Agoraphobic News' Top 20 metal albums of 2015!

16/12/2015 Articles Share

When metal music is at stake, 2015 was really a strong one. Dozen of bands released killer stuff and it was pretty hard to make this list.  A lot of demur was going around. Some of the bands were put in a list by last second say. And of course,  subjective experience is present as in  any of these top "whatever the number is"  kind of thing. I would like to than every single band for releasing their music and making the world happier place to be. Happy holidays!! Keep it Metal!!!

20) Baroness - Purple

Baroness is back!!!  As usual, every album they make suits a different colour specter. This time, Purple is the colour! This release will make your day! If you're looking for stoner riffs, definitely check Purple out! With this release, Baroness was aiming for epicness - when you hear how great the juncture of poppy vocals on the one side, and sludgy riffage on the other work on this record. Of course, Purple is pretty dynamic, with a lot of twists and turnarounds. How good this record is shows the fact that James Hetfield put it on his list of top 10 things in 2015. All in all, Baroness' latest release is a palette that contains a variety of colours and sounds - you can year anything from pop or prog rock to stonery/sludge killer riffs. Just make sure not to miss this record, or you'll be the one who's at a loss.

19) Deathhammer - Evil Power

Well, when speaking about old school metal, Deathhammer takes the lead! These crazy Norwegian guys are stuck in the 80s.  Everything about them is old school - riffs, hilarious album cover, lyrical themes... Deathhammer may be a perfect incarnation of metal clichés, done with lots of passion. I mean, songs like Warriors of Evil or Satan is Back will put a smile on your face! Not to mention those high pitched vocals! Evil Power will remind you what's metal all about! Just make sure to check these guys out! No one conveys the essential feel of speed metal like Deathhammer does! What's striking is the fact that Deathhammer consists of only two guys! They are Evil Invaders with time machine mode turned on! Man, I miss high school when I listen to this stuff!

18) Nadimač - Manifest protiv sudbine

Nadimach (or to be more precise Надимач) are a crossover/thrash metal band coming from the depths of the Serbian underground.  They have been ruling the Serbian metal scene for more than a decade. Their album cover will draw your attention as soon as you see it! It's as striking as their music. I guess that not many people have heard a metal band that sings in Serbian too. The only English words you can hear on this album are: ‘’Capitalism is Cannibalism.’’ Soon after that, Nadimač goes through a rampage mode, destroying everything on their path! Word "slow" cannot be found in their vocabulary! Nadimač's lyrics are pretty satirical: they criticize industrial slaughter of the animals, wars, crappy Serbian "music" etc. It's a pity that non-Serbian fans can't understand a single word... but anyways, who gives a fuck about lyrics when good music is involved? They will thrash your brains out!

17) Sulphur Aeon - Gateways to the Antisphere

After an excellent  debut, Sulphur Aeon have brought another crushing album to light - Gateways to the Antisphere.  Album is opened by some sort  of Chtulhu summoning chant. The  tension builds up, and eruption takes its place as soon as the first riffs of Devotion to the Cosmic Chaos kick in. Sulphur Aeon's approach to music can be described as a mixture of old school stuff combined with their own style (and they put a proper stamp on it). The album itself is enjoyable and easy to listen to at any moment( except when you're  as sleepy as Chtulhu). And yeah, some of their band members are just in love with H.P. Lovecraft's work! Lyrical themes absolutely contribute to the dark aura surrounding Gateways to the Antisphere. It is very interesting to hear eastern influences in their music  as well. Just by looking at the album artwork, you'll be attracted by the apocalyptic atmosphere of the Antisphere!

16) Horrendous - Anareta

Yeaaah! New Horrendous is out! Anareta's highly melodic riffs will make you feel as if you were listening to some Scandinavian band. Leads are killer as well. I haven't heard anything like it for a while! The band vision is not to play at 1000 mph, but they also know to thrash it up!! Of course, dominant melodic parts are occasionally interrupted by the sheer brutality of the vocals & some sick ass drumming. In their case, vocals are there to bring the old school feel, not the riffs.  Having said that,  it seems that Horrendous' music formula definitely  steps out from the rest of US death metal bands.  It's even pretty unusual.  And that's what makes me want to listen to it over and over again. Anareta's album cover may be ghastly and ugly looking, but songs are just beautiful! It's a shame that Horrendous is still lurking in the underground waters. They deserve more attention!

