|Round's Favorite 101 Albums of 2015|
These are my favorite records of the year, ranked in order of my enjoyment. I hope you guys had a great year and have a wonderful 2016!
(Genre: Neoclassical/Dark Ambient/Doom Metal) An interesting album full of equally relaxing and perturbing neoclassical, focusing on brooding cellos and moody violins. Best Song: "Executioner"
Below the Hengiform
(Genre: Death-Doom Metal) Cavernous death-doom metal with sprinkles of black metal about what is called a "Malthusian catastrophe", which is when human population grows much faster than agricultural production, which would eventually cause a return to the hunting and gathering lifestyles of old, somehow. Best Song: "Slouching Equinox"
(Genre: Ambient/Minimal Techno/IDM) Minimalistic ambient electronic with some sprinkles of techno and IDM here and there. It's pretty tranquil and pleasant to hear, as it should be. Best Song: "The Three Sides Of Audrey And Why She's All Alone"
(Genre: Ambient/Minimal Techno) Pretty interesting ambient record here, as it manages to cover some ground in terms of textures and emotions explored. Best Song: "Bitter"
Beauty Behind the Madness
(Genre: R&B/Pop) Oh, he sold out. It's not like making catchy pop and singing about undisclosed drugs and nameless women was ever his thing, right? Best Song: "The Hills"
The Shape of Colour
(Genre: Progressive Metal) Intervals is one of the only bands of this style that I can get into. The songs here are vivid, technical, and fun, and they're really the best in the business at this style. Best Song: "Sure Shot"
(Genre: Post Metal/Sludge) The exciting new project from ex-Whirr vocalist Kristina Esfandiari, who turns in a typically great performance surrounded by wonderfully alive instrumentation. Best Song: "King Of Swords"
The Fires Courting The Sea
(Genre: see description) Solid hardcore-tinged screamo Best Song: "The Water Is The Color Of The Sky"
(Genre: see description) Solid hardcore-tinged screamo  Best Song: "Parellels"
(Genre: Pop-Punk/Indie/Emo) They're not really doing anything that different musically from a lot of bands of this style out there, but the execution and emotion behind it sets it up really well. "Corrigan" is of particular note to me. Best Song: "Corrigan"
Close Eyes To Exit
(Genre: Glitch-Hop/Downtempo) Brooklyn hip-hop tinged electronic music that's engaging and intimate from start to finish. Best Song: "Light Of The Harvest"
|90||Ego Ella May|
(Genre: Soul/R&B/Trip-Hop) Quick, but great, EP from a woman who's name you should remember. This certainly has me excited for an LP from her if and when that occurs. Best Song: "Tea & Sympathy"
|89||Silence Lies Fear|
Future: The Return
(Genre: Melodic Death Metal) Sweet melodeath with pianos and stuff. The production makes you think it'd be soulless since it is pretty clean, but it's got noticeable emotion and energy and doesn't sound like it got castrated. Best Song: "Beyond Reality"
|88||City and Colour|
If I Should Go Before You
(Genre: Acoustic Rock/Blues Rock) A pretty sweet rebound for Dallas Green, who definitely plays his bluesiest numbers on this record. Best Song: "Mizzy C"
Heart of Akamon
(Genre: Pagan Black Metal, Folk Metal) It's kind of safe, but this is a professionally done record that features influences from the culture of Native Americans, which is interesting in and of itself. Best Song: "The Serpent Tradition"
(Genre: Black Metal/Post-Rock) Really solid black metal with some nice post-rock sections interweaved. The vocalist is phenomenal on this, I mean he really takes them up a notch. Best Song: "Endlos"
Fashion Week (Instrumentals)
(Genre: Angry Hobo Instrumental Hip-Hop) J E N N Y D E A T H W H E N Best Song: The first "Runway E"
(Genre: Ambient Techno, Microhouse) This sounds cold, not in a lifeless way, but rather in a mesmerizing and wondering way. Really gorgeous stuff. Best Song: "Gaunt"
|83||Pusha T |
King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude
(Genre: Hardcore Hip-Hop/Gangsta Rap) Pusha comes through with a really consistent and occasionally brilliant precursor to King Push, which I'm personally very excited for. Best Song: "M.P.A."
