Well folks, it's not time for my long winded, happy, sad, depressing, glad, meaningful to some, going to get me deleted by others, wrap of my life in 2015. Feel free to pass by this post if you're not interested, I admit myself it will be a bit of a Facebook level saga. For those that are new friends of mine, this should be a pretty good look at my mindset of my life. Some will laugh, some may tear up, many will not care one bit, others will think I'm a whiny bitch and disown knowing me. For the most part, I'm going to leave names out of this, where possible. Also the story is not linear so you'll have to bear with me. Think of it as Pulp Fiction. Whatever happens, happens, I guess we'll see.
This year has been one of the most up and down years of my life. Not quite like 2013 when my life was almost over either by the mysterious stomach ailment that still gets to me to this day or by my own hands 2 years ago tomorrow night when I thought all was lost. But an eventful one for the best and for the worst none the less. Forgive me, but the story will have to go a bit back to 13 months ago to full grasp the situation of 2015. So bear with me.
November of last year I lost my band of 4 years, Planet Smasher due to different thoughts in the band. I wanted to go Route A, they went Route B. I fought it tooth and nail, but sometimes you can't fight the inevitable. From what I gathered, the band went through a new transformation without me, changed a lot of things up and are under the new name of Graves I Dig. They've played at least a few shows and even got on the local radio show Loud and Local on 93X a couple times. Kudos! Would that have happened if I was still in the band? It's entirely possible, but it was a sure thing with the direction they are now doing. Best of luck to them in their future endeavors!
What made that hard as well as I did lose one of the best friends I ever had, which honestly, still bothers me to this day. But it didn't happen that day in November 2014. It happened well before that when I got sick in 2013. In the summer of 2014 I saw the direction the band and our friendship was going and I snapped and let him have it. And at the end of the "discussion" he even admitted it. When I got sick he (and others in my life who are no longer there) did not know what to do when I got sick and rather than be my side, kinda just left me there to either make it or die. Some thought that if they stayed out of the picture, they wouldn't feel responsible if something happened to me. Others stopped caring about me because, hey, if I can't take care of myself, why do they need to be around? Others (apparently a lot more than I thought) Thought that I was faking it the whole time and abandoned me when that idea started spreading around the Minnesota area. It does kind of show that you never really know who in life truly cares about you until you get sick. Some will abandon you for various reasons stated above. Some will love you even more. Some will be the same before/during/after you get sick. I guess that's why it hurts that even in 2015, I lost not only one of the best friends I ever had, but many others as well from Pre-August 2013. But that really is life isn't it? You never stay around the same group of people throughout your whole life. Things always change! The last time I talked to him was when I was moving out from his old place. He did wish me well and apologized once for the way things went down in our friendship. Part of me believes it, part of me thinks it was just a way for him to look like a better person to save face. Regardless, I appreciate the sentiment. I haven't talked to any of the other guys from Planet Smasher since November 2014 and him since June of this year. Is it for the best? Honestly, yes! Never take your life for granted the way it is, because things always change. It can be a band you're in, it can be your job, it can be a relationship, it can be anything. Tomorrow isn't guaranteed to any of us. So make the most of what you have and prepare for any situation that can happen so you can do your best to be ok when something does happen.
For the band I'm in now, Beauty Of Decay. Well, I hope things work out. We did 4 shows this year and wrote almost an entire album's worth of material. If things keep going, we just need another song or two and we would be ready to record for a 2016 release. Will it happen? I wanna say yes, but I said the same thing this time last year and here I am again at the end of 2015. As with any band, there is pros and cons. This year had plenty of both. None of which I will go into, but if you're in a band, you know the struggles that come with it. All I can say is if things work out, I'm prepared. If they don't work out, I'm prepared as well. Right now, it's a wait and see situation.
For my personal relationship life, it's the best year I've ever had. My girlfriend and I finally moved in together back in June. Even though we've been together 2 and a half years now, moving in together can always make or break a relationship. For us, I think it made us stronger. We really need each other. I know I need her for moral support as much as she needs me for moral support. We get each other, we really do. It's not one of those things you see on social media where you constantly have to tell each other you love each other online because you are forcing yourselves to believe it. We do. With that, we don't need to tell each other online because we say it to each other. We both actually feel the love we have. Honestly, I think keeping things offline makes for a stronger relationship because it's keeping one side of your life out of the public of those who know you and creates so much less drama overall. Even with all of that, I am still scared of living here. It has nothing to do with living with her, it has to do with where I live. For the first time in my 27 years of life, I live in a city. As someone who grew in a small farm town for 23 and a half years, then in a small college town for the next 3 years and now here in a city. Within 10 square miles of me, I'm surrounded by several malls including Mall Of America. I'm 15 minutes away from 95% of all shows I will attend in 2016. Essentially every store I'd ever want to go to is down the street. It is such an odd feeling. It's even odder because now that I'm here, I love the idea of never leaving the apartment. Even though I'm closer to everything, the idea of going anywhere isn't nearly as fun. I'll always go to shows because A.) It's my job and B.) I love it. But anything else gets less and less appealing to me. Maybe because none of my friends live near me it makes it less appealing, it's hard to say.
I've also started doing something that used to be so near and dear to my heart that I haven't done until I got to move in with my girlfriend.....GAMING! For my birthday, my girlfriend and I have invested in a PS4 and in the holiday season, we picked up a ton of games. It helps having a 50" 1080P LED TV to play it on as well. this time last year I still had a big box 20" TV that I would use and with my vision, I couldn't read a thing. NOW that's no longer the case. My username is ThatDrummerGuy1, so feel free to add me!
Now on to more positive stuff....
For That Drummer Guy, this has been the most successful year of That Drummer Guy to date! 54 interviews this year (3 of them I'm holding off on till the beginning of January that are in written form) from across the board. From musicians who record in their bedrooms who will become legendary musicians, to the ultra mega superstars of Rock and Metal. Some of my biggest heroes I got to interview this year. Even one famous band came to Minnesota on a mini-tour just to hang out with me. That's a pretty damn cool sentiment. As I am writing this I have 805 Likes on Facebook, 1,193 Followers on Twitter, 646 Followers on Instagram and 129 Subscribers on YouTube. For the website? I am roughly getting 10-12 thousand hits a month. I got to go to Maryland Deathfest for the first time and interview some heroes of mine and interview some new friends. I got to go to ProgPower USA for the first time and interview a band for their last ever in person interview and make some new friends. Now as some people will obviously say. From my point of view, I've been at this for 4 and a half years. I am 100% a one man operation. Everything is run by me and me alone. The radio show is completely made by me. The interviews, reviews, content, etc is all from me. And not paying one penny to social media sites to "boost" and "promote" something that used to be free. So to be able to say that I achieved all of that just by myself is pretty damn outstanding to me! It's only going to be getting bigger and better from here.
Every week, I question everything I do as That Drummer Guy. I have this week and every week before that And I know going into January of 2016, I'll be doing the same. But eventually, every time I do, I look at all of the accomplishments I made these last 4 and a half years and I take a look and realize that I have done this much and it is such a quite a series of accomplishments. There is an old proverb that if you ever doubt yourself, it is because you know you can do better. I want 2016 to be that year will doubting myself will be at a minimum and all of this hard work over the last 4 and a half years will be worth it. It is now, but the bigger it gets the more worth it it becomes.
That's not to say that with all the friends I've made, interviews I've done and all the hard work I've made happen that I haven't made enemies (one sided enemies I should say) along the way, especially this year. This year showed me that pretty much every local promoter in the Twin Cities hates my guts. Some keep it to themselves, others have made it public and spread rumors about me that I'm not going to acknowledge for their falsehood. I just wanna list a couple things that I believe regarding these situations:
1.) No band, local, touring, national or international, should have to pay a promoter to play show. If you are a band and ever thought about it. DON'T DO IT!!! You are there to be the entertainment for the night, not be the audience who gets to go on stage for 20 minutes but pay even more money than the audience. If a promoter has to do this beyond shady work, they clearly suck at promoting and either need to get their act together or get in a new business if they have any morals and ethics at all. Sure, as a Rock and Metal musician without radio promotion, you are going to get poorly paid, if at all. But no additional money should have to come out of your pocket outside of gas, transportation, merch, gear, somewhere to sleep *if you can't find anyone to hold you up for the night* and food. Promoters like this are like the sleazeball managers who say they will promote you, but only 10% of your income every month and "say" they promote you. This is 2015, you are already spending more money than you have to on EVERYTHING. Paying to play a show should not be one of them. Don't expect money to go in your pocket, but don't take any out. Don't worship false local promoter idols!
2.) People like me that's sole purpose is to promote bands (play them on the radio, review their albums, interview them, etc) and local promoters need to be friends or at least acquaintances enough to be civil. How do you get people interested in a band? By showing off the band! Whether you are in that band yourself, you have my job, you are hosting the band, or you are a fan. You obviously wanna help those bands out so they can keep making the music they wanna write. If you aren't doing that, the band becomes less known. IF you are a promoter and you want people to go to the show you are hosting, how do you get people to go? By making people aware of the show and promoting it! Put on the best show possible, and promote the hell out of it! When you are not capable of it, you're going to lose money unless you do what I mentioned before by adding local bands who have to pay to play that show and receive no money back and only "exposure". So how does that correlate to someone like me? Well, I want to see as many bands I care about to keep playing as much as possible. Making albums and touring the hell out of them! By doing what I do, I'm helping people know about said bands and those bands wanna tour. Not every venue is hosted by the venue, hence local promoters. Some local promoters are awesome some are...not. But their jobs are still to bring people into the shows so they can get paid and bring more shows to town while I'm there to help bring people to those shows. We gotta get along, if you don't it creates tension, tension creates drama, drama makes people distance themselves. We don't need that in life anymore than their already is.
