Dec 102015



Of all the year-end lists we re-post from “big platform” web sites as part of our LISTMANIA extravaganza, this is the one I most look forward to seeing. It’s Stereogum’s list of “The 50 Best Metal Albums of 2015“, which was published today. I look forward to it because it’s assembled by a team of people whose opinions I respect a lot — the five guys responsible for Stereogum’s excellent Black Market column this year: Michael NelsonDoug Moore, Ian Chainey, Aaron Lariviere, and Wyatt Marshall.

This year’s Stereogum list is preceded by a long opinion piece — prompted in part by Disma’s removal from some metal festival line-ups — that raises the thorny and always-controversial issue of whether there are lines crossed by musicians that warrant “excommunication” of their music from our lives. Regardless of what you think about that issue, this is a good and interesting list. It includes some of whom we can safely anoint as “the usual suspects” this year, but some deep cuts as well. And I’m especially happy to see the pick at the top of the list.

I’m also interested in your comments about the list, so sound off! To read the discussion of each album on the list, go here:


50.  Délétère – Les Heures De La Peste (Sepulchral Productions)

49.  Maruta – Remain Dystopian (Relapse Records)

48.  Violet Cold – Desperate Dreams (Violet Cold)

47.  Undergang – Døden Læger Alle Sår (Dark Descent)

46.  Hate Eternal – Infernus (Season of Mist)

45.  Macabre Omen – Gods Of War (Vàn Records)

44.  Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud (Nuclear Blast)

