As another year draws to a close, we metalheads tend to take time to reflect on what the year in metal meant to us, and prepare our various lists of what was great, what sucked, and everything in between.
This year we decided to get a little more up close and personal with Team Hellbound, and get a sense of not only each staffer’s favorite albums of the year, but also a sense of the state of metal in 2015 from everyone.
We here at Hellbound thank you for your continued readership, and wish you a very headbanging 2016.
Happy Holidays from Hellbound!
— Kyle Harcott
Metal Albums of the Year:
20. Kampfar – Profan (Indie Recordings)
19. Leviathan – Scar Sighted (Profound Lore)
18. Satan’s Satyrs – Don’t Deliver Us (Bad Omen)
17. Tsjuder – Antiliv ISeason of Mist)
16. Michael Monroe – Blackout States (Spinefarm)
15. Clutch – Psychic Warfare (Weathermaker)
14. Vastum – Hole Below (20 Buck Spin)
13. King Giant – Black Ocean Waves (Graveyard Hill)
12. Immortal Bird – Empress/Abscess (Broken Limbs)
11. Satan’s Wrath – Die Evil (Metal Blade)
- Death Karma – The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part I (Iron Bonehead)
An auditory exploration of death and burial rituals worldwide set to grim, foreboding Slovakian black metal, by way of the members of Cult of Fire, this was definitely one of the most fascinating records I heard this year.
- Magic Circle – Journey Blind (20 Buck Spin)
Any time a doom-metal band whips out a KISS lick in the albums’ first track, you know I’m gonna prick up my ears. You check out the verse riff in “Journey Blind” and tell me that’s not a hot take on ”All American Man”.
- RAM – Svbversvm (Metal Blade)
Swedes go ape with unabashed Priest worship.
- Amber Asylum – Sin Eater (Prophecy)
Once again, the long-overdue return of the forlorn cellos of Amber Asylum unfold as a breathy, longform sigh. The most beautifully depressing record I heard this year.
- Crypt Sermon – Out of the Garden (Dark Descent)
Serious, serious swagger from out of nowhere. I’m stupid-picky about my doom metal, to a fault – but hot damn! if Crypt Sermon didn’t blow me away. The band worships at the altar of some parallel-universe religion when Our Sainted Father Ronnie James Dio wound up in Sweden fronting a little band called Candlemass. If that isn’t enough for you to take interest, then brother, I don’t want to know you.
- Magister Templi – Into Duat (Cruz del Sur)
I was super-impressed by their last record, and was anticipating the hell out of this one. Magister Templi did not let me down. More doomslaked classic-sounding heavy metal with a strong penchant for tight riffs and catchy-as-fuck hooks, this time with an Egyptology bent.
- Black Fast – Terms of Surrender (EOne)
Forward-thinking, futuristic thrash that stays relentless and never once bogs itself down in all that “progressive” bullshit everybody likes to call it. I prefer to call it “spacethrash”, myself. And what a great band name.
- Nightslug – Loathe (Lost Pilgrims)
Loathe is basically a truncheon in audio form, its design so basic it’s meant for one thing only: cracking skulls. Powerful stimuli from unabashed worshipers at the altar of AmRep. There were a lot of good noise-rock records this year, but this one was a cut above.
- Therapy? – Disquiet (Amazing)
Northern Ireland’s finest, and one of my favorite bands since Troublegum, any year with a new Therapy? record is a good year. As a conceptual sequel to Troublegum 20 years on, Disquiet saw T? return to big hooks and big riffs. Now if only they’d come play North America again…
- Night Viper – Night Viper (Svart)
Like the deadly attack of its namesake, Night Viper’s self-titled record envenomated me blind, from out of nowhere, and lightning-fast. Formed in 2014 with Tom Sutton (Horisont, ex-Church of Misery) helming guitars, their brand of NWOBHM-worship is particularly potent, sporting tight riffs and the kind of hooks that stick in your head for days. This one’s got long fangs.
Chris Holmes – Shitting Bricks (Independent)
- He is the Mean Man, y’dig?
- His voice reminds me of El Duce.
- His guitar still sounds exactly like it did in W.A.S.P
- Fuck off.
Thou & the Body covering Marilyn Manson’s “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” on KEXP Seattle. This version needs to get its own 7” like pronto. The whole thing sounds like a giant middle finger raised.
Favourite Album-Cover Art of 2015:
- Gives me the creeps.
- Oddly, it’s perfect representation of the claustrophobic nightmare fuel contained within.
- Gives me the serious fucking creeps.
Best gigs I attended in 2015:
HUGE shout-out to The Covenant, Van city’s first 3-day festival of ripping underground death and black metal, and dark neofolk – all for the unbelievable 3-day festival pass price of $30! Highlights for me were the second night at Hindenburg, with the eerie ritual folk of Scythe Bearer and the pummeling gurgle of Victoria’s Holocaust Lord. Next year’s lineup promises to be even better.
Equally as impressive was seeing Abyss, Deathwinds, and AHNA ripping hell out of the tiny, sweat-soaked room at the Black Lab. Fuck me for forgetting earplugs though – by the time DK and the boys finished their set, my hearing was done. For the next three days.
Favourite physical-copy album I purchased in 2015:
While my expenditures on vinyl this year were way down this year, I do want to take a sec to give a huge shout-out to Hits and Misses Records, which opened up shop in Van City this year (and only about ten minutes down Hastings from where I live!) Pete’s shop not only brings the hot fire as far as his stellar, collection of metal, punk, crust and hardcore continues to expand – but he also keeps it real legit by not charging an arm and a leg for everything. Respect. Was extra-super-jazzed to find a Mentors LP and Back From Samoa (FINALLY!) at Pete’s shop.
Also, stupidly-loud shout-out to my friend Craig Hayes for hunting high and low across New Zealand and tracking down and sending me a copy of SKULDOM’s incredibly rare Kill This Fucking World CD. Thank you, Craig!
Most anticipated album for 2016:
Abbath, Vektor, Darkthrone, and maybe a new Dead Horse record?!
My 2015 in Metal:
Eh, I probably shoulda listened to more stuff this year, but even still, I heard a lot of good albums.
As far as my miniscule place in metal journalism goes, it was a pretty good year – what with getting to speak to several people on my bucket list like Andy Cairns, Eerie Von, Bill Ward (again!), and Rob Halford.
Sadly, two of my childhood heroes passed far too early in 2015. Requiescat in pace, AJ Pero and Philthy Animal Taylor. The two of you were giants in your own right, and I certainly looked up to both of you when I first picked up sticks. AJ’s phenomenal fill-work on the Under The Blade album, and Philthy’s unyielding double-kick on “Overkill” both belong in the Metal Drums Hall of Fame. Legends both, gone too soon. Avé.
Constant outrage clickbait continues to try and derail the real issues – mainly, does this riff kill? The rest is just fartnoise, and far too many people who should know better are all too quick to jump all over whatever this week’s pet hate is – and it’ll be forgotten just as quick when someone finds another fake outrage tomorrow.
Meanwhile, heavy metal – with all its quirks, foibles, and triggers – ticks along as it has, and will. And not even you, stamping your feet and holding your breath ‘til you turn blue, will stop it, special snowflake.