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Friday 4 January 2019

MoM Writers' Top 20 Albums Of The Year

(Paul H) By the end of 2018 I’ll have reviewed over 400 album releases in 2018. It’s been a ridiculously brilliant year for our music. Endless streams of superb albums have passed our way, and it’s to Matt’s credit that he’s always kept a steady hand on the wheel. Of course, when you review so many releases, it must take something exceptional to stand out. There were so many albums this year that could have made this list. I’ve tried to cover a range of genres, from black and death metal through to more classic rock and progressive music which all appeal to me.

I could have written this list 20 times and it wouldn’t have been the same on any of them. You could add to the 20 below Primordial, Amorphis, Cattail Brew, Saxon, Valafar, Blasphemer UK, Memoriam, Wiegedood, Against the Grain, Bloodshot Dawn, Legion of Wolves, Ring of Gyges, Black Moth, Tribulation, Lunatic Soul, Necrophobic, Jungle Rot, The Magpie Salute, Alice in Chains, Electric Six, Ann Wilson, Aborted, Unleashed, Ultha, Marduk, The Temperance Movement, Blackberry Smoke, Audrey Horne, Barren Earth, Betzefer, Tomb Mold, Corrosion of Conformity, Omnimum Gatherum, Obscura, Mist, Solstice and Gruesome, all of whom delivered fantastic albums.

With 2019 already dripping with new releases, I already recommend Swallow The Sun and Flotsam and Jetsam whose new releases drip with brilliance. 2018 was astonishing. So, without further ado, here’s my top 20, furnished with a quote from my reviews where applicable and from some of my Musipedia brothers when I didn’t get to the release first! Enjoy.

(Sean) And so another years end is upon us, another cycle of complete and a chance for us all to reflect on the finer things in life. Goals that we have achieved? Places that we finally visited? Feck aff with ‘dat shite, it’s all about the amount of killer metal released and 2018 proved to be no less potent. Whilst death metal may have reigned supreme for it’s duration, there’s been no shortage of pleasant surprises and proof that metal is as potent as it’s ever been (looking at you, Oli Sykes). So, with all that word bollocks out of the way, sink your face into this list of slaying steel.

(Paul S) It’s that time of the year again. It’s nearly Christmas, we’re getting close to the end of the year, so it’s time to take a beautiful creative, subjective art-form and judge it based on our own arbitrary system. It has been a great year for music, this list has taken quite a while to compile, I’m still a little unsure about the order. I’ve left out some really great albums, so much good stuff has come out this year.

Matt - Top 20

20. Orphaned Land - Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs
See Paul H

19. Crippled Black Phoenix - Great Escape
"Great Escape is their darkest record yet it's less about the anger more about disappointment, however there are a lot of joyous moments here hidden, creeping out of the woodwork just trying to make things better overall but you have to listen for them, it's a record that cements Crippled Black Phoenix as one of the most uniquely talented forward thinking bands around."

18. Oceans Of Slumber - The Banished Heart
"The Banished Heart is the culmination of a perfect storm of musical dexterity, personal tragedy and resilience in the face of adversity, it’s a record with a fervour that it finds hard to contain and it’s simply brilliant"

17. Conjurer - Mire
"Much like Gandalf do not take them for just being capable of a few cheap tricks, this is real magic worthy of a legendary (Electric) wizard"

16. Visigoth - Conqueror's Oath
"Buy Conquer's Oath, play it loud and worship the steel and silver!"

15. Black Moth - Anatomical Venus
"Repeated plays allow the album to permeate deeply, and each spin cements what a stunning piece of work this is"

14. Witch Tripper - I, Of The Storm
"I, Of The Storm is a massively entertaining slab of riffage which moves Witch Tripper on to the next level"

13. Orion's Reign - Scores Of War
"This album has every style of muscular power metal I love and having listened to this album numerous times it gets better with every spin, glorious!"

12. Dukes Of Orient - Dukes Of Orient
"Dukes Of The Orient is a retro feast for anyone that picked up the 1992 record Aqua (the first Asia album with Payne) or of course those that had been on the AOR/Prog train since they first heard Heat Of The Moment."