Sorry for the extensive rant, let me finish this all off here...
If you are reading this post, you obviously care enough about what I do as That Drummer Guy to see how I look at things. Maybe you are a friends I get to see when you come to the Twin Cities, maybe you're family I don't get to see often anymore, maybe you're someone who caught my radio show or a review or saw an interview on Blabbermouth that I've done and enjoyed it and you've kept up. And to all of you I say, I couldn't appreciate it enough! I love you guys and love that you guys are here in support of what I do and it gives me the fuel in the fire inside me to keep going. So again, from the bottom of my heart. THANK YOU!
I hope you guys stick around for what I have in store for 2016. I'm far from finished!
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
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
So here we are, part 6 of 7 of the top 100 albums of the year. I'll save my big speech for the last segment of this countdown and just get right into the first half of the top 20.
*DUE TO A VERY DUMB ERROR ON MY LIST, THERE IS TECHNICALLY 21 ALBUMS ON MY LIST. TO BE FAIR TO THE BAND I ACCIDENTALLY LEFT OFF, I WILL NOT MENTION THE BAND IN QUESTION. I'LL JUST CALL THE FIRST TWO ALBUMS: 20.A AND 20.B*
20.A) Dekadent- Veritas
FFO- If Devin Townsend made Black Metal
There is no better way I can describe it. It's got the technical and progressive elements that we all know and love about Devin Townsend mixed with the Blast Beats, Tremolo picking and evilness that is Black Metal. It's a great mixture of both that makes of a Black Metal experience you've never heard before. I am amazed I never heard these guys before this album and I can't wait to see what's in store for the next release. This albums combines two things I very much love and it's makes it absolute perfection. I can't ask for anything more!
20.B) Gruesome- Savage Land
FFO- A Tribute to the band, Death
Some call it a ripoff of Death. I (and every single person involved with Death and Gruesome) know it as a love letter to the first few albums in the legendary career of Death. Right before Death entered their proggier stages, the band was one of the first bands to get notoriety for playing...Death Metal. Fast, heavy, melodic and harmonic at the right moments. Matt Harvey and company set out to recapture that love of Death Metal and pay tribute to Death and of course, the legendary Chuck Schuldiner. Besides the obvious nods to the band, the music just captures what made late 80s-early 90s Death Metal one of the best genres in Metal. No need to be over the top technical, no need for brutal break downs. Just dark, fast, heavy, evil Metal done as it should be. I'd rather have a million bands rip off Death then a hundred bands just showing off how awesome they are at their instrument with no substance behind it at all. Even if this is just a one off appearance, Gruesome shows everyone that in Metal that sometimes less is more, and that is for the better.
19.) Izah- Sistre
FFO- Atmospheric Sludge Metal
A discovery I made early in the year and I couldn't be happier that I did. Some Sludge Metal is just low tuned,. slow and heavy just to be that way. Some atmospheric music is just to add keyboard chords behind guitar riffs to take away the fact that there is no substance behind the music. Izah takes the best elements of both, created monster epics (including the 31 minute title track) and put out an emotionally driven, heavy and outstanding release. This album has been very under the radar (I've yet to see anyone that I know personally talk about this album) and that is a complete shame. Sistre gives life to this style of music you didn't know needed to happen. Sludge, Post Rock, and Hardcore being made to fit those that needed to be made. I hope others take notice. This is not an album to pass by.
18.) Arcane- Known/Learned
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Alternative Metal
My favorite discovery from Australia this year. While many bands from Australia have the obvious Tool inspiration, Arcane does have some of that, but completely expands upon it. Part Tool, part Dream Theater, part Anathema, part Fair To Midland. This double disc album is brilliant from start to finish. Known (Disc 1) is much more focused on the Prog side of the band while Learned (Disc 2) is focused on the mellow side of the band with many acoustic sections. The whole experience is not to be missed. I hope one day they get big enough to hit the US, if not, I'll always have the music!
17.) Cattle Decapitation- The Anthropocene Extinction
FFO- Technical Progressive Death Metal, Grindcore
Cattle Decapitation has come a long way from their brutal Grindcore roots and specifically with their last few releases, have really let their latter day Prog and Technical Death Metal attributes shine through. While this is a very sad point for many long-term fans, for me, it is a 100% welcomed change. I enjoy brutal stuff, I really do, but I can't in a whole release from a band in one sitting without getting bored. There's gotta be substance behind it. Anaal Nathrakh is a perfect example. Their latest releases since adding melodies and harmonies are so much better than their brutal for the sake of being brutal albums. Cattle Decapitation's clean vocals (very Devin Townsend-esque) are also very polarizing for some, but to me, work beautifully. It's not hard to imagine that a band this long in the game would want to switch things up and not create the same album over and over again. I truly appreciate a band that is willing to try something different and pull it off. These guys have been pulling it off now and perfecting it on every release since. I can't imagine that the next release won't even be better with these idea in mind!
16.) Deafheaven- New Bermuda
Without question, the most polarizing band in Black Metal. It's not too often I hear someone say "Meh, it's ok, I guess". It's either pure love or pure hatred. I am of the former. I've been a fan since Roads to Judah (right before the hipsters caught wind of the band with Sunbather). With New Bermuda, the band starts to showcase more than they have before with still having the Post Rock, Shoegaze, and Atmospheric moments but also incorporating more of the Black Metal style once again with some prog moments as well and even Hard Rock moments (pretty much all of Baby Blue, including the Load/Reload era Metallica influenced guitar solo). The band is trying to expand upon what they are known for and that is always appreciated. You are either on board with Deafheaven or you are not. I'm sure I'll get judged my elitists for either liking Deafheaven or on the opposite end of the spectrum, not having it in the top 10. But that's the thing. My list order isn't for everyone. I love covering as much ground as I can with my personal tastes in music and the list in 100% based on what I enjoy the most (as wide and as much as that is). So...there you go!
15.) Steven Wilson- Hand. Cannot. Erase.
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Electronic Rock
I'm amazed as some of you are that Steven Wilson is only number 15 on my list. But I just happened to find 14 other albums that hit home for me more this time around. The album is inspired by a very dark, true story of a women in London who died in her apartment and was not found for 3 years even with the fact that she had family and friends, no one noticed. While the album is not a retelling of that, it is easily one of the darkest albums Steven Wilson has ever written. The song Routine, is the prime example of that with the story of a mother, who lost her family in a school shooting, keeping up her everyday routine of cooking and cleaning the house, as if nothing happened. The album, musically, sounds a lot happier than previous Steven Wilson solo albums, but again, musically, that couldn't be further from the truth. Everyone on the album is in prime form and it is an amazing adventure. For those that don't like the heavier Steven Wilson releases, this may be a great starter album for you. Otherwise, this is just another solid album from this legendary musician.
14.) Arcturus- Arcturian
FFO- Avant Garde Metal, Progressive Metal, Symphonic Black Metal
This amazing supergroup is at it again with their first release in a decade. The whole album is a complete mind screw reaching moments of Symphonic Black Metal, Industrial, Avant Garde, and so much more. The album borders on being a hodgepodge of sound, but magnificently never reaches that level. Upon repeated listens, it all makes sense. This is not an album for the faint of heart, nor an album that is for those unfamiliar with the genre. It is a twisted, symphonic mind screw that leaves you screaming for more if you can stay on for the ride. I feel so honored I got to see Arcturus this year at Maryland Deathfest and I hope it's a real sign of things to come that the band, may be back for the long haul.
13.) Paradise Lost- The Plague Within
FFO- Gothic Metal, Doom Metal, Death Metal
This was also another album that was number 1 for me for a very long time, but unfortunately did not make the cut of Top 10 this year. That said it is easily the best Paradise Lost album to date. This has everything that a fan of the band would want. The growls of the early albums, the electronics and hard rock moments of the mid era of the career, the doom metal of both the near and first era of the band, and all this while still maintaining to stay fresh and not rehashed. It is rare to hear a band this inspired. It may be in part of the members of the band being able to do their side projects (Bloodbath, Vallenfyre, At The gates, etc) and coming back stronger than ever. This is how it's done folks. For a Gothic Metal album that won't want to make you slit your wrists, look no further than one of the originators of how Gothic Metal is done!
12.) Baroness- Purple
FFO- Sludge Metal, Progressive Rock, Alternative Metal
The return album from the band that nearly lost their lives in a heinous tour van accident has revitalized the band to make their best work to date. While half of the the lineup of the accident left the band, the remaining half including frontman, John Baizley, have their batteries recharged with a new rhythm section and lust for life. Every Baroness album is based on colors (as you may have guessed from the title of this album) and this time around, it makes since. The album hearkens back to their early releases of Red Album and Blue Record, while maintaining the more accessibility of the double release Yellow & Green. The second single from the album Shock Me and even more so, the first single Chlorine & Wine are some of the strongest songs in the band's career. It is fantastic to see a band to come back stronger than ever from such a horrific moment. There is no stopping this band now!
11.) Subterranean Masquerade- The Great Bazaar
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Middle Eastern Folk, Symphonic
One of the most underground supergroups in Metal. Consisting of members of Green Carnation, Novembers Doom, Orphaned Land. This band combines a powerhouse performance for the band's 2nd album a decade after their debut album Suspended Animated Dreams in 2005. The album is layered in Folk, Symphonic, and Progressive moments while there are moments of screams and growls, they are used for effect (and done perfectly at that). I really wish more people knew about this band, because they deserve as much love as they can get. While there are a couple other Prog albums that beat this album out on my list, this is by far the best album of my top 20 to showcase worldwide diversity all while making everything make sense and such an enjoyable experience. If you are not familiar with the band, yet like anything I just mentioned.....CHECK THESE GUYS OUT RIGHT NOW!!!!!.....!
