It’s that time of year when we take a look back at all the great music 2015 as given us. Here is my personal top 10 albums released during the year, some are from my favourite bands, debut albums or even new discoveries I’ve made.
10. Alkaloid – The Malkuth Grimoire
While the other nine spots on this list were quickly filled, album number ten left me thinking. Eventually I settled on The Malkuth Grimoire, the debut album from the extreme progressive metal supergroup Alkaloid. Featuring current and former members of Obscura, Dark Fortress and Blotted Science, the technical musicianship on display is phenomenal, leaving you in awe at every twist and turn the music takes.
9. Swallow the Sun – Songs from the North
This one is a bit of a cheat as it is, in fact, a monstrous triple album with over 2 and a half hours’ worth of music. The first disc is standard Swallow the Sun, nothing too special, but combined with the gorgeous acoustic second disc and the devastatingly crushing funeral doom on its final disc, it becomes one of the most ambitious moves in the bands career.
8. Celldweller – End of an Empire
End of an Empire is one of the most focused and experimental albums yet from industrial rock/metal outfit Celldweller. Originally released over a number of months as chapters, the full album was released in November and when re-listening to all of the different sounds of each song and how they slot together to the overall concept of the album, it helped me appreciate it so much more.
7. Enshine – Singularity
Enshine’s debut album album Origin was a beautiful piece of atmospheric doom metal taking influence from the likes of Katatonia, Rapture and Slumber. The follow-up Singularity takes all that and makes it even better again. The music creates such a luscious landscape, with elements of post-rock and electronics, which makes it sound completely out of this world.
6. Shape of Despair – Monotony Fields
11 years after their last album Illusion’s Play and a change in vocalist, Henri Koivula replacing long-time member Pasi Koskinen, Finland’s Shape of Despair finally released their long awaited new album Monotony Fields. The ideal soundtrack to any winter’s day, it’s dark and depressing but there’s always an air of beauty and grace in their music that helps them stand out in the funeral doom crowd.
5. Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud
In my opinion, Amorphis have yet to bring out a bad album. With 2013’s Circle and this, their latest album Under the Red Cloud, the band have brought back some of the older elements of their music giving us an excellent mixture of the modern Amorphis sound that we’re used to with vocalist Tomi Joutsen but with the added death/folk influence from the Elegy era.
4. Paradise Lost – The Plague Within
With their experiences in recent musical side-projects, vocalist Nick Holmes with Swedish death metal supergroup Bloodbath and guitarist Gregor Mackintosh with his own project Vallenfyre, it’s no surprise that Paradise Lost started to re-incorporate their older sound back into the mix. With The Plague Within the band have managed to encompass everything that makes them so unique, the trademark guitar leads and Nick’s baritone cleans now complemented with his newly rediscovered death metal croak.
3. Draconian – Sovran
Fans of Swedish gothic/doom band Draconian were left devastated when they heard the news that female vocalist Lisa Johansson was leaving the band. Luckily our fears were laid to rest with her replacement Heike Langhans giving an amazing performance on Sovran, with tracks like ‘Pale Tortured Blue’ and ‘Dishearten’ bringing this album on par with their earlier classic album.
2. Leprous – The Congregation
Leprous’ Coal was one of my favourite albums of 2013 but it suffered from one glaring issue which was a large amount of repetition and drawn-out passages. Hopes were high for the follow-up The Congregation and with one listen those hopes were justified. The band listened to those complaints and crafted an album which I believe can stand toe-to-toe with their second album Bilateral as modern progressive rock/metal masterpieces.
1. Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss
While it’s an amazing feeling to eagerly wait for the release of a new album from your favourite band there’s nothing quite like finding a debut album of a new band or listening to the new album of a band/artist you’ve never listened to before. This is what happened to me when I listened to the lead single ‘Carrion Flowers’ from neo-folk/alternative singer songwriter Chelsea Wolfe’s latest album Abyss. This song had captivated me with its dark, moody atmosphere and harsh industrial sounds alongside Wolfe’s haunting vocals. The rest of the album is equally as mesmerizing with a range of sounds from the heavier, doom-influenced ‘Iron Moon’ to the fragile ‘Maw’, the whole thing is spectacular.