I'm not that big on end-of-year lists. I mean, I've only heard a fraction of all the music that was released this year, and have still been discovering great new music from 2015 as recently as a few days ago. That being said, I always get sick of seeing the same damn selections pop up on so many other yearly recap lists, so—since I always try to throw some love towards the more underappreciated end of the spectrum—here's a snapshot of what my less-than-stellar memory can recall having been excited about over the past 12 months (in alphabetical order)...
(Some of My) Favorite Albums/EPs
Cosmonaut, Cosmonaut (Self-Released)
Without question one of the utmost best albums of the year. Alphabetical or otherwise, Grand Rapids, MI's Cosmonaut would be damn near the very top of my list with their brand of alt. rockin' emo-tinged post-hardcore whatchamacallit. This track that we were lucky enough to premiere back in September remains my favorite, but the entire album is packed with wildly catchy tunes from a band that should be garnering far, far, far more attention. Check this one out immediately... like, now!
Dead Shall Rise, The Gazan Mardu (Self-Released)
Why the fuck is this self-released!? Why the fuck is this only on SoundCloud!? Why the fuck have so few larger hardcore/metal news outlets given this any attention whatsoever!? Let's recap the lineup, shall we? Aaron Melnick (Integrity, In Cold Blood, etc.), Lenny Melnick (Integrity, In Cold Blood, etc.), Blaze Tishko (One Life Crew, Integrity, In Cold Blood, etc.), and Rob Orr (Integrity, Unreal City, etc.). Four songs. All impeccable. All guaranteed to make any fan of Cleveland's heyday completely lose their shit. And it's just self-released on SoundCloud!? I've been screaming about this for over three months now, and I just cannot make any sense of it. This is a big fuckin' deal, people!
(P.S. That remixed and remastered edition of Integrity's Humanity is the Devil that Magic Bullet dished out this year sounds phenomenal and completely smokes. Highly recommended.)
Deathwhite, Solitary Martyr (Self-Released)
Dark, melodic, atmospheric metal that should certainly appeal to fans of Katatonia, Agalloch, Opeth, etc. I hope Deathwhite's penchant for mystery and shunning social media outlets doesn't hinder their reach too much, 'cause this really is a fantastic EP. Stream or purchase via Bandcamp.
Honeymoon Disease, The Transcendence (Napalm)
Honeymoon Disease made the list just because they really caught me by surprise. A member of the Gothenburg, Sweden quartet contributed a tiny little piece to No Echo last month, and I checked 'em out since I had never heard of 'em. On paper, nothing about the group should grab my attention—not the band name, not their image, not the album cover, nothing. But what can I say? It's a great record. No frills rock that sort of reminds me of '70s Heart, but I don't really know what the hell I'm talking about with that stuff. Look it up on Spotify, or buy it anywhere.
Lifeless, Dream (Fast Break!)
Another absolutely incredible group that—while picking up steam and getting respect—still deserves far more attention. For my money, Lifeless is the single best hardcore band out there right now, and one of the only hardcore acts that's gotten me really, truly engaged and excited in years. They're so much more sincere and heartfelt than the bulk of their contemporaries. Adjectives not commonly used to refer to a band whose lyrical content falls on the bitter and pessimistic side, I know, but that's all the more reason that what they're doing is something special. Stream it via SoundCloud, or pick it up on CD or LP from the label.
Negative Self, Negative Self (High Roller)
I know Negative Self doesn't love it when people act like they haven't much more to offer than late-'80s Suicidal Tendencies influences, but, I mean... it's kinda true that this album is to late-'80s Suicidal Tendencies what "Carcass clones" are to late-'80s Carcass, you know? And that ain't a bad thing, 'cause this album is firmly planted here on my list of favorites from 2015, right? Venice worship has never sounded better! Jam it on Spotify, or pick up a reasonably priced CD or LP from Hells Headbangers' distro.
Neurology., II (Neurologik Tapes)
Though I wish I was, I'm not well-versed in industrial music, but this new project featuring the extremely prolific Chad Davis (Subklinik, Hour of 13, etc.—check out his YouTube page for a larger dose of his offerings) sort of reminds me of Final Cut, and I'm all over it. Neurology. has already released three cassettes in 2015, and they keep getting better and better. I believe the first two tapes are sold out, but pick up the third through Facebook, or check out a smattering of other tracks on SoundCloud or YouTube. This has been the most exciting discovery of the year for me in terms of the experimental noise/industrial realms.
Omega Diatribe, Abstract Ritual (Self-Released/Independent Ear)
When I reviewed this EP from Budapest, Hungary's Omega Diatribe, I said it would be a likely contender for one of the best of 2015, and I was right. Their "djent-ish," groove-based metal has a certain sense of legitimacy to it that comes across as much more interesting than average. Another band that seems to be picking up some well-deserved steam, so I'm expecting bigger and better things to come. Stream or purchase through Bandcamp, or their American label.
Spirits, Discontent (State of Mind)
Where Lifeless exhibits sincere and heartfelt negativity, Spirits offered the year's best for sincere and heartfelt hardcore that has more of a positive and upbeat type of message. Aggressive yet melodic traditional hardcore with forceful vocals and a memorable sense of energy. Grab a cassette, colored vinyl LP, or name your price download over at Bandcamp. I still can't believe more people aren't hyping this band!?
Wild Dogs, Reign of Terror (Divebomb)
I try to avoid including re-releases in these types of write-ups, otherwise my entire list is likely to focus almost wholly on reissues, since they're one of my primary interests. However, the fact that this Wild Dogs gem somehow landed on Kevin Stewart-Panko's list of "Top 5 Divebomb Records Reissues No One Needed to Hear in the First Place" in a recent issue of Decibel magazine was so infuriatingly off-base, I just had to include it here. The group's third (and best) album completely kicks ass and is straight up, fist-pounding heavy metal that damn sure needs to be heard. Grab one now before it sells out!
(Some of My) Favorite Songs
Black Dead Empty, "Everyone Else Leaves Me Why Wouldn't You"
Black Dead Empty is a new band featuring Mike McTernan from Damnation A.D., and they just released this quick, hectic, noisy burst of misery on December 23. If that's not a reason to get excited, I don't know what is.
Driftoff, "Dying Light," from Modern Fear (Science of Silence)
I never got around to writing about Modern Fear, the debut EP from this band that features members of Junius, Rosetta, City of Ships, and Superblonde, but it rules. Especially the opening track, "Dying Light": a surging fuzzball of unique and memorable post-hardcore with a superb multi-vocal attack.
Momentum, "The Freak is Alive," from The Freak is Alive (Dark Essence)
I first heard this track from Iceland's Momentum in 2014, but it only continued to crawl into my brain when the entire album was finally released this year. A captivatingly hypnotic masterpiece. Just give it a listen and take the ride.
Saviours (with Wino), "Hot Rails to Hell"
Vision of Disorder, "The Craving," from Razed to the Ground (Candlelight)
The best V.O.D. album since their debut full-length? Arguably so. But either way, "The Craving" is unquestionably one of their all-time greatest tracks—occasionally reminiscent of Tim Williams' and Mike Kennedy's time in Bloodsimple. The last of the list alphabetically, but in fact one of my top favorite songs for all of 2015. That chorus, man!