I’m starting the year off right . . . with a mild case of pneumonia. Woohoo! For someone who’s never smoked & never spent any significant amount of time around people who do, I definitely don’t have the most robust lungs known to man (or woman). Oh well, at least I have a few days off of work anyway, & it’s an excuse to be lazy & binge watch New Girl on Netflix (season 4 just became available!!) with Chaucer (our corgi) at my side. AND I can finally get around to writing one of my favorite posts of the year.
That’s right, it’s time to share my picks for the best albums of 2015. I couldn’t narrow it down to just 10 this year because there were simply too many great new albums from which to choose. You’ll notice most of them fall under the rock/metal genre, but there are a few country albums in the mix also.
13. Up by Pop Evil
I have to admit that initially I wasn’t too impressed with Pop Evil’s latest venture simply because I missed the heaviness of much of their previous album, Onyx. However, over time I’ve come to appreciate quite a few of the songs. While I was excited to see them get some mainstream attention with the Dodge commercial that featured the lead single Footsteps, I have to admit that is definitely not my favorite song on the album. My favorite is actually one of the extra songs on the deluxe version of the album entitled My Confessions. While I love their heavier pieces, I have to admit that Pop Evil really shines on more ballad-like pieces like this one (as well as Silence & Scars from Onyx & Stepping Stone from their debut album). I’m also a big fan of the current single Ways to Get High for which the band made a really funky psychedelic video that is reminiscent of the 60s-70s (at least in my mind). Also be sure to check out one of the heaviest tracks on the record Take It All which makes for a great workout song.
12. Got Your Six by Five Finger Death Punch
After an on-stage meltdown in Memphis in May, like many fans I was a bit afraid of what was going to become of the band after such an embarrassing incident. However, true to form the guys that make up FFDP returned as strong as ever with their sixth album with the military inspired title Got Your Six. Don’t miss the title track or Jekyll & Hyde with its hilarious video featuring bassist Chris Kael knitting a baby sock, among other bizarre images. It’s also really fascinating that the verses of the song are largely lifted straight from voicemails that vocalist Ivan Moody left on guitarist Jason Hook’s phone . . . genius! Some of my other favorites include Wash It All Away (which has a great live performance video), Digging My Own Grave, & I Apologize.
11. Silence in the Snow by TriviumTrivium are an insanely talented band based out of Florida who have been going strong since they were literally teenagers. However, I didn’t really get into their music until Strife from their previous album Vengeance Falls caught my attention. After that, I was hooked, but there is no doubt in my mind this year’s album, their seventh, is their best work yet. I for one am in love with Matt Heafy’s more melodic singing which is excellently featured on the title track Silence in the Snow. Some of my other favorites include The Ghost That’s Haunting You, The Thing That’s Killing Me, & the empowering Rise Above the Tides.
10. Dark Before Dawn by Breaking Benjamin
I actually already wrote an entire post about this album back when it debuted, so I’ll just direct you to that post here.
9. Threat to Survival by Shinedown
I’m still very much in love with Shinedown’s previous album Amaryllis, but this year’s record is every bit as good, albeit a bit different. I think some fans have been disappointed with the “softer” side of Shinedown featured on this album, & while I understand that, I can’t deny that lyrically & musically Threat to Survival is a phenomenal work of art. The lead single Cut the Cord is definitely the heaviest piece on the album & naturally one of my favorites. However, I also love two of the more ballad-like songs, Thick as Thieves & Misfits; lyrically they are both very powerful. For an empowering piece, don’t miss Dangerous.
8. That’s the Spirit by Bring Me the Horizon
While I’ll be the first to admit that BMTH’s previous album Sempiternal is still my favorite from this British quartet, this year’s album is doubtless a great listen. Lyrically Oliver Sykes has certainly done some of his best work to date. My favorite piece on the album is Avalanche which is a fantastic song about mental illness. As someone who struggles with anxiety, I couldn’t be more grateful for this song. I’m also a big fan of True Friends & of course Drown, the latter of which is the song that originally made me fan of BMTH. I don’t see how you could listen to Drown & not be moved.
7. The Pale Emperor by Marilyn Manson
Ah, Marilyn Manson . . . I know some folks think he’s way past his prime, but I for one am not one of those. I actually prefer the older, more mature version of Manson, although when I say that I’m referring less to the actual music & more to his general personality & antics. In any case, I first became interested in The Pale Emperor when I read an interview with MM about the album in Alternative Press magazine last January. When I read the interview, I was so impressed with how clearly intelligent Manson is that I quickly went out & bought the album, & a few months later I read (& thoroughly enjoyed) his autobiography. Anyway, back to the album . . . The Pale Emperor certainly finds Manson exploring a rather different side of himself with much more bluesy sounds, but it’s still very much dark & true to form. I think 2003’s The Golden Age of the Grotesque will always be my favorite MM album, but this one is definitely a close second. MM’s voice is certainly as perfect as ever, & I love that even at 46 (47 as of last week actually) he isn’t afraid to try something new. Be sure to check out Third Day of a Seven Day Binge with its infectious beat, Killing Strangers, Birds of Hell Awaiting with its dark jazzy feel, & Odds of Even which was inspired by the death of Manson’s mother & features a recording of coyotes howling which Manson captured on his phone.
