|Papi's Big List '18 (101-1)|
I suppose this is an appropriate place to make a yearly recap: So I mostly skipped on live shows, though we did get to see The The and Echo and the Bunnymen in London within one week. But yeah, I kinda stuck to the studio versions of music. It's been a hard year too. I've lost a friend Liam, who pratically raised me when I was at a lowpoint in my life, he picked me up and set me straight. Then my best friend Lynch, to whom I always referred as my brother, because we grew up together and he knew me better than anybody else in the world, first got diagnosed with liver cancer and then died of it just three days before New Year's Eve. That day he also had a funeral. Meanwhile my health also pretty much deteriorated: my hands are shaking like crazy, I cannot sleep, my bones hurt like a motherfucker and I'm not even 50 yet, and I got a soft lung cancer myself now, which I'm not treating, because fuck that. My wife lost her job, so there's that, but she's a capable girl, she got a new one, though leagues below the previous one. Doesn't get to travel as much as she used to, so I guess she's now stuck with me more. That cannot be a pleasant perspective. But we did pay off my mortgage, so there's that. It feels weird, this is the first time in decades that I haven't travelled anywhere for over 5 months, but I guess it's about time I settled. Got ourselves a cat. There's that. Life's great, lads. Here is the music now:
The Scythe Of Cosmic Chaos
Nothing much to say here, just get your butts ready to be torn open, fuckers.
The Summoning of Nyarlathotep
Nice, bringing heaviness back into pop-punk, which surprisingly works wonders together with that typical pop-punk song-writing. The vocals might be a little off, but they work just fine. The instrumentation, melodies and the overall angsty vibe are just delicious.
Revelations Of The Red Sword
Hardly the most outstanding album of the genre and not likely to amaze anyone, but if we're talking just straight up gret records from start to finish, you cannot skip out this heavy gem.
It's a dark (mostly) electronic feat, some truly great atmospheric moments, some slightly samey, but all worth a chance.
They Often See Dreams About The Spring
Because there is never enough of black metal in the world, these Ukrainian veterans have returned with a record to erase all their past inconsistencies, mishaps and disappointments.
U Dakhiv Irzhavim Kolossyu…
The first two songs might be somewhat lacking, I admit, but Wheel of Fortune and You Always Win are some of the best songs of the year, I don't care what you say.
You Always Win
|95||High on Fire|
shoutout to DDDeftoneDDD
Another venture into the crazy world of High on Fire and all the sorcering insanity that occurs within.
The Pallid Mask
This album made literal depiction of hell somehow seem even more occult and diabolical.
More or Less
Even though I was at first somewhat let down by this, I recognise that Dan Mangan is as strong as ever and playing it to your strengths is not necessarily playing it safe.
shoutout to PitchforkArms
Locktender are everchanging and everprogressing and this time their exploits into the world of art has led them to the immensly influential Caspar David Friedrich and boy oh boy it is just as gargantuan and haunting as his paintings. What absolute nightmareish landscape they've built up here.
The Abbey in the Oakwood
Last Building Burning
Who's back in full swing after a series of underwhelming records? Cloud Nothings. Turns out all they had to do is just pump up the lo-fi production and play it heavier.
Echo of the World
|90||St. Paul and The Broken Bones|
Young Sick Camellia
Way to save yourselves, fellas. Their previous two albums did absolutely nothing for me, but this is just an absolute delight to listen to; catchy, emotional, fantastic vocals and instrumentation. The whole package. Not all songs are killers, but those that are and ones for the ages.
|89||Horna / Pure|
I place this as my absolutely lowest 8/10 rating of the year here. I can't quite tell why is that exactly, but it feels right. I thought about it and it's not like I enjoy this more or less than any other album above it. But then can I see it being placed in like top 50? Not really. So let's just put it here as a formality. It is a solid-ass dissonant black metal split between two very, very talented bands.
