Photography by Jon Hadusek
To us, metal is a concept.
It’s not a specific sound or look, but an ethos, a philosophy. It’s a resignation to our imminent demise. It’s an openness to new ideas and infinite creation. It is romantic, though not overtly sexual. It is alive. It is free.
Sonically, metal can assume any form it chooses. Typically, it is heavy. Quaking bass triggers a visceral reaction — we close our eyes and lose ourselves in the drone. But then a killer riff brings us up, and a sick solo blossoms into a moment of euphoria. Metal can be sad, happy, thrilling, and profound all at once.
In 2015, there is no blueprint for a successful metal album. It is more in the mindset and approach and the emotions motivating the music. Traditional styles of metal remain relevant and vital, though a new guard — the practitioners of “post-metal,” if you will — have moved to the forefront of the genre. They have blurred the line between what is metal and what isn’t, fusing other styles with more recognizable elements of metal. Wrekmeister Harmonies borders on chamber music, while Windhand is like a doom-metal Mazzy Star; Monolord has mastered metallic minimalism, and VHOL have taken it to its most frenzied and complex. It’s simple, really: You can do whatever you want. Metal bands realized that in 2015.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We are experiencing a heavy metal renaissance. The following 25 albums are proof. Let us bask in the experimentation and utter freedom of their artistry. Because what better way to pass these heavy times than with the heaviest music?
Senior Staff Writer