The United Kingdom has a wonderful multi-genre scene, and as such choosing the best releases from these isles is a tough job. The six records below are all different in their tone and their scale (small bands, big bands, huge productions and smaller mixes) but they stood out from the crowd, for one reason or another (and also because I managed to actually listen to them).
Abyssal – Antikatastaseis
The outrageously enigmatic Abyssal released one of the strongest death metal albums of 2015 and while they may hide in the shadows, their music is drawn out into the open with passages that evoke beauty in their inherent pain. Dark, dank and mysterious, Antikatastaseis is an album that breathes with malevolent filth but occasionally light shines through in gorgeous guitar work. Of course, any moments of serenity are soon pulled back into the cavernous sound, but it’s in this juxtaposition that Abyssal find their voice.
Caïna – Setter Of Unseen Snares
Caïna* has been on quite the journey over the last four/five years and Setter Of Unseen Snares is the culmination of frontman Andrew Curtis-Brignell’s vision for this band. Caïna never stays within one genre for long and this record allows him to explore the different aspects of the band’s sound – black metal, crust, punk and gorgeous gothic doom all make an appearance on this short and punchy album. The follow-up is already in production and the band promise that is set to surpass Setter… on all fronts.
*disclaimer – I’m personally very close to this band and record and it took a lot of deliberation before deciding to include it on this list. I’ve completed a couple of other year end lists already for 2015 and left it off, but it seemed that to miss it from here would be a disservice to a wonderful record. Considering what I’ve actually heard this year, it felt right and I’m sure that if there was no involvement with the album, my opinion would be the same.
Napalm Death – Apex Predator – Easy Meat
Naplam Death are absolutely furious and in their time on the scene they seen many musical phases come and go, yet they stand as strong today as they did back in the early stages of their career. Apex Predator is a fiery and filthy work that takes in speed, anger, bile and downright disgust and despite the running time hitting the forty minute mark, nothing that Napalm Death do sound forced or repeated or rote. This is a dangerous record and Napalm Death sound as though they’ve got plenty more hatred within them.
Old Skin – Beneath the Trees
Old Skin are now sadly defunct, but in their short time on the UK scene they managed to punish minds and deafen ears. The Manchester bases group were outrageously heavy and Beneath the Trees is a defining record, one that became their swansong and summed up everything they worked towards. Dark, misanthropic hardcore has never sounded so good.
Paradise Lost – The Plague Within
Paradise Lost have been around for a long time, and it’s refreshing to hear that they’ve lost none of the misery they had when they first started out. The Plague Within is seen as a return to form, after an experimental phase that didn’t quite reach the highs of their earlier work, and the record features everything loved about the band, and more. Hugh choruses, massive guitar sounds and Nick Holmes sounding as menacing as ever.
Uncle Acid & the deadbeats – The Night Creeper
Horror became all too real for the psych-rock Uncle Acid and The Night Creeper allowed them to embrace the dark side while writing deliriously catchy songs as well. The record is twisted, hazy and shot through with madness, but Uncle Acid steers the band towards cohesion and invites you along for a terrifying ride.