Well, that’s 2015 all wrapped up like a lovely present all ready for the tree. So, now assignments and gigs are out of the way, I would like to present my holiday gift to you, reader. This year has been a big one for me. More gigs than ever before, more albums than I’ve ever taken time out to listen to, especially some that I wouldn’t have bothered with before. With that, there are a LOT of albums I had no idea would be making the cut this year, and some I’m disappointed did not. So folks, without further blabbering, here are my Top 15 Albums of 2015.
#15 – Parkway Drive – Ire
If you had told me in 2014 that Ire would be landing in my albums of the year, I’d have laughed in your face. Whilst I have no problem with Parkway Drive whatsoever, the band have never been one that I would consider myself a fan of. Sure, their live shows are untouchable and their songs are catchy (in that ‘I’ve had a terrible day’ kind of way), but I’ve never sat down and listened to them more than I’ve had to. However, this year the boys took a bold step into uncharted territory, and it paid off in droves. Ire is such a brave departure from the usual Parkway fare that it grabbed my attention instantly. The album just feels important, with it’s arena-style metalcore coupling itself with the band’s usual high-quality output, it’s accessible for both fans and newcomers alike. If metalcore has let you down this year, you must have missed Ire, and even if it didn’t, you owe it to yourself to check this album out.
#14 – No Devotion – Permanence
Yet another surprise, No Devotion’s Permanence is a raw, emotional rollercoaster that forces the listeners to rethink everything they expect from a traditional noise-pop inspired record. Heartfelt vocals, incredible lyrics and catchy melodies, the band are an underrated, overlooked juggernaut that are poised to break down the doors of the mainstream in 2016 and become vastly more important than they are at present. With the darkest pop record of the year, No Devotion have written an album that just keeps on giving.
#13 – Gallows – Desolation Sounds
Speaking of underrated, Gallows fourth album Desolation Sounds is the album that deserves to have made a much, much bigger splash in the scene than it unfortunately has. Featuring more experimental elements than ever before, the album draws inspiration from everything between indie-rock and straight up thrash metal, succeeding in every single foray into the unknown. The mix of harsh, growled vocals against the more strained clean efforts from vocalist Wade really give the record an incredibly unique feel, alongside Lags Bernard’s trademark guitar sound. This may be the Gallows you remember from 2009, but not as you know it, the guys are well oiled, heavier and meaner. As for songs, the album is bursting with absolute classics, making Desolation Sounds one of the finest records of the band’s career.
#12 – Clutch – Psychic Warfare
Earth Rocker was easily one of the best albums released back in 2013, and while Psychic Warfare might fall just short of standards previously set, the album is still word class in its own right. Featuring some of the best lyrics Neil Fallon has ever put to paper, the record is chock-full of memorable moments and riffs, and had it been a more difficult year, this album would have been up there in the top 5. If you like rock and roll, hell, if you like music with guitars in it, or even if you don’t, you love Clutch.
#11 – Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Blossom
After waiting months to finally see Frank and the Rattlesnakes in action, I can confirm that this time, Frank has written the real deal. Blossom is a furious, spiteful album filled with deceptively catchy melodies and gut-wrenching guitar-work. I can admit that the first time I heard the album, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed (despite the high score I awarded the album back when it was released in August). But as the time has passed, the record has awarded me with every listen, slowly working it’s magic and wrestling it’s way into my top 15, and very nearly my top 10. The punk scene has missed Frank Carter, and this time he’s giving it absolutely everything he’s got.
#10 – Turbowolf – Two Hands
When I first heard this album, I was every so slightly confused. A band that could manage to chop epic stoner-rock odysseys down to a snappy, concise four minutes must be capable of witchcraft. Containing some of the best choruses you’re gonna hear all year, Turbowolf take everything you love about psychedelic rock and squish it down to size, creating a record that infects the listener and just doesn’t go away (in the best sense, of course). If you don’t believe me, just check out any one of the singles the album has spawned, and tell me your feet weren’t tapping the entire way through. See? Told you.
#9 – Failure – The Heart Is A Monster
The polar opposite of the Turbowolf record, The Heart Is A Monster is an extended, contemplative record that requires the listener to sit and really think. A latecomer to the list, the album grabbed me instantly, and I’ve been listening to it ever since. At 18 tracks, the record is hardly a short one for the train home, but for anybody with some time on their hands, the album is yet another release that isn’t content with throwing you 11 tracks and some uninspiring artwork. Not a second is spared within it’s running time, and each track packs a punch like no other. In a sentence, the album is beautiful, multifaceted and unique, an album you wouldn’t expect to find in 2015. Mixing an almost 90’s sound with modern technology and attitudes, Failure have crafted one of my favourite albums in the year, and that’s only with a month’s worth of listens. From the more subtle, gentle piano-driven Mullholland Dr. to the more heavy metal oriented Atom City Queen, there’s something for everyone here.
#8 – The Wonder Years – No Closer To Heaven
The Wonder Years are a band I (unfairly) used to group with the generic pop-punk lot, with bands like All Time Low and Four Year Strong. How wrong was I, eh? No Closer To Heaven is an intense, emotionally draining experience that should only be experienced by those willing to have a serious look at themselves in the mirror straight afterward. Gorgeous melodies with punk-rock edge, it is one of the most honest records I’ve ever had the pleasure of discovering, and it’s opened up the door to check out more records of this kind, just incase I’m ignoring yet another band that deserve my attention.
