Features Music Year End 2015 Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2015)

Year End 2015

Music: Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2015)

It's that fabled time of year – SPB's favorite albums of the last twelve months. In this list, assembled by combining all of out staff writers' individual lists (no editorialising!), we show you the best music of 2015 including old favorites, new artists and a couple of other twists. Read on to find out what albums you shouldn't have missed from the year just gone.

Overall list

1

Prurient

Frozen Niagara Falls

Profound Lore

There is not much one can say about Prurient, the project of Dominick Fernow. Throughout the years Prurient have produced an extensive discography that sees them creating a cartography of the dark ambient and noise genres with their own experimental mindset. The project has been going on for about twenty years now, but it seems that the focus that Fernow put on the latest, double record of Prurient was far more concentrated. Frozen Niagara Falls is one dark, dark album. Once you take the vocals under consideration and the way they fit together with the noise and ambient parts, there is simply no escape. They can appear clean and in a distance, extreme and in your face or distorted and combined with the noise. They always work within the music and add further dimensions with their disturbing presence and destructive lyrics. All that soon become too much to handle, and especially when you consider that this is a ninety-minute double album, it is quite difficult to stomach it in one go. Still that does not diminish its value and impact, on the contrary... (Spyros)

2

Leviathan

Scar Sighted

Profound Lore

The manner in which the dissonant side of Leviathan is contrasted with some more melodic elements in Scar Sighted further reveals the approach that Wrest is undertaking. The more varied vocal lines that he is delivering, ranging from the standard black metal screams to clean chants and almost guttural death metal vocals, reveal how he is trying to further push the sonic boundaries of Leviathan. What you should keep from all this is that Scar Sighted seems like an album of rejuvenation of Leviathan, especially coming after their previous album, True Traitor, True Whore, and it certainly manages to immerse you into the dark sound of the band. (Spyros)

3

Sleaford Mods

Key Markets

Harbinger Sound

This sounds predictable, I know. Angry hip-hop is not a new concept by any means. But what makes it fresh is the genuineness of the anger. These are not millionaires and complaining about not liking the sour milk taste of the tit they refuse to remove their greedy lips from. This is pure, unfiltered working class. Sleaford Mods show an honest sense of frustration with the employers, the politicians and the new-feudal system as a whole that seems designed to grind their serfs into the dirt. Mass production of the huddled masses. But like their musical peers, they don't whine about it. They rally against it. They fight. And right now, God bless 'em, they're winning. (Kevin)

4

Death Cab for Cutie

Kintsugi

Atlantic

Named after a Japanese method of repairing broken pottery using fine metals, Death Cab's eighth album (and first without Chris Walla) charts the breakdown of Gibbard's marriage and the vacuousness of celebrity culture in Los Angeles. Kintsugi serves as the post-mortem of a relationship passed, but with less intensity than their seminal release Transatlanticism, replacing teenage nerves with gleaming observations of a world, and a relationship, Gibbard felt more and more distant from. (Aideen)

5

Faith No More

Sol Invictus

Reclamation Recordings/Ipecac

It's been almost an entire generation since their last release and for whatever the reason, whatever the astrological alignment, Faith No More have unexpectedly come together once more to give us Sol Invictus - a slow-burning slab of the truly unexpected. Sol Invictus is everything you thought you knew about Faith No More crushed like a frog in a shoebox and thrown against a tree (apologies to Big Dan Teague). Which is to say, even after so many years, the band remains as seemingly unpredictable and uncompromising as they ever were. While every sound, every instrument, every member proves to be invaluable, it really feels that it's bassist Billy Gould that tethers the whole thing together, keeping the myriad of influences from scattering all over the playground. (Kevin)

6

Deafheaven

New Bermuda

Anti

New Bermuda is a good album. No scratch that. New Bermuda is a great album. It is an album of change, and it is different from Sunbather. I do not belong in the group of people that hated Sunbather because of the hype around the band, or their take on black metal. But, no matter how great and unique I found Sunbather, I would not want for Deafheaven to go out there and simply release Sunbather 2.0. That is not the case here, and even though I do not think that New Bermuda was able to top the band's previous album, that does not mean that it is not a great release in itself. What I do think is that Deafheaven is expanding their horizons even further, with more, new aspects being introduced in New Bermuda. And that makes me very excited about finding out where Deafheaven can take their music to next. (Spyros)

