Guest Post: Atli Jarl Martin – 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 Atli Jarl Martin, promoter and digital go to guy for Eistnaflug Festival, who happily lives with his 19 computers and has a huge affection for his ThinkPads, shared his list of favorite releases of this year with us.

It’s been a strange year for me personally and a bit hard to keep up with as many releases I’ve done in recent years, Nevertheless I managed to build a list of some 70 releases which I have now filtered down to my final Top 10, whereas the top 5 releases could have all ended up in my top slot. I guess that most releases that made the cut won’t come as a surprise to anyone that knows me, but I hope that there are at least a couple that you haven’t listened to yet, and might give it a spin. 2016 is looking tremendously exciting already, first and foremost with the release of Rotting Christ’s new album Rituals early in the year. But for 2015, here goes…

 

1. Thy CatafalqueSgúrr (Season Of Mist)

Thy Catafalque sgurr album cover 2015

Definitely the most delightful surprise of 2015. Following the incredible 2011 album Rengeteg, I became a huge fan of the talent and musicianship of Tamás Kátai, as this is a one-man project, and his vast and diverse musical wizardry is way above and beyond what most other musicians present. The musical direction Tamás takes on Sgúrr is hugely different than what is presented on Rengeteg and the earlier albums, one might say colder, bleaker and harsher, where ‘f.e. Jura’, a straight forward blisteringly fast black metal track made my jaw drop, as it was wholly unexpected. I can really say the same about pretty much every track on the album, which is a phenomenal roller coaster ride through amazing variety of styles and sounds. Just listen to ‘Oldódó Formák a Halál Titokzatos Birodalmáb’, a 15:21 minute ride through a sublime variety of styles and a showcase track on just how multi-talented Tamás Kátai is. A beautiful work of art.

 

2. Lost SoulAtlantis: The New Beginning (Apostasy Records)

Lost Soul Atlantis

Yes, they fucking did it again. These Polish wizards, led by mainman Jacek Grecki, pretty much blew everyone’s mind back in 2009 with their absolutely phenomenal Immerse In Infinity album, which shared the top-slot on my list back then with my favorite, and ever so lovable Finns in Amorphis (more on them later). Lost Soul are finally back after 6 long years, but the wait was so worth it. Atlantis is every bit as fast and brutal, yet Grecki and his merry men have managed to push their music further into the technical and progressive realms, bringing you one, if not THE pinnacle of technical death metal offerings of all-times. Listening to this album leaves me dumb-struck with awe, every-single-time, such is the wizardry performed here. Perfection!

 

3. MelecheshEnki (Nuclear Blast)

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5 years after the release of the fantastic The Epigenesis album, and after a plethora of lineup changes, Melechesh return with Enki, yet another masterpiece of an album. Uncompromising as always, adhering to their sublime Middle Eastern music influenced extreme metal concoction, Melechesh apparently can do no wrong. While The Epigenesis took a tad more progressive turn, with sublimely heavy and thundering songs, Enki returns back to the faster, more intense songwriting as presented on their earlier albums, such as Emissaries and Sphynx. I was fortunate enough to finally see the band on stage last May, and the experience was mind-blowing. Among the best musical entities on the planet. Period.

 

4. AmorphisUnder the Red Cloud (Nuclear Blast)

Amorphis, by Hillarie Jason

Amorphis, by Hillarie Jason

As a very, very long time fan of the band, their current lineup, starting with their absolute best album, Eclipse (2006), almost every album since has been a tour-de-force, showcasing the enormous capacity of the bands collective skills in songwriting and musicianship, as well as being one of the hardest working bands out there, as this is their 6th full-length album in only 9 years. Under the Red Cloud very much takes up the thread from the stellar 2013 album, Circle, but the band is in absolute top-form here, as every song on the album is outstanding. Songs like ‘The Four Wise Ones’, ‘Bad Blood’, ‘Dark Path’, and the phenomenal ‘Tree of Ages’, have made the album my most heavily rotated album from the band since 2006, and there is no letting up on how often I spin it. Masterpiece.

