2015, overall, has been a year of slight disappointment when it came to music. There’s been a few releases I highly anticipated but ended up being a tad disappointed in, but that hasn’t stopped some rays of sun coming through. So here it is, the first half of my end-of-year-list for releases. A lot of these ended up being EPs for some reason.
Firstly, here’s what just missed out on being in the final list:
Bong – We Are, We Were and We Will Have Been [Drone/Doom Metal] / So Stressed – The Unlawful Trade of Greco-Roman Art [Noise Rock/Punk] / The Body – Tears Of Job [Sludge] / Undersmile – Anhedonia [Drone/Doom Metal] / Celer – How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I’ve Been A Liar All My Life [Ambient] / Gorgantuan – Pestis [Drone] / Death Grips – Fashion Week [Electronica/Instrumental] / Locrian – Infinite Dissolution [Ambient/Black Metal/Experimental] / William Baskinski – Cascade [Ambient] / Oblivionized – Life Is A Struggle, Give Up [Technical Metal/Hardcore] / The Afternoon Gentlemen – The Afternoon Gentlemen [Grindcore] / Ithaca – Trespassers [Hardcore/Metalcore] / Team Sleep – Woodstock Sessions Vol.4 [Rock] / Worriedaboutsatan – Even Temper [Electronica/Ambient] / Venom Prison – Defy The Tyrant [Hardcore/Metalcore/Death Metal]
Now for the top 30…
30. Grima – Devotion To Lord
This album has as many holes as it does good points, but the latter are so promising and exciting that it makes up for the former. It seems in parts that the execution of an idea wasn’t quite pulled off but as I said, there’s a clear sense of promise here. Lovely atmospheric black metal overall though.
29. Cloud Rat – Qliphoth
Just to get the negative out of the way: this feels like all-too familiar ground for Cloud Rat, so it did get a little stale fast… but, you still get a decent grind/hardcore effort from the trio here. Maybe it’s just the quick succession that they seem to be releasing albums that made me fall off this quickly. I ended up preferring the non-grind tracks more than the others.
28. Oneohtrix Point Never – Garden Of Delete
There’s a lengthy back story to this but I can’t be bothered to go through it, but you’ll find out with google. As the back story is a little strange, it reflects onto this album as well, Daniel Lopatin going pretty much all-out with his electronic experimentalism. It’s too surreal to describe, honestly.
Favourite tracks: Child of Rage, Sticky Drama, Animals.
27. Yellow Eyes – Sick With Bloom
A very slight disappointment here, but it didn’t stop Yellow Eyes popping up in another of my end-of-the-year list. Not so much atmosphere or stand-out riffs, but “Sick With Bloom” is still a solid album in the black metal realm.
26. Sunn O))) – Kannon
Nothing special here, but for what it’s worth, I liked this a lot. Nothing new to report really. You either like it or you don’t.
25. Deafheaven – New Bermuda
If you’ve followed my previous end-of-the-year lists, you’ll know Deafheaven’s “Sunbather” was my joint number one album with Queens Of The Stone Age’s “…Like Clockwork” in 2013, so it’s pretty obvious this didn’t strike anything nearly half as much as the previous album did. The heavier shift feels a little forced and mechanical, plus the changed vocals just don’t strike the same feelings in me as the ones on “Sunbather”; that said, it’s still an enjoyable release, I like it at its core.
Plus, that Sixpence None The Richer’s Kiss Me rip-off on Brought to the Water is still brilliant!
24. Blutklinge – Old Tales
Fantastic atmospheric black metal from this German one-man band. This is a two-track EP which only results in a single problem for me: I wish it was longer! Everything is nicely layered and textured, the vocals fit smoothly in the instrumentation (giving it a primal and natural feel), and the overall mood is something you can drown in. So, so good.
23. Urfaust – Apparitions
I love Urfaust, it’s no secret, and the duo are keeping that love strong with the “Apparitions” EP. In relation to the title, they do concentrate on mostly ambient/drone influences rather than their standard of black metal here, but if you know the band already, you’ll know they do that well. I’ll admit I did miss having more black metal sounds on this, but y’know… it’s Urfaust.
22. Siberian Hell Sounds – ⍲⍕⍎⍱
The first of two consecutive Australian bands on this list, it seems like we can expect some great stuff to come from the country in the near-future. These lot breed a hybrid of hardcore, sludge, crust, grind and black metal; and so this EP is just a consistent savaging. While their previous works have been good (even having a strong Dystopia vibe on the “PCPEP” – and that must be a Butthole Surfers reference, right?), the production on this is a lot clearer and still keeps the sonic violence alive. I’m excited for more…
21. Advent Sorrow – As All Light Leaves Her
…and then these Austrialian black metalists took a rawer turn for their release, making more room for natural atmospherics in their brand of DSBM. Although it is black metal and has that ferocity you associate with the genre, it’s a fairly emotional journey too. Just a well-rounded release.
20. Commodo, Gantz & Kahn – Volume 1
This EP, as far as I can tell, is the collaborative effort of three electronica producers, and fuck, it is good. Some tracks I do find myself skipping more often than not, but the potential for greater things to come is undeniable.
19. HEALTH – DEATH MAGIC
“DEATH MAGIC” wasn’t quite what I expected at all, but it was great! Mixing a grim melancholy (for the most part) with pop sensibilities, HEALTH’s experimental noise rock took a different turn. Hearing some of this material live was even better too.
Here was my review of the album for Echoes and Dust.
18. Opium Lord – The Calendrical Cycle: Eye Of Earth
This was something I wasn’t expecting in the whole doom/sludge worship in 2015: a band that sounds a lot like Iron Monkey but – and I’m sorry if this offends you – pushes the sound into heavier place and has better songwriting overall. These guys have seen a great amount of praise and appearances on tours considering this is their debut album (with an EP before this), and you can’t deny why that is with something like this under their belt.
17. Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss
Wolfe continues the winning streak with this release, which is easily her darkest and heaviest yet, mostly following a doom metal influence while still keeping some of the electronics from her previous album “Pain Is Beauty”. Nothing I say could justify this completely, just listen to it.
I did a brief review of the album here.
16. Natural Snow Buildings – Terror’s Horns (/ The Ladder)
I’d only discovered these guys this year, even though they’ve been going for many years now, and this blew me away. Tons of mood and atmosphere, this sort of double-album (personally) reminisces a lot of both Stars Of The Lid and Barn Owl material – but Natural Snow Buildings is definitely a soulfully darker venture. If you like ambient/drone with experimental tendencies, you’ll probably dig this.