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Coren Top 5 Albums of 2015

Here is my Top 5 List of Albums of 2015
By Coren E. McLeod 


Well, it comes to that time where year-end reviews come out. (Sorry, I am a little late. This chick has been busy.) And I am one that is all about giving my opinion on what I feel was the best of the year. If I haven't stated once, I will state it again: I am a music lover. In regards to music, I tend to lend more towards the hard rock/metal/alternative sound.


This year in music has been very eye opening by with bands taking chances with new sounds. I was very pleased with most of the music that came out this year. My list will consist of heavy popular bands, some local flair and some unsigned artists that some record labels should take notice. (Hint. Hint.)


You may be wondering what gives me the right to even give you a list of my favorite music of 2015???? Well, let me run down my qualifications for you just in case you were wondering:

As far as music, I do have experience in the field before I even started to write for UnRated Magazine. As a child, I am talking way young, I would write songs and perform them in front of family and friends. I actually won a song writing contest at my grade school in Waukegan, Illinois. That song was called "You Know Something." My music teacher in the 5th grade encouraged me to keep writing regardless if it is a song, poem, story etc....



In the year 2004, I got reacquainted with a really good friend from high school named John. John was an overall great musician himself. In high school, he excelled at the music program. (Currently, he fronts a Chicago band called When Ned Left.)

 After I was put on academic probation from Illinois State University, I had to come back home to McHenry, Illinois and find my purpose. Well, at least a job. John and I were hanging out as if it was old times. (Just fyi. John and I never dated. We were just really good friends.)

At this point, the two of us went out one night to see the movie, "School of Rock." (watch the video) Can I just say I did love that movie and it is still one of my favorites to this day? John made an observation that day: He said I reminded him of the kid in the movie that played the drums. He told me I should start to learn to play the drums. And that is what happened. At the age of 25 years old, with John's help and my determination, I was teaching myself how to play the drums. The first couple of songs I learned how to play was “Killing in the Name Of,” “Paint it Black,” and “Song #2.”


A few years later and after a couple of different jobs and boyfriends, I found myself in 2009 managing a band. Yes, I managed a local band. Their first name was The Armanda later changed to Earthquake Handshake. This was a very new eye-opening gig for me. I was working a full time job, trying to finish out my college degree, living with a boyfriend and doing everything possible to get Earthquake Handshake gigs around the area. I was making 10% per show the guys were playing. I helped with every aspect to get the band promoted: Social media, making posters, calling different bars and venues to get them booked, attended recording sessions, took pictures, helped with disputes among members... etc. Plus, I would also help with set up and sound check. Yeah, I was a pretty cool manager. You get the idea.



Is that a good background? I believe so. Let me start off by saying I truly love having this job at UnRated Magazine. It totally gives me the opportunity to express myself and meet awesome new talent.


Without further to do, here is my Top 5 albums of 2015 in no particular order. You ask why? To me, each band on this list has their own unique sound. I have appreciated every single one of these albums and hold each of them in the highest regards. So here we go:




5) Artist: Highly Suspect Album: Mister Asylum
From the first time I heard the line “I CAN’T FUCKING BREATHE” from the huge, gut wrenching song “Lydia,” I knew there was some balls to the band Highly Suspect. The entire album is laced with gritty guitar riffs and the heart pounding voice of Johnny Stevens. Whenever I listen to this album, I almost feel as though I need to take a shower. The music is dirty and has soul to it. Other songs to check out is “Bath Salts” and the well-produced “Blood Feather.” This album takes you down the path of a man’s mind and lets you explore his world. I believe Highly Suspect writes real songs about real shit and I can respect that.






4) Artist: Emperors and Elephants Album: Devil in the Lake-Deluxe Edition
I have to throw out some hometown love to my boys in E and E. The first time I even heard of this band was back in September of 2015. Trapt was playing at Route 20 Outhouse in Racine, WI. Emperors and Elephants was the second act for that night before Trapt hit the stage. While
I hanging out in the venue enjoying a Guinness Stout, Jesse Oliver gets on the microphone and starts to belt out a cover of “Wicked Game.” Yes, “Wicked Game,’ by Chris Issak. I have loved that song for a very long time and hearing Jesse sing it was just so magical. Since that moment, I was for sure an E and E fan.

The Deluxe Edition of the Album Devil in the Lake offers fans so much more. I happen to like it when bands can break their songs down and play some of their music acoustic. This is what is featured on this album and it has a couple of the band’s demos. A few favorite of mine is the chilling track of “Who You Are” and the acoustic version of “Change.” Everyone that listens to this album should pour yourself a nice, short glass of Jameson with ice and just rock out for the night. Head banging is encouraged.



3) Artist: Halestorm Album: Into the Wild Life
I have a little confession that I have to get out there: I have a major girl crush on Lzzy Hale. That chick can seriously wail any song that is out there. Hell, she could make “I’m a Little Teapot” an anthem for women everywhere as long as she is singing it. Halestorm’s new album “Into the Wild Life” is a fabulous production of well written, diverse songs empowered by a strong female lead singer. The first single “Apocalyptic” showcases that the entire band has grown from the previous two albums. Each track on the album seamlessly flows from one to the other. Arejay Hale impresses me with his timing on his drum set and the energy he brings. Some stand out songs for me are “Bad Girl’s World” and “I am the Fire.” I get a warm fuzzy feeling listening to this album and I do not mind it.


2) Artist: Meka Nism Album: The Shift
Yes. This thrilling band that I respect so much made my Top 5 list. Why you ask? This album is a high voltage mix of talent making its way into every metal head’s playlist. From Palatine, Illinois to Springfield, Illinois: I have been on a journey with Meka Nism. I cannot say enough great things about this band and the music they play. The first time I truly gave a listen to “The Shift,” my world was fucking transcended.

I was literally speechless listening to each word Meka sang on every track. Between the astounding banging of the drums to the killer guitar riffs, this album from Meka Nism is a work of art. Two songs that I find to be stand outs (The entire CD is breathtaking.) is "Mouth of God" and "Phoenix." Yet, each time I play it, I listen to the CD from beginning to end. I simply cannot get enough of this astounding art metal from Meka Nism.

Check out their Facebook page. Meka Nism will be releasing a live CD recorded from their most recent tour with Trapt. I would highly suggest you download the live album when it comes available later this month. This band fucking rocks the stage live!




1) Artist: In This Moment Album: Black Widow
Technically, this album came out November 17, 2014. However, it made such an impact in the world of music in 2015 I had to put it on my Top 5 list. Maria Brink is just a goddess that can scream and thrill with her voice. Her presence alone makes one wonder about their own existence in the world. I would literally listen to this entire album during my hour and a half workouts and some at the gym would catch me rocking out. The first song that got me to drop to my knees was “Big Bad Wolf.” The accompanying video is just so messed up. It is like when one is passing a bad car accident and you can’t look away. The song itself has almost a hard rock dance feel to it with a groovy undertone.

The way Maria is able to add a hip hop flair along with her haunting sound is what makes this album stand out from the rest. From “Sick Like Me” to “Bloody Creature Poster Girl,” everyone should make an effort to get this album. I became a fan of In This Moment after hearing “Blood” for the first time on the radio. I cannot wait to hear what is coming up next from this evocative and creative band.

Well, there you have it. That is my list of Top 5 Albums of 2015. I am excited to see what the music world will bring in 2016. I will be here waiting with my ears and heart wide open.


Hey, make sure you check me out on Instagram: cocoamc20

Twitter: cmcleod20

Come check out my music reviews along with some great craft beer recommendations. #Cheers
- Read the full story at UnRatedMagazine.com

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