Our best albums of 2015, numbers 10 to 7.
Electric Blood (Earache)
If the past 12 months have seen the green shoots of a return to old fashioned rock’n’roll values, then Biters were the ones holding the watering can. Like kindred spirits We Are Harlot and H.e.a.t, the Atlanta four-piece wore their 70s and 80s influences (Cheap Trick, Ramones, Thin Lizzy) on the sleeves of their second-hand leather jackets.
Their second album (and first for former death metal label Earache, recently reinvented as the home of classic guitar rock) was a cocky, boozy romp that placed a premium on big tunes and good times. The main difference here was that unlike the many bands before them who have tried, and failed, to bring the party back, Biters are a band you can truly believe in.
Into The Wild Life (Atlantic)
The third album from the Pennsylvania four-piece was their highest-charting to date in the US, and in the UK it scored a midweek No.1 spot. Halestorm took a bit of gamble with Into The Wild Life, making the soft bits of their music even softer and more accessible, while cranking up the amps to new, heavier levels elsewhere – with girl power-friendly drive on tracks such as Bad Girl’s World. It was an experiment and it paid off, big-style.
8. Blackberry Smoke
Holding All The Roses (Earache)
Blackberry Smoke’s rollicking fourth album was ample proof, if needed, that there’s more in the Atlanta quintet’s locker than just refried Skynyrd riffs and Allman Brothers boogie. Lusty, diverse and ridiculously infectious, the songs bestrode the realms of gospel, southern soul and bare-knuckle rock’n’roll with rare aplomb. Fire In The Hole and Let Me Help You (Find The Door) are contenders for anthem of the year, while Lay It All On Me brought a dazzle of juke joint R&B.
7. Steven Wilson
Hand. Cannot. Erase. (Kscope)
Progressive rock’s golden boy followed up 2013’s acclaimed The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) – and two years in which he became the go-to studiocrat for 5.1 surround sound mixes – with a powerful meditation on the wretched demise of Joyce Vincent, who was found dead in her apartment where she’d lain unnoticed for three years (the story was the subject of the 2011 docu-drama Dreams Of A Life). Actually, ‘meditation’ doesn’t quite convey the searing intensity of the music on Hand. Cannot. Erase. as it moved from chilling piano balladry to metallic savagery, often within the same song.