Alright folks, if you've known about me the last four and a half years as That Drummer Guy or you've known me longer than that before I had the radio show. Your favorite time of year is about to drop once again. That Drummer Guy's Top 10 Albums of 2015.
To some people, they wanna know every single album I've checked out and get my thoughts on them, good or bad. Others just wanna know the top 10 and screw the rest because, hey, who has the time to discover new music? Every year this is a labor of love for me, which makes it even harder that this is the last time I'm doing my reviews at the end of the year. In fact I'm starting them back up January 4th and going to be going all year round with doing a year end wrap up kinda similar to what I did this year. I'll do a Top 100, but I'll do much more including EPs, Favorite shows, favorite interviews and a whole lot more! Rather than kill myself every year in December, why not do it all year round, specifically right after I get each album?
2015 has been an interesting year for me to say the least. I'll keep the non-album related info on my social media. Here let's keep it about the music! This year had incredible releases from all over the Rock and Metal world. Some albums were the best in a band's career, others were simply the worst. I like keeping my attention on the best music because there is enough negativity in our lives. I wanna try to be that shining silver lining in the dark clouds of life for all the rock and metal fans out there. So for those that dig what I do. Here is what I consider to be the best of the best, the top of the top, the cream of the crop. THE 10 BEST ALBUMS OF 2015!!!
10.) Loch Vostok- From These Waters
FFO- Extreme Progressive Metal
The most underrated band in my Top 50 albums if not in all 100 albums that made the cut this year. When I discovered these guys a few years ago, I never heard anything like them. At the time, it reminded me of a mix between Fates Warning and Emperor and it still has that feeling to me to this day. The main clean vocals do have the Ray Alder style, while the screams....well...scream of Ihsahn. The music has absolutely no boundaries, which I couldn't appreciate more. When they get melodic, like the title track for instance. It simply doesn't get better. A great mix of Progressive Metal that is not afraid to touch on other genres because they aren't afraid to play what they want and make it work. When they enter the more extreme sound of their style is sounds just as dark, evil, brutal and awesome as any of the leading bands in those styles. If bands needs any inspiration these days, they need to take it from Loch Vostok. No boundaries, all heart! Sadly, there is little to no chance of the band ever hitting the United States. It's rare for me to travel outside of Minnesota mainly because of the cost of it all. But if I have to travel to see these guys in Europe, I wouldn't even think twice. I'll be saving up to go just for them! Seriously, check these guys out!
9.) Swallow The Sun- Songs From The North I, II, III
FFO- (Disc 1- Doom Metal, Gothic Metal, Death Metal; Disc 2- Atmospheric Rock; Disc 3- Funeral Doom Metal)
It takes a tremendous amount of balls to put out an album in 2015 with the decline of album sales. You are completely out of your mind to release a double album under the same circumstances. But it takes level of lunacy that's unheard of to release a TRIPLE ALBUM in 2015! Not 3 EPs, A TRIPLE ALBUM WITH 3 FULL LENGTH DISCS OF BRAND NEW MATERIAL. That's absolutely bonkers. But here's the kicker, it worked out perfectly. Disc I is along the same lines that Swallow The Sun has become known for. Dark, Heavy, Gothic, Doomy, and just a slight twinge of Death Metal. It's a beautiful mix the way they do it. Disc II is along the lines of Post Rock and Atmospheric Rock. To keep it simple. This is the music I wish Alcest was making when we found out they weren't going to play Metal anymore. Disc III is the uber Doomy album. Ultra slow and absolutely evil ala Funeral Doom Metal. For a fan of the slower side of evil Metal, Swallow the sun covered almost every style for you with Songs From The North. This behemoth of a triple album will be sure to blow you away!
8.)Native Construct- Quiet World
FFO- Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock, Theatrical/Orchestral
This was my number 1 album for quite a long time this year and even now, it is still worthy of the number 1 spot. But there was 7 other albums I love just as much if not a tiny bit more. To keep things simple. This is the album I wish Between The Buried and Me made after Colors. I love that in 2015 that boundaries for what can be done in Metal are diminishing because there should be no boundaries. Native Construct have put out an album that is just as much extreme as it is thought out as it is theatrical. Think of a collaboration between BTBAM and Queen written by Frank Zappa. This is not only a concept album from the band (which is a really cool story by the way) but it is also the bands DEBUT ALBUM! It's hard to get more impressive than that with what these guys have accomplished. Seriously, I can't wait to see what's next for these guys if this is what they can pull off for their first album. They are going to be legends in the Prog Metal world if they continue this momentum, just you watch!
