There was a time when I (JC VanHorn) was excited to rank my favorite albums of 2015. When I had finally narrowed the list down to five, I found that the numerical order didn’t mean much of a mouse’s heinie. All the albums listed below are loved for different reasons, and placing one above another became more a chore than an exercise in pleasure. Nevertheless, the deed is done, though the order should be taken with the finest grain of salt. One nice, happy accident is that all my selections are extremely distinct from one another, and all three contributors’ choices are pretty unique from each other as well. Keep in mind, we were not able to listen to everything that came out this year. I’m sure there are things missing from our lists that we haven’t even heard of. Enjoy, and have a fantastic and safe New Year’s!
JC VanHorn’s top picks:
5. A Forest of Stars – Beware the Sword You Cannot See
While a Forest of Stars takes last place in my top five albums, they’ve actually written my favorite song this year, “Drawing Down the Rain.” It’s an epic, beautiful, and overall goddamn emotional tune every metalhead should dedicate at least nine minutes and thirty seconds of their life to.
4. Faith No More – Sol Invictus
I’d been waiting for this album for twenty long years, and in no way did Sol Invictus disappoint. Faith No More’s King for a Day… Fool for a Lifetime is still a noise that I regularly partake in, and while I’m sure that, for me, it will outlive all of their other albums, I’m damn glad to have another set of songs to choose from when hankering for the Patton.
3. Freedom Hawk – Into Your Mind
Freedom Hawk continue to show more of their talent with every release. Into Your Mind is some of the catchiest, smoothest stoner rock to release in 2015. There’s not much else to say. Check it out.
2. Gama Bomb – Untouchable Glory
What can I say? I like it fast and hard. Gama Bomb is just all-around entertaining. Once Untouchable Glory gets its fingers around your brain, there is no choice but to submit. Check out our full review.
1. Ensiferum – One Man Army [Delux Edition]
I really want to stress the inclusion of the delux edition here. There are four bonus songs on this version of One Man Army, and three of the tracks are spectacular. One of the bonus songs, appropriately titled “Bonus Song,” almost wins out over a Forest of Stars’ “Drawing Down the Rain” as my favorite song of the year. It’s a super fun tune with one of the most grabby choruses in metal.
Jesse VanHorn’s top picks:
5. Graveyard – Innocence and Decadence
Graveyard’s latest plays to all of the band’s strengths; it’s a masterful blend of hard-hitting, aggressive stoner rock and mellow, soulful blues. I & D is arguably the most accessible of the band’s four studio albums, and is a great starting point for rock fans curious about the genuine rock-and-roll music Graveyard has to offer. We have a full review here.
4. Ensiferum – One Man Army
Ensiferum take their music seriously, but not so much that they can’t have fun, and man is this album fun. One Man Army is everything a melodic death / folk metal fan could ask for. It’s fast, furious, brutal, and at times epic and beautiful. And, in the case of “Two of Spades,” it’s somehow disco and American Old West, yet they make it work. Ensiferum show no signs of losing momentum, so for the sake of fun and heavy metal, jump on board and enjoy the ride.
3. Ghost – Meliora
After Infestissumam and If You Have Ghost, I wasn’t sure there was much more the band could do differently. Meliora proved that hunch wrong. The songwriting has a unique elegance, and the lyrics are more creative and a bit less blatant in their Satan praise (not that that was ever a bad thing). Ghost have proven they have an acute understanding of their craft, and that they can shape it into something more with each release.
2. The Atomic Bitchwax – Gravitron
The human riff machines’ first release since 2011’s one-track instrumental The Local Fuzz has everything that makes the Atomic Bitchwax the “super stoner rock” band they’ve come to be. The riffs are groovy and catchy as hell, Chris Kosnik’s unique vocals are a welcome return, and it jams hard from start to finish.
1. Faith No More – Sol Invictus
Faith No More’s Sol Invictus is undoubtedly my favorite album of the year (see what I did there?) As a longtime Faith No More fan, I couldn’t wait for the return I thought would never happen, and what a return it was. It typically takes me a few listens to digest and fully appreciate an album, especially when I’m super hyped going in. Sol Invictus blew me away immediately. It’s their darkest and heaviest release, and manages to be unique while still fitting perfectly in the band’s catalog. It has an aggression and energy that exhibits confidence in their songwriting and style. It’s difficult to tell the band hadn’t been consistently together or released an album for 18 years prior. Sol Invictus is one hell of a comeback, and a must-listen for any rock or metal fan.
Steren Logspon’s top picks:
5. Shattered Sun – Hope within Hatred
4. Dog Fashion Disco – Ad Nauseum
3. High on Fire – Luminiferous
2. Lamb of God – VII Sturm und Drang
1. Byzantine – To Release Is to Resolve