COMING UP NEXT.......THE TOP 10!
Realistically, the average person just cares about a person's top 10 or 20 albums and AT MOST it's usually Top 40, maybe 50. I of course try to shatter that idea and want to show off everything that is worth checking out. But to make the 98% of the people who look album Top Albums Of The Year Lists, here you go with Albums 40-21 of my Top 100 Albums of 2015!
40.) Riverside- Love, Fear And The Time Machine
FFO- Progressive Rock, Ambient
Riverside has always been a hit or miss band for me. What I love, I truly love and what misses for me, well, I should probably go back and give another shot at some point. Given the opportunity of getting to talk to Mariusz Duda about a month before their appearance at ProgPower, it really gave me a whole new appreciation for the band and this album in particular. This album is very mellow in comparison to most of their work. That's what makes this album really click. Up until this album Riverside had really focused on more depressing music and this time around, they started off going in the depressive route but in the end of the album, trying to put things into perspective and create some joyous music. The song Discard Your Fear (which is easily one of the best Riverside songs ever made) is a great example of Riverside keeping their signature tone, but creating positive music full of hope. While there is a couple heavy moments throughout, this is a very mellow and proggy album that takes you on an emotional roller coaster. I wouldn't want it any other way.
39.) Napalm Death- Apex Predator - Easy Meat
FFO- Grindcore, Death Metal, Noise
Napalm Death, the most legendary name in Grindcore, is back with one of their angriest albums ever. The album is first and foremost showing dismay for human culture and life in this present day. While not the most groundbreaking album in Napalm Death's career, it is an absolute highlight to what the band is capable of. A great mix of Grind, Death Metal, and Groove makes this such a fun listen. The songs really go over well live as well. An absolute must for any fan of the genres!
38.) Tremonti- Cauterize
FFO- Heavy Metal
On the second solo album from Creed and Alter Bridge guitarist, Mark Tremonti, he has created one of the most accessible pseudo-Death Metal instrumentation albums ever. The vocals are far from being Death Metal, but the whole album, instrumentally, is a mix of Radio Rock and Death Metal. A strange mix of paper, but Tremonti makes it sound completely natural. Very brutal at time while still showing the catchy radio style that he can pull off flawlessly. For anyone who loves the instrumentation of Death Metal but hates the vocals or anyone who wishes Radio Rock could be as heavy as Death Metal, this is the album for you!
37.) Powerwolf- Blessed And Possessed
FFO- Power Metal, Speed Metal, Heavy Metal
Powerwolf is an amazing band that has been gaining recognition ever since their beginning in 2003. With Black Metal imagery, but with a Power Metal and Speed Metal influences sound, Powerwolf has their signature sound, but have created their best album to date. Lyrically, instrumentally, songwriting and overall themes of the album makes this such an enjoyable ride from start to finish. Their bonus Covers CD is especially awesome as well with an amazing clean vocal cover of Amon Amarth's Gods Of War Arise, proving once again that Amon Amarth is really a Power Metal band with Growls.
36.) Foreign Objects- Galactic Prey
FFO- Progressive Metal, Heavy Metal
From the ashes of the very sad split between CKY and CKY vocalist, Deron Miller, Miller restarted his former project Foreign Objects to really showcase his Progressive, Death Metal, and Heavy Metal sides that weren't featured much in CKY, while showing off his signature blend of melodic and harmonic riffs, hooks, and grooves. An absolute blockbuster of an album. If you have ever enjoyed anything that Deron Miller has done in the past, there is no reason for you not to immediately fall in love with this album.
35.) Panopticon- Autumn Eternal
FFO- Atmospheric Black Metal, North American Folk Metal
Panopticon's latest album is indeed a legendary album. While the band's last 2 albums, Kentucky and Roads To The North, were both Top 20 albums for me when they were released, that does not take away how awesome Autumn Eternal is with it being number 35 on my list this year. Sadly, just the luck of the draw this year. The songwriting is quite possibly the strongest in the band's career. The Black Metal segments are top notch and it has a great atmosphere behind it as well. The only downside for me (which isn't much of one because the album is fantastic) is that the North American Folk (Bluegrass) Metal side isn't shown off nearly as much as other albums, but when those sides do hit, it is awesome. A very passionate Black Metal album that is a must have for anyone who enjoys any of the genres listed above. It's hard not to fall in love within the first couple songs.
34.) Casablanca- Miskatonic Graffiti
FFO- Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Heavy Metal
Casablanca has created the first act of a three act album series with Miskatonic Graffiti. While I'm not going to give any spoilers about what the story is about, it is really cool. Musically, the band ventures from a Black Sabbath/Doom Metal vibe with their opening track Enter The Mountains to an almost Indie Rock vibe on the album's title track, to their signature bland of 70s and 80's Hard Rock and Heavy Metal throughout the middle of the album. While easily being the lightest album in my Top 50 albums of the year. This deserves equal love as any other album on the list. Give it a shot, it's worth it!
33.) Shining- International Blackjazz Society
FFO- Blackjazz, Industrial
I heard one person describe this album as the best album Nine Inch Nails never put out. That is almost an accurate statement, especially with the song House Of Control. This album is a signature Shining (Nor) album, while at times a much more mature sounding album. Plenty of the free form Blackjazz moments, there is much more of the Industrial moments and *GASP* Hard Rock and 4/4 moments. It is a stellar album from front to back. It is the perfect gateway album for the band that will help you get into the rest of their catalog. Shining knocked it out of the park once again. I couldn't be happier.
32.) Carach Angren- This Is No Fairytale
FFO- Symphonic Black Metal
A very twisted and morbid retelling of the classic fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel. The music behind it is very majestic, extreme, evil and oddly soothing. Some can call it over the top and cheesy for using a fairy tale as the theme of the album, but in this style, it works so perfectly. The music is right up their with every other Carach Angren album and stellar production for Black Metal. I wish more bands would take a big risk like this when it comes to their lyrical content and making it their own. This is a Black Metal masterpiece.
31.) Between The Buried And Me- Coma Ecliptic
FFO- Progressive Metal
I am very sad to see this album ranked this low as BTBAM is one of my all time favorite bands, but again, that has no bearing on how good the album is. This album was a complete and utter watershed moment for BTBAM. The band is embracing their Progressive Rock side now a days and fully released it with Coma Ecliptic. That either leaves you a very happy person or very upset. I am of the former. in all honesty, I wish this was the album they would have put out after Colors! I'm sure I am in the extreme minority on that one as many people have shown their hatred for the album *and I'm sure will let me know that fact once again once they read this* But they did it absolutely right on this album. I'm not going to convince any haters of the album with this review and I'm not going to try either. you either get it or you don't. But I get it and I love it!
30.) Pyramaze- Disciples Of The Sun
FFO- Power Metal, Progressive Metal
Pyramaze is by far one of the most underrated bands in Power Metal. They write some of the most glorious movements in Power Metal. Keyboardist/Songwriter Jonah Weingarten is an absolute genius at writing catchy, heavy and moving songs that grab you and never let you go. There is no better example of this fact than this album! Every song is exactly what I said: catchy, heavy and moving. The band doesn't stick to a formula. They just go with what works for them and do it so very, very well. I can't to go see Pyramaze at ProgPower in 2016. They will be one of the best moments of the whole festival. If it didn't already, this album clinches the fact that everyone is going to be blown away by the band who are not already. Just you watch!
29.) Enslaved- In Times
FFO- Progressive Black Metal
Much like BTBAM above. Enslaved has become a band that I've become more in love with with every new release that more people are trying to shy away from as being proggy seems to have a negative repercussion to it now a days (hope that doesn't last) Much like the last few Enslaved albums, the band has focused much more away from their Black Metal roots and focusing on Progressive Metal mixed with Black Metal and atmosphere creating an otherworldly effect. A ton more clean vocals are on this album than ever before makes this more of a watershed album for the band. While the last couple Enslaved albums have been Top 20 albums for me. Much like BTBAM again, this was just the luck of the draw being at 29. I do love this album a lot!
28.) Wearing Scars- Butterfly
FFO- Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Progressive Metal
A new priority of Mutiny Within vocalist Chris Clancy, Wearing Scars takes all of the most memorable parts of Mutiny Within and makes it more radio friendly. This is exactly the type of band that I wish was on Top 40 Rock radio instead of what we get subjected to every hour of every day. Even with it being a lot simpler music than Metal fans are used to, its completely solid and from the heart. I can't ask for anything else from a band and this is a pristine example of what would make Rock and Metal great once again.
27.) Night Demon- Curse Of The Damned
FFO- Speed Metal, Heavy Metal, Classic Metal
Night Demon has released a classic debut album that really feels like that it will stand the test of time. It is just a killer (haha, phrasing) album from start to finish, bringing back the classic moments of Speed Metal and bands that used to worship Iron Maiden and Judas Priest without sounding like complete knock offs. Night Demon have their own sound and they do it perfectly. They even have a comic book based off the album, which serves as a soundtrack, which is pretty cool if I do say so myself. Night Demon is a band on the rise and I know they are only going to be getting bigger and better from here. I can't wait to see what happens next.
26.) Hope Drone- Cloak Of Ash
FFO- Atmospheric Black Metal
If I said it once, I can't say it enough, Australia is the best country (and continent) in the world right now when it comes to Metal and in the world of Atmospheric Black Metal, there is no better example of the best than Hope Drone. While each song is noticeably long on Cloak Of Ash and the Self Titled EP debut. The album showcases the Nihility of life lyrically, emotionally driven passages mixed with incredible musicianship. If you are looking for the best Atmospheric Black Metal album of 2015 and of the last few years, check out the debut album from Hope Drone. This is Black Metal at it's best!
