I'm going to treat these three albums as one for the purposes of this list, just to make it easier. Which should be fine, since they were released at the same time, and are obviously meant to be part of the same trilogy.
They released a pretty big album last year, so for the most part this is just Boris relaxing a bit and doing some noise and drone rather than writing songs, and as usual, doing it very well. Usually one probably wouldn't describe releasing three albums at once as "relaxing", but this is Boris after all.
However, between all the noise and soundscapes, there is an actual song hidden here. Surrender, which is the second track on Urban Dance, is actually a very nice post rock piece, interspliced with a little bit of noise, which comes as a nice surprise.
14 - Hades (The Nine Stages of Change at the Deceased Remains) by 死んだ僕の彼女 (My Dead Girlfriend)
I know it might seem like this would be a pretty bleak album, but it's actually some pretty upbeat shoegaze/noise pop, though there is the occasional darker and more atmospheric song. A very enjoyable album with some great melodies and riffs, as well as some truly fantastic atmosphere on those occasional tracks.
13 - A N D by tricot
Not quite as good as T H E, but still an excellent math rock album. Catchy, and filled with great instrumentation.
12 - Cuts of Guilt, Cuts Deeper by Merzbow, Mats Gustafsson, Balázs Pándi & Thurston Moore
A big collaboration resulting in a great free improvisation record, with plenty of harsh noise and jazz within. A very crushing and abrasive album, but one that is quite the experience.
11 - The Dreaming I by Akhlys
That cover sure reminds me of Behemoth's The Satanist from last year. As do some aspects of the music contained within. I mean, it's not a rip-off or anything, with the music being quite different, but Akhlys definitely took some inspiration from that album here, and have created a great black metal album with elements of dark ambient, and much like The Satanist, a great sense of atmosphere and grandeur.
10 - Graveward by Sigh
The production on this album may be quite bad, but it does not hide Sigh's signature avant-garde/black metal brilliance. Great riffs, excellent songwriting, and of course the usual Sigh weirdness.
9 - Atheist's Cornea by Envy
An excellent mix of post-rock and post-hardcore, with some great atmosphere, and moments of both slow beauty, and fast paced aggression.
8 - Abyss by Chelsea Wolfe
A mesmerising album of haunting and ethereal beauty, which sounds exactly what the cover looks like - dark, eerie and desolate.
7 - Into the Shadows by Anoice
A beautiful and melancholy album, blending post-rock with modern classical for some incredible compositions. It's very easy to get lost in the world that this album creates.
6 - Fantasy Empire by Lightning Bolt
An excellent noise rock/math rock album, with some fantastic instrumentation. The production gives it a very nice sound, with a layer of noise and muted vocals over top of the band rocking out on their instruments. Amazing riffs too.
5 - Frozen Niagara Falls by Prurient
A terrifying mass of harsh noise and industrial, which you can't break away from. It grabs and suffocates you, while taking you on a journey through bleak and hopeless soundscapes, with the occasional glimmer of beauty which inevitably gets drowned out in cold darkness. An experience unlike anything else.
4 - Sgùrr by Thy Catafalque
An amazing progressive metal album with an avant-garde flavour. Full of long and winding songs with incredible instrumentation and unique atmosphere, often going off in unpredictable directions. The riffs on this thing are seriously out of this world.
3 - The Plague Within by Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost continue their streak of perfect albums, this time seeing the return of growls and other death metal elements which have been long absent. Combining these elements with their current sound, Paradise Lost have achieved one of the best albums of their long and already highly impressive career. Great songwriting and riffs, their own brand of haunting beauty, the occasional symphonic elements, it's all here and it all makes for an incredible album.
2 - The Battle of Being by Outside the Coma
The latest project of Mikee Goodman, known for SikTh and Primal Rock Rebellion, is quite a wild ride. I don't even know how to describe it, to be honest. I guess that SikTh would be the closest point of comparison, but the experimentation and insanity is turned up to a whole different level here. It's a bizarre and eccentric album, and probably the best thing that Mikee's done, which is definitely no small praise when that means outdoing SikTh.
1 - Freedom by Refused
It's been 17 years since Refused revolutionised music with The Shape of Punk to Come - which I happen to think is the best album of all time. And for those 17 years, the world was convinced that there would never be another Refused album. Yet, here we are. And I couldn't be happier about it.
Is Freedom as good as TSoPtC? No, of course not, don't be silly. It's not even close. Nothing is. So it's a good thing that Refused are not concerned with trying to replicate it, and instead do the same thing they've always done: change their sound with every album and never stop evolving.
17 years, but Refused have not aged a day. The band is still as skilled and talented as they've ever been, and deliver an album of infectious punk anthems with plenty of twists to keep it interesting and unique. Although lacking the bold experimentation of the previous album, there's still plenty of new ideas here, and the excellent songwriting has not gone anywhere.
Welcome back, Refused. Long live the New Noise.
So that's my list done. Now it's time for the honourable mentions, since I can't be bothered to do a separate entry for them this year:
Thier by Amestigon
Arcturian by Arcturus
Crypt of the NecroDancer OST by Danny Baranowsky
Near Death Revelations by Blaze of Perdition
The Devil by Blue Stahli
Psychic Warfare by Clutch
Lore by Elder
Beware the Sword You Cannot See by A Forest of Stars
Holographic Violence by Grave Babies
Enki by Melechesh
II by METZ
Exercises in Futility by Mgła
Autumn Eternal by Panopticon
Monotony Fields by Shape of Despair
International Blackjazz Society by Shining
Opacities by SikTh
Ordeal by Skepticism
The Ride Majestic by Soilwork
Never Were the Way She Was by Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld
The Moon Lit Our Path by Tempel
The Children of the Night by Tribulation
And that concludes my look back at 2015's music. Here's hoping that 2016 is anywhere near as good.