7.) So Hideous- Laurestine
FFO- Cinematic/Film Score, Atmospheric Black Metal, Post Rock
As I already reviewed this album, check out the very in depth album review here:
6.) Ghost- Meliora
FFO- Occult Rock, Heavy Metal, Psychedelic
Ghost, quite possibly the most famous Satanic Rock band to come in the 21st century (and beyond?). Ghost has released their 3rd and most successful album to date, Meliora. That couldn't be more deserving as this is the best Ghost album to date. Yes, the first album is the heaviest and the 2nd album is the most varied. Meliora combines the best moments of both. Keeping the variety, keeping parts pretty heavy for their style, and making it unbelievably heavy. I wonder how many Christians are listening to Cirice on the radio and singing along and bobbing their heads, not realizing how purely evil the song is, haha. The album also features many throwbacks, musically, to the psychedelic eras of the 60s and somewhat into the 70s. Mixing that with Blue Oyster Cult riffing, Mercyful Fate style vocals and modern production make this the best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal album of 2015. I want Ghost to only get bigger and bigger and bigger as the years go on. Not so much for the vocab of their lyrics, but simply because this proves A.) Evil music can be catchy and on the radio and B.) music doesn't need to be over the top technical and wanky to be enjoyed by everyone in Metal. It just needs to be solid.
5.) Soilwork- The Ride Majestic
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
As I already reviewed this album, check out the very in depth review here: http://www.thatdrummerguy.com/blog/album-review-soilwork-the-ride-majestic
4.) Vattnet Viskar- Settler
FFO- Blackgaze, Post Rock
I love everything that came before this latest album from Vattnet Viskar, especially the previous album, Sky Swallower. But nothing prepared me for the perfection that is Settler. While the album cover may seem very un-metal (which people on the internet have no problem proclaiming that) it actually couldn't be MORE Metal. The album cover is an inspiration of the picture of Christa McAuliffe, a crew member on the NASA spaceship, Challenger, who in 1986, 73 seconds after blastoff, exploded, killing everyone on board. The music matches the tone of the story. Upon it's Blackgaze filled attack, there are moments of Post Rock glory, somewhat Hard Rock moments and an overall haunting beauty behind it all. There is no filler on this album at all, just killer (no pun intended). IF you need a band that gets associated with the new generation of Black Metal in the vein of Deafheaven, and you wanna like Deafheaven but you just hate Deafheaven by proxy because otherwise everyone will hate you because....internet....give Vattnet Viskar a shot. They are by far, leading the pack in this style and I wish for them nothing but the best. They deserve it.
3.) Intronaut- The Direction of Last Things
FFO- Progressive Metal, Sludge Metal, Atmospheric
As I already reviewed this album, check out the very in depth review here: http://www.thatdrummerguy.com/blog/album-review-intronaut-the-direction-of-last-things
2.) 6:33- Deadly Scenes
FFO- The Devin Townsend/Mike Patton collaboration we've always wanted, but doesn't feature Townsend nor Patton
This was one for the first promos I received in 2015 and it has always been in my top 10 if not higher. This was being contemplated as the best album of the year but fell shy to the one right below this review. This album has everything a guy like me could ever possibly want. It is Progressive, Quirky and goes completely across the board and has no boundaries. Picture Devin Townsend doing a collaboration with Mr. Bungle and that's how I envision this album. It go from Blast Beat heavy to Funky on the turn of a dime and it makes sense. The vocals switch from Mike Patton to Devin Townsend to their own style seamlessly. While there are moments of brutality throughout, it is more focused on story telling in each song rather than being brutal and "Metal". This album is for the music nerd in all of us, whether you admit you are a nerd or not. If you don't know if you are or not, here's how you can tell....if you are reading this, you are a music nerd. 6:33 undeniably underrated and needs the utmost love and respect. Show them the love they deserve. HALLELUJAH!
1.) Earthside- A Dream In Static
FFO- Cinematic Rock, Progressive Metal, Atmosphere.
