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Axl Rosenberg’s Top Fifteen Metal Albums of 2015

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axl 2015

2015 shall forever be remembered as the year between 2014 and 2016. It was certainly the oddest year since 2013, that’s for damn sure. Over the course of 52 weeks, we collectively experienced 365 days, during each of which the sun always rose and always set. Someday you will look back at these 8,760 hours and say, “That was 2015.”

These are some of the albums that I enjoyed for a portion of the 525,600 minutes this year that I was not doing something else. I sincerely hope that you find something you haven’t heard before that you enjoy.


Nights Like These - Old Youth Culture15. Nights Like These – Old Youth Culture (self-released)

The Memphis band’s first album since 2007 chugs more than a pornstar and has more slow, sexy grooves than an old folks’ home. Like the photo that adorns its cover, Old Youth Culture is sparse and grotesque. If you love Rebel Wilson-chubby elephants marching riffs, you will love Old Youth Culture. Five stars.

Axl Rosenberg’s Top Fifteen Metal Albums of 201514. Fuck the Facts – Desire Will Rot (Noise Salvation)

The choreographer Bill T. Jones spoke at my college graduation, and during this speech, he said something I’ll never forget: “Journalists are interested in facts, artists are interested in the truth.” I have no idea if that is the concept from which this Canadian band takes their name or not, but it’s a neat quote and this is a neat album, full of truth. It’s also full of awesome metal songs. Five stars.

cloud rat - Qliphoth13. Cloud Rat – Qliphoth (Halo of Flies)

Look at the clouds for long enough, and you’ll see all kinds of weird shit. Listen to Cloud Rat’s Qliphoth for long enough, and you’ll hear all kinds of weird shit. Listen to Cloud Rat’s Qliphoth for long enough while on drugs, and you’ll have a psychotic episode. Five stars.



Leviathan12. Leviathan – Scar Sighted (Profound Lore)

This album is really scary. For whatever reason, I find Wrest really scary in general, even when he’s holding an adorable baby wearing oversized earphones. He’s probably not a scary dude in real life, but this is still a good album to listen to if you wanna have nightmares, or wanna give nightmares to an adorable baby wearing oversized earphones. Five stars.

intronaut11. Intronaut – The Direction of Last Things (Century Media)

Listen The Direction of Last Things for the first time and the second thing you’ll notice (after the characteristically killer songwriting) is that it’s the first-best-sounding of Intronaut’s albums. This is probably because they hired Devin Townsend to mix the record, which is the third best decision Intronaut’s members have ever made, after learning to play their instruments and starting a band together. Five stars.

Faith No More - Sol Invictus10. Faith No More – Sol Invictus (Ipecac/Reclamation)

The most disappointing of the 872,936,455 reunion albums to be released in the last five or so years is still better than anything ever made by the 941,322,618 bands who have ripped off Faith No More in the past twenty years. As a bonus, it also features the best song about breakfast ever written, the best song about dunce caps ever written, and the best song about incest ever written. Five stars.

Crypt Sermon - Out of the Garden9. Crypt Sermon – Out of the Garden (Dark Descent)

I basically hate every Dio-era-Sabbath-style band that isn’t Dio-era Sabbath, but somehow, Crypt Sermon totally make it work. Virgin Steel’s David DeFeis heard this record and then had a Tobias Fünke-style crying fit in the shower; Dio heard this album in Heaven and told Cliff Burton that it made up for Axel Rudi Pell’s horrible cover of “Holy Diver.” Five stars.

White Widows Pact - True Will8. White Widows Pact – True Will (New Damage)

This record needs anger management counseling. Five stars.


Sanzu - Heavy Over the Home

7. Sanzu – Heavy Over the Home (self-released)

Not since Russell Crowe hit some poor hotel clerk with a telephone has something so angry and painful come flying out of Australian hands. I played this low rumble of a record for my nephew, and he literally shit his pants. Granted, he’s seven months old, but still. Five stars.

Rivers of Nihil - Monarchy6. Rivers of Nihil –  Monarchy (Metal Blade)

You know how I know Rivers of Nihil are friggin’ great? Because this album has two different members and a different producer from their 2013 debut, The Conscious Seed of Light, and it still fisted me like a puppet. You have to be in de-nihil to argue that RoN aren’t one of the most exciting young metal bands out there today. Monarchy will make you cum rivers. Five stars.


Tribulation - The Children of the Night

5. Tribulation – The Children of the Night (Century Media)

Vince got me to check out this record by asking a very simple question: “What if Ghost weren’t total pussies?” Vince and I both like Ghost, so that comment was clearly intended as high praise. As usual, Mr. Neilstein did not steer me wrong. Tribulation can write the shit out of a song and take a lot of elements that would be cheesy clichés in lesser hands and make ’em totally rad. In short: I owe Vince another shot. Five stars.

Sludge - Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms4. Slugdge – Dim and Slimeridden Kingdoms (self-released)

Why the fuck isn’t this band signed? Do they not wanna be signed? Assuming they do wanna be signed, if you have the power to sign them, you really should. If you let this band continue to fly under the radar, the terrorists win. Five stars.

Cattle Decapitation - The Anthropocene Extinction3. Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction (Metal Blade)

I think this might be Cattle Decapitation’s best album to date, which is really saying something, because a) all of Cattle Decap’s albums are sexcellent and b) not many bands can claim to have done their best work seven records into their career. The band gets bonus points for continuing their tradition of album art that is at once beautiful and witty and sophomoric in the best possible way. They get bonus bonus points for teaching us all what The Anthropocene was. Five stars.

Dendritic Arbor2. Dendritic Arbor – Romantic Love (Grimoire)

Anyone who says originality is dead hasn’t heard Romantic Love, and anyone who says originality is dead but has heard Romantic Love can go suck a dead skunk’s asshole. Dendritic Arbor bend genres almost to the point of breaking; their music is multiple genres and no genre at all. Romantic Love makes me wet. Five stars.

1. Royal Thunder – Crooked Doors (Relapse)

Royal Thunder - Crooked Doors

Good songwriting continues to be mightier than any other aspect of music, and Royal Thunder wrote the best songs of the year. I spent a lot of time this year trying to listen to albums that aren’t Crooked Doors so as to better do my job, and ninety-nine times out of a hundred, that proved to be a futile task. Every track on Crooked Doors is so goddamn catchy that it’s as if hitting “play” on the record also disables the “stop” button. Mlny Parsonz’ incredible vocal performance becomes all the more impressive when you see her live and realize she can actually sing this shit. Some people will no doubt argue that Crooked Doors isn’t a metal album, but those people are probably Thy Art is Murder fans. Five stars.

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