Monday 4 January 2016

***BEST OF 2015***

2015 is over so now I can do my list. Without further adieu, the top 15 LPs, top 6 EPs, top 7 splits and the top demo of 2015 according to Dave Norman.

Full Lengths

- 'Efter, Utan Under' 12"LP
This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, as Via Fondo is my favourite band, but whether you've heard the band or not this is 100% worth your time. The soaring, dueling guitars and passionately yelled/screamed Swedish vocals blend incredibly smoothly with the mathematically precise and intricate drum fills. Goddamn I love this record.

TENTACLES - 'Ambivalence' 12"LP
I love me some Tentacles, but goddamn this blew me away and I was already expecting a lot. The epic nature of this record combined with the pummeling speed and harsh vocals make it heavy as fuck but balanced in a way that is soothing. Mixing emo-violence, screamo, black metal and grind, this is an album that should go down as one of the best heavy albums ever. I'm not exaggerating.

- 'Frustration' 12"LP
This came out of nowhere. I knew Lukas from the bands Trachimbrod and I Love Your Lifestyle in which he does vocals, so he hit me up about the band he drums for and I checked out their old stuff and thought it was decent at best. Then they sent me the master. Holy. Fucking. Shit. This is like Envy, old Hopesfall and Light Bearer all wrapped into one. Seriously phenomenal post-hardcore/screamo album that will probably end up being the sleeper of the year.

- 'Bleeder' cd/12"LP
It's amazing. It's ridiculous. And I mean ridiculous in a good and funny way. Songs like "Beast" and "Dead Dreams" conjure up massive riffs and nightmarish yet melodic vocals while "Bridgeburner" and "Surveillance" are amazing but also humorous in their delivery, especially with Brodsky's wailing screams. Amazing debut LP from the Converge/Cave In supergroup. If they keep this up having no Cave In will be a little more bearable.

- 'OsoLuna' 12"LP
This is my biggest regret of 2015. I was asked to help release this and I declined before listening to it based on lack of income. A few months after I started jamming it and realized how amazing it was - I should have figured something out to make it work. If you like Welcome The Plague Year and the heavier side of O' God The White Whale then this Spanish group will have you salivating halfway through the first song.

This is definitely a strange release. The quirky guitars, rhythms and screeching vocals may be off putting at first, but upon repeat listens the genius of this album becomes apparent. Songs such as "Cascade" and "Opium Summer" are instant classics. RIP fellas.

COMA REGALIA - 'Ours is the Cause Most Noble' 2x7"LP
The first Coma Regalia full length since 2012 and in no way does it disappoint. Aside from having amazing 2x7" packaging/artwork, the 12 songs bring to mind bands such as Orchid, Funeral Diner and Hot Cross which are among my favourites of all time. Their song on the Naoru Kagisa split from this year is also worth mentioning as it's the best CR song I've heard to date.

 - 'I Wish You Away' 12"LP
Apparently this band has been around for a few years but it wasn't until their drummer Gabriel contacted me about releasing this gem that I was able to take a listen. 'I Wish You Away' is influenced heavily by Suis La Lune but the dual vocals and soft/hard dynamic is a bit more extreme than the aforementioned Swedish kings. If you haven't checked this out you are doing yourself a disservice. "Röda Fingrar" is an absolutely breathtaking song.

LENTIC WATERS - 'The Path' 12"LP
After helping release the phenomenal split 12" with Old Soul last year (which made the year end list in 2014, obviously) the band asked me to check out their new album. I was expecting it to be pretty good, but I didn't expect this. Imagine Fall Of Efrafa and Botch drinking tons of German beer, then getting really depressed and angry right before writing songs together. The band will be touring in support of this behemoth in mid-2016 with a show in Toronto supported by Locktender, Foxmoulder and my band The World That Summer. I expect to be dead by the time this band is done with me.

DEAFHEAVEN - 'New Bermuda' 12"LP
I went into this expecting a lot, was initially disappointed and then I kinda came around. I see posts hailing this band and others shitting on them. It's in the middle, but leaning much more toward the positive side, as a few tracks on 'New Bermuda' are fantastic such as "Luna" and "Gifts for the Earth". Although the vocals still don't always jive with me, this is a very good album.

TEMPEST - 'Tempest' 12"LP
Not unlike the Tentacles 'Ambivalence' LP, Canadian band Tempest released an absolutely crushing self titled album. The 8 songs blast through sludgy grind and emo-violence/metal territory with reckless abandon. One thing that held this back from being higher on the list was the production, which I didn't much care for and found it muffled the band's overall sound. Still, a great record and probably insane to behold live. Imagine Tentacles, Deafheaven and Converge in an all out battle royal.

ROSETTA - 'Quintessential Ephemera' 2x12"LP
This full length was a huge step in the right direction for this longstanding post-metal band. The inclusion of well-sung vocals tipped the scales and pushed this very good release into the excellent release category. Fans of From A Second Story Window, Isis and Fall Of Efrafa should be all over this.

NAYRU - 'This Disease of Language' digitalLP
The serene and violent duality of this record is mirrored in the audio clip contained in the first track about a man who realizes he is capable of terrible acts although he is nearly always an upstanding human being. Beautiful emo-violence/screamy hardcore from the USA. I wasn't sold on this band's previous releases but this album is fantastic. Fans of Celebration, Dispensing Of False Halos and Saetia take note.

