It is that time again. For the sake of this list mainstream Metal is anything that is not black, doom, death metal, or sludge. So that leaves some of the more widely ingested forms like symphonic metal, power metal, folk metal, thrash and nu-metal . Mainstream doesn't mean they are going on tour with Slipknot or going to be played along side them on Sirrus, as chances are that going to be some bullshit band who i only got three songs into their album before getting bored. 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 ?
While the top ten lists for other genres leaned more heavily on the side of new blood , this lists leans in the direction of more well established acts. 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 Mainstream Metal albums of 2018.
10-Non Point -"x"
They were always par for the course when it came to the tail end of nu-metal that was transitioning into the era of Myspace.There is a more thrash feel to the opener , but in a Slipknot manner and the vocal hooks have a Sevendust feel. They prove themselves to be good at what they do once again.
9-Metal Church- "Damned if you Do"
Mike Howe and Kurdt Vanderhoof are the only members from the "Blessing In Disguise" era of the band, which is not the original line up, but a great incarnation of the band that I accept . Howe's voice sounds just as great as it did on "XI". There is a darker and more melodic tone to which is more original than the more straight forward by the numbers what you expect from these guys, straight head proto thrash. This makes the albums more somber and melodic moments help this one stand out.
8-Code Orange- "the Hurt Goes On"
Their album "Forever" rules pretty hard as it showed them utilizing a bigger sound and blending a more industrial tinged influence into the mix. That industrial side of the band is given The first song is gritty and dense metal core that takes the concept of metal and hardcore thrown together and succeeds on every angle. This albums does rock pretty hard and I love how the left of center electronics are blended with their take on metallic hard core.
Clearing up any problems I had with folk metal, hey show up ready to do battle and don't get over indulgent into the more LARP like elements until the seventeen minute second song. I tend to not keep many sprawling seventeen minute songs in my iPod as they would take up the entire car ride to pretty much any where I go, they borders on being more progressive with the sprawling songs and refined chops.
6-Destroyer 666 - "Call of the Wild"
Warslut is back with something is almost more like W.A.S.P than black metal. Granted you could grandfather it in as it is as black metal as Venom...though closer to "Calm Before the Storm" than "At War With Satan". They guitar sound is dialed in. The vocals are standing on the monitors and in your face. The vocal performance is executed in more of a 80s thrash shouted style of singing . There are some black metal tinged rasps thrown in. The drumming is very animated, but where it needs to be. I think the guitar benefits more from when things are not as busy.
3 years after "Children of the Night" the boys from Sweden are back. This album seems like a logical progression with a more stream lined take on death metal. Their new drummer is more of a in the pocket rock guy and doesn't hit you with a ton of double bass so this factors in. There is still a great deal of atmosphere and keyboard parts, that help retain the darker mood. The guitar playing is more thoughtful and nuanced to make up for the fact it might not be as aggressive as their previous releases. The vocals haven't really changed and their mid range snarl is the most biting part of their sound now
4-Judas Priest- "Firepower"
The first concern going into any Priest album is how is Rob's voice going to hold up, We might be able to live with out KK, but as the Ripper Owens years proved, his voice is one of the defining traits of this band. Think closer to "Defenders of the Faith" which was the band trying to replicate the massive success of "Screaming For Vengeance" . It is truer to form for the band than "Redeemer of Souls". It has the up tempo aggression that influenced the thrash bands that would follow.
3-In the Woods - "Cease the Day"
These guys are not the only black metal band from the early 90s that have changed their sound over the years.At the onset one might assume these guys have gone more of a Ulver route as baritone clean vocals have a mournful sound to them almost like a doomy gothy version of Pink Floyd. I do like the dark melodic tone this song has almost like something Katatonia might do. By the end of the song things have swelled back into metal. I also like how the effects drape the harsher vocals toward the end of the song, and while it is done in a more Enslaved like manner I do not feel the call and response between the clean and harsh vocals is predictable with a darker and moodier sound than most.
2-Primordial -"Exile Amongst the Ruins"
These guys used to be more black metal and have grown out of it, which you can't be mad at considering how dark they are and how they get pagan metal right. Right from the first song there is a passing return to harsh vocals for a few phrases. Their second best is better than most. If you are a fan of the band this is going to be what you are waiting for as it's more of the same.
1-Dimmu Borgir- "Eonian"
No longer black metal,they do what they do. This involves their ever evolving sound that retains the core of who they are. Shagrath croaks his way through the verses. There is a huge choral sound midway into the song. This confirms they are more of a symphonic metal band than a black metal band.These guys dialing it in is better than most bands can do on a good day.