Dec 222015

Well, it’s been another blazing year of craziness and Rip City magic for The Urb Thrasher Flower Hour. Highlights from this year included attending San Francisco’s High Times Cup, bluegrass-favorite the NW String Summit, and hanging with the sensational, ever-loving space aliens of GWAR! For many, especially those within Oregon’s still-forming, newly legalized marijuana community, 2015 has been an extremely fruitful year of amazing growth and development! And, as we always preach, where would any of us in this world be without music!? This is my 3rd year posting my “Top 10 Album Favorites” and once again, the pool of contenders was very healthy, with a great range of Bluegrass, Rock, Stoner Rock, and Heavy Metal new releases! Supporting so many different genres of music makes it difficult to have a streamlined, numbered list. Instead, I like to go with “favorites.” So as we prepare for the new year, let’s look back and reflect on some of the best musical highs of 2015. Load your bongs or get your dabs ready, because here are our Top 10 Favorites we’ve heard throughout the last year—sent to us by our listeners, bands, record labels, and found during some especially productive smoking sessions!

SLAYER - "Repentless"

SLAYER – “Repentless”

SLAYER – “Repentless”

Also known as FUKKING SLAYER, the San Francisco, California “Big Four” thrash club giants deliver yet again. With the release of their 11th album “Repentless” through Nuclear Blast Records, it would be a broken bong travesty to not put SLAYER on our list of 2015 favorites. After 34 years of blood-driven nastiness,”Repentless” delivers the usual aggressive heaviness SLAYER is known for. Featuring plenty of dual guitar riffage, heavy drums, and masterful Araya screams, the album somewhat turns a new leaf leaving room for continuing SLAYER endeavors. The current band lineup consists of veteran leaders Tom Araya and Kerry King, respected Exodus-creator Gary Holt who was summoned after the tragic loss of former guitarist Jeff Hanneman, and the addition of previous drum technician Paul Bostaph. This new collection of metal pushers collectively shows us with “Repentless” exactly why SLAYER is worthy of a “2015 Top 10 Album Favorite” spot. SLAYER might just go on forever! (Nuclear Blast Records)

Faith No More "Sol Invictus"

Faith No More “Sol Invictus”

Faith No More – “Sol Invictus”

Formed in early 1980s San Francisco, California, and consisting of enough colorful musical influences to satisfy a Skittles enthusiast, Faith No More has always garnered fans from all walks of the musical spectrum, including jazz, rap, rock, and METAL! Reuniting in 2015 for the release and tour of ”Sol Invictus” via Reclamation Records (the band’s first release since 1997), Faith No More is back—filling up venues, releasing new music, and smoking the known classics. The new album reeks of the respected Faith No More heavy, melodic, and soft rock strains the band is famous for, while also exploring new dimensions of today’s ever-evolving music scene. Founding members Billy Gould, Roddy Bottum, and Mike Bordin are joined by highly esteemed vocalist Mike Patton and guitarist Jon Hudson to score a coveted place in the Urb Thrasher Flower Hour list of 2015 favorites. (Reclamation Records)

Alabama Shakes - "Sound and Color"

Alabama Shakes – “Sound and Color”

Alabama Shakes – “Sound and Color”

Sometimes every now and then, a musician or band comes through with enough “Sound and Color” of the universe to shake up the entire musical spectrum! When the Alabama Shakes sprouted onto the scene in 2012 with their debut release “Boys and Girls,” that’s exactly what the band did, receiving accolades from almost every major radio station and recording artist, including Jack White. With four musicians from the small town of Athens, Alabama (also my hometown, YEAH!) including Brittney Howard, Heath Fogg, Zach Cockrell, and Steve Johnson, along with Ben Tanner (the lone non-Athenian), the Alabama Shakes saw success early on, playing top festivals such as Bonaroo, and appearing on almost all the late night TV shows. That success has continued, with a current Grammy nomination for album of the year. Since dropping their 2015 sophomore release “Sound and Color” over the April 20th (420) holiday weekend, the Alabama Shakes have set themselves up as one of premiere bands of the year. Combining extreme doses of soul and rock music with dabs of blues and punk, you can hear why I couldn’t be more proud of my fellow hometown neighbors, naming “Sound and Color” an Urb Thrasher Flower Hour favorite for 2015. (ATO Records)


Armored Saint – “Win Hands Down”

Armored Saint – “Win Hands Down”

