Editor Ken’s Top Ten of 2015

highwire_best2015Editor Ken’s Top Ten Albums of 2015

Everything from black metal, hair metal, pop punk, smooth jazz and beyond has made my Top 10 List of 2015.

It’s been quite an exciting year in music, with older bands such as the Scorpions and The Church making career defining albums. Newer collectives such as Citizen and As It Is showed that the future in music remains a bright and adventurous one!

And so here is the Highwire Daze Top Ten Albums of 2015, brought to you by Editor Ken (in alphabetical order)…

11025200_811054822306538_2498429357129657361_nNever Happy, Ever After by As It Is (Fearless Records)

Pop punk is certainly not dead, being given a super impassioned shot in the arm by As It Is from the UK. One of the most exhilarating discoveries of this year’s Vans Warped Tour, As It Is possesses a good deal of heart and drive within songs such as Dial Tones and Cheap Shots & Setbacks. With a super charismatic vocalist and a dazzling live show, expect As It Is, their fans, and pop punk to live on joyously forever after.

As It Is on Facebook

10422500_950593761642139_6838565569962547606_nElefanté by Bulletboys (Deadline Music)

Nearly 30 years after their debut recording, and Bulletboys find themselves unleashing what is surely a career defining album of gigantic proportions. Elefanté is their eighth studio effort, featuring rocking songs such as the raging Rollover, the heartfelt Symphony, the bluesy Kinfolk, and a dynamic cover of the Elton John classic The Bitch Is Back. Marq Torien and the Bulletboys sound fantastic!

Bulletboys on Facebook

816gDbETb1L._SX425_Further Deeper by The Church (Unorthodox Records)

After the departure of a founding member and the arrival of Ian Haug (formerly of Powderfinger), The Church has unveiled Further Deeper, their most ambitious, fully realized effort in years. Songs such as Vanishing Man, Laurel Canyon and Miami present Steve Kilbey and company at their most imaginative and mystical. Album 24 is a captivating new beginning that will make true believers out of all types of music aficionados.

The Church on Facebook

31NiZOWmnmLEverybody Is Going To Heaven by Citizen (Run For Cover Records)

Breathtakingly dark and absolutely devastating in both the lyric and auditory department, Citizen enraptures the soul with sweeping compositions such as Stain, Cement, and Ring Of Chain. Combining emotionally driven indie rock with a grunge aesthetic, Everybody Is Going To Heaven is nothing short of mesmerizing. Terrific seeing them live on the Vans Warped Tour this year too!

Citizen on Facebook

10897032_10152539839567201_1283183598357543076_nIn Times by Enslaved (Nuclear Blast Records)

Another Enslaved album on another Highwire Daze Top 10. What a surprise. But damn, these guys can do no wrong! In Times is an intensive work of artistry, where progressive rock and black metal collide with absolutely staggering results! Cuts such as Thurisaz Dreaming and One Thousand Years Of Rain are nothing short of astounding! 25 years in and the mighty Enslaved remain at the top of the craft.

Enslaved on Facebook

11889614_10153593042290820_7944728015602963003_nHate Me by Escape The Fate (Eleven Seven Music)

On this, Escape The Fate’s fifth album, there is a sense of urgency permeating throughout the entire recording. Whether it’s Craig Mabbitt’s fiery vocals, the shredding guitar work of virtuoso Kevin Thrasher, the driving rhythm guitar and bass work of T.J. Bell, or the intense beats courtesy of founding member Robert Ortiz, this is Escape The Fate at their most impassioned. Radio ready, yet on their own wickedly wonderful terms!

Escape The Fate on Facebook

81XB7sHoGIL._SL1500_You Gotta Love The Life by Melissa Manchester (Long Run Entertainment)

You Gotta Love The Life is Melissa Manchester’s 20th studio album, a high flying smooth jazz celebration with the iconic vocalist sounding like a million bucks! Featured within the musical gems are guests spots from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, Keb Mo – as well as the final lyrics written by the legendary Hal David on the song Other End Of The Phone. Pure magic from the very best in the business!

Melissa Manchester on Facebook

81f+KN0YV+L._SL1500_Bad Magic by Motörhead (UDR Music)

With each and every Motörhead album that has assaulted the world at large since the dawn of time (well 1975 actually), you always knew exactly what you were getting into – a slamming punk metal hybrid fronted by the always affable Lemmy Kilmister! Bad Magic is Motörhead’s 22nd magnum opus, containing a lucky 13 tracks ready to fully possess your soul. Another instant classic from this legendary band!

Motörhead on Facebook

81lI0Iacq3L._SX425_Return To Forever by Scorpions (New Door/UME)

2015 has been a banner year for the Scorpions, with the iconic band celebrating their 50th anniversary rocking the world like a hurricane! Return To Forever is their eighteenth studio album, filled to the brim with instant classics such as We Built This House, Rock N Roll Band, and Going Out With A Bang. Half a century in, and the Scorpions still delivery the good in a vast and glorious way! Their US Tour was also a definitive highlight!

