BlazinBlitzer
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01.09.19 1000th Rating Special: Middle of the Ro01.03.19 Best Everything of 2017
01.02.19 Users' Top 10 of 2018 Predictions12.31.18 Top 20 Drumming Performances of 2018
12.29.18 Blazin's Top 40 Albums of 201812.25.18 Blazin's Top 40 Songs of 2018
09.30.18 Sput's OCT 2018 Song of the Day06.20.18 9 Month Game of Catchup (April and May
06.18.18 9 Month Game of Catchup (Dec. 2017 - Ma06.17.18 9 Month Game of Catchup (Sept. - Nov.
01.28.18 500 Rating Special - Personal Top 10 So10.10.17 A Blazin' Birthday Special Part 1
09.07.17 Best Songs and Albums of July 201707.13.17 Best Songs and Albums of June 2017
06.05.17 Best Album and Songs of May 201705.30.17 Sputnik's Favorite Satellite: FINAL ROU
05.26.17 Sputnik's Favorite Satellite Round 405.23.17 Sputnik's Favorite Satellite Round 3
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Blazin's Top 40 Albums of 2018

The song titles in all caps are the best songs from each album featured on the list.
40Tropical Fuck Storm
A Laughing Death in Meatspace


Despite some of my complaints with this album's ideas, I'm more than happy that it has let this band shoot up to the impressive popularity they're currently at. Especially after hearing some of the creative, artsy punk these guys put up, you'll think they deserve it, too. A Laughing Death in Meatspace (which is a badass album title by the way, goes with the name as well) is a project that skillfully blends aspects of punk and blues together into one weird-tasting sandwich. I love the “chanty” punk characteristics that Tropical Fucc Storm kept, especially on the outro of “Antimatter Animals” and the title track. Oh yeah, I can't forget about “Soft Power”, which is just as wild as it is awesome. Speaking of being wild, that's one of this album's main selling points and boy do they sell it well.

Best Tracks: “Antimatter Animals”, “TWO AFTERNOONS”, “Soft Power”
39Ben Howard
Noonday Dream


Ben Howard, one of the decade’s newest indie folk darlings, returns charmingly with Noonday Dream. This is one of those records that successfully pleases all fans within its genre. This offering includes some Bon Iver-isms like electronic and odd voice emphases on vastly naturistic atmospheres. “A Boat to an Island Pt. 2/Agatha’s Songs” and “Murmurations” will likely keep modern folk fans satisfied with cleaner effects and production. In Rainbows-era Radiohead is heard on cuts like “Someone in the Doorway” and “The Defeat” to cover the indie rock area of folk. Perhaps most importantly, however, its guitar sounds and compositional vibes often lead to the wonderful traditional folk we’ve come to expect from Howard.

Best Tracks: “Nica Libres at Dusk”, “A BOAT TO AN ISLAND ON THE WALL”, “Someone in the Doorway”
38Brandi Carlile
By the Way, I Forgive You


Brandi Carlile is an endearing personality in the country community that, given the popularity of this album, will be hovering around for a while. Mrs. Carlile seems to be a traditionalist in her central country soundscapes, kinda in the vein of last year's Chris Stapleton. Twangy guitars, classical instrumentation, and cheery backup vocals are regularly seen. The best of these ventures has to be the first one, “Every Time I Hear That Song” for being so gosh-darn gorgeous in production. Also don't forget about the touching encore in “Party of One”, of which Brandi Carlile uses to show off her astonishing vocal capabilities. Lyrically, the album is simple in most places, but all in respect to traditional country songwriting. Even then, there are some carefully written gems on here like the powerful and prideful single “The Joke”, the down-to-earth “Most of All”, and the commemorative “The Mother”.

Best Tracks: “Every Time I Hear That Song”, “THE JOKE”, “Party of One”
37Kamasi Washington
Heaven And Earth


Despite only ever releasing two significant records, Kamasi Washington is still one of the most prolific jazz artists in the game right now. His ability to turn predictably bloated compositions into memorable jams is one of the main reasons why he’s so currently well known. That being said, Washington also isn’t afraid to be experimental and stray away from the modern jazz sound he usually sticks to. A couple full-time vocal features arrive on tracks such as “Testify” and “Vi Lua Vi Sol”, the latter of which seems completely automated. “Hub-Tones” gives off some Latin vibes with the extra percussion and the funky sax playing. The album’s most popular track “Street Fighter Mas” is essentially a trip hop track with Washington’s signature orchestral and sax features.

