Tales from the Jugular

Staff Year End Awards for 2015!

By: Maximum Metal Staff
Published: Tuesday, January 5, 2016
We've gathered up our thoughts on the hard rock/metal releases of 2015! Even if you really don't give a shit what any of our opinions are, there are so many releases put out in this age of do-it-yourself creation that you may see names you missed, older bands you forgot existed or unknowns to look up and sample. It's all about getting the word out and supporting the music!

1. Cradle of Filth – Hammer of the Witches
2. Black Star Riders – The Killer Instinct
3. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls
4. Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud
5. Enforcer – From Beyond
6. Paradise Lost – The Plague Within
7. U.D.O. – Decadent
8. Annihilator – Suicide Society
9. Unleashed – Dawn of the Nine
10. Venom – From the Very Depths

TOP METAL RELEASE: Unleash the Archers - Time Stands Still
TOP HARD ROCK RELEASE: Honeymoon Disease - The Transcendence

Other Top Releases:
Danko Jones - Fire Music
Farmikos - Farmikos
Queensrÿche - Condition Hüman
Blind Guardian - Beyond The Red Mirror
Huntress - Static
A Sound of Thunder - Tales From The Deadside
Armored Saint - Win Hands Down
Revolution Saints - Revolution Saints
WASP - Golgotha

Best EPs:
Madame Torment - Lost Girl In The City
Salems Lott - Salems Lott
A Sound of Thunder - Kickstarter EP
Denner Shermann - Satan's Tomb

Top Surprise:
Savatage reunites at Wacken Wacken Open Air 2015 and does an unprecedented duel set with Trans-Siberian Orchestra

1. Nihilistinen Barbaarisus- The Child Must Die
2. Voices of Ruin- Born From the Dark
3. Parkway Drive- Ire
4. Lamb of God- VII Sturm Und Drang
5. Ghost- Meliora
6. Faith No More- Sol Invictus
7. Marduk- Frontschwein
8. Nightwish- Endless Forms Most Beautiful
9. Cradle of Filth- Hammer of the Witches
10. Miss May I- Deathless
11. Ensiferum- One Man Army
12. Soilwork- The Ride Majestic

Biggest Disappointments: Slayer "Repentless" for being just another rehashed album put out by a band that continues to struggle to reinvent itself and bring any originality to the table. Bring Me The Horizon "That's the Spirit"- Not sure what happened with BMTH on this release but this is a far cry from the aggression and craftsmanship that was present on 2013's "Sempiternal".

Best Heavy Metal Book: "Dark Days" by D. Randall Blythe. Written from Randy's perspective about his incarceration and ordeal while facing manslaughter charges in the Czech Republic. Blythe is an incredibly gifted writer and tells it like it is, no bones about it.

1. Tesseract - Polaris
2. A Dark Orbit - Inverted
3. Enforcer - From Beyond
4. Dead Letter Circus - Aesthesis
5. Enslaved - In Times
6. Pyramids - A Northern Meadow
7. iwrestledabearonce - Hail Mary
8. Frontierer - Orange Mathematics
9. Hanging Garden - Blackout Whiteout
10. Stryper - Fallen
11. Napalm Death - Apex Predator-Easy Meat
12. Symphony X - Underworld
13. The Mire - Vice Regalia
14. Blacklisters - Adult
15. Iron Maiden - The Book Of Souls
16. Fear Factory - Genexus
17. Thy Catafalque - Sgùrr
18. Intronaut - The Direction Of Last Things
19. Kowloon Walled City - Grievances
20. The Last Ten Seconds Of Life - Soulless Hymns

Non-Metal Gems of 2015::
1. Our Oceans - Our Oceans
2. Chelsea Wolfe - Abyss
3. Zombi - Shape Shift
4. Ozric Tentacles - Technicians Of The Sacred
5. The Weeknd - Beauty Behind The Madness

1. Iron Maiden - Book of Souls
2. Nightwish - Endless Forms Most Beautiful
3. Lamb of God - VII: Sturm Und Drang
4. Atreyu - Long Live
5. Muse - Drones
6. Soilwork - The Ride Majestic
7. Whitesnake - The Purple Album
8. Ghost - Meliora
9. Eclipse - Armageddonize
10. Rush - R40 Live
11. Def Leppard - Def Leppard
12. Disturbed - Immortalized
13. Revolution Saints - Revolution Saints
14. Sabaton - Heroes
15. Kamelot - Haven
16. Devin Townsend - Ziltoid Live at the Royal Albert Hall
17. Periphery - Juggernaut Alpha & Omega (2 albums)
18. Parkway Drive - Ire
19. Queensryche - Condition Human

Each year I am amazed at the new bands and new talent that enter the metal and rock genre. This past year I found myself pulled into great albums from some of my classic, favorite bands. As a long time Rush fan, I was fortunate to be able to catch them on their R40 tour, which may have been their farewell to touring. The show and accompanying album/dvd is a career retrospective and a must have for any fan. My album of the year was easily "Book of Souls" from Iron Maiden. I was initally concerned when I heard that the album would be 92 minutes long, but this is a great Maiden album. I never imagined they would still be breaking new ground and playing this well on their 17th studio album. Floor Jansen was able to step right into Nightwish and helped them create on of their best albums with "Endless Forms Most Beautiful". I was able to catch them live this year as well. It was great to see Lamb of God back in action in 2015 especially after the past few years that Randy Blythe has had to endure. If you have not discovered all the great music from Devin Townsend (from the Strapping Young Lad albums up to his current DTP releases) then you are missing one of the all time metal/rock greats in his prime.

