Let me preface this by saying I’ve spent much of 2018 in the 70’s, musically that is. But in between Grand Funk Railroad and Tom Petty I’ve manage to find some absolute great albums that I highly recommend you check out. So here are my top 10 of 2018.10.
10. Black Salvation – Uncertainty is Bliss
This psychedelic trio from Leipzig, Germany bring a mix of doom and psychedelic rock with incredible groove and occasional drone. Did I mention subtle hits of black metal and even country? The first two tracks, “In a Casket Ride” and “Floating Torpid” kick the album off in great fashion. “Breathing Hands” has such a spacious groove that you can easily get lost in it.
Towards the end of the album, “Getting Slowly Lost” takes you on a bluesy countryesque journey with a galloping bass line to make you feel like you’re taking part of some cowboys acid trip. A great album from top to bottom that will take you on a trip through ups and downs with great groove and feel.
9. Beastmaker – EPs 1-8
This is a little unconventional, but then again, so was Beastmaker’s strategy for releasing music in 2018. This classic sounding doom metal trio from Fresno, California, released a total of 10 E.P’s this year and 4 compilation albums. Definitely a unique strategy, and some could say risky. With a total of 40 tracks released, one could worry that the content might suffer from repetition or be underwhelming.
This is not the case! Each E.P offers 4 groove laden classic doom tracks that will make you bang your head. Each track easily pulls you in with great riffs and song structure. I could get into individual tracks but then it would just be an exposé on Beastmaker. The only reason I went with E.P’s 1 through 8 instead, of all 10, is that I have not yet had the chance to listen to the last two. If they’re anything like the previous 8, then they’re definitely worth the 2$ on their Bandcamp page. Yeah, that’s 2$ each E.P. If you’re a fan of that classic doom/stoner sound, I highly recommend Beastmaker.
8. Dimmu Borgir – Eonian
Let me start by saying I’m a big fan of Dimmu Borgir. Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia and Death Cult Armageddon are two of my favorite metal albums as stated in a previous article. That doesn’t mean that their last two releases, In Sorte Diaboli and Abrahadabra were not so stellar, especially the latter.
Eonian felt like a breath of fresh air compared to the last two releases. The opening track, “The Unveiling”, begins similar to something you would hear from Anaal Nathrakh before building into a near classic Dimmu track. “Ætheric”, starts in classic black metal fashion progressing into this epic story of a track I feel few bands in the realm of black metal can offer. “Council of Wolves & Snakes”, another standout track that I feel at times could have been a track left off “Death Cult Armageddon”. The creepy ambience broken up by blast beats and chants is something I love about Dimmu Borgir. Yes there is some typical “Dimmu Cheese” melting over from the last two releases, but I think this is a quality release from band that we know can write quality music. With a great variety between the tracks, I wasn’t left bored. Not their best, but it’s not Abrahadabra either.
7. Inferi – Revenant
I was excited for this one and I was not disappointed! This melodic tech-death band from Nashville, Tennessee serve up a momentous assault on your ears with technical proficiency and great production.
“Condemned Assailant”, being the track that I found being absolutely stellar on this album. It showcases the variety of melody and brutality they can offer seamlessly within a single track and leave you wanting more after. Now, that’s not a knock on the other tracks. Sometimes within the death metal genre, albums can get boring and be filled with skippable tracks leaving only a few truly great songs. This is not the case with Revenant. If you’re a tech-death fan you probably know Inferi, if you don’t, you should!
6. Beyond Creation – Algorythm
Another release I was excited for delivered greatly, Montreal has been known for it’s death metal, and Beyond Creation are far from an exception. Following up two undeniably amazing albums, this progressive tech-death band serves up their third album chalked full of elegant bass lines and progressive brutality.
The epic intro of “Disenthrall” builds perfectly into “Entre Suffrage et Mirage”. “Surface’s Echos”, offers technical polyrhythms and progressive passages that are just a straight up eargasm. The somberness of “Etheral Kingdom” and elegance of “A Travers Le Temps Et L’Oubli” building to “In Adversity” show why Beyond Creation are one of the finest bands within their genre. Having the pleasure of sharing the stage with them on multiple occasions, I can say they don’t falter live either. Delivering the same masterful proficiency live as they do on record. This is not an album or band you should miss out on.
In the words of the late great Randy “The Macho Man” Savage, “The cream always rises to the top!” This is most definitely to top of the crop of my 2018.
5. Aborted – TerrorVision
Aborted’s latest release is a monolithic masterpiece of death metal. Full of crushingly brutal riffs, shredding leads, visceral vocal delivery and a great production. This album has everything I love about Aborted.
The title track, “Terrorvision”, is extreme metal done perfectly, in my opinion. Quite similar to how I found the song “Forced Gender Reassignment” by Cattle Decapitation. A perfect death metal song showcasing the multiple variances of the genre. The breakdown in “Vespertine Decay” coupled with chorus will unknowingly make you do the “holy fuck that’s heavy” face. “Altro Inferno” is dissonance blended with blast beats, bound together by a haunting chorus that could raise the hairs on even the most stouthearted of people. This album should be in the collection of any death metal fan!