Best Tracks: “Tiffakonkae”, “THE SPACE TRAVELERS LULLABY”, “Song for the Fallen”
36Violet Cold
Sommermorgen (Pt. II) - Joy


Think of this as an album right in between Parts I and III. You still have much of the calm, dreamy atmosphere of Part I but mixed with some of Part III's intensity, and you ultimately have an album better than both of those evident by how well all of this was done. Just like on album highlight “Time to Tango”, the 80's, retro-like production help to keep the featured music distinct (highly noticeable on “Love Performance” and “Penguins Commit Suicide”). There's also some faster, more upbeat stuff on here like “Schone Dummheit” and “Altitude” that help diversify Violet Cold's moods.

Best Tracks: “TIME TO TANGO”, “Schone Dummheit”, “1997”
35Convulsing
Grievous


It’s albums like these that keep reminding me that I have to dig into Ulcerate someday. Although Convulsing seems to be on the less chaotic side than that band, the songwriting on Grievous is just as good. Dark and fierce instrumental work is laced throughout much of the project, but the band also likes to show their melodic chops with some doom metal passages. The bookends “Beaten” and “Strewn/Adrift” perfectly encapsulate the album’s mixture of the death/black/doom metal genres into one atmosphere. Cool fact about Convulsing: apparently these guys are huge 90’s Porcupine Tree fans. I didn’t notice this until I heard the familiar melody in the bonus track “Dreaming”, which is one of two Porcupine Tree covers they’ve done over the past two albums.

Best Tracks: “Beaten”, “Inert”, “STREWN/ADRIFT”
34Storm{O}
Ere


Storm{O} is a very appropriate name for a band as relentless as it is. You almost feel the beatings Ere gives you. It's sometimes a bit too much of a beatdown for my liking, but when it's fresh, man do I enjoy it. “Taxidermia” is such a strong opener with grimy and harsh performances from everyone. “Metafora del Distacco” is in the same alley and “Stasi” is a song that's gone past the point of no control and into utter insanity. In terms of composition, it's like the band has an assignment for each instrument's presence. The vocals are sputtering Italian harshness and the guitars are grizzly beautiful. The drumming is chaotic beyond belief and the bass presence here will surprise you too as it makes the album all the grosser. It's an excellent post-hardcore record by some mean Italians who would've been awesome to see live while I was in Rome. Oh well, that was a busy week.

Best Tracks: “TAXIDERMIA”, “Metafora del Distacco”, “Stasi”
33Erdve
Vaitojimas


Here's another relentlessly brutal album that'll wash away those sweet and sunny vibes. Rather than another post-hardcore band, Erdve thrives in the Lithuanian hardcore post-metal. With Vaitojimas, you get another amazing opener in the title track, which totally rips in every way. Also, note the two solid finales in “Pilnatve” and “Atraja”. If there's anything to describe the harshness of this record, it's like putting Ere and Vertige together. Vaitojimas has Ere's nasty intensity and Vertige's droned sense of atmosphere to batch up a compellingly rough listen. All that with its stellar consistency invites a filthy time.

Best Tracks: “Vaitojimas”, “PILNATVE”, “Artaja”
32Failure
In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind


One of the most interesting grunge bands of the 90’s came back in 2015 with a surprisingly well-received record, but they weren’t done there. This long-titled work was followed by several EP’s hinting what the album would sound like and contain. In the Future… is essentially an impressive feat from an old band successfully making modern alt. rock. “Dark Speed”, “Paralytic Flow”, and “Distorted Fields” are particularly memorable in the album’s modern grunge universe. Failure’s experimental side isn’t unexplored either with the Segues being intriguing ambient pieces and “The Pineal Electorate” as a Beatles-like closer that ends on a triumphant note.