(Genre: Trap) I know Future occasionally wears that extra chromosome, but for the most part this album is pretty well put together, especially sonically and aesthetically. It, on purpose or otherwise, portrays a sense of detached, nihilistic moral depravity, and it's all the better for it. Best Song: "Slave Master"
(Genre: Trap) YOU WAS RUNNIN UP THE COURT SHOOTIN SHOTS AT THE NET, I WAS RUNNIN UP IN SPOTS WITH THE GLOCK ON BISSONET Best Song: "Thirteen"
|80||Steve Von Till|
A Life Unto Itself
(Genre: Indie Folk) Pretty solid folk album from the lead singer of Nuerosis. It's actually much better than I would've thought, and manages to be pretty dynamic despite it usually consisting of just an acoustic guitar and Till's voice. Best Song: "Birch Bark Box"
Shadow of a Doubt
(Genre: Trap) This year has been pretty sweet for trap music, and Gangsta Gibbs gives you one of the very best with this hard-hitting record, proving that he's not slowing down for anything. Best Song: "Extradite"
(Genre: see description) They call it "stoner emo", but it's really just some psychedelic rock swamped with shoegaze. It doesn't mean it's not great stuff though, as "Lossed Over" is still one of the tracks of the year. Best Song: "Lossed Over"
|77||Dragged Into Sunlight / Gnaw Their Tongues|
(Genre: Sludge Metal/ Black Metal) Gnaw Their Tongues will appear later on this list, as Mories has had a great year. It's a pleasure to say that Dragged Into Sunlight are back and still righteously pissed off, as the instrumentation on this collaboration is excellent. Best Song: "Absolver"
If You're Reading This It's Too Late
(Genre: Cloud Rap/R&B/Trap) Honestly, I think this is my favorite project of Drizzy's. It has something that the others don't, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Best Song: "Know Yourself"
(Genre: see description) Rancorous blackened crust punk mixed with dirty sludge metal. Nothing too amazing, but incredibly solid nonetheless. Best Song: "Glowing Wounds"
So The Flies Don't Come
(Genre: Abstract Hip-Hop) This is what happens when you mix Earl and Aes. Probably my favorite project from him so far, as he sounds so confident and comfortable within this production. Best Song: "Going No Place"
(Genre: see description) Really fuzzy sludge/drone/stoner metal all the way from mother Italy. The band really is consistent as can be, as this is just as good as their other stuff. "Temple"
Apex Predator - Easy Meat
(Genre: Grindcore/Deathgrind) These buncha geezers shouldn't be playing stuff this intense. They're all near 50, but they sound like they're 24 on this record, which manages to be relentless when it really has no business being so. Best Song: "Stunt Your Growth"
Things That Can't Be Undone
(Genre: see description) Really nice old-timey country from one of the most consistent and charismatic men in the business. "S Lazy H" is absolutely wonderful. Best Song: "S Lazy H"
(Genre: see description) Punky post-hardcore that sounds sort of like Self Defense Family but not exactly. Some nice grooves on here, plus flower puns lel Best Song: "Learning To Die"
Songs of Lament
(Genre: Crust Punk/Sludge Metal/Grindcore) This EP immediately grips you and shakes you like a dog does to a rabbit. It's fast, but it can get really slow and that's oddly where it's best. Best Song: “Crumbling”
(Genre: Crossover Thrash/Sludge Metal) Balls-to-the-wall crossover thrash from the DC area. Pretty much every song on here is the same quality of intense, ferocious crossover except for "Alleviate" which is half sludge metal. Punishing stuff indeed. Best Song: "Alleviate"
|67||Ghost of a Dead Hummingbird|
(Genre: Screamo) So yeah it's not the most original skramz, but man is it gorgeous. Those horns on "If You Need A Place To Stay" are absolutely wonderful. Best Song: "If You Need A Place To Stay"
(Genre: Hardcore Punk/Queercore/D-Beat) While it's not that original from a songwriting standpoint, it's the absolute raw emotion on display here that really makes it a great demo. Best Song: "Outcast Stomp"
Talk To Strangers
(Genre: see description) Instrumental boom-bap that sounds like it was born straight from Philly but is actually from Helsinki of all places. not for those who trust whitey Best Song: "Sharkitekt"
Captain of None
(Genre: Experimental Electronic) So, she finally added vocals, and while those are nice, the main draw is still her musicianship, especially with the cello. Best Song: "Lighthouse"
|63||Rafael Anton Irisarri|
A Fragile Geography
(Genre: Drone/Ambient) Rafael is back with another blanketing and beautiful drone project, one just tailor made for those days you just want to lay in bed and drift away. Best Song: "Secretly Wishing For Rain"
