Sleaze Roxx Writers’ Top Five Albums of 2015

Sleaze Roxx Writers’ Top Five Albums of 2015

12404478_10208387408026952_1677519408_nWelcome to the first ever edition of the Sleaze Roxx Writers’ Top Five Albums of the Year!

While there is no question that the Sleaze Roxx editor (may it be Skid or myself) has always done a lot of the heavy lifting (or writing) for the site, Sleaze Roxx also gets many contributions from writers all around the world, particularly for album reviews and interviews. I thought that it would be fun this year for Sleaze Roxx readers to get a glimpse of what are the Sleaze Roxx writers’ favorite albums. You’ll note that some of the Sleaze Roxx contributors have been writing for the site for almost a decade such as Ruben Mosqueda who has seemingly interviewed just about every hard rock/heavy metal artist on the planet, Terry Martinson (along with Mark Hovarth) who has the uncanny ability to find these little known but fantastic new albums to review, and Fat Peter who in reality does not look at all like his moniker suggests and who always provides his interesting Eastern European insights. Sleaze Roxx’s new website coincided with a number of new contributors this year including Bobby Caughron, Eduardo, Metal Headz Media and Will  “Bones” Lee. Finally, Sleaze Roxx also received insights this year from actual active artists such as Lipstick‘s frontman Greg Troyan.

You may notice that some Sleaze Roxx contributors are not featured below. The explanation is simple in that I set a minimum contribution threshold for anyone to be featured in the Sleaze Roxx Writers’ Top Five Albums of 2015. Accordingly, you have the top five albums from the most prolific Sleaze Roxx contributors in 2015. One notable absence of course is Sleaze Roxx’s founder and former editor Skid who declined citing that he is enjoying mainly only listening to his favorite albums from years past at this time. While the Sleaze Roxx contributors that made the cut were asked to only provide their top five albums of 2015 along with a write up for why their number one album got their top spot, most over delivered as I received everything from top ten lists to write ups for all five albums to ineligible entries such as a re-issued album. I can’t say that I am surprised as would you really expect a hard rock/heavy metal music lover to follow all the rules?

I also asked each Sleaze Roxx contributor to advise of his (sadly, there were no women contributors this year…) favorite Sleaze Roxx review or interview that he submitted in 2015. In case you are wondering which is mine, there have been plenty of interesting and fun interviews that I have done in 2015 but the one that came to mind immediately is the interview I did with ex-Wolfchild drummer Tomi Nousiainen-Gunnar. Wolfchild‘s self-titled debut album released in 2006 remains one of my favorite albums to this day. Back in September 2013, I had sent a Facebook message to Tomi asking if I could interview him for Sleaze Roxx. I never heard back from Tomi until February 2015 when he advised that he had missed my Facebook message given that it went into the “other messages” section, which I had only recently discovered myself. What followed was two weeks of fun and insightful back and forth e-mails to complete the interview and which finally shed some light on what led to the demise of Wolfchild as well as the sad and publicly untold story of the last moments of Wolfchild‘s bassist and founder Jaska Koivusilta. In the process, I also made a new friend.

But without further ado, here is the Sleaze Roxx Writers’ Top Five Albums of 2015!

Olivier

p.s.: If you haven’t already done so, check out the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2015 and don’t forget to cast your vote for the Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Top 20 Albums of 2015 (deadline is January 31, 2016).

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Bobby Caughron’s Top Five Albums of 2015:

Europe CD coverCountry: USA
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2015
Favorite 2015 contribution: Interview with Johnny Dee of Britny Fox/Doro

01. EuropeWar Of Kings
02. Lynch MobRebel
03. StryperFallen
04. W.A.S.P.Golgotha
05. Armored SaintWin Hands Down

2015 had quite a few really good releases. Narrowing it down to just five was no easy task. Even harder still, is placing these albums in order. My number one pick was a real surprise for me. I wouldn’t say that over the years, I’ve been the biggest fan of the band Europe. I despised the song “The Final Countdown” when I first heard it and thought the band was a bit too heavy on the keyboards. Flash forward to 2015 and imagine that same band with a very mature rock sound and a heaviness that rivals everything that they have done previously. Yes, they still have some keyboards in their songs, but I found that they are no longer a distraction, but actually compliment their sound nicely. Owing this new bluesy sound to obvious influences of Deep Purple and Whitesnake, Europe have made the best album of their career. Musically, they fire on all cylinders and the lyrics are both thought provoking and engaging to the listener. Outstanding tracks include “War of Kings”, “Praise You” and “Rainbow Bridge”. This an album that you can listen to over and over again and it has a real timeless quality to it. I thoroughly enjoyed this album from beginning to end. And so, Europe‘s War Of Kings lands at number one on my “Final Countdown.”

