2015: The Year in Metal


It’s that most wonderful time of the year. No, not the holidays. I’m talking about the countless hours of discussion devoted to the topic that matters most in my and many other’s existence…the best metal albums of the past year. List after list after list, album after album, I read and read and read. Next, I make a spreadsheet, inputting all the lists I got my hands on, and then I just sit and stare at them, much like my 12-year-old self did to stacks of Playboy magazines neatly tucked away, hiding within a toolroom in our basement, or so my parents thought.

Let’s be clear, even though I put a fair amount of time evaluating and compiling a list each year, I’m fully aware that it has no bearing whatsoever on the fate of our metal culture…nor that anyone reads or cares about it…but I’m given purpose by the process, and so forward we move. Normally, the end of year lists begin to appear out of nowhere, and in droves. I get overwhelmed, panic and a child-like internal shit-show ensues. This year though, I made a conscious effort to make a list of potential albums as I found them. As expected, this made things ridiculously easier, but what I didn’t expect, was seeing the semi-consistency of my list over the course of a year. I chose not to rank these releases, I don’t have the emotional capacity to do so, but instead have them all stand on the same platform. So, without further adieu…

Dead in the MangerCessation

dead-in-the-manger-cessationThe first album I took note of for 2015 was Dead in the Manger’s debut full length Cessation. A band hailing from an apparent unknown location, my guess would be a US zip code of some kind, Dead in the Manger introduce themselves as atmospherical, spacey black metal, but that’s just the beginning. Their shape transforms itself into a blend of sludge-soaked doom accented with sprinkles of death and grindcore. [Cessation is available via Bandcamp.]

PanopticonAutumn Eternal

panopticon-autumn-eternalOpening with the call of a Loon, perhaps signaling closure in the pilgrimage from Kentucky to Minnesota, the third piece of Panopticon’s trilogy, beginning with Kentucky and continuing with Roads to the North, Autumn Eternal reminds us of a key black metal ingredient often overlooked…nature. Solely comprised of mastermind Austin Lunn, Panopticon crosses the genre spectrum, utilizing an overarching melody that transforms itself across the album, visciously soaring above the chaos and deeply embedding itself within the tranquil. [Autumn Eternal is available via Bandcamp.]

Black Fast – Terms of Surrender

black-fast-terms-of-surrenderThis St. Louis quartet’s sophomore effort is riddled with luscious riffs and melodic hooks, so addicting they’re worthy of an entire season of Dateline, which people will refer to as “To Catch a Shredator.” Endlessly relentless yet charmingly raw, Terms of Surrender is a welcome addition to the ranks of those destroying the myth of the sophomore slump. [Terms of Surrender is available via their website.]



false-untitledOn their debut full-length, Minneapolis-based False continue where their 2012 identically-titled EP left off. Truly a narrative, composed of 5 songs and coming in at just under an hour, this album is meant to be experienced in it’s entirety. Their brand of black metal is both beautifully hypnotic while horrifically raw, and could quite possibly serve as the score to the most supurlative horror film not yet made. [Untitled is available via Bandcamp.]


Minsk – The Crash and the Draw

Minsk-The-Crash-And-The-DrawI feel for my co-workers somedays. I listen to metal all day, but because I’m always focused on projects, most of said music passes through my ears without much absorption. The Crash and the Draw, Chicago-based Minsk’s fourth album, was one that pulled me in immediately, like a tractor beam (I’m in the middle of a Star Wars marathon in prep for seeing Episode VII tomorrow). Their brand of psychedelic sludge easily distracted me from every concept, tagline and proof I was working on. [The Crash and the Draw is available via Bandcamp.]

Vattnet ViskarSettler

vattnet-viskar-settlerFortunately, my cousin, at times, will metaphorically dunk my head in a toilet, an effort to capture my attention, most recently to let me know how amazing Settler is. In a year tightly interlaced with USBM nuances, more than previous years from what I can remember, the New Hampshire-based quartet takes a deeper approach to their sophomore album. Settler, loosely referenced on the cover, touches on themes relating to the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster, more specifically, the aftermath and those affected by it. Themes aside, Vattnet Viskar epitomizes solid, intensely raw, spacey (no pun) black metal. [Settler is available via their website.]

Rivers of Nihil – Monarchy

rivers-of-nihil-monarchyI was completely enamored with 2013’s The Conscious Seed of Light, to the point of knowing that this Pittsburgh quintet’s sophomore effort would be just as brutal, and like the delightful soothsayer I am, my prediction was correct. With Monarchy, Rivers of Nihil continue with their pulverizing tech-death, injecting doses of prog, intensifying the depth of complexity, on top of the already intricate barrage of turbulence. [Monarchy is available via Bandcamp.]


Bosse-de-NageAll Fours

The fourth album from San Francisco’s Bosse-de-Nage is a opus of pure raw passion, both literally and metaphorically. All Fours is a blistering noise exhibit that displays beauty and richness throughout it’s unpredictable chaos. Living mainly within the walls of post/black metal, their story touches on moments of post-hardcore, sludge and doom, among others, but overall, it was the bitter rawness, notably heard in the guitars and drums, that kept me coming back. [All Fours is available via Bandcamp.]



khemmis-absolutionThe debut album from this Denver quartet is devastatingly slow and low, harmonized with the weighted melodies completely engulfed in fuzz, complete with an album cover worthy of The Dark Tower series. On Absolution, Khemmis  has created a factory of guitar chugging majesty blending it with semi-hypnotic yet soaring vocals. Hopefully the Pallbearer comparisons are taken as compliments. [Absolution is available via Bandcamp.]




This Brooklyn trio’s brand of gripping experimental black metal spans the spectrum of guilty associates. Ranging from ambient, spacey doom to deep, dirty sludge contrasted with the speed and chaotic rawness of black metal, Revisionist is an album worthy repeating…for an entire day, or week depending on how your’s is going. They remind me a lot of Year of No Light, the sole metal band my wife actually likes, building melodic chaos that sometimes finds resolution…and sometimes not, which works just as well. [Revisionist is available via Bandcamp.]


Honorable Mentions

Cattle DecapitationThe Anthropocene ExtinctionGhost BathMoonlover Leviathan – Scar SightedLamb of GodVII: Sturm und DrangDeafheavenNew Bermuda | Chelsea WolfeAbyss | Fuck the FactsDesire Will Rot | Temple of BaalMysterium | UfomammutEcate | OshiegoCrossing the Bridge of Siraat

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