The doom metal/occult rock/heavy psych/retro metal/whatever-you-want-to-call-it realm has gradually gotten really big in the past five years or so. Bands like The Sword, Ghost, and Uncle Acid grasped the vibes of olde and have been able to touch mainstream attention. 2015 was a good year for this little corner of music.
I’m no expert in the genre. I’ve had the opportunity to listen to many records this year, but I didn’t hear everything. That’s why this list is “My Favorite Albums” and not “Top X Albums”. So if you’re favorite album didn’t make this list, I might not have listened to it. Regardless, this list contains both popular bands as well as lesser known acts in the genre. Let’s get to it, in no particular order…
Ghost – Meliora
Ghost’s third album, Meliora, was somewhat of a return to form. Many agreed that it was superior to their second record and more in line with their classic debut. Tracks like “Majesty” and “Cirice” show the band at its best: Luciferian worship with catchy-as-hell melodies.
Best Track: “From the Pinnacle to the Pit”
Jess and the Ancient Ones – Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes
The eclectic Jess and the Ancient Ones‘ Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes was a trippy cosmic journey that was full of surprises. I can’t really think of anything that sounds like the group except for Jex Thoth, though only vaguely. There’s a whole range of songwriting and moods this albums brings. Very intriguing to say the least.
Best Track: “Equinox Death Trip”
Satan’s Satyrs – Don’t Deliver Us
Satan’s Satyrs‘ Die Screaming is my favorite record of last year, so their new album had a tough act to follow. Though not as tasty as its predecessor, Don’t Deliver Us showed the trio still has plenty to offer, and it feels like a natural progression. Tracks like “(Won’t You Be My) Gravedancer” and “Germanium Bomb” show the raw power and intensity the band commands.
Best Track: “Germanium Bomb”
Avatarium – The Girl with the Raven Mask
Leif Edling‘s Avatarium came out with their sophomore effort this year and it did not disappoint. They went for a more theatrical vibe this time around, weaving doom riffs in with softer, ballady type songwriting. Very effective.
Best Track: “Ghostlight”
Uncle Acid – The Night Creeper
Uncle Acid delivered another addition to their already excellent discography, The Night Creeper. The record is chock full of the murderous riffs and creepy vocals that all of us doomsters love. The maniacal “Murder Nights”, the trashy-yet-waltzy “Downtown” and the mental breakdown that is “Melody Lane” are highlights that show some of best that the doom metal genre has to offer. Definitely in the top five of the year.
Best Track: “Melody Lane”
Luciferian Light Orchestra – Luciferian Light Orchestra
Luciferian Light Orchestra comes from the mastermind of Therion, Christofer Johnsson. He decided to jump on the retro/occult bandwagon with a tongue-in-cheek Satanic, Ghost-esque project. The devilish chants are fun and the mysticism is in full force.
Best Track: “Venus in Flames”
Acid King – Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
After a ten year recording absence, stoner veterans Acid King came out with a stellar release, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere. The group stuck to formula, but why fix something if it isn’t broken? We got LSD-soaked riffs with Lori’s signature elongated wailing vocals. That’s all I want from Acid King. I saw them on their North American tour recently and they played nearly the whole record, a rarity for a band that’s been around for a while. Here’s to more Acid King in the years to come.
Best Track: “Coming Down From Outer Space”
Crypt Sermon – Out of the Garden
I liked Crypt Sermon‘s Out of the Garden when I initially reviewed it, but it didn’t wow me. They just seemed like a less interesting Candlemass. But when I saw them live recently and they played almost the whole album, they really made the music come alive. I further appreciated the record after witnessing the group. It’s cool seeing younger bands keeping the epic doom metal niche alive and well, something which Candlemass started thirty years ago.
Best Track: “Byzantium”
Ruby the Hatchet – Valley of the Snake
Even though I said in no particular order, Ruby the Hatchet‘s Valley of the Snake is my favorite record of the year. I love this album so much that my least favorite song on it is “Demons”… and it’s still a great track. From the apocalyptic “Tomorrow Never Comes” to the trippy “The Unholy Behemoth”, the band has a lot to offer with this release, and it never bores me. I’ve seen the band four times this year alone and they are simply excellent every time. I’ve written a number of articles about the group. As I stated in my last show review of them, “the riffs along with the atmosphere paint a strange picture of wonder and desolation”. They truly are destined for greatness.
Best Track: “Tomorrow Never Comes”