25.) Leprous- The Congregation
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal
Leprous has been noticeably getting lighter and lighter on each album, while still keeping the core sound of Leprous. The Congregation is easily the lightest album in the band's career, but it is so magnificent. One critique I've heard from people this year is that the album is a bit samey from start to finish. While I don't think it's the case, if you look at the album as one song split into 11 tracks, it will completely make sense. There is so many moving moments that go from mellow and melodic to absolute chaos and feel completely natural. Leprous hit it out of the park this time and if they keep it up, they will be one of the most legendary Progressive bands of our time!
24.) My Dying Bride- Feel The Misery
FFO- Doom Metal
One of the most depressing bands in Metal history is back with their *unlucky* 13th album. The depressing moments happen right from the start with most depressing song title of 2015 And My Father Left Forever. The album is classic My Dying Bride. But even with all of that said, the album is a bit more uplifting than possibly any other album in their career. With the album really being about asking why people feel miserable. Musically. The band somewhat brings back their Death Doom sound, but still maintain a predominantly clean vocal approach. Some faster songs with double bass, a lot of slow moving monsters and overall, just a dark experience that is not to be missed!
23.) Borealis- Purgatory
Power Metal, Progressive Metal
While there are enough differences to say otherwise, the easiest (and still flawed) way to describe Borealis is a Canadian Evergrey. I do mean that with the best intentions and highest regards and Evergrey will always be one of my favorite points. Hell, possibly the most legendary picture of me is at ProgPower at an Evergrey acoustic show *I'll post it at the bottom of the reviews, Thanks ProgPower for the pic!* But back to Borealis. The band does an amazing mixture of Power and Prog and Symphonic elements. It makes for a very emotionally listening experience. I really hope Borealis makes it to Minnesota at some point (or at ProgPower in the future) because I'd love to see these guys live. If Purgatory is a good representation of the band, I can see an amazing future for the band. And they will earn every second of it.
22.) Dracula- Swing Of Death
FFO- Power Metal, Theatrical, Hard Rock
Jorn Lande and Trond Holter created a very ambitious album about the life of Dracula. Doing this would either lead to the most unintentional cheesy album of our day or it would lead to a phenomenal album. It was the latter. The album covers an amazing interpretation of the story of Dracula while covering a lot of different genres to match the mood of the album. I think I can pretty much say the song, Walking On Water, is my favorite single of 2015. This is truly an album that needs to be heard in full. And it is relatively short as well, so it does not feel like it drags in any way. Simply a brilliant album that I hope others will get to check out. It deserves any and all praise it receives.
21.) Ascendia- The Lion And The Jester
FFO- Dream Theater meets Killswitch Engage
Now that all of the people who ran away after reading the FFO part, let me explain. Take the musicality of Dream Theater, take out the "Wankery" that people seem to associate with them and replace it with the memorable melodies, harmonies and catchiness of Killswitch Engage along with powerful Howard Jones doing Power Metal style cleans. The lead single and first song on the album At The End Of It All is the perfect example of this. I knew the band well before I made the trip to ProgPower this year, but once I saw that Ascendia will be playing ProgPower next year, it really made me love the band even more. They perfectly combine power, prog, and the non Metalcore side of Killswitch Engage and make a truly brilliant album that I hope will launch them into the stratosphere. We need more bands like Ascendia, but until then we still have Ascendia
COMING UP NEXT: THAT DRUMMER GUY'S TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2015
Oh yeah, this pic!
We are now starting to get into the nitty gritty of the list. Reaching over the half way point. The more I look at the list. I feel this is an absolute strong list of albums and one of my favorite years as far as releases, which is not an easy thing to say in the slightest. These next 20 are absolutely incredible. I hope you dig them as much as I do!
60.) Beardfish- +4626-Comfortzone
FFO- Progressive Rock
Winner of the strangest album title of 2015. Beardfish returns again for the band's 8th album. This album goes back into the band's more proggy side instead of focusing more on the heavier side as shown on the band's last two albums Mammoth and The Void. The music is just a quirky as ever. It goes from mellow to heavy with ease all while having their Swedish style of Prog fun injected in the music. Overall, just a very fun album!
59.) Aurae- Paths Aligned
FFO- Progressive Metal, Atmospheric Metal
Easily my favorite up and coming band from Minnesota. These guys are doing it right on so many levels. In a scene (Minnesota) that is layered with Nu Metal or Brutal Death Metal/Grindcore, these guys are doing their own brand of metal that hits really close to home to music that I love. Progressive, Atmospheric, and not afraid of being Melodic during heavy parts and not afraid to be brutal in more mellow parts; while not making it sound like bands like After The Burial and Reflections. While the band considers this album an EP. It is album length and I really did want to include this album in my top 100, so I hope they forgive me! They are working on their next release and hopefully it will come out in 2016. Seriously, if this is what the generation below me is capable of, I can't wait to see where Metal goes from here!
58.) Scale The Summit- V
FFO- Instrumental Metal, Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock
The 5th release from this amazing Texas band is right on par with what the band is known and capable of. Combining more of the melodic moments of Carving Desert Canyons and The Migration while still having a healthy does of heavy just like The Collective (Still my favorite after all this time) V really hits home with their style. The music takes you away on a great journey while doing the best thing an instrumental band can do, never writing riffs just to play riffs. They are real songs. While the songs are technical, they aren't wanky. Very melodic and harmonic with the right doses of mellowness and heaviness when needed. It's great to see the band being as strong as ever after all these years with no signs of slowing down. Easily the best instrumental band in the game!
57.) Wolfheart- Shadow World
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
Finland has never had a shortage of mindblowing Melodic Death Metal bands and Wolfheart is an amazing example of that. If you love bands such as Amorphis, Omnium Gatherum, Dark Tranquility and Insomnium, there is no reason not to love Wolfheart! If it wasn't such a late entry for me in the year, this album would be up so much higher than it is. Perfect amounts of melody and brutality. Hope this one gets the MDM fans that aren't already familiar with the band. They deserve all the love they can get.
56.) Moonspell- Extinct
FFO- Gothic Metal, Melodic Death Metal
Moonspell does it right once again with Extinct! Simply an amazing piece of MDM and Gothic Metal. Superior melodies mixed with great dark and heavy moments. While not nearly as fast or evil as previous albums, this blows me away upon every listen. Breathe (Until We Are No More) is one of my favorite songs of the year, without question. This can't be recommended enough.
55.) The Man Eating Tree- In The Absence Of Light
FFO- Atmospheric Gothic Metal
On another end of the Gothic Metal spectrum is an amazing band to come out of the ashes of the legendary Gothic Metal band, Sentenced, The Man Eating Tree. Combining Gothic Metal, MDM and lots of atmosphere, the band strikes a chord with everything you'd want in this style of music. The music is beyond catchy, the hooks are undeniable, and with a great, dark atmosphere to it all. This is one of the more upbeat (musically) Gothic albums of 2015 and it works so very, very well. With the band's 3rd album, I hope this album is a great sign for things to come.
54.) Thulcandra- Ascension Lost
FFO- Black Metal, Dissection
There is seriously no greater tribute to the legendary Black Metal band, Dissection in 2015. It's almost as good, if not better than Dissection itself! While possessing all the evil necessities of Black Metal, the band has no shortage of melodic riffs that make this style of Black Metal easily the best subgenre of Black Metal. This band's 3rd album is easily their best work to date. All you need to know about this band is that if you need your Black Metal super melodic, yet evil, Thulcandra is the band for you.
53.) Ghost Bath- Moonlover
FFO- Atmospheric Black Metal
Ghost Bath is a very haunting name which means "the act of committing suicide by submerging yourself in a body of water" That accurately describe the music here coming all the way from China! I do mean that in the best way possible too. The music while being very evil in it's Black Metal, it does have moments of sheer beauty, as the right kind of Atmospheric Black Metal does. The album is long in length, but it sticks with you till the end. Ghost band is definitely a must have band for anyone into Atmospheric Black Metal.
52.) Trailight- The Primitive Mountain
FFO- Progressive Metal. Progressive Rock, Ambient
An absolutely fantastic debut album from photographer, Omer Cordell. It also features Ryan Van Poederooyen (Drums) and Dave Padden who also works with RVP in the band Terror Syndrome. The album is an amazing journey of progressive sound that, while staying mellow in comparison to what the members usually play, features superior creativity in all the instruments involved and incredible songwriting. The song We Are The Ocean is one of the best examples of that with being one of the heavier songs on the album, still maintaining fantastic melodies and harmonies and a great message. With this being the debut album, I wish for nothing but the best in this band and I hope that more music will be happening in the future because I know it will only get stronger and stronger from this point out!
51.) Next To None- Next To None
FFO- Progressive Metal, Alternative Metal, Progressive Rock
Most notably known for being the band featuring Max Portnoy (Mike Portnoy's son) on drums, this debut album from a band still in high school is easily one of the finest albums of 2015. Combining influences of *obviously* Dream Theater, it also shows a great appreciation for other styles as well. Hitting home with Metalcore style vocals and cleans. The band is not afraid to show off everything the band loves and that only makes the music better. The music could not be filled with more great hooks and tangents of instrumental goodness. We were all young once and some of us actually did have a band in high school. It's not very often that your high school band was able to catch on enough to be on a major Prog label and lead to a very successful run for a band. If this is what the band is capable of when they are also in high school, just imagine when the band becomes even more comfortable with each other, writing even stronger material and gracing us as potentially one of the strongest Progressive Metal bands in out future. I really hope it happens. If this is indeed the future of Prog Metal, color me excited!
