December 16, 2015

Trevor Proctor's Top 25 Albums of 2015.

As with 2014, this year has been lethal in terms of releases for extreme metal with many sterling releases from all corners of the globe from established and new bands alike. The only down side with such a prolific year is whittling the releases into a top twenty five at the end of the year. Throughout the year we’re always as objective as possible when reviewing but when it comes to the year-end listings it’s a totally different matter as what gets placed where is totally down to personal tastes and preferences. It's easy to be a critic when you’re reading these types of lists and whilst I doubt anyone would have a top 25 exactly the same I do feel you’ll agree the standard of the music herein can’t be questioned.

In reflection of just how prolific this year has been I’ve tied three releases for the No1 spot, which explains why my top 25 starts at 23. This isn’t a “cop out” by me in any way; it’s merely a reflection of the excellent state of health our underground is enjoying at present. 
I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge every band, label and promoter that has supported The Lair of Filth over the past year – we do what we do for no other reason than the love of music and your support is greatly appreciated. I’d also like to thank Jude for both his support during the year and also for giving me total access to the site. As always I’d like to thank my extremely tolerant fiancée, Audrey, for sticking the abuse I’ve subjected her ears to during the year. Also, I'm pretty sure the new album by Mourning Beloveth would have featured but unfortunately I won't have it until Christmas.

All previous reviews/interviews are linked, as are band and label details so it's just a matter of clicking on whatever grabs your attention to be brought straight to the relevant site.

Finally, but most importantly, I'd like to thank you, the reader, for supporting me, Jude and The Lair of Filth during 2015 - your support is everything and is very much appreciated.

Salvation was first released on cassette and digital formats by Misanthropic Generation Media back in March then on CD via Dunkelheit Produktionen in August when it was reviewed by myself here. Very impressive raw, grinding death from this Malaysian band that's most worthy of a bigger audience "...Rimi’s demonic, guttural growl further portrays this raw barbarity, sounding like a man possessed as they rip through track after track of fast, demonic, grinding death metal."

22. Undead – False Prophecies – Listenable records.

False Prophecies was reviewed here back in May and I was also lucky enough to interview the band which you can access here. Another band with old school influenced music “…False Prophecies has a depth to its sound that you really start to appreciate with subsequent listens and it’s this depth that sets them ahead of the many old school Death Metal clones currently flooding our world. Undead opted to let the music speak for itself with their decision to keep their identities secret but one thing’s for sure – whether or not Undead features a line-up of established names, is irrelevant, what is relevant is the music which is high quality, authentic and extremely well played Death Metal…”

21. Svärta – Sepultus – A Sadness Song.

Svärta first came to attention within the underground with their demo tape, “På förtvivlans krön” which was released via Misanthropic Generation Media in 2014 in a limited quantity of 50. Sepultus is their debut full length and sees the band continue with the high standard of music from the demo. Harsh, intense and bleak black metal that’s delivered with an acerbic vocal making for an uncomfortable yet rewarding listen.

2015 brought us some first class old-school albums and Rabid Armageddon by Under the Church was one of the best. Reviewed here “…there’s nothing worse than bands blatantly ripping off others in a retro style manner. Thankfully Under the Church play and write music with both respect and passion and this is very obvious on listening….Under the Church carries the banner for authentic old school Swedish Death Metal..” If you love Swedish Metal laced with that traditional “HM2/buzz-saw” guitar work you’ll absolutely love this.

Originally based in Wellington, New Zealand, Barshasketh are now based in Scotland. Intensely dark yet melodic at times there’s a traditional black metal flavour to Barshasketh’s music but they are by no means a “one trick pony” as there’s also so much more at play during this superb album. Another band I was fortunate to catch live this year and another from the UK that’s most definitely in its ascendancy.