15) Leviathan - Scar Sighted

Wicked. Twisted. Unpredictable. Leviathan's latest album is as massive as their name is. It may seem that the atmospheric "clean" parts are there to lower the bar of brutality, but it's quite the opposite in the case of Scar Sighted! Many black metal lovers  have waited for 4 years to hear a brand new Leviathan, which, according to everyone involved is a piece Beelzebub would be proud of. Scar Sighted may be a bit long, but the  variety of content on this record will guarantee you visions from the dark side. Demonic voices,  screams of a madman and astonishing riffs will melt your face off! This madness is interrupted for like 5 seconds in a song Within Thrall, and all of the sudden, mystical avant-garde black metal turns into more old school based riffs within a blink of an eye. These radical shifts will make you pay more attention to the music. Monotonous stuff, repeated over and over again throughout the record  may be boring to the listener, but that surely ain't the case with Leviathan's Scar Sighted. If you're truly a fan of black metal music, you'll probably listen to this album in years to follow.

14) Absconditus - Kατάβασις 

Now this is truly an underground gem. Absconditus are part of the still dominant  French black metal scene. I am quite sure that the band's name comes from Deathspell Omega's EP Diabolus Absonditus and the tunes  they play are quite influenced by them. Therefore, you should expect a chaotic, lethal dose of noise that’s not to everyone’s taste. The band itself is created from the ashes of Gilles de Carnade's   and Charles d' Ocres' previous project - Borgia. Absconditus' frontman is as intense as the music. Kατάβασις' hellish atmosphere will lead you  to the deepest pits of Tartarus. You'll definitely be needing a dictionary if you want to take a peak at Absconditus' lyrics, 'cause they're all in French. Of course, you shouldn't be turned off by this. The music is what matters the most! Absconditus are  by all means one of the most prominent bands coming from the depths of the French black metal underground! I am really looking forward to their next release!

13) Grave - Out of Respect for the Dead

The Swedish death metal maniacs are back! And they are having a blast! Even if   Out of Respect for the Dead  is  Grave's  11th record,  it doesn't deviate from the rest of their catalogue at all.  Consistency is what makes them so good if you ask me.   After all these years Ola Lindgren has managed to  retain this classic sounding Grave sound. Identity crisis is just not a word which can be found in his dictionary! He even put it 6 feet under long time ago! Regarding the music, Grave fans will surely be more than satisfied! Thick sounding guitars, excellent riffs, monstrous vocals - everything's there to fulfil your metal needs!  The music is fast, brutal and catchy in Grave's own distinctive way. You'll definitely loop this album for hours!  As long as the Swedish death metal veterans are around, classic old school death metal sound will never cease to exist!  With this album, Grave paid an homage to (out of respect for the dead??) and their fans as well.

12) Gorod - A Maze of Recycled Creeds

It's Tech-Death time! These French guys' virtuosity is unmatched!  Their latest record is the most technical stuff I've heard for a while. Concerning the music, Gorod's A Maze of Recycled Creeds  is pretty dynamic and a colourful piece of art. You'll be blown away by the level of virtuosity these guys have reached! Gorod's highly technical  riffs may easily be confused with solos. That's how tight these guys sound! When speaking about the album, you can determine where are influences coming from with ease  - the songs can be jazzy, classical sounding (Guitar duos are outstanding) djenty, but above all, progressive. Solos are as good as if you were listening to Jason Becker or some other guitar hero. I know that to some, this approach to music may be too excessive to some (especially to the fans of old school death/thrash metal) but hey, it's technical progressive death metal we are talking about! And they are better than Obscura if you ask me. No one can question Gorod's virtuosity! And that's a fact!

11) Krallice - Ygg Huur

Go Krallice! Their latest album title might sound lame, but Krallice is miles away from that! I even thought that this band comes from Canada, because of their noisy approach to the music. And that's a hell of a compliment if you ask me!  The moment you hear first notes coming from the album opener - Idols, you'll realise that Krallice is not to be messed around with! Words can't describe how good their music is! You just have to hear it to believe it! Production on this record is amazing!!  I am not sure if it's Colin Marston's doing, but it definitely sounds like him. And it's also cool to hear him play the guitar instead of the bass, too! The only complaint I have about this record is concerned with its length. Thirty five minutes of high quality music like this is just not enough! And when compared with Krallice's previous album, Years Past Matter, the overall length is almost reduced to half! However, it may be short but it's sweet sounding and that's what matters the most (And it's brutal and heavy and noisy and melodic too)! You'll fall in love with this record in no time! When avant-garde black metal waters are at stake, Krallice are the captain of the ship!