(Genre: Grindcore/Black Ambient) One of the weirder albums I've heard this year. It's like if a grindcore record got fed through a dungeon-like black metal production job, and split itself down the middle with really eerie dark ambient. Best Song: "E-Waste"
(Genre: East Coast Hip-Hop/Boom-Bap) In which Slum Village turn back the clocks a couple of decades and recapture some of their magic in the process. It's very consistent, and all of the guest spots on here really tear it up. Best Song: "Where We Come From"
You're Better Than This
(Genre: Indie Rock/Noise Rock) I love Pile's mix of indie rock with noisy hardcore, because they just do it so good that it's hard not to appreciate. "Touched By Comfort" is the best example from this, especially because of those vocals. Best Song: "Touched By Comfort"
(Genre: Doom Metal) I still can't wrap my head around how dynamic and monolithic this album is with just a bass guitar and some drums. Although not much about the "Judgement" tracks do much for me, the two "Suffocation" tracks are incredible to say the least. Best Song: "Suffocation, A Drowning"
(Genre: Experimental Folk/Doom/Electronic)This was my first taste of Chelsea Wolfe. I don't exactly know why I waited so long to listen to one of her records, but I suppose you have to start somewhere. If this album is any indication at all of her previous works' quality, I'm definitely going to check out more of her. Best Song: "Grey Days"
(Genre: Symphonic/Doom Metal) If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: There is no such thing as "alien metal". However, if that term had to be used to describe one album, it would be this. They created their own language for this thing. If anything, these guys are dedicated to their craft. Best Song: "Abym"
Ballin' Like I'm Kobe
(Genre: Trap/Drill) In honor of his late friend, Jacobi "Kobe" Herring, G Herbo crafts a personal, charismatic, fun, intense album that has just as many intimate, personal tracks as it does bangers. Herb is one of the best out of the Chicago rap scene, which is severely underrated and overlooked in and of itself. Best Song: "100 Days, 100 Nights"
White Reaper Does it Again
(Genre: Garage Punk) I guess since Arctic Monkeys decided to drop any semblance of punk that this is a good substitute. There's some infectious synths and choruses on here, all put through a garage-punk filter with a perfect production job for this style. Fun stuff. Best Song: "Sheila"
(Genre: see description) An unsettling mix of ambient and dark jazz with a predictably foggy aesthetic make for one of the more interesting records from the year. It sounds like what it implies on the tin: a stroll along a foggy shipyard or port or any other nautical dock. Best Song: "Nevalyashka"
(Genre: see description) It's minimal ambient piano classical whatever, but it's just so good. Emotions are explored well without it being all that complex musically, which I find interesting and enjoyable. Best Song: "Tea Leaves At The Bottom Of A Cup"
Mach Dich Frei
(Genre: Folk Metal) For a band that makes at least hour long albums every project, they haven't stagnated. They're still making folk metal epics with just the right amount of riffs, folk passages, and cheese that goes into making a good folk metal record. Best Song: "Finsterforst"
A New Place 2 Drown
(Genre: Trip-Hop) Archy Marshall, otherwise known as King Krule, is back with a subdued, laid-back project that is subtly intelligent and nuanced, using the aesthetic to tell a story. It's definitely not as genre-encompassing as his King Krule projects, but I'd struggle to call it "straightforward". Dope stuff. Best Song: "Sex With No One"
|50||The World Is a Beautiful Place...|
Death To New Years
(Genre: Post-Rock/Emo) I finally decided to check out TWIABP this year, just based off of what I've been told about them, and they didn't disappoint. I think this is much better than Harmlessness, though. Just the opener on this EP, which is an amazing song, hits me harder than anything on Harmlessness. Best Song: "From The Crows Nest On Fire Street"
I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside
(Genre: Alternative Hip-Hop) I'm so glad Earl finally got out of the shadow of Odd Future and decided to keep doing his own thing. Sure, it's not quite as fun as EARL, but it's a definite improvement on what he was going for on Doris, his production job on this thing is great, and his lyricism is still far above the average rapper. Best Song: "Grief"