11. Witch Mountain - Witch Mountain
"The result is imposing; a gritty mix of dark blues, thunderous doom and even some death growls."

10. Savage Machine - Abandon Earth
"The apocalyptic vision of Savage Machine’s debut full length is a classic metal masterpiece. These Danes bring together everything I love about metal on album and over the ten songs on this record they bring a big goofy grin to your face again and again."

9. Haken - Vector
"emphasising that while this band and entire genre has a habit of cloaking any relatedness behind elaborate tales, at their core, they remain incredibly emotional and immersive"

8. Michael Romeo - War Of The Worlds Part 1
"With a second part promised you do wonder how they will follow this, it's the best Symphony X album never made if you like progressive metal then you need to hear this!"

7. Valis Ablaze - Boundless
"A record with rousing choruses set to a backing of lush soundscapes and progressive riffs that will have you gurning like Les Dawson...This is an ambitious record that achieves everything it sets out to be, listen and observe but don't get too close Valis Ablaze are currently en fuego"

6. VOLA - Applause From A Distant Crowd
"Ambitious and spine-tingling at times Applause Of A Distant Crowd deserves all the plaudits it's going to receive, play it repeatedly to really hear it and you won't want to listen anything else for a while."

5. Ghost - Prequelle
"Pop-metal mastery, occult theatrics and out of the ordinary covers, check on all three this is Ghost’s modus operandi and it’s brilliant."

4. Agrona - Realm Of The Fallen
"I proceeded to play it multiple times at very high volume and I can truly say that after numerous line up shuffles and honing their (witch)craft on stages across the land the quality of this record is astounding... Realm Of The Fallen tour-de-force of epic proportions."

3. Clutch - Book Of Bad Decisions
"It’s becoming a challenge to find superlatives for the Maryland four-piece whose long awaited 12th album fulfils all expectations. Neil Fallon, Tim Sult, Dan Maines and Jean Paul Gaster continue to follow their own destiny, creating songs which fit with their own passion and vision. They don’t follow trends, they simply produce quality music."

2. Blind River - Blind River
See Paul H

1. Judas Priest - Firepower
"Album no 18 from the metal gods and it continues with the same level of quality which the Priest delivered in spades on 2014’s Redeemer Of Souls...It’s British Heavy Metal at its finest."

Paul H - Top 20

1. Behemoth – I Loved You At your Darkest
“The rapid-fire tremolo picking, thunderous drumming and massive riffs all create something magical. You need to hear this album. And then play it again. This is my album of the year. In the face of all competition, the Polish blackened metal of Behemoth sits highest.”

2. Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs
“Once more the band has served up a treat with a magnificent release that builds upon their previous albums, intricate pieces nestle comfortably alongside the straightforward death metal passages … we embark on a typical journey which encapsulates the Orphaned Land approach; protest, resistance, joy, tragedy, anger; all encapsulated in anthemic and poetic compositions.”

3. .Blind River – Blind River
“With every track liable to infest your brain with the catchy hooks, what more can I say but get hold of a copy now and enjoy the ride. Blind River have delivered a slab of blues rock ‘n’ roll which just oozes quality.”

4. Riverside – Wasteland
“Ultimately, Wasteland is an album that features segments of nearly every Riverside album. There’s the melody of Love, Fear And the Time Machine, alongside the rawness of Second Life Syndrome and the debut angst of Out Of Myself. Less polished than previous releases, it’s the fresh, honest sound that provides a rawness which the band clearly needed to flesh out. It’s impossible to find a flaw on another magnificent release, which stands proudly alongside their catalogue and Duda’s solo work with Lunatic Soul. If you want a blueprint, this is what you follow.”

5. Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods
“A magnificent, triumphant and explosive return to the icy world. Even in the heat of the summer, the bleakness of the permafrost prevails. A grand epic and a welcome return.”

