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Tuesday, Jan, 5 2016

Alright, so I know it's almost a week into 2016, but cut a guy a break. I've been busy. I would be remiss (like that vocabulary?) if I didn't, at the very least, attempt to put together a list of my favorite albums to come out in the late, great 2015. Now this is difficult. There were SO MANY GREAT albums to come out last year. I will surely leave something out that you think should be on this list. I don't care. Get pissed off. There is a reason I get paid to do this and you do not. Deal with it.

So as the saying goes...HERE GOES NOTHING!

5. PURPLE-Baroness (Abraxan Hymns)

Metal is weird. Usually, when I hear one of my favorite bands is coming out with a new record, I have 5 minutes of elation and about a week of dread. The reason being is that bands have this habit of changing their sound from record to record. This is done for a variety of reasons. One is to attempt to achieve more commercial success and become more popular by appealing to a wider audience. Another reason is they are bored with doing the same thing over and over again (yes, I'm looking at you Parkway Drive). Now in the case of Baroness, it was a little bit of both. They left their major (minor?) record label and formed their own independent label and put this little diddy out on my birthday. It was like a personal rock'n'roll birthday present. It was awesome. Baroness are known as great stoner rock/metal from Georgia who put out albums that made sense and were easy to follow when it came to theme and sound. Purple changed that. Each song is different. By different, I mean it shows a different side of Baroness with each tune. The album opener clearly shows the influence their contemporaries and friends Mastodon have on the band, while this song, Shock Me, is clearly just good ol' fashioned rock'n'roll. If your goal is to get inebriated and have a good time, I suggest picking this album up. 

4. BAD MAGIC-Motorhead (UDR)

What can I say about Motorhead that hasn't already been said? Lemmy was GOD. In my humble, and slightly educated in the ways of rock opinion, Lemmy was the last true living rockstar. Known for his habit of drinking a gallon of Jack Daniels a day, (so much that there is a joke going around that the company is going out of business due to his death) he recently switched over to vodka and orange juice for his "health". When I head about Lemmy's death, it crushed me. If you would have asked me a year ago, I would have swore to you that he would outlive me and continue smashing it on stage every night. Sadly, that wasn't to be the case. If there is a Heaven, then God put together one hell of a band when he took Lemmy. Astoundingly, in his 70th year on this Earth, Lemmy and Co. put out one hell of a record that would send the metal legend out on a high note. That album is Bad Magic. Now everything you know and love about Motorhead is here. Driving riffs, loudness and Lemmy's whiskey-soaked and ciggarette-burned vocals are all over this record. It is a fitting end to one of the last legends we had amongst us and I highly suggest you add it to your collection and CRANK IT UP in honor of the one and only Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister. 

3. MELIORA-Ghost (Loma Vista Recordings) 

Admit it. You thought I was going to post a video of "Cirice" up there. C'mon...You know you thought that was going to happen. Well, goes to show you how much you know. On a serious note though, "Cirice" is up for a grammy for Best Metal Performance. That's a pretty big deal for a Swedish Satanic metal band. Now, granted Ghost are not Gorgoroth. They a significantly more catchy sound and...Dare, I say it?...Have made Satanic metal infectious. This album focuses on RIFFS. The guitars are front and center and if the hook for "Absolution" doesn't get talked about as being one of the best riffs of 2015 soon, I may just lose my mind. This whole album sounds like a Church sermon praising the infernal. It is NUTTY good. If you are lucky enough to catch them live, I guarantee it's an experience you will not forget. I also have fallen in love with the fact that noone knows who these dudes are. Now, if they end up having an unmasking the way KISS did, I'd be ok with that, but truthfully I dig it being a mystery. They are awesome in interviews too because they consider it their personal mission to turn the music industry on it's head. That is something it DESPERATELY needs. Seriously, if black masses and infectious grooves are your thing, and you did not get this album this past year, stop whatever the hell it is you are doing and GRAB YOURSELF A COPY. 

2. VII: STURM UND DRANG-Lamb Of God (Epic, Nuclear Blast)

Holy hell this album is a kick in the teeth. The song I chose to represent it. "512", was the prison cell that lead-singer Randy Blythe inhabited during his stay in Pankrác Prison in Czechoslovakia (SP?), for charges of man-slaughter that came about due to the death of a fan that tried to hop on stage at one of the bands shows. The story goes that Blythe shoved the fan off stage, which resulted in the fan falling and hitting his head. That resulted in enough trauma to put the young man in a coma that he never came out of. Now, I'm not one to point fingers, but don't be rushing the stage, guys. After the tragic death of Dimebag, rockstars have a right not to have you up there interrupting the set. If you are invited, that's one thing. However, if you're not, stay off the damn stage and let these guys do their jobs. This album is deeply personal. It was difficult for me to put it in the number 2 spot because truthfully, it's tied dead-even for number 1 in my heart. The album saw a lot of criticism because the lead single, "Overlord", features the first time we've ever heard Randy Blythe try clean singing. Now, I don't get that. Why criticize? I get it if the dude can't sing, but Blythe proved that not only can he carry a tune, he's actually quite talented at it. Get off his back and enjoy the music. The album features guest appearances by Deftones frontman Chino Moreno, and Dillinger Escape Plan vocalist Greg Puciato. No wonder I love it so much, it's like my 3 favorite vocalists decided to be on the same album together. This is a monument to modern metal and it reached the #1 spot on Billboard's 100 chart. Read that again. A "death-metal" band had the number one record in the country. That is nothing short of jaw dropping. 

Before I hit the number one spot, I just want to give a few honorable mentions to some great records that came out this year but for one reason or another didn't make my personal cut.

Paradise Lost-"The Plague Within"
Between the Buried And Me-"Coma Ecliptic"
The Sword-"High Country"
Deafheaven-"New Bermuda" 
Graveyard-"Innocence And Decadence"

1. Luminiferous-High On Fire (E1 Music) 

THIS ALBUM IS INSANITY. 2015 will be known as the year Matt Pike got sober. Now, according to rock'n'roll legend, if a musician "gets sober" that usually means they've lost their fire. The opposite is true in the case of Matt Pike. The former member of Sleep came back with such an explosive and rejuvinated sound for the new album from High on Fire that I could have sworn he was 20 years younger. Pike is the definite inheritor of the gritty, whiskey-soaked Lemmy vocal style and I couldn't think of a better album to stick in the number one spot than this particular release. From the opening chords, you know that you are in for one hell of a wild ride. Combining equal parts, metal, punk and hardcore this album cannot be over-looked the next time you visit a record store. In my opinion, it is the best the year had to offer. 

There you have it...The best of 2015. I can't wait to see what 2016 has to offer. 

posted by: BallZach