As usually happens to me, The Meister, I have discovered or finally gotten around to spinning a few albums from the previous year that I had forgotten, overlooked or generally missed. Time to collect them into an article here so that maybe someone else can discover these gems, or maybe you already have. At least one of these albums I was completely unaware of being released until one of our Decibel Geek faithful alerted me to its issue via the Decibel Geek Facebook page. I’m not saying that these would have made the difference to my top albums of 2015 (What You Should Have Been Listening to in 2015), but they deserve a mention for sure as at the time some of them I was unaware of, nevermind considered. While there are a few other stellar albums that were close to ranking in personal my best of 2015 list, I have omitted them here if they have already been featured/reviewed on Decibel Geek.
So without further ado, in no particular order, here’s some my forgotten, overlooked and generally missed albums of 2015.
Silent Jack – Play the Game
Silent Jack are a British band formed in Birmingham, England, in 2009, and play straight up hard rock with blues influences down ‘n’ dirty riffs. They even have their own event, in Birmingham, called Hard Roxx, where, as the name suggests, the best hard rock bands can show off their skills. In 2015 the lads issued their debut album, Play the Game, packed with totally 80’s sleaze rock influenced tunes, this could have easily been a contender for my best of 2015 if I’d gotten to it sooner.
Therapy? – Disquiet
Personally being a huge fan of an album called Troublegum from Northern Irish alternative metal band Therapy?, I was shocked to discover that they’d issued Disquiet in 2015 and I’d completely missed it! Disquiet, as was reported to me, has similarities or parallels to the 1994 released Troublegum and, in my opinion, is the best thing the band has put together since that album that brought them to attention, mostly thanks to video play on MuchMusic (the Canadian MTV).
Impellitteri – Venom
The Venom album from Impellitteri in 2015 was a close contender to sneak into my best of the year. The band was formed in the late 80’s by namesake guitarist Chris Impellitteri in Los Angeles and has over the years contained such recognisable names as Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz/Rainbow), Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot/House of Lords), Pat Torpey (Mr. Big), Ken Mary (House of Lords) among others. Venom was to be my inaugural foray into the band and the shred-style guitar is matched with perfectly melodic songwriting.
The V – Now or Never
When The V‘s Now or Never album got sent to me as a promo, it became lost in the pile, quickly dismissed and never played. Thanks to their inclusion in the 2015 Rock n Skull Festival I was prompted to dig it out and finally spun it as I prepared to head to the festival event. What a fantastic hard rock album, and her set at the festival was a highlight! The V is actually Veronica Freeman, vocalist of Benedictum in a solo venture featuring assistance from such notable names as Michael Sweet, Tony Martin and Jamie St. James.
Grave Digger – Exhumation-The Eary Years
German Heavy Metal band Grave Digger issued Exhumation-The Early Years in 2015. The album contained re-recordings of older Grave Digger songs as well as two new compositions. These two new songs especially provide a glimpse into what’s to come in Grave Digger‘s forthcoming 2016 album. Grave Digger were show stealers as they opened for Blind Guardian in Toronto in November. I ultimately disqualified Exhumation-The Early Years from my best of 2015 list as it was a re-recorded compilation otherwise it would have placed highly!
Tank – Valley of Tears
A part of the NWOBHM scene in the early 80’s Tank‘s Filth Hounds of Hades album was positively received by both punk and metal fans as well as most critics. Today there are two versions of the band on the go, the Algy Ward Tank and the Tucker/Evans Tank. Aside from confusing fans, I’m personally not exactly sure about all this “two versions of a band with the same name” business, but nonetheless, Valley of Tears from the Tucker/Evans camp is a great hard rock album.
H.E.A.T – Live in London
Swedish melodic rock champs H.E.A.T released their first official live album in 2015 titled Live in London. The energy of this band on stage is something I’ve not seen matched, led by the charisma of vocalist Erik Gronwall and had I been including live albums, this would have made the list. It’s extremely difficult to capture the live experience in a recording and whose to say what’s really live and what’s not, but either way you look at it this collection is a perfect gathering of the best of H.E.A.T.
The all-female NWOBHM era band Girlschool formed in London, England and gained notoriety in the early 80’s with their punk influenced metal. For this 13th Girlschool album, Guilty As Sin, we find original members Kim McAuliffe, Enid Williams and Denise Dufort alongside long time member Jackie Chambers with Chris Tsangarides in the producers seat. Guilty as Sin has all the swagger and punk attitude that you’d expect from Girlschool and is a solid album from start to finish even the Bee Gees cover “Staying Alive”!
At first, I expected I’d appreciate this 2015 issue from Canada’s Thor simply on a nostalgic basis, but before the first spin was complete I realised Metal Avenger is right up there with 1985’s Only the Strong. It’s a little 80’s cheesy in sections, but I actually like that and Metal Avenger is a fun listen. Thor enlisted some notable names as guests on Metal Avenger such as Brian Forsythe (KIX), Fast Eddie Clarke (Motorhead), Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Jay Jay French (Twisted Sister), Betsy Bitch (Bitch) and several others as well. Thor also has a documentary film, I Am Thor, that was released in 2015.
After being introduced to Axxis at my first Sweden Rock Festival in 2013 and then seeing them again at Firefest in 2014, I’ve become quite the fan. This 2015 released double live disc is a fantastic collection of their bigger songs as well as others and does a decent job of capturing Bernhard Weiss‘ stage energy, but again who’s to say what’s what with live albums. If you’re starting out with Axxis, I don’t think I’d point to this as a good beginning point since it’s rather extensive, but for those that know the material, this is a great collection.
I’m sure that there are many more great issues, I can already think of a couple of others as I wrap up this blog and some that I haven’t discovered or spun as yet. What are some of yours?