Dec 092015

High On Fire-Luminiferous


Since we first began our annual LISTMANIA extravaganza, I’ve limited the year-end lists we re-post from other web sites to those with cross-genre coverage and very large audiences, mainly to see what people who may only dabble in metal are being told they should listen to. Flagging those year-end lists also provides a place where NCS readers can go if they’re interested in recommendations for music outside of extreme metal. I, of course, have no such interest, but I’m trying to be broad-minded at this time of year.

Today I’m re-posting lists that appeared yesterday on and LA Weekly. The first qualifies as a “big platform” site. The second is something of an exception, but honestly, I was getting tired of re-posting lists from big sites that only included one or two metal albums.

ABOUT.COM is a huge web portal that covers a broad range of subjects, including home care, interior decorating, parenting, travel, money management, health care, food, careers, sports, and technology. They also have an entertainment channel, and if you burrow down into the large array of entertainment coverage you will find Heavy Metal, with a staff of metal writers led by Chad Bowar. Yesterday, they published their list of 2015’s “Best Heavy Metal Albums“. It’s a ranked list of 20, preceded by a list (in alphabetical order) of 20 “Honorable Mentions”. And here are those lists:


Arcturus – Arcturian (Prophecy)
Baroness – Purple (Relapse)
Beaten To Death – Unplugged (Mas-Kina)
Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth – Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth (Neurot)
Caina – Settler Of Unseen Shores (Broken Limb)
Cloud Rat – Qliphoth (Halo Of Flies)
Fulgora – Stratagem (Housecore)
Hate Eternal – Infernus (Season Of Mist)
KEN Mode – Success (Season Of Mist)
Kylesa – Exhausting Fire (Season Of Mist)
Lamb Of God – VII: Sturm und Drang (Epic)
Lucifer – Lucifer I (Rise Above)
Marduk – Frontschwein (Century Media)
Melechesh – Enki (Nuclear Blast)
Moonspell – Extinct (Napalm)
Rivers Of Nihil – Monarchy (Metal Blade)
Sigh – Graveward (Candlelight)
Sons Of Huns – While Sleeping Stay Awake (Riding Easy)
Unleashed – Dawn Of The Nine (Nuclear Blast)
VI – De Praestigiis Angelorum (Agonia)



20. Byzantine – To Release Is To Resolve

19. Gruesome – Savage Land

18. Horrendous – Anareta

17. Cruciamentum – Charnal Passages

16. Crypt Sermon – Out of the Garden

15. Sarpanitum – Blessed By My Brothers

14. Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud

13. Myrkur – M

12. Intronaut – The Direction of Last Things

11. Clutch – Psychic Warfare

10. Ghost – Meliora

09. My Dying Bride – Feel the Misery

08. Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction

07. Paradise Lost – the Plague Within

06. Napalm Death – Apex Predator-Easy Meat

05. Deafheaven – New Bermuda

04. Enslaved – In Times

03. Leviathan – Scar Sighted

02. Iron Maiden – Book of Souls

01. High On Fire – Luminiferous

I think both of these are solid lists, and provocative ones, too. The main list has higher placements for Enslaved, Leviathan, Napalm Death, Amorphis, and Cattle Decap than I’ve seen elsewhere, and that’s a nice change. At least for me, the choice of High On Fire as Album of the Year is a surprise, and so is the ranking of Iron Maiden as high as No. 2. The list also further solidifies Deafheaven, Ghost, Paradise Lost, and Horrendous as names we’re likely to see everywhere we look. But there’s another name I’ve seen popping up everywhere that’s missing from this list — Tribulation.

To read the summary reviews of the albums on the Top 20 list (which are worth reading), go here:




Eduardo Ramirez-Volahn


This next list is something of an outlier, because it comes from a localized alternative weekly. On the other hand, LA Weekly is based in the second biggest city in the U.S. and it has a big readership, both in its print form and in its online presence. It was founded in 1978 and is currently owned by Voice Media Group, the same company that owns New York’s Village Voice, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Houston Press, Dallas Observer, Riverfront Times, Miami New Times, Minneapolis City Pages, Broward New Times, and OC Weekly.

Jason Roche is one of the weekly’s music writers, and I’ve featured his stuff before at NCS, because he’s a good writer with good taste. Yesterday, LA Weekly posted his list of The 10 Best Heavy Metal Albums of 2015, and I thought it was worth sharing (and thanks to NCS reader DaNasher for alerting me to it). Here’s the list:


10. Tribulation – Children of the Night

09. Mutoid Man – Bleeder

08. Visigoth – The Revenant King

07. Ghost – Melidora

06. Bell Witch – Four Phantoms

05. Deafheaven – New Bermuda

04. Vattnet Viskar – Settler

03. Baroness – Purple

02. Panopticon – Autumn Eternal

01. Volahn – Aq’Ab’Al


I found this a very interesting list. It includes three of those names mentioned above that are appearing almost everywhere, but it also includes such unusual names as Mutoid Man and Visigoth, in addition to a high ranking for the awesome Bell Witch. And man, to see Panopticon and Volahn in the two highest spots is very cool.

