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12.23.19 Pistol's 2019 12.18.18 Pistol's 2018
12.22.17 Pistol's 2017 10.26.17 Post-Metal Starter Pack
12.22.16 Pistol's 2016 01.13.16 Pistol's 2015
02.19.15 Pistol's 201401.05.14 Pistol's 2013
09.01.13 You Da Best Sputnik 06.29.13 Top Moments (Vol II)
02.24.13 Chevelle Bonus Songs Ranked02.09.13 Top Moments (Vol I)

Pistol's 2018

2018 was full of great music, despite my aging tastes in it. I have found in recent years it’s harder to open up to new ideas and genres the more settled I get in what I like. That didn’t stop me from having almost half my year-end list below being artists I was trying out for the first time. I just find I have to push myself harder now. This year I finally quit my company and tried to find something better, fortunately finding success. It worked out very well, letting me be slightly closer to family and friends, cutting my commute from an hour to 15 mins, and letting me stay near my girlfriend. If you read my last few yearly lists, you'd see I was deteriorating. It was time. List is like every year, 43-41 are EPs, 40-1 are LPs. There will be a huge bias toward post-metal, my favourite genre. Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday! Rec me anything you think I missed.
43Black Thought
Streams of Thought, Vol. 1

The creation of this EP is bittersweet for me. On one hand it’s great to hear Black Thought shred the mic up again, but a sad reminder the days of The Roots as a collective may be numbered. He does a fantastic job here over his typical blend of jazzy percussions and delicious bass licks. I found I liked the greater variety on this vs. Vol. 2 despite having less tracks.
42Vince Staples

Vince Staples decides to just have some “FUN!” this year and make an EP suitable for hot summer days “Outside!” in Long Beach with the sounds of gang violence and greasy men cat-calling women filling the air. He’s done better, but this EP still makes me dance like I’m eight mojitos deep.
41Arcane Roots
Landslide EP

[EP OF THE YEAR] Very bittersweet to see these promising UK guys go. But they’ve had one hell of a rewarding career and ended it off beautifully with this EP. We get some intriguing and sprawling reworks of songs off “Melancholia Hymns”, the best I think is the one for “Matter”. And the title track itself is one of their best ever. I hope to see these guys back in some form or another one day. Farewell Arcane Roots, you will be missed!
A Ring Of Blue Light

This band requires a lot of patience, even by post-metal standards. Not having a vocalist requires the band to really closely watch the pacing of their songs to ensure the stretched out lengths don’t get boring. They do pretty well despite all that, creating a hypnotic sort of groove. But it really bars them from attaining any higher of an opinion from me. (Post/Sludge-Metal) HIGHLIGHTS: Eight Billions Stars
39Kacey Musgraves
Golden Hour

Holy shit, it’s a country album! Not really…it’s more like a pop album with country leanings. Very sneaky of her though, she almost tricked me into thinking I could potentially open my mind to country for a little while there. This is half-decent! (Country, Pop) HIGHLIGHTS: Slow Burn, Oh What a World
Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone

I think Alcest does this sound a bit better, but this Norwegian woman adds her own unique flair to it with breathtaking vocals. Quite a majestic piece of work for a one-woman band. (Post/Black-Metal, Shoegaze) HIGHLIGHTS: Abeyance
37Mac Miller

The world lost this guy too soon. I wasn’t the craziest fan of him, but some of his work in the past 5 years has still caught my ear. “Swimming” I thought was his best and most fluid work ever. The blends of funk and hip-hop are elegant and seemingly effortless. RIP big guy. (Hip-Hop, R&B) HIGHLIGHTS: Hurt Feelings, What’s the Use?, Small Worlds
36The Republic of Wolves

These guys veer dangerously close to Brand New clones, and also at times have vocals that remind me of Casey Crescenzo from The Dear Hunter. But it’s hard to dispute how well-done the music here is. Like Brand New, they’re somehow able to squeeze some life out of a very well-worn genre and make rock music the listener can really feel. (Alternative Rock, Indie Rock) HIGHLIGHTS: Bask, Sundials, Northern Orthodox
35Cardi B
Invasion Of Privacy

As much as I want to hate on her personality and obvious lack of brain cells, the music is all that matters. And the music is…surprisingly infectious. (Hip-Hop, Pop, Trap) HIGHLIGHTS: Bickenhead, Drip, Bartier Cardi
Book of Bad Decisions