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Eduardo’s Top Five Albums of 2015:

Iron Maiden CD coverCountry: Mexico / Canada
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2015
Favorite 2015 contribution: Iron MaidenThe Book Of Souls CD Review

01. Iron MaidenThe Book Of Souls
02. DraculaSwing Of Death
03. Symphony XUnderworld
04. EclipseArmageddonize
05. Blind GuardianBeyond The Red Mirror

2015 — what a year! I had so many up and downs in my life I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Thankfully, I had some fine music to help me along the way. These are, what to me, were the finest releases this year. My number one album of the year is The Book Of Souls but if, God forbid it would be Iron Maiden’s last album ever, I would be alright with that. As I said in my review earlier this year, this album is an epic masterpiece which contains tracks that represent every period in the band’s impressive career. Yes, Iron Maiden have changed styles — which I would describe as evolving — over their different eras. Some fans, which I tend to call “purists” don’t like the newer, more progressive and orchestral approach. Some, like me, do and very much so. The beauty about The Book Of Souls is that the record has it all; new and old styles, and in good measure. The album works as a true testament of one of metal’s most iconic bands, and no other — despite a great many impressive releases in 2015 — I would dare call “record of the year.”

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Fat Peter’s Top Five Albums of 2015:

winery Dogs____Country: Poland
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2007
Favorite 2015 contribution: Slash live in Poland Concert Review

01. The Winery DogsHot Streak
02. Devil’s TrainII
03. Armored SaintWin Hands Down
04. TrixterHuman Era
05. George LynchShadow Train

I may be really biased to anything Richie Kotzen puts out — as I am a fan of a majority of his recordings — but I find one of his strongest efforts in recent years is the Hot Streak album that he came up with ex-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, and bass virtuoso Billy Sheehan. The good thing is, of what I heard, is this was really a team effort, as all three band members were in for the writing and production. The songwriting, melodies and execution on Hot Streak are all in my opinion tremendous. I still listen to and don’t get bored with Hot Streak months after its release. The Hot Streak album takes my top spot for this year.

Essential Tracks: Oblivion, Empire, Dr Rock, Sheep

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Greg Troyan of Lipstick’s Top Five Albums of 2015:

Stryper CD cover 2Country: USA
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2009
Favorite 2015 contribution: Interview with Billy Morris (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

01. StryperFallen
02. LipstickLipstick (special edition)
03. Fable CryWe’ll Show You Where The Monsters Are
04. The TipThe Tip
05. Michael MonroeBlackout States

Stryper‘s Fallen is not only the best album of this past year, it’s also quite possibly the best Stryper record ever. The album has everything: epic choirs, face-melting guitar playing, excellent vocal wails from Michael Sweet and, most importantly, amazing songs. Like Ian Hunter, Stryper have proved that a legacy act can put out work in their later years that surpasses the quality of their earlier releases. And yes, I put my own album at #2, but I happen to like my own stuff a lot. Go figure.

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Mark Hovarth’s Top Five Albums of 2015:

The Wild CD 3Country: Canada
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2012
Favorite 2015 contribution: The StrutsHave You Heard…? CD Review

01. The Wild!GxDxWxB
02. Sleazy Way OutSatisfy Me
03. The StrutsHave You Heard…?
04. Revolver ElevenRevolver Eleven
05. DiemondsNever Wanna Die

We figured that Volbeat was onto something with their brand of original “Elvis-Metal” with North American audiences singing their songs word-for-word despite zero promotion. Canada’s The Wild! created their own similar brand of metal, but more of an AC/DC meets Johnny Cash with a boisterous red-neck full-tilt fun album. These newcomers exploded on the scene earlier this year with their debut GxDxWxB and scored a major label deal with eOne Entertainment.

