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Eric’s Top 10 Albums of 2015 (Plus 2 From Last Year!)

By Eric | December 31, 2015 10:18 am

It’s that year-end list time again. A solid year for music, let’s take a peek at what I spun the most from what was released this calendar year. As always, it’s just alphabetical, not ranked, because trying to compare albums isn’t my thing.

Clutch – Psychic Warfare
I didn’t even really get into Clutch until seeing them late in 2013, and I subsequently went and got the entire back catalog, and really liked the direction they took on Earth Rocker. This one is even better! Firebirds and Quick Death In Texas are favorites.

Finger Eleven – Five Crooked Lines
This album surprised me, both in how much the sound changed and how much I liked it. I’d been down on Finger Eleven for awhile, but once I wrapped my head around the fact that the Tip/Greyest sound wasn’t coming back, I appreciated the last couple albums a bit more. But this one doesn’t sound like those either! It’s completely different, and it works for them.

Halestorm – Into The Wild Life
Another departure from a band’s signature sound, and I dug where they went. They could have maintained the “rock girl” track and it would have been fine, but these songs are more, I don’t know, serious? Darker? Lizzy still belts it out.

Lamb Of God – Sturm Und Drang
After all of Randy’s issues and the long layoff between albums, you knew this one was going to be a rager. It didn’t disappoint. And then on the other hand, the first hint of Randy clean singing? A Chino Moreno cameo? For all the heavy, there’s some true melody here too!

Papa Roach – F.E.A.R.
I’ve liked all of Papa Roach’s albums, and I really enjoyed the electronic flair on The Connection. This one expands on that sound, and it continues to work for them. “Gravity” especially stands out because of the duet with Maria Brink, and I don’t even like In This Moment at all.

Saint Asonia – Saint Asonia
The Three Days Grace / Staind combination worked out beautifully, as Mike Mushok gets his riffs out, and its plain to see Adam Gontier was the driving force behind 3DG (their new one, Human, was nowhere near as good as their other albums with Adam). These tunes are just heavy enough (can probably thank Corey Lowery’s bottom end for some of that), but catchy enough as well. Very solid debut from the “supergroup”.

Shinedown – Threat To Survival
There’s been a lot of fan backlash to this album for some reason, and I don’t quite understand it. They tried to make Sound of Madness Part 2 with Amaryllis, and almost got there; do people really want to hear that type of stuff yet again? Threat to Survival is an evolution to be sure, but it still sounds like Shinedown, and sounds like a natural progression. Cut The Cord is as heavy as anything they’ve ever done, and then you have the more nuanced stuff like State of my Head and Thick as Thieves, and then the tweeners, like Black Cadillac (which I really dig).

Sons of Texas – Baptized In The Rio Grande
This year’s entry for “found out about them on Music Choice”, these literal Sons of Texas are trying to be the heir apparent to Pantera, with a bit more polished and radio-friendly sound, and it makes for a fun listen. The title track was the lead single and hooked me in, but the rest of the album hits pretty heavy (Never Bury The Hatchet, Pull It and Fire), there’s a couple ballads (Breathing Through My Wounds, September) and enough of that southern groove to get your head nodding (The Vestryman, Texas Trim). I spun this one quite a bit.

Will Hoge – Small Town Dreams
One of the few Tiff and I can always agree on, Will Hoge just keeps putting out consistently great albums. He leans more and more country and less and less rock with every passing release, but I’ll allow it (LOL!). They Don’t Make Em Like They Used To is a highlight, as is Guitar or a Gun.

36 Crazyfists – Time and Trauma
Five years is a long time to wait between releases, but 36CF came back better than ever. Also Am I was the first song released and is still my favorite on the record; Sorrow Sings and Time And Trauma are also standout tracks.

And then, not released this year but in my heavy rotation for 2015:

Gemini Syndrome – Lux
My friend Dave kept telling me to check these guys out, and once I finally did – WOW. It came out in 2013, so I was a little late on them. I’m not sure exactly what makes me like this record so much, but it’s got heavy, its got melody, its hooky, its got enough screaming to keep it interesting, there’s some great riffs, just a great radio-metal album. Basement, Pleasure and Pain, Babylon, and Left Of Me are my favorites. Excited to hear the new one slated for 2016.

Nothing More – Nothing More
A band I’d heard a bunch about, but took awhile to finally dive into, and boy am I glad I did. It’s got enough of that electronic edge that I like, but it’s metal enough to have your head banging. Johnny Hawkins has a unique delivery, almost shrill at times, but you can tell its 110% effort on every note. This Is The Time, Mr. MTV, The Matthew Effect, If I Were, and Jenny are top of my list.

Just missing the cut this year for various and sundry reasons:
Chris Cornell, Disturbed, The Dreaming, Five Finger Death Punch, Matthew Good, Sevendust, Tremonti, Trivium.

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