Back in 2014 I wrote about TOP 14 Albums of the Year 2014. It’s wild, how fast 2015 came and went. I wanted to make this post before New Years, but writing this took me longer than expected.
My tops for 2015 fluctuate from dark-wave to a ton of doom metal. Such summary can only mean one thing: it was a great year for music, as artists explored their dark sides once more!
Realm Of Sacrifice by Vanum
The Renegade by Star Industry
Abyss by Chelsea Wolfe
Vetvi by Theodor Bastard
The Dreaming I by Akhlys
Sovran by Draconian
Coulrofobia by Los Carniceros del Norte
Scar Sighted by Leviathan
When The Wolves Return
by Ego Likeness
When The Wolves Return is a sexy album were sudden trip-goth (as I like to call darkwave and trip-hop mixed together) elements draw a thick and dark path for their classic guitar driven/synthesiser sound (which I mostly associate with USA-goth acts).
From brooding atmospheres to dancing your anger out, Donna’s voice envelopes your senses. The lyrics feel like personal darknesses but there’s a lot of Strength within them as well.
Ego Likeness are powerful when on stage and this album is another great addition to their act.
Favourites: Crossed, When The Wolves Return, Treacherous Thing (2013), Leave a Light On, Thomas and Persona Non Grata.
Notes: Check out the New Legion mixes.
IX – Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends
A very eerie album of unapologetic madness. You’re in for a ride.
Favourites: “Inga Broar Kvar Att Bränna“, “Vilja & Dröm” and “Besök Från I(ho)nom”
Hurt Yourself and the Ones You Love
by Forgotten Tomb
Months after ignoring the album, I wanted to listen to it to see if it was bad. To my surprise (I even smiled as I listened) this was a great deliver. There’s some catchy moments to which I would head-bang on a live show (King of the Undesirables), there’s also space for reflection and feeling miserable.
This is not Springtime Depression (2003) but rather continues the modern sound they polished during …and Don’t Deliver Us from Evil (2012).
Favourites: “Soulless Upheaval“, “Hurt yourself and the ones you love“, “King of the Undesirables” and “Swallow the Void“.
The Plague Within
by Paradise Lost
With-out loosing a matured version of their gloom and doom, the Metal is back in Paradise Lost. Looks like there are a few of those formula-songs (Cry Out) that bands enjoy playing live because it brings adrenaline to the stage and crowd. But most of these songs really impressed me as if I was 15 again.
This came to my attention very late, pretty sure I’ll be blasting this during all 2016. Thanks for this album, Paradise Lost.
Favourites: No hope in Sight, Victim of the Past and Beneath Broken Time.
Notes: They are on tour this year, check out dates here.
by She Past Away
After the outstanding gothwave release Belirdi Gece (2012), She Past Away return with yet another album of cold echoed hits that will remind you how important exercising those bat wings really is.
Favourites: “Soluk“, “Hayaller?” and “Katarsis“.
Feel the Misery
by My Dying Bride
After Songs of Darkness Words of Light (2004) I lived in doubt with every MDB effort. Creating a whole album where every song is outstanding was not necessarily happening. I was doubting the greatness of Feel the Misery until I listened to it from start to finish. There’s no innovation to their brand of doom and everything seems well planned and produced. That may sound disconcerting but in fact this is what makes it work. You can feel the thought and emotion behind each track.
The lyrics, the riffs and those beautiful old-school moments that wrap this piece as a whole are stuck in my head. I feel the misery (and the total goth vibes in A Thorn Of Wisdom). Solid.
Favourites: “To Shiver In Empty Halls“, “I Almost Loved You“, “And My Father Left Forever” and “A Thorn Of Wisdom“.
The Long Goodbye
by An Autumn For Crippled Children
The album starts on your left ear. Layered guitars and strong bass lines reminiscent of early 80’s post-punk are followed by new wave-ish synths and “ADHD” drums on a jazz-black metal ground. All these influences are built upon an urban landscaped atmosphere, making this release pretty unique.
The album, while having it’s dark cold moments, features euphoric notes through-out (Gleam and Endless Skies being the most rapturous of them all).
It feels like the band is having a good time, delivering and experimenting with the compositions of their music. Such spirit transmits to us in every single track. The best effort yet by AAFCC.
Favourites: “The Long Goodbye”, “Converging Towards the Light” and “She’s Drawing Mountains”.
Notes: They also released the Portugal EP (2015)
After her surprising EP last year, Brunn returns to deliver a much more folk and polished sound (fear not!) this time around. Here are the choirs, shrieks and cold laments awakening the old forces of a realm once lost. Co-produced by Garm (Ulver) and recorded in various locations of Norway including Emanuel Vigeland’s mausoleum, Brunn’s compositions feel epic, feminine and occult.
