It’s been an honor and a privilege writing for The Shaman for the second year running; tons of great writers/contributors with the passion to match – I can always count on this site to steer me in unexpected directions – new bands, new gigs and the chance to give my opinion (for what it’s worth) on the scene as a whole. 2015 has been an interesting year for me personally as I’ve spent quite a bit of time working on my own musical projects, balancing family and other day-job responsibilities…but as any of us know, the lifelines to grounding sanity amidst all the mundane bullshit are the great albums that either recharge us, inspire us, or reinforce the realism that all of our deluded brethren mislabel as cynicism – these albums shape our lives from year to year and give us the needed perspective to know that even the worst day is worth facing.
Top 10 End of Year Best (2015):
10. Black Breath ‘Slaves Beyond Death’
Seattle’s Black Breath struck a chord with me from the start – Swedish Death Metal was a religion for me in junior high school, having grown up with the classics – Clandestine (Entombed), Like An Everflowing Stream (Dismember), Soulless (Grave) – it’s a never ending list and Black Breath tried its damnedest to add to it with 2010’s Heavy Breathing and 2012’s Sentenced To Life. These records were a sweet fusion of Swedish Death Metal grit and modern blues groove – a formula that pretty much nailed it for me; with Slaves Beyond Death, the band retains a bit more grit and gristle, reminding us all that they’re a death metal band first and foremost.
9. Acid King ‘Middle Of Nowhere, Center Of Everywhere’
It’s been a decade since Acid King’s III, and ten years for any other band would be the death knell for apparent relevance in a music scene overflowing with clones and imitators masquerading as the real deal. Let’s remember though – Acid King, for most intents and purposes, had a hand, if not the hand, in creating the movement. With their latest, Lori S. and the crew are back to set the record straight. Rock has been hungering for some old school discipline, and Acid King bring it with a few extra surprises.
8. Moon Duo ‘Shadow Of The Sun’
Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada have been churning out little psych rock/drone gems for several years now – 2012’s Circles being a perfect example; but although Johnson’s more popular act Wooden Shjips seems to steal a bit of the spotlight, one could argue Moon Duo’s time in the darkness has allowed its singular charm to garner a massive cult following. Shadow Of The Sun is another razor sharp krautrock journey, just psyched enough to get lost, but grounded enough to keep you in the moment.
7. MAKE ‘The Golden Veil’
Chapel Hill, N.C.’s MAKE surprised me with this one – it’s a fantastic record with a great balance of progressive doom and hypnotic psych. Having been a longstanding fan of Daniel Higgs and Lungfish, to find out that they are primary influences for this band, it was an easy in for me…
6. With The Dead – S/T
Dorrian. Bagshaw. Greening. I won’t waste time explaining my rationale.
5. Kadavar ‘Berlin’
My biggest criticism for this band initially was inconsistent songwriting that fell on either extreme – great vs. mediocre. Berlin closes that chapter with an album that hooks from beginning to end. It’s just a fun record to jam to – turn it on, leave it on, and rock on.
4. Goatsnake ‘Black Age Blues’
We’ve all been waiting…we’ve all had faith…if there’s no second coming of Christ, I’ll certainly settle for this. Or this might be the second coming of Christ. The fuck if I know.
3. Publicist UK ‘Forgive Yourself’
Relapse Records once again comes through with a unique all star cast of musicians who tow the line between gothic rock, post punk, and metal – another sleeper record that I highly recommend.
2. Elder ‘Lore’
2011’s Dead Roots Stirring cracks my all-time best records list…those of you who know the album, know what I’m talking about – an amazing album by a group of unbelievably talented musicians. With Lore, the band continues to evolve (if that’s even humanly possible) and crafts a beautifully complex and engaging record. If you don’t know, you need to.
1. My Dying Bride ‘Feel The Misery’
I grew up with My Dying Bride…I live My Dying Bride. Yes, my objectivity is a bit skewed, but Feel The Misery is indeed one of the best My Dying Bride records in their catalogue. It’s so rewarding to be able to say that after nearly 20 years of listening to them. It’s even more rewarding that they top this list without question.
Give these records a spin when you get a chance. Hope to see you guys next year.
Scribed by: Jeremy Moore