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|Top 30 Metal Albums of 2018|
2018 marked a big year of self evaluation for me. I examined personal behaviors, habits, weaknesses, and even how I consume music. About halfway through the year, I came to the conclusion that I had turned music listening and discovery into a chore. This caused some of the joy that comes with music to be sucked out of the whole process. For the remainder of the year I had no goals and wasn’t even sure if I was going to do a list or not. Apparently, my list making habit is a tough one to break though, since here I am! The creation of this list was relatively painless and the process was natural and fun. The self evaluation worked! Anyway, enough introspective rambling; 2018 was undoubtedly the year of death metal, though most genres produced impressive list topping albums. Because of this I feel the top 10 is a bit more eclectic than the rest of the list which can basically be summed up as DEATH!
Order Of Torment
Coming in first and introducing this list’s overt death metal leanings is the sophomore effort by Genocide Pact. This is a knuckle dragging, mosh inducing, very much hardcore tinted take on OSDM. Order of Torment is unapologetic in its approach and purpose and this is its strength. Heavy stomping riffage gives this album life and memorability throughout its run time. Check out the multitude of riffs on “Spawn of Suffering” as an example.
Recommended song: Spawn of Suffering
Monument of the End
The Death metal of 2018 continues with the one tech death album that appears on this list. In the year where I feel tech death embraced mindless wankery (you can tell the latest Obscura/Alkaloid did not click with me), the music found on Soreption's Monument of the End was quite refreshing. There is definitely a high amount of shred and tech indulgence throughout the songs, but the chief focus is actually on the groove that can be created by some of these tech heavy riffs. Just look at how the band perfectly comes together behind the headbanging groove of opening track "The Anti-present". Some incredibly catchy choruses and symphonic elements make Monument as a whole a very fun and easy listen, themes not often associated with tech death.
Recommended song: King of Undisputed Nonsense
The Arrow of Satan Is Drawn
The death metal onslaught continues with this decidedly dirty release from the ultimate super group Bloodbath. On The Arrow of Satan is Drawn, these swedes successfully incorporate new vocalist Nick Holmes into the fold after what I found to be an underwhelming previous release. They do this by adding some black metal elements into the production and guitar riffs, just jam opener “Fleischmann”. The fact that album oftentimes borders on ridiculous with songs like “Bloodicide” and “Deader” makes for an overall fun listening experience as well.
Recommended Song: Deader
We finally deviate from straight up death metal a little bit with a slab of at times death metal leaning progressive metal from In Vain. Going into Currents, it was hard for me not to have their previous masterwork of an album influence my listening experience. And when listened to with Aenigma in mind, it's tough not to be disappointed by Currents. The album as a whole is a lot less ambitious and more straightforward than Aenigma, and when it tries incorporate some more exciting and epic elements it comes off as Aenigma Part II. Don't get me wrong this album is here for a reason, and there are plenty of amazing moments over this releases run time. Songs like “Origin” and “Blood We Shed” serve as unique and worthy additions to In Vain's discography.
Recommended Song: Origin
2018 was a year of genres for me; albums knew exactly what they were and their purpose. This is why an album like Agrimonia's Awaken was quite nice to have around. Is it doom metal? Is it black metal? Is it punk?? I have no fucking idea, but I don't really care because Awaken rocks! All of the elements mentioned above come together beautifully to create an epic yet bleak release that possesses the song structures and run times of doom, the vocals and atmosphere of black metal, and the energy and riffs of punk. A unique album that has to be heard to be believed in 2018. Plus the chorus of "Foreshadowed" has to be one of the catchiest moments of the year.
Recommended Song: Foreshadowed
To me, only a couple more albums were released this year as controversial as the latest from Pig Destroyer. Leading up to the release, even I bemoaned the change in the production and the more hardcore leaning shouts of J.R. This is one of those albums however, where you have to go in not focused on any of the bands previous recorded material. When this was done I realized that this was an insanely fun sludgey hardcore record with some grind leanings every third or fourth song. The riffs found on this release are also immense and are enough to allow this album on this list alone. The other strong suit of this record is the fact that Pig Destroyer are taking this album a tad bit less seriously than their previous misfire Book Burner. Just look at opener "Tunnel Under the Tracks", "Circle River", and "The Adventures of Jason and JR" for example.