6. Mr. Misunderstood by Eric Church
Eric Church certainly took the world by surprise with this album . . . literally. There was zero press leading up to the release of this album, but hey, it’s Eric Church; we should know by now he does things his own way, & that’s exactly why we love him so much! Church has often said he doesn’t write albums quickly, so I was legitimately surprised to find him releasing a new album only about a year and a half after the release of The Outsiders. This album is certainly a far cry from that one, but that’s just another reason Eric Church is such a genius. Like any real musician, he’s constantly evolving, & he’s never afraid to step outside the boundaries of the country music genre & try a little rock & roll, a little blues, a little gospel, basically a little whatever the hell he wants! While The Outsiders explored a more rock & roll sound, Mr. Misunderstood rather feels like Church is bringing back old-fashioned country with touches of gospel & soul. For his next album, who knows what he’ll explore; whatever it is, it’s sure to be brilliant. Anyhow, the title track finds Church exploring his journey into music, while Mistress Named Music showcases a more gospel sound. Don’t miss the story-telling tracks Knives of New Orleans & Chattanooga Lucy, the latter of which also features some delightful gospel/soul elements. There there’s the lyrically brilliant Kill a Word, not to mention the cleverly crafted Record Year.
5. Immortalized by Disturbed
After a 4 year hiatus, like many fans I was hungry for some new Disturbed music, & their latest album did not disappoint in the least. From the title track to The Vengeful One, there isn’t a bad song on this album. Be sure not to miss the unexpected cover of Sound of Silence which beautifully features David Draiman’s haunting voice. Another favorite of mine is Who Taught You How to Hate which contains the incredibly powerful lyrics that inspired this post.
4. Venom by Bullet For My Valentine
Though I’ve enjoyed a few of their singles before, particularly Your Betrayal, the song that introduced me to BFMV, this is actually the first full album I’ve ever bought from this Welsh metal band. And let me tell you, every inch of it is brilliant. With heavy hitting songs like You Want a Battle (Here’s a War) & No Way Out, Venom makes for a fantastic work-out disc. Don’t miss the fun song about their fans Army of Noise as well as the more melodic title track.
3. Malevolence by New Year’s Day
I first heard of New Year’s Day when I discovered the amazing collaboration they did with Chris from Motionless in White in the song Angel Eyes. However, it wasn’t till a few weeks ago that I started exploring more of NYD’s work, & I’m so glad I did because their third album which debuted in October has quickly become one of my all-time favorite albums. You will be greatly remiss if you do not check out the powerful title track which perfectly features Ash Costello’s beautiful but fierce voice. Some of my other favorites include the empowering Anthem of the Unwanted, Left Inside, & Defame Me. From start to finish, there isn’t a bad song on this album, & I beg you to check it out.
2. Pageant Material by Kacey MusgravesI’ve often written about Kacey Musgraves on this blog because her lyrics are just so meaningful to me, so it should come as no surprise to see her second album near the top of this list. My favorite song from the album is easily Somebody to Love with its beautiful & timeless message about the humanity that unites us all. I wrote a bit about the title track in this post from July. Other favorites include Die Fun, Biscuits, & Fine. As with her debut album, there isn’t a bad song on this disc, & there’s certainly a maturity & sincerity to her lyrics that sets Kacey Musgraves far above most of her contemporaries, many of whom are considerably older & more experienced than her. Don’t miss this one.
- Into the Wild Life by Halestorm
You need this album. You really do.
Considering I’ve often written about Halestorm before, again it should come as no surprise to see their latest album at the top of this list. To be completely honest, when I first listened to Into the Wild Life I wasn’t sure what to think. I liked it of course, but it was so raw, so different in certain ways from their previous albums, that I was just a little shaken. But I couldn’t deny that it was anything short of amazing. As with most truly great albums, the more I listened, the more I fell in love with the music. From the infectious anthem of singles like Amen & Apocalyptic to the heavy-hitting Mayhem, there is once again not a single bad song on this record. Lzzy’s voice is fantastically featured on the powerful ballad Dear Daughter as well as on my personal favorite (though it’s nigh impossible to choose) I Like It Heavy. Some of my best memories from 2015 are definitely seeing Halestorm in concert twice, first at Carolina Rebellion in May & later on the Jagermeister Tour in September. I might have initially been a little puzzled by Halestorm’s latest effort, but after a few listens I realized this record only solidifies why they are indeed my all-time favorite band. Interestingly, this album was produced by Jay Joyce who has coincidentally produced all of Eric Church’s albums, & of course Halestorm toured a bit with Church in 2014 . . . Hmmm . . . Anyway, if you don’t check out any other albums on this list, be sure to make it this one. You won’t regret it.
That’s it folks. You have no excuse for not checking out some of these fabulous albums as I’ve so kindly provided links to my favorite songs off of each one. So enjoy them! Cheers!