My metal listening for the year was all over the place. I’ve experienced new bands from all walks of metal. We’ve got some doom, some thrash, some melodic, some sludge, some death. Check it out!
10. Machine Head – Hope Begets Hope
Machine Head’s 2018 release Catharsis was met with negative critical reception. Of course Machine Head being Machine Head there were some keepers on the album and Hope Begets Hope was one of them. This track quickly found it’s way to my running playlist and I don’t believe it will ever leave. Hope Begets Hope features downplayed verses dominated by the bass guitar and explodes into a driving chorus. Everything you could want in a Machine Head song.
9. Alien Weaponry – Raupatu
As soon as Raupatu opens you’re hit with one of the most metal riffs on this entire list. If the riff isn’t bad ass enough for you, the track makes heavy use of gang vocals all of which are in the Māori language, of course. Raupatu is about the seizure of native New Zealander lands similar to that of Native Americans.
8. Jonathan Davis – What It Is
Korn’s Jonathan Davis graced us with his first solo album this year. What It Is is a relatively simple song but it’s most definitely an ear-worm. Davis brings his unique vocals to the table with What It Is and let’s us all know you need to accept who you are. It’s a message we can all get behind I think. After all it is what it is.
7. Sleep – Marijuanaut’s Theme
Marijuanaut’s Theme sets the tone immediately with bong hit followed by grinding low guitars. The entire track is a trip. You’ll hear of the story of the Marijuananaut and his adventures through space and time. This track comes off of Sleep’s highly regarded album The Sciences. To be honest, it’s hard to not get a little light headed when listening to track.
6. Slugdge – Putrid Fairytale
If it was obvious from the title, Putrid Fairytail is a death metal track. It comes off of Slugdge’s album entitled Esoteric Malacology. For those that don’t know Malacology is a branch of zoology that focuses on the study of mollusks. These guys take their slugs seriously. Putrid Fairytale is a stellar example of what it means to be melodic death. Powered by unending leads and blast beats, this track is set to please any metalhead.
5. Pallbearer – Dropout
Dropout provides a trip of spiraling, grinding guitars backed by atmospheric and hazy vocals. If you’re a fan Pallbearer and their previous releases you will enjoy this track. It is a follow up single release to their critically acclaimed album Heartless. Dropout was released as part of 53rd edition of the Adult Swim Singles Program.
4. At the Gates – Palace of Lepers
Palace of Lepers‘ chorus features one of my absolute favorite guitar leads from 2018. The song is an impeccable blend of the complex styling of Gothenburg melodic death metal style with the straightforward delivery of a hardcore track. The track is relentless and puts you directly in the center of that “citadel of disease.” Also, the track title is undeniably heavy. I mean, come on.
3. Skeleton Witch – Fen of Shadows
The first word that comes to my mind with Skeleton Witch’s Fen of Shadows is “righteous.” It’s got a blends together a perfect mix of heavy riffage and melodic leads. As the song builds up in it’s two minute intro into the first verse I get a sense that song is being played on top of mountain (cue Ron Burgundy). The song finds itself in moments of chaos held together by strands of eerie leads pulling itself together just in time before the whole thing falls of the rails.
2. Rivers of Nihil – Subtle Change (Including the Forest of Transition and Dissatisfaction Dance)
Listening to Subtle Change out of context of this album might seem strange, but it made my list because of it’s importance as a pacing element in Rivers of Nihil’s record Where The Owls Know My Name. That and it’s a great fucking song. Everything you might need from a progressive death metal song can be found here. Acoustic guitar sections, keyboard solos, blast beats, breakdowns, saxophones, it’s all there.
1. YOB – Beauty in Falling Leaves
YOB’s lead vocalist and guitarist Mike Sheidt’s perspectives on life and music changed when he fought off life threatening condition. YOB’s 2018 album Our Raw Heart is the result of that fight. Beauty in Falling Leaves is the album’s centerpiece. The intensity of emotion packed into this sixteen minute journey is staggering. This is one of those songs that fans of metal should be proud of. Beauty in Falling Leaves sounds like a once in a lifetime song from YOB but anyone who listens to Our Raw Heart in its entirety will be shown that, no, YOB just has the musicianship to rival the best.