And I’m back! After more food and drink than it’s socially acceptable to admit to, I’m ready to crack on with my ‘Album of the Year 2015’ top 30 countdown. It has been a long journey to this point but I’m finally beginning my Top 10. Given the strength of 2015, you can rest assured that the albums that feature from now on are truly special and worthy of their lofty position in this list.
Of course, there will be those that disagree, so if you’re one of them, tell me why & who you think should be featured. But I hope a few of you will agree or be intrigued enough to check the music out if you’ve not already done so. After all, that’s why I do this.
As always, if you’re new to this blog or have missed a few instalments, links to each post from 30 down to 11 can be found at the end of this post.
However, enough rambling, lets find out who bags the first slot in my Top 10…
Abnormal Thought Patterns
‘Altered State Of Consciousness’
There have been two instrumental albums that have rocked my world this year – this one and the new Arcade Messiah. Both are sophomore releases and both are superb. However, it is Abnormal Thought Patterns that gets the nod for the simple reason that I’ve lived with this record for several months now and it just doesn’t cease to entertain and delight – in fact, if anything, it just gets better and better. ‘Altered State Of Consciousness’ sees the light of day just two years years after the debut ‘Manipulation Under Anaesthesia’ but in that relatively short space of time, ATP have seriously upped the ante and have delivered something that sends shivers down my spine and totally entrances me from start to finish.
If you’re familiar with the technical prog metal of Zero Hour and more latterly, the atmospheric beauty of Cynthesis, you’ll already have a rough idea of how this album sounds. In keeping with the aforementioned bands, ATP features Jasun Tipton and his brother Troy on guitar and bass respectively. However, joining the insanely talented twins are drummer Mike Guy and newest recruit, Jason Montero on guitar. Abnormal Thought Patterns is therefore ostensibly an instrumental quartet that in many ways, is a hybrid of the two aforementioned acts in that it combines the heaviness and technicality of Zero Hour with the more atmospheric leanings of Cynthesis.
Or, to put it another way, ATP features technicality of the highest order, intense playing, heavy djent-like riffs, bundles of atmosphere, memorable melodies and some of the most spine-tingling lead guitar work I have ever heard. Blending fast playing with slower moments, it is both highly emotive and heart-breakingly beautiful proving beyond doubt my long-held hypothesis that when a guitar truly sings, there are few sounds on this Earth that are better.
‘Distortions Of Perception’, opens the album and sets the tone beautifully, full of brooding intensity, stellar musicianship and a central melody to die for. That said, it’s the following ten minutes in the shape of ‘Nocturnal Haven’ that steals the show for me. In a real change of pace for ATP, the track boasts a guest vocal appearances from Between The Buried And Me’s vocalist Tommy Rogers who growls and sings his way through this epic and genuinely progressive track. Additionally, guitarist Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy, ex-Nevermore) offers a little of his personal six-string magic to the song. From quiet and introspective to all-out extreme metal, ‘Nocturnal Haven’ also contains some of the most emotionally intense and beautiful music that the prog genre has ever created. Hyperbole? Not a chance, not even slightly. This monstrous piece of music is replicated later on the album but without vocals just to prove the point that it works just as well as an instrumental.
This isn’t the end of an impressive list of guest musicians because ‘Synesthesia’, in addition to being blessed by some of the best bass-work I’ve heard in years, also welcomes Michael Manring (Into Eternity) and Jon Onder (Artension) as guest musicians.
It’s difficult not to wax lyrical about ‘Altered States Of Consciousness’, such is its power and intensity. Why the name of this band is not shouted from more rooftops than it currently is, is beyond me. This is seriously good music for the discerning music fan that demonstrates that it is possible to be technically proficient bordering on the self-indulgent and yet still create deep and meaningful music that can touch people.
Want to find out more about Abnormal Thought Patterns? Check out my in-depth interview with Jasun Tipton that I conducted, right here.
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 11
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 12
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 13
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 14
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 15
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 16
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 17
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 18
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Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 20
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 21
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Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 24
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 25
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 26
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 30
And from previous years: