Forget all the others, this is the list that every band wants to be a part of. As always, Metal Squadron’s annual round up is guaranteed free of half assed releases, and the competition for places are just as strong as they are for a place in Tottenham’s first eleven at the moment.
While 2015 didn’t give us the same amount of killer releases as 2013 for instance, the last twelve months supplied a steady stream of interesting albums, and overall I would say that the year was a bit stronger than 2014. Talking about 2014, that year brought us some extremely strong demo releases in form of Demon Bitch, Outcast and Tarot to name a few, this year has been a little calmer on that front, but with a few real highlights in form of Teuton, Herzel and towards the end of the year also Vultures Vengeance.
Before we approach the top ten, here are the bands (in alphabetical order) that didn’t quite make the list, but really deserve to be mentioned, both because their albums got a lot of playing time in the Metal Squadron headquarters and simply because they are great:
Amorphis, Black Trip, Dead Lord, Enforcer, Evil Invaders, Horisont, Lunar Shadow, Mindless Sinner, Praying Mantis, Starborn, Steelwing, Stonegriff, Tentation and Visigoth.
Magister Templi “Into Duat” (Cruz Del Sur)
I never got around to do a proper review of this one, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. The unique vocals coupled with pretty original songwriting and strong, strong riffs make this the best pure Norwegian heavy metal album since…yeah…since when?
Read the interview I did with Abraxas D’ Ruckus here: https://metalsquadron.com/2015/08/25/2564/
Night Demon “Curse Of The Damned” (Steamhammer)
From my review of the album: “Night Demon is a sympathetic, hard working band that manages to sound fresh even though they sound a lot like the NWOBHM-stuff that came out during the early eighties. Whether they play it fast, slow or heavy, it’s always quality and lots of energy involved. Add a transparent and heavy production with thick guitars and powerful drums, and we have a winner.”
Encyrcle “Encyrcle” (Unspeakable Axe)
From my review of the album: “There are some nice contrasts as well, with the instrumental, “Serpents Dream” starting out with piano and taking a rather symphonic approach before it ends with some heavy and powerful riffs, supplying some much needed breathing space after “Dizzy Me Deadly” has left you pretty much exhausted. Overall there are a lot of quite catchy, up tempo stuff with memorable choruses and solos here…”
Ironsword “None But The Brave” (Shadow Kingdom)
From my review of the album: “Apart from the opener “Forging The Sword” and “Calm Before The Storm” which both carry more than a slight resemblance to Manilla Road mostly in the vocals during the choruses of course, but also in tempo for instance, I really enjoy the title track, which is slower and darker than many of the songs on the album. I love the way it creeps and crawls along, with heavy guitars and drums and this dark commanding chorus.”
Satan ”Atom By Atom” (Listenable)
“Life Sentence” ended a couple of places higher up my list in 2013, and to be honest, I feel that it was a little bit better than “Atom By Atom”. However, it could also be the surprise factor that was a stronger two years ago, as I never expected the band to return with such a killer album after so many years away. This year’s release offers more of the same, this is honest heavy metal with Brian Ross’ characteristic vocals and absolutely unmatched guitar work.
Trial “Vessel” (High Roller)
From my review of the album. “The sound of the album is clear and strong, with punch and heaviness. The song “A Ruined World” probably documents Linus’ best performance, as he carries a lot of the song. Great stuff! The twelve minute long album closer “Restless Blood” is another great and diverse track, with another strange experimental part that fits well with the rest. There is also a killer solo in this one. “Vessel” is a powerful and captivating album, and a truly professional piece of work!”
Read the interview I did with Andreas here:
RAM ”Svbversvm” (Metal Blade)
From my review of the album: “Svbversvm”, the band’s fourth full length release, just like “Lightbringer”, is an ambitious affair that manages to impress on all fronts. The songs are on a high level all the way through, still with a couple of really outstanding tracks in form of the slow and creeping “The Usurper” as well as the nearly eight minutes long and ambitious “Forbidden Zone” which comes with a monster chorus.”
Read the interview I did with Oscar here:
Adramelch “Opus” (Pure Prog)
From my review of the album: ” Don’t let the word “progressive” scare you away, the songs are very much to the point, and the melodies are the strongest aspect here, just listen to the melancholic and pure melodic bliss of “Long Live The Son”. Touching beyond words! The almost fragile, yet very steady and crystal clear voice of Vittorio Ballerio brings forth the very best in those delicate melodies. The vocal lines are diverse, tasty, catchy and fit the music and the general mood of the album very well.”
Terminus “The Reaper’s Spiral” (Stormspell)
I had the honor of having this album streaming from Metal Squadron, and thus never wrote a review. Now it’s time to let you know what I really think about “The Reaper’s Spiral”. It’s simple really: This album contains everything I love about heavy metal! Solid overall songwriting, strong, commanding vocals, riffs galore and killer melodies. Superb stuff!
Read the interview I did with James and David here:
Sacral Rage “Illusions In Infinite Void (Cruz Del Sur)
From my review of the album: “With the songwriting skills that these guys possess, combining a technical and adventurous touch with a great ear for hooks and catchiness, “Illusions In Infinite Void” is destined to be a classic that future releases will be measured against… To put it simple – this is the best metal album since Atlantean Kodex’ “The White Goddess”…”
Read the interview I did with Marios here: