20. Soilwork – The Ride Majestic

20 Soilwork The Ride MajesticTo be completely honest, I was skeptical that Soilwork could possibly follow up their fantastic double album The Living Infinite with a worthy successor, just as I was skeptical that said double album would be good. I was happily proven extremely wrong both times. The Ride Majestic is the best modern Soilwork album, and quite possibly the best melodic metal album ever. What the band have done isn’t so much a reinvention as it is a perfection of every part of their career, honing their songwriting to absolute perfection and bringing back elements from their early career without sounding forced or gimmicky. These elements enjoy not only exquisite production but also their own modern and fresh twists which, somehow, still feel like natural progressions instead of forced imitations. The Ride Majestic is majestic indeed, and a more than worthy addition to one of the best discographies in metal.

-Colin Kauffman

19. Dreadnought – Bridging Realms

19 Dreadnought Bridging RealmsIt’s my absolute pleasure to review this album for this list, since it is my own, personal, Album of the Year. Bridging Realms is what you get if a classical concert smashed into a Camel/Led Zeppelin tribute show which in turn careened straight into the mouth of a satanist covenant. It’s filled with violins, flutes and long, expansive tracks but also blast beats, high pitched screams and furious passages set to please even the coldest of metal hearts. This album is a journey and a statement, a painting drawn across the broadest canvas possible, space itself.

Its concept is not explicitly stated at any point, but you can feel it behind the music, pulsing quietly to itself. It lures you deeper into what’s initially a monolithic effort, parsing and making sense of so much excellent music. The drums are an instrument that should be called out in this regard: they guide and direct you through the creation, making sure you have firm points of recognition to hang on to as it bucks and spins. The ability to weave a grand tale but still keep the listener cognizant and aware is one which many, more “veteran” artists would kill for and Dreadnought wield it to great effect in this release.

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=87542359 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small track=1959720995]

-Eden Kupermintz

18. Cult Leader – Lightless Walk

18 Cult Leader Lightless WalkExhaustion is an all encompassing, universally understood word. It can mean many different things. One can be physically exhausted after working day after day with no rest. One can become mentally exhausted after cramming for a final exam. Emotional exhaustion usually follows a rough patch in a relationship, or after a tragic event in the family, or perhaps even after a major argument. Lightless Walk demonstrates each type of exhaustion, and with startling accuracy. From the second the first guitar note is played, the album screams from your speakers, just begging to be put out of its misery. Anthony Lucero screams as if his flesh is being ripped from his skin, and he can no longer handle the pain. His murderous roar is heard from beginning to end, and the musicians behind him absolutely destroy their instruments over the album’s duration. Many albums, and many bands, can personify anger, but to personify exhaustion is an entirely different beast in itself. Cult Leader have shown that they can rise up from the ashes of their past the create one of, if not the most, brutal album from this year. It’s a testament to how your will always breaks at some point, and it’s an anthem for those fed up with it all. This album will musically punch you until you’re on the edge of death, and honestly, that’s what makes it so special in the end.

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=2270733760 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]

-Spencer Snitil

17. Eidola – Degeneraterra

17 Eidola DegeneraterraWe live in a weird age for progressive rock. On the one hand, you have bands like Spock’s Beard and Opeth, who write tunes that strive to capture the magic of the genre’s greats circa 1970-1980, and on the other hand, there are pioneers like The Mars Volta and Circa Survive that have a solidly modern take on the sound, inspired by post-hardcore and other similar genres. With Degeneraterra, Eidola falls squarely into the second category as a sort of stabilizing force, ready to lead the way into the genre’s future. Taking cues from both of the previously mentioned artists, as well as “swancore” staples like Hail The Sun and Children of Nova, the quintet manages to contain a larger-than-life vision of what their music can achieve into an hour of inspiring, moving, passionate prog rock.