#7 – Bring Me The Horizon – That’s The Spirit
Bring Me The Horizon are THE band right now, and let’s not forget my wonderful piece on that earlier this year. Seriously though, That’s The Spirit is another example of just why BMTH are the most important band on the planet right now. Rave reviews, a sold out UK arena tour, the boys are just going from strength to strength. As for the record, the band may have softened their sound, but that didn’t stop them from maintaining some of the best melodic rock this side of indie. Smart use of electronic elements, bonafide hit-single material and some seriously dangerous riffs, the album is perfect, and comes close to hitting the heights of 2013’s outstanding Sempiternal. That says a LOT.
#6 – Neck Deep – Life’s Not Out To Get You
Taking the top ten by storm a second year in a row, Neck Deep delivered what is most likely not just the best pop punk record of the year, but the best pop punk record of the last five years. Taking the listener back to the days of New Found Glory, Bowling For Soup & Blink 182 when we were treated to much more punk than we were pop, the album is unapologetically frantic, keeping pace whilst using so much of that more modern Green Day charm. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Neck Deep are due to take the world by storm, and 2016 is their chance to do it.
#5 – Coheed and Cambria – The Colour Before The Sun
Honestly, when I was too busy to get you an Album Club for October, you should be glad, because I would have wasted anywhere up to 1,000 words of your life blabbering about this album. Once again a band I had absolutely no time for previously have come out with one of the best records of the past five years, all killer and absolutely no notion of any filler. The album’s sense of almost-DIY like feel just add that extra layer of tangible honesty. If you’re a fan of music, pick this one up, because I have trouble explaining just what is so unbelievably perfect about The Colour Before The Sun, making it arguably the biggest surprise of 2015.
#4 – Ghost – Meliora
Oh, Ghost. Honing their trademark blend of stoner rock with a pinch of doom, psychadelica and black metal, the album houses some of the best riffs the band have ever written, not to mention the best song (Cirice, best song of the year. No contest). Sticking around for their fourth year, the band prove on Meliora that they aren’t just some gimmick, talentless freaks in cool masks. Taking more of an edged approach than their last release, Infestissumam, Meliora sees Ghost returning to their best, treating both fans and newcomers to some of the best heavy metal to be released this year.
#3 – Faith No More – Sol Invictus
As far as comebacks go, every band should just quit now. Please, just don’t do it, because Faith No More have just written the best comeback record any band could ever hope to achieve. Bloated with style and growing old gracefully, this creaky Faith No More 2.0 have written a peculiar, unique and refreshing album. Featuring everything from soft piano-led melodies to frantic thrash-metal, the record has absolutely everything, and may just stand as my favourite FNM release to date. The band aren’t trying to come back and pretend, they know they’ve aged, and they use that to their advantage and my word, does it pay off.
#2 – While She Sleeps – Brainwashed
After their world-beating debut back in 2012, While She Sleeps returned in 2015 to what seems like underwhelming fanfare, despite releasing an album that is far and away vastly superior to their previous effort in every aspect. Crushingly heavy, each song on the album packs more riffs into four minutes than most albums on this list. If anything, the album’s inclusion is an infuriating one, because the band deserve to be this high on every single album of the year list around. After three years, While She Sleeps are, as far as I’m concerned, the perfect metalcore machine. If this album passed you by, please pick it up and support one of the finest British bands on the scene right now. You won’t regret it.
#1 – Palm Reader – Beside The Ones We Love
If you follow me on Twitter, this is hardly going to come as surprise. After the superb Bad Weather back in 2013, Palm Reader have been working relentlessly, readying what is certainly the most deserving number one album of 2015. The album is almost drowing in ethereal atmosphere, suffocatingly intense riffs and gut-wrenching vocals. Every single aspect of the album oozes perfection, and it’s tear-jerking to consider the lack of attention the band receive after this once-in-a-lifetime release. A hardcore sledgehammer to the face, the album sits at ten tracks without a single second wasted. From the pummelling opening drums of I Watch The Fire Chase My Tongue to the epic closing chords ending the 8 minute long journey that is Unabridged, anybody listening will know just how special this album is. Going so far as to say it’s my favourite release of the last five years is an understatement, as Palm Reader have done something that so few have achieved. Letlive did it two years ago, and Palm Reader have done it this year. Beside The Ones We Love is perfect, flawless. The album has reinvigorated my love for music, the live scene, everything. This sounds like so much hyperbole, but it’s all absolutely true. If there’s one thing you do in 2016, check out Palm Reader. Buy a ticket, buy a t shirt, buy the album, anything. Without our support, bands as special as this don’t get to exist, and the thought of Palm Reader calling it a day after writing such a potent, world-best album like this is mind-numbing.
So, there you have it. Fifteen albums, 2,000 words of slathering dribble. In all honesty, it was an incredibly difficult year to pick albums. Picking this bunch meant leaving out bands such as Napalm Death, The Hell, The Black Dahlia Murder & The Ongoing Concept. However, the exclusion of releases from Bullet For My Valentine, Trivium and Def Leppard were not so hard. Have a great Christmas and a happy New Year, everybody. There’s a new letlive. Album due in 2016. That’s all I’m gonna say.