4. YOB – Our Raw Heart
Looks like this album might make a clean sweep at Super Metal World. YOB’s latest release can be summed up by the opening track “Ablaze”. The only word I can use to describe it is other-worldly. The comforting drone and ethereal sound takes you on an escape from reality. Lifting you up and bringing you to this unknown beautiful void. The groovy drone of “In Reverie” will make you bob your head in sequence with every chord strum. The track “Lungs Reach” well deserves it’s name, for the crushing doom this song has is only equivalent to an elephant stomping on your chest. It seamlessly transitions to the eloquent “Beauty of Falling Leaves” and roars into “Original Face”. The last track being the title track, “Our Raw Heart”, is also a great way to end and sum up the album. A beautiful drone to bring it to a close. This is an absolute classic and defining album for the genre and band!
3. Skindred – Big Tings
Probably the most out of place among my top 10 of the year but it deserves it’s place at the top. This unique band from Newport, Wales can be called many things. Nu-Metal? Ragga-Metal? Pop-Metal? Whatever it may be, their latest release is yet another evolution of their ever unique sound. A blend of metal, punk, rock, reggae, dub, pop and hip-hop, this album is stupid catchy. It has a bit of everything, a buffet for your ears.
The opening title track, “Big Tings”, has undeniable groove. “That’s My Jam” is an absolute party anthem that could make even Varg Vikerness jump around House of Pain style. “Last Chance” is a song that could easily be a radio hit anywhere, again, stupid catchy. Top Gear fans might also get a good kick out of a bridge in, “Loud and Clear”, that is reminiscent of the hit series’ opening music. “Broken Glass”, is another banger of a track. Benji Webbe’s voice is nothing but spectacular, as usual, on this album. Finishing up the album with an acoustic rendition of “Saying It Now” from their 2015 release, “Volume”, is nothing short of perfect. I’ve been a Skindred fan for many many years. The evolution of their sound is something that always impresses me and something I look forward to every album. This album continues that tradition and impresses at the same time. An album full of quality tracks, bangers and hits!
2. Zeal & Ardor- Stranger Fruit
There’s no surprise this album makes number 2 on my list. I did an entire article and reviewed the album not long after it’s release that you can find here. I wont go into too much detail, as it has been previously stated how much I FUCKING LOVED THIS ALBUM! The sound offered by Zeal & Ardor is unique to them alone. A twisted mixture of black metal and southern gospel blues. An audio paradox that is shockingly beautiful in its delivery.
The first three tracks, “Intro”, “Gravediggers’s Chant” & “Servants”, are a seamless story, taking you on a musical journey. “Don’t You Dare” another stellar track that can transport you from a paddle boat on the Mississippi to a frozen mountain top in Norway. “Row Row” with its church choir clap along, to its thundering double bass passages is another magnificent track. I remember when I was young teenager and I would discover a new band that would blow my mind. That feeling of excitement, like discovering the ark of the covenant or a the holy grail. As I get older, I find this feeling sparingly when it comes to newer bands and releases. This album brought back that feeling of finding a diamond in the rough. Something new, fresh, interesting and exciting. I’m very much looking forward to what Zeal & Ardor release in the future.
1. Obscura – Diluvium
Out of all the releases over the course of 2018, this was my most anticipated. By God it is GLORIOUS! Munich, Germany’s Kings of Progressive Technical Death Metal, quite the title there, eh, demonstrate why they are one of the best death metal bands ever, EVER!… Yes there might be a hint of bias here, but don’t let that deter you. This album is a top notch experience from beginning to end.
From the first note of, “Clandestine Stars”, there is no fucking around. The title track, “Diluvium” is amazing displays of the technicality that Obscura is known for. “Mortification of the Vulgar” has a heavy chord riff that is just to die for. “Ethereal Skies” is what it is by name, ethereal. Riffs and riffs and riffs and riffs that vary between blissful melodies, dizzying leads and brutality. The blistering guitar work and complimenting bass melodies on, “Convergence”, is a showcase of master musicianship coupled with incredible song writing. “Ekpyrosis”, kicks off giving you that ever so lovely, “holy fuck that’s heavy” face. Then, proceeds to thrash you to pieces with its speed. “The Seventh Aeon” is yet another example of how talented this band is. Remember that heavy face? Well is it possible to double down on it? “The Conjuration”, is the heaviest track on the album. Serving up a blend of grimy death metal and the eloquence that is Obscura. One of my favorite tracks from the album. “An Epilogue to Infinity” is an outstanding track with its stop/start riffing and polyrhythms held together by battering blast beats and mesmerizing melodies. The somber final track, “A Last Farewell”, might be a hint towards their future, but this album is a masterclass. Veterans of the genre showing us how it’s done. My album of the year.