Staff Picks of 2015
By Eden Howard
18 December 2015
What the fuck is going on, people? It’s been a cracking year for metal - there’s been some awesome albums, and a swag of mind blowing tours - but humanity has, as expected, managed to set the bar pretty damn low for itself. It’s time for some global positivity, dammit!
So here it is, my top ten of 2015. Please note that I’ve not ranked releases with any preference or favour, because in a world of negative emotions and challenging, dynamic social relationships, it’s important to recognise that everyone’s creative output is equally valid. With the exception of anyone involved in The X Factor. They can fuck right off.
Without further ado…
I’ll deal with this first… Yes, there is an album of Taylor Swift covers in my top-ten. It’s cool to hate on Taylor Swift. It’s easy to dismiss her. But getting banned from Triple J’s Hottest 100 (while uber-commercial major label douche-knuckles like Bruno Mars and Kendrick fucking Lamar remained eligible) is metal as fuck. The fact that Vance Joy, Swift’s US tour support, made the list a couple of times while she was banned is metal as fuck. Everyone voting for her anyway, just to make Triple J look like a bunch of dicks, is metal as fuck. And now, Ryan Adams, darling of the alt-country scene (and huge fan of Norwegian black metal), has proclaimed her awesome from atop his throne of credibility, and re-imagined 1989 as his own. Metal. As. Fuck.
Absolute proof that not every Tasmanian has two heads. Guitarist Joe Haley shreds like he probably has 27 fingers. His brother, drummer Dave Haley, beats the living shit out of his kit like a man with at least 15 arms and legs. Both with the kind of technicality and precision typically reserved from some kind of level 500 wizard. Psycroptic make mind bending tech-death sound easy.
Slaves Beyond Death
I’m thrilled to hear this Seattle, Washington quintet evolve from their unashamed, unapologetic love of Wolverine Blues era Entombed to an unashamed, unapologetic love of Left Hand Path era Entombed. Easily the best old school Swedish death metal album of the year. I wish Entombed still sounded this good. Welcome back to the fold, Seattle. All is forgiven.
"They told me that the classics never go out of style, but… they do, they do. Somehow baby, I never thought that we’d do too."
It’s a prophetic introduction to Refused’s 1998 magnum opus The Shape of Punk to Come. When you define the sound of a generation, should you really revisit that legacy? Or is it best to let the classics stand alone? Was Lyxzen right - are Refused doomed to go of style? I’ll admit, I’m kind of torn on this one. I wasn’t taken with Freedom straight away, and while it is more engaging with subsequent airings, it makes the list only because it’s Refused.
Searching for Zero
Damn this is a cool record, and it’s is absolutely best experienced at live volume. The Canadian hard-core punk quartet takes a long swim in Fu Machu’s month-old bong water before stumbling into the California desert to dry out. They don’t make it back.
Apex Predator - Easy Meat
Fast, brutal, socially conscious, mostly unintelligible, strangely progressive, and downright scary. Perfect, really. Napalm Death are Gods.
Century Media Records
Cobras and Fire - Mastermind Redux
It’s no secret I love this band. Their first album of re-visited and reinterpreted material, Milking the Stars: A Re-Imagining of Last Patrol, made my top ten list in 2014. Their second, Cobras and Fire, shakes 2010 release Mastermind from its post-apocalyptic Diazepam bender and pumps it full of psilocybin and radiation. Dave Wyndorf has finally accepted his place at the head of the rock and roll table. But rather than make peace with his inner demons, he’s powered up his time machine and travelled back to the 60s to beat the ever-loving snot out of Jim Morrison.
These Melbourne lads spent most of 2014 fanging around the States and making friends with Phil Anselmo, and he’s leant a hand in production for this, their second long player. I’m not often a fan of celebrity producers, but Anselmo helps take King Parrot to A New Level (sorry…) of grindy crossover death metal arse kickery. Pretty much the complete antithesis of the way someone like Dave Grohl manages to fuck up every band he befriends. King Parrot is a good time for all. Because fucking Straya!
That Dave Grohl thing I was harping on about before; he really made a hash of Ghost’s If You Have Ghost EP a couple of years back, and I was really worried he would be back helm the desk for Meliora. He didn’t. And it’s a fucking masterpiece. The perfect soundtrack to your Godless future, as foretold by a lumbering '70s rock behemoth.