Accumulating a decent success story during the 1980s’ soaring rise of the Heavy Metal music brand, one of the more obscure success mysteries was, and still is, Los Angeles-based Armored Saint! Over the years, Armored Saint has always put forth a winning attitude coupled with extremely fantastic albums that supporting melodic, heavy yet tasteful music. Unfortunately, the guys never received their deserved level of fame, except perhaps in my own and a few other weathered fans’ music collections. Recently dropping their 7th studio album, “Win Hands Down” via Metal Blade Records on June 2nd, Armored Saint is back and on top of their game with another incredible studio release. Fronted by vocalist John Bush, one of the more influential Heavy Metal singers of all-time, guitarists Phil Sandoval and Jeff Duncan, bassist Joey Vera, and drum technician “the one and only” Gonzo Sandoval, “Win Hands Down” has the classic Armored Saint approach, even possibly leaning a little more toward the hard rock side. With enough of the essentials in place, it was easy giving Armored Saint’s ”Win Hands Down” a place on the Urb Thrasher Flower Hour 2015 Top 10. (Metal Blade Records)

Soilwork - "The Ride Majestic"

Soilwork – “The Ride Majestic”

Soilwork – “The Ride Majestic”

Sweden!!! Sometimes in the heavy/death metal world, that’s all you have to say to back a band’s credentials when discussing top-shelf metal. Soilwork, known as a melodic death metal band, but honestly way much more, is a perfect example of Sweden’s Metal World Greatness. Riding high after their 10th release “The Ride Majestic” via Nuclear Blast Records, and a successful 2015 tour with Heavy Metal titans SoulflySoilwork has proven once again they are one of the finest bands scorching today. Possibly turning the melodic tones up a notch or two, ”The Ride Majestic” packs heavy dueling guitars, underlying blast beat bullets and grooves, and Grammy-worthy vocal deliveries! Soilwork’s current lineup of Bjorn Strid, Sylvain Coudret, David Andersson, Sven Karlsson, Marcus Wiborn, and Dirk Verbeuren have closed certain doors and opened others, definitely earning the “The Ride Majestic” its place in the Urb Thrasher Flower Hour Favorites for 2015. (Nuclear Blast Records)

Chiefs - "Tomorrow's Over"

Chiefs – “Tomorrow’s Over”

Chiefs – “Tomorrow’s Over”

If you’re a professional music fan, you probably understand that sometimes one can find the secrets of the garden in the deep and diverse underground. Recently rooted in the Stoner Rock genre, one newly found band that has stood out in 2015 with their outstanding debut release “Tomorrow’s Over” is CHIEFS! Every band brings certain aspects to their albums, and often, there are a variety of factors that could lend an album its appeal, but for Chiefs’ February release of “Tomorrow’s Over,” it was, for me, simply the superior craftsmanship and tone! With a heavy desert Stoner Rock-influenced groove, Chiefs’ founder, lead man, vocalist and guitarist Paul Valle rolled up 11 amazing tracks, carrying the torch for bands like Kyuss and more into the future. Giving detail to every note and propelling cognizant sound that simply makes you feel good, it’s easy to see why CHIEFS’ debut album “Tomorrow’s Over” became an Urb Thrasher Flower Hour favorite of 2015! (Battleground Records)

Iron Maiden - "The Book Of Souls"

Iron Maiden – “The Book Of Souls”

Iron Maiden - “The Book Of Souls”

Being legendary can’t be easy. But for a well-traveled band like Iron Maiden, who started out in the late 70s, and grew throughout the 80s to gain extreme international notoriety by the early 90s, it probably is easy by now. Despite coughing and choking over their lineup in the mid-90s until vocalist Bruce Dickinson returned in 2000, Iron Maiden has solidly achieved total world domination ever since. Dropping their highly anticipated 16th studio album, ”The Book Of Souls,” after battling cancer (Bruce Dickinson), it seems that perhaps for Heavy Metal icons Iron Maiden, being legendary does come naturally. Their current lineup, featuring Bruce Dickinson, Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, Steve Harris, Janick Gers, and Nicko McBrain, even added an epic 18-minute piano track to their 2015 release called “Empire of the Clouds” that many in the metal world are calling a masterpiece. Featuring 11 diverse tracks already met with industry accolades, there is no doubt we would include “The Book Of Souls” as an Urb Thrasher Flower Hour favorite for 2015! (BMG)

One Ton Project - "Gizzards and Hearts"

One Ton Project – “Gizzards and Hearts”