Recommended Song: House of Snakes
|24||The Atlas Moth|
The Atlas Moth can be filed under the same list of "wtf?" as Agrimonia. Black metal, sludge, and psychedelic influence all rear their unique head throughout the run time of Coma Noir. This sound is nothing new for The Atlas Moth though. What is new however, is Coma Noir's impressive penchant for catchy song writing. Everything from the riffs of the title track, to the opening of "The Streets of Bombay", to the insanely catchy hooks of "Galactic Brain" ensure that this is one of the most memorable Atlas Moth albums.
Recommended Song: Galactic Brain
Ilsa masterfully tap into a very primal side of hardcore influenced sludge on their latest album "Corpse Fortress". Using adjectives such as demented or anguished barely capture the pure loathing fury of this album. It is a relentless beast ripping at everything living without care. The brooding production and ten ton riffs are the perfect compliment to the squealed vocals and hardcore energy that can be found all over Corpse Fortress. And when they finally slow down on tracks like "Drums of Dark Gods" and "Long Lost Friend" is when this album finds perfect pacing.
Recommended Song: Nasty, Brutish
Ancient Brewing Tactics
I try my absolute best not to get sucked into gimmicks just for the sake of the gimmick, which means that I have to admit before recommending this album I was sold as soon as I heard there was going to be a craft beer pairing released along with the album release. The fact that I've spent at least a couple nights getting drunk on some tasty beer while jamming this album definitely doesn't help my case. What can I say, this is just a fun easy to digest release which due to my particular taste of beverage made it an album to continuously come back to in 2018. With tracks like "No Corporate Beer", "Swignorant", "This Means Wort", and "To The Pint" though this album definitely offers more than just a beer based gimmick.
Recommended Song: Swignorant
Finally, we get back to the death metal..I think? Honestly, it's kind of hard to tell underneath the unrelenting cosmic fury of Ulthar's debut album Cosmovore. The album as a whole is an absolute chaos whirlwind of absolute battering technical riffage, with equal portion of unhinged blackened shrieks and death metal gutturals soaring over the unworldly chaos. The incredibly intense Lovecraftian themes of the album add to the music perfectly and it doesn't take to much to imagine some formless Elder God decimating the cosmos to insanely ripping tracks like "Cosmovore" and "Infinite Cold Distance". The album highlight however would have to be the closer "Dunwich Whore" which shows a slower almost progressive take on the ghastly otherworldly sound that Ulthar has purveyed so well on their debut.
Recommended Song: Dunwich Whore
We finally get to the first of two EPs to be found on this list, and as with every EP that can be found on a year end list, I feel extra credit should be given. The scope of an EP and what can be accomplished during its run time is a lot smaller than that of a full LP. Yet, the EPs on these list easily stand neck to neck with albums typically double the run time and overall scope. This is especially true with the overall debut of hopefully up and coming sludgesters Empress. In only 27 minutes and 4 actual tracks, Empress take the classic Savannah Georgia sludge sound that was perfected by Baroness, Kylesa, and Mastodon and update it with a whole new level of down-tuned ferocity and epic post metal beauty to make it something truly unique in 2018. Definitely keep these guys on your radar in the years to come!
Recommended Song: They Speak Like Trees
|19||Rivers of Nihil|
Where Owls Know My Name
Where Owls Know My Name is an impressive album for multiple reasons. First, it shows off a new and exciting direction for modern technical death metal bands. No longer do bands newly signed bands on Unique Leader have to stick to a wall of sound approach and constant barely decipherable riffage. Rivers of Nihil have showed a way where new bands can be both technical, dynamic, and uniquely their own. There were admittedly some problems with Where Owls Know My Name such as production and a little too samey chug oriented riffage. I'm taking this as a sign though, that Rivers will continue to grow and mature which means my anticipation for their next album is through the roof!
