Another @#$&! 2015 Top 10 rock albums list: Part 2

The best five metal and hard-rock records of the year
By Peter Lindblad

Sevendust brought forth 'Kill The Flaw'
in 2015
While death and the mortality of rock legends have dominated headlines in recent weeks, stories of musical resurrection and redemption made 2015 a year of renewal and inspiring artistry, with a number of fantastic records seeing the light of day. Such tales were sorely needed.

Most notably, Sol Invictus marked the glorious return of Faith No More, proving that even after lying dormant for 11 years, the intensely creative spark within them still burned as bright as ever.

And then there was Baroness, still reeling from a horrible tour bus accident that caused the departure of half the band and forced John Baizely to go through excruciating rehabilitation. In spite of their troubles, Baroness marched on, releasing in December one of the year's most life-affirming records with Purple. For consistency and continued brilliance, there's Clutch, whose album Psychic Warfare provided more evidence of their greatness, and Motor Sister's Ride showed that all Mother Superior's Jim Wilson needed was a little help from friends like Anthrax's Scott Ian, his wife Pearl and Joey Vera, of Fates Warning and Armored Saint, to churn out great '70s-inspired rock 'n' roll.

Ross the Boss and Death Dealer screamed, "Death to false metal" with their rugged, all-encompassing brand of power metal on Hallowed Ground. Lucifer conjured up beautifully evil sonic witchcraft. Fear Factory crafted another epic sci-fi concept record with Genexus. Rivers Of Nihil conceived a nightmarish dystopian scenario in Monarchy, and TesseracT somehow performed some kind of weird alchemy to convert complex prog-metal into something melodic and tuneful on Polaris. In the end, however, none of those records made the final cut, failing to beat out others like Sevendust's dense and darkly soulful Kill The Flaw. Here's a look at our top five albums in metal and hard rock for this past year:

Baroness - Purple
5. Baroness – Purple: Arriving late to the party, Purple was an emotional volcano, erupting and overflowing with anguish, confusion, joy and a determination to not let the harsh reality of their circumstances derail the mighty Baroness. A binge-and-purge record that celebrates and appreciates life and all its confounding highs and lows, Purple made a statement, a declaration of independence from what happened in the past with arms spread wide to embrace the future. Its rough-textured riffs seemingly chiseled out of granite, Purple is not smooth or stylish, but it is powerful, exciting, heavy and raw, with full-bodied choruses of voices bloodied and beaten, but unbowed. It slams into ears like a giant runaway freight train. The feel-good story of the year.

Sevendust - Kill The Flaw
4. Sevendust – Kill The Flaw: Luxurious melodies pulled along by strong, thick currents of heavy guitar riffs combine to make Kill The Flaw nearly flawless, as do the rich, full-bodied vocals of Lajon Witherspoon and Morgan Rose's accomplished drumming. Never once have they lost that sense of who they are, and yet Kill The Flaw finds Sevendust still growing and maturing as artists, expanding their signature sound without compromising their integrity. Commercially speaking, the '90s were nirvana for Sevendust, but in the here and now, they're as polished and potent as they've ever been.

Clutch - Psychic Warfare
3. Clutch – Psychic Warfare: Earth Rocker was a tight, efficient machine running on organic grooves, grabbing hooks and killer riffs. On Psychic Warfare, all those elements can still be found, along with Neil Fallon's oddball humor and infectious storytelling, his forceful, rousing delivery begging for a rapt audience of miscreants. What also emerges is a tougher, more tumultuous sound that doesn't mind digging around in the muddy blues of ZZ Top. There is plenty of dirt on Clutch's boots and flannel shirts here, but when the time comes to regale us with noir-like tales from the trailer court, mystery and menace lurks in the shadows.

Motor Sister - Ride
2. Motor Sister – Ride: Explosive proto-punk mingles with rugged, rough-and-tumble '70s American hard rock and shaggy, blues-infused soul on Ride, the earthy, tuneful album that shined a light on '90s underdogs Mother Superior and its talented leader Jim Wilson. The genuine article in a period of pop insincerity, artificiality and insipidness, Ride is hungry for riffs and has real blood running through its arteries of compelling, gripping melody. It has swagger, energy and sex appeal – everything good, meat-and-potatoes rock 'n' roll music should have, although Motor Sister manages to elevate it to something more inspired and pure. It is altogether human, and it knows what it likes, and you want to hang out with it for hours on end in a dimly lit tavern before taking it someplace more exciting and dangerous, because it's not a stick in the mud and it wants a little adventure before the night ends. This Ride should never end.

1. Faith No More – Sol Invictus: Sol Invictus really is the album of the year, unlike the 1997 Faith No More LP that sarcastically proclaimed itself to be just that and failed to deliver on such promises. Furiously propulsive, deeply soulful, and incredibly diverse and playful, Sol Invictus isn't Angel Dust and it isn't The Real Thing, but it's something in between – a uniquely eclectic entry in the Faith No More catalog that remains interesting and intoxicating right up until its last breath. The sonic architecture of Sol Invictus is designed to amaze, and it leaves lasting memories of melodic grandeur, schizophrenic vocal treatments, swirling keyboards, rhythms constantly pushing and pulling back, and guitar riff conflagrations. Translated from Latin, the title of the album supposedly means "Unconquered Sun." That's as apt a description of this record as any ever written.

No comments:

Post a Comment