Well, here we are. Another end of year list. This is the first time I’ve ever had a platform other than Twitter/Facebook to talk about my favorite albums from the past year. My original idea was to do 27 albums to coincide with 27 seasons of the Simpsons. But that seemed like a weird number, so I just evened it out to 20.
Note: These are the albums that have been on constant rotation for me since they were released. I’m sure the new Yellow Eyes and Mgla would have made this list if I just had more time with them. These 20 albums hit me hard and deserve all the attention they could get.
#20: Veiled – Omniscient Veil
Excellent black metal featuring members of Gnosis Of The Witch. This is one of the strongest first albums I’ve heard from any band. 4 songs of exactly what I want to hear when I listen to more of a raw style of black metal.
#19: Dragged Into Sunlight/Gnaw Their Tongues – N.V.
If you’re looking for something dark, both musically and emotinally, look no further than this collaboration between Dragged Into Sunlight and Gnaw Their Tongues. It’s a brutal piece of art filled with grim noise and sound clips of serial killers to add to the harshness Dragged Into Sunlight normally bring to the table. This album is very grim and distressing at points, which is exactly what you would expect from both acts involved.
#18: Dr. Colossus – Shut Up & Eat Your Pinecone/Whack Sabbath 7″
Dr. Colossus have gotten better and better with each song they’ve released. The two songs on this 7″ are a perfect example of what Dr. Colossus does: doom rock/metal with lyrics about The Simpsons. Also check out the singles for Stupid Sexy Flanders and Excellent they released this year.
#17: Vile Creature – A Steady Descent Into The Soil
Two people shouldn’t be able to sound this heavy. These 3 songs form one piece that is emotionally draining and raw. Lyrically focusing on what it’s like to be trans/gay in an unaccepting world, Vile Creature produced a doom masterpiece.
#16: Immortal Bird – Empress/Abscess
Blackened grind with some heavy doom influences is Immortal Birds specialty. These songs are catchy and memorable, which is something that a lot of metal bands can’t pull off. The vocals are harsh, with lyrics about how mankind is complete garbage. The perfect soundtrack for the end of days.
#15: A Pregnant Light – All Saint’s Day
Damian Masters is a pretty prolific musician. He has numerous bands that all sound different, yet all have the same Damian Masters touch. A Pregnant Light is his most popular project, especially following the My Game Doesn’t Have A Name album last year. This EP is a good mix of older A Pregnant Light mixed with the sound he perfected on My Game… The song ‘Phoenix Street’ is one of my favorite things Masters has ever written.
#14: Twilight Fauna/Old Thunder – Boodlines
Featuring 2 songs from each artist that highlights their Appalachian metal, black from Twilight Fauna and doom from Old Thunder. This pairing works so well that after listening to it, all I wanted was more. Both sides of the split feature the best work each band has released so far.
13: My Fictions – Stranger Songs
My Fictions were a new find for me this year. This album is a phenomenal emotional hardcore album that cuts straight to my core. The drums are a huge highlight and one of my favorite performances of 2015. The sound clips on the album remind me of Bob Dylan (not totally sure who they are) and add a nice breather in between the blasts of hardcore.
#12: Bjork – Vulnicura
Bjork is one of my all time favorite artists. Every single one of her albums is a masterpiece to me and Vulnicura is no different. It’s a beautiful album full of emotionally raw lyrics about her divorce from her ex-husband Matthew Barney. Bjork delivers some of her best vocal deliveries in her career. The song ‘Black Swan’ is a huge highlight in an exceptional career.
#11: Mar – Demo
Mar is a band I don’t know anything about. I stumbled across this demo on Bandcamp and was immediately enamored with their lo-fi doom metal. Both of the songs on here are exceptionally heavy and have a nice dose of punk to them that make them stand out from their contemporaries. I’m hoping they are still together because I’d love to hear a full length.
#10: Curezum – One Hundred Years/The Top
All I’ve wanted me entire life was metal versions of The Cure that were done earnestly and with love. That dream has finally come true and it’s amazing. Sounding like a mix of black metal and industrial, these songs are both incredibly heavy while retaining the spirit of The Cure’s originals. Keep an eye out for a full length in 2016.
#9: Cult Leader – Lightless Walk
This album is fierce. Lightless Walk features all of the elements that Cult Leader do well: fast as fuck hardcore mixed with Tom Waits/Johnny Cash inspired slow parts. It’s a mix that shouldn’t work, but Cult Leader makes them their own and creates some amazing music. They also write the best album closers. I didn’t think they could top their cover of ‘You Are Not My Blood’, but the song ‘Lightless Walk’ knocks it out of the park,
#8: Clouds Collide – All Things Shining
The latest Clouds Collide follows in the footsteps of the beautiful Until The Wind Stops Blowing. This time focusing on the springtime, All Things Shining is warm and breathtaking. There is a lot more clean singing and lushness in Clouds Collide’s signature black metal, to a much greater effect. The first time I heard the album, it made me weep. It’s a beautiful progression and some of the best black metal being made today.