Recommended Song: A Home
Manor of Infinite Forms
From a newer band pushing into a newish direction, I immediately do to a newer band immersed in all things old school. Tomb Mold have been making waves in almost every metal community for a reason. Their crushing old school sound is made unique by expertly woven murkiness and a wall of sound that is bound to crush even the strongest neck. Just look at the riffs that are found on tracks such as Abysswalker, the title track, and Gored Embrace for neck breaking examples. The subtle Demilich influence works wonders for their sound as well. Though all of this is admittedly not reinventing the wheel, the destruction left by Tomb Mold is undeniable and in a year filled with Pestilence and Death clones, Manor of Infinite Forms is quite refreshing.
Recommended Song: Abysswalker
While Windhand do tread roughly the same ground on their latest album as predecessor Grief's Infernal Flower, the fact that the formula worked so well on the previous release seamlessly carries over to Windhand's latest LP, Eternal Return. Windhand have gotten better as song writers, composing some incredibly catchy hooks on tracks like "Diablerie", "First to Die", and "Grey Garden". The track "Pilgrim's Rest" also does a superb job blending together Windhand's acoustic sound with their sludge doom roots.
Recommended Song: Diablerie
Queen of Time
Queen of Time is an album of elegance and savage beauty, created so by the orchestral elements and the focus on crystal clear open production. Everything stands out across this release, which is saying a lot since there is a lot going on which can stand out. Between beautiful clean singing, immense almost Akerfeldt like death growls, flutes, choirs, and some epic guitar melodies there is enough for every metal fan. The beauty of this album is that it also flows beautifully, picking up momentum towards the end of its run time. Final tracks "We Accursed", "Amongst the Stars", and "Pyres on the Coast" flow by effortlessly making this an easy to revisit album.
Recommended Song: Pyres on the Coast
Realms Of Eternal Decay
And now once again back to new old school sounding death metal. The debut LP by Outer Heaven is probably the most uniquely savage and refreshing of the bunch however. A third Steve Tucker Morbid Angel, a third off the wall Demilich worship, and a third hardcore in your face savagery causes Realms of Eternal Decay to be quite an impressive release. Outer Heaven also do a significantly better job of separating out song from song that some other death metal bands on this list. The Demilich fueled "Vortex of Thought" is the perfect mix of pacing, while the crushing Echoes from Beyond slows down the pace perfectly. That's what makes this one of the best death metal albums of the year, the flow of the tracks makes this an effortless listen and a real engaging stompee to get through!
Recommended Song: Echoes from Beyond
If progressive blackened sludge sounds tasty to you please check Chicago's Scientist out. On their third LP, they expertly bob and weave through multiple genres not only to create cohesive songs but a cohesive futuristic album as a whole. At times a blistering sandstorm, at other times a cool almost mechanized behemoth, Barbelith is perfect as the abstract beast that it is. Songs such as "Magick Mirror", the title track, and "Fiction Suit" all display a variety of textures and ideas that somehow fit into a savage and catchy puzzle.
Recommended Song: Magick Mirror
Cult of a Dying Sun
I’ll admit, that one genre failed to capture my interest in 2018 whereas in other years it dominated. This genre of question would be none other than black metal. Thankfully, the next two albums that appear on this list prove that I have not lost my taste for the genre entirely. Uada’s Mgla-ish take on melodic black metal has entranced me since their debut in 2016 and their sophomore effort as only strengthened this enthrallment. Though they haven’t deviated from their sound, the song writing found on Cult of the Dying Sun has definitely been strengthened. While one could have made the argument that certain aspects of their debut blended together, to me this is impossible for Cult of the Dying Sun. While tracks earlier in the album such as “The Purging Fire” and “Snakes and Vultures” bleed through with unrelenting savagery the later tracks such as “Sphere (Imprisonment)” and “Mirrors” allow Uada’s more melodic approach to shine.
