The 10 Best Heavy Metal Albums of 2015

Eduardo Ramirez of Volahn
Eduardo Ramirez of Volahn
Amanda Lopez

Another year, another flood of superb heavy metal releases by artists who are pushing the boundaries of what can be done within the confines of the genre, as well as artists who excel by simply reinforcing what we love about metal in the first place. Below are the records that accomplished both of those things in 2015.

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Courtesy of Century Media Records

10. Tribulation
The Children of the Night
The third album from this Swedish quintet effectively slams the door shut on its more humble death-metal beginnings. The Children of the Night is a hook-laden beast. The gruff vocal delivery of singer/guitarist Johannes Andersson lends a blackened, sinister edge to the catchiest metal songs this side of Mercyful Fate, with adventurous forays into psychedelia tempering the band’s increased hard rock swagger. The band is far removed from their more objectively brutal early days, but the genre is better off for Tribulation learning to love the hook.

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Courtesy of Sargent House Records

9. Mutoid Man
The sophomore effort from this collaboration featuring members of hardcore greats Cave In (guitarist/vocalist Stephen Brodsky) and Converge (drummer Ben Koller) sees its core toss aside their histories in favor of generating infectiously rocking rippers. The group’s two-to-three-minute power rock bursts are supported by sweeping riffage, Brodsky’s hearty vocal bellows, and drum smashes by Koller that rain down like a hailstorm. The angularity and chaotic time-signature changes of Brodsky and Koller’s parent bands are still present, but here they just feed the massive rock frenzy.

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Courtesy of Metal Blade Records

8. Visigoth
The Revenant King
D&D and heavy metal have a storied history of crossover appeal. This Utah act is a throwback to the days when heavy metal album covers were adorned with dragons and dragon slayers. Visigoth specializes in kick-ass wizards-and-warriors metal, with nary a tongue in cheek to be found on their debut full-length. Their hard-driving power metal is equally reminiscent of the heavier moments of ‘80s Judas Priest and current Viking metal acts like Amon Amarth, with vocalist Jake Rogers displaying Rob Halford-like charisma as frontman.

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Courtesy of Loma Vista Recordings

7. Ghost
These Swedes are known for their over-the-top band imagery, but three albums into their career they have also proved that there is substance to back up the image. The songs on Meliora retain the feel of a more Satanic Blue Oyster Cult that Ghost has cultivated on previous works, and Papa Emeritus’ melodic croons are as hypnotizing as ever. But for the first time, their music is underpinned by thick-sounding production that provides a truly heavy feel, and the band rises with the heaviest riffs they’ve generated so far.

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Courtesy of Profound Lore Records

6. Bell Witch
Four Phantoms
Dozens of bands slung records this year that were full of lurching, slow-paced funeral-doom. But few of those were memorable beyond an initial listen, and even fewer were truly great records. The dirges delivered by this Seattle duo are mesmerizing in their bleakness and even more impressive when you consider that they were accomplished with only a bass guitar and drums. The warm tones achieved by bassist Dylan Desmond on his leads lend an IMAX-sized, cinematic aura that cuts through the apocalyptic sense of dread delivered by their din.

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