Madam X New Image2015 ended up a twisted year and nowhere does that shine more brightly than in my listening habits and by extension my top 10(ish) below.

This year saw many a change… Old friends were lost and new friends were found, likewise there were job and career changes, but through it all AMG and its growing feeling of community shone bright and strong.

It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to be able to work so closely with the contributors and to write and edit for you all. Thanks for all the memories!

monster-magnet-cobras-and-fire(ish): Monster Magnet // Cobras and Fire (The Mastermind Redux) – Well I’m told this isn’t list-worthy, but I disagree. Back in 2014 Monster Magnet released Milking the Stars, a rearranged and re-imagined version of Last Patrol. This was a complete failure in my mind. Now, taking the 2010 release Mastermind, Monster Magnet stripped it down to it’s bare necessities and then dirtied it up, even going to the point of introducing porno wife Cobra and a re-imagining of Mastermind‘s “Dig That Hole.” “She Digs That Hole” is nasty, fun and it hooks you straight away. Frontman Dave Wyndorf gives you his take “I’d call it a deranged fusion of Garage-Psych, Fuzz Punk and Movie Soundtrack music.” Almost entirely re-recorded, moving away from being a more traditional rock album, Cobras and Fire is no more dynamic than its predecessor, but it now pimps an added richness driven by the addition of an organ, a piano and a bunch of sitars. This is by far the weirdest Monster Magnet yet and I like it!

Chelsea Wolfe - Abyss 01#10. Chelsea Wolfe // Abyss – Falling into the ‘not-quite-metal-but-shit-you-should-be-listening-to’ category Chelsea Wolfe dispenses dark artistry that’s a fluid mixture of goth, noise rock and drone with added elements of doom cropping up from time to time. Put in absolutely simple terms, think Gary Numan crossed with Igorrr with the minimalism of Burzum, fronted by a tremendously dynamic front-woman. In the words of the great L. SaundersAbyss may not qualify as metal, but it will likely go down as one of the darkest, most challenging and emotionally heavy releases of the year.” He wasn’t kidding, dive into this Abyss and check out “Iron Moon,” if you dare.

Pyramaze_Disciples of the Sun#9. Pyramaze // Disciples of the Sun – I’m not one to grab at the latest prog offering, and truth be told power metal is generally a little too uplifting for my sunny disposition. But when Steel Druhm spends days and days playing and replaying a track to the point where it welds itself to your brain – queue “Disciples of the Sun” – you admit defeat and just join in the fun; such was my introduction to Pyramaze. If you’re looking for a big and catchy fearless crossover of Anubis Gate and Pagan’s Mind mixed in with hooky traces of indie rock, Pyramaze say that you’ll be “Back for More,” and they wouldn’t be wrong.

Khemmis - Absolution#8. Khemmis // Absolution – I hardly expected to end up so taken with this six-song debut beast. Adorned in a bewitching cover, steeped in sorcery, Khemmis fascinate with an enthralling mixture of traditional doom, stoner metal, some southern groove and the bounce of old-school hard rock. What you end up with, is an album that travels along at a decently brisk pace feeling oddly engaging, lively and aggressively likable. Cutting through the fuzz, “Ash Cinder, Smoke” more than plays to Phil’s clear, forlorn vocal range, perfectly contrasted by Ben’s harsh muddy vocal backup. Absolution consists of 42 minutes of ‘you don’t want to miss this.’

Enshine_Singularity#7. Enshine // Singularity – Following on from 2013’s Origin, Jari Lindholm (Slumber) and Sebastien Pierre (Lethian Dreams, Fractal Gates) return to once again combine their talents with Enshine. Conceived of some of Jari’s most exquisite guitar work, Singularity sets out to captivate and entrance fans of Omnium Gatherum, Insomnium and Anathema. Skillfully shifting between brutish death metal, melodic doom-death and teary-eyed goth rock, Singularity is an album that grabs you with your first listen and then goes on to completely seduce you the longer you spend in its embrace.

Band of Spice Economic Dancers 01#6. Band of Spice // Economic Dancers – Slip into those slightly too tight flare jeans, dig out your headband, it’s back to the ’70s. Things go more than a little retro with the latest project of Swedish singer and songwriter Spice (Kayser and ex-Spiritual Beggars). Laced with vocals you’ll either love or hate in equal measure, Economic Dancers is an accessible and altogether uncomplicated album that’s packed to the hilt with good old-fashioned fuzzy rock anthems combining Orange Goblin and Gaslight Anthem. Despite the easy-going nature of the instrumentation, Spice successfully maintains the concepts of abuse, hope, hopelessness, weakness and strength. Of living life to the fullest and not relying on safety nets. If you’re ready for all that, open a window into this weird and wonderful hard rocking journey.

