Best Albums Of 2015 (Ranked)
Now that the year has drawn to a close, I thought I’d finish my year round ups with the most pertinent list of all: My Top 10 Favourite Albums Of 2015!
This list is personal to me, and my own music preferences, so unfortunately no place for Adele. I think this year’s been a great one for music however, especially of the Prog Rock/Metal variety, and that’s reflected in the list that follows.
Periphery – Juggernaut (Alpha & Omega)
There are few things I enjoy more than a prog-tastic double album. When they’re done well, they’re excellent, and this is done very well! This release particularly displays a maturity to their song-writing; I remember when I first heard Periphery: you couldn’t understand a thing they said, and their main focus was on showing how clever they are. Fortunately, the band are now in a place where the song comes first, and can use their impressive technical ability to craft, and mould songs. The result is a fantastic set of songs that can blow you away with their technicality! As with most double albums there are few inferior tracks, or perhaps just ones that I don’t like as much as other, but this is still a really good album full of strong melodies, expert use of textures, immense technical ability. Really great to listen to.
TesseracT – Polaris
Having listened to all my favourite albums of the year in succession recently, TesseracT’s Polaris draws an easy comparison with Periphery‘s effort of the year. The textures created are very similar in places, the use of synthesisers, and, even in terms of techniques used; the two albums are reasonably similar on the surface. However, this album is what Periphery were aiming to create; the songs are more cohesive, they work together brilliantly as an album; and all the same compositional techniques are there too, but you get a sense that more attention was paid to each detail and its overall contribution.
I haven’t previously listened to much TesseracT (much to the dismay of my flat mate), but I was really impressed and pleased with this album when I listened to it. It’s still not fully my ‘type’ of music, but in terms of albums for the year, this is definitely up there.
Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud
This is another that was only brought to my attention recently, but it’s so good I just had to include it in this list. The songs on this are epic throughout; the creative instrumentation and clever, consistent theme make the album stand out as whole entity. The songs themselves are excellent too, Death Of A King is an early favourite; and featured in my SOTW recently.
Overall, Under The Red Cloud is a really great, well balanced album, full of interesting textures, powerful melodies, and exciting modal harmonies!
Sylosis – Dormant Heart
After being such a big fan of Sylosis since their first EP, back in 2007. I was blown away by the talent and songwriting! 8 years, 4 albums and various line-up changes later, and upon first listen, I am still being blown away by the music they release.
As a whole, the album is crushingly heavy, and largely picks up where the previous album, Monolith, left off. I was a bit fan of that album, and am glad it has done so. The sheer technicality and virtuosity of the band is immense: the final solo in Harm boasts a harmonised arpeggiated passage, with Middleton singing underneath to really show off his own incredible talent.
Hopefully the band’s consistent progression and undeniable ability displayed on this record will help finally stop being underrated, and earn them the admiration their work deserves!
Steven Wilson – Hands. Cannot. Erase.
This is one of the best concept albums I’ve ever seen! The development and musical continuity is on par with Mike Oldfield‘s Tubular Bells. The continuity through First Regret and Regret #9 is great, and the whole album tells a remarkable story through music. This is undoubtedly one of my favourite things to hear in music, and it’s done so brilliantly here! As well as this, the technical prowess displayed on the album is top quality (Guthrie‘s solo in Regret #9). The players assembled, and how it all becomes a cohesive effort to elaborate and decorate the concept is brilliant to hear.
Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
Though I’ve only recently listened to this album, it has instantly ascended into my top 10 for the year! The album has all the makings of a fantastic prog-epic; the beautifully crafted, full open textures create majestic imagery to really integrate you into the concept, and are magnificently offset by crushingly heavy riffs, a feature best shown in Dragonfly .
Impressively, the songs themselves are great to listen to on their own, but, of course, to really get attached to the album, the best way to listen to it, is all together as one. Maybe if I’d discovered it earlier it would find its way higher onto this list, but a fantastic album!
Coheed & Cambria – The Color Before The Sun
This definitely comes in as one of the softer albums on this list, but The Color Before The Sun really captures the imagination with its vast array of styles. There are definitely songs on this album I like more than others, and have stood the test of multiple listens, yet the fact that these are too many to list is why this album ranks so highly on the list.
There were some doubts following the Coheed’s decision not to produce a concept album this time around, but the result was a more consistent quality of songs as they weren’t trying to represent a specific part of a story, but could stand alone. The album became a window into Claudio’s true emotions, rather than those masked by his fictional characters. It’s a really great album that I still love to listen to.
Baroness – Purple
This album was released about as close to the end of the year as possible; and were it not for the busy time of year, I’d love to have done a review for it as it is a really outstanding album. I had never heard these guys before this album, but his voice is fantastic; really has that grit and gravitas of people like Hetfield. Chlorine & Wine really shows what this album has to offer, so well constructed, with that patient, teasing build up through a variety of soundscapes to really shape the track. Further thoughts on the can be found on my latest SOTW.
This style of music is something I really enjoy; the production of this album is excellent, and there are some outstanding tracks to boot. I’m excited for future listens through of this album, their back catalogue and any future releases!
Trivium – Silence In The Snow
I was blown away by this album; and said so in my review back in October; if for no reason other than that I was expecting to be disappointing! This release makes amends for the relaxing standards of the previous two albums which, while enjoyable, lacked some of that classic Trivium energy and passion that attracted so many fans initially.
Further, the album holds some of my favourite and most listened to songs of the year; Ghost That’s Haunting You is simply brilliant, the textures, and melodies on it are just fantastic. With the passing of time, new favourites from the album emerged too; Blind Leading The Blind is definitely up there.
Silence In The Snow shows a really strong progression, musically, for Trivium, and encapsulates everything they’ve learnt from the previous seven albums, to produce a fantastic new album.
Symphony X – Underworld
Symphony X’s Underworld overwhelmed me when I first heard me; with it’s exciting use of instruments and harmonies, as I said in My review in November. This is by far my favourite style of music; the combination of ‘classical’ instrumentation with Metal instrumentation is something that I love to do in my own writing, and when it’s done as well as Symphony X consistently do it, I can’t help but fall in love with the music I hear!
You might think, then, that I loved the album before I even heard it, because that’s what SSymphony X are known for. However, I think the shift away from a purely conceptual work, has greatly improved the quality of the songs overall. At a push, To Hell and Back isn’t as great as the other tracks, but it still has its impressive moments, and is very good. The others are truly excellent, and I never tire of listening to Charon, In My Darkest Hour, or Kiss Of Fire. The way Swan Song grows, and flows into that incredible solo.
The lyrics themselves are excellent throughout. Without the detailed concept surrounding the album, it is the job of the music and lyrics to deliver the theme that runs throughout. Both these work amazingly together to envelope the listener into the Underworld scene. The orchestration surrounds the core metal song, to create a darker undertone, and makes it sound not only like an evil metal album, but ensures it feels like the underworld, as outlined by influences: Dante’s Inferno and Orpheus In The Underworld.
Every aspect of the album is thoroughly enjoyable, and together they construct a well-developed and throughout group of songs, with an overarching theme which ties them together into a brilliant album, making it top of my list of Albums of 2015.