2015: A Year In Metal - The Critics' Poll Albums 50-16
Our writers agonised over their top records of the year, and then we crunched the results. From metal’s greats to rising unknowns, here are the sounds that defined 2015...
Written by: Merlin Alderslade, Jason Arnopp, Oliver Badin, Joe Daly, Malcolm Dome, Eleanor Goodman, Stephen Hill, Dom Lawson, Dave Ling, Edwin McFee, Morat, Luke Morton, Tom O’Boyle, Dayal Patterson, Adam Rees, Natasha Scharf, Jonathan Selzer, Holly Wright
50. Macabre Omen
GODS OF WAR – AT WAR
Macabre Omen merged Bathory with Greek BM to offer a more complex but heartfelt sound.
The Oath’s Johanna Sadonis and Gaz Jennings (ex-Cathedral) journeyed into Luciferian wonder.
48. Hate Eternal
SEASON OF MIST
Erik Rutan, death metal’s best producer, helmed one of the most powerful albums of the genre’s history.
BLACK AGE BLUES
The resurrected stoner rockers’ first album in 15 years reaffirmed their status as legends of the scene.
This solo album from Alter Bridge’s guitar wizard was a treasure trove of soaring choruses and ace fretwork.
ONE DAY ALL THIS WILL END
A remedy to knucklehead hardcore, Svalbard tempered their throat-ripping brawl with post-rock spirit.
SEASON OF MIST
The experimentation and old-school thrills on Kylesa’s seventh album excited fans past and present.
43. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
INTERNATIONAL DEATH CULT
The former Gallows frontman created his rawest record to date.
42. Cancer Bats
SEARCHING FOR ZERO
The Canadian road dogs pushed through grief to produce this thrashy, life-affirming burst of energy.
This Danish, one-woman project wove haunting strings and primal vox into stunning black metal hymns.
40. Thy Art Is Murder
Thy Art’s third album was a fire-spewing, breakdown-packing DM masterclass.
39. Royal Thunder
Wistful balladry, dreamy psych-metal voyaging and bludgeoning hooks made for a soulful rock masterpiece.
INNOCENCE & DECADENCE
The retro-rocking Swedes trod their same, glorious path, as scuzzy garage rock collided with bluesy grooves.
After their near-death experience, the sludgesters laid on strokes of classic rock, melody and texture.
ATOM BY ATOM
A near-perfect injection of innovation and youthful élan into the pub-crawlers’ quirky take on NWOBHM.
ENDLESS FORMS MOST BEAUTIFUL
ReVamp’s Floor Jansen was perfect for Nightwish’s heavier sound on this stunning prog metal opus.
After a decade away, Arcturus came back with new ideas and invigorating, memorable songs.
Virginia’s doom metal pioneers were in a reflective mood – a class act steeped in rock lore.
32. Danko Jones
A masterclass in balls-out rock’n’roll with a heavy metal heart, Fire Music had riffs, hooks and lyrical genius.
THE HEART IS A MONSTER
Failure’s comeback master-class in alt-rock dynamism was laced with melodic beauty and chilling suspense.
THE BOATS OF THE GLEN CARRIG
Ahab perfected their formula of progressively minded, crushingly fathomless funereal doom.
29. Shape Of Despair
SEASON OF MIST
This ghostly masterpiece from the Finnish legends was a glacial voyage through the outer limits of sorrow.
28. Cattle Decapitation
THE ANTHROPOCENE EXTINCTION
Who knew wickedly brutal, putrid deathgrind could be this catchy?
Moving even further from their BM roots, Enslaved brought us a cosmic platter of progressive ferocity.
INTO THE WILD LIFE
With skyscraper vocals and crisp production, Lzzy Hale’s crew delivered their slickest set to date.
AMAZING RECORD CO
Therapy? released a batch of killer songs that sounded like an all-new Greatest Hits collection.
An avalanche of mammoth riffs and a belligerent attitude, this was Max and co’s best effort in years.
Refused’s reinvigorated, socially charged display of post-hardcore made a fine addition to their legacy.
22. The Prodigy
THE DAY IS MY ENEMY
Laced with big beats and menace, the Prodigy’s sixth album was another genre-defying knockout.
21. Between The Buried And Me
BTBAM streamlined their brilliant ideas into a sleek, beautiful prog metal journey.
20. Grave Pleasures
Having pretty much kickstarted an underground resurgence of 80s post-punk and goth, Beastmilk returned in a new guise with a darker, more garage-y sound that lacked the immediacy of 2013’s Climax but deepened frontman Kvohst’s alluringly apocalyptic vision. Dreamcrash’s skeletal grooves seemed to amplify a cold shiver of the soul until they became exhilarating, edge-of-precipice rallying cries.