2015 has been a pretty memorable year for metal. We had many over the top news stories including Brett Hinds of Mastodon revealing his hatred for metal as well as a couple proposing on stage at a Napalm Death concert. America’s biggest metal festival, Maryland Death featured the debut performance of grind legends Agoraphobic Nosebleed while Hell’s Head Bash featured the first ever US show of black metal titan Satanic Warmaster. We have also sadly lost many metal greats including Bolt Thrower’s Martin Kearns, Gorgoroth’s Frank Watkins, Nunslaughter’s Jim Sadist, Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead as well as the band’s original drummer Phil Taylor.
2015 has also brought us many great metal albums. So many quality releases came out this year that it took the combined tastes of writers Birdman and Anthony to pin point the best of them. Here is our top 10 metal albums of the year, with 8 bonus albums.
Archgoat – The Apocalyptic Trumphator
Anthony: This year had several extremely intense war metal albums released including the latest offering from Revenge as well as the debut album from Goat Semen, but the best of all these is Archgoat’s latest release. This album is extremely raw and filthy sounding. Mix that with Lord Angelslayer’s haunting vocals and you get one of the most sinister sounding albums of the year.
Arcturus – Arcturian
Birdman: This is the 5th album from the Norwegian avant-garde powerhouse. It is also their debut on German label Prophecy Productions. One can hear influences from all across the musical spectrum on this record.
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Birdman: Like previous releases, Coma Ecliptic is a concept album, or rock opera as the band would say. The album tells the story of a man stuck in a coma traveling through his past lives. It is very reminiscent of the progressive side of Queen, shying from their death metal and hardcore roots.
Leviathan – Scar Sighted
Anthony: In 2011, one man black metal project Leviathan released True Traitor, True Whore. This album was of pretty poor quality and made fans wonder if he was loosing it. His new one, Scar Sighted though proved them wrong. The album has cleaner production then previous efforts which actually fits well with the atmosphere. This album is of his best releases up there with The Tentacles of Whorror.
Napalm Death- Apex Predator Easy Meat
Anthony: This year has been a huge one for Napalm Death as they have been in the news several times as well as put out a killer new album. On this release the band mixes in elements from post punk bands most notably Swans. We are also treated to some old school straight up grindcore tracks to help even out the mix. Easily the grindcore album of the year.
Oceano – Ascendants
Birdman: Album number 4, for the deathcore quintet from Illinois. Oceano have extended the range of their guitars even more, with their new songs sounding heavier than the band has ever been. The atmosphere that the band perfected since 2009’s Depths has been maintained as well.
Rivers Of Nihil – Monarchy
Birdman: The sophomore album by RoN is a little more progressive than their debut. Production does justice for this assault of technical death metal. Basically, if you’re a bass guitar kind of guy, you’ll want to check out this record.
Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls
Anthony: Iron Maiden’s epic double album is the best album from a mainstream metal act this year beating both Ghost’s Meliora and Motorhead’s Bad Magic. At around 92 minutes this is the band’s longest album to date. With that said it doesn’t drag on for a second and almost all the tracks are very addicting. Maiden is still at the top of their game.
Deathammer – Evil Power
Anthony: From Hell’s Head Bangers Records comes this tasty scoop of Norse thrash. With a sound very similar to Slayer’s Show No Mercy, Evil Power is thrash album of the year.
High On Fire – Luminiferous
Birdman: An album that draws on anything that has influenced frontman Matt Pike over the years. You can still hear Pike’s guitar vibrato, some very fast thrash-influenced tracks, and slower doom tracks from their early years. You can even hear a track that sounds akin to Pike’s other band Sleep.
Stratovarius – Eternal
Birdman: Eternal marks full-length number 15 for Stradivarius. While no original members of this band are left, Vocalist Timo Kotipelto is still going strong with his songwriting collaborating once again with Jani Liimatainen (Cain’s Offering, ex-Sonata Arctica). The album is a blend of old school power metal and modern European-style power metal.
Shining – IX Everyone, Everything, Everywhere Ends
Anthony: From the mind of madman Niklas Kvarforth comes the bands most melodic and progressive release to date. The album focuses on epic and slow song structures which bring on a mix of emotions. This is also the band’s more versatile effort to date mixing in elements of industrial, folk and other genres and shows that Niklas is still at his creative peak this late in his career
Sulphur Aeon – Gateway to Antisphere
Anthony: Once again these German’s are back with their brand of Lovecraft themed death metal. With brutal vocals, brutal drums and heavy in your face bass and guitar, Gateway to Antisphere is this year’s best death metal release.
Armageddon – Captivity & Devourment
Birdman: This band is the brainchild of Chris Amott (ex-Arch Enemy). It began as a side project that took off in the interim period between Arch Enemy’s first and second albums. The debut was a melodic death metal approach similar to that of Amos’s main band. The band then, released two power metal albums afterwards, but this year saw the band had returned to their melodeath roots.
Neurotech – Stigma
Birdman: Likely the least known artist on this list, Neurotech is a one-man symphonic industrial project hailing from Slovenia . It is the brainchild of Andrej Vovk, better known as “Wulf”. He actually released two albums this year, though the second one is more of a futurepop/trance album. Stigma is the type of cyber metal album that builds and builds and builds, notably with the first and final tracks.
Mgla – Exercises in Futility
Anthony: Out of all the great black metal releases from this year, this latest entry in the Mgla saga is by far the best. With all of the band’s signature traits such as melodic mid paced song structures, distinct vocals, killer riffs, and great drumming are still intact and in full force. A great album for both newcomers and veteran fans alike.
Cain’s Offering – Stormcrow
Birdman: It was originally thought that this power metal supergroup would be a one-album deal. Right after the release of the debut, members got busy with their main projects. With Stormcrow the band has retained their vocalist, guitarist, and drummer while bringing in a new bassist and the keyboardist from Stratovarius. Not only that, the band has gained social media presence with this sophomore album as well as a tour in Japan to support the album.
Windhand – Grief’s Infernal Flower
Anthony: Windhand’s third release isn’t much different then the last in style. While in a lot of cases that could be a bad thing, here the band is able to pull it off well as the songs still sound fresh and not like a carbon copy of the last album. As Windhand continues to grow bigger and bigger they also continue to show the world that they are a band that well deserves this attention. Vocalist Dorthia Cottrell also put out a self titled solo album this year. While not very metal, it is still recommended for fans of her vocals that want to hear a different side of her.