We debated about doing one of these for ages. Personally speaking, we hate list articles. But the fast moving media world that we live in loves them. Plus, it seems everyone picks their favourite records… So, reluctantly, here are ours top picks. They are in a vague order of awesomeness, but not set in stone. We know you probably won't agree, but whatever. Let us know what you think, or what your top choices were.
25. Bring Me The Horizon - ‘That's The Spirit’
Part of me wants to buy every copy of this record and set them on fire. When you compare it to old BMTH, they aren't even the same band. Obviously there are free to evolve in any direction they want, but part of me is sad that this is the direction they chose. However, I find myself listening to it. A lot. So for that reason, it simply has to be included. I can't forgive that last track though. It's the sonic equivalent of gargling with Simon Cowell's jizz…
24. Hardside - ‘The Madness’
Probably overlooked by lots and lots of people because it is European hardcore, which still never seems to gather the momentum it deserves, even here in the UK. However, this album is pure riff worship, and you need to take notice. Production wise, there is such a great evolution to their sound since 2012's ‘Time Is Punishment’. Sometimes when a band polishes their sound it turns out flat, but not these guys. With influences ranging from Pantera to Biohazard to Leeway, this is true Metallic Hardcore.
23. B.Dolan - ‘Kill The Wolf’
5 years in the making, this is a fantastic piece of work. With some intricate and layered production that never sounds muddled, B.Dolan has crafted a perfect sonic backdrop for his particular brand of rap that covers conscious, backpack rap to boom bap and on to spoken word, while lyrically casting a critical eye over our current social, political, economic and Hip Hop landscape. Truly an MC at the top of his game.
22. Ghostface Killah/Badbadnotgood - ‘Sour Soul’
The most consistent member of the Wu, and one who seemingly works tirelessly to average an album every six months. This album is less story orientated than ‘36 Seasons’ or ‘12 Reasons To Die pt.II’, but personally speaking I think this trumps those two albums by a whisker. Including a who's who of underground rap as his co-stars (Danny Brown, Elzhi, Tree, Doom), the winning move is enlisting Canadian jazz trio Badbadnotgood to provide the music backdrop. When you hear the end result, it plays out like the Shaft soundtrack that never was, and honestly makes you wonder why Ghostface has waited so long to do something like this
21. Illinformed - ‘The Mould Tape’
A young UK producer that has been crafting his own brand of Boom-Bap inspired beats for several years, finally got it together to release an album on vinyl. The beats on display are pure head-nodding heaven for anyone that grew up listening to Cypress Hill, Psycho Realm, Jedi Mind Tricks, Rza, Method Man etc, and there is a huge line-up of UK MC's spitting out absolutely fire verses over the production. There is not a bad track on here! [read our review]
20. While She Sleeps - ‘Brainwashed’
While She Sleep seem to that straddle that Hardcore/Metal middle ground, even more so on their newest album. But they have worked extremely fucking hard year on year. They wear their heart on their sleeves, they love their fans, and they have progressively evolved their sound with each release. The even sonically tip their caps to Slipknot a couple of times on this album. Relentless, heartfelt, brutal. What more can you ask for from a heavy album?!
19. Cult Leader - ‘Lightless Walk’
This is not easy listening, by any stretch of the imagination. However, it is one of the most progressive and pummeling heavy music releases of the year. Fusing Hardcore, grindcore, doom, crust and any other heavy, fringe genre you care to create a label for, it is an album defined by feedback, blastbeats and gut wrenching vocals. It is a rabid, savage album. And it is fucking brilliant.
18. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes - ‘Blossom’
We have angry Frank back. And it is a beautiful thing to behold. This record is pure sonic swagger. A cocky, venomous blend of Hardcore & Punk. Fast, heavy, loose, dirty, foul mouthed and utterly essential listening. They have also laid waste to every single venue that they have played live, often selling out venues at the drop of a hat, and consistently causing top-drawer carnage everywhere. Put them on your ‘to-do’ list for 2016. You won't regret it.