43.  Vhol – Deeper Than Sky (Profound Lore)

42.  Onirik – Casket Dream Veneration (Iron Bonehead)

41.  Paradise Lost – The Plague Within (Century Media)

40.  False – Untitled (Gilead Media)

39.  Dødheimsgard – A Umbra Omega (Peaceville)

38.  Death Karma – The History Of Death & Burial Rituals Part 1 (Iron Bonehead)

37.  Baroness – Purple (Abraxan Hymns)

36.  Putridity – Ignominous Atonement (Willowtip)

35.  Vanum – Realm Of Sacrifice (Profound Lore)

34.  Vatnett Viskar – Settler (Century Media)

33.  Vastum – Hole Below (20 Buck Spin)

32.  Howls Of Ebb – The Marrow Veil (I, Voidhanger)

31.  Lychgate – An Antidote For The Glass Pill (Blood Music)

30.  High On Fire – Luminiferous (Entertainment One)

29.  Judicator – At The Expense Of Humanity (Masters of Metal Productions)

28.  Misþyrming – Söngvar Elds Og Óreiðu (Terratur Possessions)

27.  Psudoku – Planetarisk Psudoku (Nerve Altar)

26.  Drowning The Light – From The Abyss (self-released)

25.  KEN Mode – Success (Season Of Mist)

24.  Grift – Syner (Nordvis Produktion)

23.  Blind Guardian – Beyond The Red Mirror (Nuclear Blast)

22.  Chrch – Unanswered Hymns (Transylvanian Tapes)

21.  Myrkur – M (Relapse)

20.  Jute Gyte – Ship Of Theseus (Jeshimoth)

19.  Kauan – Sorni Nai (Blood Music)

18.  Mgła – Exercises In Futility (No Solace / Northern Heritage)

17.  Obsequiae – Aria Of Vernal Tombs (20 Buck Spin)

16.  Beaten To Death – Unplugged (Mas-Kina Recordings)

15.  Murg – Varg & Björn (Nordvis)

14.  Acid King – Middle Of Nowhere, Center Of Everywhere (Svart Records)

13.  Satan – Atom By Atom (Listenable)

12.  Slugdge – Dim & Slimeridden Kingdoms (self-released)

11.  Sivyj Yar – Burial Shrouds (Avantgarde Music)

10.  Deafheaven – New Bermuda (Anti-)

09.  Nile – What Should Not Be Unearthed (Nuclear Blast)

08.  Krallice – Ygg huur (Gilead Media / Avantgarde Music)

07.  Fluisteraars – Luwte (Eisenwald Tonschmiede)

06.  Tribulation – The Children Of The Night (Century Media)

05.  Sarpanitum – Blessed Be My Brothers (Willowtip Records)

04.  Elder – Lore (Armageddon Shop)

03.  Horrendous – Anareta (Dark Descent)

02.  Leviathan – Scar Sighted (Profound Lore)

01.  Panopticon – Autumn Eternal (Bindrune Recordings)



  1. If memory serves Stereogum usually have one of the better end of year lists for me too, but I’m not feeling it as much this year as there isn’t as much simpatico (if that’s even the right use of that phrase) with me this time round. Probably as it has quite a few of bands / albums I can’t get my head around the appreciation for; Krallice, Mgla, Misþyrming, Death Karma etc. yada yada, as well as featuring a few let-downs, particularly Sarpanitum and Lychgate. They got Howls of Ebb, Slugdge and Psudoku though which are nice surprises to see here. All brilliant. Didn’t expect to see Fluisteraars so high up either. Quite a decent record, I just didn’t think anyone would even know about it. Still a lot of great stuff here, and probably one of the better all-inclusive lists for the less explorative

    Quite a lot I still need to get on too. Panopticon albums I always listen to once, love, then never revisit for some reason. Still haven’t heard that Jute Gyte either. I tend to prefer his drill and bass type stuff to his microtonal bm for some reason. I’ve heard nice things about Chrch too. For when “v” instead of “u” is just too damn mainstream. Etc.

    • Krallice, Mgla, Misþyrming, Lychgate, and Death Karma happen to be some of the reasons why I like this list, but other reasons include Howls of Ebb, Slugdge, and Sudoku. 🙂 Also, seeing Sivyj Yar, Fluisteraars, and Obsequiae in the top 20 was refreshing. Haven’t heard the new Jute Gyte, but I’ve had some trouble warming up to past releases on any consistent basis. At some point I’ll have to give it a try.

      • I think for Krallice I much preferred Imperial Triumphant’s take on wacky avant-garde black, Misþyrming I felt lacked much identity as far as Deathspell Omega-alikes go, and would opt for AION or Grey Heaven Fall. Both seemed a bit more distinctive in their DsO aping. Death Karma I guess will always be in the shadow compared to Cult of Fire, but I would be more amenable to it if they maybe had less grating production. Lychgate I almost liked, I just think they were a little all over the place on that one, but I do like organs so might be worth spending a bit more time with. Mgla though, I just can’t wrap my head around the last three releases. I thought the Further Down The Nest EP was quite lovely, but the rampant repetition just didn’t work for me, and I’m usually a big fan of well-done repetition. I could get that they might be a niche thing, but the amount of attention and praise (top album on RYM under the “metal” tag) baffles me to no end.

        I don’t think you’re missing out all that much with Jute Gyte. Stick with Blut aus Nord’s ‘MoRT’ or something (I think that’s microtonal. Not a guitarist so might be wrong).

        • Personally, I think Mgla is riding the same wave as Horrendous and Tribulation. All three bands previous albums pushed them into wider awareness, and now everyone who missed out last time around is making sure to jump on the bandwagon with these bands.

          That dosnt mean that any of these releases are bad, its just that the hype train is much bigger this time around

          • Every year has its disproportionately popular stuff. Bolzer, Pall Bearer, and of course Myrkur this year. I can usually appreciate them to a degree (personally I love Tribulation and Bolzer, the though latter’s popularity is absurd considering how little music there is to their name). Mgla though I just can’t see what people are getting out of them. Good for them though I suppose.

            • It happens..Im probably the only person around who prefers “The Horror” to either of Tribulations other albums, and while I think “Children of the Night” is okay, the hype around it dosnt make sense considering how much better “The Formulas of Death” was by comparison

              • I quite liked how they maintained a signature sound on both recent albums but ended up being stylistically quite different. I also find it quite interesting that nobody seems to be able to agree on what kind of music they’re playing much of the time. ‘Children of the Night’ is a fairly simplistic record to my ears, but it’s hard to pin down what they’re doing exactly. A sort of gothic-tinged pseudo heavy metal / hard-rock type thing. And then ‘Formulas…’ was an amalgam of black, death and thrash with fairly pronounced prog and psychedelic moments. Still didn’t sound that wacky on the whole, but invented nonetheless. I guess if you don’t like their sound then there’s not much to like ultimately. I agree though that people should probably calm down a bit about the new one though, it’s just a nice, decently played and sounding album. Not exactly the genre-pusher than Formulas was.

