Another year, another Top 40 list overflowing with desert-island-worthy recordings. Granted, you might cuddle up to Uncle Acid while I snatch up Prurient’s latest instead, but the albums we celebrate in our January 2016 issue all speak volumes to someone in the extreme metal community. And whichever favorite of yours we forgot (O Melechesh, where art thou?), surely we can all agree that Butcher Babies never had a chance.
Every year, Decibel hands forty golden tickets to some very deserving bands, while leaving even more deserving bands out in the cold. Among 2015’s other contenders, five curried nearly enough votes to make it onto our list… but only nearly. Does that mean we shouldn’t spill some love-ink for them? Hell no! Here’s the five records that tied for #41 on our Top 40 Albums of 2015.
What were your faves?
#41. Imperial Triumphant – Abyssal Gods (Code 666)
Abyssal Gods is a special record that nevertheless will only entice a very specific, discerning audience. Chaos and unease infect the fractious tempos, the fraying chords, the erratic bass lines and every noise in between. It’s not just black metal or death metal or avant garde weirdness – it’s all these at once, simultaneously ear-wringing and head-banging. Bestial aggression rattles the delicate walls of white-tower experimentalism, and somehow everything stays intact. If your life is filled with workaday white-collar politeness that demands to be violated, a spin through Abyssal Gods is probably just what you need.
#41. Publicist UK – Forgive Yourself (Relapse)
One of the most welcome surprises of my year, Publicist UK successfully blend heavy sonics with pop/wave songwriting and dry baritone chant-singing for one of the most vibrant and affecting releases of the year. The lyrics and their delivery are utter genius, and the hard-hitting melodic music enhances the mood and drive of all these songs. Almost any other year, this would have made Decibel’s Top 40 list as our token not-quite-metal album; this year, though, it had to mingle with higher profile alt-heaviness like Failure, Refused and… eh… Faith No More. If you slept on this one, wake the fuck up.
#41. Christian Mistress – To Your Death (Relapse)
If you’re ready to rock, Olympia’s Christian Mistress are ready to rock you. To Your Death is a fun-as-hell road record, one to throw on the speakers for an extended drive and feel the miles just melt to nothing. Vocalist Christine Davis has a lot to do with the good vibes all over this album, but the propulsive rhythm section and those succulent guitar parts turn these songs to absolute gold. Confession: I don’t really give a shit about most music in this style, but damn! CM bring an energy and a blend of raw buzz and careful tone consideration that elevates To Your Death into the realm of Just Great Music. I think my dad might even be persuaded to dig this record, and trust me, that’s saying a lot.
#41. Vastum – Hole Below (20 Buck Spin)
Three full-lengths into their phenomenal four year run, Vastum continue to terrorize listeners with echoing subterranean death metal. Themes of deviance, perversion and personal pain and solitude have driven the band since the beginning, and their streak shows no signs of slowing. Hole Below isn’t showy or particularly brutal – it’s the sound of spiritual deterioration and the desperation of clawing at the walls of your own reality. It’s the sound of broken people spilling the remains of their broken dreams onto the shell a broken world. It’s doom on meth. Don’t get depressed without it.
#41. Autopsy – Skull Grinder (Peaceville)
Any year that Autopsy records new material is a year to sit up and take note. Recently, that’s basically been every year, so good on those guys. Autopsy have never groped toward musical genius, unless genius means playing chords that sound exactly like the tattered, sore-addled flesh that infests their album covers. Skull Grinder makes a clear sonic divide between Side A and Side B: The first three songs are thrashy, bone-rattling, straight-ahead death metal, while the back four songs drip putrid corruption at much more languid tempos.