Monday 4 January 2016

A Year in Review: Chris Bull's Top 25 Records of 2015

Chosen by: Chris Bull

25. Funerary/Ooze - 'Split'

The 2 tracks on offer from Funerary are gloriously heavy, dark and cold. 'Ascent' begins with a simple yet ominously evil riff before the tortured banshee like vocals breathe fire into the frostbitten air.  Ooze are an altogether different beast; their 4 tracks are very much from the Eyehategod school of sludge but with harsher vocals and the occasional subtle time signature change. (click on the artwork for reviews)

24. Monolithian - 'The Finest Day I Ever Lived Was When Tomorrow Never Came'

A truly superb album from a young band carving their own path in this crazy world. The apocalypse draws ever nearer, Monolithian are providing the soundtrack.

23. Torpor - ‘From Nothing Comes Everything'

22. Mgla - 'Exercises In Futility'

There are a lot of us that revel in both ends of the spectrum and everything in between, and ‘Exercises in Futility’ is diverse enough to scratch a number of itches all at once. This is musical showmanship woven into the very fabric of conventional melodic black metal, and the results are top notch.

21. Gnaw Their Tongues - ‘Abyss Of Longing Throats'

Gnaw Their Tongues has opened up a portal into hell and is dragging you with him. Fear the worst. Expect to suffer. If you make it out alive, expect some severe emotional trauma.

20. Greenhorn 'Like Rows of Crooked Teeth'

That's what's so brilliant about Greenhorn; as well as being seriously fucking heavy, you get a history lesson  thrown in too’

19. Ambassador Gun - 'Tomb Of Broken Sleep'

Tomb Of Broken Sleep' by Ambassador Gun may be one of the most intense and in your face albums of 2015'.  Heart of Corruption' shoots first and asks questions later. A grinding d-beat masterclass, sounding at times like Converge at their most furious but with extra HM-2 pedals

18. C R O W N - ‘Natron'

17. Grime - ‘Circle Of Molesters'

Fans of filthy sludge take note; this is an album you need to hear this year. It's a definite improvement on previous album 'Deteriorate' as the band have followed the left hand path towards the dark side.

16. Dopethrone - 'Hochelaga'

15. Opium Lord - 'The Calendrical Cycle'

14. Kowloon Walled City - 'Grievances'

Passages of minimal melodic interplay give way to shards of dissonance and outbursts of lean, razor-sharp riffing. The languid tempo of the drums reinforces the weight of the music and together with the gnarly bass, act as the perfect backdrop for intricate guitar interplay.

13. Locrian - ‘Infinite Dissolution'

Standout track ‘An Index of Air’ leans into emptiness with a rattling drone, an almost imperceptibly off-time drum pulsing the intro before expanding out into tidal-waves of anguished convulsions blended with blissed out droning black that Deafheaven would burn gasoline-soaked churches to attain.’

12. Planks - 'Perished Bodies'

If there ever was such a thing as a perfect goodbye in music, Planks have surely just come the closest.  Musically, it's on a par with 'Funeral Mouth'. In time it may prove to be a better album overall, right now it serves as a painful reminder that Planks, as a band, rest in peace.

11. Fórn - ‘Weltschmerz'

The distortion kicks in and reduces everything to rubble. Stylistically, it's blackened funeral doom; depressing and bleak in it's melody but inherently evil and completely devastating. The vocals are growled from the bowels of the underworld and screamed from the edge of oblivion.  , Fórn have created something perfect for the end of the year; let it smash your 2015 into oblivion like a biblical flood. You can start anew in 2016.

10. Undersmile - 'Anhedonia'

9. Leviathan - ‘Scar Sighted'

8. The Nepalese Temple Ball - 'Arbor'

How this band is not a household name is beyond my comprehension, but this album should go some way to making sure that happens.’

7. Hogslayer - ‘Defacer'

6. With The Dead - 'With The Dead'

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.

5. High On Fire - ‘Luminiferous'

4. Dragged Into Sunlight/Gnaw Their Tongues - ‘NV'

Alchemy in The Subyear' drips with essence of evil. The guitars, drums and vocals converge to a sharpened point which is hammered into your heart with the force of the bass and allowed to carve your flesh, while the atmospherics drag your soul into the depths of hell.

3. This Gift Is A Curse - 'All Hail The Swinelord'

It's very difficult to describe the music on this; such is the profound effect it's had. Think Nails with Black Metal and Sludge influences and you'd be on the right track. I can envisage a few end of year lists needing readjustment after hearing this. A future classic? Time will tell.

2. Hivelords - ‘Tapered Limbs Of A Human Star'

'Cavern Apothecary' was a glimpse into the potential this band had at that point. On ‘Tapered Limbs of a Human Star’, they've smashed through the glass ceiling and surpassed the promise they showed. The fact that they're signed to Anthropic Records is both a blessing and a curse; it makes those who know about the band seem like part of a secret club and preserves their cult status. However, had this been released on a label like Relapse, Profound Lore or Candlelight, everyone would be losing their shit and proclaiming this as the best album they've heard this year. It’s simply stunning.’

1. Steve Von Till - 'A Life Unto Itself'

This album is about discovery. This album is both darkness and light. This album is a spirit animal that accompanies you on your own journey into your psyche. Album of the year may be an understatement; it could be an overstatement, whatever it is to you, to me, I have found God. His name is Steve Von Till.’