We love music and take it very serious here at In The Loop Magazine. Here are our reviews of what we consider the best music of 2015. We all have our own reasons for making these decisions and may not meet eye to eye, but all agree when it comes to music, it’s an art and true art is in the eyes and ears of the beholder.
Take a look and see if you agree with us or have something we missed.
James Currie / Editor in Chief
My musical taste is all over the place. I love it all, for the most part. As long as it’s real, passionate and makes my foot tap, I’ll listen to it. Here is my top 15 of 2015. I’ve broken it down into 3 categories. Best Albums, Best Songs and Live Performances. Alphabetical Order.
1. Charlatans UK – Modern Nature
2. The Chemical Brothers – Born In The Echoes
3. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
4. The Dead Weather – Dodge and Burn
5. Deerhunter – Fading Frontier
6. High on Fire – Luminferous
7. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
8. Lamb of God – VII : Sturm Und Drang
9. Nine Inch Nails – Record Store Day 2015 Box Set
10. Painted Palms – Horizons
11. Peaches – Rub
12. The Prodigy – The Day Is My Enemy
13. Slayer – Repentless
14. Tame Impala – Currents
15. Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool
1. !!! – “All You Writers” from As If
2. Beck – “Dreams” from Dreams single
3. Crocodiles – “Cool TV” from Boys
4. Django Django – “Shake & Tremble” from Born Under Saturn
5. Elle King – “Ex’s & Oh’s” from Love Stuff
6. Ghost – “Cirice” from Meliora
7. Gary Clark Jr. – “Shake” from The Story of Sonny Boy Slim
8. Kurt Vile – “Like Like This” from b’lieve i’m going down
9. Little Boots – “Get Things Done (Psychemagik Remix” from Working Girl The Remixes
10. Missy Elliot – “WTF” from Where They From single
11. Mini Mansions – “Vertigo” from The Great Pretenders
12. New Order – “Plastic” from Music Complete
13. Speedy Ortiz – “The Graduates” from Foil Deer
14. Sleater-Kinney – “Bury Our Friends” from No Cities To Love
15. Wilco – “Random Name Generator” from Star Wars
1. Foo Fighters at Wrigley Field
2. Fuzz (2015 Tour at Thalia Hall)
3. Grateful Dead at Soldier Field
4. Ghost (2015 Tour at The Riviera Theatre)
5. John Mellencamp (Farm Aid 30)
6. Kinki at Ruidofest
7. Lera Lynn at Fitzgeralds Americana Festival
8. Misfits (The Static Age Revisited Tour at Portage Theatre)
9. Paul McCartney at Lollapalooza
10. Primus (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Tour at Chicago Theatre)
11. Pucifer (2015 Tour at the Riviera Theatre)
12. RUSH R40 Tour at United Center
13. Slipknot at Tinley Park
14. Tobacco (Do Division Street Fest)
15. Veruca Salt at Beat Kitchen
Christopher David / Staff Music Reviewer
What a year for heavy metal it was. There were sick releases from just about every genre of metal this year and I must say that this was one of the best years for metal in a while. Iconic releases from the greats such as Lamb of God and the almighty Slayer to releases from up and comers like Borealis and Unleash The Archers, heavy metal never ceases to amaze from every corner of the world. For any metal fan, you know it’s a dire challenge ranking anything in order by performance, sound, favorite band, etc. So in no particular order, here are my favorite albums of 2015.
A.D.D. – Core
From the Chicagoland area, Hard Rockers, A.D.D. aka Analog Digital Disorder, bring an album that has all your signature hard rock elements. From the aggressive anthems to reminiscent tracks, the album surely will please any hard rocker. Recommended tracks include I Regret, Not My Way and Nightmare. Having achieved great milestones in their career, look out for this group to be one of the faces of metal in the Chicago area soon.
Scorpions – Return To Forever
It’s not everyday someone releases their 18th album. That’s right, 18 albums in and the Scorpions still have that sting and spark from day one. I certainly hope this isn’t their final album as the album is utmost perfect. The album encompasses twelve arena sounding, anthemic, electrifying tracks that really press the issues of everyday life, not to mention the homage to the world of Rock. Check out We Built This House, Rock N’ Roll Band and House Of Cards.