17. Suburban Scum - ‘Ultimate Annihilation’
This album sneaked itself out quietly. The vinyl pressing is still bogged down in delays (I think). However for those of us that managed to seek the album out we weren't disappointed. These guys are definitely pissed off about something. Possibly everything. There is a solid progression of the sound they have been crafting on EP's for the past few years. This is crushing Metallic Hardcore, full of crunchy, buzzing guitar riffs, throaty and angry vocals and pummelling drum fills.
16. Employed To Serve - ‘Greyer Than You Remember’
While most UK hardcore is currently in its own little bubble of either straight-edge boot stomping, or spin-kicking beatdown, Employed To Serve have more in common with technical American Hardcore. Straddling Hardcore and grindcore, they bring to mind bands ranging from old school Every Time I Die, Botch, Converge and even Pig Destroyer. This is fantastic work, and it is homegrown, so you should be proud!
15. Czarface - ‘Every Hero Needs A Villain’
A Hip Hop ‘supergroup’ made up of Inspectah Deck, 7L & Esoteric. This is sample laden, comic book inspired, underground Hip Hop. Think backpacks, blunts and graffiti. Featuring guest spots from Method Man, Gza, MF Doom & Meyhem Lauren. If you want something better than the last Wu-Tang album while you are waiting for the next MF Doom project, then this is essential listening
14. The Four Owls ‘Natural Order’
Anyone that reads the Creep blog regularly knows that we love High Focus Records. They are leading the charge of a renaissance in UK Hip Hop. A renaissance that shows no signs of slowing down. This is progressive Boom Bap/Golden Era worship. Taking 90's Hip Hop, passing it through the grinder of old UK Hip Hop and emerging out the other side with something utterly essential. If you need anymore of a validation, the one and only DJ Premier produced the lead single for this album. This is a must have.
13. Knxwledge - ‘Hud Dreems’
I think this may have been floating around as a mixtape before 2015, but it only got its official vinyl/CD release this year. An instrumental Hip Hop project that is full of blissful, smoked out beats. A perfect soundtrack to smoke filled Summer afternoons or 4am fridge raiding. For fans of old Flying Lotus and J Dilla, and released on Stones Throw Records. You don't need much more convincing than that, surely?!
12. Deafheaven - ‘New Bermuda’
I still hesitate to describe Deafheaven as Black Metal, because I'm sure it still makes the purists angry. Plus there is those beautiful interludes of post-rock shoegaze interweaved throughout the album. Deafheaven bring a more ambitious, mature and diverse sound than the album that made them famous (Sunbather). They have also moved onto Anti- records, a label that is definitely not known for this style of music. So, although they may have matured and refined their sonic output, one thing remains the same; They don't give a fuck what you think!
11. Axis - ‘Show Your Greed’
Another fierce example of the resurgence in technical Hardcore. ‘Show Your Greed’ is full of those angular, jarring guitar riffs and rumbling bass. It may be a familiar sound, but it is definitely bringing something new to this sound; the production is pitch perfect, and you can hear all the technical nuances of the record without them being lost behind buzzy distortion. There are layers upon layers here; overlapping vocal styles, riffs on top of riffs, supported by solid slabs of blasted drumming.
10. Verb T & Illinformed - ‘Man With The Foggy Eyes’
The monotone rap veteran is back, this time taking his love of jazz samples one step further; Illinformed has crafted some production here than for huge parts of the album actually sounds like a live, lounge jazz band. Layered over the top of that you have Verb T's drawling, slow, head-nodding comedic raps about being broke, lazy and grumpy. He may not thank me for this, but this is the perfect Hip Hop for the over 30, pissed off with the day job crowd.
