|Chamberbelain's Top 20 Albums of 2018|
Another outstanding year for my musical tastes. Last year had more releases but I feel like this year the albums were of a higher quality.
There are so many bands I want to give honourable mentions to but the final 10 on this list (in no particular order) are the top of the tier. Others include: Boss Keloid, Satan, Black Peaks, At the Gates, High on Fire. I haven’t induced Heilung’s “LIFA” in this list as it is a live album however, I strongly recommend listening to it.
As for 2019, Slipknot and Brutus have new albums coming out, Tool are doing Download and I’m seeing Massive Attack perform Mezzanine in full so safe to say it’s shaping up to be a blast.
Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It
I have accepted this as one of my favourite albums of all time, which puts it alongside other titles including Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, Master of Puppets, Dummy and Homogenic, to name a few. The thing is that I can’t describe how much I love this album because I have my own private motivations about it that no one other than myself would understand even if I attempted to convey them. And to be honest I think that’s the best praise I can offer “Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It”: If you GET this album then its quality doesn’t need explaining.
Check out “A flood of Light”, which is my favourite song of the year.
This album is so absurdly poppy that on paper everyone in metal should be condemning it. How many heavy bands out there can get away with pronouncing ‘you’ as ‘choo’. It’s infectiously enjoyable and even if they dropped their metal-y aesthetic I’d still love them as much. Plus, THAT saxophone solo… My only worry is that in the future they’ll just release the same high standard but just more-of-the-same.
Check out “Danse Macabre”
At first. I was put off by the singer’s catty and constant screaming but it grew on me so quickly. It doesn’t matter whether you focus on the vocals, the guitars, the bass or the drums, each instrument has a bunch of little twists and infectious hooks that makes this album so goddamn catchy. I’m not a dancer in the slightest but this album makes me want to move.
Check Out: “The Greatest Love Songs”
It's Hard To Have Hope
This album is direct. It’s a prime example of a band who can walk the walk and talk the talk especially as there is absolutely no fucking about with the lyrics. The influence words can have on sounds is evident on this album. At face value you might think this is basically "Twitter Debate: The Album" but its way more than that. Destructive, fragile, condemning, provoking but most importantly, authentic. Svalbard are an incendiary, modern and relevant band.
Check Out “Feminazi?!”
This album chills me out and she has one hell of a voice. It’s like wisps of grey smoke swirling in a whitewash room. Best absorbed through headphones lying down in your own company or driving on long open roads at night. She calls this music “death gospel” and I am totally down with it.
Check Out: “Shipwreck”
Man, this album is beautiful. It sounds nostalgic, comforting, relieving, safe, and dreamy. It’s got a touch of hardcore about it in a few tracks but the shoegaze influence completely smothers it in a warm purple blanket. I needed to hear it a few times to fully get the vocals but once you get them, they’re irresistible. I'm seeing them tomorrow and I hope they translate well in a live setting.
Check Out “Collide”
I love this band so much. This year marked the 7th time I’ve seen them live so far. Their primary focus on playing kick ass, dirty, grimy, oily, meaty riffs is so appealing that I can’t imagine anyone who likes heavy music disapproving of this band. Not to Mention Harriet’s captivating vocals which make the riffs even more enjoyable. Calling this album straightforward, to me, doesn’t diminish its value because what it contains is so easy to love.
Check out “Istra”
|8||Anna von Hausswolff|
Christ knows how many times I had to listen to this album to appreciate it properly. I obsessed over it, then lost interest, then rediscovered it in July and have been playing it pretty regularly since. When you get your head around what’s going on, it’s a gorgeous, intriguing and immersive experience. I saw her support Refused a few years ago and had no idea who she was. I wish I did back then.
Check Out: “The Truth, the Glow, the Fall”
Everyone raved about this album for 5 minutes and then never really bothered to rave about it anymore. I’m still enthusiastically backing it. It’s heartening to hear Palm Reader finally nail their sound because every preceding album now feels like it’s been edging itself to achieving what they have with Braille. They’re well good live as well and tour relentlessly so make sure you see them perform.