                • On that note: still don’t know why so many people reviewing Children of the Night describe it as death metal. Tribulation’s first two albums definitely have death metal in the mix, but with this new one I really don’t hear any of that.

                  • No clue tbh. Even MA, who for all their many faults are usually pretty on the money with genres, have them down as “Progressive Death/Black Metal” which couldn’t be less representative of the new one. I guess those raspy vocals throw people off a bit.

              • Don’t even go there SurgicalBrute, you’re not the only one. ”The Horror” is actually my favourite metal album of all time, there’s just nothing at all that could be improved in that record. I’d pay inordinate amounts of money to see them playing the album live in full. I must say I voluntarily missed them when they were opening for Paradise Lost though, as I looked at the setlist and there were NO SONGS off ”The Horror”, so I knew that seeing them live would just make me feel sad. I didn’t like ”Formulas…” as much as ”The Horror”, though I found it very interesting and it pushed many boundaries successfully, so I have lots of respect for that album.

                I was eagerly awaiting ”The Children Of The Night”, and then I just found it so underwhelming… It was definitely Tribulation, but without any intensity, just mid paced, no aggression, no moments of sheer insanity, and most importantly, no ”fuck yeah!” moments. Maybe if I force myself to listen to it many more times I’ll come to like it a bit, but it just seems like a chore to go through 🙁

          • As someone riding the hype trains of all three in just that fashion, your characterization of it is completely fair. With Mgla and Horrendous, I had felt some of the hype for With Hearts and Ecdysis, but by some weird anti-hype instinct in my body actively avoided them (don’t really know why I did this, but I did). Wasn’t til I checked out Exercises and Anareta that I went back and finally explored their predecessors, though in both cases I like the newer records more. Tribulation is probably a similar situation for most, though in my personal case I tried out Formulas of Death when it came out (more or less), and just couldn’t get into it, while I’m a big fan of Children of the Night.

            • I don’t know if it’s a similar thing but I often find it quite difficult to delve into a band’s discography after discovering, and liking, their most recent album. Even some of my all time favourite stuff is a just a single album from a band with many records to their name which I’ve never listened to. It seems to be some weird psychological barrier in thinking their older stuff won’t match the sound or quality of the most recent.

              As I say, probably not the same kind of thing, but I get what you mean in that hype can have almost the opposite effect in certain situations.

        • I think both AION and Grey Heaven Fall are excellent (I’m still hoping I get around to scribbling some thoughts about the latter). My comments on all these lists are simply reflections of what I like that I see popping up, without paying much attention to the rankings or to whether there are other bands I think would be more deserving of a spot. I would have such a hard time trying to make selections of a Top 20 or even something larger, much less trying to rank them (which is why I don’t do it — everything else I do around here would grind to a halt for at least a month, and I still doubt I could figure it out).

          • I’ve never been able to rank albums really either. I can do maybe a top 2 or so, but shuffling bands with totally different sounds into a numbered list always seemed a bit arbitrary. If something sounds a bit like something else I can maybe say one sounds better or worse than the other, but that’s about the extent of it.

      • I was happy to see Sivyj Yar pop up as well. I think this is the first list Ive seen them on this year

    • I think Stereogum might have actually premiered that Fluisteraars record, which would explain why they know about it. It’s unfortunate that I haven’t seen much love for it anywhere else – Dromers was a bit better for me, but that’s not to say that Luwte isn’y fantastic still.

  2. Seems like at least one of the guys over there seems to know his stuff because this is definitely the best list Ive seen come out of bigger publication…Good to see some stuff like Macabre Omen and Drowning the Light show up.

    • …also, as I read the opinion piece in introduction to the Stereogum article, Id like to commend the writer for approaching the subject in a reasonable manner. He’s not preaching at people who dont have a specific mindset (something that seems to happen far too often), he’s merely asking questions while admitting he dosnt have all the answers…hopefully inspiring people to have an actual discussion on a very tricky subject

      • For some people, of course, it’s not a tricky subject. All you have to do is raise it, and you get flamed as a “SJW”. But I agree that it is a tricky subject, and I agree with your take on that introductory piece by Michael Nelson.