6. In The Woods – Cease The Day
Rich reviewed this beautiful album and commented: “In The Woods have surpassed themselves with Cease The Day, an album that sits in both light and darkenss and all the shades in between. There were several moments throughout where my arm hairs were standing on end which is always a sign that I’m listening to something special”.

7. Dimmu Borgir – Eonian
“Although some of the songs on the album were written as far back as 2012, Eonian is a complete piece of work, which flows from start to finish. The ethereal and haunting closing track Rite of Passage is the perfect finale to an album that is astonishing and incredible.”

8. Metal Church – Damned If You Do
“If XI was an intense ride, Damned If You Do at the very least accelerates even harder. The riffs are bigger, heavier and more crushing, whilst Howland and Steve Unger have the rhythm section locked down perfectly.”

9. Clutch – Book of Bad Decisions
“It is pacey, laden with groove, clever changes and astute lyrics. It’s been three years. It has been worth the wait. Clutch is synonymous with quality and consistency. A fine album to add to an already amazing body of work.”

10. The Damned – Evil Spirits
“Apparently, the album has been the band’s highest ever placed in the UK chart, and fully deserved it is. There is not a poor track on this release, but stand out tracks for me include Shadow Evocation, with its gothic feel and dramatic increase in pace as the track develops and the politically charged Look Left.”

11. Judas Priest – Firepower
“Firepower impresses in a way that only Judas Priest can do. It’s British Heavy Metal at its finest. Sit back, crack open a glass of something cold and enjoy the Metal Gods doing what they do best. Pure heavy metal.”

12. Orange Goblin - The Wolf Bites Back
“… with this latest release the band have hit an even higher gear and are demonstrating the adage that there is no replacement for experience and quality. It’s been four years since the excellent Back From The Abyss pummelled our ears, and since that time the band has put a lot of effort into getting their ninth album spot on. The good news is that The Wolf Bites Back is as good as anything the band has ever released.”

13. Bloodbath – The Arrow of Satan Is Drawn
“Utilising the state of the world as inspiration for the themes, Nystrom and his wretched souls have created a fetid, stench ridden release which demands repeated plays. Tracks like Deader, the harrowing Morbid Antichrist and the closing B-movie soakd Chainsaw Lullaby all combine on one of the most rotten, stinking and repulsively incredible death metal albums of 2018.”

14. Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons – The Age of Absurdity
“Campbell’s guitar work is sublime throughout; subtle little licks and passages nip in and out whilst Todd and Dane supply ample support. Starr’s voice is ideally suited to the tracks, which retain the rock ‘n’ roll feel throughout. This is a very pleasing release that will grow as the tracks become more familiar. One of the classic rock albums of the year.”

15. Skeletal Remains – Devouring Mortality
There is little to say about this release. It simply destroys! From the opening track Ripperology to Internal Destestation, the Californian’s who took their name from a line in a Demolition Hammer song go full throttle for the jugular. It’s 100mph, a swirling slashing maelstrom of sinister and evil intent, underpinned with a groove and melody that makes it accessible yet retaining the lacerating approach of all-out death thrash metal.

16. Winterfylleth – The Harrowing of Heirdom
“The shorter instrumental tracks with the combination of cello and acoustic guitar, such as penultimate track Resting Tarn, A Gleeman’s Volt and Embers nestle comfortably alongside the longer story telling of the likes of Edler Mother, The Shepherd and the magnificent title track which closes the album. Unique, original and utterly spellbinding, this is a truly magical piece of work.”

17. Soulfly – Ritual
“Ritual is worth the three year wait. As soon as Marc Rizzo’s unmistakable trademark riffs open the album on the title track, which then explodes into a melee of tribal thrash you know exactly where you are. It’s hard, it’s heavy; it’s Soulfly.”

18. Grà – Väsen
We didn’t review this superb release but suffice to say in the face of massive competition in the black metal field this year, Heljarmadr and co have delivered a monstrous third album that simply annihilated.

