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
Top 10 Metal Albums of the Year:
- Cruciamentum – Charnel Passages (Profound Lore)
UK death dealers emerge from the murky reaches of the cosmos with a triumphant, long anticipated debut LP. In space, no one can hear you scream (but don’t let that stop you from trying).
- Cult Leader – Lightless Walk (Deathwish Inc)
Hey, look — the decidedly non-rapey remnants of Gaza have a new record out. And it’s pretty damn mind-blowing, even without an incongruously reverent Mark Kozelek cover this time ‘round.
- Voices – London (Candlelight)
Speaking of feel-good hits of the preceding summer, nothing beats an epic prog-death concept album about suicidal urban ennui, amirite? (This is why I’m still single.)
- Enslaved – In Times (Nuclear Blast)
The unlikely Nordic inheritors of the grand Pink Floydian tradition continue to expand the creative boundaries of black metal with incremental yet impactful progress.
- Imperial Triumphant – Abyssal Gods (Aural Music/Code 666)
Imagine if Sun Ra landed in Bergen, went native with the church burners, then flew his unholy cosmic coven across the Atlantic to Brooklyn. Now call your therapist. Immediately.
- Mgla – Exercises in Futility (Northern Heritage/No Solace)
Harsh, unrelenting infernal force projection — everything you could ever want from a Polish black metal militia (ok, a free balaclava would be awesome, too).
- Desolate Shrine – The Heart of the Netherworld (Dark Descent)
Dense, atmospheric Finnish death doom impressionism with a fatalistic flair for the melodramatic. Eternal struggle and iniquity was never so satisfying, if inevitable in its final outcome.
- Nechochwen – Heart of Akamon (Nordvis)
Even if your knowledge of general North American history (much less that of Eastern Woodland Indigenous nations like the Shawnee or Seneca) is limited to vague, 30-second recollections of Canadian Heritage Moments past, there’s a little something for everyone to love in this genre-flouting, wholly realized Indigenous folk-metal masterpiece.
- Pyramids – A Northern Meadow (Profound Lore)
Imagine if AR Kane moved to Denton, Texas and started a black — no, that’s even more unlikely than the Sun Ra Bergen-to-Brooklyn scenario. Yet here we are, transfixed by woozy, elastic spasms of shoegazing Southwestern avant-metal, now with extra Colin Marston (Gorguts/Krallice/Dysrhythmia), Vindsval (Blut Aus Nord), and William Fowler Collins. Better put your therapist on speed dial yo.
- Lychgate – An Antidote For The Glass Pill (Blood Music)
A pipe organ-saturated extreme metal panopticon structure, weaponized against postmodern culture? Don’t let that scare you off — this indescribably unconventional, beguiling insta-classic defies simple categorization as Vortigern and co. take the listener on a perilous sonic journey down a dizzy, Escher-like spiral of pyrotechnic brilliance. Trust me – you will completely lose yourself in this near-perfect union of leftfield songwriting ambition and solid technical execution.
Favourite Album-Cover Art of 2015:
Evocative, disquieting gatefold summation of a grand thematic concept, masterfully rendered by artist Jeni Fitts.
Best gig I attended in 2015:
(Full disclosure: I was the promoter for this show. Still blew my mind/eardrums.)
Favourite physical-copy album I purchased in 2015:
The Apex – S/T
Most anticipated album for 2016:
Hands down, Rituals by Rotting Christ has me creaming my proverbial jeans, and I’ve yet to hear even a single discordant note from it. With every RC album since 2007’s Theogonia reaching new heights of sonic grandeur, one can’t help but hold monumental expectations for this latest forthcoming slab of wax. 25+ years in, Sakis Tolis and co are at their creative peak, making Rituals a potential new plateau for these legendary Greek black metal warriors as they reach for the heavens from the bowels of Hades.
My 2015 in Metal
In a nutshell: promoted some gigs, wrote a few reviews, listened to countless hours of heavy-ass music (some of it all kinds of awesome, some not so much). In between joyous denim ‘n’ leather reverie, real life did its goddamndest to harsh my not-so-mellow. The jury is still out on who ended up the victor, but at the end of the day/year I still have a roof over my head and a Spotify Premium subscription, if not my sanity.
Which is more than many can say.