Hello everyone! What an excellent year it has been so far for metal! We’ve had plenty of good albums come out from both well known and unknown bands this year, and it has only just begun with the rest of 2015 having the return of Disturbed, Slayer, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Cattle Decapitation, and maybe Amon Amarth. And while we’re anticipating more awesome albums, it is as good a time as any to reflect on what we’ve heard, and I am here to share with you my 5 favorite albums of the year so far. I’m sure you may have assumed that from the title, but whatever. For you I have a very nice selection of albums that range from the domains of both metal and rock alike as I’ve heard my fair share of albums from those two genres and loved plenty of them. But without further ado, look below to see my favorite 5 in order. Click the band name and album title for a direct link to where you can hear the album or parts of the album as one of them aren’t out for public ears as of right now.
1. Feared – Synder (Death Metal)
Oh my fucking God! Let me just start off by saying that . . . I nearly cried tears of happiness (not really) when I went into my inbox and saw that the prestigious death metal band from Sweden, Feared, had sent their upcoming fifth album, “Synder”, as their follow up album to 2013’s extremely well received “Vinter”. I loved “Vinter”. I loved their first, second, and third albums as well! When I first heard that Feared was working on their fifth album, which is also their fifth to be released within 5 years of their debut, “Rejects”, I was ecstatic to say in the very least. With each passing album, the sheer quality of Feared’s music has increased in ferocity, creativity, and brutality. Many thought that they reached their peak with “Vinter” and would only decline from there, but “Synder” has come along to prove those people that Feared have got more fuel in them that seems never ending. Just the intensity of “Synder” is as awesome if not more so than previous albums, but one thing is definitely true: Feared have gone into a whole new territory for them with how dark and sinister all 13 of the songs are. The songs go over shit that have traumatized some people’s heart from topics about God to redemption to the dark feelings of hatred that sits deep within us all. The band even mastered the art of stopping the death metal right in its tracks and bringing in some calmer guitars that anyone should be able to love and appreciate simply because of how damn good it sounds. Then there’s the masterfully crafted melody that present throughout the entire album. It’s done just so well and it’s spread throughout each and every one of the songs off of “Synder”. It truly blows my mind that a single band can constantly put out extremely solid albums and increase the quality of them while doing so as Feared has done. In English, the word “synder” means “sins”, but there is not a single sin from this album in terms of its sound, performance, and quality. “Synder” has redefined the word masterpiece for those of us who are lucky enough to know this great band, and many others when the album drops on May 25th.
2. Black Space Riders – Refugeeum (Psychedelic Rock)
Leaving where you left off is never an easy task to pull off especially when wherever you left off was something that was critically acclaimed and well received. But sometimes you’re able to persevere and overcome the challenge and that is exactly what Black Space Riders have done with their upcoming psychedelic metal/rock album “Refugeeum”. I cannot stress how awesome and well rounded this album is enough. Taking advantage of us uplifting riffs while having the vocalist talk about not so uplifting topics like the loss of home or rejection to name a few. But sometimes they became more positive and talked about finding the will to survive and the hope for what may come. “Refugeeum” is an amazing 9-track adventure that will take you out of this world and back again as you’re taken on a ride of slow and catchy riffs that will absolutely hypnotize you and lock you in place. The vocals also have this entrancing, even haunting, sound to them that I absolutely cannot get over how good they are and bring a solid atmospheric element to the entire album that just made it all the more better. Black Space Riders have truly done it with “Refugeeum” and I’ve no doubt in my mind that this will be the best psychedelic album that we will see all year. Calling it right now.
3. Hybrid Nightmares – The Second Age (Black Metal)
Ahh, black metal. One of the most intense and hardcore genres in the metal universe right behind death metal, but awesome in plenty of cases nonetheless. And right here is one of my absolute favorite black metal albums to come from anywhere across the globe of this year. “The Second Age” from the Australian act of Hybrid Nightmares is an amazing album that is the second installment of a 4-album saga that tells of the downfall of mankind to the very end. Along with the addition of enough melody to add heaps of awesomeness to the mix that carries out throughout all 5 tracks of the album. The vocals are just what you’d expect from a black metal album with them being raspy as all hell, yet being able to be understood if you’re reading the lyrics or you’re just that good at understanding black metal vocals. Then the guitars are just absolutely amazing along with the drums which both have an excellent sound through all the songs that are entrancing to say in the least. There are also two tracks that are composed of acoustic guitars which are both done very well. Just everything about this album from the tone to the sound to the cover art is done absolutely spot on and makes “The Second Age” an absolute must for any black metal fan out there who’s looking for something awesome and new.
4. Crypt Sermon – Out of the Garden (Doom Metal)
When you think of innovative, badass doom metal you have that select group of badasses right there if you love that genre, correct? Well, prepare to add another band to that list because this album is a fucking masterpiece and that’s just putting it mildly. “Out o the Garden” from Philadelphia up and coming doom metallers Crypt Sermon is an absolute beautiful album front to back all the way from its musicianship to the wondrously beautiful cover art to the vocals, which at one point sound like a not too bad impression of Ozzy Ozbourne – just in one song so don’t lose your shit – so that’s a plus, and the guitars and drums alone are beautifully crafted to make this purely amazing sound to them that sent a literal chill down my spine for the whole album. And here’s another thing that made me flip shit: this is Crypt Sermon’s debut album. Are you fucking kidding?! Never in my life have I heard a more flawless debut from a band that shows so much promise when it comes down to future albums that will no doubt be fantabulous (fantastic + fabulous). Just thinking about it blows my mind because Crypt Sermon has set the bar in terms of quality and awesome sound that is no doubt the result of many hours of fine tuning and making sure that everything is perfect and it is. I cannot recommend this album enough because I can already say with certainty that “Out of the Garden” is one of the best albums of 2015, for myself at least, and is definitely going to cause many disturbances in the metal kingdom which will surely give it the attention that it deserves.
5. Isenmor – Land of the Setting Sun (Folk Metal)
If anything is to be gathered from this cover art with the knowledge that this debut album from folk metal groupIsenmor it’s that this would be the embodiment of properly done and very well executed folk metal to the highest degree. “Land of the Setting Sun” is the pinnacle of folk metal with each and every track from the album being done absolutely perfect in such a way that I was blown out of my fucking chair after hearing the dual violins for the first time alongside the guitars and chanting vocals that were just hypnotic to say in the very least. This entire album allows you to chant along to tales of glorious battle, be told of the drink of the gods (that would be mead), feel the sorrow of loss, and partake in marvelous adventures across the seas. You know, viking activities. Everything about “Land of the Setting Sun” is done 100% as good as it could have been done. It has set the bar for me when it comes down to how folk metal a folk metal album can sound and feel like because Isenmor clearly know how to make that and make it flawlessly. They are without a doubt the folk metal band to check out for the first half of this year as you will not find a better folk album anywhere before or after the release of “Land of the Setting Sun”.