 2000 making the 15-year lapse the longest between AotY winners. This album is no Chainheart Machine, but it is more consistent than the surprisingly-excellent Panic Broadcast. Much like Amorphis, the awesome-then-dreadful band has come back with a more sporadic sequence of excellence but The Ride Majestic is a fun, fast and heavy outing. The pair of title tracks are the album’s strongest, with Soilwork doing what they do best, melding speed, melody and catchy, chunky riffs into a pristinely-produced and hum-worthy tenth album. Dirk Verbeuren’s drumming may be the best the band has ever seen and the new guitar duo of Coudret and Andersson proves to capture exactly what I love about classic Soilwork. While it sometimes descends into the band’s common formula, it is still a consistently-solid record and one that trumps all others in a very weak 2015.

AotY 2015 is Soilwork. I think I’m going to go listen to it again…if I can stop listening to Tempel, that is. And that’s the only real downside. While las year’s AotY went to Einherjer over At The Gates for offering something totally different, I don’t think I can say the novelty of Tempel bests the consistency of Soilwork. Either way, #1 and #2 were incredible albums while the rest of the list is just good.

Noteworthy Item:

Fastest Song: Marduk – Thousand-Fold Death
OMFG this song is fast. I never loved this band and think the album is a good record. But nothing is as good as this. It’s fantastic.

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