Borealis – Purgatory
The youngest, most talented metal band that I know of resides just north of us. From Canada, Power Metal quintet, Borealis, bring us their album, Purgatory. Highly talented, atmospheric, rigorous and harmonic, the album will appease any Power/Progressive metal fan. Noticeably more mature than their previous album, if any emerging metal band deserves a spot in the metal hall of fame, I can bet that Borealis might be future contenders. Check out Past The Veil, My Peace and Sacrifice.
Frantic Amber – Burning Insight
A metal band comprised of 4 females and 1 male. If you’re seeking the most badass female metal group, these gals are it right here. Coming together from different regions of the world, Frantic Amber’s album surely will give you something to go apeshit about. Easily one of the most intense albums of the year personally, speed, aggression and headbanging are heavily present throughout. All their videos are like mini-movies, which I highly recommend. They are a metal gem waiting to be found. Check out Soar, Bleeding Sanity and Awakening.
Bullet For My Valentine – Venom
A group who’s been gaining momentum quickly, their latest album, Venom, fuses some of their past signature elements in addition to a refreshing sound. Lyrically strong, there are several tracks that really tackle struggles that make select people’s lives hard to come by. A win win for both the fan and band, this is their best album hands down. You’ll be thankful once you get injected with the “Venom”. Check out Army Of Noise, You Want A Battle?, and Pariah.
Kamelot – Haven
Take current world life events, symbolism and controversy. Mix that with melancholic tones, uplifting soaring melodies as well as addicting memorable tunes and you have Kamelot’s latest album, Haven. Everything a Power Metal fan could want is here. This album will take you on a majestic journey from ominous and dark tracks to stimulatingly triumphant anthems. The Symphonic aspect adds that unique touch of chaos. You are missing out on a great album if you haven’t listened to Haven. Check out Veil Of Elysium, My Therapy and the epic Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy).
Slayer – Repentless
Each Slayer album release causes havoc amongst the metal community and this album is more special than any of the albums since their beginning days. Their first album without original drummer, Dave Lombardo, as well as the late Jeff Hanneman, this album would be critical in the group’s career. Of course the album delivered and made us fans proud. That’s not to say that the absence of Jeff and Dave made no difference. While some say that the addition of fresh blood made the album superior, there will always be those who say that Slayer will never be the same again. I am not one to jump into that argument, but nonetheless, Repentless has all the signature Slayer elements and ferocity with a slight vibe of change. Check out Repentless, Cast The First Stone, and Chasing Death.
Unleash The Archers – Time Stands Still
This album is just insane for an up and coming band from Canada. From death metal to battle metal, power metal and straight up traditional metal, I knew this album would be in my top albums of the year. Perfectly composed and structured, this might be one of the best and most unique albums you’ve ever heard. If you like your music heroic, epic, anthemic and all matters related Time Stands Still by Unleash The Archers needs to be in your library. Prepare to face beyond epic moments. Check out Hail Of The Tide, Test Your Metal and No More Heroes.
Lamb Of God – Sturm And Drang
Another metal band that had gone through misfortune lately, this was Lamb Of God’s return to the metal scene. After lead man Randy Blythe finally owned his alcoholism and then thrown in jail for the death of a fan at a show overseas, the future of the band was in doubt. Their return with Sturm And Drang, was much received by the metal community. Combining classic Lamb Of God with a fresher sound and lyrics that Blythe wrote while imprisoned, the album delivers superior results. Check out 512, Engage The Fear Machine and Delusion Pandemic.
Disturbed – Immortalized
The Chicago boys are back and better than ever. This was their return album after a 4-year hiatus which was also ended with their first and only show in 4 years at the House of Blues in their native Chicago. Disturbed felt great to be back and their album, Immortalized brings in a fresh new sound as well as bring light to subject matters that are controversial and plaguing our society at the moment. They never disappoint with each album so if you haven’t checked out Immortalized, what are you waiting for??! Check out Fire It Up, Immortalized and The Vengeful One.
Another year gone, 2016 looks to be another sick year for the world of heavy metal. Who knows what albums will be coming out this year or who we will lose in the world of metal, if anyone. I can feel the genre more triumphant than ever. Cheers to a very metal 2016.
Amy Hughes / Staff Music Writer