2015 was a very good year for fans of heavy metal. Some fantastic tours, big festival shows and a plethora of new material came out, though mainly from experienced bands, for us to get our teeth into but who stood out from the crowd?
Here are the ten best albums that came out in Heavy Metal in 2015, according to me.
10 – Sylosis – Dormant Heart
The first of many British bands to crack my top ten this year are Sylosis who released Dormant Heart, their 4th release, way back in January which is, in my opinion, their best yet. All in all it is an aggressive, heavy album with loads of melody but there are a few surprise elements which show that the band are experienced enough to know that they can mix things up a bit so we get some acoustic moment s and the like too. A great start to the year.
Recommended track – Quiescent
9 – Blind Guardian – Beyond the Red Mirror
German legends Blind Guardian release their 10th studio album in Beyond the Red Mirror and it is very much what you would hope for. It is a concept album that weaves a wonderful fantasy story throughout each track and is a sequel to Imaginations from the Other Side in terms of story. The album is equally magical and exciting throughout.
Recommended track – Sacred Mind
8 – Motorhead – Bad Magic
Bad Magic is Motorheads 22nd studio album released. That alone is a quite amazing statistic but add in the fact that it is of the highest quality too and you just have to respect the efforts of the British metal stalwarts. Of course there are plenty of tracks on here that are short little thrash songs and that is to be expected but there are also a load of expansive sections where they switch their style up a lot.
Recommended track – ‘Til the End
7: Hardside – The Madness
So this is the 5th release from Hardside though, to my shame, this is the first and only release I have ever heard from them. There is more than enough quality ion this album though that I will definitely be checking out some of their other albums soon. Loads of riffs that often have a Deep South groove feel to them with an array of different vocal ranges shouting over the top make for a real head banger of an album. The band being categorised as hardcore is a little harsh as there are much more expansive elements throughout and I was left very impressed with what I heard.
Recommended track – Forever
6: Thy Art Is Murder – Holy War
Holy War is Thy Art is Murder’s 3rd studio album and is definitely their most impressive to date. It tackles areas such as child abuse, religion and war in its lyrical content and so has a really dark feel to it but it is also the most technically impressive album so far with a few new elements appearing in songs that we haven’t had before. That gives a bit more diversity in the tracks then we are used to without losing any of the force we are used to and makes this a really great album.
Recommended track – Light Bearer
5: Fear Factory – Genexus
Fear Factory’s 9th studio album, and second back with Dino and Burton together, didn’t immediately impress me thanks to a few of the earlier songs being a little weak but the final three quarters of the album more than make up for it with some remarkable tracks. Songs like Soul Hacker, Protomech and Regenerate are some of the best songs they have written in years but it is the albums final track, Expiration Date that moves this whole record up a few notches.
Recommended track – Expiration Date
4: Nightrage – The Puritan
Album number 6 from the melodic death metal masters, Nightrage, came out earlier in the year in April. It is a really heavy album with a touch of melody and absolutely no soft singing at all which is quite a change from previous albums where there was much more acoustic sections and much more melody. The album is a master class in catchy riffs though and it is lyrically very clever. I think this band are awesome and this is a great example of the quality that exists in heavy metal if you look hard enough away from the limelight.
Recommended track – Desperate Vows
3: Faith No More – Sol Invictus
Sol Invictus is the 7th studio album by Faith No More but more importantly was the first release since 1997. With the news of bands return from hiatus, there was a huge amount of publicity but these experienced masters of their trades surpassed it all with ease and released an album that exudes quality and intelligence.
Recommended track – Matador
2: While She Sleeps – Brainwashed
Sheffield based While She Sleeps follow up to the excellent This is The Six was released in March and lived up to the huge expectation that preceded it. Considering it is just their second release and they have had a few issues such as the singer needing surgery they have really surpassed themselves. This is such a good album with a load of instant classics which are filled with brutal riffs, intricate guitar melody and fantastically written and sung lyrics. They should be extremely proud of their efforts and are definitely the band to watch in the future. These guys are your future festival headliners!
Recommended track – Our Legacy
1: Cradle of Filth – Hammer of the Witches
Hammer of the Witches is, incredibly, the 11th studio album by British Black Metal legends, Cradle of Filth. That is quite a career and it is really special that a band that have done so much in music still have the ability to conjure up an album of this quality. There are so many things good about this album. It is still my most played today, 5 months after release, and I do not think there is a single weak song on the album. It is certainly my favourite album of 2015 and I think it may be my favourite Cradle album ever. The hardest part of writing this is knowing I have to choose just one of these excellent songs to recommend.
Recommended track – Deflowering the Maidenhead, Displeasuring the Goddess
In summary, it has definitely been a good year for British metal with four of the top ten hailing from our small island. Even more impressive is the fact that the top two are British, one relatively new and one experienced. Metal is in a good place in the UK, and the world over, though it would be nice to see a few new bands attempt to break into the top ten in 2016.