19. Agrona – Realm Of The Fallen
Matt reviewed this brutal debut. His comment: “It’s a brilliantly realised debut from a band who have become one of the best on the South Wales scene. Get ready to enter The Realm Of The Fallen; You’ll never want to return.”

20. The Pineapple Thief - Dissolution
“I’ve listened to this album continuously since it was released, and it continues to provide delicious moments of almost insatiable quality; much like that first drink after a thirsty hike, soaking up Dissolution is a moment that leaves you desperate for the same again. I didn’t think that the band could improve on Your Wilderness. Dissolution might just be their finest hour.”

Paul S - Top 10

20 - Drawn And Quartered - The One Who Lurks
Very few bands can deal out these levels of intensity, which is what makes this album so special. Not for everyone, but essential for those who get it!"

19 - De Profundis - The Blinding Light Of Faith
De Profundis have produced a fantastic extreme technical death metal album with “The Blinding Light Of Faith”. The album is strong enough to stand up to repeated listens, in fact, it’s such a complex piece of brutality that it Demands repeated listens. Highly recommended!

18 - Leeched - You Took The Sun When You Left
This album has a unique feel to it, the mixing of slow and fast, whilst not loosing any intensity is rare, and these guys pull it off brilliantly. Sublimely viscous, beautifully nasty.

17 - Message In A Cloud - Anassa
Anassa is a beautiful, cathartic piece of work, I’ve really enjoyed listening to it.

16 - Ævangelist - Matricide In The Temple Of Omega
 If you like music that challenges you, that is difficult but ultimately rewarding, then this could be for you as well. Personally, I love it, even if it scares me a little.

15 - Vreid - Lifehunger
Lifehunger is a great album, and it fits in perfectly with the very impressive body of work that Vreid have created during their 14 years of making music. Highly recommended!

14 - Deadly Carnage - Through The Void, Above The Suns
Great songs, well played, with nothing out of place to jar the listening experience. It’s one of those albums that when you come to the end of the album, you just want to go strait back to the start and listen to it again.

13 - Wolvennest - Void
If you love heavy music, and have an open mind, I urge you to check this out. It’s a meditative, thoughtful, achingly sexy, pulsing, droning, heavy, beautiful, bewitching and exquisite masterpiece.

12 - Allfather - And All Will Be Desolation
They have the heaviness of early Electric Wizard, the groove of Carnival Bizarre era Cathedral, the furious anger of Eyehategod and the swagger of Orange Goblin, whilst not actually sounding like any of those bands. Allfather have their own sound, they aren’t trying to anyone but themselves. Don’t be surprised if this album is featured in all the best album of the year lists in about a month, it’s going to be in mine. Did I mention that this album is really heavy?

11 - Primordial - Exile Amongst The Ruins
Primordial didn’t make any huge changes for this album. This is their established sound, realised perfectly.

10 - High On Fire - Electric Messiah
 Electric Messiah is probably High On Fire’s best album, from a band that have only made good albums. Do yourself a favour and get this album, it’s impossible to listen to it without smiling!

9 -  Zeal And Ardor - Stranger Fruit
An intriguing mix of black metal and spirituals. Definitely the most original thing I’ve heard this year.

8 -  Wiegedood - De Doden Hebben Het Goed III
Savage and beutiful in equal measure. The perfect end to the De Doden Habben Het Goed trilogy.

7 -  Thy Catafalque - Geometria
If you are an open minded Black Metal fan with a love of experimental, interesting music, then this could be your new favourite album. Sublime.

6 -  Voivod - The Wake
Even though the album is called The Wake, and considering the tragedy that this band have experienced, this album feels joyful. There is something uplifting and positive about it. I could have got this completely wrong, I might have misinterpreted it, but it makes me feel happy. I can’t think of a better recommendation than that.

5 -  The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing - Double Negative
Don’t be confused by the ‘steampunk’ label, this is punk, and pretty angry and aggressive punk at that (in some places it verges on thrash). Funny, intelligent lyrics that use victorian subjects to talk about current issues. This album was the soundtrack to my March and April.

