What a hell of a year it has been for metal! Many new albums, new sounds, and new bands popping up and impressing many, but as the trend dictates I must now give you my favorites of the past year and this time I decided to present my top 30 compared to last year’s 25. Black metal, death metal, occult rock, psychedelic rock, and more have captured my imagination and I firmly believe that anyone can love these albums as much as I do. I will say that I know there will be albums people don’t agree with, and that’s too bad because this is my list not their’s. Also, please note that I ranked these albums on my own accord with no outside influence other than the music that I’ve been fortunate enough to hear. But without any further ado, go down and check out my favorite albums of 2015 and here’s to another great year for metal in 2016!
Note: click the band and album name for a link to either a stream of the album or a single off it, and click the cover art for a direct link to my review for the albums where you can find links to various social media, streaming locations, and/or places where you can purchase the music.
Feared have continued to get better as the years go on, and “Synder” is by far their crowning achievement as this monstrous blend of intense death metal and lightning thrash have come together to form something truly immense. These guys remain criminally unknown in the metal world today, but with time I firmly believe that they will create albums that kept many, including me, entertained for years and years to come.
Never being one for grind, Cattle Decapitation gained my love with “The Anthropocene Extinction” almost immediately as everything from the vocals to the theme of this masterpiece captured my imagination from beginning to end. Proof that metal is still a force to be reckoned with, Cattle Decapitation have put out an amazing album that will go down in modern metal history.
With riffs that are as raw as a raging storm and an atmosphere that is spine chilling at its best moments, “The Rebirth of I” is a perfect mix of both atmospheric and puritan black metal that proves Ende are without a doubt one of the best French black metallers to come out of their country for quite some time, if not ever.
Who knew that instrumental rock could be so entrancing? My Sleeping Karma have been doing instrumental psychedelic rock for years, but “Moksha” is by far their best and most captivating album. Riffs that keep you listening no matter what, a mellow pace that is perfect for any casual listener, and just a great diversity of tracks where you can find anything to enjoy out of this great album, guaranteed.
Not being ones to shy away from telling an immense story, Kauan have truly struck at the heart strings with “Sorni Nai”. Blending together the perfect mix of heavy intensity with atmospheric beauty, “Sorni Nai” tells the tragic tale of hikers who lost their lives in the Ural Mountains decades ago. Doom metal at its most innovative, atmospheric, and emotional, Kauan have truly shown that they are the masters of their own unique style of metal that none can replicate.
Greece is one of those countries that have a quickly growing metal scene that is growing exponentially, and Biotoxic Warfare are one of the best Greek bands out there. Their debut “Lobotomized” is a marvelous mix of death and thrash metal with a great theme that many have done, but none have performed as well as this group of extremely talented musicians.
Psychedelic rock has never been more psychedelic with such heavy themes that none can deny are pulled off perfectly by this German group. Black Space Riders had much hype with “Refugeeum”, and it was a well rewarded hype as this entire album is a trip that one must experience twice to realize the full grandeur that these fine gentlemen have somehow created.
Occult rock has gotten a lot of shit over the years with bands like Ghost being taboo among many metal heads, but Year of the Goat show that they have unspeakable talent with “The Unspeakable” being the catchiest and most well rounded occult rock album I’ve ever heard, and that spells only more amazing things to come in their future.
A doom album can be pulled off many different ways, but Crypt Sermon have shown that they have gotten one of the most refined doom sounds possible with just their debut. “Out of the Garden” is an excellently paced album with a great theme and Dio-era styled vocals that bring everything together to make this riffy album become as great as it is.
Blackened thrash has seen many ups and downs in its days on this earth, but Frosthelm have definitely proven that they are a very big up. “The Endless Winter” embodies all raw intensity, unending anger, and a consistent pace lightning that cannot be denied as the essential components of a great blackened thrash album, and Frosthelm pulled all of them off flawlessly.
German power metal legends Powerwolf have never disappointed with all of their albums being immensely melodic with an awesomely unique theme, and “Blessed and Possessed” raises the bar even higher. Fast, composed extremely well, and a great feel all throughout, “Blessed and Possessed” shows that these guys are nowhere near done and have plenty of fuel left with this as their most potent proof of that point.
The epic conclusion to a four album mini series, Hybrid Nightmares show their evolution as a band with “The Fourth Age” being their most impressive album to date that shows that they are capable of creating extremely good progressive black metal with some of the most diverse tracks that I’ve ever seen shoved into one album and still sound awesome!
Atmospheric doom has never reached such a peak that it has with “Pathway”. This album is a heavy, transcending, and phenomenal trip that is mesmerizing to say in the very least. Secrets of the Sky show that with just their sophomore album they are able to create something that can only be described as stunning while also capturing your imagination with so much more than just ordinary doom metal ever can.