#7: King Woman – Doubt
King Woman’s Doubt is probably the most beautiful album released this year. It’s full of heavy doom mixed with lush shoegaze elements. It’s what I imagine Mazzy Star would sound like if they were a metal band. The album is lyrically about singer Kristina Esfandiari’s struggles with her religious doubts. It’s a breathtaking release.
#6: Wildspeaker – Survey The Wreckage
Wildspeaker are ferocious. A mix of blindly fast hardcore and doom with black metal elements, Survey The Wreckage is a album full of lyrics about humanity disappearing and letting nature take the Earth back, all being spewed fourth by vocalist Natalie, who is one of the best vocalists in the hardcore game. Get this, play it loud, and pray for the end of humans.
#5: Kowloon Walled City – Grievances
This album took me by surprise. I was vaguely familiar with Kowloon Walled City, but this album was like a sucker punch from out of nowhere. I was immediately hooked. Everything about Grievances is wonderful, but especially the bass. Ian Miller is phenomenal and makes this album unmissable. The album is exactly where I wish Aaron Turner would have taken Isis. Check out the song ‘Your Best Years’ and be glad there are still bands that experiment with their sound instead of resting on their laurels.
#4: Couch Slut – My Life As A Woman
While this was released digitally in 2014, it wasn’t physically released until 2015, so I’m counting it. Couch Slut sound like a mix of Made Out Of Babies and The Jesus Lizard if they were 1000 times more psychotic. Vocalist Megan Osztrosits sounds truly manic and unstable over the off kilter noise rock laid underneath. My Life As A Woman is an album that needs to be heard to understand. It’s a truly original work of art that is uncomfortable and way more brutal than any death metal band could hope to be.
#3: Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
I don’t know how they do it, but Cattle Decapitation have managed to top themselves with each album. The Harvest Floor was a masterpiece that was them outdone by Monolith Of Inhumanity. Cattle Decapitation blew both of those albums out of the water (no pun intended) with The Anthropocene Extinction. Focusing on how much humans have ruined the waters of the Earth and what it is doing to us, the album is a brutal listen. Musically, there is a more focused approach the Cattle Decapitation’s brand of death metal, this time with more of a black metal feel to the guitars. It’s exceptional and makes the music more memorable. The vocals are an extension of what Travis Ryan was doing on Monolith Of Inhumanity, including more of the “clean singing” that have made Ryan standout as one of the best death metal vocalists around. I don’t know how Cattle Decapitation will top this album, but I can’t wait to hear how they try.
#2: Royal Thunder – Crooked Doors
I’ve been trying to put into words how much this album means to me since it came out in April. I still can’t. It’s a complete work of art. It’s beautiful and emotional and heartbreaking. It’s one of the most gorgeous break up albums ever made and makes me want to weep every single time I’ve listened to it. Vocalist Mlny Parsonz is in top form and is my standout performance of the year. Especially on the closing tracks ‘The Bear I & II’. Crooked Doors is completely brilliant. Again, it’s difficult for me to put into words how much this album effects me.
#1: Vattner Viskar – Settler
Settler is the only album that could top Crooked Doors for me. It’s very rare that a band releases and album that truly feels like it was written just for you. I couldn’t believe how perfect it was when I first listened to it. Vattnet Viskar have streamlined their black metal sound into an amazing amalgamation of black metal and post hardcore that works so well. Lyrically focusing on the Challenger space shuttle explosion and space travel in general, Settler is full of lush guitar parts that sound heavy and wonderfully melodic at the same time. A song like ‘Dawnlands’ sounds like you’re being rocketed into space while a song like ‘Glory’ (which features a full fledged nu metal riff) feels like floating in the atmosphere over the Earth. The album has an incredibly original feel and at times has a lightlessness to it that is refreshing. The interplay between the rhythm section is a standout performance in metal this year. Casey (bass) and Seamus (drums) helped take Vattnet Viskar’s sound to all new levels. Settler also features the best solo of the year at the end of closing track ‘Coldwar’. It’s made me cry and numerous occasions. It’s equally depressing and uplifting at the same time and put a beautiful cap on an album that is utterly perfect. Settler hits me right in the heart and doesn’t let go even after it’s over. There is no other album that has made me feel the way Settler does, not only this year, but in recent memory.
Castrator – No Victim
Regnvm Animale – Et sic in infinitum
Full Of Hell & Merzbow – Full Of Hell & Merzbow/Sister Fawn
False – Untitled LP
Caina – Setter Of Unseen Snares
Ethicist – II
Seltar – Are teike
Deafheaven – New Bermuda
Ashbringer – Vacant
Twilight Fauna – Shadows Of Ancestors