Everyone has their opinion about which albums were amazing and which weren’t for any given year. It’s not up for me to tell you that you’re wrong. However, that’s pretty much exactly what I’m about to do. My Top 10 this year reflects a deeper connection with the music I was jamming. There’s a valid reason for every single album to be on this list, and in the order in which it appears. I laughed, cried, partied, and just lived my life to these albums. This year has been relentless and chaotic, but amidst that chaos some truly great things have happened. Nowhere is this more quantifiable than in the world that encompasses music. Let’s start with my honorable mentions.
Honorable Mentions: Chon- Grow, Justin Bieber- Purpose, Cattle Decapitation- The Anthropocene Extinction, Jarrod Alonge- Beating a Dead Horse: Deluxe Ultra-Limited Exclusive Undead Edition
I don’t exactly plan to dig too deeply into these albums, but all three deserve mentioning here. Chon has been building a solid name for themselves for a few years now. In 2015 they finally signed to a label (Sumerian Records) and dropped one of the hottest albums of the year. “Grow” is neither metal nor prog. It’s firmly lodged in this beautiful gray area that only a talent act like Chon could exploit to their benefit. Cattle Decapitation has continued its mastery of the gore/grindcore genre, and even expanded upon its sound with this year’s immense release, “The Anthropocene Extinction.” As usual, they deserve a high level of praise for their progressive thinking, vegan attitude, and overall persona. Jarrod Alonge is not only a talented, up-and-coming comedic talent, but he’s a talented musician as well. While “Beating a Dead Horse: Deluxe Ultra-Limited Exclusive Undead Edition” is a re-issue of his first album of the same (albeit much abbreviated) name, his new tracks are so technically sound that you wouldn’t know they weren’t serious unless I had just told you. I also had the privilege of spending all summer on the illustrious Bus 15 with Jarrod, and have the pleasure to call him a friend of mine. Give this album a jam, it’s everything you love and hate about your favorite genres of music, wrapped up into one.
You’ve probably been wondering what in the actual hell I could possibly say positively about Justin Bieber. I don’t have many words, but I also don’t have to justify my feelings here. The dude released a damn good album, and if no one told you it was Biebs when they put it on, you would never be able to guess on your own. Bieberculosis is real, it’s contagious, and I’m pretty sure I have it. You may know better in layman’s terms- Bieber Fever. I regret nothing.
Now, without further ado- Sam’s Top 10 Albums of 2015
10. Miss May I- Deathless
Miss May I are your prototypical American metal band. Everything they write and play is very technically sound, and their musical talent definitely shines through in every song. I included this album in my top ten not because it was groundbreaking or light years beyond what anyone else was doing, but because it’s a fun album. It jams from start to finish. This is a windows down, music blaring, pedal to the metal kind of album. I also found it’s a great road rage release with songs like “I.H.E.” and “Bastards Left Behind” to help quell my anger towards humanity. These guys also know how to put on a killer live set. They were one of the main Vans Warped Tour bands this summer, and while I was unfamiliar with them at the start, by the time tour wrapped up, they became a band I could never forget. Some of my favorite memories from this summer were realizing that MMI were starting their set, running towards the pit, and throwing down with the locals. The Miss May I dudes are also some of the most genuinely nice people you’ll ever meet. I’m endlessly proud of them for this album, and I’m stoked to see what they have coming around the bend.
9. The Black Dahlia Murder- Abysmal
I’ll acknowledge up front that even I find the No.9 spot to be conspicuously low on this list. BDM has long been one of my all-time favorite bands, and I’m one of the few people who can say they legitimately have been into this band since “Unhallowed” dropped all those years ago. Maybe they should be higher? Maybe they should be, but if you feel so strongly about it, go write your own list. This is my list, and the Dahlia Dudes get No.9 because I say so. Abysmal is a killer record that plenty of other bands probably wish they could have written and released themselves. It has everything you’ve come to love and expect from The Black Dahlia Murder, and unfortunately, that’s what plops it at No.9. I will always love this band, and subsequently any future release they might have. Everyone should listen to BDM at least once, and if you call yourself a metal fan and don’t like this band then I heavily question your sincerity. The issue is that the other albums on this list released albums that connected to me on deeper levels, or broke new ground in territory none have yet safely explored. That counts for something with me, more so than an old standard holding true to their identity does.
