It’s been a stunning year in Metal & Hard Rock! The most obvious conclusion to be made about 2015 is that Metal is no longer an American & English affair! Metal has become a global phenomenon with the apprentice (European Metal, Japanese Metal etc.) often surpassing the master (American & English Metal). Most of the best Metal albums of 2015 come from countries such as Japan, Sweden, Greece, Germany, Cyprus, Portugal, Finland and Poland.
We have been going through this list for quite some time now and the final rankings are the result of hard thought, repeated listening, headbanging and mosh’sh sessions!! Rankings were determined by the level of musicianship, song writing, creativity, production, how much enjoyment we got from the album, the impact the album had, but above all from ‘The Goosebumps Meter’ which is the intensity of goosebumps given to us from each album!
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Here are BABYMETAL FAN CLUB’s top 20 Metal & Hard Rock albums of 2015:
#20 Ensiferum – One Man Army
Listen to: Cry for the Earth Bounds, One Man Army
#19 Riverside – Love, Fear and The Time Machine
Listen to: Towards The Blue Horizon, Discard Your Fear
#18 Fear Factory – Genexus
Listen to: Dielectric, Regenerate
#17 Tribulation – The Children of the Night
Listen to: Strange Gateways Beckon, Själaflykt
#16 Def Leppard – Def Leppard
Listen to: Let’s go, Man Enough
#15 Blynd – Liber Sum
Listen to: Phobos, Liber Sum
#14 Helloween – My God-Given Right
Listen to: Stay crazy, Swing of a fallen world
#13 Faith No More – Sol Invictus
Listen to: Superhero, Separation Anxiety
#12 Symphony X – Underworld
Listen to: Overture/Nevermore, In My Darkest Hour
#11 Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls
Listen to: Speed of Light, Empire of the Clouds
#10 Moonspell – Extinct
Listen to: Malignia, Medusalem, Extinct
#9 Refused – Freedom
Listen to: Dawkins Christ, Thought is Blood, Françafrique
#8 Lamb of God – VII: Sturm und Drang
Listen to: Embers, 512, Overlord
#7 Whitesnake – The Purple Album
Listen to: Stormbringer, Soldier of Fortune, The Gypsy
#6 Soilwork – The Ride Majestic
Listen to: The Ride Majestic, Death in General, The Phantom
#5 Solution .45 – Nightmares in the Waking State: Part I
Listen to: Bleed Heavens Dry, Winning Where Losing Is All
#4 Fruitpochette – The Crest of Evil
Listen to: Action, Effect, Yami Hapiness, Paradox, Clever Dick
#3 Trivium – Silence in the Snow
Listen to: Blind Leading the Blind, Silence in the Snow
#2 Gus G. – Brand New Revolution
Listen to: What Lies Below, The Quest, Brand New Revolution
#1 BABYMETAL – BABYMETAL (European/U.S. Release with Bonus Tracks)
So, BABYMETAL is a Japanese band fronted by three teenage girls! So, they dance to choreography routines! So, they don’t write the band’s songs! So, their singing is catchy and melodic and in Japanese! SO, WHAT?
In my book it’s all about the music and the music in their self-titled, debut album is phenomenal! The European/U.S. re-release of ‘BABYMETAL’ has 14 impeccable METAL songs of rare quality, all of which could easily have been released as singles. These 14 flawless tracks give it the air of a “Greatest Hits” album that any other band might release. This is partly because the songs were not written by one or two members of the band, which is what usually happens in metal bands, but by a team of composers/musicians – some of the most talented, renowned and established musicians in Japan.
In essence BABYMETAL, is the brain-child of self-proclaimed metal fan Kobametal (Key Kobayashi). He found three of the most talented girls in Japan – Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal – who are part of Japan’s ‘Idol’ scene and a part of the Japanese music industry’s future. He then found Japan’s best metal musicians to play as the backing band. They have now become an integral part of BABYMETAL, the so called ‘Kami Band’ (Kami meaning God or Divine in Japanese). He even got the most famous Japanese choreographer to create the girl’s dance routines and as mentioned before he recruited some of the crème de la crème of the Japanese music industry’s composers to write the band’s songs. So basically what we have with BABYMETAL is a Japanese super-group! Right from the start of this BABYMETAL “project” every little detail was well thought through and planned for years to come. It has been executed in a way that characterizes the well-known Japanese perfectionist way of doing things.
As the band’s name suggests, BABYMETAL is a new-born metal. A new sub-genre of metal and its name is Kawaii Metal (kawaii meaning cute in Japanese). Four years in the making, the music in their debut album is an insane, out of this world, ingenious and unique blend of Death Metal, Thrash Metal, Progressive Metal, JPop, Power Metal, Symphonic Metal, Nu-Metal, Gothic Metal, Industrial Metal, Djent, Metalcore breakdowns, a touch of Reggae, a touch of Rap and more, that has to be heard to be believed. In this author’s opinion BABYMETAL is the most exciting, original, innovative, talented, ground-breaking, genre defying and genre defining new band since System of a Down and one of the most fascinating live acts in the world right now. Your first reaction when you will listen to this album will be sheer shock and if you are a metal elitist you may also feel revulsion. By the 3rd listen, however, it will have crawled under your skin and will stay there… FOREVER!
BABYMETAL’s self-titled debut album re-release is by far the best metal album of 2015. From album’s opener, ‘BABYMETAL DEATH’- that will make you feel the skin being stripped off your face – to the closing track, ‘Ijime, Dame, Zettai’ – that will make you look for the nearest mosh-pit to jump into, the music is flawlessly and masterfully done. This is an all-killer-no-filler album and each and every song has inspiration, originality, hooks and passion. ‘BABYMETAL’ is an amazing accomplishment; a landmark in music’s history; a perfect album… a perfect METAL album; make no mistake about that.
The criteria by which I pick the best albums of the year are: song writing, the level of musicianship, creativity, production, how much enjoyment I got from the album and the impact the album had to the world but above all, what I like to call “The Goosebumps Meter”. In other words it is the intensity and number of goosebumps given to me while listening to an album – and let me tell you – ‘BABYMETAL’, from start to finish is one mean, hair-raising, spine-snapping, goosebumps fest! If after listening to this album a few times you still can’t feel that… you should have your pulse checked.
So take my advice metalheads… open the eye of your mind and stop being immature, depressed, angry, narrow-minded metal elitists. Life is too short to waste like that. I also used to be a metal elitist until BABYMETAL came my way and changed me for the best. I wholeheartedly recommend this album to all metalheads and music lovers. It’s an album that has already converted legions of new fans to metal. The ones who didn’t reject BABYMETAL, for not being “true metal” – I have named them ‘BABYMETALHEADS’ – we really had a blast in 2015.
BABYMETAL, with your début album you have turned our lives from grey to colorful.
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for that.
~ Mr Metalised