4 -  Bast - Nanoångström
Nanoångström is a brilliant Doom / Black Metal album. I liked it the first time I listened to it, and it has grown on me with every listen. It’s beautiful and nuanced, massively heavy, intense and ferocious, all in one album. Highly recommended!

3 -  Winterfylleth - The Hallowing Of Heirdom
An amazing acoustic album, not folk; this is a much older style of music. Beautiful, melancholic and immersive. Having this album on my Ipod has really helped my mental health this year!

2 -  Ultha - The Inextricable Wandering
Dark, atmospheric, brooding, emotive and cathartic. My favourite black metal album released this year.

1 -  Yob - Our Raw Heart
Mike Scheidt nearly died after contracting Diverticulitis, and then again from a post operative e-coli infection last year. Coming so close to death seems to have given Mike a different view of the world. He seems to be more aware of the positive, affirming aspects of life, he’s still angry, and depressed at the state of the world, but seems to have gained an insight into not missing the beauty and love. Hence we have Anger and Acceptance, Rage and Understanding, Depression and Joy. And Our Raw Heart is a perfect reflection of this.
Yob have followed up one of the best Doom albums ever made, with a Doom album that is even better. 

Sean Morgan - Top 20

1. Panegyrist - Hierugry
This one caught me by surprise. Dense and complex yet not completely inaccessible, Panegyrist have created a work of transcendental blackened beauty. Black Metal can often be a stifling genre but Hierurgy sails past these trappings with ease. Essential.

2. Scorched - Ecliptic Butchery
Pushing the boundaries of your genre is all well and good but, in our heart of hearts, does this alway satisfy? We know, deep down, that we all crave unashamedly filthy OSDM with little regard for trend or innovation. Inhumanly low gutturals, wailing leads and jagged riffs to match, never has the rotten sounded to fresh.

3. Anaal Nathrakh - A New Kind of Horror
A veritable institution in the British extreme metal scene, Annal Nathrakh expand their sound once again to even greater levels of nihilistic depravity. This certainly isn’t a happy album and quite frankly?I hope Dave and Mick remain miserable, for the end result is this slab of a nightmarish beauty.

4. Alkaloid - Liquid Anatomy
Featuring more talent to make most want to quit music forever, Alkaloid return with another excursion into all things tastefully complex. Liquid Anatomy is an ever changing beast of progressive, technical death metal wizardry sure to please all fans and potential converts alike. To infinity and beyond!

5. Ascaris - The Raised Hand
Brutal intensity and merciless precision! Razor sharp blackened death metal delivered at a breakneck pace! Ascaris have been unleashed upon the world and The Raised hand is an absolute destroyer of a debut.

6. Lik - Carnage
Boss HM2 + killer Swedeath riffs = profit. What more do you want? RIP AND TEAR!

7. Feral - Flesh For Funeral Eternal
Same as above. Want more? Fine! Feral’s more groove laden approach ensures that your neck will forever be in blissful agony, from now till the end of all life. THE SWEDISH SAW IS THE FUCKING LAW!

8. Construct of Lethe - Exiler
Dissonant and melodic aren’t two words you’d usually associate with each other, but Exiler is a perfect example of coexistence in the contorting chaos that is Construct of Lethe. Deathspell Omega meets Domination era Morbid Angel? This still wouldn’t accurately describe CoL’s wonderfully contorted brand of death metal.

9. Omnuim Gatherum - The Burning Cold
A masterclass in melodic death metal from the Finnish elite. What more can be said? Delivered with dextrous musicianship and supreme compositional might, Omnium Gatherum have left their competitors in the cold (’scuse the pun).

10. Tomb Mold - Manner Of Infinite Forms
There's something filthy emanating from Canada, and this beast of a release it completely responsible. Boil and grime, filth and slime, beware of this fetid death metals toxic touch.

11. Gutter Instinct  - Sisyphus
Sure, you could just stick to worshiping ye olde Stockholm 4. But combine it with hefty doses of black metal and atmosphere? Well, you have this ripper of a release and proof that you don’t need to strictly adhere to the left hand path.

