As every year, we dive into a full year of music to select those albums that in one way or another impacted us the most. This year I personally enjoyed each one of this released at their time they came out, and the majority of them are still in heavy rotation within my iPhone. So without more anticipation, here are my top 20 albums of the year.
20. Tribulation – The Children Of The Night
Tribulation has become an interesting band to listen to as their unique style of black metal meets 70’s shock rock is present all over this record. The band’s metamorphosis from a straight edge metal band to what they are now has been interesting and this might be the album that proves how complex their music is and how great is their potential is. Their live show is dark as is astonishing definitely, I am looking forward to seeing them again next year at the Decibel Tour and to see what they are coming with next.
19. Ensiferum – One Man Army
Ensiferum continues leading the folk metal hordes with this record, with One Man Army the band has returned to their roots, back to folk metal basics. The album itself is heavy, uncompromised and full of folk moments. From a structured and epic beginnings like March Of War to more complex songs like Heathen Horde or experimental tracks like Neito Pohjolan. Ensiferum‘s One Man Army is one of the best folk metal albums of the year.
18. Melechesh – Enki
Meleshesh‘s style is unique as is the only band that had successfully found the balance between black metal and middle eastern melodies. Their new album Enki takes their sound to a new high level, songs like Lost Tribes (feat. Max Cavalera of Soulfly & Cavalera Conspiracy), Enki – Divine Nature Awoken, and The Palm The Eye and Lapiz Lazuli are some clear examples of the talent and the meticulously crafted music that Melechesh is capable of creating. Each track of the album is unique, but yet all of them carry the band’s trademark sound.
17. Gruesome – Savage Land
A band that takes Death‘s style and adapted as their own so well on their début album has to be praised, they are not a band copying the style, with Savage Land they are delivering a serious tribute to the legacy of Chuck Schuldiner and Death. Songs like Demonized and Gangrene are the pure essence of Death‘s style adapted to a modern tribute to the creators of death metal. Gruesome is perhaps the only original band out there that have been able to replicate death metal from the original source and calling it their own.
16. Angra – Secret Garden
Brazil’s highest power metal institution Angra, released Secret Garden at the beginning of the year with their new vocalist Fabio Lione (Rhapsody Of Fire/Vision Divine), a new direction that takes Angra back to their most epic side, songs like Black Hearted Soul, or Synchronicity are classical pieces on this album, but there are some songs like Violet Sky that a bit more modern progressive and that take their sound to a new level. Angra‘s Secret Garden is the dawn of a new era for the band.
15. Carach Angren – This Is No Fairytale
The Dutch metal version of the Brothers Grimm have returned with yet another dark masterpiece, Carach Angren are the masters of metal horror and This Is No Fairytale is their new horror chapter, the album keeps the dark tone of the band’s previous records, they just turn up the creepy and macabre factor on this album, from There Is No Place Like Home, to Two Flies Flew Into a Black Sugar Cobweb and Possessed By a Craft Of Witchery this band delivers an amazing chilling and heavy album. They truly have become the masters of dark fantasy metal.
14. Thulcandra – Ascension Lost
Thulcandra have left behind the shadow of Dissection, and with Ascension Lost they have reached a new type of sound that is as dark and somber as the elements that they took from the legendary death metal band, but now they are making it their own brew. Just listening to Demigod Imprisoned or The Second Fall is enough to understand how much Thulcandra‘s sound has grown in the last couple of years.
13. Kamelot – Haven
The second album with Tommy Karevik on vocals and it seems that Kamelot got darker, more melodic and all over more epic. Haven delivers not only really catchy songs like Insomnia, Veil Of Elysium, and Revolution, but impacting songs like Under Grey Skies, Liar Liar, and the instrumental Ecclessia. Not only Kamelot delivered an amazing album, but they toured the US twice this year if this is not a sign of their love for their fans I don’t really know what else it could be.
12. Battle Beast – Unholy Savior
Powerful, and fast that are the only words that can describe Battle Beast‘s Unholy Savior, their style have reached the stage of evolution, they still keeping the spirit from their previous album, but it seems that Unholy Savior comes off as wilder, provocative and all around badass. Songs like I Want The World…And Everything In It, Lionheart, and Madness are the ones that win me over on this release. I really look forward to seeing Battle Beast in the US at some point, as I have heard their shows live are something else.
11. Blind Guardian – Beyond The Red Mirror
2015 brought back a new album by power metal champions Blind Guardian with Beyond The Red Mirror a powerful and well-crafted album filled with all the elements Blind Guardian is known for. Songs like The Ninth Wave, Twilight Of The Gods, At The Edge Of Time quickly became fan favorites ranking the album among the best that this German powerhouse has released so far. Later this year Blind Guardian toured North American for the first time in the last 5 years, with almost 2 hour-long shows they made sure the American legions got well supplied until their return.
10. Powerwolf – Blessed & Possessed
The church of the Powerwolf delivered one of the most fun, passionate and heavy albums of 2015 with Blessed & Possessed, just by listening songs like Army Of The Night, Higher Than Heaven, Christ & Combat you can tell how much this band has moved forward in terms of creating a somber and dark aura around them, that I dare to say is way superior to those of a band like Ghost for example. The epic style of Powerwolf combined with how powerful their music is and how their lyrics works with their image is just fantastic. This is another band that I personally would love to see live in the US.
09. Paradise Lost – The Plague Within
The forefathers and pioneers of gothic metal Paradise Lost, released a unique album this year. A bit gothic, 100% dark, but with a huge splash of death & doom metal melodies here and there. I am not sure what I love about this album, Nick‘s growling and clean vocals or Greg‘s doomy riffs, but I do know that both combined make this album a musical eargasm. Listening songs like Terminal, No Hope Insight, Beneath Broken Earth, and An Eternity Of Lies would put you in a time trance where everything becomes slow and so surreal, without a shadow of a doubt The Plague Within is a great Paradise Lost album.
08. Phantasma – The Deviant Hearts
Phantasma is an interesting project led by Charlotte Wessels (Delain) and Georg Neuhauser (Serenity). The Deviant Hearts album is a roller coaster of different styles that contrast each other and show a different angle of the talents of the musicians within the band. Songs like The Deviant Hearts, Try, Miserable Me or Crimson Cruise are unique pieces of music that will take you to different places and make you feel different things, really interesting project, and definitely an incredible album.
07. The Gentle Storm – The Diary
What happens when Anneke Van Giersbergen joins forces with Arjen Lucassen? Well, a musical and creative masterpiece is created. The Gentle Storm‘s The Diary is an interesting musical experiment that tells the story of a dutch couple in the seventeen century. Not only the album has two different sides on which each of the songs within it sound different, but that small change makes the album as a whole feel different.
06. Gloryhammer – Space 1992: Rise Of The Chaos Wizards
Unicorns, dark wizards, heroes, galactic battles, and a ton of cheesy riffs are the base of Gloryhammer‘s second album Space 1992: Rise Of The Chaos Wizards. This album is fun, cheesy, heavy and all around a heroic tale of good vs evil. I believe that George Lucas has never been exposed to Gloryhammer. Otherwise, the soundtrack and the feel of Star Wars: The Force Awakens would have a slightly different tone. Songs like Legend of The Astral Hammer, Rise Of The Chaos Wizards would definitely be perfect for those Tatooine desert scenes. I personally look forward to seeing them live at ProgPower VII in Atlanta next year.
05. Moonspell – Extinct
The Portuguese dark lords of Moonspell dropped their new album Extinct early this year. This album pretty much is one of their best albums in their catalog and ranks pretty high up with Wolfheart and Irreligious. Songs like Medusalem, Extinct, Domina, Malignia or Dying Breed are just pure dark masterpieces. The album is not only bombastic, but it has a lot of gothic rock influences which makes it not only interesting, but fun to listen to.
04. Draconian – Sovran
Melancholy, sorrow, and despair are the main components and the feeling that Draconian‘s Sovran will leave on you. The vocals of their new vocalist Heike Langhans shines brightly in the dark universe of Draconian, the album’s style is a reminiscence and a tribute to the 90’s and early 2000’s gothic metal style. Songs like The Wretched Tide, Stellar Tombs or Dusk Mariner are perfect examples of how complex and how deep Draconian got on this album. Again they are on my bucket list of bands that I would love to see someday in the US.
03. Nightwish – Endless Forms Most Beautiful
After a couple of years of waiting, we got to listen to new original Nightwish material on the voice of their new vocalist Floor Jansen (Revamp, ex – After Forever). Endless Forms Most Beautiful is an epic journey of magical proportions, I would say the album is a more reserved album, not as bombastic as Imaginarium, but a way more fluid record. It pushes Nightwish‘s creative buttons to the max. Songs like Shudder Before The Beautiful, Elan, Yours Is An Empty Hope, Alpenglow and the complex song The Greatest Show On Earth are just marvelous musical pieces.
02. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls
What we can say about Iron Maiden that it has not been said before, they are not only the alpha of metal, but they still keep the game interesting enough to bring down the metal industry to its knees every time they released a record. The Book Of Souls is a classic Iron Maiden album full of elements from their early albums carefully fused and crafted with elements of their most recent records. Songs like Speed Of Light, The Red And The Black, Death Or Glory and Tears Of A Clown are just masterpieces that remind us why Iron Maiden is one of the greatest heavy metal bands in history.
01. Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Just like a drug, I have been addicted to Amorphis‘s Under The Red Cloud since I got it. These Finnish veterans have created the most beautiful album that I have listened this year. The album is heavy, dark, ferocious, fun, interesting and engaging. There is not a favorite song as the whole album is ridiculously good. I can listen Under The Red Cloud from beginning to end, from the middle to the beginning, and from the middle to the end and each one of those songs complements each other majestically. Amorphis is guilty of creating the most powerful and addictive album of 2015. All Hail Thy All Mighty AMORPHIS!!!