Conceptually, Degeneraterra is a huge helping of sweeping, grandiose themes and lyrics that seek nothing less than to elucidate the meaning of human existence, and by and large, they succeed: Eidola’s sound is certainly capable of providing a necessarily huge backdrop for such ideas. This release is diverse and filled to capacity with ideas, both fresh and borrowed, but the glory of it is that each bit, radically different as it may be from those on either side of it, works to complement every other part of the album, and the result is mosaical in form; nothing stands out in a particularly impressive fashion, but cobbled together and arranged properly, Degeneraterra becomes a work of moving beauty and a powerful ode to the ever-changing winds of the musical landscape this band calls home.

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=1926585809 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]

-Simon Handmaker

16. Gods of Eden – From the End of Heaven

16 Gods of Eden From the End of HeavenThe ages-old debate between technicality and what is dubbed “tasteful” songwriting continues to rage amongst metal circles. However, while the rest of us were out there picking sides and making our cases, a Sydney five-piece with nothing but a short-yet-promising EP to their name took it upon themselves to put together an album that is quite literally the future of progressive metal.

Suffice to say, they very, very well succeeded. From the End of Heaven is unlike any piece of music that precedes it. The level of songwriting prowess on display is practically incomprehensible as it is, but somehow each band member’s performance is completely impeccable as well – you’d think no human beings could write music this ridiculous, let alone perform it with this level of precision. Yet despite the rampant technicality and mind-boggling virtuosity on display, the album is incredibly cohesive from front to back, and no part of it feels even remotely forced for the sake of self-indulgence. Rather, memorable vocal hooks abound amidst the sweep picking, perfectly timed breakdowns, and occasional orchestrally-minded grandiose chord progressions, in ways that could easily grab the attention of both casual listeners and those that like to dissect their music down to every last note alike. Calling it right here – it may be the “end of heaven,” but Gods of Eden have ushered in the start of a whole new era for the genre.

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=3291930144 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]

-Ahmed Hasan

15. Arcturus – Arcturian

15 Arcturus ArcturianAfter a decade of silence since their last studio album, Arcturus’s return was an important moment for avant-garde metal, as they could ostensibly be considered one of the originators of it. It’s also a given that Arcturus have a different sound on each album, yet they continue to surprise listeners by delivering something unexpected every time. Combining a base black metal sound with sci-fi synths and ICS Vortex’s incredible vocal delivery, Arcturian is wholly unique yet still recognizable as Arcturus. After being away for so long, that the band can still make music that’s not only coherent but also compelling and intriguing is amazing. To top it off, the songs are also deeply emotional and memorable. Arcturus have delivered yet another classic that sets the bar for the genre, and is perhaps their best album yet, after so long.

-Noyan Tokgozoglu

14. Gorod – A Maze of Recycled Creeds

14 Gorod Maze of Recycled CreedsA disparate mix of influences has become a bit of a commonality when it comes to tech death bands, but there is something particularly special about Gorod. Between their precise command of rhythm and groove, the highly intricate guitar work, and their liberal venturing into arrangements rooted more in funk and jazz than metal, the band has a wonderfully unique sound to their music, and retain that quality beautifully on fifth release A Maze of Recycled Creeds. Now, five records is already much further than a lot of tech death bands go – however, Gorod show no hints of slowing down their innovation on the record, with punchy thrash riffs facing off jazzier arrangements and downright tasty funk moments alike in what is a tech death fan’s paradise. A Maze of Recycled Creeds is an absolute delight, and only furthers Gorod’s reputation as a band that’s still on top of their game.

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=2142929753 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]

-Ahmed Hasan

13. Deafheaven – New Bermuda

13 Deafheaven New BermudaFor a band that is so deeply entrenched in music that is filthy and off-putting to the general public, Deafheaven have ascended to a stardom that is eerily far-reaching. How many black metal bands do you know that are covered on musical news outlets ranging from Pitchfork to Rolling Stone? The craziest thing about their rise is that they didn’t have to “sell-out” to do it. If anything, the band are getting more and more hungry. This increase in hunger is well documented throughout their latest album, New Bermuda. It’s a sonic escape from the band’s newfound fame that takes us to the dirt with straight shooting black metal riffs and lo-fi snarls, only to lift us up into the bluest of skies with post-rock interludes and alt. rock bridges. It’s also a deep dive into their pool of influence that’s just as varied and interesting as the songs themselves. New Bermuda sees the band incorporating these influences tastefully while still retaining their raw and powerful musical presence. If the band growing bigger means that they’ll make records that hit as hard as this one, I hope they continue to gain traction and coverage for years to come. This album is a spit in the face of complacency and I don’t think the band would have it any other way.