(Genre: Synthpop/Synthwave) I don't even remember how I came across this one, but I am glad I did. At the very least, this infectious and dreamy mix of 80's synthpop and chillwave is the best album named "Abyss" from this year, which is saying something. Best Song: "Dark Beach"
Mutiny At Muscle Beach
(Genre: Hardcore Punk/Surf Punk) Night Birds drop some of their surf sound and replace it with a tougher hardcore punk shell, and it still works just as well. They're seriously one of the most consistent bands in modern punk, and everything they've released so far is pretty awesome. Best Song: "Left In The Middle"
|46||Atlas Losing Grip|
(Genre: Melodic Punk/Alternative Rock) For all of you who were saddened by Anberlin's demise, this is a record for you this year. It's like a faster, darker version of Anberlin, but still really catchy and well done. It's also the best album named "Currents" from this year, so there's that. Best Song: "Closure"
(Genre: Post-Punk/Industrial/Soul) This grew off of me a bit, but it's still pretty great. I love the experimentation present on here, and the vocalist is pretty great even though he can be a bit overbearing at times. Best Song: "In Parallax"
(Genre: Glitch/Chamber Pop) Quite the intricate album here from Christina McGeehan, as she does everything, including that phenomenal production job, all by herself. It's stuff like this that garners comparisons to Bjork, and catches Flying Lotus' attention as well. She's definitely making a name for herself, and will only continue to be on the rise. Best Song: "Heart In Need"
(Genre: Doom Metal/Post-Rock) Even though it's in a different language than my native tongue, Sorni Nai does an incredible job of telling a story through instruments and aesthetic. The story is the tale of the Dyatlov Pass Incident, a mysterious and horrific hiking accident on Kholat Syakhl. Riveting music. Best Song: "Khot"
(Genre: Jazz Fusion) Together with the Metropole Orkest, the collective of Snarky Puppy makes for some entertaining and dexterous jazz fusion, which evidently was recorded live in front of an audience. There's a nice range of emotions explored throughout the album, and it's very cool to hear how well the members play off of each other. Best Song: "The Clearing"
|41||Suis La Lune|
(Genre: Screamo) Beautiful and heart-wrenching screamo, as if anyone expected anything different. The opening minutes to this record are some of the best of any record out of the year. Is it my EP of the year? The short answer is yes. The long answer is yyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssssss. Best Song: "Different Perspectives"
(Genre: Old-School Death Metal Revival) OSDM-revival that isn't a load of derivative trite? Sign me up, my friends. This is definitely one of the best OSDM-revival albums out there, and stuff like this makes me think the revival is definitely worth defending. Best Song: "Rites To The Abduction Of Essence"
|39||Howls of Ebb|
The Marrow Veil
(Genre: Death-Doom Metal/Black Metal) "But Round, I thought you said Suis La Lune had your EP of the year!". This is technically a mini-LP you turds, so it can't be my EP of the year. It's definitely my mini-LP of the year though! It's a really strange and unconventional death/doom/black metal record, basically using many of the genres vices as strengths. And it works, really well. Best Song: "Iron Laurels, Woven In Rust"
|38||Lianne La Havas|
(Genre: Neo-Soul/R&B/Acoustic Folk) This right here is half catchy and smooth neo-soul, half gorgeous acoustic folk. She got nominated for a Grammy for this, so at least they got one thing right, even when she loses to The Weeknd or somebody. "Good Goodbye" brings the feels harder than any other song for me this year. Best Song: "Good Goodbye"
One Day This Will End
(Genre: Melodic Hardcore) Searching for melodic hardcore after Manners' breakup is a bit depressing, because I loved those guys. Still though, Svalbard is really good in their own right. It's female-fronted, pissed-off, and sometimes even beautiful and moving. The passion heard here is flaring from every single note, and it makes it an absolute joy to listen to. Best Song: "Disparity"
(Genre: Progressive/Psychedelic/Stoner Rock) I'm not the biggest fan of stoner rock nowadays. It just kinda bores me. That being said, Baroness' new album really breaks that mold for me, as it is some of the most charismatic, fun, catchy, and passionate stoner rock records I've heard in a while. It's actually my first full listen of a Baroness record, and I can see why people love them so much. Best Song: "If I Have To Wake Up"
