Top 20 Albums of 2015

As the year draws to a close, Crash And Ride Music has counted down its Top 20 Albums of 2015. It took some time to not only narrow down the large list to twenty, but to order them correctly as well. Keep in mind that only albums that were reviewed on the site were included in this list, which unfortunately meant excluding some amazing albums (like Arcane’s “Known/Learned” and Vola’s “Inmazes” for starters). If this site were more than just a hobby of mine, then I have no doubt that I would have had the time to mention more fantastic and possibly deserving albums on the site. All I can say is 2015 was a great year in music, and these were the best of the best.

Without further wait, here is Crash And Ride Music’s Top 20 Albums of 2015:

20. Autumn Above – Blessed You’re Still

Autumn Above’s second album is a rock album played almost exclusively on the acoustic guitar. With power and purpose, “Blessed You’re Still” is a very moving album dedicated to victims of abuse.

19. TesseracT – Polaris

As I stated in my review of the album, TesseracT’s “Polaris” would either be one of the best albums of the year, or one of the most over-rated. Luckily, it falls into the prior category. After several listens, the album has grown on me, and should for you too.

18. Delvoid – Serene

Played just a few times mores than the previous entry on my iTunes library, Delvoid’s second album “Serene” is… serene! The long-winded passages may turn off some listeners, but the ebb and flow of this album result in one emotional listen.

17. Quiet Child – The Ever Present Shadow

One of the later albums of the year, Quiet Child’s seventh album “The Ever Present Shadow” is easily their hardest album they’ve released. Using intriguing experimentation, this album starkly contrasts its predecessors.

16. Kingcrow – Eidos

Heavy. Deep. Dark. My first taste of Kingcrow was a delicious one. “Eidos” is emotionally driven thanks to vocalist Diego Marchesi. It’s a great mix of progressive and alternative rock and metal.

15. The Wise Man’s Fear – Castle In The Clouds

The first truly metal album on the list, The Wise Man’s Fear consists of local college kids in Indiana putting together their first record. And what a record it is! An amazing debut for a band that has a bright future ahead of them.

14. Steve Hackett – Wolflight

The most surprising listen of the year for me, I enjoyed discovering Steve Hackett’s solo work this year, starting with his latest release “Wolflight.” If his prior albums are of the same quality, then I can’t wait to travel back in time in his discography.

13. Agent Fresco – Destrier

I remember reading the name “Agent Fresco” and wondering if they were related to the popular soft drink Fresca. Well, not really. But their latest album “Destrier” has enough fizz to keep you up all night!

12. Deafheaven – New Bermuda

Here’s the thing about “New Bermuda”: No matter how great everyone says this album is, it isn’t better than their previous album “Sunbather.” Does that make this a bad album? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s probably one of the best (and most accessible) black metal albums out there, only second to themselves.

11. Mew – Plus/Minus

Another introductory album to me. After hearing this album, I immediately listened to their prior ones. More poppy and less proggy, Mew’s “Plus/Minus” is a great introductory album to the wonderful world of prog.

10. Riverside – Love, Fear, And The Time Machine

I know this album is much farther up most of my peer’s lists. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a fantastic album. I just had a hard time justifying placing this album any higher, especially in a year with so many incredible albums released. A solid album nonetheless.

9. Florence And The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Although my site has strayed away from the indie genre over time, I couldn’t exclude this album from this list. The symphonics, the beat, that voice; it’s wonderful. Bold statement: “How Big…” is better than Adele’s “25.”

8. Eric Baule – Revelations Adrift

Boy, can that Eric play the guitar. The perfect mix of progressive rock and metal, I was hooked on this album when it was released earlier this year. And you will be too.

7. Draw Me A Sheep – Premier Pas

I have never played an instrumental album more than this one. This is easily the best instrumental album of the year, and even one of the greatest metal albums on this list. The ability of all four members are jaw-dropping. All it takes is the first song to get you hooked.

6. Caligula’s Horse – Bloom

My friend Jim down in Australia keeps making fantastic albums this year. Two of them to be exact. His vocal performance on this album is enough for me to announce him the best vocalist on this list. Congratulations Jim; you deserve it. If you’re a fan of progressive and alternative rock, I highly recommend checking “Bloom” out.

5. Native Construct – Quiet World

This is a band that is going places, and quickly. New album, new record label, first large tour; everything is pointing towards Native Construct. Recommended to me earlier this year, I couldn’t imagine my life without “Quiet World.” Ranging from classical to death metal, this album has a little bit of everything. Literally.

4. Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic

It would be stupid of me not to include one of my favorite bands on this list. Just when you thought these guys couldn’t get any crazier, they throw you a curveball with “Coma Ecliptic.” An album to divide them all, I feel it is one of their strongest performances. You’ll just have to listen and either agree or disagree.

3. Amadeus Awad – Death Is Just A Feeling

With the collaborative talent behind this album, there was no way I could place it any lower. Props to the dominant drum performance behind my man Marco Minnemann.

2. Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.

I can hear the uproar already. This album is listed #1 on nearly every list of top albums by my peers and like-minded individuals. Steven Wilson himself has won numerous awards for this album. So why isn’t it #1? Simply because it isn’t his best album. Mind you it’s a fantastic album, but I preferred his prior album “The Raven That Refused To Sing” more. (Fun fact: Two of the top 3 albums on this list feature Marco Minnemann on drums. Bias much?) So let’s give someone else a shot at the #1 spot, that band being…

1. The Dear Hunter – Act IV: Rebirth In Reprise

Let’s just say my day gets better whenever I hear this album. “Act IV” is not only the best album of their discography, but is also Crash And Ride Music’s best album of the year! The incorporation of symphonic instruments fused in indie/alternative/progressive rock is totally unique, something I’ve never heard before. So congratulations to Casey Crescenzo and company for being the #1 album of 2015 with this unforgettable performance.