09. Build & Destroy - ‘Map Of The Heavens’
Technically, this is only an EP. Plus it has been five years in the making. But this is an amazing slab of modern Hardcore. taking cues from Leeway and Cro-Mags, to Cold World and Backtrack, this is infectious, riff heavy, groove-laden hardcore. And it has been played non-stop at Creep…
08. Sweet Jesus - ‘You Destroy Yourself’
On paper, this sounds like it could possibly be derivative Hardcore Punk. Members of Have Heart, Soul Control, Verse & Fucking Invincible play late 80's - early 90's Hardcore. However, it could potentially be awesome. Lucky for us, it is the latter. Taking ALL of those influences and boiling them down to something that sounds familiar but is also forward-thinking. The only drawback is that it is over in 20 minutes!
07. Dead Players - ‘Freshly Skeletal’
With a producer that takes cues from Dancehall, Grime, and House backing up two MC's that rep Hip Hop, Grime and drugs, this is an ambitious, no holds barred, debauched album. With tracks that can induce spine tingling paranoia, and encourage 5 day benders in equal measure, it should possibly be higher in the list. We have actually argued about it. But I can't forgive the track feturing Lee Scott. So here it sits! [read our review]
06. Turnstile - ‘Nonstop Feeling’
Jamming Gorilla Biscuits, Downset, Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chilli Peppers & some Hip Hop into a blender, and this is one of the possible results. Basically all the sounds of your childhood spat out as a modern Hardcore Punk Record. On top of that, they are one of the best live bands I have ever seen in terms of energy and passion. There was no way this album wasn't making the top 10.
05. Mr Key & Greenwood Sharps - ‘Yesterdays Future's’
Having slept on it for the first 2-3 months of its release, it has over time become one of my favourite albums of the year. Forward thinking Hip Hop, with production that almost has more in common with old Mount Kimbie & Bonobo than anything Hip Hop related, proving to be the perfect backdrop for the intricate, bunged up, wordplay of Mr Key. Late nights, Early mornings, depression, long train rides and days that cause you to hold your middle finger high. This album is the perfect, introspective soundtrack
04. Stray From The Path - ‘Subliminal Criminals’
This is a band that evolve and go from strength to strength with each new release. Plus they merge the two loves of my musical life; Hip Hop & Hardcore. And they manage to do this without sounding terrible or like some third rate Limp Bizkit. Distorted, crazy guitar parts, solid drum patterns and politically astute, and utterly pissed off lyrics. The comparisons to Rage Against The Machine still may ring loud, but I feel they have surpassed their influences long ago. The students have now become the masters. And once again, this band completely kill it live!
03. Defeater - ‘Abandoned’
Another band that have consistently evolved with each album, and yet each time they sound more and more like Defeater than they did previously. Overcoming lots of personal struggles the past couple of years does not seem to have slowed down lyricist Derek Archambault one bit. Sonically they nestle neatly within that Melodic Hardcore arena, yet Defeater bring something unique - their own, multi layered, time hopping, multi faceted world. A world that uses an encompassing storyline to discuss morality, addiction, the american dream, religion, war, love and death. Ambitious and cathartic, they are one of the essential bands of this genre.
02. Dirty Dike - ‘Sucking On Prawns In The Moonlight’
Dirty Dike has made a name for being one of the most belligerent, obnoxious and foul mouthed MC's in the UK, with Hip Hop production to match. And he was perfectly fine with that. In fact he revelled in the notoriety. However, his newest album is ambitious, mature, and introspective, while still managing to be brutal and insulting at the same time. With some absolutely blissful production from Joe Corfield, Klagen, Chairman Maf and Dirty Dike himself - the raps weave stories of addiction and the darker, grittier side of UK life. A brave, compelling album. [read our review]
01. Counterparts ‘Tragedy Will Find Us’
Although it perhaps sits safely in the confines of ‘Melodic Hardcore’, this is a band (along with Defeater) that manage to stand apart in this genre. After four albums, they could have completely changed their sound. Gone softer, more commercially viable, safer. Instead they have stuck to their guns, and become more themselves with each release. They are now heavier, faster, angrier, more melodic, more ambitious, and more experimental. This is definitely my favourite album of 2015. [read our review]