Click below to check out all of Ashton’s favourite metal albums for 2015!
#10. Born of Osiris: Soul Sphere (Released October 23rd, 2015)
I’ve been a fan, following Born of Osiris since the release of the group’s EP- The New Reign (2007). The track, Bow Down on the EP was a huge hit and that intro still gets me hyped. The group’s new project, Soul Sphere (2015) may not be as heavy as some of their previous work, but still holds some great breakdowns and deep moments. The synthesizer and keyboards are fairly dominant through-out the album, looming this erie, almost mystic sound overtop of double-bass kicks, and low guitar chugs. The synthesizer gets to be a bit much, slowing down the album and taking away from the fact that you’re listening to a metal band.
The intro to The Louder the Sound, the More We All Believe, almost sounds like something out of an Owl City song. It made me cringe, but then getting deeper into the song, Ronnie Canizaro’s roar powers through and Lee McKinney’s guitar becomes more predominant. The band is growing and exercising their sound. I can appreciate when a band is doing that. Soul Sphere (2015) may not be the heaviest album of 2015, but it sits in my top ten.
#9. Slayer: Repentless (Released September 11th, 2015)
Ten years ago the band might have been higher up on the list, but Slayer’s, Repentless (2015) just didn’t have the same kick-in-the-ass feel, other Slayer records have. Don’t get me wrong, its Slayer. Fast, brutal, and punishing music. The title track, Repentless could break a listener’s neck if they weren’t careful. The music video for the song is nuts. A prison break with plenty of shanks and corn syrup for everyone. Danny Trejo is even in there! Tom Araya stays true with the signature voice, allowing the band to capture the raw tone that is Slayer. With the passing of Jeff Hanneman in 2013, Gary Holt of Exodus fills in the rhythm guitar spot and holds his own.
I enjoyed the album but the absence of Hanneman’s influence is apparent and the thought of, “Something is missing…” sits at the back of your head. I’m sure Kerry King felt some pressure writing the majority of this album and it being the first work without Hanneman, but musically its well done. Midway through the album, When the Stillness Comes breaks up the speed and slows it down, only to be kicked right back into high-gear until the end of the album. If you’ve been a Slayer fan since day one, you’ll like the album – maybe not as much as some of the other efforts, but you’ll still enjoy it.
#8. Atreyu: Long Live (Released September 18th, 2015)
If you are an Atreyu fan, you would have noticed the band has been absent for some time, especially on the record front. Long Live (2015) was the group’s first studio album in six years. I really was immediately surprised at how heavy the group sounded, in comparison to their previous efforts, like Congrefation of the Damned (2009). The members of Atreyu seemed to have dug into their roots because when listening to Long Live (2015), you get touches of inspiration from early albums, like Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses (2002) where the music was faster, and more intense.
The songs on this most recent release from Atreyu will appeal to any fan, no matter what period of the band you were more into. There are couple of tracks on the new record that are less memorable, however, the remainder of the songs on Long Live (2015) are executed very well and shows growth in the band as a whole. The members of Atreyu must have done what they needed to in their time off, because they’re back in action and sound great.
#7. Kataklysm: Of Ghosts and Gods (Released July 31st, 2015)
Through their twelfth studio album, Of Ghosts and Gods (2015), Kataklysm has put together another record of intricate, and impressive music. The musicians keep well with each other’s pace and allow each other’s individual talent’s to come through. Oli Beaudoin, only being with the band’s drummer since 2013, really shone through. His blasts, and double-kicks are insane and so entertaining. He brings the songs together and holds down the foundation of each track. Bassist, Stephane Barbe is is more than noticeable through-out Of Ghosts and Gods (2015) and really brings a heavier element to Kataklysm’s sound. His solo in Hate Spirit is brief but was essential for the track, making it memorable.
Founding member and guitarist Jean-Francois Dagenais is consistent throughout the record, keeping the classic sound and feel Kataklysm carries. Although it seems almost as if he’s not be challenged anymore and therefore his isn’t very dominant in the ways a lead metal guitarist should be. Still, the album is heavy and will want to make you move.
