Friday, December 25, 2015

Best of 2015: songs

Another year, another difficult task to cut down 100+ songs into 50. Man, as usual, there has been a good amount of songs that has struck me hard and left a big impression on me. Some being heavy, others being beautiful, and some just insanely catchy and fun. Yep, the metal world keeps delivering great stuff that makes me loose my mind when I am forcing myself to do these lists. So without further ado, here is my top 50 best songs of 2015.

Honorable mentions: Pyramaze - Hope Springs Eternal, Graveyard - From A Hole In The Wall, Standing Ovation - Hellbillies, Killing Joke - Euphoria
The competition to make it to the top 50 is incredibly stiff, and I did not have the heart this year to just leave these three songs without a special mentioning. All three are great in their own, special ways, so make sure you do not miss out on them.

50. Backyard Babies - Th1rt3en Or Nothing
The veterans shows some youthful spirit in a power packed ball buster that certainly makes a statement. Seems like their brake paid off (well, if you ignore the rest of "Four By Four").

49. Rise To Fall - End Vs. Beginning
The opening riff alone makes this song really interesting, and it also helps that the chorus is good as well. A must hear for fans of Engel.

48. Periphery - Priestess
I am still having a hard time to love Periphery, but "Priestess" is a beautiful little piece from the Omega part of the "Juggernaut" double album.Hopefully, they will win me over in the next album.

47. Motörhead - Thunder & Lightning
There are few things that beats good old Motörhead shredding. Yes, it is just another "Overkill" copy, but I really don't care, I will still bang my head to it.

46. Sirenia - Elixir
The grand, symphonic sound is what makes this track, and Sirenia in general, so special. A fairly simple track with some harsh vocals thrown in it, but the riffing and the doom mood is simply astounding.

45. Bring Me The Horizon - Throne
The evolution of Bring Me The Horizon has really been a exciting journey, growing for every new release. "Throne" is a perfect example of it, showing both catchy mainstream qualities and smart structure building.

44. Soilwork - Death In General
Feels so good that Soilwork has found their way back to form, which certainly shows in "Death In General". While not being the hardest of tracks from "The Ride Majestic", it does bring a fantastic chorus, and a finesse that is irresistible.

43. Deadly Circus Fire - House of Plagues
Oh god, the guitar on "House of Plague" is so freaking magical. Deadly Circus Fire hits all the right notes in a track that displays a lot of pain, but still sounds so refreshing. Do not miss out on this up and coming band.

42. Tribulation - Melancholia
Despite its gloomy title, "Melancholia" is actually a groovy black metal song, in which the Swedes flexes their musical muscles to the max, and deliverers a power thrust that shakes the genre to its core.

41. Joe Satriani - On Peregrine Wings
Guitar wizard Joe Satriani never fails to amaze me, showing time and time again why he is the best instrumentalist right now. A beautiful and memorable track well fitting for an angel.

40. Dr. Living Dead - Civilized To Death
There are so few bands in this day and age that has the same power and intensity as the Swedish Doctors, and "Civilized To Death" is classic crossover thrash candy that simply cannot be ignored. Not one bit civilized, and I love it.

39. Amorphis - Dark Path
With the consistency that the band has, I could almost pick any song from "Under The Red Cloud" and it would reach about the same spot. Still, "Dark Path" has this mood and musicality that brings out the best that the band has to offer. It does not surprise, but it confirms the high status that Amorphis currently has.

38. Intronaut - The Pleasant Surprise
If I did not know better, I would have mistaken Intronaut for Mastodon on this groovy and high speeding track. The drum work of Danny Walker is very similar to the one of Brann Dailor, not too bad if you ask me.

37. The Gentle Storm - Heart of Amsterdam (Storm Version)
Arjen Lucassen keeps on making great music, and with the help of former The Gathering singer Anneke Van Giersbergen he got the ability to create some really beautiful music. Not too much differing the gentle and storm versions apart, but I like it heavier, so storm version is the way to go.

36. Children of Bodom - Prayer For The Afflicted
When listening to "I Worship Chaos", I did not expect the best song to be a slow, almost ballad like song. Children of Bodom delivered a mediocre performance in the album, but "Prayer For The Afflicted" is something new, and surprisingly well fitting acquisition to the CoB catalog.

35. Faith No More - Separation Anxiety
The 18 year wait was long, but definitely worth it. The band has not lost their touch nor their unique style, and delivers here a heavy track with a irresistible groove and a small, scary truth hidden beneath it. These old dogs don't need new tricks, the old ones works just as well today as in the 90's.

34. Civil War - Gods And Generals
Sabaton 2.0 may be the typical, almost predictable self as always, but "Gods And Generals" does deliver a great assault. A classic power metal tune that is infectious, kind of cheesy, but oh so good. A grand strike that leads the band one step closer to winning the war.

33. Stratovarius - My Eternal Dream
I feel like I was one of few that felt like "Eternal" was kind of a let down (it is still a great record though), but as the full blood professionals as they are, Stratovarius does produce at least one amazing track per album. "My Eternal Dream" is classic Stratovarius all the way through, just how we like it.

