It’s pretty insane to think that 2015 is pretty much almost over, and as we look back, it’s hard to argue that it was anything but a great thing for metal. Heritage bands like Slayer, Lamb of God and Iron Maiden debuted in the top 5, and Five Finger Death Punch and Bring me the Horizon both had albums debut at #1, and even Ghost got in on the top ten debut action. Slipknot and Lamb of God played to capacity crowds even as the Mayhem Fest grinded to a halt. And while we’ve gone yet another year without new albums from Tool or Metallica, there was a hell of a lot of quality music out there.
10) Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, The Night Creeper (Rise Above)
Like the Beatles on a bad trip or Black Sabbath starring in Easy Rider, Uncle Acid returned with their fourth album, and it ranks with their best. They didn’t reinvent the wheel from Mind Control, their last album, but they didn’t need to. Stoner rock that’s melodic, heavy and obsessed with that moment at the end of the ’60s between the summer of Love and Altamont/Manson where all the optimism of the ’60s turned ugly. In short, the perfect soundtrack for a weekend night. Given that they weren’t really on America’s radar until recently, if they wind up on the right tour, could blow up here in the next few years.
Key track: “Melody Lane”
9) Refused, Freedom (Epitaph)
It’s more than a little ironic that Swedish hardcore band Refused, who were so anticapitalist in 1998 when they broke up, returned in such a big way, playing Coachella when they reformed back in 2012 and embarking on a string of sold out venues that they could have only dreamed of back then. They earned the right, though, after writing The Shape of Punk to Come, an album that’s still revered to this day. Of course their follow-up album had a lot to live up to, and any band making new music after more than a decade apart is a sketchy proposition, but Freedom ably welcomed the band to the mid-teens, taking their signature energy, updating it with modern production, and writing a worthy successor. Welcome back, guys.
Key track: “Dawkins Christ”
Whether you’re familiar with the Norwegian prog band through their association with Ihsahn or not, Congregation is my favorite album by them. Einar Solberg’s soaring vocals make him sound like Jeff Buckley at times, and the band’s proggy djent-like grooves and stellar musicianship was enough for Congregation to worm it’s way into my top ten just the same way songs like “The Flood” and “The Price” wormed their way into my head.
Key track: “The Flood”