All right, so we’re a little more than a week into 2016. Too late for a year-end best of
We also take this opportunity to remind of Florida’s rich heavy-metal tradition and heritage, being the true birthing grounds of death metal, boasting some of the best sludge and stoner metal bands in the world, and even counting a few seriously influential grind groups among our exports. As such, we think it’s only right that we take a moment to list off what we feel were the metal releases that defined the heavy sounds of 2015. Bonus: This list will make an ideal playlist for those of you resolution-motivated January gym rats in need of a little bit of sonic firepower to fuel the lifts.
10. Slaves Beyond Death, Black Breath
A lot of people seemed disappointed by Black Breath’s third full-length showing, but we think this album was a really interesting step for this band to take. More ambitious song structures and impressive guitar histrionics replace a lot of d-beat fury and death ‘n’ roll swagger that originally made this band so potent, but there is still enough of all of these elements present on Slaves… that it’s both fresh and familiar without trodding too heavily on the band’s past. As such, we’re a bit unsure how any fan can truly be alienated by this album? At any rate, it’s a corker with immense guitar riffs and hellfire vocals that we were (and are) very into.
9. Luminiferous, High On Fire
Unlike Black Breath, High On Fire has never fucked with the program — they only grows more lethal which each release in the execution of what they have always done. Luminiferous carries all of the hallmarks that made High On Fire its bones, simply further honed by the wisdom that comes with time, and constructed with the efficiency that comes with working with the same producer on multiple occasions (in this case, the illustrious Kurt Ballou of Converge/God City Studios fame). To be blunt, it’s the most High On Fire record High On Fire could ever hope to make, and for that, we love it.
8. Grief’s Infernal Flower, Windhand
We’re in the midst of a doom-metal renaissance and Windhand is doing everything it can to lead the charge. This album is gigantic in every way and sees Windhand level-up substantially. As crushing as it is melodic, this record is 2015’s doom masterwork — a magnificent, lumbering golem of riffs and incantations that gets more satisfying with each listen.
7. Anareta, Horrendous
This band made arguably the best traditional death-metal album of the past three years with Anareta. This album has all of the trappings of early Florida death-metal with just enough of a modern edge that it won’t be lost to time by being labeled as a throwback recorded simply as Morrisound worship.
6. The Night Creeper, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats
The once quite mysterious British masters of a retro-centric doom-psych came out swinging in 2015 with an extremely worthy follow-up to 2013’s Mind Control, and this album is the 4th perfect LP Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats has put out — at least in our opinion. Spooky, drug-addled doom-metal presented with an early ‘70s-informed production aesthetic and all of the cult lore and murder tales one could ever want from a metal album.
5. The Children of the Night, Tribulation
This Swedish band’s 2015 release marks one of the only successful examples we can think of of death-metal band successfully abandoning its sound and transcending the confines of the death-metal community with something that, while still heavy, is completely unique relative to the rest of its discography. Melodic, dramatic, dynamic — this album was an unexpected stunner, and places Tribulation in line to follow in the snowy footsteps of the great Swedish metal bands.
4. Bleeder, Mutoid Man
Mutoid Man is a rare example of a supergroup that actually works, and one that has escaped the orbit of its individual members’ notoriety to exist in its own space. Bleeder’s tracks often sound like a prog band playing at d-beat tempos and boasts as many ear-worming melodies at it does face-stomping riffs and hits, and is a true breath of fresh air in the very often stale atmosphere that is the modern era of heavy metal.
3. Restarter, Torche
Miami’s favored sons and inventors of sludge-pop, Torche, returned in mighty form last year with Restarter, which is the band’s debut for Relapse Records. Restarter is everything we’ve ever loved about Torche further exaggerated, but also simplified at times. While many fans focused on the fact that there are more “bomb notes” and chunky guitar riffs than the band has dabbled with in recent years, but there is plenty of songwriting intrigue on the album, too.
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2. Remain Dystopian, Maruta
Miami’s favored sons of death-grind joined the aforementioned Torche on Relapse this year and subsequently took the metal world at large by storm with Remain Dystopian, a 17 track melee of a techy grindcore mayhem that gained Maruta some serious national attention. This tornado of sonic filth alone should solidify Maruta as a force of nature, and one Florida should be very proud to call its own.
1. Bad Magic, Motörhead
Sadly, this album went from being a triumphant 22nd release and celebration of Motörhead’s 40 years of destruction to a swan song as dear Lemmy, the Capricorn himself, left us in late December. While this album is here for the sake of commemorating one of the greatest frontmen and bands of all time, the record is also a proper motherfucker and would’ve made this list regardless. Turn it up, pour one out, and shake it loose!