Not going to sugar-coat it, this was way harder than in previous years. 2015 was a great year for metal and trying to nail this down to only ten records was nearly impossible. So at the risk of asking for a mulligan at some point here are ten albums that kicked my ass this year…
10) Crypt Sermon, Out of the Garden
The debut from this Philadelphia five-piece sounds like a lost album from the early 80s. Their brand of doom metal hearkens back to a time when doom was just a flowering bud on the mighty branch of what we now consider traditional metal. The easy influence references include the usual suspects like Trouble and Solitude Aeturnus, but Crypt Sermon are not afraid to stray from the doom script and what we are left with is an exceptional album that stood out during an exceptional year for doom metal in general.
Recommended track: “Heavy Riders”
9) Karyn Crisis’ Gospel of the Witches, Salem’s Wounds
I will fully admit out loud that I’ve been a huge fan of Karyn Crisis’ work for more years than I can count. Her biggest and best musical project since the death of her namesake band, Crisis, lived up to whatever hopes her fans had for her return, and then some. With Crisis’ trademark vocals once again maniacally dancing all over the map, and and all-star cast of musicians backing her the Gospel of the Witches project was easily one of the most eclectic and unique metal releases of the year. Combining various elements of doom, post-rock/metal, and electronica, Gospel of the Witches proved to be a perfect vehicle for this spiritual, musical journey.
Recommend track: “Mother”
8) Obsequiae, Aria of Vernal Tombs
There are a lot of metal bands today trying to meld various forms of music with all things heavy. But possibly no other artist did a better job with taking something that, on paper, makes no sense and making it work. By taking something as soothing and interesting as Medieval-inspired classical pieces and successfully forging them together with atmospheric black metal, Obsequiae made every other band attempting such a wedding of sounds seem like the sonic equivalent of jamming a large square into a small, round hole. Picture Dissection falling in love with Medieval composer Leonin and you might get something close to this. It’s as catchy as it is stunning and worthy of a seat in your collection next to all the greats of the mighty second wave of black metal.
Recommended track: “Autumnal Pyre”