10) Soulfly - Archangel

After a 2-year break, Soulfly released Archangel. You should expect nothing but the classic Soulfly sound, catchy riffs, Cavalera's groundbreaking vocals  and  Mark Rizzo's unique atmospheric parts (and that's certainly what brings the record to a whole new level). Cavalera still sticks with his Fuck Shit Up motto.  You can hear anything from groovy or metalcore, to the more fast and  thrashy stuff on the record. The noisy riffs are killer too! What also stands out about  Archangel is the eastern influence  entrenched through both music and lyrical themes.  This time, the accent is put on Judaeo-Christian Biblical topics with some exceptions concerning ancient Greek mythology. And that's what maxes Max Cavalera, the ultimate heretic of the metal world! The overall variety of music is what makes this album so good. In my opinion, songs like Archangel, Ishtar Rising, Shamash, Titans are by far the best ones on the record. Lest we forget Soulfly X instrumental which could certainly put in some movie soundtrack or something. Awesome tunes!  After all, if you're a part of the Soulfly tribe, you shouldn't miss this record!

9) Slayer - Repentless

Fucking SLAYER! Repentless was realeased on 9/11 and hopefully, terrorist attack didn't happen this time. Once again, thrash masters  have shown the world what thrash is all about!  Propaganda, Wars, Death name it ! Unfortunately, it's been a while since the death of Jeff Hanemann. Fans will be  lucky enough to hear the last song he wrote - Piano Wire. His missing spot is filled by Bay Area Kings' guitarist, Gary Holt.  All the riffs on the record are Kerry's work, but concerning solos,   Gary was allowed to show what he's made of. And all of  those Gary-King or Kerry-Holt leads (I couldn't resist it) are astonishing. I even dare to say that Gary is bigger than Kerry when speaking of lead parts. The accent on this album is put on simplicity - I mean, there's fast stuff, but you can hear perfect groovy riffs like in Cast the First Stone  or in When Stillness Comes for instance. Tom Araya is still capable of raising some noise! Especially when he screams:  A little violence is the ultimate drug, let's get high! Regardless of their rank on our list,  Repentless  is definitely the finest thrash metal album of the year.

8) Hate Eternal - Infernus

You know that guy who had a  band called Ripping Corpse and then, he played guitar for Morbid Angel on their Domination record, and who by the way, played  one of the best solos of all time (live version of Lord of Fevers and Plagues is freaking amazing!) Yup, I'm talking about Eric Rutan of Hate Eternal. After 4 years of silence, a new album is finally out! Tampa  may not be the capital of death metal any more, but with Infernus, Hate Eternal have shown that metal is still alive in the Florida swamps.  New record  possesses heaviness of gigantic proportions . The guy behind the drum kit is killing it! Rutan's crunchy riffs will make your ears bleed and you'll ask for more!!! While you're listening to the album, apocalyptic images that can be found on the cover will be in front of your very eyes.  Infernus' production is done in a really  good way!  Therefore, a live feel is inevitable! Hate Eternal have been breeding the spawn for 4 years, and the wait has finally paid out in the end!! Sick stuff!!

7) George Kollias - Invictus

This album starts with a creepy short speech that will make you wonder: What's going to happen next?  As soon as you hear the first riffs of the album's title track  your doubts will perish for good. Invictus is probably the finest solo release I've heard in a while.. It wasn't until I've heard his solo  album that I realised how talented the guy really is. George Kollias has proven his mastery not only on drums, but on guitars as well. And I thought Charlie Benante can play guitar (haha). His drumming should not be speculated. You surely know what he is capable of. But man,  the guitar solos that he plays  actually make sense!! It must be said that George did this album all by himself - I have nothing but respect for that ! He even managed to do all the vocals!!! Killer stuff! !! Anyways, the songs on Invictus  are filled with unique sounding percussions that give a good flavour to the album. Both the riffs and drumming will make you feel as if you are caught in a crossfire! All in all, George Kollias did his baptism of fire. Greeks may be bankrupt now, but they  still have fresh goods on the market!!!

6) Morgoth - Ungod

Good old Morgoth.  To be honest, I was pretty sceptical when I heard about their reunion. And I couldn't be more wrong! Morgoth is back from the dead, stronger than ever! Some of the original members are  missing, and yet these guys have managed to  conserve the essential vibe of this cult death metal band from the 90s.  It's sad  to know that Mark Grewe is no longer a part of Morgoth.  His spot is filled by Karsten  Jagen of Disbelief, an extremely talented growler. It seems like  Morgoth couldn't find a more   suitable replacement!  Ungod is a dose of metal we've all been waiting for years! What I really like about this record is the mixture of catchy melodies and old school riffs . A lot of bands tend to lose brutality for the sake of melody and vice versa. And these guys have managed to shred with catchiness and that is pretty hard task if you ask me!  Evil sounding riffs are definitely my cup of tea...and there's a plenty of them which can be found in Ungod. In the end, I have to say that Morgoth have released one of  the finest comeback albums  and I hope that they'll keep 'em coming!

