Joining Distorted Sound several months back, Perran Helyes, has quickly become a vital part of the team here at Distorted Sound. With a consistently brilliant writing style and unfathomed enthusiasm to the extreme, Perran is the go-to-guy for anything in the metal world. Let’s find out what he made of 2015 in metal!
The Anthropocene Extinction – CATTLE DECAPITATION
As CATTLE DECAPITATION continue their fascinating metamorphosis from a straightforward grind band with a vegan gimmick into the most exciting band in death metal, The Anthropocene Extinction sharpens and tightens the sound they let loose on Monolith of Inhumanity. They feed upon anything under the extreme metal banner whether it be crunching death metal, grindcore, a chilling black metal atmosphere and even industrial on one track and regurgitate it into this fleshy monster. Travis Ryan meanwhile is a peerless vocalist, possessing an awe-inspiring range and an alien ability to convey tonnes of emotion beyond just vitriol and deliver insanely catchy hooks in his strangled pseudo-clean vocals. It’s an exhilarating example of how the best extreme music not only contains passionate intensity but inspires it.
Honourable Mentions: LEVIATHAN – Scar Sighted, MELECHESH – Enki, NAPALM DEATH – Apex Predator – Easy Meat
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Smash a Single Digit – NAPALM DEATH
2015 wasn’t exactly bursting at the seams with memorable metal videos – mainly because CATTLE DECAPITATION haven’t gotten round to any from their album yet and as we know from last time, they’re good at making a poetically disgusting impact. NAPALM DEATH right at the beginning of the year impressed though, Smash a Single Digit looking like something out of an ultra left wing anti-consumerism edition of Art Attack. The video is all hand drawn as a judderingBarney Greenway seems to furiously narrate the images of disadvantaged labourers being forced to destroy themselves and then being literally eaten up by those higher up the chain of command. The song rips too.
Honourable Mentions: SLAYER – Repentless, ABORTED – Termination Redux, MY DYING BRIDE – Feel the Misery
GIG OF THE YEAR
SLAYER @ O2 Apollo, Manchester, 24th November
Prior to this SLAYER hadn’t had a record for half a decade and as a result hadn’t had a legitimate UK tour either. The people were hungry. It was also a chance to prove that in this current incarnation lacking Dave Lombardo and of course Jeff Hanneman, SLAYER still have it. This surely was the performance to stick it to the people who make them out to be old men long past any real semblance of power, the band determined to reassert their authority and packing a setlist so perfect it could bring tears to the eyes of even the most jaded of bullet belted cynics. Bringing a fellow thrash titan and an exciting young band in the form of ANTHRAX and KVELERTAK along for the ride wasn’t a bad move either, and when your night ends on Raining Blood into Angel of Death you’re practically guaranteed a victory.
Honourable Mentions: PRIMORDIAL @ O2 Academy Islington, London, 7th February, GHOST @ KOKO, London, December 21st, Deathcrusher Tour (CARCASS, NAPALM DEATH, OBITUARY, VOIVOD) @ The Ritz, Manchester, October 30th
Graspop Metal Meeting
For an array of reasons such as how little it costs to book bands there in comparison, festivals on the European mainland continue to make everyone stuck in Britain salivate in jealousy. While two headliners on the main stage at Graspop in Belgium were aging bands with not too much relevancy (the third, SLIPKNOT, smashed it), the big names kept a lot of people happy while the lower stages read like a who’s who in life-affirming extreme metal, from CANNIBAL CORPSE to GOD SEED to AMORPHIS playing Tales From the Thousand Lakes in full. At almost no point across the weekend was there no one exciting to go and watch, the eclectic bill a joy to behold. Throw in an excellently located campsite, good sound across most stages, and an efficient token system allowing for mercifully easy beer purchases, and Graspop maintains its position as one of Europe’s premier metal events.
Honourable Mentions: Damnation Festival
BEST FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
MY DYING BRIDE @ Graspop
With a stellar new album a few months in the future MY DYING BRIDE‘s set headlining the Marquee stage at Graspop celebrating 25 years was about celebrating the past but far from a shallow nostalgia trip, the terrifying crash of She is the Dark or the beautiful melancholy of The Cry of Mankind possessing more power than that. Aaron Stainthorpe is the emotional centrepoint, falling to his knees and seeming to claw at his own flesh in torment. Closing by going right back to the very beginning with the comparatively brutal God is Alone suddenly capitalising on the tension built throughout with thrashing abandon is just icing on the cake. A set that left you genuinely emotionally altered.
Honourable Mentions: SLIPKNOT @ Graspop, PRIMORDIAL @ Damnation, ALTAR OF PLAGUES @ Damnation
BEST LIVE BAND
PRIMORDIAL do not drop the ball. I’ve caught them three times this year (with a fourth less than a month away) and they’ve not once been anything less than spellbinding. Their catalogue of songs, especially over the last decade from which they largely draw, is practically perfect, and the way their power is translated on stage is jaw-dropping no matter how many times you see them. Alan Averill on stage is an absolute revelation of what it means to be a frontman, an untouchable voice married with stage presence able to win over and command crowds with ease, and in the live environment those already flawless songs are earth-shattering and rousing beyond measure. Every show is a reminder of why music is such a powerful thing and any band who can do that time and time again deserve recognition.
Honourable Mentions: SLAYER, MY DYING BRIDE, GHOST
MOST DISAPPOINTING ALBUM
Drones – MUSE
MUSE‘s flamboyant and over the top nature is part of their appeal but Drones is the sound of a band finally slipping too far and never being told “no”. After what was repeatedly promised to be a return to the ballsy riff-driven rock that made their best material so inspiring, we received an album not without merit or fun tunes but by far the weakest in their catalogue. A ham-handed, preachy and very juvenile political narrative with far more cliché than substance becomes very hard to ignore and the second half in particular dips into the most lacklustre filler MUSE have ever penned. It’s difficult to come across as both overly ambitious and lazy but on noticeable portions ofDrones MUSE do just that.
Honourable Mentions: IRON MAIDEN – The Book of Souls, CROSSFAITH – Xeno, HELLOWEEN – My God-Given Right
You could argue that GRAVE PLEASURES are not truly a newcomer given that they are essentially just a continuation of BEASTMILK with a differing name and lineup, but they are absolutely one of the most alluring new bands of 2015. The transition from one band to another has undoubtedly cost them momentum, but on new record Dreamcrash their gothic and melodic post-punk is all the more enticing if given the time to truly sink its jet black claws in. They provide an addictive experience and if with this outfit they stick around a while longer, we can hope for more where that came from.
Honourable Mentions: CREEPER, LUCIFER, PISSGRAVE