7

Bell Witch

Four Phantoms

Profound Lore

Getting it right when it comes to extreme doom/death is a very tricky business. It is quite a misconception that as long as a band is able to play really, really slow and have heavy riffs, they can be considered successful and good at what they do. Bell Witch know better. The duo from Seattle is relatively new to the field, its origin being traced back to 2010, but they sure sounded like veterans even from their early days. Bell Witch further expand on their sound. With Four Phantoms they travel into more daring territories than they did with Longing, managing to bring their destructive approach and ambient, ritualistic quality into a terrifying merge. (Spyros)

8

Anti-Flag

American Spring

Spinefarm Records

Do we find out anything new about Anti-Flag on American Spring that we didn't already know about them? It is still abundantly clear that, as always, they are in pursuit politically and personally. They still capture strong political themes in their lyrics, and the band continues to take on the mantle of covering topics that many bands would run a mile from. American Spring is a call to arms surrounded by pummelling drum kicks and immediately attention-grabbing riffs, offering an idealistic hope for the future. Justin Sane said he hoped this album would encourage people "to never give up", and somewhere among the unabashed rage and attempts to decipher why the world is the way it is, it seems American Spring might succeed in doing just that. (Aideen)

9

The Hussy

Galore

Southpaw Records

Less call and response angst than their early stuff, but distortion-drenched tonal garage that still hits with just the right amount of energy and heart. Tandem rawk with a distorted groove. (Loren)

10

Pyramids

A Northern Meadow

Profound Lore

The debut album of Pyramids was definitely a very solid release, but it is just obvious that these guys have surpassed it. Even though the same influences and the same genre blending ideas are still in play, the overall result seems to be much more fluid and cohesive. A Northern Meadow is a dark, depressing story that Pyramids just have to tell, and through its eight anthems it will knock you out cold. (Spyros)

11

Lightning Bolt

Fantasy Empire

Thrill Jockey

It’s always been a struggle to capture the essence of Lightning Bolt in a studio setting. This is a band which, let’s face it, is most known and most notable for their out-of-control live sets, and over the years, Lightning Bolt albums have ranged from being improvisational juggernauts to blasts of brutally loud but primitive songs. The six year hiatus between 2009’s Earthly Delights and Fantasy Empire seems to have brought a new energy to the project and the result is a slightly less harsh but undeniably exhilarating and surprisingly listenable album that may just be Lightning Bolt’s best overall. (Andy)

12

Sleater-Kinney

No Cities to Love

Sub Pop

Almost a decade after their last release, we get another set of radical, raw and yet mature songs. Accessible, well-paced and yet urgent and challenging, this is a stunning return to form. (Matt)

13

Worriers

Imaginary Life

Don Giovanni

While I came to Imaginary Life as a fan, the praise dished out here is completely warranted, bias be damned. Worriers’ debut is a great record start to finish, so consistent that I’m hesitant to keep coming back to the fact that it’s their first proper full-length. It just feels too complete for that term. (Loren)

14

The Tallest Man on Earth

Dark Bird Is Home

Dead Oceans

A breakup album, sure, but the sheer yearning, the heartache and the sheer joy of listening to Kristian Matsson's incredible voice, often-mystifying lyrics and increasingly textured instrumentation make it a worthwhile listen. For this fourth LP we hear all kinds of new tones with full band backing on almost every song. This will grow on you in ways you won't appreciate till you find yourself picking over snatches of lyrics in the dawn before you wake up. (Matt)

15

Mgla

Exercises In Futility

Northern Heritage

Building on the "modern classic" status of 2012s With Hearts Towards None, Polish black metallers Mgla somehow honed their craft even further and produced a record in Exercises in Futility that is both furious and heartfelt. A difficult trick to pull off, but one that contemporary black metal will look to for reference. (Cheryl)

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Words by the SPB team on Jan. 12, 2016, 2:50 p.m.

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Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2015)

Posted on Jan. 12, 2016, 2:50 p.m.

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Pages in this feature:

  1. Records 16-30
  2. Individual Staff Lists
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