Boy does this band ever play it safe. I don’t know how they’ve held my attention as long as they have but I always have time in my life for some Clutch. (Stoner Rock) HIGHLIGHTS: How to Shake Hands, Emily Dickinson, Spirit of ‘76
33A Perfect Circle
Eat the Elephant

Far from the comeback album I dreamed of, but I always felt Tool was better than A Perfect Circle and never had sky-high hopes for this to begin with. I think what’s here still stands as an intriguing set of soft rock songs with slight prog leanings. Will it stand the test of time? Doubtful. I forsee the lyrical content dating this album relatively quickly. Is it nice to hear Maynard and company back at it? You bet. (Alt Rock, Progressive Rock) HIGHLIGHTS: Disillusioned, TalkTalk
32Single Mothers
Through A Wall

Interesting that this album would be so heavy and angry for the first one they released since vocalist Andrew Thomson went sober. I guess he just spent that extra time listening to post-2009 Converge and wanted to just give ‘er. It’s pretty damn good! (Punk, Post-Hardcore) HIGHLIGHTS: Catch & Release, 24/7, Engine

I don’t geek out about this band like most prog fans on this site. I’m sure they’re awesome, but nothing they’ve made really stuck with me for long. This is close though, and has some truly powerful moments I could see myself coming back to in the future. Compact song lengths (aside from “Veil”), lots of variety, and pristine production hold this one pretty high. (Prog Metal/Rock) HIGHLIGHTS: Veil, Nil By Mouth
Sunshine Dust

The last four years had seen this band appear far too infrequently with news of an upcoming album. We got little teaser songs, some small announcements, but nothing tangible until this year. I can’t say Eric Emery’s voice is as good as Dan Tompkins’, but the band manages to make it work despite that. They use his vocal range and raspier tone well with deeper immersion into alternative rock territory (which undoubtedly suits him better than prog metal). Next time though, I need better lyrics and more energy, just felt slightly tame. To give them some credit though, going up against their past efforts is bound to be difficult. (Prog Metal, Alt Rock) HIGHLIGHTS: Ethos, Dim, The Reckoning
29Breaking Benjamin

I always include a few guilty pleasures each year. I actually can’t say I was huge fan of Breaking Benjamin back when I first started listening to music. Chevelle and Red really satisfied this sound for me and that was all I needed at the time. But I’ve followed BB anyways and been somewhat underwhelmed most times. Here though, they kept the songs short and to-the-point so all you get are absolute bangers. The heaviness gets a little much towards the end and the lyrics are generic but the energy and aggression is there. And that’s really all I want out of music like this. (Hard Rock, Alt Rock) HIGHLIGHTS: Tourniquet, Red Cold River, The Dark of You
28Black Peaks
All That Divides

Black Peaks are one of those bands that get recommended to me on music apps and websites all the time. When I listened to their first album, I went in with high hopes only to find they aren’t really like Arcane Roots (well…they’re like the “OLD” Arcane Roots, not the new ones I love). This album, I gave them a fair try and was mildly pleased by their strong songwriting. They have a sound that reminds me of the Aussie Rock that came out of Australia in the mid-to-late 2000s with a vocalist that veers more on the hardcore side, sounding a bit like the guy from O’Brother. I find their “revolutionary” attitude and lyrics kind of gimmicky but aside from that this release is very enjoyable. (Post-Hardcore, Prog Metal, Math Rock) HIGHLIGHTS: Can’t Sleep, Midnight Sun, Slow Seas
I Loved You at Your Darkest

I don’t know what it is about this band, but I like them despite not really being a huge death or black metal fan. They’re just so deliciously dark and powerful, you can’t help but be swept up in it. (Death Metal, Black Metal) HIGHLIGHTS: Wolves ov Siberia, Bartzabel, God = Dog
26Cult Leader
A Patient Man

For whatever reason, this band just hits that perfect level of heaviness for me. They still don’t have that perfect balance yet on their softer songs, some are absolute chores to get through. But even a couple of those stand out here, with this Swans-esque droney and bleak atmosphere to them that kind of works. The heavy shit is still their calling card though, my goodness. (Hardcore, Grind, Sludge Metal) HIGHLIGHTS: I am Healed, Isolation in the Land of Milk and Honey

These guys are a bit too scatterbrained in my opinion to ever make a truly cohesive, front-to-back masterpiece of an album. But the various talents and contributions of the group members prevent their albums from ever being dull. There’s always so much going on, it’d be difficult for anyone to listen all the way through and hate everything. I happen to like both sides though, the aggressive rap-heavy side and the singing side and it’s no different on their first major-label album “Iridescence”. (Hip-Hop, R&B, Pop) HIGHLIGHTS: BERLIN, WHERE THE CASH AT, J’OUVERT
24Travis Scott

