Sunday, December 30, 2018

the Top 10 Metal Albums of 2018

It is that time again. This lists takes from the best of the other metal lists and is a cross genre best of list. 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 ? While the top ten lists for other genres were more balanced this list leans heavily on the side of new bloods. 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 metal albums of 2018.

10- LLNN- "Deads"

 Hard core might be at the beating heart of this monster. What I like most is the sonic intensity. They are brutally aggressive, but don't stop there possessing a wider scope of dynamics.Not unlike bands such as Nails or Hexis, where many different sub-genres collide. This band is powered by a dark metallic hard-core draped in cinematic ambiance.

9-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

8-Messa - "Feast For Water" 

 My first thought when I heard them was this is like a metal version of Lana Del Ray. The tempo picks up and they fall closer in line to other "occult" rock of their ilk like Christian Mistress. There is more raw rumble going when they gain speed than what their peers typically muster. It's the dreary mood that kept them from just being lumped into stoner rock.

7-Totalselfhatred - "Solitude" 

7 years since their last album, they once has a more aggressive take on depressive black metal,but it is hard to complain about what goes down as it's so well done. My ears can not escape the fact that the first song falls neatly into the depressive black metal box, where their earlier work had more of a unhinged feral quality to it. I also don't remember synths and piano playing as big of a role as they do here. The album really needed to be played loudly in order to soak in all the layers. Maturity is one of this album's characteristics. Gone are the rock god solos, but everything well played, with no doubt they are excellent musicians who have grown up to serve the song. They are little more mellowed with time, but with a wider depth of emotion.

6- Evoken-"Hypnagogia"

 After six years of waiting the Jersey doom band proves why they are America's best when it comes to not only funeral doom, but doom as a whole. This finds them picking up where they left off with "Atra Mors". Sonically it feels similar from a production stand point. Mood wise the atmosphere might be thicker. It's pretty dark, though perhaps not as filled with despair as the previous album. Lyrically it uses World War 1 as a metaphor to things they were going through at the time. This is done without the need to maintain some contrived narrative that concept albums tend to have. These guys are masterful songwriters who don't feel the need to drone on to make their point. The beginning is dreamy with low goth like vocals to bring a darker shade against the music. It builds as needed to give them a big metal ending draped in mournful strings that gets better with each listen.

5- 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.

4- 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.

3-Voices- "Frightened" 

 Former members of Akercocke formed this progressive metal band. The dark sense of melody further into this album with each listen . It has a wide array of vocal colors. The metal core of what these musicians creates from doesn't hamper it from bringing other elements ranging from post-punk to post- hardcore, though I guess these post-men aren't just ringing twice as any other post-sub genre can also be found. This album is very impressive, when I got it back in April it was what I thought to be one of the first contenders for album of the year as I could not imagine someone bringing it in the dark and aggressive fashion these guys do, but alas three other bands did in fact do it better.

2-Ilsa- "Corpse Fortress"

 This band is refusing to hold back on  on their debut for Relapse Records. The band's 5th full length finds them continuing to hammer skulls in with the sheer density of their blown out sludge. Dirty and squealing with feedback. The vocals are phrased in a way that that give the coarse scathing shouts almost more of  sung feel. The lyrics cut through better with this delivery. They shift back into more of a low end pounding that owes more to doom when it comes to the ominous rumble as the momentum continues to build. The flatulent bass can be heard in the din at times, but it generally hits you as one frequency. This album earned multiple listens I think it is a huge step forward for the band

1-Hangman's Chair -"Banlieue Triste"

 This French band has been around for 13 years, so I am not sure how they have eluded me. In terms of conventional metal, they might not fit neatly into the box. They are heavy in the bleak mood they create. This depressing mood brings them closest to doom if they have to defined. The vocals are the key selling point for me as not a note is wasted and they really sell me on the lyrics. They are in a similar zip code as "Viva Emptiness" era Katatonia, but carrying even more despair. The reason they beat Evoken is while "Hypnagogia" is a beautiful album, it's so dense and grandiose, the songs don't hook me in to demand as many listens as this album did which what I need when I forget to take my meds in the morning.

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