#6. Motörhead: Bad Magic (Released August 28th, 2015)
With the recent passing of Vocalist, Lemmy Kilmister, I’m sure it’s not surprising to many that Motörhead ended up on this list. However, this is an album review, and the band’s most recent effort, Bad Magic (2015) absolutely kicks ass. I love Motörhead, and listening to them for years I can say that Bad Magic (2015) , sounds like a lot of the twenty-two other studio albums Motörhead pumped out over 38 years. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s successful, and without the cigarette, and whiskey soaked voice of Lemmy Kilmister leading the unique recipe of fast paced, not giving a fuck, that’s been concocted throughout the band’s lifetime; it wouldn’t be the same. Though there isn’t much diversity in style, I still have a blast listening to Bad Magic (2015) and appreciate the consistency heard within Lemmy’s voice over his musical career.
Longtime members Philip Campbell (Guitar) and Mikkey Dee (Drums) are still more than able to tear it up as each song is just as energized as it was in 1993. The final song on the record is a Rolling Stones cover of Sympathy For The Devil. The group takes on the iconic song and if you had never heard the Rolling Stones original, you’d think the song was written by Motörhead. It’s so natural and it fit the group so well and was a great way to finish out the album. It wasn’t expected that this would be the last album Motörhead released, but it was a great way to finish a chapter in the legacy.
#5. Soulfly: Archangel (Released August 14th, 2015)
Soulfly kept it brutal for their tenth studio album, Archangel (2015). A combination of metal and some horrifying bible passages in the lyrical content. The record is heavy and holy shit, is it dark. The music is quick, its deep, and a great listen. Its fun and has some groove intertwined with melodic moments while keeping it deep. The diversity inside Archangel (2015) keeps you interested and guessing as to what you’ll get next bur assured its going to be good. At the end of the album, there is a bonus track, Soulfly X that contains the group perfuming on a sitar, a flamenco and Tony Campos on an acoustic bass. The song is interesting and definitely worth a listen if you’re into instrumentals.
Campos really stood out to me on the album. Bassists can be hard to pick up sometimes, but his presence is known in every song inside Archangel (2015). He leads the band and creates such a deep and interesting sound. It really is what made me enjoy the album so much. Campos exited the band earlier in 2015 to become the new bassist of Fear Factory, whose album, Genexus (2015) was released a week prior to Archangel (2015) and received very little recognition.
#4. Cancer Bats: Searching For Zero (Released March 10th, 2015)
2008 was when I had first heard Cancer Bats. Their second studio album, Hail Destroyer (2008) was just released and after hearing Lucifer’s Rocking Chair off that record, I was hooked. Seven years later, with a couple albums in between, Cancer Bats are still one of my favourites. This year, Searching For Zero (2015) did it for me again. I love the style Cancer Bats possesses; they’re thrashy, eccentric, and fucking hardcore! Its been speculated that Cancer Bats is more of a punk band, and there is no denying you get that vibe from some of their tunes, but in Searching For Zero (2015) there is way more metal influence.
Liam Cormier’s voice is as strong as ever and the dude can still belt his heart out. Scott Middleton, lead guitarist of the group presents his high energy playing in a diverse way. His style is pretty unique and contributes a lot to what gives Cancer Bat’s their signature sound. On the track, Beelzebub, it may be a slower song, but its heavy, catchy and you can’t help but get a sense of some Zakk Wylde inspirations in Middleton’s playing. I caught one of the band’s shows during their recent tour, and Cancer Bats didn’t disappoint. Getting to hear tracks off of Searching For Zero (2015) performed live, totally solidified how much I loved this album.
