Guest Post: José Carlos Santos Top Ten Albums Of 2015

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As we dash towards the holidays and the end of the year Ghost Cult is feeling good about this season of giving. So we are giving our fans a chance to get to know our partners, peers, and friends  from bands in the world of music. They will chime in with some guest blogs, end of year lists, and whatever else is on their minds as we pull the plug on 2015. Today we have José Carlos Santos, who writes a lot about music, being Senior Writer for both Terrorizer and Rock-a-Rolla UK, Chief of staff for LOUD! from Portugal, shared with us his favorite 10 albums of 2015.

 

1. Solefald – World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud (Indie Recordings)

Solefald - World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud album cover 2015

 

Pushing the envelope isn’t the half of it. The first song on this truly revolutionary record is called ‘World Music With Black Edges’, and that’s exactly what it is. It should be just about all the guideline you’ll need before embarking on this journey. Black metal, electronics, Frank Zappa and African sounds, among many, many other things, are thrown into a free-flowing, astoundingly cohesive whole. In an age where having two songs that don’t sound like each other is already considered “genre-hopping”, Solefald are one of the few bands worthy of the term avant-garde.

2. Royal ThunderCrooked Doors (Relapse)

The best pure, true rock album in years, Crooked Doors sees Royal Thunder fulfill the potential they have always shown, and move up to the pantheon of the greats. It feels and sounds timeless – if you hand it to someone and say that it’s a lost 1978 classic, it’ll make the same sense as if you’ll tell them it’s 2024’s album of the year you just brought back from the future in your time machine. A great song is a great song, and they’re all great here.

 

3. My Dying BrideFeel The Misery (Peaceville)

My Dying Bride Verftet 220214-8613

My Dying Bride, by Kenneth Sporsheim

My Dying Bride are back to the masterpieces – 14 years after their last truly great record, The Dreadful Hours, Feel The Misery recaptures the tragic sorrow and the decadent grandeur we’ve always loved from them.

4. RevengeBehold.Total.Rejection (Season Of Mist)

Revenge Behold.Total.Rejection album cover

Because fuck you.

5. DødheimsgardA Umbra Omega (Peaceville)

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The other band alongside Solefald that warrants the proper use of the avant-garde tag, Dødheimsgard have given us a mysterious, shape shifting record, full of dark nuances and details that we’ll still be discovering come the time for the 2016 lists. The best thing Vicotnik’s done since ‘Written In Waters’ – and yes, I’m including ‘666 International’ in that appraisal.

 

6. Tau CrossTau Cross (Relapse)

Tau Cross 2015 band

Amebix are no more, long live Tau Cross. Not only is this the logical successor to the astounding ‘Sonic Mass’, it’s also enriched by the extra talents of Voivod’s Michel “Away” Langevin and crusty guitarists Jon Misery and Andy Lefton, all of them lead to greatness by the might of Rob Miller, who is still one of the most unique songwriters in extreme music.

 

7. Sigh – Graveward (Candlelight)

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Sometimes you’ll have to pause halfway through ‘Graveward’ and wonder how is this possible – roughly five million tracks are all going in a different direction, all at once, and yet everything makes perfect sense, there is order and flow in the middle of the craziness and chaos. Alongside Solefald and Dødheimsgard, you’ve got enough insanity this year to wreck your brain for years to come.

 

8. Therapy?Disquiet (Amazing Record Company)

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Most of you might only know Therapy?’s most popular phase, but the true essence of the band has been in their last four or five fiery, adventurous and energetic records. ‘Disquiet’ is the best of them all, a mix between instant punk-ish gratification and deep, deceptively simple songwriting that’ll allow for multiple repeat plays without a hint of exhaustion. Also, closer ‘Deathstimate’ is a serious contender for song of the year, or decade, or whatever.