12. Alghazanth - Eight Coffin Nails
The final offering from these Symphonic Black Metallers and Eight Coffin Nails is a triumphant swan song for the furious Finns. R.I.P Alghazanth, your name will live on in legend. You will be missed.

13. Primordial - Exile Amongst the Ruins
There are few certainties afforded to us in the life, but what can be banked on is that Primordial do not make bad albums. Exile Amongst The Ruins sees these Irish legends expand their already evocative repertoire, elevating an already impeccable legacy to even greater heights. Brilliant.

14. Slidhr - The Futile Fire of Man
Another fine Irish band, though these grim Gael’s inhabit much darker depths. Submit your will and cast yourself into the void, for Slidhr have crafted a truly malefic piece of Black Metal. Essential.

15. Horizon Ablaze - The Weight of a Thousand Suns
When mentioned in some of black metals circles, one would imagine that the word “modern” is uttered wth great disdain. Enter Horizon Ablaze, triumphantly stamping these knuckle draggers into oblivion with a stunning exhibition of up to date blackened death and then some!

16. Necrophobic - Mark of the Necrogram
Mark of the Necrogram sees a triumphant return for the Swedish stalwarts, with all weapons brought to bear and firing with on all barrels in Satanic conflagration. No surprises here, though who needs it when your riffs are tighter than a nuns nether regions?

17. Visigoth - Conqueror's Oath
If you fail to be moved by Conqueror's Oath heroic hymns of victory and valour, then leave the fucking hall! True steel never dulls and there are none more truer than Visigoth. Hails!

18. Taphos - Come Ethereal Somberness
Another excellent debut, these diabolical Danes have crafted an utterly monstrous work of blackened death. Wonderfully brutish and tinged with malevolent atmosphere, Come Ethereal Somberness stops at nothing until all has been reduced to dust.

19. Immortal - Northern Chaos Gods
Having survived an acrimonious split and legal dispute, Demonaz and Horgh have unleashed a blizzard beast of a record. Northern Chaos Gods is an emphatic statement that they are the TRUE heirs to the kingdom of Blashyrkh, the TRUE sons of northern darkness. Hail mighty Ravendark!

20. Gaerea - Unsettling Whispers
Many may worship at the old altars of Black Metal but not Portuguese plaugebearers Gaera. No, Garea have their sights set on even darker horizons, infusing traces sludge and hardcore into their sensual onslaught. Unsettling Whispers is a harrowing journey into the many abysses beyond and one hell of a debut.

Alex - Top 20

20. Empire – Glue
‘’From start to finish, everything on Glue feels unique or different. And yes, while you can pick out the musical movement Empire is a part of, it is one they have committed their heart and soul to, allowing them to stand alongside some of the best acts in contemporary alt-prog’’

19. Black Peaks – All That Divides
‘’Black Peaks may take you off guard at first listen or maybe even second, yet it is their combination of the familiar with the unsettling or different, that will kept you enticed, proving beyond a doubt why they are an exciting and game-changing act’’

18. Screaming Females – All At Once
Although I more or less discovered Screaming Females in 2018, they mightily impressed me with their combination of sharp, acerbic songwriting and bold, witty lyricism, splattered across All at Once.

17. Sleep – The Sciences
Arguably the most important band in stoner metal made a comeback in 2019 with an album which is just as hypnotic, experimental and enticing as their past work.

16. Between the Buried And Me – Automata
Considering Automata as one cohesive piece, despite the album being split across two disks, makes for an album which is both rich in complexity and vast in ambition. Meanwhile, BTBAM continues to change, bringing funk laden riffs and commanding hooks to their aggressive sound.

15. Underoath – Erase Me
Whereas Underoath would once openly and proudly declare themselves to be Christians, Erase Me is fraught with internal turmoil. A theme which is expressed both through the agonizing lyricism and expressive instrumentation.

14. MAE – Multisensory Aesthetic Experience
In a year of beep-boops, MAE actually got the ambient electronic experiment right, embracing subtlety, nuance, and attention to detail, while brilliantly reinventing their sound.

