Favorite Albums of 2015
- Black Fast Terms of Surrender
Saint Louis thrash metal masters Black Fast released Terms of Surrender, their second full-length album, in August of 2015. Every time I put the CD in my car stereo or on my iPhone it plays on repeat for a while because whenever I feel like changing to a different artist, the track that is currently playing tickles my eardrums with a catchy riff and I’m compelled to keep listening at least until the end of the song. There are only certain artists that have that effect on me, and Black Fast has surely become one of them. The slick guitar riffs and vicious drumming set the tone on tracks like “To Propagate the Void”, “Tongues of Silver” and “I Conspire”, welcoming the shrieking vocals to join in when the time is just right. Check out Damnation Magazine’s photos from the Terms of Surrender CD Release show at the Firebird here.
- Gorod A Maze of Recycled Creeds
French progressive/tech death quintet Gorod continued to stimulate my auditory system with their 2015 release, A Maze of Recycled Creeds. Piano intros, frenzied guitar solos and groovy bass interludes meet seamlessly with insane drum patterns and intense harsh vocals on the album’s ten tracks. The band’s signature neck-breaking time changes stay in tact, often shifting from brutal death metal blast beats to jazz-influenced melodic pieces that lead you further into the meat of the song.
- Marty Friedman Inferno
Guitar virtuoso Marty Friedman‘s first Prosthetic Records release Inferno is stacked with well-known rock & heavy metal artists, featuring the dynamic acoustic guitar-wielding duo Rodrigo y Gabriela on “Wicked Panacea”, Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom contributing guitar and vocals on “Licanthrope” alongside Canadian rock vocalist Danko Jones, and Dave Davidson of Revocation contributing guitar and vocals on “Sociopaths”. Playing drums on the album is Anup Sastry, known for his solo album “Ghost”, his work with progressive metal bands Skyharbor (2011-2015), Intervals (2011-2015) and Monuments (2015-present) and serving as Jeff Loomis‘ touring drummer. Click HERE to read a song-by-song description by Marty himself.
- Scale the Summit V
I’ve been a huge fan of Scale the Summit since I was first introduced to Carving Desert Canyons in 2009. Using guitars to hit melodies that vocalists are often used for, they are extremely talented in song-writing as well as teaching guitar lessons to their legion of fans. The latest album, V, is another heavy, technically melodic glimpse into the skill and charisma that is sometimes forgotten about in such an aggressive genre of music. Finger-tapping segments are in abundance as the band expands on their creative techniques while maintaining structure.
- CHON Grow
Much like Scale the Summit, CHON‘s technical, jazzy approach to instrumental jams continues to impress on their first major-label release Grow, spanning 35 minutes and experimenting with refreshingly clean vocals for the first time on songs like “Can’t Wait” and “Echo”. On March 18, 2014 I saw the youngsters open for fellow Sumerian Records artists Animals As Leaders and After the Burial, alongside drummer, multi-instrumentalist, composer & producer Navene Koperweis (ex-The Faceless, Fleshwrought) at Summit Music Hall in Denver, Colorado. They are just as talented charismatic live at their young age as demonstrated on their self-released recordings. Their first studio release is another step forward for a band whose career in the music industry is still manifesting.
- Mestis Polysemy
Following Mestis‘ 5-song EP in 2012, Animals As Leaders guitarist Javier Reyes released his debut full-length album Polysemy through Sumerian Records album in November of 2015. Sumerianrecords.com notes: “The new full length album, Polysemy, is a ten track offering showcasing Reyes’ vast musical diversity and features an intriguing variety of instrumentation and assistance by highly acclaimed musicians (Matt Garstka also of Animals As Leaders, Joe Lester of Intronaut, and Mario Camarena and Erick Hansel of CHON).” Djenty vibes mesh with somber interludes and joyful bridges throughout the album as it flows together smoothly. It’s as if the album is one long journey from the vast Great Plains through the treacherous Rocky Mountains to the calming waves of the Pacific Ocean, telling a story along the way. Take a listen and zone out for a bit.
- Encircle Lost Chronicles
Encircle is another band that I got into a few years ago after discovering a whole bunch of bands on either technicaldeathmetal.org or getmetal.org under the instrumental tab. Their first album had a lot of absolutely crushing parts that left me head-banging again and again. Their newest album Lost Chronicles adds harsh vocals to the mix on four of the tracks, while also including the instrumental versions of each at the end of the album as well. I love this band because I can head-bang along to the brutally groovy breakdowns and feel inspired to get shit done as I do so. I work at a call center based on performance stats as my day job so something a bit more upbeat and groovy that I can rock out to and decompress stress to between phone calls is vital when dealing with demanding customers for 40 or more hours per week.
- Oroborous Emanations
It has been four long years since Glorification of a Myth, but Ouroboros has returned with a new album that has made the wait well worth it. Easily the heaviest album on this list, Emanations has lil something of every fan of death metal. If you like progressive metal bands Augury, Obscura and Beyond Creation you will enjoy the bass lines that creep up from beneath the guitars and drums. If you prefer symphonic metal along the lines of Septicflesh, Rotting Christ and Melechesh, you will appreciate the arrangements of the FilmHarmonic Orchestra of Prague, delivering strokes of brutality, complexity, and beauty to the album. Emanations is the second LP released by Australian death metal band Ouroboros, and they have delivered their strongest effort yet.