9. Goatsnake – Black Age Blues (Southern Lord)

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It’s been a 15 year wait, but for each year of absence there’s a kickass bluesy riff that’ll stay in your head forever. Goatsnake just picked up where they left off, literally – the first song is called ‘Another River To Cross’, a nod to ‘Flower Of Disease’s closer ‘The River’.

10. Steve Von Till – A Life Unto Itself (Neurot)

steve von till a life unto itself

Rarely has such a subtle and generally quiet record packed such a thunderous emotional punch – the Neurosis guitarist/vocalist might present himself in the sparser, most minimalist fashion, just one man lost in the woods with an acoustic guitar, some effects and his coarse, haunting voice, but these songs will reach down into your heart and squeeze it with the force of a thousand men.

Goatsnake – Black Age Blues

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Given how many of the fallen luminaries of the black/death/grind scenes have recently recaptured their former glories with a slew of successful comeback albums it was only logical that a big name from the South was going to get in on the act. With their line-up reading like a who’s who of classic stoner and doom outfits, the mighty Goatsnake have reformed after nearly a decade away with their classic line-up intact and ready to once more blend the rough with the smooth, which they do so with aplomb on third full-length Black Age Blues (Southern Lord).

Firmly rooted in Southern culture and boasting a strong Gospel influence that filters through the songs like light through stained glass windows, the members of Goatsnake may wear their hearts on their sleeves, but they are more interested in getting your hips shaking courtesy of the bulldozing riffs of guitarist Greg Anderson, whose day job is making people feel sick with Sunn 0))). The sonic waves are nowhere near as punishing as those emitted by that fearful outfit, but they certainly pack a punch. Opening track ‘Another River to Cross’ begins with the gentle sound of trickling water before a gigantic riff appears out of nowhere which the rhythm section instantly lock into for a stately march through the heat haze. Next track ‘Elevated Man’ is more upbeat, with elements of classic rock flaring up around the more standard stoner refrains, especially in the instantly hummable chorus.

The good-time vibes continue with ‘Coffee and Whisky’ which stomps along happily, aided by Anderson’s effortlessly shifting fuzzy riffs and another catchy chorus. The basic percussion adds to the frill-free atmosphere and all seems at ease until the power builds to a monstrously heavy level to close the song, indicating that the band are not interested in playing it safe. Things get even better on the pure NOLA-worshipping headbanger of the title track which the members of Eyehategod will surely be kicking themselves upon hearing for not thinking of it first. The sludge gets even thicker on ‘House of the Moon’ which sounds like it was grown in the New Orleans swamp and fed nothing but BBQ and liquor. The backing vocals from Dem Preacher’s Daughters give it a veneer of class, but not by much.

The band turn their attention away from genre lyrical tropes on the nod-along stoner jaunt of ‘Jimi’s Gone’, an ode to Hendrix that even features a brief guitar solo from Anderson. The soaring backing vocals and harmonica perfectly compliment proceedings and act as the perfect upper to the somewhat downbeat feel of ‘Graves’, which follows. The album finishes strongly with the heavy as molasses march of ‘Grandpa Jones’ which comes close to doom metal perfection, aided once more by superb backing gospel vocals before the slithering, sinister ‘A Killing Blues’ plays us out.

Clearly the time away and experience in other bands has done the members of Goatsnake the world of good. All four of them put in a stellar shift throughout Black Age Blues, from the measured percussion of Greg Rogers, the pulsing bass of Guy Pinhas and of course the fuzzy axe of ol’ Greg. However the plaudits must go to vocalist Pete Stahl, who not content with having pioneered hardcore with Scream back in the 80s, has just staked a claim for being one of the finest singers of today. His clear, soulful tones elevate the songs above the rest of their stoner/doom brethren and his vocal lines will lodge in your head for days after.

An excellent comeback album from a band that has been away for far too long. Let’s hope they decide to keep this motor running for a little longer this time around.

 

8.5/10

Goatsnake on Facebook

 

JAMES CONWAY