32. Teramaze - Delusions of Grandeur
Teramaze is getting closer and closer to becoming one of my absolute favourite bands, mostly thanks to the fact that they keep releasing great albums and songs. "Delusions of Grandeur" is beautiful, technical, and epic all at the same time. A wonderful experience that I can enjoy all day long.

31. Agnostic Front - Old New York
Punk is more of my dad's style, but I have a good eye for the genre from time to time, and Agnostic Front delivered a nice track in classic punk spirit. It is short, anarchistic, and has some humour and truth in it. Those were the days.

30. Queensrÿche - Hellfire
It feels so good that the band is back to basics, back to the things we want them to play. "Hellfire" is so incredibly epic, and it raises the suspense for every second it runs.

29. Between The Buried And Me - Memory Palace
The guys in BTBAM never ceases to amaze me. "The Coma Ecliptic" was one of the best concept albums this year, and while it is hard to pick one certain track to define the album, "Memory Palace" is the one that sums it up the best. BTBAM magic from start to finish.

28. Black Space Riders - Run To The Plains
There is something with Black Space Riders and their music that is simply stunning, making them one of the most interesting progressive stoner metal bands right now. Absolutely love the groovy bass and the build up in this fantastic 10 minute track.

27. Gloryhammer - Universe On Fire
So many power metal songs on this list this year, but I am not surprised at all. Because just like almost every other band in the genre, Gloryhammer delivers a great assault that just makes everyone bang their heads, scream their lungs out, and get ready to beat up a chaos wizard or two. For the kingdom of Fife!

26. Moonspell - Breathe (Until We Are No More)
This opening track from "Extinct" is one of the strongest openings this year, and no wonder that, because Moonspell sets the bar high with a beautiful, heavy, oriental track that explodes into a chorus that is larger than life. A wonderful start to a wonderful album.

25. Lamb of God - Footprints
It is classic Lamb of God to the core, but somehow, it feels rejuvenated. This track crushes the opposition while also maintaining a cool melody to it. The riffing here is just so well thought of, and the lyrics are as interesting as it gets (just like in the rest of "VII: Sturm Und Drang"). Seems like Randy's time in prison got him some great inspiration.

24. Leprous - The Flood
I could not fully comprehend the latest Leprous offering, but I did take a great liking to "The Flood" fairly early. It may be slow and steady, but it shows how unique and special this band really is. The mood and instrumentation is stunning, and the vocal performance is just magnificent. "The Congregation" was a let down, but "The Flood" made up for it a little.

23. Halestorm - I Am The Fire
What's this? A Halestorm song here? You might be surprised, and I agree that the band in its whole is mostly mediocre mainstream hard rock. However, thanks to Lzzy Hale, the band does shine from time to time. "I Am The Fire" is a strong ballad that shows off just how good Lzzy is. She is seriously one of the coolest chicks in metal right now.

22. Mustasch - Down To Earth
"Testosterone" may have been a different Mustasch experience, but the highlight "Down To Earth" is a future classic for the band. Great speed, roaring vocals, and a ultra catchy chorus that matches up with some of the band's best songs. Does not get any manlier than this.

21. Cain's Offering - The Best of Times
Being the only super group that actually delivered a fantastic effort, Cain's Offering impressed me a lot with its happy and catchy power. I find it interesting that Jani Liimatainen, former founder of Sonata Arctica, made a song that would fit right in to any Stratovarius album, and be one of the highlights (could be that Kotipelto strengthen that feeling, but could not really care less).

20. Fear Factory - Regenerate
It is so difficult to just chose one song from the amazing "Genexus", but "Regenerate" has stuck with me the most since the release. The crushing riffs, the epic chorus, and the grim lyrics. All of these things makes "Regenerate" a really memorable tune that should not be missed.

19. Finsterforst - Zeit Für Hass
Every year, I find several bands I have never heard of that catches my attention with stunning music. Finsterforst was one of those bands, and just listening to "Zeit Für Hass" is all the evidence I need to convince any other to listen to them. Beautiful folk/death metal song that impress with strength, brute force, and epic choir chanting.

18. Kiske/Somerville - City of Heroes
Remembering how disappointing the debut was, I had little to no expectations of Kiske/Somerville's second album. One listen to the title tracks, and all the doubts I had before was washed away. It is not original, but the power and passion in it is overwhelming, showing the true potential of both Michael and Amanda.

17. Paradise Lost - Return To The Sun
It has a length of 5 minutes and 43 seconds, but the slow, melancholic mood makes it feel like "Return To The Sun" goes on forever, and that is certainly not a bad thing. The band is back at their doom roots, and delivers a awesome experience that sounds so simple, but oh so genius.

16. Kamelot - Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)
The symphonic power that is showed on this track is just incredible. Kamelot pulls out all their tricks in the vocal department, and serves us a grand spectacle worthy of the band's reputation. This is no lie, this song is great.