Check Out “Swarm”
To me, this album feels like walking down the back alleys of a city at midnight. The production makes it seem like the music creeps around the back of your mind and although its obviously dark music, there is this gleaming, glossy, sophisticated side to it too. Like Anna Von Hausswolff, I keep forgetting how good this album is but every time I put it on I feel like holding invisible oranges.
Check Out “The World”
RIFFS. Lots of people say this isn’t as good as their previous album and if that’s true then it must be glorious. That being said, I think I listened to Hunted once when it came out and it didn’t really click for some reason. If you haven’t heard this band before, imagine Iron Maiden and Pallbearer in a blender.
Check Out “Isolation”
|12||A Perfect Circle|
Eat the Elephant
Without Maynard’s gorgeous vocals and great lyrics, I doubt this would have had a place on this list. A lot of people seem nonplussed about this album but for me, someone with only a basic knowledge of A Perfect Circle, this is brilliant. Most of this album lies at a level of pretty cool but there are some absolutely joyous moments on this album. Defintely ready for new Tool though.
Check out “Dissolutioned”
|13||Zeal and Ardor|
Matt tuck made a statement in June saying how metal had gone stale and pretty much the whole metal community rallied against him, echoing the name “Zeal and Ardor” in unison. This is album is actually what bands mean to produce when they say they are ‘pushing boundaries’ and ‘blending genres’. Black metal and gospel. Who fucking knew it would work so well. Saw them live for the first time yesterday and the crowd went so mental that they were just standing onstage grinning for a solid minute or two when they came back for the encore.
Check out “Row Row”
|14||Emma Ruth Rundle|
On Dark Horses
Discovering Chelsea Wolfe last year meant that I discovered a whole bunch of bands and artists new to me, Emma Ruth Rundle was one of them. This album was a very slow burner for me but as soon as the fire got going I haven’t been able to extinguish it. I love how smothered in darkness her light voice is. Very put out I never got to see her live this year. I imagine that she is able to command a level of admiration over a crowd that the audience is so quiet you can hear a pin drop.
Check Out “Light Song”
Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone
I prefer Sylvaine to Alcest. There I said it. I can’t explain why- perhaps it’s because I’ve followed Sylvaine since before Wistful to the present whereas I only jumped on the Alcest ship just before Kodama but there’s something that Sylvaine does that hit the spot perfectly for me. Atoms Aligned… is a huge step forward from her debut album and if the next step is just as big, she might finally shake off anyone who keeps referring to her as nothing more than an Alcest wannabee.
Check out: “Morklagt”
For My Crimes
Another artist I discovered via Chelsea Wolfe. Her lyrics struck a particular chord with me, particularly the title track. I think what makes her music haunting and chilling is how human it sounds. How relatable it’s light surface and/or dark undertones are to people. Tie that in with how minimalistic her sound and you’ve got a recipe for success.
Check Out “For My Crimes”
Where the fuck did this band even come from… They’ve got no right releasing a debut album of such high quality when no one had even heard of their name before it’s release. Jord is an outstanding statement of intent and sets an incredibly high level for Mol to aim for next time round. Miles better than the new Deafheaven in my opinion. I've had the opportunity to see Mol live 4 times since this was released but real life gets in the way of shit.
Check out “Bruma”
I am so glad this album lived up to the hype it was receiving prior to its release. Everything you hear about Mire is true and if you haven’t heard anything about it yet then rest easy knowing it’s like being punched in the throat by Gojira and kicked in the teeth by The Black Dahlia Murder before having your broken body thrown into a swamp.
Check out “Retch”
Are you a person that likes the idea of what Code Orange are doing but not the music Code Orange makes? This is the band for you. Vein are brutally heavy and innovative-often injecting a number of genres into their hardcore muscle. The album sounds… glitched… but in a cool industrialised, erratic way. For fans of everything from Nails to Deftones.
