Wednesday 23 December 2015

The Sludgelord "Sour 16" - The Most Popular Albums of Year 2015

By: Aaron Pickford

With just 2 days to go until December 25 and the prospect of an avalanche of presents bestowed upon us all, it would seem wise to reflect upon another fantastic year of music and the one thing that keeps us sane, ‘heavy music’.  Whatever is going on in the world, in our personal lives, at work and at home, music is a constant source of escapism and as one year ends and another begins, the prospect that 2016 will bring another batch of fantastic releases is a mouth watering prospect. 

2015 has been no different in terms of quality music, has it been better that 2014, who can say, music is about a moment in time, it is about art ensnaring us in its web and creating an emotional response to it.  In much the same way Damien Hurst provokes a positive and negative reaction, you can’t fail to have an opinion and music generates the same debate, the only difference here at The Sludgelord, is that we concentrate on the positivity rather than the negative, a band may not be to our taste, but that is not to say they’re bad.  So when reflecting upon 2015’s releases, we have concentrated on what we view as the good, you may view them as bad and ugly, however because each of us will have our own personal favourites, subjectively when compiling our year end lists, no two lists of records will be the same.  That doesn’t mean that mine is better or worse, it is just indicative of personal taste. 

To highlight some of the best music of 2015, towards the second half the year, we introduced the idea of The Sludgelord “Sour 16”, the purpose of which was to present a fair representation of what our readership was interested in over the month, however at the same time, it was a method of providing a little validation to our talented bunch of writers, after all it is nice to know, someone is actually reading our ramblings.  If truth be told, they don’t really care how many people read their reviews and like musicians as many of our writers are, they don’t necessarily create something for the purpose of amusing other people, but create something for themselves, and indeed you could argue that the articles and music they create is a reflection of themselves.  At the end of the day, we all love music and we all create lists, therefore with that in mind the “Sour 16” draws those two things together and was simply a fun way to present good music to the readers over the latter part of 2015. 

So, with 986 published articles in the bag for 2015, today we present the culmination of our efforts and present The Most Popular Albums of 2015 for your viewing pleasure.  I hope you had as much fun checking out the new music as we did presenting it to you. I’d like to bestow an immeasurable amount of gratitude to the contributors, who made this year our best yet. 

The Sludgelord’s ‘Sonic 6’ for 2015 is compiled based upon page views alone and calibrated into the list below.  See you in 2016.  (Full reviews can be viewed by clicking the artwork and total views since the date of publication are highlight in red). 

16). Sacri Monti – “Sacri Monti” (1100)

Sacri Monti's debut album is one that surprised me in a big way. Yeah it did take around 4 to 5 listens to fully appreciate the whole experience. So expect to take your time with this album. All in all Sacri Monti have created a stunning debut album.

15). Belzebong – Greenfero (1213)

‘Inhale in Hell’ honestly is just one massive slow chug fest, filling every available space with some ridiculous throbbing string torture with a sweet backing beat. It sounds akin to a giant walking the earth, simply moving things aside without noticing. True evil blues this band has summoned, and you the listener, shall reap their rewards! From that slow, massive chugging into feedback and staccato wah picking, they have no problems slamming you up against the wall and rifling through your pockets for some loose cash.

14). Danzig – “Skeletons” (1256)

“Skeletons” would have been an awesome opportunity to work with a variety of musicians, those better equipped to handle specific songs and play up their advantages.  The recording quality varies wildly from song to song, as does the overall execution of each song. The strength of Danzig’s vocal performance is pretty consistent with where he was at on ‘Deth Red Sabaoth’, perhaps even a bit better which, sadly, makes it the album’s only consistently positive attribute.

13). The Body/Thou – “You, Whom I Have Always Hated” (1289)

It’s exceptionally rare that an album, or a work of art for that matter, can effectively convey terror, but throughout this release I was struggling to think of comparable works of art and kept returning to masters of horror fiction: Poe, Lovecraft, Thomas Ligotti. Like each of these authors, The Body and Thou manage to create concise, compact stories of horror, which, when collected, should be seen as guidebooks to human terror and masterworks of nuanced, unbridled genius.

12). Marduk – “Frontschwein” (1441)

This black metal of the highest quality and of the most palatable type to a casual fan such as myself, all elements are present and correct with the band on great form. Looking for something to compound your winter blues? Look no further.

11). My Sleeping Karma – “Moksha” (1428)

What can I say? My SLeeping Karma are one of those rare bands who follows their own path 100% and that's called freedom and liberation. Add excellent instrument skills to this and you have 'Moksha'. Rarely will you find a band or an album this good. We all make our own decisions but I urge you to seek out this band and follow in their footsteps. Your life will be so much better for it!