50.) Teenage Time Killers- Greatest Hits (Vol. 1)
FFO- Hardcore, Punk, Heavy Metal)
The brainchild of Corrosion Of Conformity's Reed Mullin, Teenage Time Killers features an all star cast of musicians from Randy Blythe, Neil Fallon, Corey Taylor and Reed Mullin himself doing vocals. This album is short and sweet and begs you for repeated listens. It's really too bad there hasn't been a 80's Hardcore revival yet, but if that time ever comes, I would not be more excited for that day to come. Hopefully Teenage Time Killers can lead to this happening!
49.) Silence Lies Fear- Future: The Return
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
Absolute perfection of a band. If you love Dark Tranquillity, but need even more melody, this is the band for you. While the album does maintain a lot of the same tempo throughout, it does not affect the power this album has. The melodic segments are easily some of the greatest elements of melody in 2015 of any genre. Every time I throw this album on, I can't shut it off and that is such a great feeling.
48.) Kamelot- Haven
FFO- Power Metal, Symphonic Metal
The first Kamelot album I have enjoyed that's been released in the time I became fan. Everything between Ghost Opera till now has been stuff that has either been, as a whole, bland or boring (sorry for honesty) Haven finally brings back the greatness that Kamelot is known for. While albums from that period has some amazing moments, no album felt right from start to finish. This does! The song Liar Liar is easily my favorite song since Forever. And another controversial statement, I thoroughly enjoy Tommy Karevik's vocals so much more than I ever enjoyed Roy Kahn's vocals (I can sense the hatred coming already, bring it on!). Tommy is such a force to be reckoned with as a frontman and Kamelot could not have picked a better choice than Tommy when he joined on board for their last album, Silverthorn. Thankfully Tommy's other band, Seventh Wonder is not affected by his work with Kamelot, so he can showcase both of his styles perfectly. In short. If Haven is what Kamelot is capable of in 2015, their next album could be an absolute masterpiece. Let's see what happens.
47.) Faith No More- Sol Invictus
FFO- Faith No More
There's no real way to give Faith No More a genre title. They have yet to write the same genre twice in their career. You either get it or you don't. Faith No More is back with their first album since 1997's Album Of The Year. This album was in my top 10 and 20 for quite a long time, but in that time fell off the top and landed in the top half of my Top 50. The album is completely solid from start to finish. I would not call it a masterpiece in any way, but again, it's solid! If the band can hold themselves together long enough to write their next album, I really feel that the next album would be Faith No More at their most inspired again. This is a great start for what could be in the future. I'd honestly be very disappointed if this was their last album. I hope they keep going for as long as they can. We all do.
46.) Gloryhammer- Space 1992: Rise Of The Chaos Wizards
FFO- The Cheesiest Power Metal You'll Ever Hear
If Dragonforce is way too serious of a band for you to enjoy, you need some Gloryhammer in your life. A side project of the Pirate Metal band, Alestorm, Gloryhammer hits us with their 2nd album. The album could not be filled with any more cheese, cliches, and over the top Power Metal...and that's exactly the point! The title alone shows the seriousness of the band! I wouldn't have it any other way. This is the most fun album of 2015, bar none. Just pure bliss in hilarity and great songwriting. It really shows you that Power Metal fans need to take a step off their high horse galloping through the valley of the storm and just enjoy music for that it is, music!
45.) Mgla- Exercises In Futility
FFO- Black Metal
While not being my number 1 Black Metal album of 2015, it is, without question, the best, Black Metal song of 2015 as it's one song split into 6 tracks. There are so many evil peaks and valleys to this album that leaves the listener begging for more. There's no needed for the extra frills of subgenres that bands are adding now a days, Mgla proves that as long as you have great production, all you need is to write memorable Black Metal to be the best. I simply can't get enough of this album and would love to see these guys in the future.
44.) Cain's Offering- Stormcrow
FFO- All Star Symphonic Power Metal
A side project or past and present members of Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius and Wintersun. Cain's Offering is back with their 2nd album, Stormcrow. Compared to their debut album, this album features more cohesive music and more song orientated music. Everyone on this album completely shines, possibly the most within all of the member's careers. It is quite the shame the band is not able to tour as these songs must be heard live, somehow. Most supergroups really faultier with their 2nd album. But given the band's 6 year break in between albums, that did not happen here. they are stronger than ever. I really hope that this will not be another 6 year wait till the next album.
43.) Amorphis- Under The Red Cloud
FFO- Melodic Death Metal, Folk Metal
Amorphis has come out with quite possibly their most accessible album in their career! The song, Sacrifice is proof of that alone, being one of the only songs in their career to feature entirely all clean vocals. Even with Amorphis doing special anniversary shows for Tales From The Thousand Lakes, their use of melody is still very much intact. This album showcases some of the best that Amorphis is known for. Fantastic songwriting, great mix of growls and cleans, folky moments, heavy moments, and almost radio friendly moments. This album has it all. It is a great starter album for anyone just getting into the band. It deserves all the love it gets.
42.) False- Untitled (2015)
FFO- Atmospheric Black Metal
False has taken the Black Metal world by storm this year and it is awesome to say that they are from Minnesota. All this while staying very underground (no social media, no website, no names for this album and their debut EP). The band does an amazing mix of Atmospheric Black Metal. While all the songs are long, they never get meandering or boring. It is still just as solid from the start of the song to the finish. That's what Black Metal needs and that's what False delivers. False will be continuing to take over the world and we need that, we really, really do!
41.) Coheed And Cambria- The Color Before The Sun
FFO- Progressive Rock, Alternative Rock
Their second album that is not attached to their legendary Armory Wars story. The band is just focusing on writing very solid songs. Not worrying about how heavy, how accessible, how anything the songs are. Just writing what they want to. And that's what we need in life right now is more bands that are willing to do that. You Got Spirit, Kid is without a doubt one of my favorite songs of 2015 and of the last 15 or so years. The message is perfect for the world we live in right now. C&C has always stayed true to themselves and nothing shows that more than The Color Before The Sun. I commend these guys more and more with every album and love what they are doing right now. For something that's not Metal in anyway at all, check this out!
COMING SOON- PART V: ALBUMS 40-21!
This is where things started to get extremely hard for me to decide the ranking. There is plenty of albums here that are so deserving to be higher on my list in some regards, but either suffered from not being able to hear them enough to fully appreciate them or just the fate that I found other albums to strike my fancy more. These 20 are awesome albums and should definitely be checked out so don't let the number to the left of the review scare you away, like all the bands listed through Album 110, they all deserve love! So let's get to it!
80.) Symphony X- Underworld
FFO- Progressive Metal, Power Metal
This is the return album for Symphony X after Russell Allen spent focusing on Adrenaline Mob. While I'm disappointed this doesn't get a higher ranking for me, it's not a deterrent from being able to enjoy it. Yes, it is no Divine Wings Of Tragedy or Odyssey, it's much more in the veins of the Paradise Lost and on era of the band, but with a lot more clean vocals instead of the aggressive vocals really showcased of the last couple releases. Without question, it is a solid album. If I had to nitpick, I just feel that it feels like a redundant album. Extremely tight, but nothing you haven't heard before, unless this is your first SX album. Now that we know that Russell Allen is ready to take Symphony X back as a priority, hopefully that will lead to more out of the box thinking on the next release, much like Dream Theater will be doing with the upcoming The Astonishing double album.
79.) Keep Of Kalessin- Epistemology
FFO- Epic Extreme Metal
Mix Black, Death, Progressive, Symphonic, and so many other influences and you get Keep Of Kalessin! With longer epics, relentless apocalyptic sound. With incredibly crisp and clean production, it makes this album extremely enjoyable to listen to. While the album may be considered over the top, if you let it take over, you are in for one hell of a ride. Twists and turns all over for what they list themselves as: Epic Extreme Metal. If you dare take an adventure, give this a chance!
78.) Almah- Within The Last Eleven Lines
FFO: Progressive Metal, Symphonic Metal
I just discovered Almah this year after checking them out after hearing that they will be a part of ProgPower USA 2015 and when I heard the song Beyond Tomorrow, I was sucked in and became an instant fan. Having not heard what they have done previously yet, if this album is even considered mediocre in comparison, then they are one of the best Power Metal bands going right now! The mix of Melody, Harmony, Fast, Mellow, and Symphonic is blended so well and the vocals are top notch! While this is probably the least known Rhapsody offshoot, I dare say it is the best that doesn't have "Of Fire" in the band name!
77.) Alkaloid- The Malkuth Grimoire
FFO- Technical Death Metal, Progressive Metal
What happens when your old band, Obscura, has a major fallout and you're left without a band? You form an even better band! The debut album from 3/4th of the ex members of Obscura (and bassist Linus Klausenitzer who is still playing bass in Obscura) went on to form a band that goes even farther into Extreme Prog Metal territory than Obscura ever has. While the core of the sound still has that Obscura sound we all know and love, the music is filled with much more Melody and Harmony and giving no worries if the music goes too hard or soft, too simple or complex, etc. Just Progressive Death Metal done right. Now we just need a North American tour in the future, The album is too good not to hear live!