5) Mgla - Excercises in Futility

Not many bands coming from the black metal scene can draw my attention. But Mgla is definitely an exception.  And how not when  they are the band that everyone is talking about nowadays. Their third album is  absolutely breathtaking! Music-wise, Mgla has a lot in common with rising forces of the black metal underground; I even dare to call them the offsprings of Deathspell Omega. Exercises in Futility  is a dark, deppresive piece of art - a must for every black metal fan if you ask me! Basically, lyrical concept of this album is a  common place within the genre - deppresion, nihilism and despair of every song will make you ask yourself: have you ever been depressed at at all?  Misterious mister M. is really talented when it comes to writing lyrics. I remember that line in EiF pt. VI which says: "As if we would be someone better, Expelling purgatory in Latin alphabet" that shit is just brutal! When speaking of music, these riffs are just hypnotic! Not to mention how good the production is done! It's not sterile at all, but still third records have always been a special thing for majority of the bands.. same goes for Mgla! There is a bright future ahead of them for sure!

 4) Cattle Decapitation - The Athrophocene Extinction

This is another brilliant record coming from the crazy grinders, Cattle Decapitation. I guess that fast and brutal are the words that apply to every single record they put out, and hopefully, they haven't abandoned  this tradition with their latest release.  Manufactured Extinct  is the first song on the record - typical for Cattle guys. I was always fascinated by the vocal range of  Travis Ryan - this guy is probably one of the finest front men in the world of metal.  He can do all the yelling, gutturals, screeching, and pig squeals with ease! The Prophets of Loss has a lot of  black metal vibe attached to it, unlike Plagueborne, which is more death metal oriented. Man, those riffs are killer! Not to mention those   awesome vocal parts  that break down the brutality for a bit.  Next one, Clandestine Ways (Krokodil Rot) is in your face sheer grinding madness!  Those heavy as fuck pig squeals combined with kick ass breakdown will make you bang your head for sure!!! Same can be said for Circo Inhumanitas or Mutualy Assured DestructionMammals in Babylon is more dynamic when combined with other songs and it has a of twists and turns. Overall melodic parts on the record  are always put in a way where Travis Ryan has a dominant role. With   Mutually Assured Destruction the band is bringing aggression to a whole new level! The last 4 songs on the album are also killer (especially Not Suitable for Life), and need not to be described in details. The Athrophocene Extincion may be a little bit overshadowed by the awesomeness of its predecessor but this is an album that should be in everyone's  CD collection!

3) Ghost - Meliora

Meliora gets the 3rd place in our list. There are plenty of reasons for that! If you got tired of listening to brutal stuff over and over again, Ghost will show you how metal is played gently. This may sound ridiculous to some people but if you put vocals aside, you'll dig tons of high quality riffage on this record. Besides, vocals are the most problematic component of metal music - if they're too brutal, people will be backed off (and same goes with clean singing). What I love about this record is the omnipresent ghastly atmosphere embodied through evil as hell riffs and pretty awesome "halloween" sounding keyboards which can be heard in Spirit for instance. However, the album is balanced by a pop/hard rock approach and that is what certainly makes it appealing to the masses. From the Pinnacle to the Pit's overall catchy riffs are perfectly combined with Papa Emeritus' chorus.  However, things are getting even more interesting when the next song on the record kicks in - the heaviness of  Circle is unmatched! Those riffs are pure evil!!! The hellish awesomeness is interrupted by the song He is which is the cheesiest one on the record. It's not totally bad, but I doubt that  Satan would be pleased by it. And it's put right in the middle for a reason - it truly is the softest song on the record which stands out from the rest of the songs. Creepy sounding   Mummy Dust   is bringing heaviness to another level!  And it's probably one of the finest pieces off Meliora - excellent riffs, great choral singing and a brutal solo that will make your jaws drop! The next one, Majesty is kinda  hard rock oriented. Main riff sounds like a sped up version of  Holy Diver (haha), but the most remarkable thing about it is Papa Emeritus' chorus which sounds just perfect!  After a minute and a half instrumental Devil Church Absolution kicks in!!!  Words cannot describe how good that song is!!! One of  the greatest songs of all time if you ask me...   It's dark, evil, catchy and beautiful in the same time! Finally, album is closed by an epic and apocalyptic  masterpiece, Deus in Absentia, or to be more precise, by a magnificent church chant that will make you chill. Meliora is a perfect juncture of soft and heavy, pop and occult.  I know that a lot of metalheads would shout Hang the Pope! Hang the Pope! Hang him with a fucking rope!  because of the nature of Emeritus' vocals, but hell, you cannot please everyone's whishes!

