Fillings and Cavities Part II: Stuff We Missed in 2015


It happens every year. In the mad shuffle to painstakingly put our year-end lists together, stuff gets missed. Whether they were sent to us after the fact, slipped through the cracks, or were simply overlooked, a number of killer releases found themselves in year-end limbo. A few of our staff compiled a list of the praise-worthy releases that missed the cut for our year-end 2015 feature, which means you should still consider them to be some of last year’s best.

by Staff

Erik Thomas

Abyssus –  Into the Abyss – Old school death metal that did everything as well as the more ballyhooed Gruesome did last year, but from Greece and with more of an Obituary/Benediction/Asphyx vibe.

Fractal GeneratorApotheosynthesis. This suffered from being a self-released digital-only release, so I overlooked it. But picture Fear Factory‘s beeping, whirring cyber-metal on steroids, laden with typically Canadian tech death skill and complexity.

RosettaQuintessential Ephemera. It’s been awhile since I’ve enjoyed a great post-rock record. And I had no idea genre darlings Rosetta were still around after the captivating dual CD debut The Galilean Satellites and 2007’s Wake/Lift. They returned in 2015 with a pretty much perfect album in the style. The track “Untitled V” is one of the best songs in the style of the last few years.

Even though I still reviewed quite a bit of it, I missed a TON of great Swedish death metal in 2015. I mean, it’s my favorite genre, and frigging Morbid Vomit snuck in a proper debut album, Doctrine of Violence, on a tiny Finnish label! There were kickass compilations like Goddified and Festerday, and then there were a TON of kickass releases in the style by  Infected Chaos, Mass Burial, Anarchos, Carnation, Disrupted, Austerynm, Moondark, Bastard Grave, Torture Pulse, Overtorture, Hereza, Amputory, Ash Cloud, and Under the Church. I only heard these towards the end of the year due to various distro sales early this year, or heard them too late last year to review. Some certainly would have appeared on my year-end list had I heard them earlier, but all are solid additions to my favorite genre. Check them all out!

Also a shout out to a couple of releases that were covered by some of my esteemed colleagues. These would have also made my year end list had I heeded their reviews sooner and listened earlier: Nailgun Massacre‘s Boned Boxed and Buried, and Sickening Horror‘s Overflow. Cheers to Frank Rini and Jerry Hauppa respectively.

Frank Rini

2015 was a killer year for Metal.  While these 5 releases did not make it in my best of list, they were awesome in their own right, and if I would have increased my list to 35, they would have been on there.

Scanner – The Judgement [Massacre Records].  2015 was a killer year for long time German Power/Metal band, Scanner.  Both Mental Reservation; ’95 and Ball of the Damned; ’96 received stunning remasters, and the band released The Judgement, their 6th album.  Putting more speed and power into their tunes, while retaining their incredible knack for creating epic, catchy and fantastic songs.

Hooded Menace – Darkness Drips Forth [Relapse Records].  Only 4 songs, but clocking in at over 40 minutes total playing time, Finland’s Hooded Menace released one of their most devastatingly depressing albums ever.  Heavy, brooding, dark, evil, doom/death metal.  Crushing!

Rivers of Nihil – Monarchy [Metal blade Records].  Rivers of Nihil returned with their second album and showed that they can play with the big boys.  I loved their debut, but Monarchy destroyed it by a landslide.  Some Fallujah influences this time around, more brutality, and an even stronger production.  Killer stuff.

Dr. Shrinker – Contorted Dioramic Palette [Dread Records].  Long time gore/death band Dr. Shrinker finally released their debut album.  A combination of Autopsy/Nailgun Massacre/Impetigo/Lord Gore-stylized brutality and awesome outer and inner artwork makes this a no-brainer purchase.  Incredible.

Putridity – Ignominious Atonement [Willowtip Records].  The highlight release from Willowtip for 2015, and it was a real slow year for that label – not many releases at all.  Italy’s most brutal band, Putridity, returned with their 3rd album. Ignominious Atonement is so over the top brutal, it will make your head explode.

