Something a little different from the usual stuff found here, this time Pete, uh, plays music rather than video games. Not as much as I have in previous years but enough to form a pretty comprehensive top 10 list, including some metal, post rock and some pretty out-there electronic music too. I like to think I have a reasonably eclectic taste so hopefully there might be something here you can either relate to or better yet a totally new artist you might like the sound of. So without further ado, here are my top ten albums for 2015.
10. Panopticon – Autumn Eternal
Panopticon is a one-man metal band from the US fusing all sorts of genres together, starting Autum Eternal with a soothing country ballad before exploding into the more familiar black metal-esque sound that is prominent throughout the majority of the rest of album. It’s haunting and raw melodies are what make this album as good as it is and the drumming by Austin Dunn is as spectacular as his other work; he performs stellar guest drumming on Saor’s ‘Aura’ album which is what first drew me to his own project.
9. Ruby The Hatchet – Valley of The Snake
The best stoner metal release of 2015 by far, combining head-nodding riffs, catchy melodies and familiar grooves found throughout the genre going back to the 1970’s. Enjoyable from start to finish particularly for a debut album, the addition of an organ really makes Valley of The Snake stand out too.
8. Skeletal Remains – Condemned To Misery
One of the most anticipated death metal releases of the year, Skeletal Remains did not disappoint with the release of Condemned To Misery. It brings nothing new to the genre but when proper throwbacks to the heyday of the genre are hard to find this does what it sets out to do perfectly, with crushing riffs, pounding drums and vocals that compliment the chaos, Skeletal Remains comfortably take the crown of best death metal release of 2015.
7. A Skylit Drive – ASD
A Skylit Drive have been a guilty please of mine since the release of Wires… And The Concept of Breathing a few years ago, which at the time was solely due to the fact that the song titles on that album were references to the Final Fantasy game franchise. Since then they’ve released four albums with their self titled effort being the latest, and probably the best they’ve done since the aforementioned Wires… album, from a catchy opening track right through to the end. It’s cheesy, post-hardcore standard stuff, but I love it.
6. Ghost – Meliora
Psychedelic rock at its finest, Ghost return with the excellent Meliora, which features my favourite individual track of the year in He Is. Still the standard bearer in organ driven choir rock, if that’s even a thing.
5. Envy – Atheists Cornea
Heading into the top five with one of my favourite bands from Japan, Envy utilise a unique combination of screamo and post-rock to provide a rollercoaster of an album, rapidly switching between loud and soft as the mood seemingly takes them. For me it’s the softer side I enjoy more, in my opinion few do post-rock better than Envy.
4.Obsequiae – Aria of Vernal Tombs
I always appreciate it when musicians use instruments that are generally out of a genres comfort zone, like bagpipes, organs and in this case the harp. Obsequiae (don’t ask how that’s pronounced) provide a remarkable entry into folk metal with this release, utilising groovy riffs and solid vocal work to tell the story of their music.
3. Moonspell – Extinct
For a long time one of my favourite gothic metal bands and one of the best exports from Portugal, Moonspell return with something like their 53rd album and it reaches the high standards set by their previous work. Combining elements from many of their previous experimental tracks over the years proved to be a masterstroke, as the invariably heavy opening track soon gives way to the more soothing gothic rock more akin to Sisters of Mercy at their finest.
2. Elder – Lore
For me, a lot of albums I play are ‘growers’ – they seem to improve with each subsequent listen after the first one. This isn’t the case with Elder’s Lore, the catchy riff in the opening track had me hooked pretty much from the very first second and never once did my attention wane. A proper headbangers album this one.
1. Violet Cold – Desperate Dreams
I honestly struggle to put into words why this is my favourite album of 2015. Violent Cold is a one man project from Azerbaijan of all places, but what he’s put together is an incredible and emotional piece of work, for example starting with a beautiful and melancholic piano piece before switching gears into… goodness knows, it’s almost like black metal for happy people, and it’s brilliant.