With the reigning champion from 2014, Nightbringer – Ego Dominus Tuus, still on heavy repeat throughout all of 2015 it was going to be difficult to find its successor. With that being said, 2015 certainly had a lot of great music to offer to hold a challenge. With so much music available to listen to, this list is merely the tip of the iceberg. In no particular order, because I feel ranking and numbering these records is meaningless since they each all brought their own magic, here are the albums that truly left an impact on me along with my picks for the “Album/EP of the Year.”
Shadair Logoth - Chapter II: The Ritualist
MGLA - Exercises in Futility
Cryptopsy - The Book of Suffering: Tome I
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - The Night Crawler
High on Fire - Luminiferous
Hate Eternal - Infernus
Autokrator - S/T
Cosmic Church - Vigilia
Enisum - Arpitanian Lands
Shroud of The Heretic - Unorthodox Equilibrium - Iron Bonehead Productions (LP/Digital) / Necroshine Records (CD)
I think this album left the longest lasting impression. It is a perfect combination of a dark, occult-drenched atmosphere with brooding doom metal swirling in a vortex of death metal aggression. Truly an otherworldly experience and a fantastic display of mood-driven extreme metal.
Diviners - Ghosthymn - Independent.
An EXCELLENT showcase of very dreadful and moody dark ambient music. It has that “I feel someone is watching me in the blackness” atmosphere and I couldn't be happier with it. Brooding, slow, crawling soundscapes done absolutely right.
So I entered this album a little hesitant on what to expect and I was proven very very wrong. This is my kind of death/black metal with a thick fog over top of it. Not too melodic, but some very nice sections to break up the assault and done very well.
When you put on a Horna record, you know exactly what you are going to get. A raw production, melodic yet savage riffs and a dirty sound all molded together for an album of pure Finnish black metal. Highly recommended.
Groovy, solid rock 'n roll. These guys have more catchy hooks than a Bass Pro Shop. Clutch never fails to disappoint. Ever. 'Nuff said. Guaranteed to lift you up, hook line and sinker. (Yeah, I made fishing jokes.)
A lot of people are VERY quick to dismiss this band and rightfully so. They were absolute garbage when they emerged on the scene. However, over the past few years they have begun to craft some very solid black metal albums. This new offering is by far their best work. Very thick and dense atmosphere with some of the best songwriting I have heard this year, plus the vocal performances are damn near perfect.
This is definitely the most brutal and aggressive album in the Leviathan discography. Leviathan is well known for his songs woven with the threads of vicious black metal and calming ambient, but Wrest goes against his own grain and creates a record that flirts with death metal at times while mixing in his signature Leviathan sound. Wrest never fails to deliver.
When it comes to Ukrainian black metal Drudkh are seated on the highest of thrones. Melodic, powerful and driven by very magical Ukrainian literature and poetry, this is one of 2015's highlights for me. You can feel the north winds blowing on your skin and hear the rustling of the trees within this album. Perfect.
Being a HUGE (I can't stress that enough) Xasthur fan, I was of course curious to see where Scott Connor would go after the unfortunate demise of Xasthur. Doing away with the harsh and dissonant black metal he is known for and instead picking up an acoustic guitar to create some very beautiful, yet very dark folk music. While his music has become more uplifting, the mood is still dreary and desolate.
“Aion of Drakon” is probably my favorite doom album that isn't by Black Sabbath. So naturally, when Saturnalia Temple release new material, I am all over it. Crushing riffs, dreary bluesy moods drenched in satanic energy this is the best doom album of the year. Sweden is usually known for it's black metal, and these guys definitely have that aesthetic to their music included.
Personally, the Icelandic scene is starting to become a bit saturated. But the only reason for that is because the scene is so incredibly small, that the major bands share a lot of the same members and they all have a similar sound in ways. With that being said, Misþyrming has created a very, very interesting album. They took a rather adventurous approach and ran wild. Chaotic in nature, but subtle in it's deliverance. Along with Wormlust, these guys are one to watch out for within the Icelandic scene. A very very good album!
In my opinion, they are the one of the best within the funeral doom scene. They take the "less is more" approach and craft incredible moving pieces of music that know how to conjure emotions within you. The beauty of their sound mixed with the slow, droning and powerful doom-laden riffs are incredible. Shape of Despair have a masterpiece on their hands with "Monotony Fields."
From Thrice's experimental ambient/rock driven masterpiece “Vheissu” to Dustin Kensrue's first folk/acoustic album “Please Come Home," this man can do no wrong. “Carry The Fire” is a true musical joy to listen to. His voice is powerful and haunting, and his songwriting is second to none. His talents as a lyricist shine through the darkest of nights and crafts the most brilliant images within your soul. I truly truly enjoy everything he does and will continue to support his incredible talent as a musician.
Anyone who knows me is aware of my appreciation of dark ambient music, and Kammarheit is the king of them all. Nobody within the genre can paint such vivid and impeccable soundscapes like this Swedish entity does flawlessly. There are many solo projects and bands within the dark ambient scene, but nobody does it like Kammarheit.
Out of the many random Bandcamp gems I come across on my never-ending hungry for music, I found A BEAUTIFUL album of pagan/shamanic inspired dark folk/acoustic music. This trinity from Canada took me by surprise with this album and definitely gave me something to go to when I was in the mood for a relaxing experience with my cup of coffee in the morning. With my own personal journey within a pagan spiritual path, these guys hit a specific chord within me. It's not just another folk album, it is something much more special than that.
The Nightbringer camp never fails to deliver. Naas Alcameth delivers a frightening experience with his sophmore album under the Akhlys moniker. Much in the vein of the vicious Nightbringer sound, this album is blackness peering from beyond the veil. Horrifying and eerie, the woven fabrics of dark ambient passages and ominous black metal attack is something to behold. If it weren't for a group of Swedish veterans, this would have been my album of the year.
Personally I am not very familiar with Austrian black metal outside of Obscure Anachronism but Nahtrunar was another hidden gem I found randomly this year while browsing the internet. This band is on point with what satisfies my somewhat particular taste in black metal these days. A very well executed and well written album.
Abyssal is bound to be on pretty much every list this year and for good reason. Coming off the hype of their second album, “Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius” these guys know how to create some very interesting music. You could ignorantly pass them off as “another band trying to be Portal” but then you would just simply come across as... ignorant. These guys attack the suffocating and cavernous death metal style with a more straight forward approach and even have a sense of elegance to their style.
EP OF THE YEAR
This is the best EP of the year. Is brings forth the best display of Russian black metal since the great Branikald. With sounds reminiscent of the old ways and an atmosphere as dense as the thick fog of the Northlands, “When Frost Brought the Silence” is an immaculate album that truly fills me with the coldness that black metal was founded upon. The musicianship is perfect, the vocals are lethal and the production is absolutely on point. I greatly look forward to a full length album from this band.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR.
Anyone who knows me personally knows that my worship of all things Katatonia knows no bounds. They have been my favorite band since I was eleven years old and everything they do is pure magic and by leaps and bounds transcends music to an almost spiritual level. The live acoustic show captured here from their “Dethroned and Uncrowned” Tour is breathtaking. There are no words to describe the beauty found within. The acoustic renditions of songs such as “Into the White," “Teargas," “Tonight's Music” (the list goes on) offer a familiar yet fresh approach to their extensive musical journey over the years. In my eyes, Katatonia can do absolutely no wrong and with this live acoustic record, they remain king in my book.