Listed below are our top ten albums of 2015. Listed in order from number ten to the number one position. They are fairly broad in scope, so there was much head scratching and hard decisions to be made. Comments are welcome, particularly as there may have been albums we have overlooked or just have not heard.
RPWL – WANTED
Whilst Pink Floyd released an album that was basically a hats off to Richard Wright and predominantly instrumental, there natural successors released an album that came in below the radar and missed the critical acclaim it should have received. Wanted does not take the band into new areas, although the electronica additions are welcome but it does reaffirm them as wonderful song writers and front-runners in the realm of melodic progressive rock. Definitely for fans of Porcupine Tree, Haken and Pink Floyd.
STEALING AXION – AEONS
If Roland Orzabal and Tears for Fears did Technical Death Metal then it would surely sound something like this. Stealing Axion manage to combine Death Metal growls with velvety clean vocals that have a warmth and depth to them that other bands simply cannot emulate. It all adds to the epic, emotional feel of the tracks and provides us with one of the best metal albums of 2014.
CULLOODEN – SILENT SCREAM
There is a general feeling that this album should be a lot higher in the Top Ten list than eighth . Released in early January, this album sits somewhere in the Power Metal and Progressive Metal genre. This is in a similar vein to bands such as Circus Maximus. What it is, is Power / Prog Metal without over the top vocals. Technically excellent and vocally excellent, this is a grower.
THE HOLD STEADY – TEETH DREAMS
What? An indie rock album in the Top Ten? You had better believe it. The Hold Steady roll back the years and bring back memories of a growling Graham Parker. The semi-spoken vocal passages and hard-edged guitars weave tales of desperation that cannot fail to move you. “There was a side of this city I didn’t want you to see, There’s just these guys that I know and we go back pretty deep and I hope this whole thing didn’t frighten you. There were times that it terrified me.” The Hold Steady, we salute you.
NOTHING MORE – NOTHING MORE
Personally, I play this album more than any other when I am in the car. It is full of little subtleties that you miss first time around and remains the album that you cannot resist listening to again and again. I believe this is the sixth album from the band and it is the one where they really come of age. Nothing More really excel of some of the slower tracks that remain haunting, time after time.
LANA DEL REY – ULTRAVIOLENCE
Lana Del Rey brought us another slice of dark, cinematic music with this release. Stacked full of harmonies and that rich, deep vocal that she consistently uses to such great effect. This is the album for those quiet, reflective moments sought in peaceful solitude. Hair raising at times and always beautiful and haunting. A deserved top five.
ANATHEMA – DISTANT SATELLITES
An album of building on a theme if ever there was one. Anathema take the under structure of a song and build on it until it becomes an anthem. It clearly uses repetition as a positive rather than a negative to make a tapestry of winding, evocative music. Their metal days are now firmly planted in the past as they move into a more ethereal mode. Would have made the top three were it not for one band’s brilliant release at the end of last year.
KOUZIN BEDLAM – LONGING FOR THE INCOMPLETE
This is the aforementioned album that pushed Anathema out of the top three (and we absolutely love that album). This album positively ‘rocks’. Progressive Metal at its finest. The production is polished and crisp as no instrument overpowers another and the vocals are clear and distinguishable. Why do the vocals remind me of Corey Taylor so much? That is not to say that these guys are like a progressive form of Slipknot or Stone Sour, they are not. However, they can punch out the riffs with the best of them and the vocals are top-notch. This album was released on the 5th December 2014 and just made it into the year’s best releases. Wonderful guitar work and actually, wonderful everything else. Almost our best metal album of the year.
THE WAR ON DRUGS – LOST IN THE DREAM
Well this was a tough decision. Should it have been the number one album? In some respects it should have been but the winner edged it, and I mean edged it. The War On Drugs have a style that sits like a psychedelic Dire Straits / Springsteen homage. However,the sound is very much their own. Musical landscapes, broken up by quiet reflective passages before cranking up the tension once more, are huge and atmospheric. If albums were land forms then Lost In The Dream would be a mountain.
DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT – Z2
A double disc release that gives you a mammoth amount of music for your money. Devin Townsend excels on the first disc. The first disc is not without its flaws. The production can be a little overwhelming at times, with instrumentation masked by the wall of sound. Nevertheless, the varying melodies that turn up in every song, keep every track interesting and have you reaching for the volume button to turn it up. The second disc almost sent it hurtling into second place because of the narrative on it. We have heard that there is a second disc minus the narrative. Would love to hear that. The first disc is colossal however, and is as good a piece of progressive rock as we have heard, period. Melodic, anthemic, metal, rock, slow, male vocals, female vocals, soaring harmonies, it is all here. Grab it and love it. The number one album of 2014.