Today I am going to tell you my top twenty albums of the year, but before I get to that I think it would be remiss of me to not mention the death of Lemmy Kilmister. There are going to be a thousand people writing a thousand words about Lemmy over the next few days. Most of whom are in a better place to do so than me. However, for my two pence, the man was rock and roll. Few have lived as fast and as loud as Lemmy and none of them have done it until the age of 70. His blend of punk rock attitude with rock and roll has been influential on everyone who likes to play loud and he will he be missed. In tribute today, I suggest you play your music a lot louder and live life just that little bit wilder. Anyway, on with the show.
Last year it was Candy Hearts and this year it’s Bad Cop/Bad Cop and I think I’m just going to have to accept that I like sugar sweet pop punk with female vocals. In my defence this album is dripping in attitude and tracks like ‘Sugarcane’ aren’t quite as sweet as they appear on the surface. Bad Cop/Bad Cop may have some cracking harmonies but there is a fair slab of punk in there too.
If this album had come out three months ago I’m pretty sure it would be a lot higher up this list. As things stand, I just haven’t had enough time with it to be sure. However, there is no denying that this is a bit special. Baroness have nailed turning sprawling rock epics into four-minute bangers and the only band that can compete is Mastodon. Purple is the moment they go from underground darlings to something much bigger.
Twitching Tongues are one of the many bands on this list that I was introduced to by That’s Not Metal. Before that, I honestly hadn’t heard of them, which is hard to believe, because music this hulking should be hard to ignore. A combination of hardcore, sludge and doom, this is a beast of an album and you can almost feel it weighing you down as you listen to it. All in a good way of course.
A million bands have tried to sound like Rage Against the Machine, few have nailed. The number that have nailed it and yet also done enough to stand out on their own terms, is even smaller. Stray From the Path are one of them. Subliminal Criminals is Rage Against the Machine played by hardcore kids who are pissed off at the world. It’s a perfect blend and to have a band with something to say in 2015 is damn refreshing.
Trying to put Murdock into words is, in all honesty, a tough task. Coming out om Basick Records, it has all of the technical proficiency that that label has made its name on. Yet that technical skill is played through a maelstrom of At The Drive-In style insanity. It shouldn’t work and in other hands would sound like someone throwing an orchestra down the stairs. Yet somehow, Dead Lung is fucking fantastic.
If there was any justice in the world Therapy? would be huge. And yet they’ve almost suffered from their own reliability. They’ve always been here and while other bands have disappeared and come back bigger than ever, they’ve just trundled on releasing brilliant alternative rock. Which is exactly what Disquiet is. If you’ve liked what has come before you’ll love it again and if you’ve never listened to it, then you are part of the problem.
One of those bands that went away was Failure and yet their return wasn’t greeted with a fanfare. Which is strange because five minutes digging will show you that the number of bands that point to Failure as having a huge influence of their career is staggering. So why have we not heard of them? Well, time to change that with The Heart is a Monster a sprawling alt-rock epic which will tick every box. It’s time to jump on this bandwagon, twenty-odd years too late.
Heart of a Coward are slowly establishing themselves as one of the UK’s best bands. Each album has been better than the one before and yet even with that in mind, Deliverance is one hell of a step up. Riff after riff, crushing track after crushing track. Heart of a Coward write technical metal that’s wrapped up inside cracking songs. It’s going to take something special for them to better this one.
Confession time, I’ve always liked Parkway Drive, but I’ve never loved them. It’s always failed to grab me. That is until now. Ire sees Parkway tearing up their own rulebook and being all the better for it. This is them throwing away metalcore and turning to heavy metal for their inspiration. Even with ‘Writings on the Wall’, which is basically a King 810 cover, it’s a change that works for the better. They’ve kept enough of the old to blend it with the new and suddenly they are a band I want to get into bed with.
The Ongoing Concept are one of the many bands on this list who stubbornly defy classification. Trying to stick one name tag on them is downright impossible so I’m just not going to bother. This is uplifting and good music that deserves to be heard by a wider audience. So get on it!
It takes something special to nail sounding like yourself on your debut album. Most bands draw on other inspirations that shine through their music. And while you can point to bands like Dillinger Escape Plan as inspiring A Beautifull Life’s mathcore smashed against a wall sound, the truth is they are just themselves. And being themselves, is alright by me.
Employed to Serve describe themselves as miserable post-hardcore and yet they are so much more than that. This is special. Coming out of Woking they are a band, like most people of this list, that you just need to listen to. A new voice making sounds that would scare the shit out of the old ones. Please go listen to them. Now.
Sometimes you want complicated hardcore and sometimes you just want good old fashioned rock and roll. Wilson are very much purveyors of the latter. Coming out of Detroit, this is music bred from the environment it was born it. Wilson play hard and they party hard too, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Is there anything else I need to say about Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls? Positive Songs for Negative People is the natural next step in their evolution. It is the album where Frank picks himself up and gets on with life and like everything he has done its full of songs that make you want to laugh, cry and dance. Sometimes all at once.
We thought we’d lost Frank Carter. That he’d been seduced by the light side and was off to sing about love and whatever else tickled his fancy. Thankfully, that was not the case and Blossom is back to kick us all in the balls. The second ‘Juggernaut’ screeches in you can relax. Frank’s back and he’s got one hell of a band behind him.
Every now and then a band comes along that just make you fall in love. For me, they tend to have great songs sung by a singer I can believe in. The Gaslight Anthem did it to me once and this year it was The Wonder Years time. The simplest description is pop-punk, but that has too many connotations. This is just good music. Simple as that.
Why aren’t While She Sleeps huge? While Bring Me the Horizon seek the mainstream Sleeps stay true to their roots and at the same time deliver some of the best metal songs being written right now. Brainwashed doesn’t have the immediacy of This is the Six but pick beneath the surface and it is all there. This is a band growing up in front of our eyes and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Palm Reader are one of the UK’s best kept secrets and I fucking hate it, because they are far too good for that shit. When it comes to British hardcore no one is doing it better and Besides the Ones We Love sees them both perfecting what they’ve done before and looking to the future. Let’s make that future bright.
One of the best bands of all time are back and are proving that age need not be a barrier to genius. Sol Invictus is everything you could have dreamt this band can still do and more. From the brilliant ‘Superhero’ to the slow cresting wave of ‘Matador’ Mike Patton and co are still the best and my god is it good to have them back.
In all honesty, I had long ago stopped caring about Coheed and Cambria. Not because they’ve ever been bad but because I’ve just taken them for granted. The Color Before the Sun reminded me of how stupid I have been. There is a lot of good rock music on this list, that goes without saying, but none of it is sung with the heart and the soul that is poured into this album. There are songs on this that will stick with my for years to come and I can’t wait until I view them as the old friends they are destined to be.