The descriptions accompanying these picks are good reads, and you can dive into them here:

  49 Responses to “LISTMANIA 2015: ABOUT.COM AND LA WEEKLY”

  1. Sometimes I feel decently, generally aware of the world of metal, and Then I see a ‘best of’ list whose #1 is something that I have never heard of…

    • I’m assuming you’re referring to Volahn. It really is a wonderful album. Eduardo Ramirez is the main man behind a group of SoCal bands known as the Black Twilight Circle. Volahn is his main project. I’m pasting Jason Roche’s write-up about the album below, and a link to the Bandcamp page:

      “We are encouraged by the fact that there are still artists finding ways to push the now decades-old genre of heavy metal in new directions. Taking a cue from the era when Scandinavian black metal acts turned to their ancestry for lyrical and musical inspiration, Volahn mastermind and Los Angeles metal musician Eduardo Ramirez pays tribute to his Mayan ancestry and the rituals and the civilizations of centuries past. Volahn’s music is appropriately caustic for the black metal genre, but the moments of colorful atmosphere inspired by Mexican ranchera music, classical Latin guitar, and ancient flute-like instruments are what make this record special and worthy of repeated listens.”

    • The Black Twilight Circle is worth exploring beyond 2015 as well, most notably Arizmenda’s extraordinary ‘Within the Vacuum of Infinity…’ (the last black metal album I gave 10 / 10), Muknal’s exceptional cavernous death metal, Dolorvotre’s blackened psychedelia etc.

      There was also a spiffing 4 way BTC split this year, entitled ‘Desert Dances and Serpent Sermons’ which also features a track by Volahn, and one I would say even ousts the full length:

      The whole movement / scene excels in psychedelic and freeform black metal (and a couple of death metal outfits and a doom one) that harkens back to LLN in a way, but actually sounds almost uniformly good and quite unique. It’s current my favourite thing in music.

      • Just to balance this equation, I think Aq’Ab’Al deserves to be released on cassette only. It’s cult because it’s cult. Other than that it’s just utter [censored due to anti-troll policy]. And that’s my honest opinion.
        Sorry, I just had to get that of my chest. Number one? Bah, humbug!

          • Hahaha…
            I didn’t mean to reply to JJJ, by the way (hey, that rhymes). I was in such a disarray that my hands were shaking :p
            But seriously, We all have different taste*, and that’s great, but “very best album of the entire year? I don’t fucking think so!

            Speaking of taste. Considering the diversity among metalheads, perhaps I should rather pick on the fact that some albums finds its way onto “every” list? Like Tribulation. It sounds okay, but best of the year? On that many lists? Really? (I’ve just heard a few songs now and again, so I’m not gonna protest strictly)

            • I personally love that Tribulation album, but I think everyone will have a usual-suspect album that makes its way into a large chuck of lists which they don’t like. For me it would be Mgla; a band I can’t get my head around the reverence for. Obviously Mgla wasn’t even mentioned here. I just thought I would avail myself of the opportunity to whine about them for a second.

      • That 4-way split is fascinating — something I’ve been meaning to write about for months, but have fucked up for months. I need to hear “Within the Vacuum of Infinity…” for sure.

        • The split is like a soundtrack to some weird, trippy space-western, or something.

          I won’t bleat on about that Arizmenda record too much, but it is rather good. I find it almost analogous to Aluk Todolo’s ‘Occult Rock’ record (another thing I slapped a 10 on), only a bit more black metal and shall we say “under” produced. Just the way the tightly-packed layers slide all over each other like… slidey things… really gets to me.

      • Booo-urns!

        • I think I just “Booo-urnsed” myself accidentally. Oh well.

          • Shit happens. I wasn’t planing on attacking you specifically either. I’m so old I can’t even press the correct button. Besides, it’s so dark in here. Can someone turn on the lights? And turn up the radiators too. And bring me my slippers!

            • I wouldn’t worry, I probably know as many people that didn’t like that Volahn record as I do that did like it. I can totally get my head around why people don’t like it as well. So no harm, no foul. It’s definitely not my number 1 album either, but in my top 25 at least.

          • Comment box strikes again! Making us all look like fantastic idiots and taking the bite out of all our vitriol since 2009!

