Death Metal Underground’s Best Albums of 2015

It took some time, but despite the deluge of content constantly bombarding us and aspiring metal fans worldwide, we’ve been able to reach some level of consensus on 2015’s worthwhile metal music. Not to say that we’re in perfect harmony (If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll note that there’s some room for dissonance in our musical language), but the hope is, like what our recent reinspection of 2013 revealed, that some of this material remains interesting for more than the year it was released.


 

Album of the Year
Kaeck
Stormkult

A wrathful reminder of what war metal should have been: a melodically-structured, chromatic holocaust to the god of this world. Jan Kruitwagen’s leads awe listeners and are optimally placed to hold attention just as each rhythm riff runs its course. An impenetrable mix rewards repeated listening to an album that may surpass Kruitwagen’s work on Sammath’s Godless Arrogance. March to Kaeck’s martial heartbeat or revel in shit.

Reviews:

 

Recommended Albums

 

Desecresy
Stoic Death

Bolt Thrower meets ritualistic black metal. Rather than cathartic bending into climactic oriental leads, Desecresy diffuse tension by methodically varying into bizarre melodies with carefully placed, otherworldly leads to a steady metronome.
Mid-paced riffing in the style of Bolt Thrower builds tension with melody and drifts off into space with variations and well placed leads. Where Bolt Thrower themselves shoot a rifle at the ballon using rhythmic change to introduce another riff or dramatically bending the riff into a climactic, oriental short solo, Desecresy insert ritualistic blackened leads for dramatic contrast with the rhythmic, power chord riffing.

Review and Interview:

 

Tau Cross
Tau Cross

Rob Miller returns from blacksmithing to his previous metallic occupation with an album of catchy post-punk in Motorhead and Metallica song formats. Thankfully free of the Godsmack and other MTV influences present on Amebix’s swansong.

Review:

 

Worthwhile releases

 

Cóndor
Duin

An effective album of mid-paced death and heavy metal riffing. There is no psychedelic rock pretending to be Black Sabbath “doom” here. Highly structured; the opposite of the random tossed riff salads of most modern metal. This band takes an approach more like that of classical guitarists toward melding death metal with progressive rock, blues, folk and other influences: it mixes them in serially and adopts them within the style, rather than hybridizing the two styles.

In other words, most bands that try to sound like progressive death metal try to act like a progressive rock band playing death metal, or a death metal band playing progressive rock. Cóndor takes an approach more like that of musicians in the past, which is to adopt other voices within its style, so that it creates essentially the same material but works in passages that show the influence of other thought.

Reviews and Interview:

 

Morpheus Descends
From Blackened Crypts

This vinyl 7” single features two new, well constructed death metal songs from one of from one of the few truly underrated bands in the genre. Those foresighted enough to purchase the identically-titled CD boxed set version received the band’s entire catalog in one of the rare remasters that sounds better than the original releases.

Interviews:

 

Motorhead
Bad Magic

One last Motorhead album of mostly Motorhead songs. Nothing “new” is introduced for those in the non-metal audience who disdain metal and wish to feel intellectually superior to the common headbanger. The final work from a relentless machine of a band.

Review:

 

Reissues

 

Grotesque
In the Embrace of Evil
Immolation
Dawn of Possession (Listenable Records)
Order From Chaos
Frozen in Steel (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
Carbonized
For the Security
Sammath
Strijd
Arghoslent
Arsenal of Glory and Galloping Through the Battle Ruins (Drakkar productions)
Blasphemy
Fallen Angel of Doom (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
Gorguts
Obscura

 

Those Left Behind
Zom
Flesh Assimilation

Crusty death metal of the better than braindead Benediction but worse than Cancer category.

Satan
Atom by Atom

I’ve possibly heard too much but Hanger 18. I know too much. Although not as degradingly vulgar as Surgical Steel, Atom by Atom results in a pretty tacky affair. Vocals are as emotional as in the first album, except that in here they seem even more disconnected from the music as the music veers into some sort of progressive speed metal akin to Helstar’s. (Editor’s note: I liked it, but David Rosales was critical)

Sarpanitum
Blessed Be My Brothers

The band shows promise with their Unique Leader-style rhythmic riffing and soaring heavy metal leads. While being above par for technical deaf metal, aping a different one of your heroes every few verses doesn’t make for particularly enjoyable repeated listening.

House of Atreus
The Spear and the Ichor that Follows

Fredrik Nordstrom’s Arghoslent.

Denner/Sherman
Satan’s Tomb

Technical power metal carnival music.