8. Night Riots- Howl
If you haven’t had the opportunity to hear about Night Riots, here’s your chance. These boys are poised to explode over the next year or two, but you don’t have to wait for that in order to jam some solid tunes from them now. I can safely say that the only drawback to “Howl” is that it’s only six songs long, otherwise it’s a blessing to your ears. The album is playful, fresh, and has no qualms about being a pop album. Night Riots is NOT a pop band, they just wrote a catchy, upbeat, and accessible album, which I hope is a good portent for the future. Their sound is more accurately paralleled with bands like The Smiths or The Killers- synthesizer laden, ambient rock with romantic or introspective lyrics layered on top of one another. Another band I happily discovered this summer on Warped Tour, Night Riots has all of the markings of future success. If this album had a few more tracks, it might have even cracked my Top 5. Keep your eyes peeled in 2016 for their first full-length album. I expect at least a track or two to actually get regular radio play. These boys are about to blow up.
7. Entheos- Primal EP
Take the musical masterminds behind Animosity, add the low-end ferocity of (arguably) metal’s best modern bassist, toss in a dash of avant-garde vocal styling’s, and you’ll find yourself culminating with the band known as Entheos. Evan Brewer (the aforementioned bassist) teamed with the dynamic duo of Navene Koperweis and Chaney Crabb, as well as jazzy riff-master Frank Costa to unleash one of the most relentless and masterful four track EP’s of the last ten years. I’ve craved something similar to the phenomenal grind band Animosity, which featured (at various times) all three of the male musicians, before its untimely demise after the release of 2010’s “Torture by Animosity” and Entheos does not disappoint. The shining bright center to this formidable band is Chaney Crabb, the female front-man of this fearsome foursome. She absolutely kills it on this EP, and her live powerhouse performances truly set the standard for what’s expected of metal vocalists- both male and female. Sadly, within the last two months, Entheos has parted ways with guitarist Frank Costa. However, their recent signing to Artery Recordings and the completed production on their upcoming first full-length album has Entheos primed and ready to conquer 2016.
6. Periphery- Juggernaut: Omega
Rounding out the first half of my Top 10 Albums of 2015 is part two of Periphery’s epic Juggernaut album release. I chose to list these albums separately (SPOILER ALERT: Juggernaut: Alpha is most definitely in my Top 5) because they were released separately. Sure it was on the same day, and on the same label, but the two albums are two distinct entities that both deserve separate treatment. Juggernaut: Omega is a prog masterpiece. The album is 7 tracks long, clocking in at just less than 40 minutes of musical precision, and touting my personal favorite song on both albums- the penultimate “Stranger Things.” This is the perfect culmination of the story originally began in Juggernaut: Alpha. All six members of this band shine throughout this record, both individually and as a unit. Periphery has positioned themselves to become the next great progressive metal band, following the likes of Between the Buried and Me and Dream Theater. More appropriately, this album came about at a time of great personal change in my life. The empowerment these tracks enabled me to find in times of great duress will forever leave me indebted to these talented musicians. Their creativity and vulnerability goes almost entirely unmatched in the music industry, and I cannot wait for what the future holds for this illuminating band of artists.
Well that about wraps up Nos. 6-10, as well as my runner’s up. Be sure to check back next week as I reveal my Top 5. You might be surprised who cracked into that most exclusive of lists. Unless it’s Periphery, in which case, you kind of already know. Either way, whatever, check back next week. And Happy Holidays. Or whatever.