(Genre: Pop-Punk) Any fan of good pop-punk remembers Get Bent, and now their whole discog is available on one disc. I jammed this a ton on vacation in the OBX. It kills me that this stuff was made in the late 2000's and is still one of the better releases this year, which speaks a lot for how good this is. Best Song: "Sleeping Bag"
(Genre: Blackened Death Metal) While his previous records were pretty good, Abyssal finally put something really great together on this one. The drumming is much more fluid and the songwriting has been tightened up pretty well. The album sounds absolutely thunderous with that production job, and it's in general just professionally done. Best Song: "Veil Of Transcendence"
(Genre: Lo-Fi Indie) Phil is pretty much unstoppable at this point in his career. He's already covered so much throughout his musical endeavors that it seems crazy for him to keep making fresh music. Sauna proves he can and probably always will, though, as it's a great record. It sounds intimate, with acoustic guitar, ambience, and drones permeating the songs, as well as his wonderful voice. When it's all said and done, Phil Elverum will be looked on as one of the greatest indie artists of all time, bar none. Best Song: "Spring"
(Genre: Mathcore) Suffering from Dillinger withdraw? Well, straight from the Twin Cities comes your cure in Shadowbreather. The intensity and density of the compositions are quite comparable to everyone's favorite mathcore geniuses, but they don't simply copy them. They add a grindcore-like feeling to some of the riffs, and definitely in the vocals. It's not all that long of a record either, leading to many opportunities for re-listening. Best Song: "Deaf Effort"
(Genre: Conscious Hip-Hop) It's been a good year for female emcees. Chelsea Reject is as fun and charismatic as they come, with the latent ability to drop some really great verses on a consistent basis. The guest spots here all fit seamlessly into the album, feeding off of Chelsea's confidence and backing her up wonderfully. The production is sublime, providing an excellent, smooth backdrop for her. Swell record. Best Song: "47"
The Moon Lit Our Path
(Genre: Post/Black Metal) An entirely instrumental album that allows your mind to tell the story, The Moon Lit Our Path is an engaging experience, full of great melodies, beautiful passages, and very consistent musicianship. It's second half is stronger than the first, and the first half is strong in and of itself. I really like music like this that can tell a story through instruments, because you add your own context to it. Best Song: "Dawn Breaks Over The Ruins"
(Genre: Spiritual Jazz) And here we come to the jazz album of the year, and the most aptly titled album of the year. Kamasi Washington is a name people are definitely going to remember before it's all said and done, and this album establishes him an absolute force. It's truly an incredible feat when you think of all the time spent doing this and how wonderful the final product turned out. Everyone who worked on this should be proud. Three hours long, yet incredibly accessible, The Epic is a beast, but it's one smooth beast. Best Song: "Clair De Lune"
(Genre: Trip-Hop/Experimental/Chamber Pop) Son Lux is one of the most underrated artists in electronic music today. People who like James Blake and guys like that should be all over this guy, but I digress. With this album, Ryan Lott is producing some truly awesome and interesting stuff. One of the soundoffs for this album said "There are sounds on this album I didn't know existed". I couldn't have said it better myself. Best Song: "Now I Want"
The World Within
(Genre: Trip-Hop/Lounge) For only being twenty-nine minutes long, this record is surprisingly eclectic. We have a mix of trip-hop, lounge music, jazz fusion, boom-bap, and downtempo that is some of the smoothest and most relaxing music to be released this year. The album pretty much sounds and feels exactly like its cover: beautiful and blooming. I'm definitely interested to see if he's got anything more up his sleeve after this one. Best Song: "Harlem River"
The Powers That B - Part II: Jenny Death
(Genre: Angry Hobo Rap) I'm surprised that this, being of the most hyped releases of the year, actually delivered on its hype. Albums rarely do that when the hype is that big. The album is massive, loud, in-your-face, insta-quotable, and a really good time. Basically, it's everything that a Death Grips album should be, just turned up to 11. I don't presume they're done, but if they are, they've certainly left on a great note. Best Song: "The Powers That B"
|25||Raw Poetic and K-Def|
Cool Convos In Quantum Speech