Iron Maiden
The Book of Souls

Nobody is allowed to edit themselves or turn on their bullshit filters in Steve Harris’s band anymore (Read a full review here).

Kjeld
Skym

Kvist meets the randomness of metalcore. Indistinct riffing and songwriting mix with pointless shoutout verses to past greats that makes listeners wonder why they aren’t just playing Sodom and Mayhem in the first place.

Malthusian
Below the Hengiform

Where are the riffs?

Throaat
Black Speed

Every Teutonic speed metal band gone Voltron.

Ares Kingdom
The Unburiable Dead

The band has no need to repeat half the song just so the guitarist can get over his refractory period and play another solo. This is also an extremely distracted riff salad in which the individual riffs can be brought in from sources as different as galloping power metal to thrashy death metal to alternative nu and groove “metal”. This is headbang-core for beer metallers and other social metalheads. This recording received two reviews in 2015.

Obsequaie
Aria of Vernal Tombs

A collection of interesting renaissance faire riffs written into songs that quickly wear out their welcome as metal, becoming RPG background music.

Sarcasm
Burial Dimensions

A few strong songs on a demo do not warrant a two CD set of Swedish death with limpid keyboards anticipating the steps black metal took towards mainstream goth rock in the late nineties.

Mgla
Exercises in Futility

This is the type of black metal as repetitive rock music that ignorant hipsters will praise as “ritualistic”. The album’s title sums the quality of its musical content: futile. (Editor’s note: I wanted to give this album a chance. It didn’t age well.)

Horrendous
Anareta

Gothenburg cheese and Meshuggah licks are less appetizing than a lead-laced Mexican lollipop.

Cruciamentum
Charnel Passages

Grave Miasma returns. This time with 1993’s atmosphere.

Crypt Sermon
Out of the Garden

Candlemass meets Soundgarden.

Vorum
Current Mouth

Every Teutonic speed metal band gone Voltron.

Exhumation
Opus Death

Solid underground metal in the spirit of Sarcofago that is perfectly well-written but does not amount to more than the sum of its parts; does not conjure up any long-lasting message.

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28 thoughts on “Death Metal Underground’s Best Albums of 2015”

  1. MP says:

    Ouch, I guess this thin list explains why so much time was devoted to tobacco and SJWs.

    1. Gabe Kagan says:

      If people want a longer list, they’ll have to start releasing higher quality metal music. That’s fair, right?

    2. fenrir says:

      Put the top three on repeat and you have concentration of very high quality content. I dare say these top three are above the top three of 2014, except, perhaps, Sammath’s.

    3. vOddy says:

      They have to post something, and shitting on mediocre music gets old.
      Let them talk about something they like. :)

  2. muthafukcas! says:

    The Desecresy wasn’t as good as prior albums but it was still enjoyable. More interesting is that a member from Desecresy is releasing a new album this year under the banner of Serpent Ascending, which is rooted in a more traditional gritty death metal compared to the ambient/spacey approach of Desecresy. Hopefully it delivers!

  3. I'm not Swedish says:

    “Horrendous
    Anareta

    Gothenburg cheese and Meshuggah licks are less appetizing than a lead-laced Mexican lollipop.”

    I don’t even like this album, but did anyone at DMU actually give this album a thorough listen? It has way more in common with Pestilence’s Spheres and Atheist than with Meshuggah or any of the Gothenburg bands… Just because a band throws in some minor key melodies/harmonies in the vein of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden doesn’t mean that it’s “Gothenburg cheese.” Mind you, Horrendous’s previous albums definitely had a huge Swedish death metal influence, but do you consider Dismember to be derivative “Gothenburg cheese” on tracks like Dismembered and Dreaming in Red?

    1. Daniel Maarat says:

      Except they’re not “in the vein of Judas Priest.” Horrendous is more pre bar ballad Journey. What Stockholm influence? Stealing one rhythm riff from Like an Ever Flowing Stream and using it as a lick doesn’t mean your music resembles that band. Where’s the syncopated chromatic JCM 900 beeswarms? Using an HM-2 pedal doesn’t make you Swedish (Euronymous was using a knockoff of the HM-2 prior to Nihilist) and saying you want to use heavy metal leads to be epic like Dismember doesn’t mean squat if you have nothing of musical substance to make epic. Where’s the Ritchie Blackmore in Horrendous? There isn’t any.

