The Heavy Metal Review

Lost List: Best Metal Albums of 2015

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Once you get a paying gig as a writer and editor your blogs tend to go by the wayside—at least that was the case for me in 2015 and 2016. However, before posting my Best of 2016 list, I thought I’d dig up the list for 2015 that I actually did put together last year, but somehow never managed to actually post on here.

As usual, let’s start it up with No. 10!

10. Gama Bomb – Untouchable Glory

gamabomb_untouchableglory

I’ve been a casual fan of Irish thrash revivalists Gama Bomb ever since listening to Citizen Brain and Tales from the Grave in Space (I think I discovered both in 2009 or so). The band is very comparable to Municipal Waste in terms of lyrics/style, but Gama Bomb delivers that extra “oomph!” of pure thrash with less hardcore styling in the vocals. And its those same vocals that catapulted Untouchable Glory to the No. 10 spot.

9. Black Breath – Slaves Beyond Death

blackbreath_slavesbeyonddeath

I got real into Black Breath’s Sentenced to Life back in 2012. The album pulled a lot of inspiration from Entombed. In 2015 Black Breath released Slaves Beyond Death, which wins the band some originality points and also ups the ante with the riffs. Riffs that’ll make you say “ugh.” And then get into the pit.

8. Lamb of God – VII: Sturm and Drang

lambofgod_sturmunddrang

VII: Sturm Und Drang is Lamb of God’s comeback album in two ways—it is the band’s best front-to-back album since 2006’s Sacrament and it also is the first to be released following vocalist Randy Blythe’s Czech Republic prison ordeal (in which he was eventually found not criminally liable for a fan’s death). Perhaps because of this tragedy—or in spite of it—the band delivers its most inspired performance in years.

7. Six Feet Under – Crypt of the Devil

sixfeetunder_cryptofthedevil

Six Feet Under has been on a roll since 2012’s Undead and it’s because former Cannibal Corpse growler Chris Barnes surrounds himself with great musicians. The addition of Brandon Ellis of Cannibis Corpse in the studio line-up certainly does not hurt matters. Crypt of the Devil grooves hard. Barnes is still an acquired taste for many, but his over-the-top style vocals take ridiculous songs like “Open Coffin Orgy” to the next level.

6. Enslaved – In Times

enslaved_intimes

I’ve been a casual fan of Enslaved’s blend of black, viking and progressive metal for years (granted I got into the band well after its legendary 2003 release Below the Lights). 2012’s RIITIIR had moments of brilliance, but the songs were almost a little too ambitious and dragged on in parts. In Times sees Enslaved continuing its forward momentum, with arguably the best mix of clean and growling vocal melodies in its history. This is an album that you might need to spend some time with to truly appreciate, but it truly is a brilliant album.

5. Baroness – Purple

baroness_purple

Baroness is another band that I never fully got into. Its albums were all pretty solid, but nothing that necessarily had me coming back for more. However, something clicked for me on Purple, which saw the band overcoming hardship to release what is arguably the most focused album of its career so far. This album was released so late in 2015 that it was easy to overlook. Great mix of emotion and melody here.

4. Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction

cattledecapitation_extinction

Cattle Decapitation frontman Travis Ryan is the best argument for heavy metal growling as an art form. He yells, grunts and gurgles with the best of ’em and it doesn’t get much more brutal than lyrical themes of how humans are their own worst enemy, whether through destroying the planet or abusing drugs. There’s nothing more frightening than a heavy dose of reality. Dave McGraw’s drumming is also insane.

3. High on Fire – Luminiferous

highonfire_luminiferous

I had to laugh when recently looking back at old posts on this blog. I had one post simply asking why people were so into High on Fire and what exactly it was that I was missing. Just like Baroness, something about High on Fire’s Luminiferous clicked with me in a way the band’s sound never has before. Maybe it was the death of Lemmy in Dec. 2015 that made me realize that Matt Pike might be the closest (and best) stand-in we’ve got.

2. Ghost – Meliora

ghost_meliora

Love ’em or hate ’em (Ghost continues to be a divisive band), Meliora earned the group its first Grammy Award for “Beast Metal Performance” in 2016. And that’s a pretty big deal for a modern metal band that is not a legacy act and still manages to squeeze in some darker lyrics, albeit with a lot of melody and clean vocals. “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” and “Cirice” are two of the band’s best tracks yet and they are pretty heavy too!

1. Tribulation – Children of the Night

tribulation_childrenofthenight

On Children of the Night, Tribulation creates music that sounds like what would have happened if Jimmy Page (and the rest of Led Zeppelin) really did sell their souls to the devil and went in a more “metal” direction afterward. OK, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but this album is dark and yet somehow straight-up rocks at the same time. And if you’re a hater of Ghost, Tribulation definitely goes much darker with its melody.

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

The Agonist – Eye of Providence
Horrendous – Anareta
Khemmis – Absolution
Soilwork – The Ride Majestic
Soulfly – Archangel

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Written by Eric

December 31, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Posted in Best Of

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