As we close the door on 2015, let’s take some time to celebrate the songs that we couldn’t stop spinning all year long.
If you’re anything like me, you’re an actual moron with an attention span of roughly three-and-a-half minutes. There is so much music out there, and so many self-indulgent artists that I rarely have the patience to listen to a full riff, much less a full album. Oh you’re putting out a concept record that fits on three CDs? Cool, I look forward to never, ever hearing it. Fortunately there are artists out there banging out the jams in single-song bursts, in addition to their Big, Long, Important albums. Gather round crew, some of the Toilet ov Hell writers are going to share the tunes that got stuck in their heads and will likely get stuck in yours.
“Apex Predator – Easy Meat” is easily my favorite song of 2K15 due to how stupidly unique it is, both in terms of Napalm Death‘s own catalogue and in comparison to the metal world at large. The gothic chanting, dwarven drumming, and oppressive martial atmosphere make me feel like I’m one of the last defenders of human decency about to do battle with an overwhelming legion of malevolent corporate orcs. Grab an axe, put “Apex Predator” on blast, and prepare for war.
Everything Kylesa stood for since its inception is crystallized in the single “Lost and Confused”. A song of disparities where driving, addictive riffing meets eerie ambiance, where Laura’s ethereal voice contrasts against Cope’s aggressive delivery, resulting in a short, focused and catchy as hell song.
After the pummeling attack of opener “Captivity & Devourment”, and the proggresive sledgehammers of “Locked In” and “Rendition”; “Fugitive Dust” opens a Pandora Box of space hard rock slice. Bassist Sara Claudius and drummer Márton Veress provide a solid foundation in which Joey Concepcion and Christopher Amott tenderly craft melodic lines and solemn riffing. The solo, on the other side, is a testament of power that increases its attitude with each listen. Fugitive Dust cracks the record in two, being the song a monolith that resumes what’s the musical merit of this Armageddon record: an incredible manifesto with mood-shifting melodies.
After reaching the mountain’s treacherous summit on their debut On The Steps Of The Temple, there was only one way to go for the Arizona duo, down. Descending Into The Labyrinth took me deeper into the chasms of my mind than I imagined were possible. From the memorable opening riff, to the glorious Orion-esque outro, this track is transcendent. The first time I heard the acoustic bridge I cried. I still well-up everytime but with a smile on my face. Months later, I’m still here exploring this intricate labyrinth of textures. I invite you to see what you can find.
Nordling Rites of Karhu
Repeating riffs and rhythm loops, minimal presentation. A long trip into the dark side of the mind. Suffocating dread, and like an ass I forgot this when compiling my EOTY-list.
Old Man Doom
From the blackened fury of the intro riff to the violently anthemic outro, “Prophets of Loss” is a distillation of everything I love about Cattle Decapitation. It is the perfect track for making savage Travis Ryan faces at the other drivers on your way home from a shit work day.
Catchy songs about Satan are just the best.
I plan on venturing to Texas for the first time next month. I thank Neil Fallon for offering a crash course in local customs and geography in advance. Plus, this is just extremely fun to sing with whiskey in hand. In the end, however, what truly makes the song is the cowbell breakdown.
Well these boys from Ireland were already dominating your tender ears with the riffiest riffs for the past 20 or so minutes. This penultimate track starts off with more of the same, then out of nowhere they come with a doomy breakdown for the ages. When James Beattle croons “Swarming…out of the sky.”, you will briefly look to the horizon cause you’ll swear a vast army of death just came out of hyperspace to wage war against those who wronged them. Simon says embrace the riff and prepare for BATTLE.
This isn’t even a song, it’s an anthem. “Outcast Stomp” is seething with a raw, passionate energy that is felt throughout its entire 1:56 runtime. From start to finish, it’s an in your face punk/hardcore trashing that has you engaged both musically and lyrically. Text book song writing that takes all the fucks and refuses to give them. Despite the very strong presence of LBGT subject matter in the lyrics, there’s still plenty going on in here that we can all get behind.
“Acolytes” combines everything that makes Horrendous one of the best, if not the best old school death metal bands in the game right now. Dizzying, full speed riffs combined with just enough technical prowess to keep you on your toes. A bitching guitar solo at around the 3:50 mark that demands your best air guitar work. That’s all well and good, but what really brings this track home is the final two minutes, where Horrendous breaks from their trademark old school brutality and launches into a beautiful post metal crescendo that brings out all of the feels. It’s a truly surprising and breathtaking moment from one of the year’s most inspired metal albums.
The G.L.O.S.S. demo is the angriest music I have heard in years- a product of ferocious riffing married to righteously pissed-off pro-queer politics. The opening screed of their eponymous song introduces the band far better than I ever could, so spend 91 seconds getting the patriarchy stomped right the fuck out of your mind and listen to this hair-raising vision of times yet to come.
Out of all the songs I’ve heard this year, few come close to Twelve Foot Ninja‘s “One Hand Killing.” One of my unguiltiest pleasures, Twelve Foot Ninja consistently ups the ante in the djent game, opting for an excellent singer who doesn’t sound like a 12 year old girl and abandoning the djent stereotype of being all over the fucking place. “One Hand Killing” is one of TFN’s best songs, even if the kinda rap bit at the beginning is a bit cringeworthy. Stay strong, because in a few seconds it busts into the headbangingest headbanging riff of the year. (Skip to 2:11)
It was either this or 9-time Riff ov the Week entry “Golden Number“. So, like last year, I will completely ignore the genre you are specifically here to read about so I may write about a pop song I just plain love. It was a dream come true when I first heard Ryan Adams, my favorite artist across any genre, would cover my favorite Pop artist, Taylor Swift. “All You Had to Do was Stay” is the worst song on Tay Tay’s magnum opus 1989, and in Ryan’s hands it becomes the best. Sounding like a lost 80s Springsteen demo, “Stay” explores a relationship ended too soon, with all the resentment, longing, and sadness that go along with it. It really is a wonderful little tune. <3 u tay tay & ry ry.
Randall is too sick to write his own blurb, so he asked me to write it for him. “The Path to Talmor” begins with two minutes of Final Fantasy music before delving deep into the magickal realm of ribald dragon husbandry. For Twelve-and-a-half minutes, ye and ye questing party shall partake in the brotherly mead horn of ‘al Shegraaat’th upon the battlefield of Do’rito before ascending to the heights of Mount D’ew. Hail warrior and avast ye dragonly hindquarters.
What was your favorite tune of the year? Share it below.