Best Tracks: “Dark Speed”, “Distorted Fields”, “THE PINEAL ELECTORATE”
31Black Thought
Streams Of Thought, Vol. 2


When looking at the structure of a rap album, there have been three significant types of records in 2018. This year’s Kanye projects represent the short albums, Earl Sweatshirt and others make bite-sized tunes, and then there’s your standard album/song length products. Black Thought combined all these forms on Streams of Thought Vol. 2, making for an even more diverse listen than on Vol. 1. It also helps that this record features nearly twice the amount of songs without the bloatedness of expanding such an idea. Like Vol. 1, however, many cuts still feature the same 90’s production and melodies that have made Black Thought so valuable up to this point.

Best Tracks: “Soundtrack to Confusion”, “Streets”, “CONCEPTION”
30Spaceslug
Eye the Tide


I feel it’s quite understated how much production can affect the identity of a sludge metal album. Many fans like to make similarities between Baroness and Mastodon, but the production in their debut albums would show how differently each band would change the sludge metal scene. Spaceslug falls into the more raw, Mastodon side of this spectrum, but the approach is more laid back and constant in tempo and compositionally similar to Elder’s latest works. As the band name might suggest, Eye the Tide project sent the band’s guitars into outer space with wonderful bass performances to boot. This thing is just one solid, psychedelic riff after the other.

Best Tracks: “SPACED BY ONE”, “Eternal Monuments”, “Vialys Part II”
29The Armed
Only Love


The Armed has an oddly low popularity on Sputnik. They're a very famous band on a few major music outlets (Noisey, Metal Injection, Metal Sucks, etc.) and on Only Love, they've even added famed Converge drummer Ben Koller alongside production magician Kurt Ballou. Even without my expected popularity spike, The Armed has put out a helluva great album with some innovating bits and pieces that could bolster their career. Only Love is not only being an electronically brutal metalcore force, but they like to put a neat artistic spin on their more low-key tracks. That spin I see is in vocal repetition. Songs like “Middles Homes” from before, “Role Models”, “Nowhere to be Found” put an experimentally pleasing quality into the equally ambitious music like something Swans may use. As I've said before, I still thoroughly enjoy tracks like “Luxury Themes” and “Witness” despite my stronger enjoyment for the calmer songs.

Best Tracks: “Nowhere to be Found”, “Luxury Themes”, "MIDDLE HOMES"
28Iceage
Beyondless


There's a mix of the old and the new with Beyondless. You have some major elements of twentieth century folk here and a little modern alt rock there with some tidbits of bluesy sections. This isn't to mention that nearly every song in the second half is gold. “Take It All” is an adrenalized take on a person who constantly feels stepped on, yet again coming in with a brilliantly utilized string section. “Thieves Like Us” is a stumbling, fun number about a drunk person with some of that old-timey keyboard magic. Perhaps most well-received is the title closer, a self-conscious termination of the album that realizes our un-infinite distances with some blues touches. Like most of the record, the production and guitar work on this is a stellar job well done.

Best Tracks: “UNDER THE SUN”, “Take It All”, “Beyondless”
27Murder by Death
The Other Shore


In potentially surprising fashion, my favorite country album of 2018 wasn’t Golden Hour or BtW,IFY or any of the other acclaimed county albums this year. It was The Other Shore, a humble feat in country and folk music that holds an impressive amount of wonderful ballads using excellent consistency to further advantage. It’s a traditional country record where every song has something interesting to offer, whether that be swing influences (“Chasing Ghosts”, “Last Night On Earth”), accordians (“Bloom”), or the string sections that appear throughout the entire record. It’s also a neat concept alum with a surprising amount of lyrical detail and complex writing.

Best Tracks: “Travelin’ Far”, “Space”, “LAST NIGHT ON EARTH”
26Birds in Row
We Already Lost The World


Fantastic French hardcore is now a thing, apparently. This album is filled with passion and hard-hitting songwriting on both lyrical and instrumental fronts. While Birds in Row are experienced in making decent melodic sections, they really shine at their harshest or rhythmically strongest. I’ve also gotta give it to the bassist, who make his presence well known in the grimy atmosphere of the instrumentals. We Already Lost the World is a lyrical roller coaster, too, as it commonly mixes emo and punk themes into interesting song concepts. The album slowly goes from being politically charged and critical to self-doubting and hopeless for the world in a downward spiral of musical harshness.