One Ton Project – “Gizzards and Hearts”

A quick computer search shows one metric ton of California marijuana is worth about 10 million dollars, but if you look south to Texas, that number drops to about 7 million per ton! When dealing in priceless music tons, one has to look no further than grounded Las Vegas quintet One Ton Project. Combining elements of jazz, funk, rock, progressive heavy and experimental blasts, it’s tough to attribute this band a straight monetary value or one confined strain, but it’s easy to succumb to their self-produced “Gizzards and Hearts” LP, released this February via Battleground Records. After 11 plus years of promising band growth, members Travis Mercer, Joe Munoz, Brandon Desmond, Adam Sage, and Daniel Fuller have assembled One Ton Project into a solid ton of up-and-coming potential. The tracks are profoundly unique and soulful, brushed with experimental mystery giving way for an individual and fresh sound. Created with care and truly excellent song writing, “Gizzards and Hearts” gives way as an easy choice for the Urb Thrasher Flower Hour Top 10 of 2015! (Battleground Records)

King Hitter - "King Hitter"

King Hitter – “King Hitter”

King Hitter – “King Hitter”

Our lone EP making the list this year proves that sometimes, half is all it takes to get the job done—even if it’s a half-joint of high grade! North Carolina’s recently coalesced King Hitter dropped their highly anticipated, self-titled “King Hitter” EP via Candlelight Records in early 2015, proving that the 5 tracks were plenty to re-ignite a twenty plus year musical absence, as was the case of lead vocalist Karl Agell. Fronting the legendary Corrosion of Conformity in the early 90s with success and high fan acclaim, Karl is now back, joining forces with rockers Scott Little, Mike Brown, Jon Chambliss, and Chuck Manning. Relying heavily on their southern rock influence, but turning up the heaviness a level of dank or two, the “King Hitter” EP gives the band a clear direction for 2016. The “King Hitter” EP is heavy, melodic, electric, and harmonic with timely guitar duels of shred. Karl’s articulate and tasteful vocals bleed from the heart, easily earning this year’s ”King Hitter” EP a home among the Urb Thrasher Flower Hour 2015 Favorites! (Candlelight Records)

HE WHOSE OXE IS GORED - "The Camel, The Lion, The Child"

HE WHOSE OX IS GORED – “The Camel, The Lion, The Child”

HE WHOSE OX IS GORED – “The Camel, The Lion, The Child”

The Pacific Northwest has always been known for fine wines, microbrews, and more recently, legalized, locally farmed weed. Ever since the alternative 90s became seeded, the NW has also been known for cutting-edge alternative, heavy post-grunge music! Demonstrating feelings of calm, collected serenity of space meshed with electric, exploding hits of heaviness complete with moments of delusion, HE WHOSE OX IS GORED has taken 2015 to another atmospheric level. Celebrating the birth of their powerful October release, “The Camel, The Lion, The Child” via Bleeding Light Records, I’m guessing HE WHOSE OX IS GORED will have no problem riding high through 2016. The band, featuring Lisa Mungo, Brian McClelland, John O’Connell, and Mike Sparks, takes us on journey to upper and lower realms of existance, blending light and dark sonic booms of heaviness that seem to draw out and feed upon inner emotion. Crafted with clear intent and obvious affection, “The Camel, The Lion, The Child” from Seattle’s HE WHOSE OX IS GORED is our final Urb Thrasher Flower Hour 2015 Favorite! (Bleeding Light Records)


10 Rip-Worthy Mentions:


Serial Hawk – “Searching For Light” (Bleeding Light Records)

Clutch “Psychic Warfare” (Weathermaker Records)

Freedom Hawk – “Into Your Mind” (Small Stone Records)

Yonder Mountain String Band – “Black Sheep”

Vision of Disorder – Razed To The Ground (Candlelight Records)

Disenchanter “Strange Creations”

Torche – “Restarter” (Relapse Records)

Queensryche – “Condition Human” (Century Media Records)

GOATSNAKE – “Black Age Blues” (Southern Lord Recordings)

Baroness – “Purple” (Abraxan Hymns)


It’s been a lot of fun supporting the music these bands have released over the past year. We already look forward to another amazing year of rocking and heavy smoking, so stay tuned to as we take on 2016! Please support these bands by clicking the links and checking them out. See you next year!

Urb Thrasher

Urb Thrasher, host of the Urb Thrasher Flower Hour!

Urb Thrasher, Host of The Urb Thrasher Flower Hour!