            • When you get deep into the nest, it’s like a trip down the rabbit hole with Alice.

              “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
              “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
              “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
              “You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

  2. That list contains one album in particular which I honestly consider amongst the most Disappointing albums of the year…

    While the LA Weekly list contains one album in particular which I honestly consider amongst the very BEST of the year…

  3. That Mutoid Man record is obscene amounts of fun, so thanks for heads up on that. I was always a big fan of Cave In’s vocals so that definitely helps.

    • Same. Absolutely love Bleeder. Always meant to review it here but never got around to it. Also meant to do one of those rearview mirror things on Perfect Pitch Black – found that album this summer, and couldn’t stop listening to it for weeks.

  4. aaaaand I just listened to Volahn for the first time.

    Not my cup of tea.

  5. Ahhh finally some decency arrives. The LA list especially is a tasty one.
    Though I couldn’t get too into Bell Witch or Tribulation so much. 🙁

  6. Visigoth…great album, but it has absolutely no place on a site called “No Clean Singing.”Angry Metal Guy and his crew, however, loved it – big riffs, big vocals and big, dumb lyrics that would make Manowar proud.

  7.’s list is about as generic as you could get for metal releases in 2015…throw Tribulation on there somewhere, hit shuffle and you’ll create 95% of the lists that will come out this year.

    At least LA Weekly went outside the box with Volahn, so I’ll give them credit for that

    • I’m surprised to see Byzantine on there to be honest, as it’s a solid record, but not one of their best (and certainly not one of the best of the entire year).

    • I feel the same way with the list. In my opinion they are missing some absolutely crucial albums. The majority of their list is simply filler. I also am shocked at how many lists are neglecting two of my favorite albums of the year. The Malkuth Grimoire by Akaloid and Antikatastaseis by Abyssal. I love both of these albums, but it seems as if many sites are overlooking their greatness.

      • They will not be overlooked when we start rolling out our own lists. 🙂

      • Abyssal is too underground for poser-sites, and they probably never heard of Alkaloid. Two crucial albums, indeed!

        • If you had asked me last year, I would have agreed about Abyssal, but they seem to have broken through with Antikatastaseis

          (Seriously, anytime Metalsucks becomes aware of something you know its not underground anymore)

        • Ah, and you were doing so well until you used the “p” word.

          • What? I didn’t say penis.
            Oh, you mean poser. Well, I probably went more than just a little over board there.
   has delivered the best major list thus far. Some of the others should conciser hiring someone with a clue, or simply stop pretending, though.

      • This are both fantastic albums! Abyssal was definitely one of my top favourites

  8. Thanks a bunch for the shoutout Islander. Glad to hear people are digging the Volahn once they check it out. The whole Black Twilight Circle scene out here is one that I think is doing some very unique and special things in the metal world right now, and definitely deserves a larger audience, or at least as big as some of the things that are getting universal love elsewhere. I am thankful to have an outlet like LA Weekly to expose bands like that to a potentially larger audience out here.

    And yeah, the new 4-way split does indeed have a Volahn track that may be better than anything on the album proper.

    • Thanks for all you do for LA Weekly to help support metal. I know you will probably take some hits for the Volahn pick at No. 1 (as you have here), but that’s the kind of action that really will help expose some very creative musicians to a wider audience. You know going in that it’s going to be a love-it-or-hate-it reaction.

    • Oh yeah, I agree that the Volahn track on that split may be better than anything on the album. So completely out o fleet field, but it works so well.

  9. I appreciate the blurb my friend! I love this site so much but rarely made comments in the past. Chalk it up to laziness I suppose. Volahn is definitely in my top 5 this year. I’m still having a hard time finishing my list.We had another awesome year of Metal to rejoice about and a killer bunch of people to discuss it with!

  10. the selections i agree with are:
    Hate Eternal – Infernus (Season Of Mist)
    Lamb Of God – VII: Sturm und Drang (Epic)
    Rivers Of Nihil – Monarchy (Metal Blade)
    Unleashed – Dawn Of The Nine (Nuclear Blast)
    20. Byzantine – To Release Is To Resolve
    19. Gruesome – Savage Land
    18. Horrendous – Anareta
    17. Cruciamentum – Charnal Passages
    08. Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
    04. Enslaved – In Times

  11. I’m a little surprised no one liked Abhorrent Decimation’s release as much as me.

    • Not sure why you’d be surprised. They’re not exactly a huge band, so they’re unlikely to get the exposure which would lead them to be on a lot of lists.

      They ARE getting a mention on one of my lists next week though, if that’s any consolation (and we’re hopefully doing some dates with them next year too!).

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