Best Tracks: “We Count So We Don’t Have to Listen”, “15-38”, “MORNING”
25Thy Catafalque
Geometria


To begin our introduction to Thy Catafalque's 2018 shenanigans, we meet “Hjanali Csillag” a song admittedly not in line with the rest of the record, but the psychedelic hype is there. Seriously, there's some amazing avant-garde jazz work on here with great production, nice synthwork, and frantically awesome drumming. The next track “Szamojed Fresko”, blasts out in a blazing fire the instant it begins. Afterwards, some mathy industrial black metal ensues with riffs that slay for days. This, with many tracks mixing the psychedelic grooves from earlier, is what you can find on the rest of the album. But that's not all you find. Some songs have folk origins in them (“Tenger, Tenger”), others focus primarily on its black metal sound (“Lagyresz”, Enek a Buzamezokrol”) and one song even sounds like some awesome 90's video game music with a sax solo (“Gote”).

Best Tracks: “Hajnali Csillag”, “Szamojed Fresko”, “BALRA A NAP”
24Father John Misty
God's Favorite Customer


I guess we’ll technically never answer the question, “Is Father John Misty really that pretentious?” I’d personally say no, especially not with his introspective new album God’s Favorite Customer. This album’s a bit of a black comedy, combining humor with sadness and relatable storytelling. The single “Mr. Tillman” is a representative highlight of the album’s style, albeit without a lot of the gospel emphases Father John Misty implements on other tracks such as “The Palace” and the title track. I admittedly have yet to listen to Pure Comedy, partly because of its fairly negative reputation, but its reputation is also why I’m intrigued by it given Father John’s character on this album.

Best Tracks: “MR. TILLMAN”, “Please Don’t Die”, “The Palace”
23Cursive
Vitriola


Yet another album I have to get into, perhaps a little more understandably this time, is The Ugly Organ. It’s a somewhat overshadowed classic in the emo scene that’s only further justified of such status by this new album Vitriola. Cursive made Vitriola a uniquely haunting album with outstanding production characteristics such as prominent bass and unfiltered vocals. As unexpectedly clean and groovy as this record was, the ferocity in the album that comes in bits and pieces arrive at just the right times, breathing a lot of light into an already great record. Vitriola also gets off on a particularly strong start with a spectacular first half containing plenty of rock bangers.

Best Tracks: “Free to Be Or Not to Be You or Me”, “Pick Up the Pieces”, “IT’S GONNA HURT”
22Lupe Fiasco
DROGAS Wave


Solid consistency is a common trait among many bands on this list. Even for DROGAS Wave, the album isn’t necessarily a roller coaster of great and awful tracks. However, not many famous rappers have had the inconsistent career Lupe Fiasco has had. Thankfully we launch from Lupe’s floor (Light) to his high ceiling with Wave. Lupe shows he isn’t unfamiliar to the fun jams he’s known in the mainstream for with solid cuts like “Manilla” and “XO”, but the spacier efforts is what makes DROGAS Wave particularly interesting. Half the tracks here are of such nature and those atmospheres fully entrance you into the TPaB-like messages that reoccur throughout the album. Basically, unlike much of Lupe’s career, this is album is just one solid song after the other.

Best Tracks: “WAV Files”, “Down”, “QUOTATIONS FROM CHAIRMAN FRED”
21Anna von Hausswolff
Dead Magic


As soon as those woodwind shimmers appeared two minutes into “The Truth, The Glow, The Fall”, I knew I was in for a treat, and indeed I was. It's not hard to say that centerpiece “Ugly and Vengeful” makes a lot of the record, but surrounding it are solid numbers of, ahem, Neoclassical Darkwave as RYM described it. Besides the glaring pipe organs, other elements of the past feel invited, too, like a bit of 80's pop vocal production on the opener and even some old-time country on the followup “The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra”. Just like the awesome album cover from 1990 cult horror flick Begotten, the themes are depressingly haunting. The entire thing is essentially based on a poem by Walter Ljungquist and von Hausswolff would add (“Feel the fall”, “not enough”, “stone”, “to dissolve myself into emptiness”). It's all so different and fresh and cool.