Favourites: “Skadi“, “Mordet” and “Jeg er Guden, I er Tjenerne“.
Notes: Also released in 2015 is this excellent single Den Lille Piges Død.
Besides the Abyss
by Lebanon Hanover
I knew this album was going to live in this list as soon as it was released. I listened to that mournful 80’s saxophone in The Moor and I was sold. Lebanon deliver another take of their wounded lyrics, spiralling over delicate cold waves (pun intended) in most clever way. I love the concept of this album in particular: craters, wells, chambers, moors and spirals. It swallows you into hollow depths where breathing is optional. Such a gem!
Favourites: The Moor, Dark Hill and Broken Characters.
Songs From The North I, II & III
by Swallow The Sun
The triple full-length album deliver a catchy, beautiful and brutally heart wrenching (almost in that order) concoction of Finnish death-doom metal. I’m most impressed by albums two (acoustic) and three (funeral doom) as they are delivered in a fearless manner, absolutely impressive. This is ambitious and well done!
Favourites: “Away“, “7 Hours Late” and “Heartstrings Shattering“.
by Shape of Despair
Speaking of Finland and doom; this album is beautiful, cold and layered. This is how atmospheric funeral doom is masterfully composed and delivered. Amazing.
Favourites: “The Blank Journey“, “Withdrawn“, and “Monotony Fields”
I have been yearning to enter the elegant world of Lacrimosa, where beauty and darkness collide hand in hand in the most organic way. To live for these unrivalled, dramatic compositions of symphonic gothic metal, Tilo Wolff’s wicked cry and all those powerful bass lines. The moment finally arrived with this release.
There are tracks with very prominent elements of industrial metal going on (Unterwelt) that might be strange in this album as they are reminiscent of Wolff’s side project Snakeskin. However, mesmerizing pieces like Der Freie Fall (Part 1 and 2) or the diamond of Hoffnung
Die Unbekannte Farbe make you wish the album was endless.
Tilo Wolff and Anne Nurmi always deliver a passion that hasn’t been achieved by anyone else.
Favorites: “Die Unbekannte Farbe“, “Der Freie Fall – Apeiron, Pt. and Pt.2“, “Thunder And Lightning” and Kaleidoskop“.
A beautiful journey through a world that once was. A tribute to Nordic Legacy in the form of Ritualistic Ambient Black Metal. Real Magic.
Favourites: “När Alvkungens rike faller samman” and “Bäckahästen“.
Notes: To be released January 29, 2016, a new album: Dauðra Dura
Beware the Sword You Cannot See
by A Forest Of Stars
What am I doing with my life? It doesn’t matter, as long as I can listen to this. This album is Baroque and slightly bizzare but ever so exquisite. A futuristic level of vintage.
Progressive, melodic, blackened metal that’s visionary and sensuous. There are moments of perfectly layered strings in the vein of traditional gothic rock (Proboscis Master Versus The Powdered Seraphs), elements of folk, Current 93-ish sobs and the sextpartite Pawn On The Universal Chessboard that embraces all that gothic doomy-metal nuanced bands during the early 2000s could have been (I’m thinking of Tristania‘s World of Glass era).
This album creates a whole new atmosphere to surround you, close your eyes and let the soundtrack reveal the visions.
Favourites: A Blaze of Hammers and all of Proboscis Master Versus The Powdered Seraphs.
A Line that Connects
I couldn’t get a copy of this album back when it was released and my displeasure still lingers in the room. Lycia being my favourite “goth-wave” band ever… A Limited edition of 500?! Fuck.
Anyway, moving on to 2015’s colossal release. There are many in depth reviews for this album online, so I’ll just add a few words of my own for now.
There’s a nostalgia to cold landscapes that may come off as gloomy. Yet it reminds me of the constant struggle of having to deal with the present reality and Global Warming.
When the songs are approached individually you can see the vast array of influences; for example the dreampop’ping shoegaze on Monday is Here, the post-industrial harsh richness of Illuminate or the Gothic Rock dance-floor-worthy The Rain.
The layers and atmospheres in this album are Lycia’s trademark amped to the max. Each and every track sinks onto your skin like cat-scratches (lovingly painful). A sonic experience that is timeless and made to be heard.
Favourites: “Illuminate“, “The Rain“, “A Ghost Ascends“, “A Trade Out“, “Silver Leaf“and “Autum Moon“.
2016 started very mournful in the music industry. Originally, when I started writing this post in late December 2015, I mentioned I was looking forward to David Bowie‘s new album. He has passed away this year leaving us with the unprecedented Blackstar, a sonic farewell and possibly the best album of 2016 so far.
Thanks Bowie, may you keep the sky bright.
I hope you enjoyed listening to a few of these and maybe discovered an album you missed. Leave recommendations for me below. ♥