Top Albums of 2015, by Chris Rowella
No Deafheaven, no Ghost, and definitely no Beach House. Still here? Congratulations! Come on in!
20. Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud (Nuclear Blast, FIN)
19. Ufomammut – Ecate (Neurot Recordings, IT)
18. Magic Circle – Journey Blind (20 Buck Spin, US)
17. Meatwound – Addio (Magic Bullet Records, US)
16. Elder – Lore (Armageddon Shop, US)
15. A Place To Bury Strangers – Transfixation (Dead Oceans, US)
14. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – The Night Creeper (Rise Above, UK)
13. Kowloon Walled City – Grievances (Neurot Recordings, US)
12. Poison Idea – Confuse & Conquer (Southern Lord, US)
11. Zebras – The City Of Sun (Unsigned, US)
10. Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth – Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth (Neurot Recordings, USA)
In a world of sludge metal run amok, the return of Tad Doyle is welcome indeed. Going even (ahem) heavier than TAD ever did, Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth hopefully heralds a new era for a veteran crew that is more than capable of keeping up with the contemporaries they inspired.
9. Niche – Heading East (Retro Futurist, USA)
Coming in at the end-of-year buzzer, Niche has been a most pleasant surprise. Heading East is the album to point out when someone asks ‘Hey, if I want to listen to something cool, where should I start?’ No extremes, no breakthroughs, just warm and good. Yes, it is that simple.
8. Pinkish Black – Bottom Of The Morning (Relapse Records, USA)
One noticeable 2015 trend was an uptick in John Carpenter/Goblin worship, whether it was from modern masters like Pinkish Black and labelmates Zombi or the OGs themselves; Carpenter and Goblin Rebirth both released albums this year. Bottom Of The Morning is the cream of the crop, melding sinister vibes and cinematic arcs to creepy theremins and cold, detached vocals. A background score for many Halloweens to come.
7. Acid King – Middle Of Nowhere, Center Of Everywhere (Svart Records, USA)
A decade away did nothing to diminish the power and talent of Acid King. Still tripping, riffing and grooving with the best of them, Middle Of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere is just as solid and memorable as any release in their canon. The songs have a particular method of getting under one’s skin in the best possible way. If you’re gonna get hooked on something, might as well make it this.
6. KEN Mode – Success (Season Of Mist, Canada)
“We can play this game a little bit longer/But we all know we’re not really welcome here,” sings/shouts Jesse Matthewson at the very beginning of opener “Blessed.” That should clue you in to the beautiful disgust contained within Success. With fellow angry guy Steve Albini on board as producer, this nine track ode to “welp, fuck THAT” is a noisy, glorious triumph for one of the best bands in their genre. Here’s your TGIF soundtrack, forever.
5. With The Dead – With The Dead (Rise Above, UK)
It’s nice when results live up to expectations.
4. Panopticon – Autumn Eternal (Bindrune Recordings, US)
In the final chapter in Austin Lunn’s beautiful musical trilogy the title says it all. More so than Kentucky and Roads To The North, this album in particular pulls on my Connecticut Yankee heartstrings. The mood, melodies and arrangements evoke fall memories and emotions like no other album has since Type O Negative’s October Rust. That’s good company.
3. Hooded Menace – Darkness Drips Forth (Relapse Records, Finland)
Another October winner, Darkness Drips Forth expands on the monolithic death and doom Hooded Menace has been cultivating for years. At this point they really exist in a category of their own. A lot of bands try to write scary music; “Elysium Of Dripping Death” is horror. Excruciatingly slow, purposeful, and evil. Michael, Jason and a bunch of black-gloved giallo villains would approve.
2. High On Fire – Luminiferous (eOne Music, USA)
I have covered High On Fire more than any other band in my six-plus years at Invisible Oranges, and that is simply because they are the best metal band of the last 15 years. (Quote me!) Consistently amazing live shows, great albums and killer songs, of which there are many on Luminiferous. “The Black Plot,” “Slave The Hive,” “The Falconist,” Jesus, take your pick. Don’t forget that headbanging title track either. OK, I have to go listen to this again. Right now.
1. Khemmis – Absolution (20 Buck Spin, USA)
Back in July I declared Absolution my favorite doom record of the year, and it didn’t take much extra thought to bump it to number one overall. Khemmis has harnessed the accessibility of classic metal and welded it to the atmosphere, fuzz and musicality of modern doom. (I’m assuming they accomplished this with the magical wizard staff on the album cover.) “Torn Asunder” and “Ash, Cinder, Smoke” are instant classics, tapping into something deeper that transcends simple genre identifiers. The most exciting aspect of the album is that it’s a debut; this is a young band with gargantuan talent that has the potential to go the distance. Go forth and create, Khemmis. I’m in your corner.