Adam Palm

SoijlEndless Elysian Fields (Solitude Productions)
Saturnus are one of the best at what they do, but they aren’t the most prolific, only releasing albums every 4 to 6 years. Thankfully, their former guitarist, Mattias Svensson, who worked with them on their 2012 full-length, Saturn in Ascension, has taken it upon himself to craft this masterful piece of melodic death/doom of comparable style and quality. However, an early Katatonia/October Tide influence combined with a more deathly bite keeps this project from being a total carbon copy.

Khthoniik CerviiksSeroLogiikal Scars (Vertex of Dementiia) (Iron Bonehead Productions)
Voivod has certainly been a huge influence on underground metal, but I’ve never heard their signature gritty, futuristic sound integrated so faithfully and seamlessly into barbaric black/death metal as it has been here.

PyramazeDisciples of the Sun (Inner Wound Recordings)
My newfound appreciation for the less cheesy side of power metal led me to Pyramaze and this release from last year, which finds them at their very best, while sounding a lot like the progressive/power metal side of Scar Symmetry.

AnatomyTwisting Depths of Horror + Demos (Dark Symphonies)
This whole collection is great, but the first two proper tracks alone are worth the price of admission. This is some of the most palpably evil death metal ever committed to tape. It’s a shame that they didn’t record more material in this vein before switching to black metal.

The Wanderer… – Aura Nocturnal & Mysterium (Tour de Garde)
When I submitted my staff picks for 2015, I hadn’t heard a single demo worth including. That was before I got my hands on this compilation of the 2014 and 2015 demos from this mysterious one-man project from Australia. Each one is a single lengthy track of entrancing atmospheric black metal that is one of the best recordings of any type from their respective years.

Luke Sanders

I think only the most fickle of metalheads would proclaim 2015 as a disappointing year, regardless of genre preferences. I’m still playing catch-up into 2016 and discovering numerous albums that could have easily threatened my year end list. Here’s a small handful of bands that are too damn good to ignore and come highly recommended.

PredatoriaUnmarked GravesTell No Tales (Self-Released). This very recent discovery has captured my interest and begun receiving heavy rotation, establishing this unsigned Belgian war machine as a band on the rise. Predatoria lend a modern edge to the classic formula perfected by the legendary Bolt Thrower. Throw in the triumphant melodic hooks and energy of Amon Amarth and you’re left with a powerhouse debut statement, delivered in perfectly concise EP form.

BatushkaLitourgiya (Witching Hour Productions). Allegedly featuring notable members of the Polish black metal scene, the mysterious folks behind Batushka crafted an intriguing, unsettling and grandiose album steeped in dark, brooding atmosphere. Spooky ritualistic chants, majestic melodies and doomy overtones are masterfully coupled with fiery bursts of blackened fury and expert songcraft. This exceptional album should not be overlooked by black metal fans.

AcraniaFearless (Self-released). Now this is some seriously weird, batshit crazy stuff with a most fitting album title. The Mexican homies comprising Acrania should be too far leftfield to appeal to the average metalhead, but somehow their crazed fusion of Latin flavours, prog, death, thrash, and everything bar the kitchen sink somehow works. Fearless is simply heaps of fun, an unconventional blast of feel-good festival flair, loose jam band groove, seriously impressive technical chops and innovative, catchy songwriting. Out of this world and a must hear for the more adventurous listener.

AlustriumA Tunnel to Eden (Self-Released). I highlighted this album in my honourable mentions list, and had intentions to review it, but unfortunately the opportunity passed. However, this is an album not to be missed by fans of technical and progressive death metal. I can imagine, with the benefit of hindsight, regretting not including this on my end of year list. A Tunnel to Eden is a blistering shred-fest bolstered by epic, memorable songwriting, coming across like a fresh and modern update of 90s heroes Death and Atheist. Tightly performed, razor sharp and addictive fun.

