SLIS’s 15 Best Rock Albums of 2015: the best metal and alternative rock albums of the year.
Last week I covered the 25 best rock songs of 2015, and now it’s time to celebrate the best albums of the year.
As always I pride myself on sticking to rock oriented releases in a sea of pop nonsense, but I’ve tried to cover a wide swath, including metal, alternative, industrial, New Wave and electronica.
If you’d like to own any of the albums on the list, simply click on the album image to go to Amazon for preview and pricing.
Without any further ado, let’s rock!
15. Last of Our Kind-The Darkness
The Brit-retro rockers returned with a solid collection of ass-kicking cock rock (Open Fire), heavy metal folklore (Barbarians), and garish Flash Gordon-era Queen (Mighty Wings), proving that they are still so much more than I Believe in a Thing Called Love.
Click here for my full album review and click here for my interview with Darkness bassist Frankie Poullain
14. Money Shot-Puscifer
I know, I know. I was hoping for a new Tool album just as much as anyone, but it ain’t gonna happen this year. Maybe in 2016…or maybe never! But I must call attention to the impressive work MJK is doing with Puscifer on their latest album.
From the atmospheric (Grand Canyon), the bizarrely comedic (The Arsonist) and the gloriously aggressive title track, it’s their most fully realized effort, with co-vocalist Carina Round’s angelic vocals dovetailing wonderfully with Keenan’s more aggressive howls.
13. Angels and Ghosts-Dave Gahan and Soulsavers
12. Inside We Are The Same-Kilbey/Kennedy
The Church’s Steve Kilbey and All India Radio’s Martin Kennedy’s continued musical alchemy packs a punch on their excellent third album. Veering from haunting goth (Amenia) to gorgeous shoegaze (Shegaze), they make sophisto-pop worthy of wider acclaim.
11. Music Complete-New Order
How does one soldier on when a chief architect of your sound abandons ship? In New Order’s case, the answer to losing Peter Hook is to dive into modern dance club culture on ass-shaking tunes like Plastic, Singularity and the Iggy Pop collaboration Stray Dog.
While we all long for Hooky to return, if he’s going to keep being a turd, it’s reassuring to know they can do fine without him.
10. Born in the Echoes-The Chemical Brothers
Echoes proves that The Chem Bros. still make dance music better than any millennial laptop button pusher. Whether its slithering instrumentals (Reflexion), club-ready hip-hop (Go! featuring Q-Tip) or delightful arty weirdness like the title track (featuring St. Vincent’s Annie Clark), they remain masters of the genre.
And Wide Open, the album’s closing track with Beck on vocals is one of the most sublime pop songs of the year.
9. Crooked Doors-Royal Thunder
Sounding assured and defiant on their sophomore album, Atlanta’s Royal Thunder make good ole fashioned hard rock, featuring Mlny Parsonz’s chill inducing soulful vocals.
Veering from grungy tracks like Forget You to epic power ballads like One Day, they fill a much-needed void.
8. Lost Themes-John Carpenter
Carpenter’s first non-soundtrack related album still brought plenty of cinematic atmosphere along with dance floor hooks on hypnotic tunes like Vortex and Night, while also indulging in his love of 70’s Prog on the labyrinthine Obsidian.
On Restarter, Torche manage to bridge their love of stoner rock, 90’s alt-rock and power pop more cohesively than ever before on slamming tracks like Annihilation Affair, Minions and Loose Men, a song that would’ve been a top 10 hit in 1995. I mean that as high praise.
Click here for my full Restarter review and click here for my 2015 interview with frontman Steve Brooks
6. Sol Invictus-Faith No More
FNM’s first album since 1997’s Album of the Year came with massive expectations, and Sol Invictus sounded like the next, logical step on their musical journey, not catering to current trends, but instead honing in on their unique hodgepodge of metal, funk and post-punk on tracks like Cone of Shame, Separation Anxiety and Superhero.
Near death experiences will certainly change your perspective, and on Purple, John Baizley and co. revisit the bus accident that nearly claimed their lives, resulting in a work of brutal beauty and cathartic joy on tracks like Chlorine and Wine and Shock Me.
4. Pylon-Killing Joke
Age be damned, Killing Joke still sound like a band in their 20’s, but wizened by their years in the wild. Pylon is another solid album full of bludgeoning fury (I Am The Virus) while also recalling their 80’s Post-punk heyday (New Cold War).
In a world in constant disarray, their sonic tales of conspiracies and ecological disasters feels oddly soothing. And it rocks like all hell.
3. The Pale Emperor-Marilyn Manson
No it’s not 1996 again, but yes, 2015 is the year where Manson got his musical act back together and made his best effort since Mechanical Animals, his creativity revitalized by collaborating with film composer Tyler Bates.
But it’s a different kind of heavy, leaning on the blues (Killing Strangers, Third Day of A Seven Day Binge), and exploring cinematic textures on tracks like Warship My Wreck and Cupid’s Got A Gun. He still has a few tricks left in him.
2. Abyss-Chelsea Wolfe
A harrowing Gothic album fueled by themes of sleep paralysis, Abyss is Wolfe’s most accomplished effort to date, full of haunting ballads (Maw, After The Fall), aggressive industrial (Carrion Flowers) and a winning hybrid of doom metal and shoegaze (Iron Moon). Spectacularly spooky stuff.
1. The Heart is a Monster-Failure
How does one follow-up the 1996 alternative masterpiece Fantastic Planet? With an amazing comeback album The Heart is A Monster, thank you very much.
In an era of Spotify, sequencing is a lost art, but The Heart is A Monster demands to be played from start to finish to experience the band’s masterful layering and sonic detail on tracks like the psychedelic ballad Mulholland Drive, the eerie Snow Angel and the swaggering Counterfeit Sky. An instant classic.
So that wraps up my best of the year list! And be sure to check out the honorable mentions below who barely missed the cut from the past year.
Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite albums of 2015? Be sure to tell me in the comments!