Recommended Song: Sphere (Imprisonment)
Patriarchs of Evil
The next black metal record takes things in a much more ritualistic direction and fills a void in my heart that has been there since Rotting Christ put out Rituals in 2016. Varathron somehow strike a similar symphonic chord as the aforementioned legend but without getting hung up on certain folk elements. Instead Varathron chooses to dwell in superb semi gothic darkness and achieve an actual evil sound in the process. Catchy melodic riffs and truly satanic vocal arrangements permeate this album perfectly creating a product which can truly be counted as some of the best black metal that Greece has to offer.
Recommended Song: Hellwitch
11. Thou - Rhea Sylvia 4.3
The second EP that appears on this list is one of those releases that I never knew I needed until the first notes of feedback reached my aural cavities. The sound of despondent early 90's grunge music filtered through the punishing sludge of Baton Rouge's Thou. Best yet, somehow these two distinct types of music sound more like siblings when heard side to side rather than distant cousins. The flair of Nirvana style clean vocals make the perfect addition along side the harsher hardcore vocals of traditional Thou. The production even becomes crystal clear on songs like "Deepest Sun" and "Non-Entity" showing a side of Thou seldom heard. All in all, this EP shows off Thou's flexibility not just in their respective genre but in rock music as a whole.
Recommended Song: Deepest Sun
Every year I feel that there is one band which typically stands above the heap as the metal community's band of the year that tabloids, casual fans, and underground fanatics alike can all get behind. To me, it was tougher to determine which band this was in 2018. I was quite excited to see Thou be among these big names and being discussed as excitedly as the previously mentioned acts. As one of the hardest working bands in metal, this is all well deserved. I feel that the main reason that they have captured mainstream attention though, is that the music is just that good. On their full length Magus, Thou drop some of the meandering dynamics that was found on Heathen and go straight for the throat. Shorter songs such as "The Changeling Prince" and "Elimination Rhetoric" keep the momentum moving, while more typical Thou tracks such as the superbly beautiful "In the Kingdom of Meaning" make it the perfect Thou release.
Recommended song: Greater Invocation of Disgust
Eye the Tide
One of the biggest bands to come out of left field for me this year would be Spaceslug. I admit that I might have previously categorized them as a gimmick band upon first hearing of their existence. Thankfully though, I could not ignore the hype that their latest full length Eye the Tide was receiving. Upon first listen I was immediately plunged into a vastly expansive stoner doom record filled to the brim with superb fuzzed out riffs and a heaping of psychedelic influence. Some post metal even sneaks in on tracks like "Spaced by One". Spaceslug continue to spice up their sound by getting a little more savage on tracks like "Words like Stones". The myriad of diverse influence and perfectly spaced out production makes this an extremely easy and fun to listen to album, which is a major benefit to this release.
Recommended Song: Spaced by One
It's always great when I get to shout out some awesome music and the local scene in one go and no band in the local NC scene is as prolific or mass appealing as Funeral Chic. When examining their influences, it's not hard to see why their able to appeal to so many different local scenes. one third savage black metal, one third raucous crust punk, and finally a smaller third of classic heavy metal guitar flare on tracks like "Say No" and "Fantasy". Their is even some 90's hip hop influence to be found in the attitude displayed on tracks like "D.R.E.A.M.". Add in the fact that all these songs are anthemic and meant to be screamed along with and "Superstition" becomes one of the most fun albums of 2018 regardless of which scene its from.
Recommended song: Red Laces
The Free Life
If there's one release on this list that indicates that in 2018 I have been seeking albums that could be described as fun it would be the third LP from Turbowolf. The sound of the Free Life can best be summed up as a 70's hard rock band with some major pop sensibility using seriously fuzzed out amps playing at a punk rock speed. What's more, each part of the aforementioned sound gets a time to shine. Some desert rock riffs appear expertly on tracks like "Capitol X", the title track, and "Blackhole". "Up & Atom", "Domino", and "Last Three Clues" impressively show off the pop sensibility and each have spent many days making rounds around my head. The punk influence comes through in the intensity and momentum continuously maintained through til the closing track of "Concluder".