Kristofor Allred

WHAT?!?! Rogga Johansson and Dave Ingram released not only one new album in 2015, but two new albums?!?! Where the fuck was I? Seriously, I must have had my head firmly planted in the ground, because had I gotten to hear Down Among the Dead Men’s new album, Exterminate! Annihilate! Destroy!, or Echelon’s latest, Indulgence Over Abstinence Behind the Obsidian Veil, my list of favorite albums would have been much different. Whether it’s the short, crusty, sludge-slathered, D-beat punk-tinged death of DAtDM, or Echelon’s more refined, sharp groove laden attack, one can’t go wrong with Rogga’s infectious riffing, driven by the bestial roars of Ingram. Pummeling in the greatest of ways, these two albums might have been latecomers in 2015, but are so worth your time, before they get lost in the plethora of great releases that 2016 holds in store.

GorelustWe Are the Undead. 20 years after their debut album, Canada’s Gorelust return to throw their hat into the technical/brutal death metal ring with their sophomore album, and I’ll be damned if they didn’t do a fantastic job. Comprised of songs both newly written, as well as material written damn near two decades ago, you’d never suspect that these guys haven’t been consistently cranking out albums. Definitely good stuff; if you like pre-Obscura Gorguts, then you will like Gorelust.

I’d also like to address the fact that I was a complete bonehead for letting Sarpanitum’s Blessed Be My Brothers Sarpanitum’s and Keep of Kalessin’s Epistemology somehow slip by me. I was well aware of both of their releases early in 2015, they were even both reviewed here by Mr. Thomas himself, but somehow I just never got around to picking them up. To say “my bad” is a massive understatement, as they are both so good, that saying “my absolute failure” would be more appropriate.

Here’s to a metal filled 2016. Hopefully, I won’t miss out on too much good shit..

Jordan Itkowitz

Armageddon – Captivity and Devourment (Listenable Records). There’s a good reason this melodic death album caught my attention – it’s a Christopher Amott project. It started back in 1999 as a side-gig between Arch Enemy albums, but since leaving the band in 2012, he’s dusted it off for this superb new release. Features strong melodies and satisfying songwriting, scorching leads, excellent guttural vocals, a few well-placed cleans, and just a touch of heavy metal bravado.

Steak Number EightKosmokrator (Indie Recordings). A diverse, progressive, and unusually nimble take on the normally stodgy and lumbering sludge/post-metal sound. Mastodon is a good reference – these Belgians aren’t afraid to stretch and play around with different pacing, influences, and song structures either. Vocal harmonies and playful groove add unexpected brightness. Well worth checking out if you still miss Burst.

Judicator – At the Expense of Humanity (Divebomb Records). I’m very picky with my power metal, so something about this band hasn’t clicked for me before – until this album, which is fantastic. The melodies bridge the typical heroic power metal sound with a touch of melancholy and plenty of aggression, there are galloping riffs and catchy hooks galore, and the vocals (smooth, but on the higher-pitched Blind Guardian end of the spectrum) sit much better in the mix than on previous releases. A very entertaining grower that I’ve been spinning quite a lot lately.

MechinaAcheron (Independent). Not sure if Xerath and Nightwish share a lot of fans, but if you enjoy swirling, symphonic atmosphere and synths, stuttery djent, cavernous death vocals, and female Middle Eastern-inspired vocals, you’ll enjoy this impressive futuristic epic. They have a new one out too, maybe it will make this year’s list?

RAM – Svbversvm (Metal Blade Records). Great traditional/heavy metal releases are easy to find these days, but this one slipped under the radar last year. Too bad – it’s an excellent album that clearly prays in the church of Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate, with snarling, vibrato vocals, ripping melodies, and NWOBHM swagger. Would pair well with Defenders of the Faith and a 6-pack of your favorite brew.

 

Comments

  1. Commented by: F.Rini

    Thanks for the shoutout, brother Erik. \m/


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