Clutch Psychic Warfare#5. Clutch // Psychic WarfarePsychic Warfare proves that Clutch still have what it takes to rattle the cages of stoner rock legends like Kyuss and Monster Magnet. Packed with 12 tracks of pure adrenaline, Neil Fallon’s familiar Tom Waits inspired gruffness and choruses that stick like meat to bone. Psychic Warfare doesn’t let up from the moment “X-Ray Visions” hypnotizes you until “Son of Virginia‘s” heavy twang fades out. If Firebirds and energy weapons interest you, put pedal to the metal and check out “Firebirds.”

Ghost_Meliora#4. Ghost // Meliora – The masters of ’60s occult rock spook are back and it’s as if Infestissumam never happened! In the words of Pappa III, “Throw yourself into the vessel of possibilities…” words that perfectly suit Ghost‘s return to the Opus Eponymous mashup of Blue Öyster Cult and Mercyful Fate. Meliora is all Steel Druhm promised and so much more, check out “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” if you haven’t already!

Dodsferd - Wastes of Life 01#3. Dodsferd // Wastes of Life – Winter has finally hit and Dodsferd‘s Wastes of Life plays on, a pain-riddled soundtrack. With carefully considered dynamics and knife-twisting moments that draw from such unusual places as Eric Clapton, Old Dead Tree and Eudaimony, Wastes of Life hit me as an unexpected turning point in Dodsferd‘s extensive discography. Described by Wrath as “unapologetically defiant, shockingly melodic and soul-destroying” and “written with feelings of disgust,” you can’t help but walk away from Wastes of Life a little changed. This is by far the band’s most moving and harrowing musical journey, so if can stomach Wrath’s depressive shrieks, check this out.

Wailin Storms - One Foot in the Flesh Grave 02#2. Wailin Storms // One Foot in the Flesh Grave – With Skeletons only recently released, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve reached the turning point where the “shirtless one” should probably hang up his microphone and put on that shirt. As luck would have it, there’s a new Danzig on the block and trying to get away from Wailin Storms crude little piece of “She Rides” styled Danzig-worship will be an exercise in futility. If Justin Storms’ raucous singing, yelling and warbling doesn’t get you, I’m pretty sure Wailin Storms oddly combined twisted indulgence of Monster Magnet, 16 Horsepower and David Galas will do it. Check this out if you’re brave enough to risk being blindsided by 7 monstrous tracks harnessing pure lightning in a bottle.

#1. Jonne // JonneSteel Druhm questioned whether this little gem would find its audience, well indeed it did. Stepping outside of the large and looming shadow of the booze-fuelled likes of Korpiklaani, Jonne Jävelä created something truly unique and altogether enchanting with this little piece of minimalistic shamanistic folk music. Is it metal, probably not. Is he metal for attempting it, hell yes. Captured within these 40 laid-back minutes are bewitching folksy melodies, entrancing vocal harmonies by Jonne, Natalie Koskinen (Shape of Despair) and Eero Haula (Oceanwake), saloon-style keyboards from Santeri Kallio (Amorphis), tribal conjuring, rhythmic folk instrumentation and a subtle funky groove. Were I to liken it to something else, I guess the closest I can get to is moments of Tool‘s 10,000 Days. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for something unusual to calm the mind and soothe the troubled soul.

Jonne _ Jonne

Honorable Mentions: (in no particular order)

Song o’ the Year:

Jonne – “Ämmänkuolema”

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  • I have to admit that I was completely shocked when I saw this Jonne record at the #1 spot. I have to and give this a deeper listen now. I feel like I didn’t give it due diligence!

    Thanks for all your hard work this year, Madam X! Especially your mad photoshopping skillz!

    • Lol Steel’s poem was awesome, I’m glad I could contribute :)

    • Is she for hire? We pay in DR scores.

      • She might be.

        • Madam X, if you are up for some occasional pro-bono work to help the cause, please let me know off thread (you have my email I believe).

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Wow. Surprising but awesome list. Definitely fought with Jonne and Clutch in my list. Good stuff.

  • kaeru92

    Jonne is also high on my year end list. My favorite songs are “Metsaan On Laksi Mieli” and “Tule Hiidesta Hevonen”.

    Very relaxing indeed. I don’t dig all quiet and atmospheric stuff, but this somehow resonates within me.

    • Stoked it’s finding an audience.

  • This is a wacky list!

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Great list, Madam. Numbers 7-9 especially were among my favourites. Still can’t get my head around AMG’s comment that Singularity was “fake”. Oh well. All the best in the new year!

  • Dr_Fisting

    That’s a hell of a list. I gotta start checking some of these bands out!