Scorpions on Facebook

zgardtotem2Totem by Zgard (Svarga Music)

Zgard remains a true visionary within the black/pagan metal genre, unleashing one magnificent magnum opus after another. Fronted by Yaromisl and based out of the desolate lands of the Ukraine, Zgard’s latest masterwork Totem takes the listener on an epic auditory adventure! A magical work of artistry filled with intrigue and wonder that will captivate the senses, Totem by Zgard is a massive undertaking that succeeds in a vast and triumphant way!

Zgard on Facebook

Editor Ken’s Top 10 EP’s of 2015

517wRD7BPFL._SS280Covers by Christa Wells (Self-released)

Award winning singer/songwriter Christa Wells has released a gorgeous EP of Covers, rendering tracks such as Nirvana’s Come As You Are and Decephe Mode’s Waiting For The Night To Fall all her own. With a stunning voice that breathes ultra-vivid life into these classic songs, Covers by Christa Wells is sure to intrigue even the original creators of these shimmering gems.

Christa Wells on Facebook

10917826_904683989543645_8501996440499577595_nEleven by Dead Heroine (Self-released)

Eleven is the name of Dead Heroine’s debut, a stunning collection of tunes that fans of acts such as Halestorm and Tonight Alone will be enraptured by at first listen. Featuring charismatic lead vocalist Moa Henriksson and razor sharp musicianship from all involved, Dead Heroine is sure to hit the stratosphere with their thoroughly riveting compositions. Top cuts include Broken Glass and Love To Fall.

Dead Heroine on Facebook

11391088_1597663843822994_2275757616914644952_nGloom EP by The Ivory (Self-released)

Shane Crump, the mastermind behind The Ivory, is best known for his participation in the post hardcore Alesana. The Ivory is bound to surprise as well as captivate Alesana admirers. Featuring soaring keyboards and Crump’s wondrously expressive clean vocals, the Gloom – EP takes the listener on an emotional journey through the soul of a passionate artist.

The Ivory on Facebook

12027706_10153528379696648_4918330388002809623_nBombshell by Lynam (New Ocean Media)

Sleaze rock and roll is alive and well in the USA, with Lynam releasing an explosive EP of tunes entitled Bombshell. Formerly signed with Universal Records, Lynam 2015 is a driving rock and roll force to be reckoned with. Songs such as Bombshell and The Worst In Me will spin rapturously in your head for ages! Jacob Bunton and Lonny Paul also participate in Steven Adler’s band!

Lynam on Facebook

10339715_872558096142282_9149741359506465852_nReasons Not To Sleep by Miss Vincent (Engineer Records)

Through the pop punk road darkly goes Miss Vincent, a remarkable collective from the UK ready to slam into your infectious auditory dreams. Reasons Not To Sleep is wondrously captivating, with striking anthems such as How Much Further and Disparate, Desperate leaving lingering impressions. Here’s hoping Miss Vincent make their way to the States in 2016!

Miss Vincent on Facebook

moretomonroe2-300x300Appalachia EP by More To Monroe (Roadrunner Records)

A ferocious explosion to the senses that will leave you devastated, Appalachia EP by More To Monroe is a triumphant commencement for this Frederick, MD-based collective.  The band packs a ton of depth and emotion into an EP, featuring six scorching compositions skillfully produced by Drew Fulk (Motionless In White, The Amity Affliction).  Expect 2016 to be a banner year for More To Monroe.

More To Monroe on Facebook

12299289_977859628938537_2752956955976199219_nPremonition by Reign Eternal (Self-released)

Reign Eternal is a five piece metalcore outfit based in Exeter Devon UK who has unleashed a thrilling debut that fans of acts such as August Burns Red and Parkway Drive will surely want to revisit time and again.  Judging by the fierce tracks heard within the intensive confines of this recording, this review has a premonition of greater glories ahead for the mighty Reign Eternal!

Reign Eternal on Facebook

5bd2bc0c2c9ba835f4ac5df13705fac331a8eb72-300x300Doubt EP by Seanzy (Self-released)

Seanzy is the new indie project of Sean MacDonald – best known for his work in the vastly underrated 5 Years and Counting. Joining forces with Landon Tewers of The Plot In You, Seanzy was created – and what an impressive next chapter it is! A moody, reflective recording from an artist ready to break through the music scene, Doubt EP by Seanzy is sure to leave an emotional impact on all who give a listen.

Seanzy on Facebook

stryvigorep1-300x300Into The Abyss of Cold by Stryvigor (Svarga Music)

The mighty Stryvigor from the remote Ukraine returns with an all-out vengeance ready to conquer and destroy all within their wake. Into The Abyss Of Cold is an astounding EP, showing a Black Metal collective ready to break out into the elite of their genre. The dark atmospherics and sonic intensity will surely thrill all wishing to commence upon a journey into the treacherous forests of the Carpathians and beyond.

Stryvigor on Facebook

ff806a8e-5193-4969-84ab-a4c1b2e8e2e9-1-300x300The Struggle by XO Stereo (Another Century Records)

What happens with members of From First To Last and LoveHateHero join forces to create music? A dynamic new sensation named XO Stereo is unleashed, ready to pop rock your entire world. The Struggle features five incredible tunes that should thoroughly excite all types of music enthusiasts looking for songs with a good deal of heart.

XO Stereo on Facebook

A sampling from the very best releases of 2015.  Now bring on the music classics of the New Year!

(Compiled by Ken Morton)

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