15. Blind Guardian - The Holy Grail
There is no band like Blind Guardian that can create such heavy power that is also as infectious as a deadly virus. "The Holy Grail" may has the same base recipe as "A Voice In The Dark", but why change a strategy that is not broken. It is catchy, fast, and has a great story to it. Oh, and let us not forget a Hansi Kürsch that has never been better.

14. Lightning Bolt - Dream Genie
Despite having vocals that are extremely muddled out, "Dream Genie" is all about the twitching groove that is complete insanity. There are good reasons to why this song made it all the way to Rock Band 4. Still feel sorry for the poor drums that had to be obliterated in the making of this track.

13. Jorn Lande & Trond Holter - Walking On Water
Does anybody have a more powerful voice than Jorn Lande? No matter what, he displays his full power from this epic track taken from his collaboration with Trond Holter about Dracula. No glitter as far as the eye can see.

12. Ensiferum - One Man Army
Whenever Ensiferum releases a new album, it is either a success or a failure. The title track is certainly a great one, a classic power folk metal song that packs a lot of warrior power in it. Very fitting title.

11. 6:33 - Ego Fandango
The strangely named band 6:33 has truly made a mark in 2015 with the heavy, groovy, and quirky song "Ego Fandango". It is a song that makes you get up on your feet, dance, and scream ba-da-bada baaaa-da-bada-bada-bada. Cannot get any more sillier than this.

10. Vanden Plas - The Last Fight
Just like it should be when a fantasy movie ends, the double concept album about the Netherworld ends in a grand, epic fight, and the song that displays this fight is just as grand and epic as it should be. A worthy ending to a fantastic concept.

9. TesseracT - Survival
TesseracT has been one of the leaders for progressive djent for some time now, but in "Polaris", they make things simpler, and it works surprisingly well, especially in the beautiful and addictive "Survival" that cleanses your mind with its heavy, but smooth riffs.

8. Ghost - From The Pinnacle To The Pit
"Meliora" may not be as demonic as the band's two previous album, but the bass line in this track is more evil than Beelzebub. The groove can easily summon your inner demons, while the soaring chorus turns them into angels. Really love the performances from A Nameless Ghoul, A Nameless Ghoul, and especially A Nameless Ghoul.

7. Slayer - Repentless
How many of you guys thought that Slayer would create kick ass thrash again after Hanneman died? Yeah, me neither, that is why "Repentless" was such a wonderful surprise. It has the aggression and speed that the band's early material has, but with tons of experience added to back it up. The Holt-King synergy is not perfect, but good enough for one to live fast, on high.

6. Iron Maiden - The Red And The Black
Narrowly beating "Empire of The Clouds", "The Red And The Black" has all the ingredients to be a modern "Fear of The Dark". It has the build up, the endless solos and a hooky riff that will make entire arenas sing their lungs out. I expect this to be on the set list when the band goes out on the tour this coming year.

5. Angra - Perfect Symmetry
As I have previously stated, power metal had quite a year in 2015, and so did Angra. "Perfect Symmetry" is overflowing with adrenaline, all thanks to the blasting drums, and mesmerizing riffing from the new Megadeth member Kiko Loureiro. Add a catchy chorus that you can sing along to, and you got yourself the ultimate power metal song.

4. Mechina - On The Wings of Nefeli
Mechina keeps evolving, even if they are producing new music in an inhuman pace. "On The Wings of Nefeli" is just another proof of this, mixing beautiful female vocals, carefully placed riffs, and infectious drum rhythms. A fantastic musical paradise in which you can easily get lost in its wondrous trance.

3. Judicator - How Long Can You Live Forever
It may be a slow starter, but once Judicator gets enough momentum in "How Long Can You Live Forever", it becomes a complete juggernaut of a song. Telling about the down side of immortality, Judicator makes an amazing job in capturing the listener both lyrically and musically. Do not miss out on this band.

2. Enslaved - One Thousand Years of Rain
It seems that Enslaved can succeed in the most unthinkable ways, like in this 8 minute beauty. Starting with a thrashy acoustic riff, it later transform into a magnificent progressive track with tons of layers and depth. "One Thousand Years of Rain" takes almost the entire Enslaved discography, and bakes it into one, meaty track. Simply amazing.

1. Atlas Losing Grip - Ithaka
It is hard to imagine a skate punk band to create a 11 minute saga about ancient Greece, but Atlas Losing Grip did just that to close out their fantastic album "Currents". "Ithaka" is a amazing piece with perfect execution. The band sets the moods and speeds perfectly, and manages to make this mastodon of a song versatile and fun. That acoustic guitar is just incredibly beautiful. A surprising, but most deserving, winner of this category.

As you see, a lot of great music this year, but I bet you have other favourites. Let me know about them, either here or on Twitter (@FATGreviews). Next up is the best albums lists, should be up soon enough.

Stay Metal
Robert "Sharkruisher" Andersson

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