10). Dopethrone – “Hochelaga” (1608)

The album is, in a word, massive. Beware the listener that clicks play on this with cheap speakers. You'll soon need to replace them simply because of the sludgy, waxy build-up their riffs will leave on the speaker material. They play some of the nastiest blues you'll find outside of Satan's record collection, focusing on booze, rebellion, occult, sex, and of course, drugs.

09). The Sword – “High Country” (1628)

The length of the album, at 15 tracks, does make getting acquainted with this record a slow process, but in the end you’ll discover there aren’t any dips in form. ‘High Country’ is rich in consistency and across its span, Cronise, Shutt and co. dispel any fears you may have about this release all the while oozing a slick professionalism. They’ve been at this song writing malarkey for a while now, they’re hardened pros and this stands testament to their brilliant legacy.’

08.) SUMAC – “The Deal” (1717)

What SUMAC have come up with, sounds like a band that has been playing together for years, which is completely at odds with the fact that up until a month ago, all three of the members hadn’t had a chance to jam together for once. Despite such an arrangement, ‘The Deal’ really is everything we could have imagined, yet the resulting creation is no less astounding.

07). Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats  - “Nightstalker” (1746)

If the record will be met by their adoring fan base with the same hype and admiration 2011’s insatiable ‘Blood Lust’ was, or be deemed as an adequate successor to the robustness of ‘Mind Control,’ only time will tell. What we do know, however, is that it’s another impressive release from this consistently unique and enrapturing Cambridge quartet.

06). Mutoid Man – “Bleeder” (1751)

I can’t see many other records released this year being as abused as this in my music collection. It’s short, sharp and inarguably enthralling, simplistic yet over-the-top at the same time. If there’s two things in life I love it’s rock n’ roll and beautiful contrasts, this album has both of those ingredients…and it can improve the blood flow to an old man’s cock to boot. 

05). Faith No More – “Sol Invictus” (1791)

You could sit and list every element of spectacle about this album, every moment that grips you vice-like – such is the attention to detail here. But all you really need to know is this: ‘Sol Invictus’ sounds like Faith No More and no one else. It’s diverse, thrilling. The burdening weight of expectancy may have hinged on their shoulders, the desperation from the fans of this record being worth the slow and painful wait, but Faith No More didn’t even seem to notice. They perform like they never went away and, when it sucks you in, it honestly feels like they never did.  

04). Paradise Lost – “Plague Within” (1912)

As usual, I cannot categorize them- there are elements of doom, death, goth, even classical- and once again I have been reminded that they are one of the best bands that the British Isles has to offer. You will miss them when they are gone, so get on board with their career now. Whether you be a prodigal son or a new convert, you won't be disappointed as this album is superb.

03). With The Dead – “With The Dead” (2326)

It's evident that Bagshaw has acquired a few new fuzz pedals since the last Serpentine Path album as opening track 'Crown Of Burning Stars' is so oppressive, fuzzy and dense that it made my teeth itch. After the backwards speaking samples, the crunch of the guitar is incredible. The vocals are classic Dorrian and the bands sound on a whole is somewhere between Serpentine Path, 'Dopethrone' era Electric Wizard, early Cathedral and 'Misanthropic Alchemy' era Ramesses.  This for me is an album of the year contender, the kind of thing you'd expect from 3 of the scene's most influential figures. All expectation has been lived up to. Prepare to be blown away.

02). Elder – “Lore” (2948)

It’s a perfect album for us keen on escapism as marvelling at the end result is bound to remove you from your daily experience and carry you off into Elder’s epic tales of yore, the intricacies of which really only start revealing themselves on many a repeat listens. I’m sure we’ll be absorbing this one for some time to come, until they decide to take us along on another odyssey.

01). Ghost – “Meliora” (5785)

‘Today, Ghost still manage to shock and surprise us in a society where we’ve seen and heard it all before. People are fascinated, fixated even with finding out their true identities. Their music is more powerful than it ever has been too. ‘Meliora’ is a spellbinding listen and one which will see them elevated to greater plains of existence. It affects you, leaves you shaken. They can make you laugh or cry without so much of a flick of the wrist and, although the music we love is basking in something of a purple period right now, a band as potent as this is still a rarity.’

This list features reviews byChris Bull, Philip Weller, Hunter Young, Richard Maw, Daniel Jackson, Joosep Nilk, Hakan Nyman, Steve Howe