- Battlecross Rise to Power
Battlecross continue to conquer the land with a fast, heavy arsenal of songs on 2015’s Rise to Power. Following their successful runs with Mayhem Energy Festival in 2013 and Winter Warriors Tour alongside Wretched and War of Ages in 2014, the Michigan metallers focused their attention to the new album, recording at Audiohammer Studios with producer Jason Suecof (The Black Dahlia Murder, Job For A Cowboy) at the helm. From Metalblade.com: “Building on the blistering sounds of sophomore release War Of Will (2013), it is a darker, more aggressive and tighter record, catchy without pandering, packed with face-melting solos and with every track they push their hunger to empower the masses to the forefront.” The band began promoting the new album in support of GWAR on their 30 Years of Total World Domination trek alongside Butcher Babies. Currently, Battlecross is wrapping up the 2nd Winter Warriors Tour, supported this time by Necrogoblikon, Havok and St. Louis’ Black Fast. Check out Damnation’s most recent interview with Battlecross here.
- Periphery Juggernaut : Alpha – Juggernaut : Omega (Double Disc)
Misha and the gang’s long-touted concept release finally arrived in 2015 as a double album, Juggernaut : Alpha and Juggernaut : Omega, spanning seventeen tracks filled with groovy 3-guitar djent assaults and vocalist Spencer Sotelo’s extensive harsh growling-to-clean singing style, incorporating samples from guitarist Jake Bowen’s recent experimentation with electronic music while powerful bass lines and off-time drum patterns further cement the sound Periphery has become known for since their debut self-titled album. Exclaim! Magazine‘s Calum Slingerland wrote that “Alpha is the brighter and longer disc of the two, varied in its execution by walking a line between challenging, progressive moments and more accessible fare,” while Omega is the “yin to Alpha’s yang,” highlighted by “the jerky chugging of “The Bad Thing,” the thrashy “Graveless” and the slow-burning “Hell Below,” which comes complete with a tasteful jazz-fusion outro.”
- Lamb of God VII: Sturn und Drang
- Sleep Terror Unihemispheria
- The Sword High Country
- Modern Day Babylon The Ocean Atlas (EP)
Favorite Concerts of 2015
- Full Terror Assault Festival Hog Rock Campground, Cave-in-Rock, IL
An extreme metal festival within 3.5 hours of Saint Louis featuring camping for a weekend in the woods? Oh, AND Bring Your Own Booze?!? Fuck yeah! Headliners included Starkill, Iron Reagan, Valient Thorr, Nashville Pussy and Terrorizer on Day 1; Noisem, Gruesome, Revocation and Obituary on Day 2; and Fulgora, Misery Index, and Napalm Death on Day 3. Artists should start being announced for the next FTA Fest soon! Visit www.fullterrorassault.com for more info!
- Marty Friedman & Exmortus Fubar, St. Louis
Exmortus left me standing with my jaw on the floor of the venue after just about every song as they shredded their way to my metal-loving heart. Then, Marty Friedman entertained the large crowd of fans who came out of the woodwork to support the guitar master on his first Saint Louis show tour in support of his solo project. Check out Damnation Magazine’s photos from the show here.
- Septicflesh w/ Moonspell & Deathstars The Riot Room, Kansas City
Prosthetic Records surprised Damnation Magazine with an offer to interview Septicflesh in Kansas City as a result of our successful interview with Skeletonwitch last year. Christos (guitar/vocals) was very personable in the interview, and the band destroyed The Riot Room later that night. Click here to view Damnation Magazine’s photos from the show.
- Testament, Exodus, Shattered Sun Pop’s, St. Louis
There’s not much to explain about a lineup like this one. This was my first time ever seeing Testament, and I hadn’t seen Exodus in several years. The opener, Shattered Sun, also rocked the house and I look forward to seeing them again in the near future.
- Angel Vivaldi Fubar, St. Louis
Guitar viruoso Angel Vivaldi came to Fubar and shreded our faces off while Necronomicon headlined in the room next door. From the light show to the musicianship, it was a show I never wanted to end.
- RATATAT The Pageant, St. Louis
While they might not be metal, RATATAT is one of my favorite music duos. Two white dudes create ambient, groovy beats with guitar, drums and samples. Their music offers a nice break from metal music, and the visuals they used during their live performance were out of this world.
- Royal Thunder & The Sword The Ready Room, St. Louis
Hell of a good show and a great crowd for a rainy Sunday night in Saint Louis. Royal Thunder‘s singer has an amazing voice and she knows how to put everything into her performance. The Sword entertained the large crowd as well with a good mix of old songs and new. This was my first show at The Ready Room in the Grove neighborhood, and not that I’ve been there I can’t wait to see more metal shows.
- Motorhead, Saxon, and Crobot The Pageant, St. Louis
I had to go see the legendary Motorhead headline in Saint Louis for what we now know was the last time ever. I had never seen the Lemmy and crew live before, and in my heart I knew that I had better go because it may be the last chance to see a legend in the flesh. I had seen Saxon earlier in the year with Judas Preist so I skipped their set. Crobot was fucking awesome live. Rest in peace Lemmy!!! \m/
- Slipknot & Lamb of God Riverport Amphitheater, St. Louis
The amphitheater was packed for the St. Louis date of the Summer’s Last Stand Tour, also featured Motionless In White & Bullet For My Valentine (whom I did not watch). The show was even more crowded than the Incubus & Deftones show a week prior. Slipknot always entertains and Lamb of God played a few crushing tunes from their latest album VII: Sturn und Drang.
- Sanctuary Fubar, St. Louis
Sanctuary, featuring Warrell Dane from Nevermore, released their first album in 25 years in 2014 and they came through Fubar on October 11, 2015. Check out Damnation Magazine’s interview with Warrell here and our pictures from the show here.
- Judas Priest & Saxon The Family Arena, St. Charles (St. Louis)
- Andrew W.K. Firebird, St. Louis
- Within the Ruins, Fubar, St. Louis
- Alice In Chains The Pageant, St. Louis, MO