Best Tracks: “The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra”, “UGLY AND VENGEFUL”, “Kallans ateruppstandelse”
20Oh Sees
Smote Reverser


I have to admit, Smote Reverser has a weird album cover. It looks awesome, yes, but it represents very little of what Thee Oh Sees/Oh Sees/Whatever-This-Band’s-Name-Is music actually sounds like. What’s really quite impressive with Smote Reverser was how it took only one record for oft-releasing Thee Oh Sees to make a more solid record than King Gizzard, an already great band. This album successfully blends blues, jam rock, and psychedelic rock, three genres that almost never blend well in today’s age. Despite how vintage Thee Oh Sees might seem at first, there are some impressive electronic inputs and modern effects that only add to the diversity of the record’s sound.

Best Tracks: “LAST PEACE”, “Nail House Needle Boys”, “Beat Quest”
19Hop Along
Bark Your Head Off, Dog


A major theme of Bark Your Head Off, Dog is power abuse so I initially asked, “Why choose a dog to symbolize power?” Later I realized that all that dog can do to show dominance without getting itself trouble is bark. Same goes to our authorities or, in this case, so-called “authorities”. I believe what the majority of this album says is, “When social politics, even in history (“One That Suits Me”), memory (“Fox in Motion”, “Look of Love”), and casual life (“How You Got Your Limp”), tries to put you down, just worry about yourself.” Past the themes and the lyrics, there’s a lot going on musically. My favorite aspects include the 90's alt rock production on “What the Writer Meant” keeps the guitars and drums fresh and interesting, the folk bite on “Look of Love”, and the superb ghost note work on the drumming of “Not Abel”. All that, and I've come to love Frances Quinlan's voice.

Best Tracks: “What the Writer Meant”, “Look of Love”, “PRIOR THINGS”
18Spanish Love Songs
Schmaltz


I think I’m finally starting to understand the appeal of punk rock. I wasn’t quite there nearly two years ago with The Menzingers’s After the Party, but revisiting those tracks didn’t do much for me. So another question appears: What does Spanish Love Songs do that The Menzingers don’t do? I still can’t really answer that, but I’ll tell you about what I love about them. Singer Dylan Slocum has some of the most fiery and passionate vocals of the year, adding what sounds like genuine pain and sadness to the self-loathing lyrics offered in the songs. Speaking of which, the recurring themes that encapsulate Schmaltz are written smartly and really understandable, even if I can’t completely relate to the characters’ situations. This is just one of those albums whose addicting stories make me miss its honesty.

Best Tracks: “SEQUELS, REMAKES, AND ADAPTATIONS”, “Joana, In Five Acts”, “It’s Not Interesting”
17Typhoon (USA-OR)
Offerings


Offerings is an exhausting record. I can't remember what the wordcount for the album was, but a lot of rambling resulted in around 2,600 words worth of lyrics or something like that. For a band like Typhoon to tackle the complex concept of memory loss, especially to write it the way they did, it makes sense. Typhoon's expansiveness as a band and a group of writers create diverse experiences throughout the protagonist's compelling and sad journey. It's all very neat with wonderful music to back the slow disaster. The quiet, concerned “Algernon” is a worrisome point in the album that hangs on depressing suspense. “Coverings”, along with boasting an excellent melody by Shannon Steele, completely covers the protagonist's last memories of anything that he doesn't currently see, so it's just him and his wife against himself. Offerings is a deservedly famed indie record with impressive efforts to push the limit on the idea of a concept album.

Best Tracks: “Algernon”, “Coverings”, “ARIADNE”
16The Wonder Years
Sister Cities


Sister Cities is an amazing pop-punk album marred by some production issues, particularly with those damn bookends. What's in between is almost all gold, though. The gorgeous ballad “Flowers Where Your Face Should Be” is an excellent example of Dan Campbell using the tender side of his vocals to draw up some passion in the quieter segments. On the other hand, you have “The Ghosts of Right Now”, an explosively grievous song about his dying relative. An important thing to note about that track was that Mr. Campbell had to travel away to Oregon to see his relative. He doesn't just resort to grieving in his distances, however. Mr. Campbell knows he can use them to grow personally and to get even closer to the people he's around and that’s the whole idea of Sister Cities.