Harsh black metal debut from one of South America’s most barbaric bands, reviewed here back in January this has got several listens since. “Tracks like Holocausto and Genocido blaze past in a vitriolic flash, knocking the shit out of you before you’ve even realised what the fuck’s going on whilst tracks like the simply brilliant, Hambre, Peste, Guerra y Muerte, adopt a much slower gait, taking their time to destroy everything in sight. This is a very impressive album from start to finish…”

Finland’s Devouring Star brought us “Through Lung and Heart” as a follow up to their self-titled demo which was released in 2013. This is a fantastic debut album filled with dark and heavy blackened death, there’s no respite or solace to be found here. I was fortunate to catch this band live during the year and they’re every bit as good on stage as they are in the studio. Recently signed to Dark Descent Records I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more from this outstanding band in the near future.

Fascinating combination of death and black elements this was reviewed here in September. “…what Dalkhu has achieved is a rich and varied tapestry of visionary and skilful song writing, woven together with threads of both black and death metal. This is an extremely accomplished sound that will satisfy those looking for a bit of variation in both dynamics and style.”

15. Grave Ritual – Morbid Throne – Dark Descent Records.

Dark and ominous underground death metal laced with riffs galore this is another band that took five years from debut to this, their second full length. Having said that, the five years were far from wasted as this album sees them hone and perfect their composition even further, essential death metal and another exemplary release from Dark Descent Records.

14. Perdition Temple – The Tempter’s Victorious – Hell’s Headbangers.

Perdition Temple’s debut, Edict of the Antichrist Elect, was released way back in 2010 with the extremely talented Gene Palubicki performing all instrumentation aside from drums. Last December they returned with a full line up, featuring veterans from the underground, and brought us the exceptional EP “Sovereign of the Desolate.” This EP was followed a mere two months later by this exceptional album, an album that’s every bits as relentless as you’d expect but also laced with some seriously skillful musicianship, let’s hope we don’t have to wait another five years for their next album.

13. The Negation - Memento Mori - Kaotoxin Records.

This was the second album from French Black Metal Nihilists The Negation, reviewed here in June. “Extreme, intricate and destructive Black Metal - these could be the backing tracks to accompany the world’s demise – total aural destruction.” A brilliant album from French underground label, Kaotoxin Records.

12. Desolate Shrine – The Heart of the Netherworld – Dark Descent Records.

Third full length from Finland’s Desolate Shrine, a monster of an album featuring over an hours listening of top-notch Finnish death metal. Their strongest album to date, Desolate Shrine used longer track lengths of up to fifteen minutes to explore soundscapes and styles more diverse than many death metal releases. Yet another band showing significant progress from album to album. A “must have” for any fan of death metal.

11. Death Karma - The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part I – Iron Bonehead Productions (LP) / Necroshine Records (CD) / Sky Burial. (Cassette)

Another release from the earlier part of the year, February, this Czech band features two members from the highly acclaimed Cult of Fire. The album’s theme centred on death rituals from various countries with six countries covered during over forty minutes of excellent black metal – it seems Death Karma’s members (Tom Coroner and Infernal Vlad) can do no wrong. This album was also released as a cassette edition by Sky Burial in a limited quantity of 30. 

Reviewed here Ghost Chants was (deservedly) given a lot of very positive reviews during the year, a stunning Black Metal debut from a Polish force to be reckoned with. “I suggest you get your act together and give this a listen, there’s no way on this earth you’ll be disappointed…. Outre, your music’s too good to keep us waiting as long for your second album!”

9. Macabre Omen – Gods of War, At War – Van Records.

Sublime Hellenic Black Metal, ten years since their last full length this met and surpassed all expectations. Everything about this album screams authenticity - masterful song writing and musicianship laced with passion from start to finish - an extremely talented band with a fantastic album.

8. Ævangelist – Enthrall to the Void of Bliss – 20 Buck Spin.

Ævangelist have been one of the underground’s most prolific bands over the past couple of years yet thankfully this productivity hasn’t seen any decline in the standard of their music. Deranged, twisted and horrific this is a typical trip through the warped and horrific genius that is Ævangelist.

