Another @#$&! 2015 Top 10 rock albums list: Part 1

Depressing end to a year full of strong records
By Peter Lindblad

Killing Joke and Jaz Coleman released
one of this year's best records with 'Pylon.'
There was no happy ending to 2015 for hard rock and heavy metal. The December deaths of Lemmy Kilmister and Scott Weiland cast an overwhelming pall over a year dotted with peaks and valleys, the June passing of Yes bassist extraordinaire Chris Squire being one of the lowest of low points.

Once the grief passes, and eventually it will, the sun will break through the clouds, shining a light on the positive developments of 2015, such as the grand return of Jeff Lynne's Electric Light Orchestra and the release of critically acclaimed solo albums from Keith Richards, David Gilmour and Roger Waters. And while it appears the end is near for Black Sabbath and the ride is over (maybe?) for Motley Crue, battling brothers Ray and Dave Davies surprised everyone and briefly reunited onstage on Dec. 18, much to the delight of Kinks fans everywhere, rumors of a Guns 'N Roses reunion – now officially confirmed as a go, with a performance scheduled at the famed Coachella festival – gained unstoppable momentum and Phil Collins declared he is back ... for better or worse.

As is the case every year, a slew of incredible rock albums issued forth in 2015, bravely facing a music industry still in a state of flux and fighting for relevancy against tough odds, as a celebrity-infatuated public continues to genuflect at the pedicured feet of Adele, Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars. Here is Part 1 of our list of the Top 10 rock albums of 2015.

Stryper - Fallen 2015
10. Stryper – Fallen: Heaviness is next to godliness for Stryper these days. On Fallen, the Christian metal stalwarts keep thickening their sound and toughening gnarly riffs without sacrificing the sweet, uplifting melodic sensibilities and transcendent vocal blends adored by fans of their '80s output. More lyrically ambitious than past efforts, Fallen finds Stryper taking more risks, while refusing to abandon the signature elements that have always called the faithful to worship.

9. Lamb Of God – VII: Sturm Und Drang: Appearing rejuvenated, with Randy Blythe's terrifying legal ordeal in the Czech Republic behind him, Lamb Of God emptied their bag of tricks on the wild ride that was VII: Sturm Und Drang, proving that the disappointing Resolution was an aberration and thankfully not a trend. The words "controlled fury" get thrown around way too often, but that's what Lamb Of God engage in here, with brawling, savage riffs, titanic chugs and catastrophic breakdowns making beautiful chaos. There is great vitality and energy to VII: Sturm Und Drang, things that have been missing from recent Lamb Of God efforts. Blythe's personal journey out of hell seems to have lit a fire under the band he fronts.

Cattle Decapitation - The Anthropocene
Extinction 2015
8. Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction: Pollution is choking earth to death, and nobody is really doing much about it. That makes Cattle Decapitation very angry. On The Anthropocene Extinction, the extreme metal idealists paint an ugly apocalyptic vision of severe ecological devastation, and their rage at the apathy and corruption of mankind is manifested in some of the most intense, disorienting aural madness recorded in recent memory. And while it all seems to come dangerously close to going off the rails, Cattle Decapitation skillfully orchestrates a frenzied, enormous riot of pulverizing beats, violent riffs and diseased vocals designed to shock and awe. Welcome to Thunderdome.

Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls 2015
7. Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls: A bit long-winded perhaps, with three songs clocking in at more than 10 minutes in length, The Books Of Souls dares to go places that Iron Maiden has rarely ever ventured. As their approach continues to grow increasingly progressive, resulting in some of the most complex and dramatic creations of their career, Maiden still indulges in the kind of thrilling, thunderous gallops and soaring, twisting harmonies that have always driven their most stirring anthems. And while that's a comfort to their legions of fans, as is the fact that they haven't lost any of their instrumental brilliance, The Book Of Souls also shows they're still eager to broaden their horizons and deeply explore new lyrical themes.

6. Killing Joke – Pylon: At war with the forces of oppression and greed, these post-punk veterans go for the jugular on the exciting, heart-pounding Pylon. Surging with great momentum from start to finish, while enveloped in swirling, expansive darkness, Pylon is a spiritual and political uprising for Killing Joke, a deep forest primeval of tribal drums overrun by modern electronic and industrial insurgency. In the distance, the powerful, echo-laden voice of Jaz Coleman sounds the alarm for mankind, delivering poetic tidings of the peril and calamity that should befall us if we fail to heed these warnings.

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