This album is a mixed bag, but I think every album of his thus far has been. Here, he really steps up as a sort of “curator” (like Dr. Dre or Jay-Z) and puts on quite a show with lots of variety and excellent features. There are songs for different moods depending on what you’re feeling on a given day and that’s the reason I think I keep coming back to it. The points of experimentation here also work in his favour, unlike most of his contemporaries when they try something off-script. Quite a lot of fun! (Hip-Hop, Trap) HIGHLIGHTS: 5% TINT (soty candidate), SICKO MODE, NC-17
23Twenty One Pilots

For a fairly mainstream band, this album took a while to appreciate. Maybe it’s because I went into it with the wrong idea of what kind of music they make. It’s not really immediate or hooky, it’s more like chill and subtle pop earworms that suit backdrops while you do activities. The memorable little melodies and charm slowly seep out the more you listen. That’s just an odd tactic for a band I expected to make Blurryface Pt.2 given all the success they had. It’s for the better though, the quality of songs here is far stronger because of that decision. (Hip-Hop, Alternative/Indie) HIGHLIGHTS: Levitate, Morph, Neon Gravestones, Bandito
22Pusha T

I feel like most would rate this higher than I did. I still loved what I heard here but for me Pusha T is one of the most 3.5/5 artists I’ve ever come across. Yet, it truly was a great kickoff to one of the year’s most interesting and exciting batches of albums from G.O.O.D. Music. I loved the short tracklist, it kept things digestible yet impactful. While I don’t expect much from this guy anymore, he always supplies a few great bangers and plenty of YEEUGHs to keep me entertained. I just hope he doesn’t hate my home city of Toronto after getting absolutely soaked by Drake fans on stage, I swear we’re not all like that! =[ (Hip-Hop) HIGHLIGHTS: The Games We Play, If You Know You Know
21Soundtrack (Film)
Black Panther

This is the first time I think I’ve ever put a film’s soundtrack on my end-of-year list. TDE really met the hype on their first unofficial group effort. With Kendrick at the helm, a truly engrossing variety of music comes forth with its own unique flavor of hip-hop that transcends simply being an album tacked onto a film. The hits are huge, and even the deep cuts offer some impressive features and ideas. Hopefully TDE does their own standalone effort one day without a movie as their backdrop. They play off each other very well. (Hip-Hop, R&B) HIGHLIGHTS: Opps, Paramedic!, King’s Dead
Art of Doubt

Ok…enough hip-hop albums, onto something else! Metric will likely never reach the crazy heights of “Fantasies” ever again, and they surely won’t come close to topping my end-of-year lists. But they’re always on them no matter what. They always deliver some hits with each album, and I can’t ask for much more than that at this point in their careers. This album gets them back to their alt rock roots, with meatier riffs. But it also merges their old sound with the sound they tried on “Pagans in Vegas” in a way that finally doesn’t feel awkward like it did at some points on past albums. (Indie Pop/Rock, Electronic) HIGHLIGHTS: Love You Back, Die Happy, Underline the Black

I wrote up the review for this. Band always sat in the middle-tier somewhere among post-metal/rock bands for me. This album finally pushes them a bit higher with some new tricks I didn’t expect. (Post Rock, Post Metal) HIGHLIGHTS: Cobra, Tuareg, Cartavia
Empty Black

Another band I gave a try this year. This band matured a lot between their first album “Cult America” and this one. “Empty Black” pushes their sound in exciting new directions. Brent Mills is a wild and super entertaining vocalist. Even the softer song in the middle is well made and quite tragic and powerful to listen to. Very talented band. (Metalcore, Hardcore) HIGHLIGHTS: Sweet Machine, Blemish, White Lighters

I’m so glad to see these guys still making music despite the loss they’ve suffered. Their first single hinted at a heavier direction, but I found this album to be one of their more soothing and mellow listens in the end. The songwriting is tight, not surprising given how long they’ve been around. Aside from “Vale of Tears”, they still have that unpredictability to their music, where you can’t quite guess what will happen next. A great return for them. (Prog Rock) HIGHLIGHTS: Vale of Tears, Guardian Angel, Lament