  • Kronos

    As always, your list is as diverse as it is bizarre. Nobody else here could have produced or even predicted these picks. Will done, and thanks for a great year of turning my word salad into reviews.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Awsome list! I haven’t heard Jonne yet, but Clutch, Pyramaze, Khemmis, Ghost and Chelsea Wolfe are all in my personal top 10.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Madam X’s list always seems the most unique of them all. That Wailin Storms album is damn good! Still, I must check out that Jonne album, like, immediately.

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      Do it! Absolutely wonderful record if I do say so myself!

  • Art Saves

    Best list so far. ;) The Monster Magnet one is indeed super awesome, But I think the Last Patrol remake was awesome aswell.

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    Excellent list. Huge Magnet fan, love the new interpretations. Jonne is catchy, love the Native/Sami vibe. Thanks for keeping it real, MX!

  • Sure, day after Xmas, the top pick is a good natured boozy album with a steady slow beat you can rock to even in the fog of a hangover. None of this smacks of a CONSPIRACY. This guy could be singing about eating babies and we’d still be all “yup. sounds good.”

  • Pimpolho

    REALLY surprised to see Jonne as number one, but it’s not something bad, just… Eccentric. Still, fantastic list.

  • Guillotine of Papal Crowns

    Meliora is one of my favourite albums of the year and it´s been on constant rotation since it´s been out. Very consistent and very strong album.

    And being Dead Space one of my favourite games of all time, that review of Deadspace is 5/5… Now I´ll have to check the album too xD

  • De2013

    Thank you for the list Madam. I see I missed some reviews but fully agree with Khemmis & Pentagram! Great records.

    And I actually was wondering why Skeletons wasn’t reviewed? Being a total Danzig fanboy, I’m really enjoying it.

    • It got a listen, but wow it just sounded so bad. Not reviewing Skeletons was an act of mercy sadly.

  • Luke_22

    Stoked to see Chelsea Wolfe on your list, glad you enjoyed it. Always enjoy reading your eclectic lists and expanding my own horizons. Need to get back on that Clutch album, it didn’t initially hit me as hard as Earth Rocker but still sounded very good. And thanks for all your hard work behind the scenes, it’s much appreciated by all.

  • El_Cuervo

    That there Dodsferd could easily have been on my list if I had more time with it. An interesting list as ever Madam. Thanks for the editing efforts this year!

  • JWEG

    I dig this top ten, not because it aligned in any way with my own (Khemmis… that’s it…), but because it’s just far-enough all over the place to make me feel better at having a similarly scattered list (the only notable theme being an unintentional bias toward my regional metal scene).

    Plus I have more to explore here than any of the other top tens – in the sense of things I nonetheless recognize from the year but didn’t really sit down and listen to ‘seriously’.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    A very surprisingly hard rockin, quirky and retro list! I missed most of your top selections, I didn’t even know Monster Magnet had even put anything out!
    I love the AMG year end lists, there’s always more than a few gems I would’ve otherwise missed. I’ll definately be going back to check out Jonne.
    Khemmis was an outstanding debut and The Bereaved is one of my favourite songs this year but I think Crypt Sermon and Pentegram deserve more love, yours is the first list I’ve even seen Pentagram on! …Ghost, Pyramaze and Enshine are all excellent and Chelsea Wolfe is def a bit special.
    Thanks for another year of top shelf work Madam X!

  • You wot m8?

    Wailin Storms was awesome, and Jonne was, indeed, quite good. Glad to see that they made someone’s list.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Heck yeah for Jonne as #1! I absolutely loved that record, sitting somewhere in my top 5. Brilliant list, though i’d personally switch 3 with 2. Surprised you threw Enshine in there; not that I disagree, but it ain’t obscvre enough! Fantastic finds and write-ups this year, thanks a tonne!

  • Sikrion

    My first post here, despite lurking for a little over a year. This is easily the list I most agree with here, thanks for also giving Jonne due respect! Khemmis is also a great surprise for me this year so happy to see it as well!

    Love the site, it is a shame that new albums by bands like Jupiter, Galneryus, Yousei Teikoku are lost due to the fact they will never send you anything (kinda hard with a thick language barrier) but they hit my top ten.

    Ancient moonlit battleground from yousei teikoku hits all the right notes in my guitar love.

    • Thanks for commenting! I hear you, we’re making a push this year to focus on some of those albums slipping through the cracks. As always though if something exciting grabs your attention, let us know about it in the comments.

  • Norfair Legend

    Wailin Storms could be my album of the year possibly…and thanks to this site for bringing it to my attention earlier in the year.

  • Phantom667

    This is like the only interesting list amidst the sausage fest – the rest is just rehashing the album of the months list in different orders? And holy shit I somehow missed clutch! ;)