13. Rolo Tomassi – Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It
Despite having apparently been on the metal scene, Rolo Tomassi made a considerable impact this year. Understandably so as well, as their new album embraces contrast and experimentation, making for a fascinating listen.

12. Andrew W.K – You're Not Alone
While many may view Andrew WK as nothing more than frenetic hype music, his fans know that his style of partying involves taking risks. You're Not Alone proves that with an album which is both inspiring and a whole load of fun.

11. The Black Queen – Infinite Games
Another act who perfected integrating synths into this year was the Black Queen. When the Dillinger Escape Plan called it quits, many predicted that their skill would make them excel in any project. Infinite Games has proved that assumption true!

10. Zeal And Ardor – Stranger Fruit
Uniquely combining the morose sounds of Chain Gang Chanting with Metal, Zeal, and Ardor is undeniably one of the most enticingly odd acts around. Regardless, they have come a long way from making comedy songs on 4Chan, and deserve all your attention!

9. Architects – Holy Hell
Inspired by the death of a bandmate and a friend, Holy Hell is Architects most mature record, while remaining a visceral listening experience, burning with passion and emotion.

8. Judas Priest – Firepower
Firepower leads the charge in showing off some of the crunchiest riffs Priest have ever put to record, soaring solos screech and wail between verses, and Halford’s voice lacks no ferocity. Many look to the past with Classic Metal Bands, rarely expecting them to forge one of the best albums of their career.

7. Ghost – Prequelle
Aspiration shines from every facet of Prequelle, promising not only wide-ranging success and fame but new experiments, exciting risks and a forever changing, ghostly sense of intrigue.

6. Father John Misty – Gods Favourite Customer
God’s Favourite Customer may not only be Father John Misty’s most introspective album but his most confessional. fans will welcome this new direction, for the fact that the wordplay is still hilariously sharp-witted, and the musicianship still beautifully sad.

5. Idles – Joy As An Act Of Resistance
‘’For the uninitiated, Idles smash together influences ranging from stranglers to Fugazi, capturing perfectly the angst and wit, combined with a serious commitment to music, proving unique and sincere’’

4. Myles Kennedy – Year Of The Tiger
‘’Kennedy has already said he considers his solo material a long-term project. To me, if this is a one-off or indeed the first in a new era in a musical career, the deeply confessional nature make this record stand on its own as something to be remembered and understood as unique’’

3. Coheed and Cambria – The Unheavenly Creatures
‘’Unheavenly Creatures stands among the best albums in Coheed’s discography, bringing back the concept in a way which echoes the rising and falling dynamics of a traditional rock opera. Vaxis: Act I is only the first part in a dramatic journey. To Children and the Fence, the response can only be one of excitement’’

2. A Perfect Circle – Eat The Elephant
Eat the Elephant values subtle dramatics, as opposed to unbridled aggression. Instead of exposing internal pain, societal issues are at play. As the strange title purports, our fixation with consumption is plunged into question, as rich harmonies and instrumentation weave beautiful songs of post-apocalyptic turmoil

1. Haken - Vector
‘’Vector stands as a dark album, Not shy conceptually, we deal with harsh clinical realities of experimentation and psychological torture: concepts precisely captured by the warped and vivid melodies, intersecting and dueling with the instrumentation…While this band have a habit of cloaking and relatedness behind elaborate tales, they remain incredibly emotional and immersive’’

Richard - Top 20

1. Amorphis - Queen Of Time
Amorphis raised the bar for themselves with an extra emphasis on the folk and progressive elements resulting in one of the finest albums of their long career

2. In The Woods… - Cease The Day
In The Woods… have surpassed themselves with an album that sits in both light and darkness and all the shades in between the two

3. VOLA - Applause Of A Distant Crowd
Light years ahead of their debut, VOLA followed it with one of the progressive masterpieces of 2018

4. The Night Flight Orchestra - Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough
Members of Arch Enemy and Soilwork channel early 80’s FM radio and arena rock in an album which shouldn’t work but it really does and it is so much fun

5. Anaal Nathrakh - A New Kind Of Horror
An apt album title as Anaal Nathrakh channel the horrors of World War One into an album which is the musical equivalent of pure terror, The most intense album you will hear from 2018

6. Zeal And Ardor - Stranger Fruit
A standout album for many this year as Zeal & Ardor defy the convention of genre with their unique musical fusion and traditional spiritual African American music.