Recommended Song: Capitol X
|6||Chapel of Disease|
...and as We Have Seen the Storm, We Have Embraced
The final and best death metal album for me in 2018 came so far out of left field that I had almost entirely missed it. Thankfully due to some year end lists, I caught Chapel of Disease's genre bending and entirely unique take on osdm. The Swedish influence is definitely present but no longer on center stage as with older Chapel of Disease recordings. Instead the unhinged death metal sound sometimes plays second fiddle to an almost jam rock sound and some true classic rock guitar virtuosity. This is all present on opener "Void of Words", and every song following continues to run with this style pushing its boundaries perfectly throughout its 50 minute run time. "Oblivious – Obnoxious – Defiant" runs the gambit on catchiest death metal song of the year, and "1,000 Different Paths" expertly incorporates clean singing and adds some progressive rock vibes. All in all, this a potential landmark album in the story of OSDM revival.
Recommended Song: Oblivious-Obnoxious – Defiant
Our Raw Heart
The latest from Yob continues their epic ascent into the echelon of metal regardless of scene. Some of the hype around the latest album "Our Raw Heart" is admittedly due to the triumphant return of front man Mike Scheidt after a near death experience (who doesn't love a good story after all..). The main reason for the hype though, is that the music found on "Our Raw Heart" perfectly echoes the story surrounding it. At times the sludgey doom takes on a toxic angry sound on tracks like "The Screen" and "Original Face" but then this self doubt and loathing breaks into something truly beautiful and triumphant with tracks like the title track and "Beauty in Falling Leaves". Even opener "Ablaze" as an epic feeling of "Ascension" to it. The Yob found on "Our Raw Heart" is a new and clear minded Yob having been through suffering and made it to the other side.
Recommended Song: Original Face
Speaking of bands continuing to ascend through the ranks of metal, Khemmis doing so at an alarming rate. When considering the prolific hard working nature of this band along with the fact that they write phenomenal music that appeals to multiple levels of the metal underground and just the metal world in general though it makes sense. Their third LP Desolation definitely proves that it is well deserved. There is not a single dud on this collection of six songs and each track adds its own unique flare to the album as well as Khemmis' discography. The classic Iron Maiden tropes of "Isolation", to the crushing death doom of "Maw of Time", and finally to the insanely epic and chill inducing closing track "From Ruin" every second of Desolation has a role to play and not a single one is wasted.
Recommended song: From Ruin
You Won't Get What You Want
No album has quite made the impression on me in 2018 quite like Daughters' You Won't Get What You Want. Judging from the reaction this long awaited return LP has received I am not alone. Daughters has truly transcended whatever genre tags they were originally classified under and have just become their own unique entity. They did this by penning one of the most unsettling soundtracks to suburban mania I have ever heard. Due to the absolutely eerie atmosphere, the at times frenetic vocals, and the almost overly calculated drum performance, the listener is placed in the headspace of someone slowly losing grips with their sanity. Tracks like "Less Sex" and "Daughter" try to reclaim it but when the nauseating fear of the "Ocean Song" comes in, the listener undoubtedly knows that the battle is lost. The final swell of closer "Guest House" serves as the nail in the coffin finishing off any slice of hope the listener might still be clinging on too.
Recommended Song: Less Sex
The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness
Panopticon released probably the most ambitious and impressive album of 2018. This was my number one album of 2018 for the longest time due to not only the music but the concept and ideas behind it. Admittedly the two hour run time and the fact that I have to be in a very certain mood to fully immerse myself in it cause this Magnum Opus to drop to this 2nd spot. Still, the magnitude and message of this album goes unprecedented in my listening experience. A double album, which isolates the duality in Panopticon's sound and gives each half a full hour to run wild and free was something I was not sure would work upon my first listen. To my surprise, not only did it work, but I found myself enjoying and continually going back to the folk and Americana half more so than the pure black metal half. As a whole piece, this album is a work of art and statement that practically transcends the metal genre tag.