Check out “Virus://Vibrance”
Unpopular opinion: while this album is undoubtedly great, it’s not as great as everyone is making it out to be. I think the reason why people praise this album more is because of its background more than its content: this is an old band who have made their best album since the eighties. I feel like if a new band released this album it would not have received half the level of hype a band with the legacy that Judas Priest has. Still great though!
Check Out “No Surrender”
I think part of the reason I enjoyed this simple album so much is because here in the UK, it was hot as balls for weeks during the summer. It was too hot for something heavy so all I wanted was an undemanding album that I could chill out too in the sunshine with enough catchy choruses to keep me occupied. And that’s what this album is.
Check out “It’s Summertime”
Yet another album I keep losing touch with this album for some reason. Perhaps because it was released so early. It’s really great but it doesn’t have enough of a pull on it to draw me in more. But on the occasions when I do go back to it, I realise how much I enjoy the album. If you want a more progressive Conjurer, this is your thing. Best played in full.
Check out “The Sparrow”
I Loved You at Your Darkest
The Satanist is easily one of my favourite albums of the past 5 years and contains one of my favourite songs ever. Aside from my own personal opinions, it catalysed a dramatic shift in metal which saw the extreme side metal became a widely recognised movement. I loved you at your darkest was never going to top it. But it is still a brilliant effort and Behemoth are still the standard-bearers for extreme metal for me.
Check Out “Bartzibel”
|24||Harakiri for the Sky|
2018 was an incredibly slow start to the year with releases for me. By the time Arson dropped I was desperate for something really good to flatten me just so I had something to entertain me until the next album release. Luckily, this did flatten me, it’s just a shame that its replay value kind of diminishes as it’s got a pretty taxing runtime.
Check out “Heroin Waltz”
Knowing What You Know Now
I enjoy this album a lot more than the majority who have heard it. I get why people are disappointed, I was too with a few songs and I thought the production wasn’t as good as it should have been for a band with as much promise and support as Marmozets. But for me it still contained enough grooves and anthems to win me over.
Check Out “Like a Battery”
I am incredibly undereducated when it comes to this band. To me, this is a really great album that has a good balance of bombast and sincerity. To others, the scales are tipped too far towards the bombast side of things. I’ve heard people describe Dimmu as “Disney metal” in the past. Kind of a compliment I think considering how huge and successful Disney actually is…
Check Out “Lightbringer”
This album concludes on one of my favourite songs of the year. Had this year not been so strong then this would have easily slipped in to the middle of my top 20 list. It’s like a knife topped with poison. It cuts deep and leaves an infection. Anyone who likes Jane Doe should like this as it’s basically Jane Doe’s nephew.
Check Out: “End of”
I forget how this band came to my attention but I’m glad they did. I think I noticed their album art somewhere and checked it out purely because it reminded me of Opeth’s “Deliverance” artwork. I was greeted with crushing doom and uplifting post rock and one of the best voices I’ve heard this year. Nothing truly spectacular but it deserves more attention.
Check out: “Shem”
Something about Ohhms jsut doesn't do it for me. Maybe I just haven't GOT it yet, maybe it's the mammoth durations of the songs but some thing is missing for me.This was a late addition to 2018 and I finally think I've discovered what's missing: diverse vocals. There's a few "woah's" throughout "Subjects" that are absolutely fantastic vocal hooks. It makes a welcome change to hear that sort of thing amongst the trampling riffs rather than constant barking.
Check Out: "Subjects"
Sinistro’s success with this album suffered because of how early it was released. What strikes me with this album is how tangible the sound is. I’ve never been to Portugal but you can sense that sort of soundscape in this album, in a similar way that a lot of Icelandic bands recreate their homeland. It’s kind of beautiful in a darkly lustrous sort of way.
Check Out “Vento Sul”