Of course it comes naturally for everyone to chime in about how quickly each year passes, but 2015 really felt like just a few quick moments. Months felt like weeks. Particularly, the time between Halloween and Christmas was a blur. And when it comes to new music releases, 2015 was the first year in many years with only a few really good ones. Disappointments were far more frequent than extremely impressive new albums. Despite Nightwish being great with Floor Jansen, one of my longtime favorite vocalists, the release Endless Forms Most Beautiful was largely disappointing, with only one redeeming song (the beautiful “Our Decades in the Sun”). Although it is true that not many bands impacted with their new music this year, a closer look revealed that not too many great bands even released new music in 2015.
Early on in the year was the enjoyable Another Perfect Storm, expanding upon the promise offered by singer/songwriter Ben Draiman’s EP debut. Additionally, My Dying Bride was in fine form with Feel the Misery, one of their most brilliant albums in years. Disturbed made a triumphant return with Immortalized, highlighted by their phenomenal cover of “Sound of Silence.”
The unquestionable album of the year is King of Kings by Leaves’ Eyes. Very few bands are as consistent and diverse as this one. Never afraid to try new things, and always implementing new ideas into their sound, Leaves’ Eyes are not an “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” type of band to rely on one sound; however, their sound is so identifiable and unique only to them, cementing their status as a standout band compared to their many peers. “Blazing Waters” is a pinnacle moment in the band’s career, coming close to “Froya’s Theme” as their most outstanding achievement.
The tour of the year, hands down, was Alice in Chains’ summer outing. Their two shows in Oklahoma (Tulsa and Thackerville, respectively) featured the band in top form with versatile setlists, serving up rarely played songs like “Sludge Factory”, “Grind”, and even “Sunshine” from their debut, which made its first live appearance since 1991.
Looking forward, there are expectations of new Alice in Chains music in the coming year, along with a new release by the Deftones (which has been delayed multiple times). With those two bands, disappointment is simply not in the forecast. It is likely that one of Philip H. Anselmo’s bands will release something in the coming year, given talks of Superjoint recording new material. Legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page is said to be assembling a solo band with promises to tour and record in 2016 — fingers crossed for that one. Corrosion of Conformity will soon record their first new music with Pepper Keenan since 2005’s In the Arms of God. Recordings are also underway for Epica’s seventh album, and while following up the awe-inspiring The Quantum Enigma from 2014 will be no easy task, the Dutch metal band will surely deliver. All of this and more brings reason for excitement and high anticipation for new excellent music in 2016. May it be a wonderful year!