Half-Way Through 2015 – The Best So Far – Part 3

Welcome to the third and final part (unless I realise I’ve missed someone off my list) of my round-up of the best albums released in 2015 at the half-way mark of the year. As I have said before, 2015 has been exceptionally strong so far and, as such, my list is quite extensive; more so than in previous years. I have therefore tried to be a little more brief in my overview reviews in order to give every album their deserved moment in the spotlight.

If you missed the previous two parts, they can be accessed here:
Half-Way Through 2015 – The Best So Far – Part 1
Half-Way Through 2015 – The Best So Far – Part 2

As always, the albums are varied across genres and range from household names to those more familiar with the heavy metal underground. So, here goes, I hope you enjoy:

Subversion ‘Animi’
Rogue Records America

subversion coverThose who know me or know my Blog will know that I’m not the biggest fan of tech/djent metal. It might surprise you to read therefore, that such a record is one of my favourites of 2015 at the half-way mark. The thing with UK band Subversion is that they do it so well and in my opinion, so much better than some of their contemporaries. Self-billed as ‘symphonic tech metal’, Subversion have hugely impressed me thanks to their winning combination of complexity, subtlety, brutality and melodiousness. ‘Animi’ is a huge album in every respect and, above all, is hugely enjoyable.

Iris Divine ‘Karma Sown’
Sensory Records

Iris Divine coverLike a few albums in this article, ‘Karma Sown’ is a slightly surprising inclusion in my list. I’d not have expected an album that merges Tool and Kings X prog with the more modern metal of Lamb Of God and even grunge, to feature among my favourites at the half-way mark of 2015. And yet, Iris Divine have managed it. The reason? It’s because the trio manage to create quality music with a modern metal attitude, atmospheric keys and huge melodic choruses. Whatever the influences may be, that’s a cocktail that can be very hard to argue with.

District 97 ‘In Vaults’
Laser’s Edge

district 97 coverIt took me a lot of time, attention and effort but my patience and stubbornness was ultimately rewarded. District 97 do not sound like anyone else thanks to their own particular brand of progressive rock/metal, which blends a myriad of styles into a cohesive whole, including rock, pop, jazz, fusion, even a smattering of classical and more extreme metal. Given time though, the subtle melodies and hooks come to the fore, meaning it is ultimately a rich and rewarding listen. As such, ‘In Vaults’ comes with a huge recommendation for open-minded fans of original and professionally-executed progressive music.

Read my full review here.

Revolution Saints ‘Revolution Saints’
Frontiers Records

Grunge rust metal surface with vignette.There had to be a melodic hard rock album featured somewhere in this series and the ‘honour’, such as it is, is bestowed to the ‘supergroup’ otherwise known as Revolution Saints. Messrs Aldritch, Castronovo and Blades have created a debut album that lit up those dark and cold January mornings with their own take on the melodic rock genre. As you’d expect, ‘Revolution Saints’ is a professionally put together melodic rock album with big AOR overtones. It has heart, integrity and, above all, a cracking bunch of memorable tunes that you’ll be humming for weeks.

Read my full review here.

Rise Of Avernus ‘Dramatis Personæ’
Code666

RoA coverYet another EP to feature within this round-up, Rise Of Avernus continue the trend of Australian extreme metal bands that have recently blown me to smithereens. Despite only offering five tracks, ‘Dramatis Personæ’ clocks in at around the half-hour mark and, within that time, batter and bruise the listener with brutality, complexity, subtle progressive elements and huge, bombastic cinematic compositions that are grand in scope and brilliantly executed. I just wish it was more than an EP because Rise Of Avernus may soon become a force to be reckoned with in extreme metal circles.

Sigh ‘Graveward’
Candlelight Records

sigh coverI have never truly liked Japanese avant-garde metallers Sigh; I have always found their eclectic and often bonkers output to simply be too much. However, at a loose end, I tried out their latest recording ‘Graveward’ and I’m so pleased I did. Sigh are still mad as hell, but the end result on this album is highly enjoyable and deeply fascinating. Hammer Horror and zombie films are the inspiration for a schizophrenic soundtrack that’s black metal at its core but which is then interspersed with bizarre moments from just about every genre of music on Earth. Yet it works and, in my opinion, is Sigh’s most cohesive and enjoyable record to date.

Read my full review here.

The Neal Morse Band ‘The Grand Experiment’
InsideOut Music

Neal Morse coverWhen progressive rock is done well, it can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding styles of music out there. If you’re looking for evidence of this, you’d be hard-pressed to find better than ‘The Grand Experiment’ from The Neal Morse Band. Don’t let the occasionally overt religious lyrical content put you off because if you can get past that, the music itself is of the highest quality. Classic progressive rock epics feature heavily as you’d expect, but this record is more than that thanks to a couple of tracks that veer into modern rock or even pop territory. I’ve yet to hear better from this sub-genre in 2015 so far.

Read my full review here.

Pantommind ‘Searching For Eternity’
Spectastral Records

BuPantommind coverlgarian progressive metallers Pantommind have always been a band that have floated around the periphery of my consciousness. However, album number three, ‘Searching For Eternity’ has put them slap bang in the centre of my attention and threatens to break them into the prog metal big time. Technical musicianship, principally massive guitar solos, and huge swathes of keyboards make up the bulk of the Pantommind sound. And, fashions be damned, this excellently executed, slightly ‘old school’ approach sounds superb thanks to an impressive technical ability and really strong compositional awareness.

Read my full review here.

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