Recommended Song: The Wandering Ghost
From the Gallery of Sleep
The best album of 2018 was one that connected to one of the first things I looked for when listening to music: the soundtrack effect. Music I could put on at anytime during my at then young life, music that served as the perfect back drop to make usually mundane moments seem extraordinary. "From the Gallery of Sleep" by Night Verses is this idea personified perfectly. Typically when I think of technical leaning instrumental music, it sounds almost robotic and overly calculated. From the Gallery of Sleep is a beautifully human and versatile release which showcases how instrumental music Should be. This release contains epic peaks of insurmountable riffage, beautiful valleys with the focus on atmosphere, and expertly chosen samples that build the tension perfectly. All of this adds up to create one of the most fluid and organic releases I have ever heard. The songs are so multidimensional and layered that the replay value is infinite.
Best Song: Phoenix IV: Levitation
|Thanks for this list. I've been lazy in checking out new music this year and will check out most of these. That said, I did discover 4, 16, and 27 (first for all bands for me), and loved all.|
|No worries man, thanks for the comment! And I definitely recommend checking out 27’s previous album, Aenigma. It blows currents out of the water! I hope you enjoy some of the other picks though!|
|Not a fan of 1 at all honestly but 2, 3, 4, 6, 9-13, 15, 16, 18, 19 and 21 all slay ahrd. m/|
|Daughters are metal now?|
|Yeah I was gonna say that too, wouldn’t call Daughters metal in any way tbh lol.|
|Hey thanks! That’s a pretty good overlap there lol. What’s your issue with #1 out of curiosity?|
|Ehhhh it’s just too much wanky bs for me lol. It’s not terrible, just not my cup of tea.|
|wanky? Ive been wanking for years m8|
|Man, You Won't Get What You Want riffs hard m////|
|I’m talking about 1 not 3 geniuses.|
|Im drunk, time me out |
|Yeah agreed on Daughters not being metal, it was just too good for me not too mention on this list. |
And @Ghandi Hawks is talking about Night Verses, which I guess I can see. I find it a lot less wanly and more fluid than a lot of their AAL like contemporaries
|Riffs for days! Truthfully though, “the flammable man” has a great riff in there|
|1 is 1, but props for Agrimonia and the Atlas Moth.|
|Great read, many faves here. Adding Scientist and In Vain to my listening.|
OBLIVIOUS - OBNOXIOUS - DEFIANT so infectious!
|Many of these are the correct song picks!|
|Thanks folks! Yeah, there are many catchy songs on #6. 1,000 Different Paths and Song of the Gods are up there too|
|Reading the comments from 13, 14 , 24 and 26, post metal might be your next thing...|
|I do love some post metal, Teamster.. I didn't hear any good post metal this year though unfortunately. Let me know if I missed any good ones|
|Check my 2018 my dude. All good stuff !|
|As a NC native, good call on Funeral Chic. They always bring it live.|
|They do for sure man, I saw them live for the first time for the "Superstition" record release show and they called it. The only venue basically exploded during "Jump". |
@Teamseter: That is a sick list. A lot of stuff I have to check out! Props for Conjurer and Scientist
|I’m jealous man, I’ve only seen them open up for other bands. It’s good to see them and Joy blowing up, although I was a big dumb jerk and didn’t put them on my aoty list.|
|though I've heard hardly any of these, clearly lots of love and effort went into this list, mental pos|
|Hey thanks for the mental pos! I admit, this list was a hour or two undertaking, though as a nerd who loves list making I didn’t mind. Still, thanks for appreciating!|
@ktj funeral chic are headlining in Asheville in January with another local fave of mine All Hell opening. Also still have to check out Joy, will definitely remedy this!
|Great list. Making my way through this.|
|some great albums on here. nice job. really loved that atlas moth album|
|Thanks guys! And yeah, that Atlas Moth was a pretty unique fun album. Some of their best material for sure|
|List is missing Horrendous - Idol|
|For some reason Idol never clicked with me. It just came off as less memorable version of Anareta. It’s definitely an album I’ll revisit though|