For better or worse, 2015 was yet
another incredible year in the world of rock and heavy metal. We lost legendary
icons, David Bowie and Lemmy Kilmister, and even received the shocking news of
a Guns N’ Roses reunion (sort of) set for later this year. In addition to all
of this, music fans were exposed to a nearly endless stream of new releases
from artists of both legendary status, up and comers, and everything else in
between. That’s what this article is all
about. What were the best albums in the world of hard rock and heavy
metal? Put on your seatbelts, and get
ready for a run-down of Unhinged Music’s Top 15 Rock/Metal releases of 2015.
So, without further ado, let’s stage dive right into a few honorable mentions.
rumors” in 2012, which were declared just that by their label Earache Records,
Oceano was back to stirring up mosh pits with Incisions the following year,
and their latest offering, Ascendants, offers more of the same brilliant
brutality showcased on its predecessor.
Under: Crypt of the Devil
Chris Barnes got high with a little help from a slightly different Corpse for Crypt
of the Devil, enlisting the services of members of Cannabis Corpse for the
making of the latest offering from Six Feet Under. The result was a colorful
mix of his trademark growls along with a more focused original release from his
band that acts as a departure from the emphasis on classic rock remakes that have
dominated previous efforts.
Saint: Win Hands Down
John Bush’s time spent in Anthrax living in Joey Belladonna’s shadow, but in an
alternate reality, this guy would have been the front-man of the biggest metal
band in history according to Metallica’s James Hetfield. 2015 saw Bush bring
Armored Saint off the shelf with their first new release in nearly 5 years, and
it wasn’t too shabby for a bunch of guys some would say are “past their prime.”
see Breaking Benjamin earn the respect or street credibility of the underground
scene, but even the most jaded fan has to admit they have carved a nice niche
for themselves creating commercially accessible hard rock. Such was the case
with Dark Before Dawn. The band emerged prior to the release as a 5-piece and
upon its release shot to number one on iTunes, as well as debuting at the top
of the Billboard 200. While sales figures don’t always reflect quality, or
sincerity for that matter, in this case, the numbers do not lie. Breaking
Benjamin is by far, one of the best modern hard rock bands out there.
two-piece project known as One-Eyed Doll, have slowly built up an organic cult
following since its launch in 2007 thanks to tours with such heavy hitters as
Static-X and OTEP, to name a few, and let’s not forget her appearance in the Adventure
Quest MMORPG game. In 2015, One-Eyed Doll unleashed their 6th
offering, Witches, and that aforementioned following was certainly not let down. Instead
of jumping on the girl-rock band wagon launched by mainstream darlings like
Evanescence, and Halestorm, Freeman has carved out her own style of edgy
punk-laced goth rock which deserves a closer look by those who have not yet had
the chance to do so.
came back with a vengeance in January of 2015 with a new album, and it proved
once again why they have managed to stay relevant after all these years. The
record served up a lethal dose of potent bursts of speed along with abstract
drone-like passages that demonstrated the willingness of the band to
continuously experiment with its sound without paying any attention to contemporary
trends in heavy music. Mark “Barney” Greenway and company have consistently
worked hard to keep listener’s guessing what’s next from the band, and Apex
Predator-Easy Meat does just that.
return of singer/guitarist Pepper Keenan, there were high expectations for
Corrosion of Conformity’s IX and the band delivered with a record that damn
near picked up where Deliverance left off. Keenan once again showed why he is
one of the most relevant voices in the stoner-rock scene, and the group seems
to be back on track to lead the charge for the genre. One can only hope that he
does not stretch himself too thin being a member of DOWN, and continues to
place an adequate focus on reinvigorating this historically underrated hard
Color Before the Sun
away from their typically “Amory Wars” influenced concept records with The Color
Before the Sun, and instead placed a strong lyrical emphasis on the personal
life events of singer Claudio Sanchez. This flip of the script turned out to be
a refreshing change of pace content-wise along with maintaining the complex
textures and eclectic style that fans of the group have grown accustomed to.
Although the band has never been too meaty when it comes to being heavy, Coheed
and Cambria is by far one of the best bands at what they do.
Music, then you already know what we think of this Virginia based metal outfit, Saint Diablo.
These guys have paid their dues and kept moving forward despite the hardships
associated with being an independent artist. They released Devil Horns and Halos
to a glowing review from our staff, and one only has to listen to the record to
understand why. Devil Horns and Halos takes some of the best elements of
nu-metal sounds from the early 2000’s, while offering a fierce modern attack
that dodges the label of being an outdated throwback to the days of blowing
your hard-earned money on eyebrow
piercings, Korn t-shirts, and other corporately rebellious hot-topics swag.
its never-ending quest to dominate the world of djent-flavored heavy music with
a dual release; including, the more progressive Juggernaut: Alpha, but we much
preferred the more aggressive sounding Juggernaut: Omega. Periphery is yet
another band which cut its teeth on the east coast producing some of the most
exceptionally well-produced independent music to come out of the state of Maryland
in years. Not only is founding member Misha Mansoor an incredibly gifted
engineer and producer, but he also happens to be one of the most technically
sound guitarists leading the charge of the djent movement in heavy music.