Raivoava Kaaos (Horna side), Disclosure of Knowledge (Pure side)
The Worst Show on Earth
shoutout to DoofDoof
This album is as difficult to get into, as it is rewarding, when you finally do get into its obscure world of spastic heaviness.
Nils Frahm is one of those people who can make an ambient record that'll fill your body with a pleasant shivers of calm, but still sound epic.
symphonic bloated pop
It's a bit difficult to talk about this album and this band. They always come off as that kind of overblown pop that is also somehow really artsy and poignant. I always feel invigorated listening to their music, but I also feel like everyone else might just see through the charade of the high budget and call it a 'shit'. It's like Woodkid and The Dear Hunter all over again, dammit.
Slow Motion Death Sequence
shoutout to Evok
avant-garde electronic noise-metal-punk-pop
Man, this thing is all over the place.
|84||This Heals Nothing|
Part of the Routine
I really cannot remember how I found out about this EP. But it somehow found a way into my life. It's a neat little hard-hitting post-hardcore cry of despair.
I don't think this is their best album. It kinda loses even among their EPs. It's not necessarily as adventurous or instrumentally idiosyncratic as they have a tendency to be. But even if their song-writing got more-or-less outright passive aggressive, it is still a heck of a fun and catchy album.
Heaven And Earth
I know, I know, if the word bloated was an album, this'd be it, but it is the best kind of bloated there is.
Street Fighter Mas
The only reason The Choice is above Heaven and Earth is because it is essentially a pocket version of that record, shorter and easier to go through in one sitting.
|80||Rainbow Kitten Surprise|
How to: Friend, Love, Freefall
shoutout to bgillesp
On one hand, this album is a pop mastodon, but on the other hand, it is littered with strange decisions and undercooked ideas that just drag it down unnecessarily. Those flaws in no way ruin the overall enjoyment, for the highlights truly are one of a kind, but in the grander scheme of things and among all the fantastic albums that came out this year, this will always lose, unfortunately. Hence its relatively low placement.
Queen of Time
The placement of this album might be surprising. Low-end of the 4.5s list? Well, if I am to look at it sober, a cheesy melodeath is not exactly what I am relistening most often from all of the favourites this year.
Tuareg rock'n'roll. If you are not intrigued already, just jam a song or two. You will want to jam the rest of the album.
The Lost Tapes
I've mentioned another Ghostface Killah project in the previous list, so go see that, but the short message is: this is fantastic, don't sleep on it.
Done It Again
|76||Portrayal of Guilt|
Let Pain Be Your Guide
This album is diffucult to find enjoyable. It is also difficult to hate. It is about as vicious as anything this year got. A brutal beatdown of anger and noise that may not have stood out with particularly memorable song-writing, but certainly bombarded with its relentless energy and fury.
The Great Nothing
heavy prog metal
Probably much softer than what the album art promises, but a delightful album anyway. Just expect some psych heavy metal throwback back into the ages, when this would have been considered the heaviest satanic music out there.
Collapsing Pillars of the Earth
The sweetest music, the sweetest tunes, the sweetest vocals. Totally 'totally mild'.
The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness
I guess I came to a conclusion that I only really enjoy the first, purely black metal part of this double LP, because that folky bluegrass just is not my kind of music. But that first one is a solid old-school atmospheric black metal, even if far from innovative.
Picture if you will an exhaustingly tight, dense and adrenaline-pumping psych rock'n'roll album of only the best riffs and pure unadulterated fun.
|71||Wout Gooris Trio and Chisholm/Vann|
shoutout to Sniff
Yeah, I don't know who these people are, but I now have a habit of turning this album on whenever I'm doing mundane household stuff, so that my life seems more like a French art film.
shoutout to Conmaniac
What a sudden unexpected gem this is. Taking pop-punk song-writing and making it slightly heavier, great idea.
