METAL DISCOVERY'S TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2018
2018 has been another strong year for new music. A year that's seen the release of more refreshingly innovative and sonically iconoclastic creativity; surprise collaborations; emotionally nourishing music; epic ventures; sublimely conceived masterpieces; pure, unadulterated fun; and hard-hitting, provocative works where some of extreme metal's veterans have reclaimed their hegemony. All 20 albums/EPs on this list, reviewed at some point during the year by me, your very own webmaster, are more than worthy of inclusion, and appear in no particular order... with the exception of two releases: Madder Mortem's 'Marrow' and Krow's 'Demon, I'. These two works, for me, are a step above anything else released during 2018 and are irrefutable masterpieces. So, with the festive season upon us, and an inexplicably large number of people indulging in their fix of Christmas masochism by subjecting themselves, once again, to their annual dose of groundhog anthems in the form of Shaky, Noddy, Wham!, et al, sit back and peruse this list of 2018 releases. Then check out some or all of these gems...
Madder Mortem: 'Marrow'
Dark Essence Records, 21st September 2018
"...these super talented Norwegians have proved themselves as creatively fertile and innovative as they've ever been. With generic mimicry, stagnancy and mindlessly regurgitated clichés all too rife within the metal scene, the world needs bands like Madder Mortem..."
Krow: 'Demon, I'
Boudicca Records, 12th March 2018
"...this hits hard and deep on an emotional level. It's as captivating and absorbing as it is exhilarating and energising. And, dare I say, emotionally empowering in a cathartic sense. And cognitively nourishing."
Joe Satriani: 'What Happens Next'
Sony Music, 12th January 2018
"An album of familiarity and surprises, there's a lot to get excited about here. The Satriani/Hughes/Smith musical communion is a winner, for sure. Phenomenal stuff. What a way to start 2018!"
Therion: 'Beloved Antichrist'
Nuclear Blast, 9th February 2018
"One can only begin to imagine the vast amount of work, passion, love and, undoubtedly, tortuous creativity that went into this project. The creative scope of 'Beloved Antichrist' is unimaginable. It's all resulted in an irrefutable masterpiece."
Inside Out, 28th September 2018
"...'Wasteland' is Riverside at their emotionally profound best... It provides a genuinely moving listening experience, at times; and, at others, it's quite an exhilarating one, loaded with all kinds of introspective and emotionally bare depths."
Bloodbath: 'The Arrow of Satan is Drawn'
Peaceville, 26th October 2018
"...a work that has old school nods, but one that also provides a colossal slap of here and now brutality; one that feels like a cathartic antidote to the crazy and scarily unstable world we've all found ourselves living within."
Laura Gibson: 'Goners'
City Slang, 26th October 2018
"There's certainly cathartic potential through the listening experience. This is music to captivate; in which to lose yourself to its natural sonic beauty and ethereally melancholic charms."
Dimmu Borgir: 'Eonian'
Nuclear Blast, 4th May 2018
"While there’s enough Dimmu familiarity to satisfy their ardent followers, they've also diversified their creativity to incorporate all kinds of compositional quirks and divergences..."
Nuclear Blast, 23rd March 2018
"Dark passages and moments of melancholic sorrow are contrasted against uplifting, buoyant folky instrumentations, on an album that is a delightful, gentle, absorbing and, at times, ethereal listen."
Whyzdom: 'As Time Turns to Dust'
Scarlet Records, 6th April 2018
"...a rather magnificent work of musical grandeur. Whyzdom's philharmonic metal synthesis in the instrumentations is sheer bliss and exemplary, once again, of not only guitarist Vynce Leff's fine compositional skills, but his masterful touch at arranging music."
Oceans of Slumber: 'The Banished Heart'
Century Media, 2nd March 2018
"This encapsulates beauty in darkness with a sense of true sublimity and transcendence. An incredibly bleak and dissonant sublimity at times, but also punctuated with glimpses of hope and optimism that shine through the mire of despair."
At the Gates: 'To Drink from the Night Itself'
Century Media, 18th May 2018
"...to hear the band turn out such finely crafted, hard-hitting albums in both this one and their last, is sheer bliss. They sound as enthusiastic and as hungry for it as they ever did."
Erin Bennett & The EB Band: 'Post Sexy Post Truth'
Boudicca Records, 1st February 2018
"This is songcraft at its finest, and performance sincerity at its most potent. Each track is like a refreshing blast of affective sincerity, loaded with a whole heap of unadulterated attitude and raw energy, in equal measure."
Funny Ugly Cute Karma: 'Before It Was Cool'
Code 7 - M&O Music, 12th October 2018
"It's quirky, different and fresh, yet has enough familiar handles to draw you in, before hitting you with its delightful idiosyncrasies... This is, perhaps, the most musically quirky thing to emerge from France since Christophe Godin's batty sonic shenanigans with both Mörglbl and Gnô."
Scarlet Records, 9th November 2018
"What's this? A new Sadist album? Yes, please! A new Hitchcockian themed Sadist album? Definitely, yes, please! One of the finest post-Schuldiner progressive death metal bands out there."
Kingcrow: 'The Persistence'
Sensory, 7th September 2018
"...it seems 'The Persistence' is something of a fresh start. And that's right there to be heard in the new songs, albeit...still anchored in the Kingcrow charisma and melancholic allure that's always made their music so emotionally appealing."
The Sea Within: 'The Sea Within'
Inside Out, 22nd June 2018
"...be it a fully-fledged new band, a sporadic side project, or a one-off, ephemeral collaboration, I know not, but let's all enjoy the here and now with, what is, a rather delicious record."
Mother Feather: 'Constellation Baby'
Metal Blade, 2nd November 2018
"If the genesis of songs did indeed start life as being born from the dark recesses of Courtney's psyche, then they evidently transcended their desolate origins to be transformed into a glorious and mutual rock catharsis amongst her musical comrades."
Orphaned Land: 'Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs'
Century Media, 26th January 2018
"...a work of exotic prog wonderment, compelling emotional beauty and creative ingenuity... Mystical, majestic and musically magnificent, 'Unsung Prophets...' is near perfection."
Manticora: 'To Kill To Live To Kill'
Vicisolum Records, 3rd August 2018
"...a fine reminder that metal can be passionate and exhilarating by appropriating and reshaping tried and tested genre idioms in the right way, without succumbing to regurgitated, bland pastiche."