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=1209678071 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]

-Ryan Castrati

12. SikTh – Opacities

12 Sikth OpacitiesHype is a funny thing. Few things can live up to the ridiculous expectations it creates, and fewer still can surpass them. When I heard SikTh were reuniting to make music again, I was initially excited (how could anyone not be?) and then slightly skeptical. It’d been roughly 7 years. Everyone in the band had moved on to new and different things, and the musical landscape had spent the time attempting to recreate the magic of those two albums, usually with little success.

But not only have SikTh delivered a worthy addition to their discography, they managed to surpass the insane levels of hype and deliver an EP that iterates and improves upon every aspect of their music, while sounding like they never took a hiatus. That proto-djent/nu-metal vibe is still much present, somehow blossoming next to the insightful and radical lyrics. How little effort this seems to take from the band is a true testament to their unique prowess and style. Opacities is magnificent and the sort of release every veteran act or “comeback” should strive for. It stands proudly alongside The Trees… and Death of A Dead Day as one of the very best tech/prog metal releases of all time.

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-Colin Kauffman

11. Rivers of Nihil – Monarchy

11 Rivers of Nihil MonarchyIn modern death metal’s current climate of extremely flashy (and often lifeless) performances, it’s always good to see a band embrace their humanity while still being able to make speakers crumble. There really hasn’t been a more perfect merger of the old with the new in 2015 more than Rivers of Nihil’s Monarchy, a stunningly-proficient slab of riffdom from a relatively young band that’s now well on their way to becoming one of the most interesting figures in the genre for this current decade. Monarchy is an absolutely titanic record; seamlessly swirling and shifting through walls of Decapitated-esque blasting mayhem, ethereal and atmospheric guitar leads, and more than enough chunky dissonance that’d make both Gorguts and Morbid Angel proud. The album’s 49 minute run time is seamlessly paced and always knows when to appropriate the right dynamic shifts to never let the listener become overwhelmed by the bulk of the album’s blistering tempos. If you’ve slept on this record for whatever reason so far, let this be your wake-up call. You won’t find a meaner scrunch tone than right here, and Monarchy’s conviction and passion is simply undeniable.

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=403551485 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]

-Kit Brown

65 Responses

  1. BarakalypseNow

    This is the article I wait all year for. And YOOOOO!! I really love the selections of albums that I have been rocking (especially #1!), but it’s clear that there are so many great ones I haven’t heard! The mountain of good music that metalheads have to bear is unbelievable, but in the end totally worth it. I think I’m only doing a top 10 this year, just because I didn’t do as much listening as prior years.

    10. Voices – London
    9. Thy Art Is Murder – Holy War
    8. Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
    7. Rivers of Nihil – Monarchy
    6. Tempel – The Moon Lit Our Path
    5. Elder – Lore
    4. Native Construct – Quiet World
    3. Deafheaven – New Bermuda
    2. Intronaut – The Direction of Last Things
    1. Dreadnought – Bridging Realms

    EDIT: Changed #10 to Voices…forgot how much I liked that album at the start of the year.

  2. BlackTaxi2d

    nice, interesting to see a few albums here that are tops on many people’s charts chilling between 40 and 50

    • Karlo Doroc

      i know right, just goes to show how good of a year 2015 was. there were even some records which individuals had in their top 10, which didn’t make our aggregate top 50! look out for our outliers post later in the week, which will cover some of the best albums which sadly didn’t make it onto this list

      • brutal_sushi

        Its fighting for my number one spot. Its slowly becoming the album I listen to the most. The backstory about what the album is about and all the research and everything Anton put into is fascinating, and haunting at the same time.