OSTRACA - 'Deathless' cassetteLP
Sounding like a mix of Swan Of Tuonela and demons, this LP took awhile to grow on me but I feel that is the case with a lot of really great, progressive albums. The massive, distorted and creepy arrangements as well as vocals put an interesting spin on...well, a ton of genres, as I don't really know what to label it as. We'll go with "very good". It kind of sounds like City Of Caterpillar meets Caust and Swan Of Tuonela but much, much darker. Listen to the epic "All Watched Over" to hear everything the band is currently capable of..

SUBJECTS/RULERS - 'SubjectsRulers' digitalLP
I was in heaven when I found out members of Cease Upon The Capitol, Altar Of Complaints and Dolcim had created a new band. The scathing US screamo intertwines with spacey/shoegaze riffs but always stays rooted in hardcore. There has been no physical release as due to a move the group will be disbanding, but my label and IFB Records are working hard to get it out in cassette format by spring of 2016.


- 'Dream Warriors' 12"EP
I'm not sure why this isn't an LP as it's pretty darn long, but considering the LP ranking conundrum I would be thrown into with that change maybe it's for the best. So yeah, this record is fucking amazing. I'd been following them avidly for about 2 years now and waiting for those incredible live songs to be committed to vinyl. Imagine Thin Lizzy and Mutoid Man in cahoots with Off Minor. Some of the most technical, catchy and mindblowing songs you'll ever hear. Plus the four fellas in the band are absolute sweethearts.

- 'Ikebana' digitalEP
Truman sent me their 2-song release a few years back and I could have sworn that I told them to contact me regarding a future release. I'm pretty sure this was a digital only release but man I wish this was in a physical format because it's fucking fantastic. The eerie post-hardcore/screamo/emo-violence mixes seamlessly with atmospheric wisps of evil and lots of screaming. Those Virginia punks are on to something big.

 - 'II' cdEP
I may have only sold a few copies of this cdEP from France, but RAVIN's latest offering of Italian influenced screamo (think La Quiete and Raein) has left me ecstatic to have helped with such a great record. Even with the change of a vocalist the band maintained their driving and screamy hardcore progression. I'm very excited to hear what will come next.

- 'Anatomy & Dissection' 7"EP
Probably not the biggest surprise for this list, but hot damn that new Caust is awesome. The breakdown in "Held Down By a Shadow" at 1:20 with "Kill, kill, kill, kill!" is what I would expect the sound of someone dying to sound like. Amazing EP by another incredible Virginia act.

KEN BURNS - 'Ken Burns' 7"EP
I was all over that first demo cassette, so when Mike asked me to help out with their final release I couldn't say no. After hearing it I was blown away with the final product and the Swedish influence certainly isn't hurting. Amazing posthumous release of melodic, screamy hardcore.

- 'Ephemera' 7"EP
This collaborative 7" has three songs by countless musicians from all over the world. It certainly packs more of a Euro/Swedish screamo/shoegaze/hardcore feel than anything else, and holy smokes I hope a full length is in our future.


- cassetteLP
I'd been waiting for six months for LIV to drop the new tracks I'd been witnessing them slay live, but when I heard the other band on the split I was awestruck. These Mexican heroes in Joliette rival the ridiculous LIV side with metallic influenced screamo/hardcore not unlike The Bled. The Life In Vacuum songs are easily the best they've done and that's saying a lot considering their previous LP '5' was my #2 record of 2014. You should definitely get on this if you haven't already.


A match made in heaven was the result of a short US tour by the American Carrion Spring and visiting French screamo gods Sed Non Satiata. Not only is this a split, it's a split LP so both bands serve up almost 20 minutes of screamy hardcore with SNS dipping heavily into post-rock territory.


This is #3 on my list, but the Republic Of Dreams side easily received more play in my house than any other release. It helps that the entire side of four songs is only about four minutes. Both bands kill it here with ROD bringing Jeromes Dream and Louise Cyphre to mind while Autarkeia reminds me of Saetia and Circle Takes The Square.


Foxmoulder has been steadily getting better and better with each release. On this split they fucking own it. The emo-violence/screamy hardcore vibe of Orchid meets Loma Prieta is amazing and it is directly because of their side that I ended up checking out (and loving) Eaglehaslanded. Their infusion of grind and screamo are reminiscent of Japanese screamy/thrashy hardcore pioneers Tetola93 and Italy's Storm{O}.


Øjne has done it again. Their song on this 7" split is sooooo good. La Quiete is the most obvious and best comparison. Rainmaker steps up their game as well, as their contribution is stellar Swedish screamo that sounds a lot like Young Mountain, which is a great thing. Basically if you are not well versed in European screamo start here.


Lars from React With Protest sent this to me and I was dumbfounded. Not only is his new band cool as fuck, but Amygdala drops their two best songs, including the phenomenal "Floricanto". The 7" may be over in a flash but the repeat/staying power of it is not up for debate.


This split is insane. Like, the batshit crazy kind. Both bands are all over the place and play very screamy emo-violence from the USA. Both bands sound like Joshua Fit For Battle. Both bands play relatively short songs with movie audio clips. Both bands will break your ears.



There were a lot of great demos this year (such as Egarra, Thisismenotthinkingofyou, The Ultimate Screamo Band and Hive Mind) but as everyone is aware this one takes the cake. Punishing screamo/emo-violence with lots of vocals and passion. Any future release by this band will be noted by many a folk in the community.

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