#3. Lamb of God: VII: Sturm und Drang (Released July 24th, 2015)
I can never get enough of the Adler brothers. Willie and Chris Adler have done it again and I couldn’t be happier. Chris beats the shit out of his kit in VII: Sturm und Drang (2015) and with Willie and Mark Morton’s intricate guitar work, the album came together so well. Although Ashes of The Wake (2004) will always hold a special place in my heart as one of the best showcasing for guitarists, Adler and Morton have gone back to the roots and there are even riffs that remind me of some of their older tunes. 512, the third track on the recent effort displays the abilities of the two guitarist and reminds you, that they can fucking shred.
This being the first work since his incarceration in the Czech Republic, Randy Blythe went all out and his voice is annihilating. The album has influences of Blythe’s prison experience no doubt, however there is a spark in his howl that brings intensity, and sends shivers down your spine knowing the suffrage being expressed, giving you the sense of how real it was, and the impact it had on Blythe as a person. What some may not expect, is the clean vocals on the song Overlord. Though it’s something you wouldn’t think of hearing on a Lamb of God record, it’s a pleasant surprise and is performed well. With the groups previous effort, Resolution (2012) being somewhat lacklustre, VII: Sturm und Drang (2015) really became one of my favourites from Lamb of God. Its a great step forward for the group and the album is a great one I enjoyed immensely throughout my year.
#2. Thy Art Is Murder: Holy War (Released June 29th, 2015)
Thy Art is Murder and their third studio album Holy War (2015) take runner up, as the band won me over this year. I wasn’t into the band that much, but caught this album in the “Suggested for you..” column on iTunes about a month after the album was released. It was the perfect, “drive fast and angry” music. Living in Edmonton, AB. I listened to the album a lot. Former Vocalist, Chris “CJ” McMahon had to be the deciding factor for me when I first heard Holy War (2015). The deep growl, and uniqueness of his voice had me
hooked on the first track of the album, Absolute Genocide.
Throughout, the record I didn’t stop moving my head. It’s catchy, its dark, and those breakdowns are seriously good. There is an erie overtone that lay above each song on the album but it only adds to the feel that you are listening to Thy Art is Murder. Performance wise, each musician compliments each other so well; from the blasts of drummer Lee Stanton, to the sweep picking of guitarist Andy Marsh – everything is so clean and well executed. Thy Art is Murder worked with other talents on Holy War (2015), including Winston McCall (Parkway Drive) providing guest vocals on Coffin Dragger and Phil Bozeman of Whitechapel screaming beside McMahon on the track Violent Reckoning.
Though some could argue there isn’t much diversity on the album throughout the songs. It really doesn’t seem necessary. Thy Art is Murder found a great recipe and ran with it, producing a high energy, and inciting album. Sadly, McMahon recently left the band a while after wrapping up a North American tour with Parkway Drive. McMahon’s powerful vocals will be missed, however his last contribution to Thy Art is Murder is a great one, found in Holy War (2015).
#1. Parkway Drive: IRE (Released September 25th, 2015)
Number ONE on the list for best Metal Album of the Year is firmly, Parkway Drive’s, IRE (2015) record. It had to be the best example of when a band evolves and takes a huge step forward. They did everything right in their most recent effort and after IRE‘s (2015) release, I listened to it repeatedly for weeks to follow. You can imagine how excited I was when their tour hit my city.
The breakdowns are on point, Winston McCall has never sounded better, and the musicians challenged themselves by breaking away from the metalcore formula they had been running for years. Jeffrey Ling and Luke “Pig” Kilpatrick fully embraced to new styling and work phenomenally well with each other and their guitars. Crushed, the fourth song in on IRE (2015), I’d deem as my favourite. The track gives me goosebumps on my fore-arms and no matter where I am, I can’t help but throw my head around when I hear it. Killing With a Smile (2005) was an iconic record for the band with the metalcore influence. In the following efforts, they seemed to be stuck and didn’t really make an impression on the metal community.
That all changed this year as there isn’t a moment of IRE (2015) I don’t enjoy, it’s heavy, intense and no group impressed me like Parkway Drive did in 2015, through headphones, and in concert. For each member’s individual growth, and for the band developing as a whole, Parkway Drive has easily earned the number one spot on my list.