De Horae Leprae
Kamasi Washington may enjoy putting out excessively long albums, but his wasn't the only overly long, but enjoyable record this year. This only reaches a little over one hour, but it feels like fucking enough. A complete metal plague and utter musical decay, relentless and wild. Try lasting an hour of that. You will want to, but you might succumb to the idiosyncracy.
Cantus III – Ichthus Os Tremoris
Hex Hex Hex
It's the good kind of needlessly bombastic melodic post-hardcore. It actually exists.
Hex Hex Hex
|67||Filthy Young Impalers|
Who are these youngster sons of bitches and how dare they release the most insane death metal EP of the year? I mean, this thing just does not let on, it is a relentless wave of madness. Make a full length, I demand it. And do not be afraid of experimenting with sound and song-writing. Cause if you do and it goes well, you might be some of the most looked out for metal outfits today. This was ridiculous.
|66||The Slow Readers Club|
Build A Tower
Time for that simple, straightforward bass-tangling indie record. It's just catchy and ear-pleasing. It'll soften people even grumpier than I.
You Opened Up My Heart
|65||Ed Schrader's Music Beat|
Let's go from the most straightforward album on the list to the most oddball and musically extravagant. It reaches some truly peculiar moments, but all done tastefully and with a sense of musical virtuosity. Expect a lot of weird semi-electronic and danceable tunes.
|64||City Calm Down|
Echoes In Blue
folk-y rock-y niceness
This album did to me what many contemporary post-rock albums failed to do for a long time. This album gave me that fluffy starry-eyed feeling that wraps you up in a cozy blanket of musical serenity.
Echoes in Blue
The only possible reason this is not any higher is that it isn't making it easy to like it. You are constantly getting beaten over the head with just how disturbing and…well...convulsing it is that you find yourself in a vortex of distress and disgust. And isn't that an achievement after all?
Not enough material on this barely 10 minutes long EP, but it is a great reminder that Perth punk lives and lives vividly. Keep it up, mates.
|61||Birds in Row|
We Already Lost The World
An emotional wreck and a hardcore crash. That's what this album is. It strikes with heaviness, song-writing mastery and shredding, seemingly self-harming vocals. It's an utter savagery.
Remember Us Better Than We Are
De Doden Hebben Het Goed III
A third installment in Wiegedood's epic black metal series. Don't expect a lot of change, but do expect a lot of quality.
|59||Various Artists (Jazz)|
We Out Here
This is just a compilation of outstanding modern jazz pieces from some of the most intriguing London jazz projects.
Theon Cross - Brockley
|58||The Dead Mantra|
This sounds like something a deranged art professor threw together. It sounds like if the word 'despair' was music. It sounds like if you woke up from your most epic dream and straight into sleep paralysis.
Je Ne Dormirai Jamais
shoutout to neekafat
some weird shit rock
You will either have a hard time wrapping your head around this or you will find it too easy for an off-kilter record.
Much like the cover suggests, this feels like metal decay raining down on you. Equal parts epic and menacing.
Wanderer, Pt. I
|55||Rivers of Nihil|
Where Owls Know My Name
The sax on here might be as primitive as they come, but it does add a great variety to the already crushing metal, which I honestly initially thought to be tech death, but apparently there is a difference.
cosmic black metal
You've been sucked up by a singularity, now all you hear is this utter epicness. (it's also just one song)
You might not be into it right away, but given time to grow, you will not regret listening. On this album, Entropia have gone a littl emore technical and not as demonically gargantuan as many of their contemporaries. Instead, it is all about that instrumentation, which is like nowhere else on this album.
Devouring Radiant Light
Old school, but still masterfully following many modern trends.
The Luminous Sky
Dark in atmosphere, but more as in it's a world of no sun, not something outright diabolical and upon a nightfall. That's the kind of atmosphere here.
So in the previous couple of entries we've talked about all sorts of different black metal styles, from technical, through doom-y, cosmic, to psych-thrash-inspired. Now it is time to celebrate that ordinary old lo-fi atmospheric monsotrous landscape-gazing black metal. Winter is in bloom, weep you suckers!
