Here we are again, at year’s end. I can’t believe that another 12 months has passed since I began my countdown for 2014, it doesn’t seem that long ago. And yet, in the intervening period, a lot has happened. My eldest daughter has started nursery whilst my youngest has changed from a new born baby into a cheeky, happy one-year-old. I have also moved house, relocating about 15-20 miles but remaining in the beautiful county of Suffolk. I therefore have a new ‘Mansion of Much Metal’ to use as the Blog Of Much Metal HQ.
Then there’s my decision to leave Powerplay Magazine after ten great years. The reasons are numerous but the result is that I get more time to focus on the Blog, my labour of love.
But, most importantly of all, the last year has blessed us with some amazing music. 2015 has been unbelievable in terms of the sheer quality of music but moreover, the depth of the quality is staggering. I have spent weeks mulling over my Top 20 of 2015 but it has proved impossible. On the advice of many of my kind and loyal followers, I decided to increase the countdown to 25. However, when it came to compiling the list, this was still impossible.
The aim of this blog is to get as much exposure for great music as possible. It feels unfair therefore to limit the countdown to 25 bands/artists when there are bands that miss out that are equally worthy of the plaudits they deserve. As a result, I have expanded the annual countdown to 30. I hope this doesn’t put too many of you off, but I honestly believe every entry in this year’s list deserves their place. I shall spend the next month trying to prove it to you.
Whilst I number each release and will count down from 30, the spots from 30-16 are more arbitrary and each can be considered to be as equal as each other, with the final 15 in a solid order according to my personal and very subjective tastes. I’m sure there will be some debate about who I’ve missed or who shouldn’t have made the final cut, but I’m keen to hear all views – bring it on!
If you’re interested, the previous countdowns can be viewed here:
Top 20 of 2014
Top 20 of 2013
Top 20 of 2012
But enough of that, let’s get on with the main event and reveal the first release to make it into my Top 30 for 2015:
Rogue Records America
I’m not the biggest fan of the whole djent/tech metal subgenre and it’s a style of music that I don’t automatically gravitate towards. However, sometimes you just have to doff your cap and say to a band ‘well done, you’ve proved me wrong’. On this occasion, it’s Subversion with their sophomore release, ‘Animi’.
Subversion hail from Kent in the UK and their music has been dubbed as ‘symphonic tech metal’ which, I have to say is an accurate description because the music is huge, rich and powerful. There are plenty of those archetypal chugging riffs that helped to coin the ‘djent’ tag as well as those Meshuggah-like gruff vocals which lay the foundations of a heavy and complex, progressive sonic output.
However, for me, it’s the other side of the Subversion sound that gives me the biggest buzz and enjoyment. Almost every composition on this 10 track album relents on the all-out spiky, tech aggression at some point and, in genuine contrast, allows something altogether more majestic to come to the fore.
‘Born Of The Sun’, for example, is an absolute monster that benefits from some truly sumptuous melodies that are enhanced by synths and programming to create a wall of sound that is epic, spine-tingling and almost euphoric. ‘Imperfect’ delivers some great post-rock atmosphere, ‘Pariah’ is a simple yet effective palette-cleanser whilst ‘Novation’ is nothing short of anthemic. The synths and huge riffs combine to great effect, creating an almost cinematic experience whereas the melodies are immediate and Kai Giritli’s vocals are some of the best on the entire record, full of passion and energy.
In spite of myself, I find a hell of a lot to enjoy about ‘Animi’. Sure it taps in to many of the aspects of modern heavy music that I generally don’t overly enjoy but such is the band’s enthusiasm, on-point musicianship and innate understanding of strong song-writing, I can’t find much to fault about it at all. Subversion have set the benchmark for me in 2015 for this kind of music & I’m excited to hear what they come up with next. A very worthy inclusion in my end-of-year ‘best of’.
Once again, if you’re interested to see who made my list over the last 3 years, here’s your chance: