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)

goatsnake

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.

Solefald – World Metal; Kosmopolis Sud

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If you have had any interest in the metal underground over the last 20 years or so then there’s a fair chance that you will have encountered the dark, bewildering and occasionally baffling art of Solefald.

World Metal; Kosmopolis Sud (Indie), the latest album from the Scandanavian provocateurs, is as wilfully perverse as it is artistically diverse and challenging. World Metal is an all too simplistic title for a record that covers and extraordinary palette of aural colours from thrash metal that would not go amiss on a Sepultura album through Al Jourgensen inspired electronica and nursery rhyme folk.

It really is all here. And more.

In some camps, this is supposedly representative of some kind of avant-garde genius. Not in this camp, I’m afraid. I bow to no man in my admiration for bands and artists who push the artistic and creative envelope but there is a significant difference between good and bad art and I’m afraid that World Metal is bad art. Lots of people are going to tell you that its density is somehow representative of a deeper intellectual exercise and that the impenetrability of the music is somehow evidence of artistic freedom- artists doing what they please etc etc. This is poppycock of the highest order.

The entire essence of art is that it connects: on an emotional, spiritual and human level. Wilful self-indulgence is not evidence of a higher artistic intelligence; it is evidence of hubris. And there is much hubris on World Metal. I think we need to call this out now: being diverse and idiosyncratic isn’t, in and of itself, good enough. There isn’t anything particularly big or clever at throwing everything including the musical kitchen sink at things. By contrast, it is self-regarding and, ultimately, very boring.

I’m reminded of the now infamous conversation between Harrison Ford who complained about the quality of the script for Star Wars, and George Lucas: “George, you can type this shit but you can’t say it” said the laconic actor to his director. This was, of course, the same Star Wars that went on to change movie history and get an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay.

My point? I might have got this one wrong. I don’t think I have though. Clearly for some, World Metal will be seen as quite the masterpiece, full of ideas and inspiration. Not for me though. I’ll defend to my dying breath Solefald’s right to make whatever record they want, just don’t expect me to listen to it.

 

4.0/10

Solefald on Facebook

 

MAT DAVIES