Debut release from Autokrator – elements of death, drone, industrial and doom combined with sublime effect. Autokrator brought us a harsh yet rewarding listen from the extreme end of the underground spectrum. Rightfully released across a number of platforms via three excellent underground labels.

6. Garotting Deep / FŌR - Void Asceticism - Split LP Iron Bonehead Productions.

A fascinating split from Canada’s Garotting Deep and Sweden’s FŌR that saw two different types of death combined and was reviewed here  back in January. “Garotting Deep’s music is a very upfront no-nonsense attack on the eardrums, fast, heavy death metal with occasional punk elements and plenty of life and spirit…. FŌR’s music is a different entity altogether, it’s a thick, oppressive, menacing musical fog that will surround and smother you from start to finish, dauntingly slow yet very, very heavy.” A brilliant release that saw both bands delivering very high standard music and another exemplary release from Iron Bonehead Productions.

5. Adversarial – Death, Endless Nothing and the Black Knife of Nihilism – Dark Descent Records.

Adversarial, one of Canada’s finest bands, made significant progress with this album which is an essential purchase for fans of blackened death Metal. Well received by fans and critics alike this is an exceptionally dark listen that sees Adversarial deliver some extremely complex yet totally destructive music.

Another Iron Bonehead release from the start of the year – reviewed here this is a stunning slab of dark, oppressive death metal. “Difficult second album? No chance! Shroud of the Heretic have taken their excellent debut, Revelations in Alchemy and improved and honed their sound even further… within Iron Bonehead Shroud of the Heretic have found their home – quality label, quality band, and, most important of all, quality music.”

3. Cruciamentum – Charnel Passages – Profound Lore Records.

Despite Cruciamentum’s longevity this was their debut full length album, and what a debut it is! Death Metal of the highest order this is an album that’s extremely strong from start to finish, a “must have” for any fan of the sub-genre. There is no doubt whatsoever that Cruciamentum are one of the UK’s strongest Death Metal bands.

2. / Temple Nightside - Call of the Maelstrom (Split LP) Iron Bonehead Productions.

Reviewed here and given 10/10 in February, Call of the Maelstrom saw two of the underground’s darkest bands combine forces for an excellent release. “This is a quality release from two of the finest and most important bands the underground has to offer. An essential listen for anyone into vehement, oppressive death metal, I’d honestly lose hope if you’re into underground music and don’t like this. Perfect.”

1. MGLA – Exercises in Futility – Northern Heritage Records / No Solace.

This album took the Black Metal world by storm on its release in September. It was highly anticipated and thankfully didn’t disappoint, not only setting a standard for Black Metal in their homeland of Poland but also setting a standard for the rest of the pack worldwide to try and follow. Accomplished from start to finish this is one of the best Black Metal albums you’ll hear, this, or any year, it’s a bleak and dark masterpiece from start to finish. Peerless.

I’ve been a fan of UK band, Abyssal, since reviewing their excellent “Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius” in January 2014, and was very excited at the prospect of new material from them. “Novit…” is and always will be a classic, but as an overall album Antikatastaseis is slightly more cohesive and that cohesion in turn gives their hostility a more honed approach, making it all the more effective. All of Abyssal’s albums are brilliant in my opinion but there’s undoubtedly a progression from each to the next and “Antikatastaseis” is their most accomplished work to date.” Awarded 10/10 here.

1. A Forest of Stars – Beware the Sword You Cannot See - Lupus Lounge. (Prophecy Productions)  

Reviewed here and awarded 10/10 back in January for me this album was always going to be a contender for the top spot, I was also fortunate to be given the chance of interviewing the band which you can also read here. This album is pure magic from start to finish, “Beware the Sword You Cannot See” is the bands’ most ambitious and visionary album to date “The more listens you give this the more you will realise it’s no ordinary album; it’s an extremely rich tapestry of intricate sound that’s woven and held together by the elegant and eccentric charm that we’ve come to expect from A Forest of Stars.” Amazing from beginning to end.

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