2) Napalm Death - Apex Predator - Easy Meat

The grindcore pioneers' latest album Apex Predator - Easy Meat is definitely one of the finest records in 2015. These guys are all in the mid 40s and still, they posses more energy than dozen of young bands nowadays. The album’s title song is definitely the creepiest song I've heard in a while. The opening chants and  Barney's hysterical "blabbering"  escorted with creepy sounding drumming and background noise will  make you end up thinking "What is going to happen next"?  Like in Guy Ritchie’s movies, you really don't have a clue. The album itself is far away from monotonous. Almost every song on the record  has its unique flavor; for instance     - Smash a Single Digit is  1:25 minute  "long" song, typical for the Birmingham metallers , and it appreciably  differs from  How The Years Condemn or Adversarial/ Copulating Snakes  musically speaking.  Dear Slum Landlord really stands out from the rest of the album and is one of the finest/darkest  songs the grindcore pioneers did, for sure.  Mitch Harris/Barney Greenway vocal duo in Beyond the Pale is just outstanding! Not to mention the vocal harmony which can be found in Hierarchies! Lyrical concept of the album is as brutal as its album cover  - basically, it's about the dark side of capitalism and slave labour. Apex predator represents the big companies on the top of the food chain, while mutilated body parts on the album cover are personification of repressed people in general.  Therefore, one of the oldest Napalm Death songs Mutinational Corporations, Genocide of The Starving Nations fits perfectly to the lyrical concept of this record. It is also good to mention  how humane  and emphatic N.D. guys are  - earnings from  their latest single, Earthwire  were given as charity to the earthquake victims in Nepal.   Hands down for that!

The only "bad" thing I want to point out about this album is the fact that bonus songs like:  Caste as Waste, What is Past is Prologue,  Oh, Pseudo and Paracide are available only in Japanese version. European fans want justice!!! However, Apex Predator -  Easy Meat is, with no doubt, one of the best releases of 2015.  Napalm Death have once again proven to be Leaders, not Followers!!!

1)Nile - What Should not be Unearthed

There are plenty of reasons we chose Nile's What Should not be Unearthed for the metal album of the year. First of all, no other band than Nile stood up against ISIS' attack on "everything that is not in accordance  with the writings of  the messenger", especially when it comes to desecration of ancient civilizations' cultural heritage. You have to have balls for that! However, if we put politics aside,  What should not be Unearthed is a death metal work of art par excellence. The band have once again proven their  musical virtuosity . Album itself is pretty dynamic  and diverse - some of the songs like Liber Stellae Rubiae or The Age of Famine  are groovy titans unlike Call to Destruction or Evil to Cast out Evil which tend to be  more thrashy and fast paced . But with no doubt, In The Name of Amun, What Should not be Unearthed and To Walk from Flames Unscathed are one of the finest songs coming from  Nile’s opus. What fascinates me the most about this band is their interest in ancient history. The way these guys convey the Egyptian atmosphere  through their music  is just outstanding.  Karl Sanders' lyrics can hardly be understood by a preson that had not read some of the historical works related to the Egyptian history. For instance, Liber Stellae Rubiae or Negating the Abominable Coils of Apep are as mystical as the hieroglyphs of any sorts to mortals who are not into this whole Ancient Egypt thing. And that's the beauty of it all.  Also, I love the way the Nile guys connect present day events with stories of old. Is it a coincidence that Karl writes about Tuthmosse III's conquest of present day Israel and  Syria while the whole region is filled with death and destruction? I don't think so. With this line "Thieves ransack antiquities, cutting monuments and statues into small parts to sell upon the black market" Karl says it all. Alas,  not every song has political background: for instance, To Walk from Flames Unscathed deals with Egyptian afterlife struggles which were essential to the ancients.

In the end, I am forced to quote  a passage from my Nile review: "Herodotus once said that Egypt is a gift of Nile. Well, it's quite the opposite these days. I may be prone to over exaggerating but What should not be Unearthed is with no doubt one of the greatest metal albums of all time worthy of the pantheon of the Egyptian gods!!! I guess they are listening to the new Nile record in The Burning Pits of Duat"!!!  It is no mere coicidence that we chose Nile's latest album to be on the top of the Pyramid! Whoever disagrees will be hatched by the curse of the Pharaohs and their fate will not be merciful at all!




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