7. LIK - Carnage
Swedish HM-2 death metal carnage. Pure Entombed and Dismember worship but when it’s done this well who can argue?

8. Primordial - Exile Amongst The Ruins
Primordial raised the bar even higher for themselves with one of the best albums the band have done. A magical and emotional listening experience.

9. Wolfheart - Constellation Of The Black Light
The mix of straightforward melodic death metal mixed with melancholy and dark melodies is a winning combination. Aggressive yet haunting.

10. Judas Priest - Firepower
Bands who have been going as long as Judas Priest aren’t supposed to release albums as good as this at this point in their career yet Judas Priest did just that and it is pure and glorious heavy fucking metal.

11. Winterfylleth - The Hallowing Of Heirdom
Winterfylleth had jaws hitting the floor including my own with their quite frankly amazing acoustic album. Drawing on English heritage and folklore this is an epic, haunting and truly moving masterpiece.

12. Agrona - Realm Of The Fallen
Having seen these guys form and hone their craft in live venues I knew this was going to be a good album but was taken aback by just how good it was. Black metal which is epic in scale and ferocious in nature.

13. Watain - Trident Wolf Eclipse
After the more experimental approach on The Wild Hunt Watain went straight for the jugular with Trident Wolf Eclipse. Truly vicious and utterly uncompromising black metal.

14. Voivod - The Wake
Voivod surprised everyone with an album that is definitely a career highlight from the progressive thrash veterans and easily their best album since DImension Hatröss.

15. Lost In Thought - Renascence
Lost In Thought had me in awe with their long overdue second album sending my mouth agape and the hairs on my arms standing on end.

16. Skeletal Remains - Devouring Mortality
Old school death metal meets old school thrash metal in an album which simply rips your face off. One of those albums which had me envisioning circle pits in my head.

17. Krisiun - Scourge Of The Enthroned
Krisiun go back to basics and the Brazilian death metal trio simply bludgeon everything in their path with their brutalizing death metal style.

18. Immortal - Northern Chaos Gods
The first post-Abbath album sees Immortal sounding better than they have in years combining the raw frantic approach of Battles In The North with the epic style of At The Heart Of Winter. A superb return for the black metal legends.

19. Wiegedood - De Doden Hebben Het Goed III
This album only has a duration of only 34 minutes and a tracklisting of 4 songs but the music in these 4 songs is some of the finest and most uncompromising black metal you will hear this year.

20. Clutch - Book Of Bad Decisions
I thought Clutch had been going through the motions on their last couple of albums and then with Book Of Bad Decisions they slapped me in the face with some of the most awesome rock and roll tunes the band have ever done.
As an extra our friend from Rocksins/Stereoboard Jon Stickler sent us his Top 20

1. Ghost - Prequelle

2. Judas Priest - Firepower

3. Clutch - Book Of Bad Decisions

4. Turnstile - Time & Space

5. Pagan - Black Wash

6. Tribulation - Down Below

7. Visigoth - Conqueror's Oath

8. Orange Goblin - The Wolf Bites Back

9. Haunt - Burst Into Flame

10. Alice In Chains - Rainer Fog

11. Parkway Drive - Reverence

12. Architects - Holy Hell

13. Interrupters - Fight The Good Fight

14. Palm Reader - Braille

15. Behemoth - I Loved You At Your Darkest

16. Skeletonwitch - Devouring Radiant Light

17. Alien Weaponry - Tu

18. Vein - Error Zone

19. Conjurer - Mire

20. Black Moth - Anatomical Venus

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