Here’s my round up of the albums that I've most enjoyed in 2015. I found it particularly hard to round it down to 20 this year, there seemed to big a sudden rush of great albums around November time that through everything out. Anyway, here you go.
20. Slayer – Repentless
Their first album without founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman. Perhaps it’s not up to the standard of their classic era, (Reign In Blood, South Of Heaven, Seasons In The Abyss etc) but it’s the best thing they’ve done for a while. A welcome return.
Frank continues his progression from Acoustic Folk Punk to full on Rock band. Personally I prefer the acoustic stuff but there’s no denying his songwriting skills and this is still a fine album.
18. Gloryhammer – Space 1992: Rise Of The Chaos Wizards
The best way to parody music, for me, is to play it straight. That’s just what these ridiculous Scots do. It’s pompous, overblown and utterly engaging. There’s so many big choruses and you’ll listen to the thing with a big cheesy grin on your face.
17. The Darkness – Last of Our KindTheir fourth album was self-released through crowd funding and is a definite return to form. Hot Cakes was ok but patchy. There’s no filler on Last of Our Kind, just a lot of riffs, melody and fun.
16. Gangstagrass – American Music
As their name might suggest, Gangstagrass play a hybrid of Hip Hop and Bluegrass and it works surprisingly well. It just sounds organic and natural. This album features Long Hard Times To Come which was used as the theme to the TV show Justified.
15. Dog Fashion Disco – Ad Nauseum
The second album since their reformation for these Avant-Garde Metallers. They sound like a heavier and more deranged Faith No More and Ad Nauseum is a quality, if a little short, album.
14. Seasick Steve – Sonic Soul Surfer
You know what to expect with Seasick Steve, Lo-Fi Blues/Americana with both a wry sense of humour and world weariness. Sonic Soul Surfer is as good as anything he’s done previously.
13. Miracle Of Sound – Level 5 / Metal Up
Gavin Dunne has released two albums this year, Level 5 is his fifth album in five years featuring songs based on video games, Sci-Fi and general nerdiness. It features 28 tracks of wildly differing genres from Industrial to Folk to Grunge to Electropop, all hugely entertaining and memorable. Metal Up is, as you might guess, a full on Metal album. There’s a strong Devin Townsend influence in a lot of it, a lot of Proggy/Djent riffs and a smattering of Folk Metal to spice things up.
12. Armored Saint – Win Hands Down
These Classic Metal stalwarts don’t half take their time releasing albums, it’s been five years since La Raza, their last album. Maybe they just like to make sure it’s done right. Which, of course, it is. Win Hands Down has slightly longer songs than previous albums, and there’s even their first proper ballad in the form of Dive. Win Hands Down is a joyous, fist waving beast of an album.
11. Beyond The Black – Songs of Love And Death
Debut album by this young German band. Stereotypical female fronted Gothic Metal but done with enthusiasm and vigour. The songs are catchy and effective. There’s also an almost unrecognisable Motorhead cover that’s worth a listen too.
10. Dan Webster – The Tin Man
Beautifully moving Folk that straddles the line between traditional and modern on the third album from this Yorkshire Singer/Songwriter.
9. Blind Guardian – Beyond The Red Mirror
These German Power Metal legends continue to churn out high quality albums. Beyond The Red Mirror sounds so alive and invigorating. Possibly the best thing they’ve done, which is saying something.
8. Diemonds – Never Wanna Die
The second album by these Canadian Hard Rockers, It’s heavy, boisterous and belligerent. They have a strong frontwoman in Priya Panda too. A couple of fillers mar Never Wanna Die but on the whole it’s an excellent record.
7. Crooked Saws – This Machine Sells Cars.Crooked Saws play a weird, distorted form of the Blues that honestly doesn’t sound like anyone else that I can bring to mind. It’s like a dark and twisted, younger form of Seasick Steve I suppose, albeit with dashes of Black Sabbath thrown in. Jesse's voice has echoes of both Mark Lanegan and Jim Morrison in it. They’re worth a listen if you fancy something different.
6. Thundermother - Road Fever
5. Ginger Wildheart – Year of The Fanclub
Over the last year Ginger has been released five songs a month through a fan club project called G.A.S.S. This 12 track CD is a selection of those songs. There are few changes I would have made personally but even so these are 12 brilliant songs that highlight both his songwriting ability and range of genres he's cheerfully proficient in.
4. Baby Chaos – Skulls Skulls Skulls Show Me The Glory
A fabulous comeback album from this Nineties Britrock band. I was looking forward to this album but never expected it to be so good. There's still occasional flashes of the snotty belligerence of their youth but this is a thoughtful brooding and emotional album. Full of melody and infectious tunes.
My top 3 albums have swapped places with each other so many times that I still don’t really know what order to put them, I think they’re probably all tied for 1st in all honesty. This is how I settled at time of writing but it’s not set in stone.
3. Eureka Machines – Brain Waves
The fourth album by one of my current favourite bands. I didn’t think they could better Remain In Hope, their third album, but they’ve done so easily. A near perfect album of pop tinged rock with elements of Metal and Prog tucked in there too.
2. Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
A solo project by the current It Bites frontman John Mitchell. It combines all the best elements of Prog Rock and dispenses with the worst. It’s immersive, beautiful and experimental without being pompous, dragging and twiddly. An absolute joy to listen to.
1. Clutch – Psychic Warfare
This is Clutch’s umpteenth album and continues their journey from abrasive Hardcore to Blues Rock. It follows on from the simple hard rocking of previous album Earth Rocker and is a no nonsense, head nodding Rock album that I have yet to tire of playing. They’re at the top of their game and are pretty untouchable in this genre now.
There’s several albums I really enjoyed that didn’t quite make the top 20 too, here’s a few:Shattered Skies – The World We Used To Know
Emily Kinney – This Is War
Thunder - Wonder Days
Calabrese – Lust For Sacrilege
Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Leaves’ Eyes – King Of Kings
Chris Caffery – Your Heaven Is Real
Circle II Circle – Reign Of Darkness
Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love
Strung Out – Transmission.Alpha.Delta
The Juliana Hatfield Three – Whatever, My Love
Random Hand – Hit Reset
Prong - Songs From The Black Hole
Von Hertzen Brothers – New Day Rising