Best Tracks: “PYRAMIDS OF SALT”, “Flowers Where Your Face Should Be”, “The Ghosts of Right Now”
15King Goat
Debt Of Aeons


I can't remember the last recent time I've found a doom metal album this smartly written and consistently sleek. You have apolycatic-esque lyrics, riffs that go hard, fantastic production density, and great songwriting diversity both lyrically and instrumentally. King Goat's “operatic” vocalist also brings lovely chops to the table. The “holy” qualities from King Goat's singer makes the combination between the doom metal instrumentals and his singing a fascinating achievement. King Goat crafts a wonderful album out of the wretched doom/stoner metal trend going on right now. This gave me hope that bands can follow King Goat's direction of making doom metal actually interesting and insightful again.

Best Tracks: “RAPTURE”, “Doldrum Sentinels”, “On Dusty Avenues”
14Black Peaks
All That Divides


Slightly spotty production aside, All that Divides is the album I’ve finally been looking for out of all the “light” progressive metal releases that’ve come out this year. Haken didn’t do it for me and neither did VOLA or Kingcrow, so Black Peaks came with an album to revive the trend’s legitimacy. Amazing vocals have been all over this list so far, but what would this band even do without Will Gardner? He sounds like Andrew Groves, Matt Bellamy, Troy Sanders, Joe Duplantier, and Johnny Stevens all in the same album so his range is incredibly wide. Catchy hooks and riffs are all over this album and guitar sound is spectacular. I’ve been putting the top three on rotation for quite some time now so that should tell you something.

Best Tracks: “Midnight Sun”, “ETERNAL LIGHT”, “Fate I and II”
13Yves Tumor
Safe in the Hands of Love


Sean Bowie is one hell of a musician; not in the technical sense, per se, but in the way he’s been able to craft his music. There’s just so much to love about what he’s done this album. The “early 2000’s PC game” sound on “Honesty” and “All the Love We Have Now” brings back a lot of great memories and musical callbacks. The industrial-laced bangers of “Lifetime” and the closer offer an electronically intense pulse on the album. Bowie’s lo-fi and often uneven production hits effectively for its emotionally complicated lyrical concepts and compositional ambitions. I know this record has gotten a ton of praise from Pitchfork’s hype of it, but I don’t think I’ve agreed with their take on the album since OK Computer.

Best Tracks: “Honesty”, “LIFETIME”, “Let the Lioness in You Flow Freely”
12Augury
Illusive Golden Age


This was literally one of those last minute records that I happened to spin because of the popularity it got here, and oh I was not let down one bit. Riffs slay for days because the guitar work on this is some of the best metal-involved playing I've heard all year. It's so creatively awesome and diverse between every track. The opener has awesome guitar playing throughout, I love the breakdowns on “Carrion Tide”, and the calmer, murkier “Maritime” is highly enjoyable. I can't forget “Anchorite” as a closer on the whole. It's an epic voyage through melodic-death flavored passages with excellent songwriting and superb bass playing.

Best Tracks: “THE LIVING VAULT”, “Carrion Tide”, “Anchorite”
11Noname
Room 25


And the best rap album of 2018 goes to a woman that can’t fully be considered a rapper. I mean, I guess she technically is, but her monotone, non-flow-centric style of rapping places her on a separate category of understanding than traditional rappers. This somewhat forces you to pay attention to the lyrics and the instrumentals. By doing this, you’ll notice there are three completely different vibes given off from Room 25. First are the magical instrumentals which sound majestic and beautiful much of the time. Then are the often vulgar lyrics talking about difficult subjects and relentlessly letting the listener know what’s on the songwriter’s mind. Finally, Fatimah Warner’s vocals are a little amateurish and “homemade” in delivery. But somehow, someway, Room 25 is amazing because of these contrasting qualities.