Concept albums are such a hard thing to tackle at times, but Roundtable show with their debut that they have got it down tight with this medieval themed album being a powerful experience that doom fans can appreciate with its heavy style and intense theme that can burst out of nowhere. And with a captivating story of betrayal, revenge, and pursuit, “Dread Marches Under Bloodied Regalia” is a tale that is perfect for such a doom album.
As the final album from this ridiculous band, there is no better note to leave off on than “This Ruined World”. A fast, emotionally and musically heavy record, and one that with have your head banging in approval to many miles and months to come, Trials have truly hit the nail on the head with this album and is a magnificent thing to leave off on for any band out there.
This right here is the epitome of all things Celtic folk metal. Isenmor’s “Land of the Setting Sun” is a stunning album that tells tales of adventure, war, loss, a world changed by shifting religions, and most importantly . . . mead. And as if two different sets of vocals, fantastic guitars, bass, and drums weren’t enough, the addition of two different violins completely seals the deal and makes “The Land of the Setting Sun” a truly unique album from a true folk metal band that is fantastic in every right.
These guys have been creating morbid concept albums for years and have been doing a damn good job of it, but everything before pales in comparison to the gruesome detail and savagery that is “This Is No Fairy Tale”. Following a girl and her young brother, this album tells of their worse than hellish experiences in the most bloody, gut-wrenching, and magnificent way possible with some emotion thrown in there for good measure.
Melodic death metal has seen all sorts of reinventing in the years, but none have done a better job than Archaea has with their debut, “Catalyst”. The addition of keyboards go a long way and the intriguing vocals only make this album all the more atypical from any other album of its genre that usually never bring anything new to the table, but Archaea prove that they have more than plenty to bring to said table.
The thought of the madness and terrifying beauty of space itself being captured by a single album is a staggering thought by itself, but Stellar Master Elite prove that they are more than up to the task and pull the feat off magnificently with this album. Digitally added effects have never been more potent or effective than in this album, and that makes this brutal journey all the more delicious.
Post metal has never been so captivating for me before “Glasrew Point” came into my ears. Wheelfall’s sophomore full length album show the unpredictability that they have as a band and how amazing it sounds. Transcending in parts and straight up harsh in others, this album is a real roller-coaster whose incredible feel cannot be denied.
Mixing together the styles of many of their influences, Cold Snap have come together to create their fourth album, “World War 3”, that is without a doubt their most well done and dynamic album yet. A little bit of everything can be found off this album, and I promise you that if you give this album a chance you’ll become entranced by its super catchy riffs.
If you are looking to go on a spiritual journey that can be both peaceful and downright brutal in others, then Minsk have got your ticket as their latest album, “The Crash and the Draw”, is such an album that you will want to take that journey over and over again. Some of the most expertly performed and with such a good consistent quality, this comeback album show that Minsk are back in the game and aren’t preparing to slow down any time soon.
Blackened death metal has never felt more refined and yet as raw as it has with Veld’s “Daemonic: The Art of Dantalian” which is an effort that took seven years to finish, and I can honestly say that those seven years were more than well worth the wait as the outcome is a fantastic album that any intense metal head can get into at any time they want.
“Old school death metal is dead,” they say. “There’s no more old school death!” Well, I fucking challenge all you fucks who say that to listen to Under the Church’s “Rabid Armageddon” and say that again because this album is the embodiment of the golden days for death metal where everything was raw, brutal, and intense in every single way and that is exactly what Under the Church has done with this album in the most beautiful way possible.
Love a good bass groove? The Midnight Ghost Train has got your back then with that and so much more with “Cold Was the Ground” being a truly unique experience as this stoner rock band takes this to a new level, and by new level I mean the vocals are ridiculously intense. More so than what it probably necessary, but the outcome is an amazingly well crafted album that with each listen becomes much more appreciated and intrinsic at the same time.
Sludge metal has reached its peak for me with “Poisoned Altars” because every single thing that Lord Dying could’ve done right with their sophomore album was done perfectly that in the end creates this album that embodies both anger and hate, two things that go hand in hand with each other, that has a sound of terror and a magnificent feel to it throughout its entire length.
Coming in with the rest of the horde of Swedish death bands, Chugger take a little bit of a different approach as a death band to throw in some groove metal. This leads to the creation of “Human Plague” that turned out to be an album that was just very well rounded for what it was as it had great pace, sound, and overall just stood out more from the typical death metal bands that are swarming out of Gothenburg.
Hailing from the illustrious country of Australia, Sanzu burst through with their debut album, “Heavy Over the Home”, that in its essence is enough to make you shit your pants by the third track. Powerful guitars, intense vocals, destructive bass, and thunderous drums all make up this monstrous album that is impressive for this band and its genre alike.
Modern heavy metal has many incarnations with some fusing it with hardcore to make it more dynamic, Saint Diablo is one such band with their newest album “Devil Horns and Halos” being their most impressive work yet. With a heavy sound that’ll have crowds moshing to good singing portions, this album has got it all for anyone who wants their metal to be both heavy as fuck and smooth at times.