Juggernaut: Omega will likely bring fans back to some of the group’s earlier
work, and that’s certainly not a bad thing whatsoever.
traditionalists early on for (arguably) the sake of increased album sales, Max
Cavalera’s Soulfly has gradually struck out on its own, abandoning the guest appearances
found on earlier releases and become more of what might have been had Sepultura
remained intact with its core members in the mid-late 1990’s. Archangel was the
2nd release by the band to feature a more tight-knit lineup that
includes longtime guitarist Marc Rizzo along with Cavalera’s son Zyon on drums. Lineup changes aside, Soulfly continues to
pump out in your face metal that utilizes world music influences which helped
separate Cavalera from the pack back in the day, and Archangel is just another
example of how you can stay true to your roots while enjoying the artistic freedom
to experiment with less-conventional influences.
Chamber were forced to hold off on writing and recording due to front-man Dez
Fafara’s busy schedule with Devildriver, but a brief hiatus for that band
allowed the door to swing wide open resulting in Coal Chamber to finally release
their first full length in 13 years with Rivals. While the band’s previous
effort Dark Days was met by mixed reviews from critics at the time, the new
material was highly energized and saw Coal Chamber stay true to their original
sound while borrowing some more technical elements found in Devildriver. The end
result is an angst-ridden, groove oriented record that should delight past
fans, while also attracting those who became fans of Fafara’s Motorhead
inspired vocal style during his time with his much heavier work as the singer for
Filth remains one of the most influential acts in black metal alongside other
genre giants such as Dimmu Borgir. So, it should come as no surprise that the
underground sat up and took notice with their latest effort titled, Hammer of
the Witches. The first offering on their new label, Nuclear Blast, Cradle of
Filth continues to be led by Dani Filth and his revolving cast of metal
mercenaries. Hammer of the Witches represents everything that longtime fans
have loved about the band. Layers of gothic-inspired synths, along with fast
paced blast beats, and Filth’s trademark banshee wails helped make this one of
the finest black metal albums of the year.
of vocalist Bruce Dickinson back in the early 2000’s, Iron Maiden has
experienced an increasing surge of popularity in metal circles thanks in part
to relentless touring, as well as writing and recording new material in recent
years. The Book of Souls is by far the best collection of new material from the
band since the return of Dickinson, and has to be heard whether you are
unfamiliar, or have been following the band since they started. While it would be a
mistake to say it matched the success of such classics as Powerslave, Piece of
Mind, or Number of the Beast, The Book of Souls matches, if not surpasses, records
released in recent years by other veterans such as Black Sabbath and Anthrax.
produced yet another melodic death metal masterpiece with Abysmal, a record
which saw the band embrace the raw sound and complex dynamics found on past efforts
such as Miasma. To put it bluntly, the record kicks the serious ass listeners
have come to expect. There is a reason why The Black Dahlia Murder has continued to
endure changing trends in metal without compromising the sheer brutality, and
expert musicianship consistently displayed throughout their catalog. Abysmal is
just another fine example of this and should have ranked high on your heavy
metal wish list last year. If you happened to miss out, then we highly
encourage you to make things right with your non-poser friends and pick it up
the passing of co-founding guitarist Jeff Hanneman, along with the departure of
legendary drummer Dave Lombardo due to business reasons to be the beginning of
the end for the band, Slayer not only proved the critics wrong, but came out
laughing in the face of death with one of their most intensely heavy and aggressive
releases since 2001’s God Hates Us All. Following a restructuring, which saw
long-time Exodus guitarist Gary Holt be officially sworn into the band, along
with the return of Paul Bostaph, Slayer hit the studio and produced a record
that proves why they are one of the biggest thrash bands in the history of
heavy metal. It might have taken them nearly half a decade, but Repentless was
well worth the wait.
that really took the metal world by storm in 2015 with an absolutely smoldering
release titled Hail Mary, and they call themselves Iwrestledabearonce. We
reviewed this album not long ago and gave it a 10/10 rating for a good reason.
There are very few bands that artfully mix so many highly diverse influences as
skillfully as this band. Add to this, a highly talented singer in the form of Courtney
LaPlante who has a range that goes from lows that would make Chris Barnes blush
with envy, to the elegantly melodic styles of her more contemporary peers from
In this Moment and others. Any way you want to look at it, Hail Mary knocks it
out of the park, and earned its spot high upon our list.
along with legal troubles outside the United States for singer Randy Blythe, we
weren’t sure what to expect from the new Lamb of God album; and were pleasantly
surprised to hear VII Strum Und Drang. While always releasing above average
quality albums over the years, it could be argued that Lamb of God had hit a
creative plateau in the years following the groundbreaking Ashes of the Wake
and its equally impressive follow-up Sacrament. However, much like Slayer did
with Repentless among other veterans on this list, Lamb of God proved that a
band can still deliver long past what some would label their chronological
prime. VII Strum Und Drang brought forth all the technicality and brute force
that has become a staple of the Lamb of God sound, and sits at its rightful
place of number one on our Top 15 of 2015 as a result. When the history of
metal is ultimately written, you can be certain that Randy Blythe and the rest
of Lamb of God will be considered one of finest American metal bands of the new
be expected. Do you think we left out one of your favorite artists or albums?
If so, let us know as we value our reader feedback, and will take it into
consideration when putting together future ‘best of” lists. Thanks for the support,
and we look forward to a 2016 full of amazing new releases from the best in
hard rock and heavy metal!
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