  3. I’m kinda shocked at how many lists have been negating Sulphur Aeon. Also at how much praise Horrendous is getting. Am I missing something? I simply can’t comprehend this inordinate widespread infatuation with Anareta.

    That being said this is one of the better lists I’ve seen. Glad to see Sarpanitum cracking the top 5, phenomenal album!

    • Can’t say I’m shocked to see that other big head platforms have omitted Sulphur Aeon along with a plenitude of great releases. I’m missing it here, though. Gateway to the Antisphere is a red hot candidate for my own list, if I ever make one.

      • Agree with both of you — I thought Sulphur Aeon’s new one was great and am surprised it’s not getting more notice, at least on lists that reflect an effort to recognize quality regardless of “profile”.

    • And nobody ever mentions the new Skeletal Remains album. It is absolutely AMAZING Death Metal. One of the best this year for sure.

    • Anareta never appealed to me much like Ecdysis and The Chills. Probably I felt that they wer trying too hard to branch out/evolve, however people would like to put it.

  4. I haven’t seen ALKALOID anywhere. I’ve played the crap outta that album.

    • It hasn’t appeared on a single list we’ve posted from other zines and sites so far, which really is astonishing. But you’re going to see it on our own lists. 🙂

    • I made this point on a different post. Akaloid released my favorite album of the year. It is such a perfect mix of death, tech, and prog metal. Also, has everyone forgot about Desolate Shrine’s “The Heart of the Netherworld? I really think it deserves more attention.

  5. This is now the third list I’ve seen that didn’t include Sigh’s “Graveward”. That is entirely baffling to me.

  6. Kinda confused why Blind Guardian is so damn high in this list. I think I played this new one maybe once, and then decided I was better off just playing one of their older albums. Wasn’t bad or anything, but just very much par for the course for them, and by no means a top 25 record.

    Same goes for KEN Mode – Blessed is a great track, but it’s tough for me to stay engaged after the second track until the last one.

  7. I’ve seen a lot of end EOY lists and I am not getting the total absence of Ufomammut Ecate. Not my AoTY but listening to that album for the umpteenth time in my car the other day I could not think of a heavier release I’d heard for 2015 that was so replayable or just so crushing. “Temple” might be my song of the year. I can’t find faults in that record at all. Looking at my Itunes list I am also not seeing Hooded Menace, Irreversible Mechanism, Abyssal, The Ugly. My picks out out of a lot of buys this year that I also loved.

    As far as the top of the list goes, yes for Leviathan, yes for Horrendous (great Death vibes and energy), big yes for Elder (my aoty) but haven’t heard much else from this list or comments. Much to investigate. But yeah, Ufomammut wtf??

  8. No Alkaloid, Sulphur Aeon, or Outre? Is this a joke?

  9. Sad not to see Songs From the North mentioned in this otherwise excellent list; I would say releasing a metal triple album should at least give one a mention in an end of year list.

    Oh well, most other albums I really liked are on here, and aside from that this list was a blast to read 🙂

  10. I don’t have the energy to go into the whole “support/boycott that artist for whatever reason” discussion right now, but I do have to say that it was an extremely well written and coherent editorial. If the rest of the writing on Stereogum holds that caliber I might start reading it.

    • It does indeed – they have 5 writers collaborating on their metal column, which appears just once a month. They do a great job of presenting a metal selection for a broad audience, and their monthly appearance is well worth checking out.

  11. Some great picks, I’m happy to see Hate Eternal showing up on several lists 🙂

  12. This is the kinda list I like. These guys know their shit.
    Thought the intro article was well written, even if its not offering answers.
    What answers can a music publication really give us without sounding holier than thou.
    I think its a very “to each their own” situation.
    Again.. Great fucking list though!

    • “What answers can a music publication really give us without sounding holier than thou.”

      Which is why I think so many of those kinds of articles fall on deaf ears. Even if their hearts are in the right place, the writers tend to come across as so patronizing that no one cares to listen

  13. Solid list. On top of those albums, mine would also include Sulphur Aeon, Abyssal, Wardaemonic, Adversarial, Nocternity, Amestigon, Outre, Wiegedood and Batushka as a late entry.

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