 

5. ClutchPsychic Warfare (Weathermaker Music)

Clutch, by Evil Robb Photography

Clutch, by Evil Robb Photography

Yes indeed, here‘s another super-hard working band which has been dishing out release after release of superior quality since, well, forever. Their 2004 album Blast Tyrant is perhaps my favorite rock album of all-time, and their subsequent albums, albeit all having different qualities, none really came close to it in overall groove and fierceness, until now. Psychic Warfare absolutely hits every mark of excellence that Blast Tyrant presented. Every song is superb, the lyrics are fantastic, and the whole album pops and clicks on every beat, every groove, and infuses that good old feeling of strapping on an air-guitar and do a bit of headbanging while singing along to Neil Fallon’s often hysterically funny rants and phrases. As I write this, there are only 2 days until I see the band onstage for the first time, and the anticipation for seeing the tracks from this album presented is making me all giddy. Woohoo!

 

6. Keep of KalessinEpistemology (Indie Recordings)

 

This is an album I actually had high expectations for, specially after hearing the 2013 EP Introspection, which was the first release from the band following Arnt “Obsidian C.” Grønbech taking over the vocal duties after Thebon‘s departure earlier that year. Their first full-length album in 5 years, I was supremely happy to hear that Keep of Kalessin is very much up to the task as a three-piece outfit, and musically, the album is a healthy blend of the more commercial aspect of 2009‘s Reptilian and the earlier fierce and blazingly fast Armada (2006) and Kolossus (2008). Stand-out tracks and passages on the album are many, but the pinnacle is most certainly ‘The Grand Design’, a track that easily rivals the best of their earlier works, and was absolutely amazing to witness on stage. The band is in top-form at the moment and I can‘t wait for the successor, just hope that I won‘t have to wait 5 years for it.

 

7. George KolliasInvictus (Season of Mist)

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This master of extreme metal drumming certainly has had a busy schedule in recent years, touring and playing with Nile, as well as releasing drum lesson videos and attending drum clinics, but there were a couple of his own songs available on YouTube, rough mixed and non-vocal demos. Very cool stuff, but nothing that really prepared me for the delicious death metal assault he put together on this first solo album of his. It is a showcase of enormous death metal talent, as Kollias plays every instrument on the album, as well as performing vocals, but the album also features guest performances from many prominent musicians, such as Karl Sanders and Dallas Toler-Wade (Nile), George Emmanuel (Rotting Christ) and Efthimis Karadimas (Nightfall), to name but a few. Overall a fantastic death metal trip, modern in technicality, speed, sound and feel, blended with a healthy dose of some old school riffing, but what really amazed me the most is Kollias‘ vocal performance, which ranks among the best I‘ve heard in a long time. Highly recommended.

 

8. HateCrvsade: Zero (Napalm Records)

HateCrusadeZero

Being a very early release this year, as it came out in late January, this album has had way more spins than many other albums on my list, but it is definitely to its credit that it ends up on my Top 10 list, as the re-playability of the album is phenomenal. Mainman Adam “ATF Sinner” Buszko and his band mates strengthen the already very impressive legacy of the band and their highly energetic style of death metal getting stronger with each subsequent album. One of my favorite bands for sure.

 

9. NileWhat Should Not Be Unearthed (Nuclear Blast)

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Another album I had really high expectations for in 2015, and they were not betrayed. Nile have been on a remarkably consistent roll since the release of Those Whom The Gods Detest in 2009, followed by At the Gate of Sethu (2012) which has since then bulldozed its way to being my second all-time favorite album by the band. The band pulls no left hooks here, plowing onwards and upwards with their instantly recognizable brand of death metal mastery. Super-heavy, blazing fast and tremendously well executed, track after track just thunders through and the confidence and coherence displayed by the band is absolutely why they are one of the biggest extreme metal acts in the world today.

