It seems like every time I write a year-end list I start by expressing some amount of surprise at how good the releases were over the last 12 months. I think it's time to stop trying to qualify each year as a "good year for metal," and move forward with cockeyed optimism and the assumption that every year is a good year for metal. 2015 brought the goods as well as any year before it; tons of great releases from new bands, and a whole heap of new material from some of the underground's long-time veterans. It brings me unending joy to see so many great releases coming from around the world, and I hope the trend continues to grow until every home has at least one copy of Blasphemy's Fallen Angel of Doom on the shelf (y'know, for entertaining guests).
Enough gushing, let's get down to business. Some years it takes me weeks to narrow down my list, but 2015 gifted me with some albums that were in near constant rotation and gained their spot in the top 10 almost immediately. Everything else (11-40) is pretty fantastic, but those top 10 really blew me away. The only asterisk on the list is Spectral Wound's Terra Nullius, which is spectacular and probably would have a place in the top 10 if I'd gotten it more than a week ago. So, without further ado, my Top 40 Metal Albums of 2015:
40. Nahtrunar – Symbolismus
39. False – Untitled 2
38. Goat Semen – Ego Sum Sathana
37. Sulphur Aeon – Gateway to the Antisphere
36. Yellow Eyes – Sick with Bloom
35. Peste Noir – La Chaise-Dyable
34. Magister Templi – Into Duat
33. Abysmal Lord – Diciples of the Inferno
32. Intolerance – Hail the Triumvirate!
31. House of Atreus – The Spear and the Ichor that Follows
30. Nocternity – Harps of the Ancient Temples
29. Death Karma – The History of Death and Burial Rituals Part 1
28. Malsanctum – Metamorbid Fetishization
27. Undergang - Døden læger alle sår
26. Brånd – Demo 2015
25. Lluvia – Eternidad Solemne
24. Cruciamentum – Charnel Passages
23. Autokrator – Same
22. Sivyg Yar - Burial Shrouds
21. Bell Witch – Four Phantoms
20. Genocide Shrines - Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil (Scriptures Of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder)
19. Obsequiae – Aria of Vernal Tombs
18. Destruktor – Opprobrium
17. Ares Kingdom – The Unburiable Dead
16. Chrworsch – Ein Totenspruch zur viehischen Begattung
15. Adversarial – Death, Endless Nothing and the Black Knife of Nihilism
14. Cosmic Church – Vigilia
13. Slaegt – Beautiful and Damned/Ildsvanger
12. Archgoat – The Apocalyptic Triumphator
The mastermind behind Nocturnal Blood comes ripping into 2015 with a collection of demo material that embodies chaos, fear, paranoia, and brutality.
Possibly the most overlooked USBM album of the year. One Master absolutely destroy with their brand of orthodox-meets-melodic black metal.
Call them a super group if it makes you feel better, but VHOL is still gonna destroy your favorite band. Piles of influences + heaps of talent = 2015's most interesting record.
Beautiful raw black metal from Portugal in all its melodic glory. Listen with headphones and get lost in this incredible album.
My favorite death metal album of the year, and a hard release to top for years to come. Dark, dense, melodic, and altogether brilliant. It's also worth noting that Abyssal is the work of one man–or maybe I should say one evil genius?
As a long-time fan I expected I'd enjoy the new Revenge album, but I had no idea it would blow me away completely. The clean production was a bold choice, and it pays off in spades. Chaos personified, and some of the most incredible vocals I've heard in years.
There isn't much to say about Exercises in Futility...well, other than it's a modern masterpiece and sets a new bar for Mgla and the entire black metal genre, but nothing beyond that.
Possession is proof that one great riff and a good concept is all you really need. Menacing, punishing, and catchy at all the right moments; 1588-1646 is easily the best album about an accused witch being burned at the stake in ages.
Out of the ashes of the super solid, but not that interesting, Gnosis of the Witch comes Veiled with an incredible demo, Omniscient Veil. It took a few spins for this one to sink in, but once it did I couldn't get enough. There's a subtle beauty to the madness, and loads of melody buried under all the chaos.
This album grabbed my attention from the very beginning and never got old, no matter how many times I listened to it throughout the year. Boasting some of the most incredible black metal riffs I've heard in the last 10 years, Söngvar elds og óreiðu is unrelenting in almost every way; creativity, brutality, and as a master class in atmosphere. From beginning to end Söngvar elds og óreiðu is a completely unique and wonderful experience. Iceland is the new black metal capital of the world.