Loma Vista Recordings
Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
The Night Creeper
It’s an aptly named album to be sure. The Night Creeper is not packed with the big hooks that made Blood Lust so great, but there is still innately sinister in the timbre of Uncle Acid’s voice. It’s like soaking in a hot fuzzy bath of evil. It soothes you, calms you and sucks you in, but you feel violated and dirty afterwards. Pure joy.
Rise Above Records
More from Ryan Adams, Psycroptic, Black Breath, Refused, Cancer Bats, Napalm Death, Monster Magnet, King Parrot, Ghost and Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats
- King Parrot - New Australian Tour Dates Announced [news]
- Staff Picks of 2015 - Simon Milburn [editorial]
- Staff Picks of 2015 - Simon Crawley [editorial]
- King Parrot - Regional Rampage Tour - Supports Announced [news]
- King Parrot - Regional Rampage Tour Announced [news]
- King Parrot - Ooh Crikey it's ... King Parrot! [interview]
- Napalm Death, Carcass and Extortion - The Hifi Bar, Brisbane, AUS, 19 Apr 2015 [live]
- Psycroptic - Echoes to Come [interview]
- Napalm Death - Think for a Minute [interview]
- George Kollias and Dave Haley Drum Clinic - The Factory Floor, Sydney, AUS, 05 March 2015 [live]
- Napalm Death and Carcass with Guests Extortion - April 2015 Australian Deathcrusher Tour Announced [news]
- Thy Art Is Murder/Psycroptic/Fit For An Autopsy/Revocation/Disentomb - The Manning Bar, Sydney, AUS, 19 Dec 2014 [live]
- Staff Picks of 2014 - A List by Eden Howard [editorial]
- Psycroptic - Strictly Limited "Early Years" LP Boxset to be Released [news]
- Psycroptic/Aborted/Schoenberg Automaton - Factory Theatre, Syd, AUS, 19 June 2014 [live]
- King Parrot - Winter Blizzard Tour 2014 Announced [news]
- Psycroptic - The Necrotic Repression [interview]
- Psycroptic - Supports Announced for Tour with Aborted [news]
- Psycroptic/Aborted - Necrotic Repression 2014 Australian Tour Announced [news]
- King Parrot - Asia/Australia Tour April/May 2014 [news]
- Monster Magnet - 2014 Australian Tour Announced [news]
- Psycroptic/King Parrot - The Bald Faced Stag, Sydney, AUS, 02 Aug 2013 [live]
- Cancer Bats - Australian Tour Postponed [news]
- Cancer Bats - Australian Tour Announced [news]
- Monster Magnet - Cancel 'Dopes to Infinity' Tour [news]
- Monster Magnet - 'Dopes to Infinity' Australian Tour Announced [news]
- Napalm Death/Dying Fetus - Brisbane, Aus, 3 Sep, 2010 [live]
- Napalm Death - Work to Rule [interview]
- Napalm Death With Guests Dying Fetus - 2010 Australian Tour Supports Announced [news]
- Decapitated/Psycroptic/Origin/Misery Index - Brisbane, AUS, 04 Apr 2010 [live]
- Psycroptic - Final Victorian Shows for 2010 [news]
- Napalm Death With Guests Dying Fetus - Announce September 2010 Australian Tour [news]
- Psycroptic - Initiate the Extreme [interview]
- Metal Forge, The - Staff Picks of 2009 [editorial]
- Napalm Death - Leaders Not Followers [interview]
- Unleashing the Extreme - A Round Table Interview [interview]
- Psycroptic - Serve The Servants [interview]
- Psycroptic - Australian Tour 2008 [news]
- Psycroptic - Australian Tour June 2008 [news]
- Metalstock 2008 - Sydney, AUS, 23 Mar 2008 [live]
- Metalstock 2008 - Line Up Changes Announced [news]
- Psycroptic - Carnival Of Chaos [interview]
- Metalstock 2008 - Second Wave Of Acts Announced [news]
- Metalstock 2008 - Ticket Announcement [news]
- Metalstock 2008 - The First Announcement [news]
- Napalm Death - Australian Tour Diary 2007 [live]
- Napalm Death - Mass Appeal Madness [interview]
- Napalm Death - Australian Tour 2007 Announced [news]
- Napalm Death - New Video Clip Online [news]
- Napalm Death - From Enslavement To Obliteration [interview]
- Napalm Death - New Album Update [news]
- Psycroptic - Rise Above [interview]
- Psycroptic - New Album And Tour Details [news]
- Psycroptic - Joins Forces With Neurotic Records [news]
- Napalm Death - Stronger Than All [interview]
- Napalm Death - More details on new album [news]