APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2015

motorheadWhen looking back at 2015, the only thing that seems to matter is the passing of Lemmy Kilmister. Of course losing Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor in November was sad but Lemmy was on another level – one of the pillars of the entire rock ‘n roll universe. Thankfully, he left a voluminous legacy for us to enjoy for eternity, including some of music’s best interviews and quotes possible. Cheers, Lemmy.

Other than that, 2015 was a remarkably strong year for the pioneering, long-running bands in the metal scene.  Everyone from KILLING JOKE, MY DYING BRIDE, FEAR FACTORY to AMORPHIS put out fantastic records. This past year also saw some very good super groups in TAU CROSS and FIRESPAWN make their debuts.  You’ll find that many of them made it to our respective lists.

Additionally, we’ve recruited some fresh blood in Charles Elliott, Andrew Sample, and Jeff Wagner. These industry vets have been in the trenches with us for years and years, and have helped bring you many of the greatest records ever released for the past 20+ years.
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JAGA JAZZIST – Starfire

Jaga Jazzist - StarfireThe Norwegian supernova known as JAGA JAZZIST have created yet another meisterwerk with the appropriately titled Starfire.  Pulsing with life, pulsing with creativity, the dazzling audial assault is the soundtrack to a vintage movie set in outer space.

Within Starfire‘s five songs is an impressive amount of content.  Intricate layers created by seemingly a gazillion different instruments travel through the galaxy.  JAGA JAZZIST‘s electronic and psychedelic synth influences take hold of much of the album atop their Norwegian jazz foundation.  There is a melancholic thread that runs through it all.

The title track starts things off with a sublime and quiet tone that morphs away from its jazz intro to spaced out psychedelic/prog realms.  “Starfire” creates this feeling of the vastness and futurist feelings of being in space albeit.  The cascading and panning in and out of electronics gives the sensation of comets streaking by.

Big City Music” is decidedly more electronic-based with its plethora of synth work.  The 14+ minute song is built around a massive melody that is the song’s apex at the 7:30 and 12:15 marks.  Keen ears will hear progressive house song influences tucked in there.

Despite being named after Japan’s bullet trains, “Shinkansen” is a mellow track that brings the sensation of floating in the cosmos as comets fly by.

The heart of “Oban” is the wonderfully sublime bass clarinet riff that comes in when during the song’s quiet sections.  The song sound is essentially the soundtrack to how stars are formed amongst molecular clouds.

Prungen” has jazzy bookends and crescendos in the middle with some excellent electronics going off.

A true appreciation of Starfire cannot be had without seeing the band live or watching videos of their live performances of these songs.  The number of moving parts and the intricateness of the compositions is so impressive along with the seemingly gazillion instruments the band play.  Take time to get to know Starfire and it will reward you again and again. (Ninja Tune)

JAGA JAZZIST @ Teragram Ballroom, Los Angeles (6/17/15)

Norway’s JAGA JAZZIST came to town for only their second L.A. appearance (their first having been back in 2011) for a perfect 90-minute set at the brand new Teragram Ballroom.

The eight-member band nailed their set which focused on material from their freshly released new album Starfire and previous album One-Armed Bandit. It was a treat to hear them dip back into their “first” album The Stix but songs from A Living Room Hush were noticably absent (perhaps due to it being more “electronic” in nature).

Bonus points for Teragram Ballroom being tops despite having been open for less than three weeks—this being their fourth show. The venue hit top marks on all aspects from decor, service, bars, bites, and most importantly, sound.

Peep our pics from the show…