You know what? I’ve been completely overthinking this thing. It’s just a list, right? Fifteen of my most favorite albums of 2015. No problem! How hard can it be? Well, let’s see. I started the draft on December 1st and it’s what? 2016 already?!?!? Okay, okay, okay! Here goes nothin’ (And no particular order, kind of). Reviews are linked in where applicable:
Turnover: Peripheral Vision
This album and band owned me this year. They came out of nowhere (For me, at least) and concocted the best indie rock release of 2015. Heartfelt, driven, and immediately engaging, it’s hard to think that this is Turnover’s debut and not their third or fourth album. “Cutting My Fingers Off” will hook you from its onset while the glistening guitars of “New Scream” will dig deeper until you become completely enthralled by Turnover’s sound.
Legends, and rightly so, Killing Joke returned with their third album featuring the resurrected original line up. Not only was it a masterpiece, it was quite possibly their best release yet. Laying down some of their most accessible work (“Euphoria”, “Big Buzz”) alongside some of their most diverse sounding (“Into The Unknown”), Killing Joke showed yet again why they are still relevant almost 40 years into their career.
My one regret of 2015 was missing Mr. Kitty when they hit Boston with IAMX in October but a sick kiddo negates “self-destructive synthpop” live demonstrations sometimes. However, I can still dance around my house while listening to Mr. Kitty’s catalog and pretend.
Just a solid rock record through and through, Ghost upped the ante on album number three with solid songs and an even eviler message. From sweeping ballads like “He Is” to the crushing “Mummy Dust” or rousing “Absolution” and “Majesty”, Meliora more than delivered.
Creepoid: Cemetery Highrise Slum
Then there’s these guys (and gal). I saw them open for Marriages earlier in 2015 and then devoured their entire catalog as soon as I could. While CHS is a great starting point, the build up before is even better. Part Americana, part indie rock but all fucking excellent.
Clutch: Psychic Warfare
I am pretty much convinced that at this point in their career, Clutch can do no wrong. They are such a well oiled rawk and/or roll machine that even their worst song (They don’t have any of those) is better than most of the stuff being produced by their peers. That said, the follow-up to the mighty Earth Rocker went above and beyond with sweeping jams (“Our Lady of Electric Light”, “Sons Of Virginia”) paired next to solid rockers (“Firebirds”, “Noble Savage”).
Brandin Lea is one of the most underrated singer/songwriters of our generation. Forget the bombast and bravado of Flickerstick for a moment (Which was also brilliant) and focus on his latest batch of tunes as JitGT and tell me I’m wrong. Downtrodden yet endlessly uplifting, Clandestine Vol. 1 finds Lea focused again with a new band to match his creativity and vision.
Lamb of God: VII:Sturm and Drang
Any year that Lamb of God release a new album should be cause for celebration from fans and fear from their metal peers. How do you top them when they manage to top themselves with every release? Whether it’s the opening blast of “Still Echoes”, the haunting “512” and “Overlord”, or a guest spot from deftones’ Chino Moreno on “Embers”, LOG continually push the metal envelope and get better and better.
Like the soundtrack for an electro/goth/vampire/noir that hasn’t been made yet, The Soft Moon traded in the bleakness of their last release for a warmer approach vocal-wise to chillingly successful results.
On the strength of the almost 9-minute closer/title track alone, Torche’s latest opus is amazing. Luckily, the rest of the album follows suit making an amazing album almost perfect.
Yet another band I finally discovered in 2015, Coliseum’s latest was a departure from the rest of their catalog but brilliant nonetheless. Tracks like “We Are The Water” and “Course Correction” evoke images of certain post-punk Gods who sit further up this list while sonic jams like “Sharp Fangs, Pale Flesh” are simply incredible.
Not since 1994’s Troublegum has Therapy? delivered such an inspired bunch of hard rock songs. Don’t get me wrong, their discography is undoubtedly solid but something about their fourteenth album just hits home. “Still Hurts” is almost “Knives” Mach 2 while “Tides” is probably the catchiest rock track the band has written in almost 10 years.
You know what? If I can’t get a new Rammstein album then I’ll take what I can get. What I got in 2015 was an English sung (!) epic industrial collaboration from Rammstein’s Till Lindemann and Hypocrisy’s Peter Tagtgren and hits like “Ladyboy” and the anthemic title track.
I loved Stabbing Westward when they were around and have been a fan of vocalist Christopher Hall’s post-SW band The Dreaming since their inception. But in 2015 the stars seemed to align when SW keyboardist Walter Flakus joined Hall in The Dreaming and the band signed to Metropolis Records for the release of their third album which is a drastic step forward for the band with some neat little nods to the past.
!!!: As If
I initially wrote this album off when it came out. I’ve liked !!! for over 10 years now but this one just didn’t do it for me. That is, until I finally saw them live and the bulk of their electrifying set was As If which sent me crawling back to this record and begging it to forgive me for not giving it a chance.
Phew! Glad that’s over. Honorable mentions to Black Wing’s and Fear Factory’s Genexus. Now onward to 2016…