      1. Daniel Maarat is a parrot says:

        Except Horrendous didn’t use the HM2 on Anareta but none of you brain deads actually listened to the album. You keep repeating the same nonsense about Journey. It must be real edgy to rail on something and not actually listen to it.

        1. Daniel Maarat says:

          More proof of not being Swedish. Perhaps I wrote the Sadistic Metal Review and perhaps I don’t give a damn what pedal you play your randomized in a different way poly-rhythmic chugging tech deaf through. If you’re angry due to receiving negative feedback for not actually fixing your music’s compositional flaws then go crawl up back into your mother’s festering hole that you stuck on the cover.

        2. hypocrite says:

          I don’t necessarily agree with the DMU description of this album, but I did listen to it and can confirm that it sucks ass.

    2. Dumbass Anihilator says:

      Here you go: http://www.deathmetal.org/review/horrendous-anareta-2015/
      Perhaps Gabe will talk to you about it…

  4. Rotten Ralph says:

    Thanks for these lists and great job on the layout but you’ve missed a few:

    Demoncy – Empire of the Fallen Angel (Eternal Black Dominion)
    Remains – Evoking Darkness
    Infamous – Tempesta

    I should probably have e-mailed a list over to make sure nothing gets forgotten. Will do that next year.

    1. David Rosales says:

      Why aren’t you in our communication circle????

      1. Rotten Ralph says:

        Well, I’m not a writer or anything. I just upload MP3s and promote the site/music on faceplant. Maybe I should be?

    2. fenrir says:

      Demoncy is 2003, it was a reissue. Not sure why Brett didn’t bring it up, seeing that he is such a big fan.

      Remains is pretty “meh”. Irrelevant, redundant…

      Infamous should have been mentioned.

      1. Rotten Ralph says:

        The Demoncy is not a reissue. It’s 4 new tracks (which are excellent) followed by a complete remake of the 2003 album and it’s a much better version.

        The Remains album I need to listen to more. It hasn’t really impressed me much either but the review by Mr Stevens was quite positive.

        The Infamous album I haven’t even heard yet but their other stuff has been good so far. They somehow got forgotten about on last years list as well. :(

    3. Daniel Maarat says:

      The Demoncy “reissue” is a one man, basement rerecording of the original album. I rejected it for inclusion under the reissues.

      Remains and Infamous were decent upon release but didn’t make enough of an impression to be remembered by the end of the year or be listened to again.

  5. thanks for putting me at nr 1. again… many great releases this year. will be having a bloody nice beer tonight. cheers. jan/sammath/kaeck

    1. Phil says:

      I gotta say, Sammath and Kaeck have been the only band to release REAL quality stuff in the last few years. So thank you.

      * * *

      As far as other releases this year, Kronos made a sugary yet logically sound album this year that I quite like. Lots of stuff I haven’t listened to, seeing as I regularly wait for these “best of” lists anyway.

  6. discodjango says:

    I think Cory van der Pol was right:

    http://www.deathmetal.org/news/kjeld-skym-2014/

  7. kvlt attakker says:

    I blame El Nino. Much like the lack of winter this year, we have a lack of quality metal.

    …pass the pipe…pass the time…next winter should be better…

    1. Gabe Kagan says:

      Massachusetts had a much ‘better’ (snowier) winter last year, but I would argue the quality of metal wasn’t appreciably higher. The “cold weather -> good metal” hypothesis breaks down on stuff like Sepultura, anyways.

  8. I blew my head off like Per Ohlin says:

    I liked Duin and Stoic Death the most.

  9. Will says:

    Yeah, I was thinking this year wasn’t as good as the past few, though I was hoping there had been more I’d missed. Seems Exhumation’s “solid, perfectly well written underground metal that doesn’t conjure up any long lasting message” deserves at least a worthwhile rating. But I guess that’s splitting hairs. Also a mention of Zloslut’s release would have been appreciated, since it was hyped last year.

  10. Belisario says:

    I find it perfectly valid to write such a concise list, but would have loved to see more albums commented (with more than a sentence) like in past years, after all this was supposed to be “best metal of 2015”, not “only excellent and flawless albums”.

    For my part, I would have added Varathron – The Confessional of the Black Penitents, minor release but still pretty good and Macabre Omen – Gods of War – At War, blatant Bathory worship but really enjoyable and well crafted.

    1. Daniel Maarat says:

      Notice the list has “Best” in the title, not “Interesting”. Money grabs and unexceptional worship releases will not be on the list.

  11. highlandtyrant says:

    I might also add Beithioch – Conquest to this list, which I’m surprised hasn’t been reviewed on this site.

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