Les étoiles Endeuillées
Another set of ridiculously catchy and instrumentally intriguing psychedelic tunes.
Come on, these guys have been pumping quality since the 80s and never failed (generally).
This is packed with different styles, but straightened out to make it sound like one whole. Black, death, blackened death and doom are interchangeing here all the time, but you never feel like you're listening to one genre and then the other.
Afterdream of the Reveller
I know myself to mostly enjoy metal that is more-or-less melodic and catchy in one way or another, while the releases that burst out on you with pure menace and power I usually dismiss. Well, Wild Hunt seem to walk a certain line inbetween. They don't necessarily have melodies or anything catchy, but you remember the progression damn well, because the album's main focus is on its utter crushing darkness and heaviness. So there, I found a compromise, memorable enough and harsh enough at the same time.
|45||Melody's Echo Chamber|
shoutout to Conmaniac
This album is a journey. It is both psychedelic enough to keep you intrigued and pop-y enough to make that trip pleasant and instantly likeable.
Visions of Someone Special, On a Wall of Reflections
shoutout to BlazinBlitzer
Y'know what? Every now and then you just want to tune off to some diabolical old-school doom.
Cries from the Underworld
The City Of Bootmakers
I admit, I initially wanted to place this somewhere in the top 10 or top 20, because this record's mood and positive vibes, the attitude, with which it takles heavy socio-political issues is agreeable and dance-inspiring. You just want to vibe with L.A. and his band, even though he is talking about living in poverty and terrorist threats. He is doing it in such a loveable fashion that you need to snap your fingers to the tune. Still, be it my personal political disagreements that made some of the lyrics feel cringy to me of maybe it is the fact that this positivite can overwhelm and at a certain level even annoy, but the album dropped for me a little bit.
England is Unwell
|42||Atrium Carceri, Cities Last Broadcast, God Body Disconnect|
Miles to Midnight
If I remember correctly, this was one of the very first ambient records I've heard this year. I set myself a challenge to find an ambient album this year that I would like (because I had difficulty doing so previously) and my search pretty much ended right there. This album is the most haunting, but also oddly beautiful minimalistic portrayal of a sort of industrialised metropolis. You feel the overwhelming fog and smog taking over, you feel the size of the buildings and you feel breezy.
Miles to Midnight
|41||The Howling Void/Nyss|
Ravens of the Burning God
Imagine that, a split EP made it this high on the list, but each moment in it is a killer, baby.
We Are Sigils
Surprises, surprises. This album's cover art really made me suspect some djent, but the tags were hopeful and the album was bombastic. I guess some may have an issue with its slightly grainy production, but I did not mind and just kept on enjoying the fucking shredding music.
Aus Zeit erhebt sich Ewigkeit
I think we can all admit that Parquet Courts have corrected most of their flaws with this album of driving snarky tunes. It is politically charged, so if that makes you cringe… try it regardless!
And here I am thinking that epic death metal is slowly falling out of style. I wish it were longer, but even as this tight 8-track atrocity it is at its peak billiance.
Perhaps the most insane album of the year. It's this year's Igorrr.
The Fortune's Daughter
History As It Is Happening
I still cannot quite certainly tell where this album is from or who are these people. Apparently they used to be called Conduct, but I am not sure about that. The internet gave me very little on them and the music is haunting me to this moment. It is quite strange and quite idiosyncratic.
Da Yue Jin
|35||The Joy Formidable|
shoutout to Lucman
These fuckers are more energetic and fun than they've ever been. They brough in a much welcome heaviness and goofy song-writing that is just oh so charming.
Y Bluen Eira
|34||Hermit and the Recluse|
Orpheus vs. The Sirens
Hipster-rap is at it again. If you didn't rub your long beard and/or straighten your thick glasses at least a hundred times while indulging yourself in how intellectual your are durin listening to this album, you are no friend of mine.
