It’s Christmas Eve, everyone. While we are excited about the concept of taking a day off from content tomorrow, we are even more excited about the next band featured in our Best of 2015 series. Today’s round brings you the very heavy Maranatha. Based in Columbus, Ohio, Maranatha is known for their exceptionally dense sludge doom metal. Or something. Who cares, categories are dumb. They’re heavy as hell. Anyway, vocalist/drummer/guitarist Collin Simula was gracious enough to share his favorite albums of 2015 with us. And we are eternally grateful to share them with you.
Collin Simula’s Top 10
A lot of good records came out this year. Like, A LOT. I’ve done my best to narrow it down to ten, but barely. But first, we have a few other records to talk about.
These records are really good. Not top 10 good, but good nonetheless.
Biggest disappointment: Deafheaven – New Bermuda
Look, I really tried. With the exception of Baroness’ Purple, there wasn’t a record in 2015 I was looking forward to more than New Bermuda. Maybe I placed the bar too high, but Sunbather was — and still is — perfect. With New Bermuda, Deafheaven went back to their grittier roots, losing much of the atmospheric and moving melody from Sunbather. It’s not a bad album by any means. In fact, it’s pretty good. It’s just not where I hoped they’d go.
The shameless plug: Maranatha – Filth
I’m not self-centered enough to put this on my top 10, but what’s the point of making music if it’s not for us first? Jack and I set out to make the heaviest, most personal record that we could, and I think that we accomplished that. I’ve never been more proud of any artistic output in my entire life.
Now, the top 10:
10. Monolord – Vaenir
Ever hear that expression that pizza is like sex? Even when it isn’t good, it’s still pretty good. Right? Stoner metal is like that. Repetitive, heavy, groove-based music almost always works, even when more often than not it’s just another Electric Wizard clone. Fortunately, Sweden’s Monolord reminds us that we don’t always have to worry about that. On the immensely heavy Vaenir, Monolord delivers riff after memorable riff and you don’t stop banging your head once.
Favorite track: “Died A Million Times”
9. Snoop Dogg – Bush
2015 was the year the funk returned. Pharell Williams teamed up with D-O-double-G on arguably this year’s most fun record. It’s nothing new, just great, danceable funk for your next house party. And let’s just be thankful that Snoop Lion is gone.
Favorite track: “So Many Pros”
Where Monolord released a more classic (yet fresh) stoner metal record, Windhand flipped the script. In the bigger picture, Grief’s Infernal Flower doesn’t have that many riffs — the key to Windhand’s sound is frontwoman Dorthia Cotrell’s vocal melodies. Rather than leading with the guitar riff like most doom or stoner metal, Grief’s Infernal Flower’s songs are carried by strong vocal hooks, which are driven deep into your skull by the hypnotic wall of sound that almost has more in common with grunge than doom. This is a slow-burning record with melodies you’ll be humming for days.
Favorite track: “Tanngrisnir”
Torche can do no wrong. Restarter is massive, catchy, and guaranteed to be the heaviest record this year to make you smile the whole time you listen to it. Nothing more, nothing less.
Favorite track: “Blasted”
6. Turnover – Peripheral Vision
Just when the pop-punk-bands-who-started-listening-to-90s-alt-rock genre was starting to get old, Turnover came in and quietly released Peripheral Vision, taking what bands like Title Fight have been doing for a few years and adding a layer of post-rock dynamics. Turnover’s strength isn’t in being grandiose, but in their restraint. Quieter guitars, softer drums, and not always bowing to pop song structures works to set Turnover apart from the rest of the bands in the genre. The vocal hooks are great, even if the lyrics are embarrassingly juvenile. This is perfect music for Saturday mornings in the summer.
Favorite track: “Cutting My Fingers Off”
I’ve already received a lot of hate for how much I’ve listened to this record this year. I’ve always enjoyed Marilyn Manson. Yes, the image and the antics are tired. Yes, a vast majority of his fans are more into giving their parents the middle finger then they are discussing the intricacies of Manson’s music. Regardless, The Pale Emperor is succinct and consistent, full of perfect hooks, great production, and a restrained, more mature aesthetic. The dark David-Bowie-meets-90s-Depeche-Mode feel solidifies The Pale Emperor as the proper follow-up to Mechanical Animals.
Favorite track: “Odds of Even”
4. Vince Staples – Summertime ‘06
Smart, real rap from Long Beach. For someone as well-read and smart as Staples, it’d be easy to be preachy, but instead Summertime ’06 feels like a true west coast rap record. Hard beats, funky grooves, and realist lyrics, Summertime ’06 just feels good. This kid gets it.
Favorite track: “Lift Me Up”
3. Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss
With the dark, haunting, and extremely personal nature of Abyss, Chelsea Wolfe has all but solidified herself as the heir to Nine Inch Nails. The sparse electronics, heavy guitars, lyrical darkness, and extreme dynamics feel like like The Fragile-era NIN if a less weird Bjork was singing instead of Mr. Reznor. A concept album centered around a real struggle with sleep paralysis, you can really feel the fear and darkness in Wolfe’s voice, and the jarring contrast between quiet and loud make Abyss a terrifyingly beautiful listen.
Favorite track: “Simple Death”
Like I said, other than Deafheaven’s New Bermuda, this is the record I was anticipating most this year. And unlike the former, it didn’t disappoint. I was a huge fan of Yellow & Green, unlike many of Baroness’ older fans. I embraced the more song-oriented, melodic, and psychedelic shift from their sludge roots, and even prefer it. With Purple, Baroness pulls some of the angular-yet-heavy riffing from their Red and Blue records, mixes in the songwriting prowess from Y&G, and lays on a thick layer of 70s rock (the solos are so Thin Lizzy it hurts). The result is not only a very easy surface-level experience, but a more detailed, focused listen that reveals layer-upon-layer of brilliant song craft. More records like this, please.
Favorite track: “Shock Me”
1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
This record is number one on virtually every list this year — and rightly so. What can I say about this record that hasn’t already been said? It’s funky. It’s prophetic. It’s smart. Most importantly, it’s real.
Favorite track: “These Walls”
For a Spotify playlist of my favorite tracks from this list, click here.
Thank you to Collin for his time! And incredibly dynamic list. If you aren’t familiar with Maranatha, head on over to their Bandcamp or Facebook page. Their latest effort, Filth, dropped this past July, so be sure to pick that up. You can preview it below. It’s heavy. They’re heavy.