25 Albums from 2015 That are #Good
This started as an ordered list of my favourite albums of 2015. But after the first few, it became hard to rank one over the other. So, here’s just a list of great albums that came out this year. They are all deserving of praise for different reasons. I tried to sum those reasons up nice and quickly. Enjoy.
Krallice – Ygg Huur
Trying to categorize Ygg Huur will give you a headache. The music won’t. Krallice has ventured far beyond black metal and are playing in a box that can only be labeled “avant-garde” (after all, four tracks all have the same runtime). But the music is as fresh, memorable, and meaningful as you’ll hear in metal. Nothing is as impressive this year.
Counterparts – Tragedy Will Find Us
The only band worthy of taking the torch from Misery Signals, this is melodic hardcore served with technical precision and ideas that no one else in the genre can offer. And the emotion…it’ll make you feel things.
Mac Miller – GO:OD AM
Dynamic production serves as a backdrop for entertaining bangers, soul-bearing crooning, and whatever falls in between. Mac’s development is rap’s best storyline.
Abhorrent – Intransigience
An album in the work since I was a teenager, this is technical death metal executed flawlessly. Every instrument played masterfully, the vocals serving as a simple and effective constant, never overpowering the stars of the record.
Future – DS2
DS2 is a man battling demons. Lots of them. Even still, its impeccable ATL-based production, leaned-out delivery, and infectious hooks give DS2 replayability for eons.
Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
A triumph, TPAB’s depth is unparalleled. But that depth also makes it a difficult listen. This is an album that needs to be listened to in full, and it deserves to be. No passive listening allowed.
Kamasi Washington – The Epic
The hip jazz record of the year brings great technical ability together with memorable phrases – making it a lot more appealing to those who have always flirted with jazz, but never committed.
Okazaki Fragments – Abandoned
Previously unknown, Okazaki Fragments deliver one of the most inventive technical death metal albums of recent memory. Sure, there are riffs on riffs, but the songwriting is what is most impressive. Wherever their music takes them, make sure you’re along for the ride. This is special, special music.
Yautja – Songs of Lament
Songs of Lament is basically an EP, but it has the impressiveness of a full-length. Even moreso than Yautja’s 2014 LP Songs of Descent. The riffs are heavier, the songwriting better. What a band.
Cult Leader – Lightless Walk
This is Gaza playing punk – literally and figuratively. Heavy as fuck, it’s impressive how such a simple formula is so unique to Cult Leader. Nothing else sounds like this, yet it fits comfortably in the crust/hardcore spectrum.
Dendritic Arbor – Romantic Love
Romantic Love will haunt you. It’s an unsettling and difficult listen, but that’s where its power lies. Somehow, a band from Pittsburgh pushed the limits of black metal.
Young Thug – Barter 6
On it’s own, Barter 6 is a great debut album. But what makes it so special is what it promises for Thug in 2016. Along with both Slime Seasons, this helped Thug have a monstrous 2015. He would have been rap’s artist of the year if not for Future.
Weeknd – Beauty Behind the Madness
The Weeknd is a full-fledged pop superstar now. And that suits him a lot more than the half-baked sad r&b crooner he was before. Yeah, that side of him is still here, but it’s welcomed a lot more when it’s not Abel’s entire aural identity.
Ad Nauseam – Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est
Plenty of bands have tried to take Gorguts’s throne. Ad Nauseam has come the closest. They don’t try to hide their influences – there’s no reason to when your influences rule so fucking hard. Dissonant, techy bliss.
Elagabalus – Damnatio Memoriae
If Death From Above 1979 and Lightning Bolt had a baby that played black metal, it would be Elagabalus. You’ve never heard anything like this.
Abyssal – Antikatastaseis
Abyssal did to death metal what Dendritic Arbor did to black metal. This is dark, haunting stuff. But what makes Antikatastaseis special is its songwriting. It’s impossible to crawl your way out.
Mutoid Man – Bleeder
You’d expect a band with members of Cave In and Converge to rock hard as hell, but the hooks are what will keep you coming back. This is a grower with sing along power.
Iwrestledabearonce – Hail Mary
This is fun, plain and simple. Heavy, ignorant technical deathcore. Once a “scene” band, IWABO’s songwriting has come along way – without sacrificing the fun.
Palm – Trading Basics
Off-time math rock aplenty, Trading Basics is a head bopper. And the choice to actually have vocals in a genre that often forgoes them is very welcomed. A reminder that fucked up time signatures and rhythms can be found outside of metal.
Upsilon Acrux – Sun Square Dialect
2015’s most challenging piece of music. It’s a fun, heart-pounding journey. Entirely instrumental, Upsilon Acrux refuse to obey the laws of music. Best marvelled at live.
Good Tiger – A Head Full of Moonlight
A reminder of a time when mathy emo rock was not just cool, but good. Impressive musicianship + great songwriting = a record that’s hard to stop listening to.
Serious Beak – Ankaa
I don’t know what Ankaa is or how to talk about it. That’s probably why I like it so much.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love
This is music for happy people. UMO had a very defined aesthetic they were aiming for, and everything from the drum patterns to production fulfill that vision.
Cloud Rat – Qliphoth
Qliphoth just rules so fucking hard. Relentless powerviolence-tinged hardcore, with one of the genre’s best vocalists screaming her internal organs out. Listen to it at work, and you’ll consider starting a mosh pit at the watercooler.
Bandit – Of Life
Good god can Bandit write songs. These indie darlings will make you feel things. Tears might drip down your cheek, but you’ll be smiling the whole time.
BONUS: A BUNCH OF OTHER GOOD ALBUMS
No Joy – More Faithful
Liturgy – The Ark Work
Intronaut – The Direction of Last Things
Pyramids – A Northern Meadow
Ringo Deathstarr – Pure Mood
Rolo Tomassi – Grievances
The Rodeo Idiot Engine – Malaise
Sikth – Opacities
Strawberry Girls – American Graffiti
Suis La Lune – Distance/Closure
Svalbard – One Day All This Will End
Black Breath – Slaves Beyond Death
August Burns Red – Found in Far Away Places
Apparatus – Apparatus