All At Once
If being fun were a crime, then give these fuckers a chair.
This Is All There Is
I'm not sure a compilation of any kind is eligible for a year end list, but then again, since this is a collection of unreleased material, it might as well. A vibrant, crude and ugly punk with the snarkiest attitude.
Friends in High Places
|31||Spanish Love Songs|
Last year we had The Menzingers, this year it is Spanish Love Songs.
It's Not Interesting
screamo deathcore fuckery
It's like Portrayal of Death's tiny bit catchier sibling, except also shrillingly screeching. Don't worry, it's all tasteful.
Crashing in with a polarising album, Hot Snakes are in a great form, but perhaps too corny for some listeners. But fuck them, aye?
The Eldritch Realm
Of all the Lovecraft-inspired metal albums this year, this one's the winner. (and the bass is sex)
|27||Author and Punisher|
This guy makes his own instruments and his instruments make the most idiosyncratic and terrifying music out there. This is horror drenched in nightmares.
prog or tech death metal
It isn't often that a space death metal is this melodic without turning too cheesy or clichéd; it is also not that often that a melodic metal album is this fucking heavy and dystopian.
The Gathering of the Accursed Artifacts
No matter how much anyone this year tried to put together a mind-blowing tech death metal album, it's the veterans that truly know how to do that in the end.
|24||Avantdale Bowling Club|
Avantdale Bowling Club
shoutout to LeftyMcRighty
And the award for the best personal and soulful, as well as the best jazz rap record in years goes to this fucking surprise I heard the very last day of the year.
Years Gone By
shoutout to budgie
So at first (and second and third) It might not be exactly an exciting, blood-pumping pop album, but it is a beauty.
shoutout to SandwichBubble
genre? Richard Swift
Richard Swift was one of the unsung heroes of modern music, experimenting and pushing the envelope more than most others, but barely ever really seen. On this swan song of his he gets rid of the overly simplistic song-writing he ha a tendenc to convey and goes deep into the world of strange. That is not to say that his song-writing here is too outlandish. It just gets kind of wild sometimes.
All That Divides
Black Peaks have an unique ability to turn even the stale genre of progressive post-hardcore into a ride of catchy tunes.
Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic
If there is anything disappointing abour this, it's that I didn't learn a lot about prehistory. Imagine if this band actually taught biology and history through metal. Like Sabaton for those who like good music.
Cambrian II: Eternal Recurrence
Most likely to scare some of you off because of the high-pitched vocals, but those who will stay will be treated to an insane somewhat pagan, somewhat folky black metal full of the ever-present wintery vibes.
|18||Get Well Soon|
I feel in a minority of people who are totally bewildered by this band. Their ability to create whimsical music with a touch of evil in it is unique, if nothing else. And so deep into their career, they are as strong as ever.
|17||Tropical Fuck Storm|
A Laughing Death in Meatspace
From all the off-the-wall records this year that experimented with noisy sound, this probably stood out the most to most people. Even if you don't like it, most people did. I'm most people. I liked this wobbling idiosyncracy at play here and I liked the oddball song-writing. That's the charm, bub.
Joy as an Act of Resistance
No shortage of fun-ass punk albums this year, but by all means (ans lists) this album wins. You might not like the themes or the lyrics (certainly some of them could use not being so on-the-nose), but the music, man, the music.
shoutout to ZombieToyDuck
The most relaxing album of the year.
In My Dreams
The Bitter End
Give it up to one of the catcheist albums of the year. The Bitter End gives proper homage to 70s dancepunk and early snarky post-punk, but mostly focuses on pop-y fun. Its singles have immediately become some of my favourites of the year and the album is one of the most fun and danceable pop/rock fusions of last couple of years. And who the fuck even are Artificial Pleasure?
Wound Up Tight
Not many bands can so effortlessly blend together multiple metal genres and have each shine individually, but not compromise the cohesiveness. Conjurer can.
