Friday, November 30, 2018
the Top 10 Death Metal Albums of 2018
It is that time again. I find it to be easier to go ahead and bust mine out before I started sending out other more generalized lists out to other blogs. This helps me get my thoughts sorted for those. It was when I began compiling this that I realized I was going to have to set the bar a little lower for death metal as their was more quantity than quality, so while I would not normally consider albums that scored under a 9 when first reviewed , that is what I was going to be forced to resort to for this as there were no death metal albums that scored a 10. Is death metal dying? That is the question we will learn the answer to in the coming year. I not only used the score from my reviews to help determine the ranking , but also how many times Last FM told me I listened to each album.
An album can have all the critical acclaim in the world but if it does not inspire multiple listens then how good can it actually be ? I have assembled a broad cross section of sub-genres, there is some progressive and technical death metal, actually four albums cross over into a more progressive place at some juncture. Some are old school, along with a few newer acts. The veterans normally have more to live up to , but there is only one band here that I have been following for any substantial length of time. Rather than posting media of a track from each band I am leaving a link to the review, which will contain Bandcamp or Full Album Streams. Ok enough talking about it, the time has come to dig into the top 10 death metal albums of 2018.
10-At the Gates : "To Drink From the Night Itself"
The Swedish Death Metal icons return with their sixth album which finds Lurking Fear guitarist Jonas Sthalhammar joining an otherwise close to original line up. They were so head of their time that rehashing where they have already ventured is going to sound like modern death metal. They always carried a thrashing slant to their brand of melodic death metal.This well done as they manage to still be relevant.
9- Bloodbath: "the Arrow of Satan is Drawn"
This death metal super group of sorts that features members of Opeth, Katatonia and Paradise Lost. This release feels like there is more heft than the first one that featured the Paradise Lost vocalist. They get real fucking serious as their is more of a weighty grind to this album.it's a very solid piece of death metal proving they know how to please their fans being as it is one of their heaviest albums yet.
8-Cult Leader - "a Patient Man"
It seems like a more spastic form of death metal with hard core sensibilities.In the absence of Nails , I will certainly take this to help fill that void. I do like how this album is as heavy sonically as it is metal. While it is not the album of the year, I think it's one of the stronger albums of this ilk, which we will call death metal despite the 3 songs with clean singing.
Until I heard this album there were on four "progressive" death metal bands I thought were worth a shit. Cynic, Pestilence, Opeth, Edge of Sanity...ok maybe four then so let's see if these guys can be the fourth I don't always have to have death metal sounding like Morbid Angel or Incantation, what they are doing here works just fine for me. At the end of the day the album might have a ton of busy work , but its still pretty solid as the cool parts out weigh the bloat
6-Soliloquium : "Contemplations"
I am opposed to mixing death metal elements with doom, in fact this band from Sweden does it well. The take the power of death metal and give a punch to the mourning atmosphere of doom. They are not just playing slow death metal and trying to pass it off as doom. The bass does some interesting things when the guitar gives the songs room to breathe.it's way better than expected when I checked it out on a whim thinking it was going to be doom. If you miss the band Opeth used to be on "Orchid" then this is worth your time or if you want dark melodic death metal of any kind then it's also worth your time.
5-Usurpress -" Interregnum"
This proggy death metal band out of Sweden, is what you are looking for if you want the emphasis on the metal when it comes to your prog metal. I don't listen to as much of this kind of thing as I once did , but if this was 2003, I would have been all over this. Despite the fact that is asks me to go back to the place when I was really into Opeth, there is no denying these guys excel at what they do.
4-Ruin - "Human Annihilation"
These guys offer a few things I like it my death metal. First and foremost their shit sounds dark. The opener is pretty dense and they do not rely on just speed. There is certainly an old school feel in what they do though it has a blown out quality that is not over produced so I can see how it might appeal to hipsters who were into punk last year. Also their songs are very short and to the point. But also well written
They are very capable of pulling out some catchy head banging grooves so it's not all math and mirrors. I have grown to like this album a little more with each listen It's head and shoulders over most of the death metal I have heard this year and I have heard a lot as I am trying to get caught up for me end of the year lists. If you like your death metal to challenge you with it's high dexterity score then this album is a must. It's even a must for just plain ole death metal fans
2- Pestilence - " Hadeon"
Bassist / vocalist Patrick Mameli is carrying the torch for this band that dates all the way back to 1986. Even with all of the new blood this takes you back to the early days of death metal when it met at the intersection of thrash. This album won me over, it came out early in the year so it also gave me the false hope that this was going to be a good year for death metal, but only one album out shined it when it comes to death metal.
1- Necros Christos -" Domedon Doxomedon"
A step in a direction that is more melodic and straight forward . They have come out from the murk of cavernous reverb to have a more organic sound. Gone is the darker Incantation worship. For matter there are few moments that sound like Morbid Angel. The vocals carry more of a croak, than the deeper growl I remember from these guys. Due to this the lyrics are more discernible. They are also more of a focal point with the opener being a clear cut take on the Jesus myth.In a genre that often is a one trick pony fueled only by aggression, this album has a range of dynamics and solid songwriting that proves death metal can be much more than that.