Best Tracks: “Window”, “Part of Me”, “NONAME”
10Panopticon
The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness


I'm curious now. Is this black metal/americana blend thing something that Austin Lunn is used to doing? I'm only asking because I haven't heard anything like this anywhere else. It's a genius idea: mix the rebellion against tradition with tradition itself. Well, not exactly mix; they coexist and unbelievably have some of the same qualities. It could be helped by the distant production on both sides, but they have an identical soul. Yes, that heavy, slamming intro of “Sheep In Wolves Clothing” actually feels of the same mindset as the fragile “The Wandering Ghost”. Is it the middling culture of Kentucky's music scene? Maybe, but I know there's a genuine passion in Mr. Lunn through both genres. In the vein of Hop Along, he uses his music and stories to symbolize his messages rather than a desperate, corny attempt to shove them in this album.

Best Tracks: “Snow Burdened Branches”, “THE MOSS BENEATH THE SNOW”, “The Wandering Ghost”
9Ling Tosite Sigure
#5


Like Convulsing’s Grievous and Spanish Love Songs’s Schmaltz, #5 was one of those year-end listens to catch up on some of the releases I’ve missed over the year. While it surprisingly isn’t the last of those on here, I was astounded by this blazing fire of jams I’ve apparently missed out on all year. #5 is basically “anime rock” that’s a lot border than many in that genre in nearly every category. The production, especially vocal production, is noticeably low quality, but that rawness only adds power to the chugging guitars and often relentless drumwork on display. Even when the band isn’t writing masterful jam sessions on many of the song’s bridges, they’ve got an abundant supply of catchy hooks to keep #5 stuck in your head.

Best Tracks: “Who’s WhoFO”, “ENEME”, “Serial Number of Turbo”
8GoGo Penguin
A Humdrum Star


A Humdrum Star is a special constellation of songs filled to the brim with atmosphere and memorable melodies. The piano is indeed the main factor of this album as it essentially sets up the song structures and progressions. Its “chorus” melodies are often spectacular, some of the best occurring on “Raven” and the aforementioned two songs. The bassist helps make the other instrument's intensity alive and plays a major part in packing that punch the album has on nearly every track. The drumming is expectedly outstanding, shining in the rapid hi-hat-ride switches on the chorus of “Transient State”, the offbeats of “Strid”, and the exoticness on “A Hundred Moons”. As I said in my soundoff, all these performances come together to make music not necessarily desperate for unique atmospheres, but you witness yourself in a different place with each song anyway, and that's a worthy feat for an instrumental album.

Best Tracks: “Raven”, “Transient State”, “REACTOR”
7SUMAC
Love In Shadow


This, THIS is the best thing Aaron Turner has ever been involved with. He and a couple other wonderful musicians get a little artsy with Aaron’s signature post metal touches. While there are only four tracks on the entire record, all the different movements featured on each track make the whole ride a real treat to experience. Each track has some spectacular melodic sections, too. They let you take a break from the soul-burning chugging while still being grounded on the album’s already-established atmosphere. I wouldn’t claim that any of the cuts below are for the faint of heart considering that the shortest song is just twelve minutes song, but I guarantee post metal fans will at least have a fun time with all the madness.

Best Tracks: “The Task”, “ATTIS’ BLADE”, “Arcing Silver”
6Tribulation
Down Below


Down Below has difficult sound to pin down. It's some black metal here, goth there, traditional heavy metal over here, and a few other things. The modern production sells the album, though, as it goes hand-to-hand with the contrasting tradition of all three previous genres. I think there's a significance to that aspect alone in the music scene, one that needs to be paid attention to in 2018. It's not so much that each song has its own niche either (besides “The World”, which has a stronger goth sound to it), as all of them contain a cohesion in instruments and production. The quality of those vary as “Subterranea” and “Lacrimosa” are just better than anything else there, but Tribulation keeps their songwriting fresh in the following songs even with that cohesion.

Best Tracks: “SUBTERRANEA”, “Lacrimosa”, “The World”
5Zeal and Ardor
Stranger Fruit


This album, much in the vein of Noname’s Room 25, should not have worked. Black metal and blues? With a questionable debut effort? Not only that, but I also come to find out that there are some electronic pieces on here as well. So how’d this album become one of the year’s best? Simply put, it’s all about the structure and execution. Structurally, Stranger Fruit provides something unique and different at every turn in exceptional fashion. It’s in seemingly random order, but listening to the album flow from track to track, all the placements feel justified and meant to be. It’s also important to note how Zeal and Ardor pull off the concepts for the tracks on this album. The blues-only cuts are catchy and fun (“The Gravedigger’s Chant”, “You Ain’t Coming Back”), the metal hybrids feature bursts of force (“Don’t You Dare”, the title track), and even the more ambient/interlude bits (“The Hermit”, “The Fool”) are well composed.