76.) Cage- Ancient Evil
FFO: Power Metal, Falsetto Vocals
This album is an absolute sufferer of not being able to listen to it more to give it a higher ranking. Had I done it right now, it would be easily Top 25 if not higher. Sean Peck is the best Falsetto vocalist this side of King Diamond, hence why Mercyful Fate Guitarist Hank Shermann and ex Mercyful Fate Guitarist Michael Denner recruited Peck for their debut EP this year (I might do a EP list when I'm done with all of this, haven't decided yet). This album is an absolute slammer of an album. When it doesn't pound, it pounds you harder and that's missing in a lot of Power Metal these days. Cage is one of the most underrated Power Metal bands running and deserve to be so much bigger than they are. Ancient Evil is a prime example of Power Metal done right!
75.) Kaddisfly- Horses Galloping On Sailboats
FFO: Progressive Rock, Alternative Rock
The first album back from the band since their Indefinite Hiatus back in 2008 proved to be a worthy cause as the band sounds stronger than ever before. The album does have some heavier moments than some of their previous work (The Butcher being a great example). The album is full of awesome tunes from start to finish if you can appreciate bands like Fair To Midland, Nothing More, Karnivool and Dead Letter Circus. Knowing about Kaddisfly, this could be a solid return for the band or this could be the last thing they ever put out. Regardless of what happens, let's be thankful they gave us this album and enjoy it until we hear anything else in the future!
74.) Clutch- Psychic Warfare
FFO- Hard Rock, Blues Rock, Southern Rock
Seeing as though I just reviewed this album not too long ago I'll redirect you to my review HERE http://www.thatdrummerguy.com/blog/album-review-clutch-psychic-warfare
73.) Blind Guardian- Beyond The Red Mirror
FFO- Power Metal
HERESY!!! HERESY I TELL YOU!!! HOW DARE THE ALMIGHTY BLIND GUARDIAN BE SO LOW ON A BEST OF LIST!!! Well, let me tell you. I do think it is a great album with great songs on it, but it didn't home for me as much as other albums have. At The Edge Of Time is a great example of that. And yes, I'm aware this is part 2 of At The Edge Of Time. And it's not a knock at all of how well Hansi and Co. are. Honestly I think there was a good reason why they only played one song off the album when I saw them live last month. If they ever do a show where they play both albums, I'd be so pumped. but with separate listens. it sounds like we waited 5 years to hear almost the same album as last time. I still like it a lot, but it doesn't have the draw factor I wanted. If you're new to Blind Guardian, this will suck you in for sure. but for long time fans, you either love it, or think it's ok.
72.) Fear Factory- Genexus
FFO- Industrial Metal
I could not be happier to say that Fear Factory is back on my best of list, especially after the debacle that was The Industrialist. A huge part of that is not being cheap anymore and getting a real drums recorded. Also writing extremely inspired music once again. This is the album I wish was made after Archetype (which is still my favorite Fear Factory album). In a way, this feel's like Dino's version of Archetype. It still hearkens back to the Demanufacture sound and unfortunately, some Digimortal moments. But to say that this isn't the best Fear Factory in over a decade would be a complete lie. And I'll take anything I can get! Glad to see Fear Factory at their top form as they can get without Christian and Raymond.
71.) Devil You Know- They Bleed Red
FFO- Metalcore, Melodic Death Metal
Having done an interview with Francesco Artusato while the band was in the studio recording this album. I feel a special connection with this album because I was one of the first people who got to hear what the album was going to be about. And Francesco nailed it on the head. I love the debut album a lot, but this one blows it out of the water! The brutal parts are even more brutal, the melodic parts are a lot more melodic and the band feels completely tight and ready to destroy. Say what you want. I love Howard Jones' vocals so much and it's great to be able to hear him sing/scream again. As a fellow diabetic, I know it's not easy in the slightest, yet Howard is doing better than ever vocally and the world needs that right now!
70.) Johnny B. Morbid- Fall Of The Cicada
FFO- Power Metal, Black Metal, Punk Rock
Did you read that right? Yes you did! Those are the genres involved! It is such a great combination on paper, but if you're a fan of at least 2 of the 3 genres, you will find something to love about the band. I love all three genres so it's great to see all of this combined together. It's got the Punk Rock spirit with shorter songs and punk riffs and vocals. the speed of Power Metal and the evilness, blasts, and some screams of Black Metal. I wish more bands would be THIS adventurous with their sound because that is how music progresses.
69.) Ghost Ship Octavius- Ghost Ship Octavius
FFO- Progressive Metal, Melodic Metal, Heavy Metal
Nevermore Meets Symphony X! This is an album that over time I will be sitting down with an appreciating more and more because this album is beyond spectacular. It is so full of hooks mixed with crushing riffs and soaring vocals. The pure spirit of Nevermore mixed with the soundscapes of early day Symphony X we all know and love. I wish I could rank this higher than I did because it is deserving. I can't wait to see where things go from here.
68.) Stratovarius- Eternal
FFO- Power Metal, Symphonic Metal
If I said it once, I said it an infinite amount of times. Timo Tolkki nearly killed Stratovarius to the point of DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). THANKFULLY after his departure, the band got their marbles together and have been releasing some of their strongest releases ever. Completely solid from start to finish. Great ballads, great fast songs, filled with spirit again. it's such a great feeling to see Stratovarius filled with life. Let's just hope it continues until they decide to retire.
67.) Abigail Williams- The Accuser
FFO- Atmospheric Black Metal
Once again, a sufferer of not being able to listen to it more due to it's late year release. I am a huge supporter of these guys and don't see them as the trend hoppers that the internet accuses (hahaha see what I did there?) them to be. They just make the music they want to make and are inspired by it. That's what any band should do. Never be afraid to try! The Accuser takes a different approach to Black Metal than their previous masterpiece Becoming. The biggest noticeable difference is the inclusion of very distinct clean vocals used sparingly. I think it fits perfectly with the despair displayed in the music. There are no monster epics on this album like on Becoming so it's a little less daunting of a task to sit through for the average listener so they can have some breaths in between songs. I also say that with Beyond The Veil being my FAVORITE Abigail Williams song. The Accuser sounds like Abigail Williams at it's most inspired and that is most definitely a good thing! Wherever the band goes, as long as Ken Sorceron and Co. keep making the albums they actually wanna make, I'll be there to listen!
66.) Solution .45- Nightmares In The Waking State- Part I
FFO- Progressive Metal, Melodic Death Metal
Once again a victim of a late release date and not being able to fully appreciate the album as I should. This album is far and beyond one of the best representations of Christian Alvestram vocal ability. The majestic cleans and the brutal growls really sell the band if the melodic hooks, heavy riffs, and amazing musicianship doesn't do it for you alone. THANKFULLY, Part II will be coming out next year and I personally can't wait. This is just an amazing example of modern metal in 2015, the way it should be done.
65.) The Aristocrats- Tres Caballeros
FFO- Instrumental Rock, Experimental
Guthrie Govan, Bryan Bellar, and Marco Minnemann are at it again with their 3rd album. This time, they take on a more southern approach to the songwriting, containing a lot of feelings of being in the North American South on both sides of the coast. The songwriting is quirky, yet expertly done. Of course with a band like The Aristocrats the real power of the band is in the live show. The studio albums are amazing in and of themselves, but without the live show, it wouldn't feel as complete. I know the 4th installment of The Aristocrats will happen in the future, and I can't wait to see where they go from here.
64.) The Black Dahlia Murder- Abysmal
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
I'm honestly pretty bummed to see the album ranked this low on my top 100, but I just happened to hear 63 albums I enjoyed more. That says nothing about the quality of the album as it is some of their strongest material ever. It's not a groundbreaking album or their greatest work, but it is unquestionably solid. That's what matters most. Brutal, Melodic, Catchy, Chaotic, and overall what we need in Melodic Death Metal.
63.) Enforcer- From Beyond
FFO- Speed Metal, Heavy Metal
Enforcer is the best typical 80s Metal band that never existed in the 80s this side of Steel Panther. Enforcer perfectly captures the spirit of the late 70s-early 80s Heavy Metal spirit. Not a groundbreaking album in the slightest, but so very, very solid. If you can appreciate Speed Metal, you will love Enforcer!
62.) Amiensus- Ascension
FFO- Atmospheric Black Metal, Symphonic Metal
From closer to my neck of the woods, Rochester, MN. These guys and False are the two best Black Metal bands Minnesota has to offer. with False (who you'll see later in the list) who is more of the straight up Black Metal with some Atmospheric elements to them. Amiensus is more of the Atmospheric and Symphonic elements in their Black Metal. It makes for an amazing combination. The production is awesome, the songs are so very well crafted and just a great, fresh, spirit is in this band. Starting to get some proper notoriety around here and with some touring under their belt with this moniker, these guys could become huge if this quality can be maintained. Let's hope they can keep this momentum going!
61.) Metal Allegiance- Metal Allegiance
It's really hard to call this anything other than a Metal album because it does incorporate so many different genres (Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal, Groove Metal, Death Metal). This supergroup has made a huge impact with their live shows and now they have finally sat down and recorded an album with an all star cast of vocalists from Chuck Billy to Randy Blythe to Christina Scabbia. This album really captures the spirit of Metal in 2015. Is it a novelty album? Yes and No. Yes because it may be really hard to capture the magic this album has with all of the members involved. But no because it's meant to be a tribute to the power that is Metal. Showing that all styles of Metal can come together and create some amazing music. That goal has been achieved. Can it be captured again for a second album? time will tell....
COMING SOON PART IV- 60-41
I know I said I was going to do these 10 at a time, but with a quick change in an album I just received today and the fact that I have been starting the Top Albums of 2015 on the radio show, I'm going to do these quicker to match up with the show.