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Metal Headz Media’s Top Five Albums of 2015:

Devil City Angels CD coverCountry: USA
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2015
Favorite 2015 contribution: Rocktember Concert Review (Day 1, Day 2)

01. Devil City AngelsDevil City Angels
02. QueensrÿcheCondition Hüman
03. StryperFallen
04. The Winery DogsHot Streak
05. Def LeppardDef Leppard

Devil City Angels are a super group of sorts that put out the album of the year in 2015. Devil City Angels are comprised of Rikki Rockett from Poison, Tracii Guns who was once in L.A. Guns, Rudy Sarzo from Ozzy and Whitesnake fame, and newcomer Brandon Gibbs (Eric Brittingham played bass on the album). After knowing who is all in this band, one might think that this is a full blown ’80s hair metal rock album. If that is what one would expect, they would be sadly disappointed. This album is a bluesy solid rock album that is filled with great riffs, hooks, solos, and vocals. There is not one filler on this album as it is a great listen from start to finish. If it wasn’t for Rockett’s health problems (he was treated for cancer in 2015), I wonder if they would have toured in support of this release? If they would have been able too, I feel that this band would have gained a lot more exposure and could have sold a lot more records. I truly hope this is not a one off record and since Rockett is getting back to health, I hope they will finally be able to tour in support of this album.

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Ruben Mosqueda’s Top Five Albums of 2015:

Devil City Angels CD coverCountry: USA
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2008
Favorite 2015 contribution: Interview with Rikki Rockett

01. Devil City AngelsDevil City Angels
02. Michael MonroeBlackout States
03. QueensrÿcheCondition Hüman
04. Clutch – Psychic Warfare
05. W.A.S.P. Golgotha

Devil City Angels issued their fantastic self-titled debut in the fall of 2015. Not great timing as the ‘touring season’ was essentially over. The band culls from classic rock, country rock and contemporary rock influences and the result is a refreshing rock ‘n’ roll record by ’80s glam rock vets: Tracii Guns, Rikki Rockett, and Eric Brittingham, the latter who played on the album but was subsequently replaced by Rudy Sarzo. On vocals is Brandon Gibbs who’s charismatic performance sells the songs to the listener. Great album from top to bottom. Check out “Boneyard,” “I’m Living,” their cover of “Back to the Drive,” and in my opinion the best ballad of the past 15 years, “Goodbye Forever.”

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Terry Martinson’s Top Five Albums of 2015:

Smokin Aces CD cover 2Country: USA
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2007
Favorite 2015 contribution: Purpura InkBreakin’ Chains CD Review

01. Smokin’ Aces24/7
02. Purpura InkBreakin’ Chains and StationStation
03. Lucid ScreamLucid Scream
04. The TipThe Tip
05. MironLacrimosa

Even though I did not get an opportunity to pen my thoughts in long form for Smokin’ Aces24/7 EP, it is by far my favorite five songs of the year. A tasty smattering of fist pumping rockers about girls, drinking and fighting and an epic “December Rain” styled ballad in “You Take My Breath Away” that will have every pubescent teenager swearing that the song is written for them (think “Open Arms”). Smokin’ Aces24/7 is a must for fans of Spread Eagle meets Tesla styled hard rock and man, I cannot wait for the next installment!

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Will “Bones” Lee’s Top Five Albums of 2015:

Blacklist Union CD cover 2Country: USA
Year started with Sleaze Roxx: 2015
Favorite 2015 contribution: Trench DogsFashionably Late CD Review

01. Blacklist UnionBack To Momo  and DiemondsNever Wanna Die
02. Crucified BarbaraIn The Red
03. Hardcore SuperstarHCSS
04. Michael MonroeBlackout States

Being a new writer/reviewer here amongst the hallowed halls of Sleaze Roxx has been something I wanted to do for a long time and also a bit daunting as I wondered if my years of glam, hard rock, metal (and many more genres) listening experience could be put into words. I am primarily an artist so this is a different form of my creativity, which requires a whole different approach. I feel I do “okay” Diemonds CD coverand I know my approach can be a bit different but everyday and every review is a learning experience. So like in my art, I am never truly happy, but it is great fun going through the process.

So if I had to say just what release would be number one? It would be a tie. Blacklist Union and Diemonds are the two bands that just knocked my socks off. Those that may have read my review of an earlier release of Blacklist Union (Til Death Do Us Part) know I’m a great fan of their music. The band’s latest release Back To Momo, just continues the trend of great songwriting, hooks and to me, keeps that sound and feel of the early days, keeping it fresh and alive but also and bringing it to new ears. Diemonds — I was aware of them a bit from their In The Rough days but partially because of this site and the second release The Bad Pack, I really began to take notice. With their past output, their latest release and also I think with the demise (maybe) of Sister Sin, they can fill that void of rocking, headbanging tunes and songwriting. Sister Sin grabbed me with their Smash The Silence release, I just loved the combination of Motley Crue and W.A.S.P. sound they had going back then and I still play that album to this day. With Diemonds, I feel they have the same energy and enthusiasm and can be taken to the same level.

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