For my last post of the year I’m going to do something a bit different to what I normally do here on Torn From The Tomb, and list my top 10 favourite albums of 2015. Until now I haven’t dedicated any posts to my other passion in life aside from films; music. Music and cinema are to me like food and water; you need both. However, having a similar taste in films as someone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to like the same types of music too. There is so much music out there, and what’s good and what’s bad isn’t as black and white as it is with film. For example, whilst almost everybody can agree that Adam Sandler’s ‘The Ridiculous Six’ is a terrible film, with music some may regard Lady Gaga as an important and highly entertaining pop culture treasure, others might not be able to even tolerate her or her music. Personally, though I like to claim I listen to all styles of music, and usually more of the metal head persuasion, so that’s my list will generally reflect. Though I’ve found it’s pretty common for lovers of cult horror cinema etc. to have this same taste, some of my regular readers possibly won’t find this article very interesting. If you don’t, that’s fine! I’ll be back with a new eurocult review sometime in the new year, but for now, here’s my top 10 albums of 2015.
10. Slayer – Repentless
Pretty much everyone in the metal world knows a new Slayer album isn’t going to be anything groundbreaking, but this time around the expectations were lower. Their first album since the death of guitarist Jeff Hanneman, the general feeling was that Slayer was never going to be the same again, a feeling made even worse by the unamicle departure of human drum machine Dave Lombardo and the return of Paul Bostaph, who played on some of the bands lesser regarded albums. Thankfully, while the end result is no Reign In Blood , its definitely thrash, and so Slayer! Exodus axe man Gary Holt proves to be a worthy stand-in for Hanneman, holding his own on tracks like ‘Take Control’ and ‘Chasing Death’, which have the breakneck speed and catchiness which make traditional Thrash Metal so fun.
Best Tracks – ‘Take Control’ , ‘Chasing Death’ , ‘Piano Wire’
9. Danzig – Skeletons
Here’s an album that everyone seems to hate, and I can’t really put my finger on exactly why. Danzig’s long delayed collection of covers, ranging from songs by Elvis Presley, Black Sabbath and ZZ Top, boosts a sloppy production and raw sound that admittedly may be off putting. Personally I didn’t mind this very much, the sheer power of Glenn Danzig’s voice still shining at 60 years old on songs like ‘Satan’ and ‘saved the best til last’ closing ballad ‘Crying in the Rain’.
Best Tracks – ‘Satan’, ‘Lord of the Thighs’, ‘Crying in the Rain’
8. Soulfly – Archangel
The legendary Max Cavalera’s unique brand of music might be best termed ‘Metal comfort food’. Always catchy and accessible but never sacrificing speed or heaviness in the process. His passion for his genre has never been more clear than on album opener ‘We Sold Our Souls To Metal’, a hardcore punk styled expression of unity for all metal heads around the world. The rest of the album utilizes exotic sounds and biblical themes to great effect, with sonically dense songs like ‘Sodomites’ and ‘Bethlehem’s Blood’. Admittedly it dips a bit in the second half, but nevertheless Archangel demonstrates the work of an veteran metalhead still at the top of his game after 30 years.
Best Tracks – ‘We Sold Our Souls To Metal’, ‘Sodomites’, ‘Live Life Hard’
7. Goblin Rebirth – Goblin Rebirth
Goblin Rebirth, is one of many, many projects to have resulted from Italian Prog rock and Horror movie score legends Goblin’s numerous line ups through the years. This one features the original bands rhythm section, Fabio Pignatelli and Agostino Marangolo. Goblin themselves also released a new album this year, ‘Four of a Kind’, but I found Goblin Rebirth to much more dynamic and listenable. Not only does it have style with catchy and atmospheric snyths, but also substance, with its linear notes explaining the story of the titular Goblin’s ‘rebirth’ that the instrumental songs are meant to reflect.
Best Tracks – ‘Requiem For X’, ‘Book of Skulls’, ‘Forest’
6. Gruesome – Savage Land
Never before has the old adage that ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ rang more true. Gruesome are a band that exists for no other reason than to recreate the sound of the early Death records, Death being probably the most influential and legendary band in the Death Metal genre, whose sole constant member Chuck Schuldiner passed away in 2001. With so much pretension in the Extreme Metal world these days a release which wallows in cliches as much as this actually feels like a breath of fresh air. There’s also the fact that these guys sound SO much like Death. Like scarily similar. Usually I would highlight some stand out tracks but here the whole album is an essentially sounds like outtakes from Death’s ‘Leprosy’, one of my favorite albums of all time. Now if only bands come could come along who could as successfully emulate the sound of early Slayer and Metallica records.
Best Tracks – ‘Savage Land’, ‘Trapped In Hell’, ‘Gruesome’
5. Faith No More – Sol Invictus
The absolute mad men have returned. A full 18 (!!!!) years after their previous album Faith No More have given this glorious collection of demented Rock N’ Roll which defies any genre labeling. Here’s hoping we won’t have to wait as long for more from this truly unique band.
Best Tracks – ‘Sunny Side Up’, ‘Black Friday’, ‘From The Dead’
4. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls
It’s definitely been the year of Eddie. Not only did Bruce Dickinson give cancer the middle finger, but in the same year Maiden unleashed the longest and most ambitious album of their 30 year plus career. After 5 year break from the studio the band sound utterly revitalized, and songs like jaw dropping opener ‘If Eternity Should Fail’ can easily stand alongside anything from their 80’s heyday.
Best Tracks – ‘If Eternity Should Fail’, ‘The Great Unknown’ , ‘Empire of the Clouds’
3. The Black Dahlia Murder – Abysmal
I LOVE this band. The Black Dahlia Murder’s sublime brand of Melodic Death Metal, descended from Carcass and At The Gates, has made them one of the most successful and relevant bands in extreme music today. Rippers like ‘Receipt’ and ‘Threat Level No.3’ give an incredible cathartic release, and songs like John Carpenter inspired ‘The Fog’ prove they can do slower material as well.
Best Tracks – ‘Receipt’, ‘Threat Level No.3’, ‘The Fog’
2. Lucifer – Lucifer I
Every once in awhile you discover a new band and it feels like you’ve discovered Jesus. That’s what Lucifer was like for me. I never listened to front woman Johanna Sadonis’s previous band, The Oath, but Lucifer really made a big impact on me. Their doomy Sabbath inspired music has a haunting, almost magical quality to it, and Sadonis’ ethereal vocals have led me to consider her the Beauty to Ozzy’s Beast.
Best Tracks – ‘Purple Pyramid’, ‘Izarael’, ‘Morning Star’
1. Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
This fucking band. The misanthropic, melody tinged death-grind sound of Cattle Decapitation was another instance in which discovering new music felt like a divine revelation. Those put off by the bands vegan stand point should know this; these guys will make you see they know exactly what they’re talking about. They hate humans and want everyone to know it, and it’s pretty impressive. The Anthropocene Extinction deals principally with man’s destructive influence on our planet’s environment, and it’s a sad, apocalyptic funeral dirge, a soundtrack for the end of the world.
Best Tracks – ‘The Prophets of Loss’, ‘Plaugeborne’, ‘Pacific Grim’
That’s it for 2015. Everyone have a safe and Happy New Year. Here’s to another year of good times and awesome cinema!