2015's best metal albums
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2015 was the strongest year for metal in recent memory, with everyone from Iron Maiden to Lamb of God churning out some A+ releases. This list is a celebration of the diversity and enjoyment 2015’s metallers brought us in 2015, with entries ranging from household names to those from metal’s large, expansive underbelly. Naturally, this is a subjective list of my own personal picks, so I apologise in advance if your favourite record didn’t make the cut. Without any further ado, in no particular, here are my best metal albums of 2015: Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls No heavy metal list will ever be complete without a nod to Iron Maiden, who have been producing some of the finest riffs, lyrics and vocal performances for over 35 years. And The Book of Souls is definitely a record that does justice to the band’s almost untouchable repertoire. Clocking in at a grandiose 92 minutes over the course of two discs, this is Iron Maiden at their most adventurous and progressive. Like all truly innovative musicians, they create the music that they want to hear, refusing to cater to critics by making Number of the Beast version 2.0. While it does contain its radio-friendly moments – mostly in the straight-forward, hard-rocking lead single 'Speed of Light' – the beauty of The Book of Souls comes in the progressive, lengthy suites present in such songs as “Empire of the Clouds” and “The Red and the Black”. If you like your metal tracks long, powerful, anthemic, epic and – most importantly – jam-packed with blistering guitar riffs, then The Book of Souls is 2015’s album for you. Wilderun – Sleep at the Edge of the Earth Wilderun’s Sleep at the Edge of the Earth may not only be my favourite album of 2015, but also the year’s most underrated. This is one of the most diverse albums I have heard in a very long time, containing elements of folk rock, technical death metal and everything in between. Wilderun’s seemingly unlimited mastery of so many different genres and sub-genres not only demonstrates the Boston quartet’s skills as amazing musicians, but also surprises as the completely different styles they utilise blend together remarkably well. The band seamlessly integrates instruments like the acoustic guitar, mandolin, dulcimer and autoharp to create a folk metal sound that is uniquely their own. Lead single 'The Garden of Fire' perfectly showcases the band’s huge musical range by itself, using the track’s 10-minute running time to demonstrate both the soft and heavy sides of Wilderun. The only thing I can compare Wilderun to is a fusion of Ensiferum and Dream Theater, and if that sounds as awesome to you as it does to me, then this is a band the world needs to know about! Trivium – Silence in the Snow Silence in the Snow is probably Trivium’s most straight-forward record. Much unlike previous efforts like Shogun and Ascendancy, this is an album that seeks less to push the boundaries of thrash and metalcore, but rather harken back to the glory days of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. It is dissimilar to the prior entries in this list in that the album’s songs are very structurally simplistic: they all follow the typical verse–chorus–verse format, as Trivium abandon the screaming vocals of their previous releases to make a disc heavily reliant on melody and clean vocals. And it’s a refreshing change that, for Trivium, has been a long time coming. Much like Maiden, the band have clearly made the album that they wanted to make, with anthemic tracks that pay tribute to their classic heavy metal heroes like Dio, Judas Priest and even Skid Row. While hardcore fans will most likely prefer the heavier, faster Trivium of old, it’s important to examine Silence in the Snow as a separate entity, one that explores the influences of one a band that has themselves influenced countless other, younger musicians. Dendera – Pillars of Creation It’s unlikely that you’ve ever heard of Dendera, but let me assure you that they are among the south coast’s premier heavy metal acts, having supported the likes of Sepultura, Queensrÿche, Fozzy, Evile and Anvil last year. And their second album, Pillars of Creation, only adds to the monumental 2015 that Dendera enjoyed. The album fuses new and old perfectly, with David Stanton and Steven main’s modern thrash metal riffs combining with lead singer Ashley Edison’s classic, Rob Halford-esque vocals. Pillars of Creation is an unapologetically heavy album, featuring seven-string guitars and relentless, ceaseless speed throughout. Put simply, this is a fantastic metal album that demonstrates unique musicianship: both nostalgic and revolutionary.
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