I can't ever stress this enough! For the average person, 100 albums sounds like a daunting task and the average person doesn't have time *or care enough * to listen to 20 albums in a year. at this time, without getting any more 2015 albums this year, 111.56GBs of 2015 music of 192K-320K quality promos and albums I bought this year. Way more than I count off the top of my head would probably take a couple hours to count out. So as I point out every year, if an album makes my top 100, that means I love it! A LOT! Yes, the higher up in the ranking the more I love it, but when you look at the ratio, this is essentially, the top 10% or less of music I've checked out this year that I feel is worthy of everyone's attention. And I really hope no matter what genre of Metal and Rock you enjoy, you'll find at least one discovery that you really like!
So let's get started shall we?
100.) Remnants Of Winter- Remnants Of WInter
FFO- Black Metal, Atmosphere, Symphonic Metal
An album that wouldn't normally be in my top 100 albums to be honest mainly because the production leaves a bit to be desired (VERY raw), but the music behind it more than makes up for it! The whole album is filled with a great mix of Black Metal, Symphonic Metal and the more I think about it, the raw production gives a great atmosphere to the music and makes it sound a bit different than other bands trying to pull this style off. It's mainly harsh vocals but when the clean vocals come in as well, it adds for a great combination of vocal styles. With this being the first album, I expect these guys to become even better with the next album, which I really hope so because these guys deserve love. Hope you dig them as well.
99.) Stormy Atmosphere
FFO- Progressive Metal, Orchestral. Art Metal
Much like I talked about with Orpheus Blade in my Honorable Mentions list, Stormy Atmosphere proves once again that Israel is a hot bed for Progressive Metal. while the female operatic vocals will definitely not be up everyone's alley, if you can get past it or find a way to enjoy it, it makes the experience very enjoyable. The music behind the album is absolutely stellar and the male vocals might be my favorite part of the album. I also thoroughly enjoy that the bass (provided by Max Mann) is actually audible and extremely well played. If you can enjoy a band like Orphaned Land with the type of Israeli style Progressive Metal, this should be more than up your alley.
98.) Kardashev- Peripety
FFO- Atmospheric Death Metal
Much like how Fallujah has blown everyone away with their style of Atmospheric Death Metal, Kardashev is doing their spin on the genre and doing an absolutely amazing job with it. Imagine Cynic's Focus made in 2015 and no vocoder vocals. I only just started getting into the album deeply and if it wasn't for that, it would be much higher up on my list. These guys are going to be huge I can feel it.
97.) Myrkur- M
FFO- Atmospheric Black Metal, Post Rock
Myrkur is arguably the most notorious Black Metal project going right now this side of Deafheaven. Myrkur is a a one female project that incorporates a good mix of Black Metal and Post Rock, while not the most groundbreaking album of 2015, it is without question a solid album. M focuses more on the Post Rock/Post Metal side than the Black Metal of her first release, much like Alcest did before going full blown Post Rock and Indie Rock but still enough Black Metal to make it evil and sinister at the right moments. That's how you do it!
96.) Deadly Circus Fire- The Hydra's Tailor
FFO- Progressive Metal, Hard Rock
All the way from London, Deadly Circus Fire is doing their take on Tool inspired Progressive Metal mainly showcased in Australia, but doing something that you don't hear from Tool inspired bands or from Tool themselves anymore....DYNAMICS! While being almost radio friendly enough and proggy enough to showcase their skills. The band is doing an amazing job of blending their styles together to form a cohesive style that should be showcased more in this light.
95.) Hate Eternal- Infernus
FFO- Technical Death Metal, Brutal Death Metal
As much as I do enjoy Death Metal, Death Metal records just don't make the top of my top lists often compared to other genres. So even the most enjoyed Death Metal album is almost always low on the top 100. Hate Eternal is a great example of that. This album is completely solid! While it does start to blend together after a while ( much like every band of this style *recommended listening in segments*) You see how well crafted Erik Rutan and company are in 2015. And I can't stress it enough because it couldn't possibly be more true. Chason Westmoreland was and will be the best drummer Hate Eternal will every have. Every drummer needs to be able to blast without a trigger like he does! But back on the album, Absolutely insane moments willed with the right amount of Melody, Harmony and Brutality! Hate Eternal brings it to us once again with no signs of slowing down!
94.) Mouse On The Keys- The Flowers Of Romance
FFO- Instrumental, Experimental
I couldn't really find another way to describe this album. It's Drums, Piano and Keyboards and each instrument goes absolutely insane with their talents. The album is done in a Post Rock-ish way where it has many peaks and valleys. The most insane instrument is by far the drums, essentially doing a drum solo throughout the whole album, but it is done in such a musical way that it feels natural. Japan proves once again how innovative the country is. As far as technology, and music. Japan is always top notch!
93.) The Winery Dogs- Hot Streak
FFO- Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock, Hard Rock
Ritchie Koontz, Billy Sheean and Mike Portnoy are at it again with their Supergroup trio, The Winery Dogs. While every supergroup suffers from the 2nd album lull. If this is the worst it gets for the band, they will continue to be a legendary band for years to come! While the album does suffer from very cheesy lyrics that a band like this would definitely put on an album, the music is far more killer than the debut album. The band has found their niche and they are doing it marvelously. Now, let's hope for a Minnesota date in 2016! Just tell me who I gotta call to book a show!
92.) Angellore- La Litanie Des Cendres
FFO- Doom Metal, Atmospheric Metal
Imagine Alcest being inspired by Candlemass! This project is another sufferer from being discovered too late in the year to be able to fully enjoy it by the time I made this list, but this incredible album that would have probably jumped up 80 spots if given the chance. Simply beautiful music. While some growls and screams are used for effect, it is almost all clean vocals. Very symphonic, doomy, atmospheric and Post Rock-ish. It sounds strange on paper, but upon one listen, you'll be sold!
91.) Deluge- Æther
FFO- Atmospheric Black Metal
Simply one of the oddest combinations in Metal. One of the members of The Ocean with person responsible for bands like Oceano, The Acacia Strain, and Born of Osiris making Atmospheric Black Metal. The music is very impressive and well thought out! While the constantly, unrelenting blasts do get old for some people. It starts to become a natural part of the listening process. From this combination, I wouldn't have expected this to be as impressive as it is. Is this a sign of what's to come in Black Metal?
90.) Trivium- Silence In The Snow
FFO- Heavy Metal, Power Metal, Hard Rock
I can see a lot of people getting angry that I compared Trivium to Power Metal...well, this album has some Power Metal in it! Just slower! Trivium has done away with screams on this album and focused on all cleans. The riffs have a lot of Radio friendly potential and some very, well, Power Metalish tinges that make this a better experience than any other Trivium album I've ever heard. If you already hate Trivium and will never give them a chance, this won't win you over. But if you enjoy the genres listed and feeling adventurous, give this a shot. if it can impress me this much, it could very well impress you as well!
89.) Ahab- The Boats Of Glen Carrig
FFO- Post Metal, Doom Metal, Sludge Metal
The most I listen to this album, the more and more I find something new in it and become very impressed with what I hear. If you dig the early day Mastodon sound and wish they went slower, Ahab is the band for you. I've heard someone say Ahab is a mix of Mastodon and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, I can totally see it! Some of the songs are pretty long, but if you dig that, you'll love this. The soundscapes of peaks and valleys really make this album flourish. It's one hell of an adventure!
88.) Crypt Sermon- Out Of The Garden
FFO- Doom Metal, Heavy Metal
Early Day Doom Metal fans rejoice! In what I hope will be a resurgence of the genre, Crypt Sermon has put out an astonishing Doom Metal album for fans of the likes of Candlemass. All clean vocals here, so no, that the other kind of Doom Metal. While arriving extremely late on my listen to list, I am so happy I got to check it out because I am floored. It's not groundbreaking, just a nice throwback to the early days of Evil Metal before screams took over. These guys are only going to get bigger and better and I can't wait to see what's next!
87.) King Parrot- Dead Set
FFO- Grindcore, Hardcore, Punk
A band I absolutely love for their sheer power live, killer writing style and unique vocals. The band's 2nd album is a much more concise album than the debut, incorporate more Heavy Metal and Groove Metal elements and a great length to make you wanna hit repeat. It also helps that singer Matt Young is one of the coolest guys to grace the Metal World. I'm so happy these guys are getting they love they deserve. Let's hope the momentum doesn't stop!
86.) toe- Hear You
FFO- Instrumental Rock
Another listing from an incredible band out of Japan. toe is one of those bands that have been around for a long time, but outside the underground, no one knows about them. Which is a complete shame because these guys are beyond impressive. Much like my review of Mouse On The Keys, and while more subdued, toe makes incredible instrumental music that captivates you from start to finish. A great take on instrumental Rock that proves it doesn't need to just be wanking off and scale worship.
85.) Spock's Beard- The Oblivion Particle
FFO- Progressive Rock
This is easily my favorite Spock's Beard album in YEARS! They really hit it right this time between the Prog, Rock, Instrumental, and subdued moments. It is a classic album from start to finish. Gotta make sure you are into 70's inspired Prog Rock before jumping into this one or else you'll never get it. If you do, check it out!
84.) Rivers Of Nihil- Monarchy
FFO- Technical Death Metal, Death and Cynic Style Progressive Metal
Of the three leading bands of the 2010's Metal scene (with Fallujah and Black Crown Initiate) Rivers Of Nihil is the least known of the pack. Monarchy is a HUGE improvement over their last release (Which was also awesome). The Death and Cynic worship comes in very strong on this album, and that is without question, a great thing. It still hits the moments of Tech Death they are known for, but it is always great to hear band not just be brutal the whole time and actually write music. Rivers Of Nihil hit it out of the park with this open and I hope they really break out within the next year, they earned it!