      • Karlo Doroc

        haunting indeed, the atmosphere they created is simply incredible. i did some basic research into the concept and it sounded amazing, i’ll need to dig deeper into exactly what happened

  3. Washington Skidrow

    It’s so cool to see stuff like The Epic and To Pimp a Butterfly sitting on a mostly metal list. Always appreciate how open minded you guys are about music.

  4. Eden

    Hey guys,

    Thanks for your comments. Just so you know, large portions of the site are down right now. So, if this post disappears, please know that that’s why. We’ll probably re-post it tomorrow, to get it rolling properly.

    Thanks for commenting and for understanding! We really appreciate it.

  5. Scarymother

    There’s only one album that I really felt should be there that wasn’t and that’s Chaos Divine’s Colliding Skies.

    Aside from that, good list.

    Also – thanks for the year. I’ve picked up a pile of CDs directly as a result of reading about them on this site and heard a bunch of bands I doubt I would have come across otherwise. Keep up the good work.

    • Josh

      Chaos Divine, VOLA, and (I haven’t seen it on here yet) EIDOLA belongs right up near the top of this damn list.

      • Scarymother

        It appears VOLA missed out (I was also very pleased with Inmazes). I was glad to see Degenetaterra at about #17 – that album is excellent (my #2 for the year).

      • Eden

        Eidola is an interesting album. It’s definitely great but there’s just so much going on. I feel like the scattering in the overall structure of it (I’ve only listened to it from start to finish several times, although I spin solitary tracks all the time for example) prevents it from being a true list topper.

        If they build on this base with the next release and get something a bit more solidified out there, they can make a true masterpiece.

      • Scarymother

        I love the album, but had no issues with where it was in the list. As the previous guy said, I was happy to see it on the list.

      • el chalupacabra

        Eidola was my #1 of the year, but I have to agree with what Eden said. Given how disorganized it can be at times, and how much of a monolithic listen it is, I’m just happy it’s on here at all.

    • Eden

      I agree with VOLA, see my comment above. Chaos Divine is a good album but it didn’t really bear repeated listens for me. It slowly lost its charm and its edge for me. While it’s a solid album, it’s not…”timeless” enough to make this list, imo.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Scarymother

        Well, it’s all a matter of taste – and that’s both the beauty of music and the trouble with discussing “best of” lists. It’s all subjective – what we’re looking for, what we like etc.

        Clearly plenty of people agree with you on the CD album because I haven’t seen it on too many Top 10 lists, whereas for me, it’s an CD I keep coming back to and the one I’ve probably listened to more than any other this year.

        Anyway, I feel like you blokes are judging these things from the right angle, so I can’t argue with the list.

        By the bye, I picked up the Intronaut disc after giving it a listen due to it appearing at #1.

    • Karlo Doroc

      great to see some love for Chaos Divine! i had it in my top 40 or so if i remember correctly, and it certainly wouldn’t be undeserving a spot on this list. i do see what eden is saying though in that this was just such an amazing year for music, and in my opinion it doesn’t hold up as well on repeat listens compared with some of the other albums. still, nobody can deny that it’s a great record :)

  6. KingdomOfApple

    Solid list, and I know it’s all opinion and whatnot, but where to everloving HECK is VOLA’s Inmazes? I’m actually surprised that, not only did it not make it on the least, but that it wasn’t number one, or in the top ten at the very least. Anyway, still a great list, and I’m sure it’ll be mentioned in one of the other top albums list.

    • Nayon

      Since this is an aggregate list, it means that if some people who write for us didn’t like it as much as others then it didn’t have a huge chance. My AOTY is sitting at 49!

      • KingdomOfApple

        I completely understand that, it was just really surprising to not see it there, haha. That album’s been making waves through the prog metal scene from what I’ve seen. Certainly not as much as others, but it’s still there.

    • Eden

      I know! It’s such a great album and I voted for it really high on my own lists, but it just didn’t make it. Oh well, it still fucking rips.

      Thanks for reading!

      • KingdomOfApple

        No worries! Thanks for sharing so much great music! No Top x albums list is going to be agreed by everyone!