And Nothing Hurt
Leave it up to the masters of the serene and the wizards of build-ups to make one of the most riveting albums of the year.
There are two ways of looking at this: one is that the idea to base your entire career around fictional slug mythology is about the most idiotic thing you could ever come up with, or the other that is that turning yourself into a tech death slug-based version of George R. R. Martin is damn near genius. I tned to inch towards the latter, but by all means, this is ridiculous.
The Spectral Burrows
You know, on its surface, this might be the most banal and unsurprising black metal album. The band barely does anything new with their sound and if I were some sort of musical critic, I'd probably dismiss the record altogether for being too samey and while doing what it does spectacularly, ultimately coming off as a one-time affair. But I am no musical critic, I am a musical fan. When an album interests me and makes me enjyo it, I cheer. When an album doesn't do those things, I boo. This album was among the most fun and overwhelmingly crazy metal outputs this year. No shame in that.
Woods From Which the Spirits Once So Loudly Howled
Book of Romance and Dust
shoutout to tomanic and DoofDoof
ambient classical folk
A difficult album to find, but worthy every struggle. What an absolute treat to listen to.
Short Of One Dimension
shoutout to anatelier
It's really between this and Exit North on this spot. I suppose Luxury Mass just has a little more variety in sound. It goes from near-ambient to near-rock-y and still manages to remain sophisticated and cohesive.
On the Linen on the Skin
I Loved You at Your Darkest
A cause of many arguments and disagreement, arguably the biggest name in black metal today have released another album that checks out all of the boxes of what a proper black/death record needs to check out, but definitely does not forget to be surprisingly versatile and unconventional with its influences and song-writing.
Ecclesia Diabloica Catholica
I am not sure, whether I can really call this a pop album of the year. I am not sure, whether I can really call this a pop album at all. Well, what else could it be. A post-rock played as pop? Is it progressive? Alternative rock? Anyway, it is something incredibly atmospheric, lengthy, engrossing and emotionally striking. Whatever it actually is, I love it.
You know, every now and then an album omes along that doesn't strike with depth, doesn't have a potent message to share and is far from pushing the envelope of its genre and style, but it is just so, so well done that all those gripes instantly fall off. Jord is a fucking musical atrocity and the best bloated metal record of the year.
So I found out about this on Stereogum's metal AOTY list and I need to give them a massive shoutout. Not a lot has been quite as aexplosive and massive in sound as this record. Only two songs, but both overwhelmingly gargantuan and with some mesmerising riffs to wallop any unsuspecting listener. I was one such. A whole wall of metal fell on my head and smashed me to the ground.
|3||The Skull Eclipses|
The Skull Eclipses
This album blasted out of nowhere straight into my heart. Lushlife as a rapper has already solidified himself as a talent to watch with his 2016 album Ritualize, but now in colaboration with Botany he pretty much became my present-day favourite. This is a bloody damn grandiose album, but one that still strikes as soft and emotional. The instrumental arrangement and the production are impeccable, the vocal delivery is striking and heavy, the song-writing is moving and also body-moving, the lyrics are reaching from thoughtful to charmingly corny. It's a record to turn haters into lovers. It's a fucking awesomeness galore.
Room Inside The World
new wave post-punk
Perhaps not the album anyone was expecting this band to drop, but quite certainly the best kind of what we could have gotten anyway.
The Horizon Just Laughed
This year belongs to hopeful melancholy. An album all about leaving, goodbyes and other lively hardships, delivered in a jarful of simplistic, but to-the-point and utterly gorgeous melodies and Damien's sharp and rusty voice. It's an album as easy and straightforward as it gets, but only on the surface, because underneath the minimalism and the gentleness, boy oh boy, there is pure, unexaggerated heartache and unquenchable sense of longing. It is a beautiful album with nothing too bloated and not too breathy or emotionless.
The Last Great Washington State