Staff Picks of 2015

Simon Crawley

By Simon Crawley

22 December 2015

This year has been a rather tumultuous one for me and I definitely have not had as much downtime to listen and enjoy new music as much as I would like.

When I got 'round to putting together a list of my top albums from 2015, I quickly realised how much my choices reflect the sort of year I have had. This is not to say that my choice is haphazard or thrown together, but rather that the below albums are ones that burst through the front door instead of slipping through the mail slot. They had a big impact; big and loud enough that I was able to take notice no matter how busy I was.

There are definitely some big names on this list, but I feel there is a nice dynamic amongst them with some bands consistently turning out great music and others lashing back after a lapse or having faced a hurdle or two in recent times. Then there are a couple of lesser known names who have seriously impressed and are ones to look out for.  

Enough chatter - here are my top ten albums of the year (in no particular order):

Ghost

Meliora

Ghost - Meliora

OK, after this, there is no particular order to my list. Meliora is ridiculously awesome and it solidly deserves to sit top of the heap. The third full-length studio album from the Swedish mystery band is close to flawlessly written and executed, spooky, catchy and addictive. Their blend of satanic theatrics, hazy heavy metal and sinister melody all come together in absolute majesty on Meliora.

Loma Vista Recordings

 

Napalm Death

Apex Predator - Easy Meat

napalm_death-apex_predator-easy_meat-cd 

The undisputed kings of grind. 16 studio albums on and these guys are still kicking the absolute shit out of most metal bands out there. It’s almost safe to say that in a year when Napalm Death releases a new album, it will be a highlight. I don’t think there is a bad Napalm Death album and Apex Predator/Easy Meat is quite simply another hallmark in this legendary band’s career.

Century Media Records

 

Lamb of God

VII: Sturm Und Drang

lamb_of_god-vii_sturm_und_drang-cd

Here is a band that’s been through significant ups and downs. From making huge waves with their arrival on the New Wave of American Heavy Metal scene, to criticism for their highly acclaimed yet commercially slanted Sacrament, to the disappointing Wrath, to a promising comeback in 2012 with Resolution to vocalist Rand Blythe’s incarceration in the Czech Republic, and then to one hell of a and unexpected statement with this year’s seventh and explosive Sturm Und Drang. A band like Lamb of God is likely to have as many naysayers as fans, but either way, this is probably the band’s best release yet.

Nuclear Blast Records

 

Call of the Void

Ageless

Call of the Void - Ageless

Colorado’s Call of the Void has quickly become one of my favourite bands. These guys churn out the epitome of raw metal with their brand of punishing grind. Dragged Down a Dead End Path was a fantastic debut, but nothing could have prepared you for Ageless.

Relapse Records

 

Slayer

Repentless

Slayer - Repentless

Ah, the mighty Slayer is back. Between a very disappointing World Painted Blood to the legendary Jeff Hanneman dying and then longstanding drummer Dave Lombardo leaving the band, the thrash titans had been hit very hard. The best thing that any band can do in such circumstances is raise a fat middle finger and soldier on, and that’s exactly what they did – cue Repentless. Kerry King took matters by the scruff of the neck and shredded the shit out them. Welcome back, Slayer.

Nuclear Blast Records

 

Dead in the Manger

Cessation

Dead in the Manger - Cessation

Another mystery band makes it onto my top 10 for this year. Washington’s Dead in the Manger and their nameless band members and songs release album number two in Cessation and it’s a mighty strong follow-up to Transience. This is a powerful mix of black, death and grind and the album earns its place in my top ten.

20 Buck Spin

 

Entrails

Obliteration

Entrails - Obliteration

Leave it to legendary Swedish death metallers Entrails to crack your skull open and pour undiluted heavy goodness into your grey matter. They aren’t doing anything different, but they are doing what they do well - really well.

Metal Blade Records

 

Scale the Summit

V

Scale the Summit - V

This is the only instrumental album on my list, but it’s also very likely to be on many a ‘best of the year’ list. Houston, Texas’ Scale the Summit is a talented group of young musicians with an endless source of classy song-writing potential. Album number five follows on from The Migration and The Collective, two other absolutely superb instrumental albums.

Prosthetic Records

 

Horrendous

Anareta

Horrendous - Anareta

This is old school death metal with a modern dose of technical genius and creativity. Three albums on and Horrendous is a band with a very bright future. They remain original while also powerfully relevant to the genre of death metal in the modern age.

Dark Descent Records

 

Gruesome

Savage Land

Gruesome - Savage Land

Exhumed’s Matt Harvey and Malevolent Creation’s Gus Rios came together to start Gruesome – a death metal horde in the sordid spirit of Death. If you are a fan of death metal then this will gush over your ears like a grenade put to a pile of limbs.

Relapse Records

More from Ghost, Napalm Death, Lamb of God, Call of the Void, Slayer, Dead in the Manger, Entrails, Scale the Summit, Horrendous and Gruesome