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Best Of 2015

Top 20 Metal Albums of 2015

by Chuck Eddy

Top 20 Metal Albums of 2015

About this playlist

This subjective list of 2015’s 20 best metal albums is a mixture of veterans and rookies, traditionalists and extremists, household names and obscurities, hook-masters and avant-gardists from all over the world.

The list is framed by two new wave of British heavy metal bands that have been around since the early ‘80s -- Satan, who went away for decades then came back better than ever, and the far more famous Iron Maiden, who never left us. Raven, who’ve been around as long as Maiden and have even been known to wear hockey uniforms, fit the survivor category as well. By contrast, five bands make the tally with debut full-lengths: doom bands King Heavy from Chile and Crypt Sermon from Philadelphia; over-the-top California early ’80s-style throwbacks Night Demon; Utah power-metal outfit Visigoth, and the Denmark-born one-woman medievalist black-metal act Myrkur. There’s also Venezuela-via-Miami fusion-doom duo Cave of Swimmers, San Francisco/Portland blackened astro-thrashers Vhöl, and the ultra-heavyweight and foreboding Norwegian occultists Magister Templi, all who make the cut with their second albums.

New Jersey’s Trixter, who put out their first album in 1990 but seemed to return out of nowhere in 2015 with their best one ever, probably count as the only pop-metal band on the list. Middle Eastern-rhythmed Israel-via-Netherlands black/death metallers Melechesh; U.K. doom goths My Dying Bride; and freeform Tokyo black metal crazies Sigh have also all been around since the ‘90s. Pagan/folk/Viking/black-metal troupes Helrunar from Germany and Heidevolk from the Netherlands are a decade into their recording careers. Texas stoner rockers The Sword, whose album went Top 30 in the U.S., have made five albums since 2006; Swedish melodic black-mass archbishops Ghost, whose album went Top 10, have made three since 2010.

Which leaves German “New Wave of Psychedelic Heavy Rock” astronauts Black Space Riders, who hitched space-metal to Saharan sounds on Refugeem, an album (note its title) that only sounded more timely as 2015 progressed. Then again metal in general, and the stuff here especially, often bangs true when the world’s precariously on edge. Dig in, and pick your poison.

SatanAtom By Atom
King HeavyKing Heavy
Trixter Human Era
Cave Of SwimmersReflection
VhölDeeper Than Sky
Black Space RidersRefugeeum
Magister TempliInto Duat
The SwordHigh Country
Night DemonCurse Of The Damned
VisigothThe Revenant King
My Dying BrideFeel The Misery
Crypt SermonOut Of The Garden
Iron MaidenThe Book Of Souls

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