 

10. Malevolent CreationDead Man‘s Path (Century Media)

Aaaah, like a warm blanket, listening to a new Malevolent Creation, one of my all-time favorite bands, is always a very pleasant experience. I’ve been following these old masters almost since the beginning of their career, and despite the very turbulent history of band members, they always manage to land on their feet, providing me with that deliciously violent old-school death metal that I love so much. Dead Man‘s Path is pure Malevolence, and the band and the music sound better than they have done since the magnificent Envenomed came out in 2000. No-one can destroy this Malevolent Creation.

The Ongoing Crvsade – ATF Sinner from Hate

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Adam Buszko is also known as ATF Sinner, leader and founding member of Polish wrecking crew Hate, and he disarms from the outset with his charm, sincerity and good humour, discussing with Ghost Cult, their comeback from appalling tragedy, their pounding new album Crvsade:Zero (Napalm) and the band’s silver jubilee.

HateCrusadeZero

“The main purpose in creating the album was to open a new chapter in our biography after the tragedy in 2013, when our then-bass player Mortifier died on our tour bus after suffering a cardiac arrest.”

“Our previous drummer Hexen, who left the band a year ago, departed due to the effects of this, or that’s how I perceive it, so with two new members this is a new opening for us. We needed to rebuild, to find new people and make the phenomenon work again.”

“Working on these songs, I really wanted to cope with all the bad emotions that had gathered for a long time. It was a kind of therapy for everybody actually, working on the album and playing a few shows in the period that followed the tragedy. I’m pretty sure it influenced us as individuals, as well as the band as a whole and also the music – I can’t precisely say how as I’m not in a position to judge it for others.”

“We wanted evolution: simply to continue the feel of our previous albums and do songs that, from our point of view, were deep and authentic.”

“But the new material is more emotional for sure, more anguished and stark here and there, and exhibits the enormous shock and pain we were going through at that time.”

“It took time but, now with this album we’re ready, and I can’t wait to be back on tour again.”

 

In the immediate aftermath of Moritifer‘s death, his wife Aleksandra filled in on bass duties for a number of live shows, while former guitarist Kain has assumed that role more recently. There are no firm plans to permanently enlist another bassist, however.

“For now we’ve decided to remain as a trio, with Kain as a session musician, which suits him. For the new record we brought in Heinrich from the band Vesania, who’s a marvellous guitarist.”

“He was in the studio with us for some time and played around ninety percent of the bass lines you hear on the record. He was a sound engineer on Solarflesh… and has been a friend of the band for many, many years, so it was like asking a family member to join us for the sessions. I think he did a really great job so it proved to be a great decision.”

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The addition of former Vader sticksman Pavulon is something of a masterstroke; his powerful blastbeats and double kicks on a number of tracks absolutely stunning.

“I’m really happy he’s with us. He’s an amazing drummer, with a great technique, and I’m amazed by his attitude. When he joined us, I’d already brought some main ideas and five or six songs were already completed. Pavulon really wanted to give something from himself however (so) we worked on details in the rehearsal room and he added a style, a vibe, some arrangements that were particular to him, and he did a great job actually.”

“He did a European tour with us just prior to recording the album, a co-headliner with Kampfar, and just got better and better so I can’t wait for him to be playing on this tour. As a band we’ve been playing together a year now, the machine is becoming more perfect, so we can’t wait to bring the madness!”

“We want to release a DVD this year (to celebrate their 25th anniversary). We got an offer from Metal Mind Productions, who did our last DVD Litanies of Satan in 2004, and we’re hoping to record it around June or July. I’m really looking forward to doing it as I feel it’s an essential release, after such a long time. It is planned to be a full concert, around sixteen songs, filmed by around nine or ten cameras. It will be a pretty serious occasion showing the development of the band over the last five albums.”

 

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AS TOLD TO PAUL QUINN