2015! Another great year for teh metalz. And a great year for weirdo electronica. I wrote some words about this but why don't you just dig into this playlist:
VAGUELY BLACK-METAL-INFLUENCED METAL OF THE YEAR
Akhlys - The Dreaming I
False - Untitled
Sannhet - Revisionist
Vattnet Viskar - Settler
Ghost Bath - Moonlover
Mgla - Exercises In Futility
If anything, 2015 was a big year for digesting black metal influences into something a bit more listenable to normal humans. These bands here have barely anything in common though. Vattnet Viskar and Ghost Bath both delivered great "white / hipster metal" sounds - I say that teasingly, but eh. Both have huge sounds and great riffs, I love 'em. Sannhet is barely evil / loud - I didn't really like this album at first but it's just very dark and catchy. Mgla's sound is incredible to me, just this amazing sense of urgency and completely insane drumming going on...
Liturgy - The Ark Work
Yeah, if you saw any reviews of this album, you'd think it was possibly a rap album or maybe just filled with MIDI horns. Which, it is. But whatever. This album really stretches the definition of 'metal' - it abstracts out the things we identify as metal and delivers a completely minimal interpretation of those elements. I decided this album was fun, and then IT WAS. Seriously, I get pumped up whenever I put this on. I like that it's a brazen attack on the very definition of metal, incl. the need for guitars, the need for screaming, etc.
Speaking of hipster metal, everyone's putting Deafheaven - New Bermuda on their year-end lists. I love em and I've seen em four times now, but you know what? The album wasn't that good. It had, like, specific notes I thought were bad choices. And it had a lot of stylistic transitions that just didn't work. The album feels rushed to me, and frankly it could've used more incubation time.
GRINDCORE GETS GOOD
Napalm Death - Apex Predator - Easy Meat
I never really got into these dudes at any point during their 30-year career, but I'll be damned if this isn't some catchy shit. Also, this year I discovered BEATEN TO DEATH, a "melodic grindcore" band from Sweden. Unfortunately their best album Dodsfest! came out a few years ago, so I missed the boat on them.
MOST DISGUSTING ALBUM COVER OF THE YEAR
PISSGRAVE - Suicide Euphoria
Check it out! Actually, don't, it's gross. Everything about this band is super old school - deep deep vocals against nasty riffs and 100%-in-the-red production. This album is really fun and I'm glad I didn't just pass it up because thier album cover was 2 hardcore 4 me.
Prurient - Frozen Niagara Falls
Gnaw Their Tongues - Abyss of Longing Throats
Locrian - Infinite Dissolution
I got so into this Prurient album that, for about a month, I couldn't even listen to regular "music". It had to be noise. I would alternate between this Pruruent album, and Gnaw Their Tongues, then listen to something from the extensive back-catalog of either band. This stuff is so all-consuming and nihilistic...goddamn, y'all. The Prurient stuff just has this throwback-to-the-80s sound to it, that I figured I wouldn't like (since I only like 'new things') - but the album just gave me such a clear portrait into this Prurient character, someone I could relate to. Same with Mr. Gnaw Their Tongues. Reading through interviews with this dude, I could just feel where he was coming from.
LADIES MAKING WEIRD MUSIC
Jlin - Dark Energy
Holly Herndon - Platform
Jenny Hval - Apocalypse, Girl
Chelsea Wolfe - Abyss
Wow, that JLIN album is super weird. It's just really angular electronic music that's not afraid to grate on your ears gently, in the form of catchy grooves. The rest of these albums are seriously unique. Jenny Hval is a total mystery to me, I feel like I need to see her live to understand what she's about. But I bet her live show is 100% crazy artistic confusion.
Lapalux - Lustmore
Ice_eyes - Quartz
Battles - La Di Da Di
Rival Consoles - Howl
Lapalux is seriously the best soundtrack to everything chill that you could be doing at any time.
NOT SO CHILL-TRONICA
HEALTH - Death Magic
Oneohtrix Point Never - Garden of Delete
0PN finally put out an album with songs on it, how quaint! But srsly, this album rulez. HEALTH did a great job of evolving too, their sound has gotten bigger and thier songs even catchier.