4 December 2015

Chris Jermyn presents...his TOP 14 ALBUMS of 2015.

Here it is, the Top 14 albums of the year as voted by me, Chris Jermyn. It's been a canny year for albums with some surprises from new artists and old friends rediscovering their Midas Touch. The general theme, for me, has been bands who've been treading water for years all of a sudden making the type of albums that by rights should put them back on the map. I'm also happy to have listened to Benjamin Clementine who also won the Mercury Award for 2015. That's twice in a row I've blogged a Mercury winner (last year being Young Fathers), not bad for a guy whose taste in music has been described as shallow as a piss-pool in summer.

Anyhow, here is the run-down of my Top 14 albums. For extra effect, listen to the video I've posted below. It's the music that DJ Alan "Fluff" Freeman would play when he presented his show, "Pick Of The Pops". He also played God in two episodes of British sitcom The Young Ones.

Here we go...
14) Chris Holmes - Shitting Bricks.

Solo album from the former lead guitarist from L.A shock-rockers WASP. To say it's dated is an understatement. Hell, it would've been dated thirty years ago, back when this sort of thing was popular. However, you cannot doubt the enthusiasm of Mr Holmes and the songs themselves are decent enough. Perfect music for drinking to.

13) Coal Chamber - Rivals.

The nu-metal equivalent of Bozo The Clown makes a comeback after years of Dez Fafara saying it would never happen. Whatever the reasons behind the reunion, it's an album that doesn't suck as bad as Dark Days and Chamber Music did. In fact, it's quite heavy in parts with a punch and a groove that pull you in.

12) Slayer - Repentless.

A little sparrow has told me that some of you are wondering why this didn't make contention for album of the year...the reason is because although I thought it was good, it wasn't a conqueror, hence the score of a 7. However, it is the best Slayer album since God Hates Us All. This is the best Slayer have sounded in years and although it doesn't hit the heights of their classic era, it's a worthy reminder that there is still a heavy trick or two up their sleeves. Gary Holt manages to supply some great solos as well. RIP Jeff Hanneman. Oh, and one other thing...


11) Therapy? - Disquiet.

Back with a bang, and an album which reminded me why I first liked this band. Heavy, melodic and unconventional at the same time, it's a great album by Andy Cairns and the rest of the gang. The best thing out of Northern Ireland since Dave Allen.

10) Napalm Death - Apex Predator, Easy Meat.

One of the greatest British bands of all time return with an album that is as experimental as it is heavy. Proving that there's nothing wrong with experimentation, they further change their sound in an evolution which started with their debut album (Scum). I know that a lot of this is down to it being a completely different line-up these days but at least they didn't musically stagnate like some bands.

9) The Prodigy - The Day Is My Enemy.

This was a big surprise to me as - aside from 'Spitfire' - I thought The Prodigy had been a spent force for years. How wrong I was! This is an excellent album and their best since The Fat Of The Land (An album I'd been extremely critical about but have since grown to appreciate it for what it is). This album is much better though and is ample proof that Liam Howlett and co can still write some of the best dance music going and cross boundaries with it too.

8 Antigama - The Insolent.

Grindcore, but with a modern twist - and modern production techniques. A great mix of speed, sludge, obtuse rhythms and avant-garde, if they keep this up, this band will become one of the greats. As I mentioned in my blog, this band is proof that grindcore has a place in the modern world.

7) Dr Dre - Compton.

Proving that once again, Dr Dre is one of the best hip-hop producers in the business as well as one of the best mentors and nurturers of talent. It almost makes you forget that his "Beats" range of headphones are way overpriced! This is a curious album as it somehow manages to look to both the past, present and future of hip-hop. Back in the days when rappers would have to have skills to stay relevant, instead of being mediocre at best and an idiot at worst but still ended up marrying into a family whose patriarch helped get a murderer acquitted. Fuck off, he was guilty as sin.

6) Young Fathers - White Men Are Black Men Too.

Proof that there are more to Scottish music than The Proclaimers and Del Amitri, the 2014 Mercury Prize winners return with an album that is more than a match for the debut. The thinking man's hip-hop, this is a timely mix of intricate beats and rhymes that feels very special. This band should be bigger than they are. Let's hope they transcend soon.

5) Cradle Of Filth - Hammer Of The Witches.

Let's face it, this band have been treading water for years. A constant revolving door of line-ups (which did nothing to dispel the 'Dani And The Filths' criticisms of the band) caught up with them and bit them in the ass - hard. However, this album has changed all that. Their strongest set of songs in years and their strongest line-up in years make for one fine album. At one point, it looked like this band were going to be the next big thing but it wasn't to be. Still, as long as they keep making music as good as this, it'll make a lot of people very happy.

4) Fear Factory - Genexus.

Ironic. A band who've made a career of songs based on the "man v machine" concept should release a new album in the same year that a new Terminator movie is released. And both are the best one in years (I liked Terminator Genisys even though the guy who played John Connor was crap. The guy playing Kyle Reese wasn't too good either). Like Cradle Of Filth, Fear Factory are another band who looked like they were going to be bigger than they were but never managed to transcend to the next level, mainly due to not building on the momentum created by Demanufacture. Internal band troubles didn't help either. This is by far the best album since Dino Cazares returned to the band in 2010 as although it has many of Fear Factory's usual traits, there is a degree of conviction in the overall execution that hasn't been heard in years.

3) Lamb Of God - Sturm Und Drang.

The first album since Randy Blythe's legal troubles, dispel all notions that this is going to be a "prison" album. There is nothing here that suggests orange jump-suits, workouts in the yard, contraband ciggies or falling down the stairs with the help of five guards, it's an excellent slice of groove-metal that proves there is life after Pantera. The band sound focused and with a point to prove, they also sound pissed as well, which is understandable, given the circumstances. Great album, get it immediately.

2) Benjamin Clementine - At Least For Now.

Part jazz, part spoken word, part avant garde, this guy put all his life experiences into this album and created something that is awesome. Some of it is more straight-forward, which is fine, but the real genius is in the more bonkers moments. Here is hoping that there is more to come from this gentleman as this was a special album.

1) With The Dead - With The Dead.

This was by far the album of the year for me. Formed by the two former members of Electric Wizard and the former vocalist from Cathedral, it's a journey and a half! Some of the heaviest, doomiest metal on this album, it's the sound of Satan's bulldozer/cement mixer/angle grinder/whatever power tool you can think of. Excellent stuff.

Well, that's it from me. It's been a great year and I hope y'all stick around for more blogs to come.

Peace, love and protein shakes.

Chris J.

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