Best Tracks: “Don’t You Dare”, “Waste”, “BUILT ON ASHES”
4Car Seat Headrest
Twin Fantasy (Face to Face)


I didn't know until after the release of Face to Face that the original Twin Fantasy stood tall as a “Bandcamp classic”. Unlike a good Sun Kil Moon or Mount Eerie album, however, the songwriting conflicted with the production far too much for it to be as good as advertised. On Face to Face, however, literally everything is a massive pick up from the original in sound. The studio-aided product is an amazing outlet of original indie rock atmospheres with hints of 80's influence peeking through many of the track's guitar melodies. “Sober/High to Death” and “Bodys” are a few songs that I've willingly spun for a while now because they're that enjoyable. While there are general, relatable feelings that reach out to the listener, this album is about Will's reflection on past and younger recordings, evident by numerous lyrical alterations. It's his piece of mind, or his new “painting” as mentioned on “High to Death”.

Best Tracks: “Sober to Death”, “Bodys”, “HIGH TO DEATH”
3Spurv
Myra


Technically speaking, I never should have listened to this album. I broke my own year-end listening rules to do so, and I won’t get to listen some other unfortunate album because of it. However, something about that somber album cover enticed me into its grasp, and it still won’t let go. Myra captures all the clichés of post rock and somehow makes every single one of them good again. Bright instrumentation? Amazingly done with the orchestral undertones. Emotionally empowering? Yep, and a total success in this regard considering this emotion is mastered from both the rock and ambient angles of Spurv’s songwriting. Climatic? Sure, but with the productional and compositional power to pull it off correctly. There’s just too much beauty in each track to not consider Myra a masterpiece and a modern post rock achievement for all to hear.

Best Tracks: “Fra Dypet Under Stenen”, “DEN GAMLES STEMME BRISTER”, “Allting Far Sin Ende, Ogsa Natten”
2The Body
I have fought against it, But I can’t any longer


I Have Fought Against It, But I Can't Type This Album Title Any Longer isn't exactly a “sad” album. What it is, however, is possibly one of the most depressing pieces of work I've ever heard. Anything good left was dying by the tractor-engine sounding “Last Form of Loving” and it formally died on “Can Carry No Weight”, where those feelings are seeing the last flickers of light. From then on out, it's maddening chaos, and even by the last words of the lengthy ending monologue, no one's ever coming to save you. Dark stuff, I know, but there's still enough enjoyment to call this my second favorite album of 2018. I'll leave this with an RYM reviewer's comment that couldn't some up the album's effect any better, “An absolutely filthy album, guaranteed to make you feel guilty of ever laughing, smiling, or being happy and encouraging you to feel like complete shit in the most phenomenal way possible.”

Best Tracks: “Last Form of Loving”, “NOTHING STIRS”, “Blessed Alone”
1mewithoutYou
[Untitled]


WINNER: Best Album of 2018

Ah, 2018’s Science Fiction, albeit with more consistency and without all the controversy. While [Untitled] is not quite the classic I was hoping to get in 2018, it was the closest to do so out of anyone. On this album, Aaron Weiss and the gang go back to their roots with occasional flares of punk intensity and religious references aplenty. Every song on here is at least great with some songs reaching amazing heights in enjoyment. This counts for all tracks whether they’re high-octane (“9:27a.m., 7/29”, “Wendy & Betsy”) or chilled ballads (“Winter Solstice”, “2,459 Miles”). [Untitled] is an essential mix of the old and new eras from mewithoutYou and an opportunity for the band to continue to make significant landmarks in the post-hardcore scene. So, because this album is mewithoutYou’s best since Brother, Sister, I’d say the band’s used that opportunity to its fullest potential.

Best Tracks: “ANOTHER HEAD FOR HYDRA”, “Dormouse Sighs”, "Wendy & Betsy"
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