Very well-done sludge metal from Lithuania. Reminds me of Cranial’s album last year in that it has a nice balance of heaviness and groove to it with shockingly effective harsh vocals. (Sludge/Post-Metal, Hardcore) HIGHLIGHTS: Vaitojimas, Isnara
15The Ocean
Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic

After a week straight of listening to this when it came out, I thought I had my opinion of it nailed down (which was a bit mixed tbh). Apparently even more time was needed. My issue with these guys is that I love the explosive heaviness of albums like “Precambrian” and “Aeolian” so much, it makes it hard to love anything they’ve done since, mainly because of their clearly inferior current vocalist. “Pelagial” was the first time I’d fully enjoyed something in ages, and with this they craft something between that and Precambrian to help try and satisfy both sides. With some time and investment from the listener, another stunning piece of music finally emerges. (Post-/Prog-/Sludge-Metal) HIGHLIGHTS: Cambrian II: Eternal Recurrence, Devonian: Nascent
DiCaprio 2

My first initial thought regarding this guy was the same as most; the man really sounds a bit too much like Kendrick Lamar. After several listens though, I realized what he’s doing with that style is still distinguishable and he covers a crazy amount of ground on this. You get his vicious lyrical jabs and greasy bangers in the first half, a full-on 90s hip-hop throwback on “Hot Box” equipped with Method Man himself, a softer sing-along song in “Tiiied”, and smooth funk/jazz cocktails like “Workin’ Out” and “Skrawberries”. The last three songs I didn’t mention are some of the best on the album too! He even gives me a hilarious skit where he jokingly chirps J Cole’s hobo-like looks. “LEMME GIT YA CHARGER BRUH”. It’s great stuff. (Hip-Hop) HIGHLIGHTS: 151 Rum, Just da Other Day, Despacito Too
13Night Verses
From the Gallery of Sleep

Not often do I get excited about fully instrumental albums, but I’d say once a year a couple manage to shine through. This is a clearly talented group making both highly-technical and powerful music for having no vocals at all. The range of atmospheres they achieve are done flawlessly. The audio samples aren’t overdone either, and each song has its own unique moment to bring you back in next time. (Post Hardcore, Progressive Rock) HIGHLIGHTS: Vice Wave, Trading Shadows, Phoenix IV: Levitation
12Ghost (SWE)

It’s definitely not as impressive and bulletproof as the glistening masterpiece that was Meliora, but you have to give Tobias Forge some credit for delivering an album that almost surpasses the hype and even brings Ghost’s sound up a further notch. You can really imagine these songs being blared in stadiums across the world. The hooks are stickier than peanut butter (“See the Light” or “Dance Macabre”) yet they don’t let you forget they can riff (“Faith”). The band even expand themselves into sprawling instrumental epics like “Miasma”. It’s an exciting album that shows Ghost isn’t going anywhere soon. (Doom Metal, Heavy Metal)

Albums like Noorvik’s stunning debut are the reason I got deeper into post-metal over the last three years. When I returned to Ontario back in 2015, I found myself with a lot of dead time commuting to and from work, time I filled with music. Post-metal is by far the best driving music there is to me. Noorvik’s S/T can induce sweeping atmosphere and feelings without even the need for lyrics and suits long drives outside of the city. The way they shift effortlessly and unpredictably from soft to heavy sections truly resembles what it’s like to drive with mountains and landscapes surrounding you, sometimes forcing you to push upwards with builds before finally releasing you to satisfying sludgy riffs. Truly stunning. (Post Rock, Post Metal) HIGHLIGHTS: Denali, Shishaldin
10Post Malone
beerbongs and bentleys

I hate pretty much everything about this guy. For a while, I also hated his music. “Stoney” was an incredibly underwhelming slog of a debut. But every year I’m surprised by at least one album. When I approached this one hour 18-song trek I figured I’d listen once or twice and snatch the maybe 3-4 good songs I could pick out. I definitely did not anticipate that there would be pretty much no weak song up until maybe the last quarter of the album. Say what you will, Post Malone polished up his sound here and learned from his past mistakes. There’s a reason this album broke records. He’s crafted what will likely be his best work…until the industry grows tired of him and pushes him into the scrap pile like every other major artist now. Give it maybe a year? But enjoy it while it lasts. (R&B, Pop) HIGHLIGHTS: Otherside, Takin’ Shots, Over Now, Blame It on Me
9Lupe Fiasco

