Guest Post: Atli Jarl Martin – Top Ten Albums Of 2015

Eistnaflug 2016 banner

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)

nile

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.

Guest Post- Bidi Van Drongelen Top 20 Heavy Albums of 2015

bidi bookings

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 Bidi van Drongelen, Dutch booker and manager who has worked with the likes of The Devil’s Blood, Saint Vitus, Ghost, In Solitude and many more. Every year a multitude of his bands get booked at the excellent Roadburn festival, and we have asked him what he feels were the best releases of 2015.

 

1. KloneHere Comes The Sun

klone album cover

Great songwriting, amazing vocals, and a crystal clear though heavy production blending prog and post metal.

 

2. Ghost – Meliora

Ghost has it all to become one of the leading melodic heavy rock bands in the world

 

3. BliksemGruesome Masterpiece

Bliksem-Gruesome-Masterpiece

If you like Metallica’s Master of Puppets of Death Angel’s ACT III….with the a raw female voice like Doro.

 

4. Royal ThunderCrooked Doors

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Great atmospheric rock album with the amazing voice of Mlny Parsonsz

 

5. TribulationChildren of the Night

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Melodies of occult rock like The Devil’s Blood drenched with a satanic black voice which reminds of Satyricon.

 

6. Chelsea WolfeAbyss

Chelsea wolfe abyss album cover

Refreshing approach of doom & drone. ART with capital A!

7. Paradise LostThe Plague Within

8. Steak Number EightKosmokoma

9. MelecheshEnki

10. EnslavedIn Times

11. ClutchPsychic Warfare

12. Thy CatafalqueSgurr

13. AmorphisUnder The Red Cloud

14. RAMSvbversvm

15. BRING ME THE HORIZONThat’s The Spirit

16. MgłaExcercises In Futility

17. BaronessPurple

18. LeprousThe Congregation

19. Graveyard Innocence & Decadence

20. Hangman’s ChairThis Is Not Supposed To Be Positive

 

Bidi Bookings online

 

Melechesh – Enki

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“Ethnic Metal” has to be one of the more problematic of sub-genres. As ill-defined as it is patronising, it generally translates to “our riffs aren’t very interesting so we break them up with two minutes of Lithuanian Polka”- the Metal With Bits approach to progression which also includes most Folk Metal, “Industrial” Metal and whatever the latest Wacky New Trend is supposed to be.

Since their second album, 2001’s Djinn (Osmose), Melechesh have been offering a genuine alternative to the usual clunky attempts at Metal Multiculturalism. Rather than adorning their Metal like garnish, their Mediterranean/Middle Eastern influences pervade their music at every level, creating a sound which is both unique and utterly sincere – as if Heavy Metal had evolved separately in the middle-east, taking influences from traditional music to create something which is both familiar to and distinct from Western Metal.

If “Ethnic Metal” is a poor fit for Melechesh’s music, Black Metal is almost as inappropriate.  The snarled vocals and trebly guitars put it superficially in that style, but the song-writing owes more to classic Thrash and Heavy Metal, filtered through the ever-present Mediterranean voice. In terms of progression, Enki (Nuclear Blast) has nothing to offer that can’t be found on their previous albums – Melechesh are clearly the kind of band who find their sound early on and then concentrate on simply doing it better, so don’t expect major changes in style here. What we should expect is delivered in spades – flawless, tight musicianship, artful song-writing and a consistently defined character.

Though not breaking any boundaries that haven’t previously been broken (if any exist in world where blending Black Metal with 90’s Shoegaze is so common as to have become a cliché), Enki is a confident, powerful and engaging collection of songs from a band with their own clearly established character, and likely to be one of the strongest Heavy Metal (with or without bits) albums of the year.

 

8.0/10

Melechesh on Facebook

 

RICHIE HR