It’s that time of year where every major rock and metal website claims to rattle their brains over their “Top” albums of the year. I say phooey on that because anyone’s “top” anything changes from day to day. So in my usual rock n rollin’ rebel way it’s time for my annual Must Have Albums list where I simply do just that. I list the albums that I feel you Must Have that came out in 2015. And as always they are in no particular order and there’s no specific number of albums.
The Answer – Raise A Little Hell (Amazon / iTunes)
This band hit with this gem of an album very early this year. The kicker here is they aren’t a new band yet many think they are. They’ve toured with AC/DC in the past but unfortunately somewhere along the way the business side of the industry dropped the ball and left The Answer off many people’s radars, my own included, for years. This album is a pure rock album with a vibe from the 70s and early 80s. “Long Live The Renegades” and “Whiplash” scream for that big arena performance while “The Other Side” is a hard rockin remembrance of what rock is meant to be.
Bumblefoot – Little Brother Is Watching (Amazon / iTunes)
Those that know me know I’m friends with Bumblefoot and probably figured this would be on my list even if it was bad. But if you really know me you know that I would never lie to you or Bumblefoot or anyone I know. So this long awaited album from Bumblefoot belongs here because it is a strong album that has songs I cannot get out of my head. “Cuterebra” has a vibe that reminds me of The Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour” while on a total flip you get a deep thinking yet amazingly melodic “Don’t Know Who To Pray To Anymore”, a song with a riff I expect many first time guitar players will attempt to learn. This album was so long in the making due to Bumblefoot’s commitment with Guns N’ Roses and it was worth the wait. A great introductory album to his solo career if you only know him from GnR.
Coal Chamber – Rivals (Amazon / iTunes)
Certain bands make you think they’re done forever and then they return to our surprise. Often those returns don’t work out as planned. Other times the return works out better than anyone could’ve anticipated. That was the case when Coal Chamber returned this year with Rivals
after years of being gone. With the time apart Coal Chamber became friends first and band mates second resulting in music that brings us back to when we first fell in love with them. The title track and “I.O.U. Nothing” are both tracks to become instant classics for them. Hopefully Rivals is just the beginning of more of Coal Chamber.
Diemonds – Never Wanna Die (Amazon / iTunes)
This is another one of those bands that have been around for a while and didn’t hit my radar fully until this album came my direction. Diemonds, hailing from Canada, is a pure rock band. The opening track is the title track and it instantly makes you reminisce and feel that party aspect that rock and metal once had. Diemonds are bringing that vibe back and in a big way. I personally love the placement on the album of “Ain’t That Kinda Girl” and “Secret”. Both killer tracks and when you listen to the album in full (something rarely done by many) these two songs sound like an admittance and confession of a good girl gone bad. Or a good girl gone rocker, which is even better. There’s tons of great riffs on this album for anyone craving that and who doesn’t.
Fall To June – Fall To June (Amazon / iTunes)
This self titled debut could also be considered the southern rock album of the year because it seems that category of music has all but disappeared. Fall To June bring that full southern rock vibe that we all know and while giving it a modern edge and making it their own. Ben Badger has a voice that makes you feel like you’ve known Fall To June for years until you look at the album again only to be reminded it’s their debut. “Delta Breakdown” is a killer track on this album as is “The Rain”, which I always catch myself singing along with every time I play it.
Ghost – Meliora (Amazon / iTunes)
The band of nameless ghouls was back this year with a new leader and without the “B.C.” connected to their name. Ghost has managed to do something that most newer bands today don’t do. That is stay consistent and true to their sound. Meliora
is as much Ghost as their debut album Opus Eponymous
really doesn’t have a bad track on it. Force me to pick out tracks (which I will for purposes of this list) and I’ll point you to “Cirice” and “Majesty”. Both having that old school yet haunting sound that we have come to know and love and respect from Ghost. This album delivers everything we expect from them.
Five Finger Death Punch – Got Your Six (Amazon / iTunes)
I, along with others, feel that Five Finger Death Punch are one of the bands that can carry the banner for rock and metal as the legendary bands begin to slow and step down from the front lines. Which is perhaps why their 2015 effort is entitled Got Your Six
. I wondered how well they could follow up the double release of The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol 1
and Vol 2
from two years ago but they’ve done just that. There are tons of hard hitting tracks on this album as well as the occasional slower style song as well. I often go to the title track, “Hell To Pay”, and “Jekyll And Hyde” for air and all result in positive feedback instantly from listeners. Five Finger Death Punch has its haters out their but I’m not one. Got Your Six
delivers in full.
The Handful – Sons Of Downtown (Amazon / iTunes)
The Handful are a New York based band that’s been going for many years and Sons Of Downtown
is an album that helps many remember how great not only rock and metal still is but its purity and rawness also reminds you that the local bands are just as good if not better than the labels, which I say constantly on air. The Handful bring that old school Lower East Side of NYC vibe into every track on Sons Of Downtown
. Listening to it you feel like you’re strolling through Manhattan (whether you’re from NY or not) at a time where clubs, music stores, and other mom and pop shops lined the streets instead of 5 Starbucks every three blocks (no offense as I enjoy Starbucks) and over priced apartments that are the size of some peoples bathrooms. When “Gods of War” or “Bow Down” come on my iPod I’m instantly brought to my childhood when I could barely see the streets of NYC through the windows of my parents vehicle. Days when NYC was more rock and grit that this city was once known for instead of the pop glitter bomb it now is. This album is that raw rock album you didn’t even know you were craving.
Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls (Amazon / iTunes)
Of course many of you are probably scoffing that this album is here on this list or that it’s here by name along. But we all know that Iron Maiden has delivered a stinker or two over their long reign as one of the kings of metal. But that is not the case with The Book Of Souls
. This album, the first studio double album from Iron Maiden, is everything we expect from them. I’ve told many people who’ve asked me about it that it is the perfect mix of classic Maiden while still being new. I literally could push on and on about this album but will keep it simple because it’s Iron Maiden. Don’t let the overall length of The Book Of Souls
frighten you off. It’s everything you expect and want from them.
Lamb Of God – VII: Sturm Und Drang (Amazon / iTunes)
I actually had the time to site a review this album when it came out and my thoughts then still ring true as months later I’m still listening to Lamb Of God’s latest effort. VII: Sturm Und Drang
delivers full on what you want from Lamb Of God with “512” and “Embers”. But why I consider this a must have is for the song most stations and DJs and listeners overlook and that’s “Overlord”. A very rare track that Randy Blythe actually sings on. Don’t get me wrong, his usual vocals on this album are stellar as always. But the singing on “Overlord” is just so good and fits so well with the rest of the album in makes me think that Lamb Of God is going to continue to surprise us with future releases and we’ll look back to VII: Sturm Und Drang
to where everything started again for Lamb Of God.
Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor (Amazon / iTunes)
I’m pretty sure many people missed this album as The Pale Emperor
was released in very early January. And while many wrote off Marilyn Manson a few albums backs I can confirm to you he is back and better than ever. This album immediately took me back to the Holy Wood
days and albums of the time. To heavy, groovy, dark tunes that made many of us become faithful followers of Marilyn Manson is back in a vengeance. My favorite tracks “Deep Six” and “The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles” are both prime examples of this. Marilyn Manson has returned in a big way with The Pale Emperor
and we are definitely looking at the second coming of the self proclaimed Antichrist Superstar.
Motor Sister – Motor Sister (Amazon / iTunes)
It’s amazing how some albums come to be. The debut album from Motor Sister came about as nothing more than a birthday jam of Mother Superior songs for Scott Ian’s 50th birthday at his home. I immediately became a fan of this album the moment I heard it. It’s a pure rock album, simply put. I even went to their only NY area performance to date on the coldest night of the year back in February. Jim Wilson is getting a much deserved second swing in the rock world by having his Mother Superior stuff tweaked up and turned into Motor Sister. I truly hope we see more from this band though it’ll be tough since Scott Ian, John Tempesta, and Joey Vera’s schedule are busy as it is. But if there aren’t any others then this album will definitely be a timeless classic.
Night Demon – Curse Of The Damned (Amazon / iTunes)
Just when you thought the idea of NWOBHM was coming to an end as those bands are nearing retirement you get Night Demon from California. This trio has put their own twist on the sound that defined a generation with their full length debut album Curse Of The Damned
. This album made my jaw drop on first listen when it landed in my email. I distinctly remember immediately going to search the history of the band to figure out how long they’ve been around and why I didn’t them until this year only to learn that they were new. That rockers is proof of an amazing band and album. When you hear “Heavy Metal Heat” and the title track you’ll feel like you’ve known this band for years. And truth is we will, Curse Of The Damned
is hopefully just the beginning of a lengthy career for Night Demon.
Next To None – A Light In The Dark (Amazon / iTunes)
Upon first research of Next To None you would discover that their drummer is Max Portnoy, the son of the living drumming metal master Mike Portnoy. And at that point most would move on thinking the band is getting its ride off the Portnoy name. Well if you do that you are a fool because Next To None delivers with some serious musical skills with A Light In The Dark
, their full length debut album. Yes there’s touches of prog-rock in this but it’s because that’s what influenced these guys. The album sounds like these guys are full on metal veterans when in fact they’re still in high school. Yes you read right…high school. Listen to “Social Anxiety, “You Are Not Me”, and “Blood On My Hands” and you’ll see what I mean. Listening to it is all the proof you’ll need to prove that Next To None are the beginning of the next generation of great rock and metal bands to light up the world.
Shattered Sun – Hope Within Hatred (Amazon / iTunes)
I first heard about Shattered Sun way before this album hit. I was giving a single and chatted with frontman Marcos Leal in May of 2014
about the band and their start and my gut said these guys could be big. That was my first introduction to them. As that year went on I heard and saw nothing about Shattered Sun until right before Hope Within Hatred
was set for release earlier this year. Of course I preordered my copy and I knew my gut instinct of these could be big was just starting. Upon first listen to this album in full I was excited for that fact that my gut was right actually right, for a change. They were immediately out on tour with Exodus and Testament which was followed up by a spot on Mayhem Festival. Shattered Sun has gone from relative unknown to rock and metal fans to regular conversation. I never get enough of the title track, “Reign Over Me”, and “Awaken”. All of which are just nuggets on an album that rings true from beginning to end for any metal fan.
Yes I know you’re probably saying “But Turbo what about ‘insert band/album here?'” There was a TON of great music this year so putting this list together wasn’t easy and a few came very close. But definitely check these out and let’s all get excited for the great new tunes coming in 2016.