Can someone suggest an artist more up-and-down in quality than Lupe Fiasco? I don’t know if there is. Not often do I leave 1.5+ hour, 24-song albums with a smile on my face. DROGAS Light could make a case for his worst ever. But to come back with this, where there’s hardly a single weak track to be found, is astounding. I’m sad his decision to leave Atlantic records resulted in a huge hit to his exposure and commercial success. But if this is what it takes to keep Lupe genuine and inspired, so be it. For true artists, the music is all that matters. (Hip-Hop, R&B) HIGHLIGHTS: WAV Files (possibly a Top 5 song for him), Jonylah Forever, Imagine
8Denzel Curry

For a guy I hadn’t listen to before, this things slaps. Love the bangers on this, but even the groovier songs are infectious. Lots of energy, great beats, BIG POCKETS. (Hip-Hop, Psychadelic) HIGHLIGHTS: Sumo (obviously…), Black Balloons, Sirens
7The Ever Living

Shout out to teamster for the rec here. This is slick, modern-sounding atmospheric post-metal brimming with sharp electronics and powerful harsh vocals over gloriously distorted guitar. (Post Metal) HIGHLIGHTS: Incandescent Array, Apex Minor, Foreboding Epiphany
6Let's Eat Grandma
I'm All Ears

I still don’t believe that this is the work of two teenagers. I refuse to believe someone I have a decade of years on is making music so engaging yet sprawling and experimental. I can’t say I enjoyed their debut, but in between now and then something changed and this duo sparked a whole new fire in their music. It’s a pop album at its core, but the hints of classic rock and progressive musical structures later in the tracklist are incredibly impressive, as are their vocals and harmonies. Very promising young band. (Indie Pop/Rock, Experimental) HIGHLIGHTS: Hot Pink, Snakes & Ladders, Cool & Collected
Etter Lys

Powerful post-metal with great song-writing. The harsh vocals are great, but what I find myself most anticipating when I listen are the harmonized choirs of tortured wailing these guys come up with frequently on this. Weird to say, but I haven’t heard them done so well before. Truly feels like a “band’s” album. Thanks again to teamster for the rec (most of the post-metal on here is from his recs lol). This is the best of that genre I heard all year. (Post-Metal) HIGHLIGHTS: Black Hole, Coil, Surrender
Care For Me

Wrote the review for this album. I can’t sing enough praises for Saba’s sophomore album. It’s very underappreciated and one of the strongest hip-hop releases of the year. (Hip-Hop, R&B) HIGHLIGHTS: BROKEN GIRLS, LIFE, PROM/KING
Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

I initially listened to this and then ignored it for about a week. Then when I visited Seattle during the first week of August, I had one day in transit where I was on ferries trying to get there from BC. I spent those hours appreciating this album while my friends passed out in their seats (was an exhausting day). It’s long song structures are quite daunting, especially for a guy who didn’t quite “get” Sunbather when it came out in 2013. But the songs unravel themselves to you over time, with different tidbits that click each time. I like the heavier leaning to progressive and classic rock vs. the shoegaze influence Sunbather had. And I definitely prefer it to the “we still make black metal” sound on New Bermuda. Their best yet. (Blackish post metal, Shoegaze) HIGHLIGHTS: Glint, Worthless Animal
2Rolo Tomassi
Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It

Well this is just an impressive piece of music. Not only does it conjure nostalgic feelings of old favourites of mine like Converge and DEP, but Rolo Tomassi bring their own inventive style that’s entirely their own. It’s beautiful, chaotic, crushing, and emotional all at the same time. Can’t say I was a fan of their old stuff, but this album is in a league of its own, a new era for a band that may only just now be starting to realize their true potential. What a year for mathcore. (Mathcore) HIGHLIGHTS: Aftermath, Rituals, Alma Mater
1Kids See Ghosts
Kids See Ghosts

I tend to choose very selfish and personal picks for my aoty. This year is no exception. The hardest decision I’ve made in my life thus far was to quit my fairly well-paying and stable job without any backup plan at all. Things had just gotten that bad. Kanye and Kid Cudi have also had their fair share of dark days in the past years. It’s only fitting they get to be the soundtrack to this chapter in my life where the suffocating and heavy chains of my old company finally fall off and a new door opens for me to try. I can’t say my new life is perfect, but neither is theirs. This album is all about coming through the funks in your life “reborn” and “moving forward” with the lessons you’ve learned in the hopes that better days will keep coming. When I hear Kanye spit out “you should quit your job to this”, the whole thing is just too fitting and weird to me. So happy these guys are back on their game, I’d missed them. (Hip-Hop/Psychedelic) HIGHLIGHTS: Fire, Freeee, Reborn
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