(Genre: Underground Hip-Hop) Raw Poetic is one of the most criminally underrated emcees in the game today, as any Panacea album will show you. He spits wonders over some chilled, smooth beats by K-Def that hold a very 90's feel to it. This makes it feel pretty nostalgic even though it's basically brand new. It's not that long of a record either, so the amount of times you can jam this thing at any given moment is exponential. This is one collab that works very well. Best Song: "No Difference"
(Genre: Not Pop-Punk) There was a review for this bands' opus The Blind Wink that said that even though it was just released that year, the reviewer felt as if he'd been attached to the songs for a while. I have a similar sentiment towards Predatory Headlights. The wonderful trio of "Ants + Flies", "The Butcher", which is the catchiest song about a serial murderer I've ever heard, and "Whispering Kids" is undoubtedly my trio of the year. Really awesome stuff. Best Song: "Ants + Flies"
(Genre: IDM/Glitch/Wonky) This seems to have received a pretty lukewarm reaction, and I understand why, but I myself find this record really interesting. Perhaps it may be more of an interesting listen than a solely enjoyable one, but I think that's part of its charm. Some might say it sounds soulless and directionless, but for some reason I feel as if that is intentional on Arca's part, like he's trying to make a point about how people, life, and even music could be radically altered and not even be, feel, or sound human at all, like some sort of hybrid mutant. Best Song: "Snakes"
|22||Dead in the Manger|
(Genre: Black/Doom Metal) It's advertised as black metal and grindcore, and while the latter genre is really only applicable to the drumming, it does have doom metal qualities that make it more than just a standard black metal record. The louder, faster moments are pretty good, but where the album really shines are the more subdued, sometimes even depressing sections. It's a strange one, because what you expect from the record isn't quite what you get, but what you get is really awesome in and of itself. Best Song: "Cessation Pt. 3"
(Genre: Screamo) SkramzAOTY? You bet. These guys have been one of the most consistent bands on the scene since their inception, and Self Portrait is as good as anything they've done up until this point. The production is really thick, which is an interesting choice to make, but it works out really well here, creating some truly cathartic and beautiful moments throughout. Best Song: "Satellite"
You, Whom I Have Always Hated
(Genre: Sludge/Drone/Doom Metal) I cannot stress to you enough how awesome of a song "Lurking Fear" is. Literally everything I could ever want out of this style of music is performed to the utmost perfection in that song, and with that said, it is unequivocally my track of the year. The other songs are really great as well, and this is one of the several collaborations from this year that have worked just as well in practice as in theory. Some truly venomous and monstrous metal on display from these two. Best Song: "Lurking Fear"
(Genre: Black Metal/"Blackgaze") And it's another polarizing release from a very polarizing band in Deafheaven. I get why people dislike it, but I for one find this record to be engaging and full of atmosphere, and though it does have some saddening moments, it's pretty fun too. While it's true that they essentially just stripped back and darkened up, losing some of the dynamics Sunbather possessed, it's the emotion in the playing here that makes it a winner for me. Best Song: "Come Back"
(Genre: Synthwave/Ambient Pop/"Vaporwave") I've always subscribed to the idea that the best "vaporwave" is the kind where it's barely even so. It never fully invests in the aesthetic or the ideology of the genre, but it still keeps a keen ear for the good sounds it can create. I believe this album displays that very well, with it being predominately synthwave, but still having a lovely and tactful influence from "vaporwave". The vocal melodies and synth lines are delicious, and the watery feel of the record is very addicting, making it a great listen. Best Song: "Warmspot"
(Genre: Experimental R&B/Pop/Electronic) A loud, maybe even obnoxious record to the untrained ear, No Now is a forward-thinking, absolutely addicting record that thrills from start to finish. Through a layer of noise, gorgeous melodies and insatiably catchy choruses are found, with some really good lyrics as well. It's a long one, but it manages to keep the listener fully engaged and interested throughout thanks to those aforementioned qualities. Best Song: "Off My Grid"
(Genre: Black Metal/Death Metal) Krallice is a polarizing group of dudes, which makes sense seeing as how they usually play hyper-technical black metal for twelve minutes a pop. While past releases could be taxing, this release is a digestible length, but does not skimp on great content either. The introduction of death metal into their usual concoction also works well to separate this record from albums past. It's fun, fast, and undeniably Krallice. Best Song: "Over Spirit"
|15||Gnaw Their Tongues|
Abyss of Longing Throats
(Genre: Black Ambient/Black Metal/Noise) It's a slightly more dumbed-down version of his usual stuff, but that doesn't stop it from being unbridledly venomous. The stripped down nature of the record compared to his other stuff really allows you to appreciate the subtle nuances of his musicianship more than any other. It's still filthy and violent, but now in a bit more of an accessible package that serves as a great initiation into the projects' sound. Best Song: "From The Black Mouth Of Spite"
|14||Lil Ugly Mane|
(Genre: Experimental Hip-Hop) I JUST POOPED Best Song: "Slugs"
Ghetto Beach Boyz
(Genre: West Coast Hip-Hop) Warm Brew have been carriers of the torch when it comes to west coast hip-hop for a number of years, and their hard work has paid dividends with their recent signing to Dom Kennedy's label. This record comes off as very celebratory, but in no way lazy or stagnant. It's a release tailor-made for summer, which makes the January release date a bit odd, and is in general another excellent outing from the charismatic group. Best Song: "Whispers"
|12||Self Defense Family|
Heaven Is Earth
(Genre: Post-Hardcore/Post-Punk) These guys are constantly releasing great stuff, to the point where it seems like every few months they have a new EP or LP out that are excellent, and they still generally float out of sight on this website, which is a shame. This record is a blast to listen to, and with the very post-punky take on post-hardcore full of bass and gruff vocals, it couldn't not be. The hardest working band in post-hardcore release another winner. Best Song: "Basic Skills"
(Genre: Post-Punk/Experimental) Interesting how one of the earliest releases of the year manages to be one of the best and stay one of the best throughout it. This record is most certainly a Phoenix from the ashes, using excellent song structures, catchy hooks, a marvelous production job, and just the right amount of experimentation to really bring this to new heights. Hopefully they won't be as short lived as Women were. Best Song: "Death"
|10||Mello Music Group|
(Genre: Hip-Hop) Here's a group of guys who you'd think Sput would be all over, but for some inexplicable reason are not. I mean, they added Open Mike Eagle and this still flies under the radar. Back in '12 they released a phenomenal record in Self Sacrifice, and they're back at it again with fantastic production and socially relevant lyrics. The first four tracks on this thing are basically flawless, and the rest of the record isn't too far behind it. Donald Trump could stand to listen to both "Requiem" and "PnT", to be quite honest. Best Song: "PnT"
(Genre: Death Metal) These guy started as a solid OSDM-Revival band, but this record puts them in a different pantheon than most of their contemporaries. I'm not saying they're Obliteration-level revivalists yet, but they do remind me of them in the way that they're both clearly rooted in OSDM, but have both put their own personal twist to it that makes it sound fresh. Horrendous' twist is this essentially perfect production job. Don't be surprised if you hear more death metal albums in the future produced similarly to this. Best Song: "Sum Of All Failures"
|8||Shape of Despair|
(Genre: Funeral Doom Metal) A comeback record of monolithic proportions, Monotony Fields is an emotionally resonant, expertly done funeral doom metal album. The only thing keeping it from being a 5 for me and possibly the AOTY is that the compositions themselves are pretty standard as far as funeral doom is concerned. The fact that it ranks so highly on this list despite that should lend credence to how affecting and beautiful this record truly is. Best Song: "Withdrawn"
Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est
(Genre: Technical Death Metal) A description of the lyrical content of this album on Metallum said "chaotic hallucinated introspections", which to me translates to "really bad acid trips". That's pretty much how this record sounds, and I mean this is the best way. They've garnered comparisons to Gorguts, Ulcerate, and Deathspell Omega, but the band chooses to go about their craft in an initially puzzling, yet highly rewarding, style that separates them from that trio in many ways. Really awe-inspiring stuff. Best Song: "Into The Void Eye"
