The Soundshark’s Top 20 Songs of 2015

Something somebody said recently struck me as it made an awful lot of sense. Exactly when do you stop saying, ‘Happy New Year,’ to one another? Or at least when does it become acceptable at the least. I honestly don’t know, but for now, I’m still considering it an appropriate time to talk about my favourite songs of last year. Seeming I’ve made a habit of it, and I finally have time to sit down and write about them.

2015 was a challenging year as it more or less marked my transition from degree student to having to fend for myself. Sometimes it sucked, sometimes it didn’t. But something that I didn’t previously have was a companion, somebody that I hold very dear to me and somebody I look forward to what the future holds for the both of us. As such, she has had an impact on deciding this list, just as much as the rollercoaster of emotions I’ve gone through in the past year has. Like I’ve said before, I do these lists for biographical reasons, to show where I’ve been and what’s happened in years gone by. Music and memory are powerful things.

So my rules for the list are as follows: I don’t always pick songs from this year to put on the list, it involves literally anything I’ve listened to in the past year that I’ve enjoyed frequently enough (that said, there are a lot of 2015 entries on this list which makes a change), but I try to avoid putting more than one song by the same artist in. Some of my past lists had more than one or two. You can find them on Spotify if you want to.

I would like to make an honourable mentions list, but there were far too many to include on this year’s list, so I’ll skip that formality this time. Just so many good moments or songs to include the entire list. And if you would like to listen to this list uninterrupted, commentary-free, then head on over to the Spotify playlist instead.

Righty then, on with the show…

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Psilocybe Larvae

You ever get the feeling that you stare at a band name with a completely vacant expression because you have no idea what that means, but you certainly want to know more? I guarantee those without a background in biology will definitely be thinking that right now. The inclusion of larvae implies offspring or spawn of some description and a psilocybe is… actually a mushroom. The genus known to induce hallucinations in fact. So one could assume you’re getting a psychedelic band, but you couldn’t be more dead wrong. This imposing Russian outfit actually apply their trade in progressive death metal, occasionally incorporating classical and symphonic sensibilities into the otherwise vicious musical arrangements. Their career has survived nearly 20 years, four albums and countless line-up changes, but their free-flowing approach to a genre famed for its savagery is refreshing on a quickly stagnating scene. Although labelling themselves as a manic-depressive band is kinda deceptive, their execution in reality is far more uplifting. The music of Psilocybe Larvae does have some bleak overtones for sure, but the addition of keyboard and what almost sounds like a string section elevates the already stellar schizoid nature of the death metal towering above, into a grander, more engrossing listening experience. The most recent effort from the band, 2012’s The Labyrinth of Penumbra showcases guttural growls and soaring clean vocals running in parallel, guiding you through a perilous yet enchanting journey through this darkened world they lay forth before you. Opening track Soul Trekking leads you in with gentle warps of keyboard and the sorrow-tinged plucking of guitar, before building with cavernous bass and the ominous pounding of drums, to the lift of the curtain and the grizzled voice of authority. Clutching you in their grip, the band then walk you into an empowered metal display, filled with ferocious double-kicks, sharp guitar marksmanship and regal sounding atmospherics. The bridge however with just the chugging of bass, an enlightening keyboard melody and the hushed voice of a sinister presence is undoubtedly a highlight of this evolving, affecting landscape.¬†Psilocybe Larvae is a fascinating death metal specimen, akin to the realms that fans of Septicflesh currently tread, one that deserves further attention and a larger awareness. Their talent for orchestrating a progressive nightmare with an unchained sense of sorrow and despair, but can remain an engaging listen and excite in equal stead is unbeatable, and they deserve that step up onto a higher climate of exposure.

The Labyrinth of Penumbra and 2009’s Non-Existence can found on their Bandcamp page, although oddly not for sale. You can find these two albums however on most respectable music retailers and buy merchandise from their website. How to obtain their previous two albums nowadays I’m unsure of. Also they are currently looking for a new drummer, so go hit them up if you fancy being in a killer death metal band.

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