My surprises of the year: Def Leppard actually recorded an album that sounds like Def Leppard. Queensryche sound more like Queensryche with Todd La Torre than with Geoff Tate. I found myself listening to less Black and Death metal this year - not sure what that means.

My disappointments of the year: Shinedown have never been considered metal, and barely hard rock, and while there are a few good sing along rock songs on their new album, it sounds like a Brent Smith solo album - the hard edge is gone, the guitars are gone. Hard for me to say as I have been a huge fan in the past but they lost their way with this release. Kid Rock - I just cannot listen anymore. Bon Jovi - horrible - figure out a way to pay Richie Sambora to come back.

Looking forward to: New music from Dream Theater, Dimmu Borgir, Shadows Fall, Volbeat and Black Label Society.

Just for the record: I love the new Star Wars, I am glad Adele is back, and Spotify may be terrible for the artists, but it is great for the music fans - I recently read that metal fans are the most loyal according to Spotify listener data - tell me something I didn't know.

Deafheaven – New Bermuda
Kylesa – Exhausting Fire
Swallow The Sun – Songs from the North I, II, & III
Sannhet - Revisionist

Biggest Disappointments:
Marduk – Frontschwein
Kataklysm – Of Ghosts and Gods

Surprise Find Of The Year:
Kowloon Walled City - Grievances

Best Game: Fallout 4

1. Kylesa: Exhausting Fire
2. Elder: Lore
3. Enforcer: From Beyond
4. Void Of Sleep: New World Order
5. Amorphis: Under The Red Cloud
6. Savage: 7
7. Farmikos: Farmikos
8. Iron Maiden: The Book Of Souls
9. Secrets Of The Sky: Pathway
10. Alkaloid: The Malkuth Grimoire
11. Ghost: Meliora
12. Dog Fashion Disco: Ad Nauseam
13. Satan: Atom By Atom
14. Goatsnake: Black Age Blues
15. Grave Pleasures: Dreamcrash
16. Europe: War Of Kings
17. Armored Saint: Win Hands Down
18. Lucifer: Lucifer I
19. Mirror: Mirror
20. Helloween: My God Given Right

A quick note: Compiling a "best of" for this year was truly overwhelming, as I found myself blessed with TONS of quality metal of many types that caught my fancy. Thus, some albums that I found quite enjoyable didn't quite make it onto this list, but might have if it had been compiled on a different day. (Examples: Raven, Denner Shermann, Between The Buried And Me.) The "new talent" list is intended to call attention to fairly new acts that I feel haven't quite produced a truly mindblowing release yet, but have the potential to do so... soon! As I am fond of saying, this list is in VERY rough, ever-shifting order of preference as it stood at press time.

Best Not-So-Metal Albums:
Chelsea Wolfe: The Abyss
Steven Wilson: Hand. Cannot. Erase.
Beardfish: +4626-Comfortzone

Best New Talent: Native Construct, InAeona, Encyrcle, Polarized, The Fine Constant

Great Shows Seen:
King Diamond, Exodus at the Orpheum Theatre, Boston, MA
Corrosion Of Conformity, Brant Bjork, Saviours, Mothership at Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA
Chelsea Wolfe, Wovenhand at The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA
Uli Jon Roth, Vinnie Moore, Black Knights Rising at Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH
Unleash The Archers, Crimson Shadows, Sonic Pulse, Seven Spires at Fete Music Hall, Providence, RI
Revocation, Archspire, Coagula at Great Scott, Allston, MA
Pentagram, Electric Citizen, Satan's Satyrs, Extinction Machine at the Met, Pawtucket, RI
The Fine Constant, Chronologist, Floral at O'Brien's, Allston, MA
Saxon, Armored Saint, Seven Witches, Centerlink, Heavy Necker at The Palladium, Worcester, MA
High On Fire, Pallbearer, Lucifer, Venomous Maximus at Royale, Boston, MA

Jonah Haze
1. Iron Maiden - the Book of Souls
2. Saxon - Battering Ram
3. Whitesnake - The Purple Album
4. Ghost - Meliora
5. Slayer - Repentless
6. Scorpions - Return to Forever
7. Motorhead - Bad Magic
8. Stryper - Fallen
9. New Light Choir - Volume 1
10. Voodoo Hill - Waterfall
11. Operation: Mindcrime - The Key
12. Dimino - Old Habits Die Hard
13. Magnus Karlsson's Freefall - Kingdom of Rock
14. Joel Hoekstra's 13 - Dying to Live
15. Praying Mantis - The Legacy

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