Top lists are hard. So are intros to them. So I think I’ll skip that bit. Here are my top 5 albums of 2015, in no particular order.
Dynfari - Vegferð Tímans: Icelandic atmospheric bm with haunting melodies, vast soundscapes and even a bit of philosophy thrown in. The sort of thing you listen to on long dark walks to the tops of mountains — or at the very least while considering them. It’s a new atmosphere — done well, and a refreshing take on the genre.
Immortal Bird - Empress/Abscess: Being in a band with someone who co-writes one of your favourite albums of the year is an experience I suggest you try, if at all possible. Empress/Abscess is a punch to the teeth all the way through; so heavy, gritty, ruthless. Probably the most unique melodies I heard in 2015 — without a single note out of place.
Amorphis - Under the Red Cloud: Got my folk fix from Amorphis this year. In a genre like folk metal, where the set of chords and melodies must conform to the set of chords and melodies that sound like folk metal, it always, without fail, blows me away when I hear something new. Like, truly new. Riffs that both haul you in and take you to a brand new melodic place. Amorphis have done it here.
Jaga Jazzist - Starfire: The only non-metal album in the list, and only the instrumental one, too. Came across this band via the title track, which I recommend you undergo at least once before you die. I love any experience that can combine the logical with the, er, non-logical — things that hit you in the brain and in the feels. Here the time signatures whizz around you in circles while the melodies enrapture you.
Wilderun - Sleep at the Edge of the Earth: Someone described it as celtic prog metal, and I think that’s pretty accurate. It’s as complex as Opeth, both in structure and in actual riff composition, which doesn’t mean a damn if even a lone note is off — which it of course never is. An enthralling, almost cinematic release from fellow North American folk metallers, and a release I’m glad Thrawsunblat III isn’t competing against.