  7. Óśćáŕ

    Probably, you don’t agree with me, but i see Intronaut a a slower-paced Son of Aurelius, with a clearly different style.

  8. algekevin

    Really upset to not see Vehemence’s new album up there, that album is amazing. :( Overall great list though, found a lot of new stuff on here! I also second Kauan – Sorni Nai, but definitely see it not being something for most people though the story behind it is great too!

    • Karlo Doroc

      Sorni Nai really came out of nowehere for me, there was a period where I couldn’t listen to anything else – it may have even cracked my personal top 20 if i remember correctly

  9. guitar_shredda*

    Don’t want to sound funny but I REALLY enjoyed Northlane’s album from this year, some catchy progressive Metalcore, thought it was way better than what August Burns Red put out. Also think Rosetta and Maserati could have easily made the list

    • Eclecticore

      Maserati totally made my list, which isn’t surprising given that I reviewed it and loved it. That was probably gonna be an uphill battle with this group though haha. Just happy to see a lot of the other post-rock I loved made it on here.


  10. rafa

    Am I the only one that thought Good Yiger just sounded like a variant of old Closure in Moscow? I didn’t feel like they were covering any new territory at all

    • Eclecticore

      It being released so late probably didn’t help, but I also don’t think it caught on a ton with the staff as a whole beyond a couple of people who are really into him. It’s been near the top of so many other lists though that I was surprised to see that it didn’t crack ours.


  11. MelbCro

    1. Swallow the Sun – Songs of the North I,II & III
    2. Shape of Despair – Monotony Fields
    3. Arcane – Known/Learned
    4. Earthside – A Dream in Static
    5. Between the Buried and Me – Coma Ecliptic
    6. Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.
    7. Leprous – The Congregation
    8. Native Construct – Quiet World
    9. Agent Fresco – Destrier
    10. Riverside – Love, Fear And The Time Machine
    11. My Dying Bride – Feel the Misery
    12. Enslaved – In Times
    13. Transience – Temple
    14. Ahab – The Boats Of The Glen Carrig
    15. Caligula’s Horse – Bloom
    16. The Slow Death – Ark
    17. Skepticism – Ordeal
    18. Monolithe – Epsilon Aurigae
    19. Alkaloid – The Malkuth Grimoire
    20. Bell Witch – Four Phantoms

  12. Midgetwithalimp

    Awesome list, but I’m sad to see that the new Black Breath record is missing, saw them twice live this year and the material they played from Slaves Beyond Death was insane

  13. Gwynblade

    Oh wow, this is probably the nicest comments section I have seen in years especially when it comes to lists like this.

  14. HugoBoss_Enema

    Alkaloid is my #1. Thanks for making this list, found a couple really cool band thanks to it.
    Gracias. Happy Holidays
    I would’ve added Jesse Cook, Purity Ring, Sumac, and Chelsea Wolfe.

  15. lrn2swim

    The 2 best albums of the year IMO didn’t even make your top 50!

    1a. Dødheimsgard – A Umbra Omega
    1b. Beardfish – +4626-COMFORTZONE (one of the greatest 70’s prog rock albums ever happened to be made in 2015)

    Love your guys’ list though, so much awesome tunage!!

  16. 1 Screaming Dizbuster

    A couple of my favorite releases from 2015 which totally flew under the Metal Press radar were False Lights by Finland’s Pressure Points, a progressive/death metal masterpiece. Their long awaited release after 2010’s promising debut Remorses to Remember. The contrast of death and clean passages may not be original but the level of songwriting, musicianship, and production truly stand out. They have a unique sound and it is glorious.

    The other is the newest release from the reformed Transport League – Napalm Bats and Suicide Dogs. Tony Jelencovich sings/screams/howls his ass off and his backing band lays down some serious grooves. Take Clutch and turn it up a few notches and that’s where this band resides.

    • karlo

      i can’t help but get excited whenever i hear the words progressive, death, metal and masterpiece all in the same sentence. I’ll have to check it out!


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