10. WEEED – Our Guru Brings Us To The Black Master Sabbath
WEEED’s Our Guru was the biggest surprise to me this year. Writing for this very blog brought me to this Washington three piece and this album has been in my regular rotation since I first heard it this summer. These guys replicate the sound that Sabbath brought to life in Master of Reality and that Sleep perfected with Holy Mountain. Our Guru has a huge, hypnotic, heavy sound. They have perfected the vibe and I can’t wait to hear where they go next. The song “Enuma Elish” is a good starting point, and if you like what you hear and you want to experience dudes really bringing the Sabbath/Sleep vibe to life, give WEEED a listen.
9. Death Grips – The Powers That B
Death Grips appeals to a lot of metal fans. It’s not really metal, but Death Grips is to Dr. Dre as Electric Wizard is to the Foo Fighters. Death Grips is brutal, heavy, intense, frightening. The Powers That B is intensely raw and harsh. The IDM-like beats are abrasive and listening to this album with headphones on and the volume up does some crazy things with your head. There is a certain drugginess to it…maybe not psychedelic, but definitely druggy. I guess what I have been writing makes it seem like I don’t enjoy listening to this album, but it’s those reasons exactly that make me love it. It operates with such intensity and when you get into the zone with The Powers That B, it is like nothing else. If you haven’t given Death Grips a shot, maybe it’s time you did.
8. Nile – What Should Not Be Unearthed
I always love it when Nile comes out with a new album. They are so consistent, so talented, and their subject matter is right up my alley. This album reminded me a lot of Behemoth, honestly, both in terms of pace and musicality. There are a lot more black metal elements in this one, but it is mostly dominated by death and doom metal. While this album definitely isn’t Nile’s best, it’s one of the closest in sound to In Their Darkened Shrines, which is Nile’s most definitive album. Karl Sanders is writing better songs than ever and everyone’s playing is on point. The drums are tight, the bass is precise, and the guitars shred. Really glad Nile is still coming out with quality stuff.
7. Organ Dealer – Visceral Infection
This album is grindcore brutality at its finest. It has the violence and carnality of Insect Warfare and Magrudergrind and incorporates elements of thrash metal and even has a few prog moments, even if only a few seconds long. This album is definitely for fans of Pig Destroyer; like them, it hangs out in the death metal side of grindcore. Blistering blast beats with huge breaks and black metal-like guitar shape an album that believe it or not works really cohesively start to finish. There is a lot more within the sound with Organ Dealer, too. A lot more complexity than most grind. Some of these songs even cross the two minute mark, which is a rarity for this genre. I used to listen to a lot of grindcore, but it kind of start to get boring after awhile. Organ Dealer is not boring. At all. This album keeps you in it and keeps you listening.
6. Deafheaven – New Bermuda
Deafheaven is a pretty cool sound. They combine a lot of shoegaze and prog in their otherwise balls to the wall, blast-beat filled black metal. New Bermuda is their heaviest effort to date, and it took me from a casual Deafheaven fan to a pretty regular listener. It’s pushing metal in a really cool, psychedelic direction, where the shoegaze elements create this “blanket” of sound, and the blast beats are unexpectedly hypnotic. The production is incredible. Everything is so bright and clear, but everything melts together at the same time. I will say that I don’t care for the last song on this album, “Gifts for the Earth.” Also, this album isn’t a start to finish album, which is huge for me. But these guys’ raw talent and their ability to create psychedelic sounds in a very different way is pretty cool, they seem to only be getting better, and whatever they do next should be pretty interesting.
5. Weedeater – Goliathan
Weedeater is a common name in heavy metal by now these days. They are a fixture in sludge and their fifth release . Space and texture play a huge role in this album; it is dry as dust, thick as . The aesthetic is intense, haunting, and intimidating. Weedeater’s signature “lurch” is present throughout, but songs like “Processional” and “Battered & Fried” pull on the eerie, swampy roots of the American South. Weedeater and Steve Albini are a match made in heaven, and if Jason, the Dragon didn’t convince you, Goliathan certainly will. This album isn’t a straightforward listen like their other releases. There is a certain “understanding” you have to reach with the album and it requires a bit of patience, but with each listen I like it more and it’s been in my rotation constantly since its release.
4. Brian Jonestown Massacre – Mini Album Thingy Wingy
This one came out last month, and it’s Anton Newcombe’s best work in since My Bloody Underground (2008). Not to downplay his the stuff that came out in between, it’s good and all, but this one throws back to the best of BJM’s catalog. As the title suggests, this is a shorter album, clocking in at just under 35 minutes, but it explores a range of sounds while keeping the same general, heavy psychedelic vibe. These songs are straight up mystical, they’re super pleasant to listen to, and they have certain profundity to them. Highly recommend giving this a spin. BJM also came out with Musique de Film Imagine this year, and it is worth giving a listen, though it is a far cry from the normal rotation of More Fuzz.
3. Kamasi Washington – The Epic
This album has the potential to keep jazz relevant in a world that has largely forgotten it. Because this is very out of the More Fuzz wheelhouse, I’ll keep it short. If you want to go on a sonic journey that really takes you places, experiments with sound, exhibits talent not just in terms of shredding, but in terms of collaboration, feeling the sound and working with it, give this a shot, even if you don’t really listen to jazz.
2. Liturgy – The Ark Work
Liturgy is fucking awesome. The Ark Work is pretty out there, but damn, it is an incredible album of music. It’s innovative – not necessarily in the way that Luminiferous is innovative – but it’s doing some really crazy things with metal. But it’s not really even fair to call it metal; it is definitely heavy music, and it definitely draws from metal, but there are more electronic elements, especially with use of hypnotic synths, glitches, and obscure beats. There’s a fair amount of prog going on in there, too (kind of obvious), but for the most part, it’s pretty unlike all of the other prog I’ve heard (not a huge prog fan). This album is a work of art in terms of sound design and experimentation and the songwriting isn’t half bad. If you’re looking for something interesting, out there, balls to the wall intense, and heavy in ways that you didn’t expect, give this a listen.
1. High on Fire – Luminiferous
Honestly, Luminiferous might be my favorite heavy metal album of all time. Even with the better “current” metal groups like Eyehategod, Electric Wizard, and even throwbacks still making tunes like Iron Maiden, there are few that really push heavy metal further. Not more extreme – I’m not talking about making it more ear-blistering, though that can be cool sometimes. I’m talking about not just playing heavy metal really well and writing cool albums in a certain style, but pushing the genre into places it had never been. There are very few albums these days that I believe are leaving a real mark or really changing the face of music. Albums like Paranoid, Born Too Late, My War, Holy Mountain or Dopethrone. I think Luminiferous is one of them. It combines such a diversity of style from heavy metal, taking doom and thrash and hardcore and even some elements of death, and pulling it into this album that shreds, is catchy as hell, and really hits you in the feels all at the same time. Matt Pike is better at guitar than he’s ever been, and his vocals have a unique approachability to them. If there is one album to take from 2015, Luminiferous is it.