Out of Babylon: 2015 Review / 2016 PreviewDate: December 18, 2015
And just like that another year comes to an end and everyone hits the gym for about a week until they quickly throw it to the wayside. More importantly, the beginning of a new year means it’s time to look back at the previous year and see how we got to where we are today. 2015 was a very big year for the bands featured on Out of Babylon. We were graced with new albums, incredible tours, and band reunions. Unfortunately, a few bands also played their final shows this year but their music will continue to live on especially on Out of Babylon. We were also left with teasers for what’s to come in 2016 from a ton of bands and oh boy are we in for some treats.
So many incredible bands put out great albums this year but one that sticks out is August Burns Red with their new release Found in Far Away Places. This was the first release the band put out on their new label, Fearless Records, and the sounds you hear on this record are very unique to the metalcore scene. ABR has never been shy of trying new styles and bringing in nonmetal musical inspirations and you can find everything from western to Latin and orchestral influences. The band were even nominated for a Grammy for their serf rock infused song “Identity” which is a big first for the scene.
The band also had one of the best tours of the year with the Frozen Flame tour early in the year featuring Miss May I, Northlane, Fit For a King, and ERRA. Such a stellar lineup and ABR put on a memorable performance. One of the main highlights of the set being all five members taking part in the drum solo. If you didn’t get to witness it definitely try and find it on YouTube.
For Today spent the longest time they’ve ever taken to record an album and put together their solid record Wake which was their first release on Nuclear Blast. The band kept their brutal groovy breakdowns and built on it with more dynamics than on any of their previous releases.
One of the other biggest tours of the was For Today’s album release tour just a few months ago featuring the stacked lineup of Fit For a King, Gideon, Phinehas, and Silent Planet. All of the bands on this tour are great friends and it was great to see every band bringing up each other to do guest vocals for their sets.
One of my personal favorites from the year was The Ongoing Concept’s new album Handmade which truly lives up to its namesake. The band made the entire album from scratch; building their own instruments, recording and producing the album as well as directing and producing the music videos. Their unique style definitely does not pigeonhole the band in any subgenre and it’s a very fresh and loud listen.
The Devil Wears Prada one upped their Zombies EP by releasing the Space EP. The band resigned to Rise Records earlier this year and this was their first release with the label since 2007. The A concept EP about space is definitely not something I’d normally be interested in but TDWP crushed it with this EP and they succeeded. The band also said that 2016 will bring a new full-length album from the band. Their Apollo X co-headlining tour with Motionless in White as also a highlight tour of this year. Also on the bill was Upon a Burning Body, The Word Alive, and the Color Morale who all put on great sets. Another highlight for TWDP this year was opening up the mainstage on Mayhem Fest.
Even the big guns in Stryper put out their new album Fallen featuring some of their heaviest tracks they’ve ever recorded. The vocals on this album are soaring beyond belief that a human could have a voice as powerful as Michael Sweet. Self-produced and very catchy and groovy, this release definitely hangs with the stuff the newer scene is putting out these days.
So many bands put out albums this year, making sure that we had plenty of new music to listen to. Phinehas, We Came as Romans, Blessthefall, Wolves at the Gate to name a few.
It was also a great year for tours. As mentioned already, ABR, For Today, and TDWP had some of the best tours of the year but there were many other great tours. Warped Tour featured a bunch of Out of Babylon bands including ABR, Fit For a King, Beartooth, Memphis May Fire, and We Came as Roman. The Color Morale went out on their first big headlining tour as well this year (Shout out to my awesome girlfriend who bought us tickets for this show). They put on a great set featuring their best songs off of their last two albums as well as a few tracks off of their early albums that they don’t play very often anymore.
2015 was a year of nostalgia for the metalcore scene. Haste the Day reunited and released their first album in five years entitled Coward. The band reunited the original lineup with the lineup from their last release in 2010 for this album and they played a handful of shows. Norma Jean went out on tour in celebration of the 10th anniversary of their album O God, the Aftermath. The band was joined every night by their original singer Josh Scogin, whose new band ’68 were also on the bill for this tour, to sing the encore with the rest of the band. Norma Jean also announced that they will have a new album for us in 2016. One of the biggest reunion rumors that finally came true was the rebirth of Underoath. The band will be making a return to the stage in 2016 to play their albums They’re Only Chasing Safety and Define the Great Line in their entirety. The band will be playing with drummer Aaron Gillespie for the first time since 2010.
On the downside, two great bands hung up their instruments this year. Texas in July and I, the Breather both played their final shows ever this winter. Both bands put out some of my favorite releases in the scene and it was sad to see them end. Luckily, we will always have these albums to carry on their legacy.
2015 was an incredible year and we definitely have a lot to look forward to in 2016. Many of the bands who did not put out music this year have been hard at work in the studio preparing their new albums for this year. We can look forward to new albums from Fit For a King, Norma Jean, TDWP, Beartooth, Silent Planet, The Color Morale, The Word Alive and hopefully many more. It’s very farfetched but we can dream of Underoath releasing a new album. Probably not going to happen but who knows these days!? We can also look forward to many great shows as well. Already announced is The Word Alive’s upcoming tour in March with Fit for a King as well as more to be announced, and For Today is doing a small tour with Like Moths to Flames, Phinehas, and Vanna In February. Underoath’s tour will be happening in April which is probably my most anticipated show of the year at this moment. Also, in the coming months we will see who will be playing Warped Tour. There is always a handful of Out of Babylon bands on the lineup so it is definitely another tour to look forward to. On New Year’s The Crimson Armada announced a reunion show so who knows if this is a onetime thing or if there will be more shows to come. So much to look forward too! 2016 is going to be a great year.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of the writer alone. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of WSOU, Seton Hall University, nor any of its affiliates.