83.) Tribulation- Children Of The Night
FFO- Psychedelic Black Metal
FINALLY, Tribulation is starting to get the love they deserve wither their newest album, Children Of The Night. The album is an adventure into Sabbath worship, 60s70s psychedelic moments and of course Black Metal. This is not your every day Black Metal in any way. While still not the perfect description, if you want Ghost to have Black Metal screams, listen to Tribulation!
82.) Torche- Restarter
FFO- Sludge Metal, Pop Rock, Doom Metal
In all honesty, I was hoping to love this album a lot more considering Meanderthal is one of my favorite albums of all time. But that in no way is to say Restarter isn't a great album. It's a great mix of Sludge, Doom, and Pop Rock done in a way that doesn't seem like it'd work on paper, but upon listening, it all makes sense. It's a great starter album for those wanting to get into the band. Baroness meets U2!
81.) Publicist UK- Forgive Yourself
FFO- Shoegaze, Post Punk, Post Rock
Would anyone ever guess that this album is an offshoot supergroup featuring members of Revocation, Municipal Waste and Goes Cube? I sure wouldn't had I not read the press release. For those that love the mid to late 80's Shoegaze scene, this is perfectly done. It really captures the UK Shoegaze scene with modern production. A very subdued album, but that's exactly what it calls for. And considering who is in the band, I'm sure it was a more than welcome change for the band to do something slower for a change! A great night album to help you relax before going to sleep or if you caught your girlfriend cheating on you with a guy wearing an Iron Reagan T -Shirt on!
COMING SOON- PART III: ALBUMS 80-61!
Hey Kids, it's that time of year again where I show off my musical knowledge skills and present the greatest albums of 2015!
For those that are new to my end of the year reviews. I'll do a short recap of what I normally do. Since I was in high school. I've been doing a big end of the year review of every album that I listened to in said year. Once I got popular enough with what I did, I started a radio show to help with that process. Over the years, becoming more and more popular, I started having less time to do the reviews all at the end of the year. in fact, this year, I have only time to do my Best Of 2015 and, unfortunately, not even get to the other albums of the year worth checking out. Starting in 2016, I am going to do album reviews as soon as I receive the album. Looking on it now, more people would be interested in said album before it comes out (hence why I get promos, to promote the albums on the air and in written form as they come out). So be on the lookout for that possibly as soon as the end of this year as I have received some great 2016 albums already.
This year, as things were cut short for me. I'll be doing the Top 100 in countdown order; 10 at a time until we reach the top 20, where each album will get it's own post.
But before we get to all of that, I got 10 Honorable Mentions to mention as well. This is new to me as I'm used to reviewing everything worth checking out in one year, but when going over my Top 100, I ended up with 110, so why not keep the last 10 and make them honorable mentions?
LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!!!!.....!
110.) Periphery- Juggernaut: Alpha/Omega
FFO: Progressive Metal, Djent
For anyone that knows me well. I am a huge Periphery supporter. I've been there since before the Self Titled debut and felt they have only been getting better and better over the years. And I have been fortunate to have met all of Periphery 3 times and interviewed Jake Bowen twice. That's why it pains me to see the newest double album ranked at the very bottom of my best of and not even in my Top 100. How can this be you ask? In all honesty, it feels like a very forced double album. In a "make this album for the fans" kind of way. In that regard, it worked because fans love the album. Don't get me wrong, I still very much enjoy the album, but it's hard not to feel like their heart is not in this album as much as Periphery II and Clear were very much, fully, from the heart. It's still worth checking out, but I sadly have to say keep your expectations low if you haven't heard it already. Still great, just lacking.
109.) Forty Shades- Camera Silens
FFO: Progressive Metal, Melodic Metal
This is a band I discovered this year that really expands well into different territory without getting meandering. Coming from the ashes of their previous band, Nagor Mar, the band moved away from their Symphonic Metal sound and created some awesome, Melodic and Progressive Metal. Every song has it's own vibe to it, yet still fits together very well. With this just being their debut, I expect the band to really come into their own with the next release or two and expanding into an even bigger band. Let's hope I'm right.
108.) Sarpanitum- Blessed Be My Brothers
FFO: Blackened Death Metal, Atmospheric Death Metal
In short, Sarpanitum is very reminiscent of Fleshgod Apocalypse. similar style apocalyptic drumming, the right amount of melodic and grandiose movements, just not as many orchestral and symphonic moments as Fleshgod. The album, like most albums of this style, should be heard in sections and not all the way through, or else it loses it's merit, but when you check out a few songs at a time, it is definitely worth it. The only thing this one is lacking is in the production is a bit too raw and tinny at times, but if you can get past it, you'll hear some fantastic music and musicianship.
107.) The Dear Hunter- Act IV: Rebirth In Reprise
FFO: Progressive Rock, Indie Rock, Art Rock
Continuing on with the Act story, The Dear Hunter returns with the 4th Act of the 6 Act story. While The Dear Hunter spent a few years away from the story with releasing their monstrous EP series, The Color Spectrum, and their stand alone album, Migrant, it feels as though TDH is fresher than ever. While this is not my favorite TDH release, this does have a lot of range and variation, many highs and lows and great diversity that blends so very well together. It adds a lot more orchestral moments, which is much appreciated. That's about all I really have on this one, just a solid Act to the story. Can't wait to see how it all ends with the next two albums in the series.
106.) Muse- Drones
FFO: Alternative Rock, Progressive Rock
Muse was a band that I thought was never going to get back to the glory of their highest point musically, Absolution. Everything since that point has been a disappointment or worse. With the release of Drones, I thought to myself "Great, another Muse album, can't wait to hear how they let me down once again." Oddly enough, that is not the case this time around. While far from being a perfect album, this is the first Muse album I have been able to listen to all the way through, without being bored or thinking it sucks, since 2003's Absolution. That is already a step in the right direction. The band returns from it's pompous and pretentious vies with a less pompous and pretentious album. It brings back some heavier elements, that have been severely missed. Again, not a perfect album, but it is a step in the right direction. I hope that continues because we need that back in our lives, even the fans of the band that only discovered them through Rock Band and Guitar Hero.
105.) Angelus Apatrida- Hidden Evolution
FFO: Thrash Metal, Power Metal, Heavy Metal
A band that I discovered this year that has really impressed me. A band not afraid to be heavy and fast and mix it with melody and thrash. The album refrains from getting boring and stays very concise from beginning to end. Nothing that hearkens that they reinvented the wheel, but they are unbelievably solid. That's what matters!
104.) TesseracT- Polaris
FFO: Progressive Metal, Djent
Many Progressive Metal and Djent fans rejoiced when hearing the news that Dan Perkins is back in TesseracT, as was I. Thinking this would be an absolutely perfect combination that will destroy everything in it's way. Then upon the 3rd listen, I learned something. TesseracT is going to be the same band no matter who is singing and I mean that musically as well. Polaris is the perfect example that TesseracT has their niche and they are not going to be shying away from it anytime soon. What's my biggest complaint? TEMPO!!! Every song is either Slow or almost mid tempo. Nothing very diverse or mindblowing, it is standard TesseracT. While in and of itself, there is nothing wrong with that; I was really hoping for an album that would at least not feel like another album long song. That's what Polaris is. With that in mind, it is a great album, in that regard. But if you wanna look for anything past that, you won't find it here.
103.) Angra- Secret Garden
FFO: Power Metal
Angra, one of the most legendary names in Power Metal, is back with their 8th album and 1st album with their new singer Fabio Lione (most famously known for his work with Rhapsody Of Fire). The album is absolutely solid from start to finish and features some guest appearances from the likes of Doro and Simone Simons. Sadly, the band does touch back on what made their early albums such a force to be reckoned with, with their Brazilian influenced Power Metal and sticking with a solid straight up Power Metal approach. Definitely not a bad thing as that's not Lione's forte to sing that style. Overall, just a very fun Power Metal album.
102.) Orpheus Blade- Wolf's Cry
FFO: Progressive Metal, Soundtrack style Metal
Another discovery I made this year that I really love. The male vocals are very much in the vein of Devin Townsend, just lower register. Musically, it feels like the soundtrack to a war or fantasy film that wanted to have Metal featured in the background. That is definitely a great thing! This proves again that despite all of the turmoil going on in the world right now. Israel is a hotbed for Progressive Metal. If I have to nitpick anything, the production could be a little more full and mixed tighter, but that's just nitpicking. The songs are unbelievably solid and well crafted. I hope to hear more from these guys down the road. I know touring is a bit of a long shot right now for obvious reasons, but I hope that they only get bigger and better from here on out.
101.) Art Of Anarchy- Art Of Anarchy
FFO: Alternative Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Even with my incredibly unpredictable timing of putting my Top 20 Worst of 2015 up the day Scott Weiland died, I still refuse to take back my feelings of his solo album with the Wildabouts, it is an absolutely horrible meandering album. And I have every right to feel that way when Scott Weiland is capable of not sucking. This is the prime example of that. Teaming up with Bumblefoot, John Moyer, Jon Votta, and Vince Volta made an incredible album with Weiland that reaches so many areas of Rock and Metal that those that have "mainstream" reach stay away from. That goes for Moyer as well, being a part of Disturbed! The song Til The Dust Is Gone is the prime example of the power of the band and sadly, a foreshadow to Weiland's death. While this is not part of my top 100, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out for one of the most solid Hard Rock albums to come out in the 2010's. While I don't see it happening I love the idea of the band getting together for every album with a new singer to keep the ideas fresh. Hey, maybe it's possible?
Coming Soon: That Drummer Guy's Top 100 Of 2015 Part I: 100-90
That Drummer Guy: Radio DJ, Interviewer, Reviewer, overall...an OK guy.