Not many things in life can make my jaw drop in music. Some things I can really enjoy, love, wanna support, etc. But when the PR for Earthside got a hold of me asking me if I was interested in checking out this band, I got sent the YouTube single for the first song, The Closest I've Come and I fell instantly in love. It's the kind of love I felt when I heard Avoid The Light by Long Distance Calling back in 2009. It's exactly what I want in a band. A band that can show off so many different sides of their playing. Find the right singer for each song they feel needs vocals and are able to tell an amazing story with the music in the instrumentals. Harking back to the vocalists. Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust, Dan Tompkins of TesseracT and Skyharbor, Speed from Soilwork and Eric Zirlinger of Face The King all make appearances as lead vocalists on their respected songs. The Moscow Symphony Orchestra also makes 2 appearances on the album, which it is always appreciated when a real orchestra can be used instead of just programming. The songs from start to finish are so beautifully orchestrated and pull on your heartstrings. I love an album that can make me feel real emotions like this album does with every listen. This has the power to not only be my number 1 album of 2015, but it is also landed a spot in one of my favorite albums ever made. So what could possibly make this album better than the way I've described it? IT'S THEIR DEBUT ALBUM!!! It should not be humanly possible to make an album this perfect on a debut album (notable exception being Ne Obliviscaris- Portal Of I. While this album won't be everyone's cup of tea. Anyone who wants a Progressive Post Rock tour de force featuring some of the best vocalists in Metal, this album is for you!
And there you have it folks. The Top 100 Albums of 2015 as selected by me, That Drummer Guy. If this is the 100 Best albums of 2015, I can't wait to see what's in store for 2016. Make sure to keep track of me wherever you know me from (the website, social media, forums, etc) because 2016 is already on a roll with amazing albums. And starting January 4th, I'll be starting my collection of 2016 reviews!
HAVE A FUN, SAFE, AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
- Josh Rundquist
Intronaut- The Direction Of Last Things
FFO: Progressive Metal, Sludge Metal, Atmospheric
Intronaut is back with their 5th album and it is their most ambitious album to date. Going back, somewhat, to their roots, the band is starting to venture back into it's jazzier roots and instrumental sections and adding quite a bit of clean vocals to boot. Having Devin Townsend come in at the end for mixing was an absolute great touch!
The album starts with the single, Fast Worms, which is a pretty accurate portrayal of the direction of the album. Heavy and aggressive in the right spots, jazzy in the right sections, clean and growled vocals as needed and the right amount of adventurous genre bending. Digital Gerrymandering starts off completely heavy and sludgy with a mix of Devin Townsend style guitar riffing then builds up and up till it kicks in with almost CKY-ish style vocal melodies which continues throughout the song. The Pleasant Surprise starts off with a Brann Dailor style drum intro, not to be outdone with the Mastodon style riffing and arrangement to match. The song stays consistently fast and is arguably the heaviest song on the album. The Unlikely Event Of A Water Landing is the centerpiece of the album. It starts with a errie soundclip then begins. There is a big Cynic vibe on this song. Mellow pacing with lots of intricate sections on every instrument. The middle of the song picks up a little bit with heaviness ala Devin Townsend. The ending of the song (5:26 till the end) is the real highlight of the album. While staying mellow. The bass starts to really shine before the guitar leads kick in ala Cloudkicker's mellow side. A great Post Rock-ish way to end the song. Sul Ponticello, the other heaviest song on the album starts off ferociously almost Death Metal, then glides back into the Intronaut style we all know and love. The song stays more mid tempo with the right moments of heaviness thrown in and sludgy all the way through. The song ends with some soundclips and chanting. The title track, The Direction of Last Things, starts off nice and heavy with lots of double bass throughout almost the entire song. Lots of Sludgey style Progressive riffs that the band is best known for as well. 3/4ths of the way into the song, it switches into a Cynic style Jazz section once again with lots of ethereal vibes behind it before unleashing a crushing riff to close out the track. The album ends with City Hymnal which almost sounds like a tribute to Cloudkicker, but with vocals. Crazy off time drums and staccato guitar and bass riffing with an atmospheric, Post Rock leads behind everything. Much like Cloudkicker, the song builds up then back down then builds up until the end but then ends on an abrupt note, much like a hymnal being closed shut angerily.
Overall, Intronaut has knocked it out of the park once again. The band is on record saying the album only took 4 days to complete recording, which is a shocker in today's age. But it also proves that all you really need is to be able to get your songs down as tight as possible before going into the studio. This is going to be held very high as one of the best albums of the year and arguably the band's best album. It is very much worthy of that notion. This is an album that Intronaut fans have wanted all along and any real fan of the band will not be disappointed!
Intronaut- The Direction Of Last Things available November 13th via Century Media
That Drummer Guy: Radio DJ, Interviewer, Reviewer, overall...an OK guy.