|6||Nickelus F and Shawn Kemp|
(Genre: Southern Hip-Hop/Alternative Hip-Hop) At this point, Ugly can do no wrong. Nickelus F is consistent and entertaining throughout the entire record, and drops some really good bars on every song. The production is phenomenal, as if it'd be anything but, and though it is essentially a compilation, it flows like an album would and doesn't miss a beat. And seriously, why on earth are more people on this site not listening to Lil Ugly Mane? It makes no sense to ignore this man while lauding over albums made recently that can't get their style out of '94. It's gotta be super lyrical boom-bap/abstract or else it's forgotten about on this website. Best Song: "Gold Figaro"
(Genre: Post-Rock/Math Rock/Emo) When you consider that post-rock as a standalone genre has probably already met its logical conclusion, the mixture of other genres in the concoction is pretty much mandatory nowadays if you want to create a truly wonderful record. Pretend miss their post-rock with math rock, and the guitars are truly impressive on this record. The album has a focus on drumming and vocals that's not usually seen on other post-rock records, and for good reason: the drumming is marvelously jazzy and the vocals are just right for the sound. It's really a wonderful post-rock record, and the best from 2015 in the genre. Best Song: "Record Of Love"
(Genre: Downtempo/Ambient Pop) An absolutely vivid record from start to finish, Portraits paints pictures of everyday life, even if there are no lyrics in the songs. Every synth, piano, vocal line, and drum beat is like another stroke of the brush or a splash of paint on the canvas. The closer really got me the first time hearing this record all of the way through, and it might've been my closer of the year if it weren't for Thou/The Body. Basically, it's a beautiful record that just feels alive and breathing, and manages to me incredibly intimate and affecting as a result. Best Song: "Varkala"
A Curious Tale Of Trials + Persons
(Genre: Conscious Hip-Hop) You people should know that she's king now. That's what's up, and she deserves it. If you're going into this record expecting there to be R&B bridges and choruses with only a few bars per song then you're gonna be floored. Simzy's a rhymer through and through, and she makes this apparent on most every song here. The production is excellent as well, as it provides an excellent backdrop for her to spit wonders over. She's got a swagger to her that is undeniable, and provides some really good vocals when she does sing. And she's only gonna get better, folks, so keep an eye out. Best Song: "Tainted"
To Pimp a Butterfly
(Genre: West Coast Hip-Hop/Jazz Rap/Conscious Hip-Hop) No, this album is not a classic. No, this album is not revolutionary. No, Kendrick is not the hood messiah. No, this album is not in any way, shape, or form, changing the game. Do you wanna know what this album is, though? It's special to me. This was the last record I heard before I went for a long stint at the hospital due to several physical complications back in May, and the first one I heard when I came out. It's lively, fun, determined, depressing, uplifting, hard-hitting, subtle, and beautiful all at once. Looking at it objectively, this is not the best hip-hop album of the year. But I'm a sucker for sentiment more than objectivity, and as such, To Pimp A Butterfly holds the top spot for RAOTY in my heart. Best Song: "The Blacker The Berry"
Choose Your Weapon
(Genre: "Future Soul"/Experimental R&B/Jazz Fusion) And finally, the best record of the year and one that has quickly become one of my favorite albums. I really can't stress enough the endless fountain of dynamics these guys work with on any given song. Everything is played smooth and calculated, yet entirely fluid and dexterous. The vibes just come flowing forth even from the opening minutes of the record. I really would love to go to the African savannah's once in my lifetime, just to experience it. I guess for right now I have to settle for Choose Your Weapon, because this is probably the closest I'll get to frolicking with the gazelles in the grassy plains while the wind whips through my flowing locks and the rivers run clear with the purity of the moment and I ascend to a higher plane of reality than the rest of the world until that day. Best wishes to everyone, and I hope you've all had a great year! Best Song: "The Lung"