At long last, here is my Best of 2018. My criteria is simple: These are the albums that I listened to the most during the past year, had the biggest impact on me, and that I’m still listening to now!
Seek and Strike – April 13, 2018
No? Nekrogoblikon didn’t make your year-end list? Not only is “Welcome To Bonkers” a honkin’ good time of a melodeath album, but Nekrogoblikon is also the only band that I know of that has an actual, real life, living Goblin as its mascot. For extra fun during all metal seasons, go follow John Goblikon on Instagram now!
9.) Alice In Chains – ‘Rainier Fog’
BMG – August 24, 2018
Ever since Alice In Chains’ triumphant return with “Black Gives Way To Blue,” the fanfare seems to have died off a bit. “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here” followed up, and although a decent record in its own right, it kind of just “exists” at this point. So Jerry Cantrell and company put out an even darker, off-tempo and sludgier record with “Rainier Fog.” It worked, with the album charting and earning the band a Grammy nomination.
8.) Watain – ‘Trident Wolf Eclipse’
Century Media Records – January 5, 2018
“Trident Wolf Eclipse,” the sixth album from Swedish black metal pack, Watain is an all out return to its traditional and black metal beginnings. According to frontman Erik Danielsson, the album title should be read as three separate words which were chosen to represent symbolic concepts which the band consider central to their music. Or, don’t worry about any kind of symbolism and just let this fucking album rip!
Napalm Records – September 28, 2018
Geesh, more wolves? I guess if Ozzy had reissued “Bark At The Moon” it’d be on this list also?
Finnish band Wolfheart’s “Constellation of the Black Light” put the extreme metal scene on notice. With one hand in primitive black metal, Viking metal and melodic death of the late ’90s, and another grasping a bouquet of romantic doom, not only is the musicianship at an unexpected level, but Wolfheart also has the uncanny ability to write a fucking earworm of a song and a melody—epic, beautiful and heavy as hell.
Napalm Records – April 6, 2018
It’s seems unimaginable, but Kamelot has existed for more than 25 years, survived a change in its vocalist and arguably is enjoying the most prolific period of its career. The band’s popularity has been on the rise thanks to the genre-defining albums “Silverthorn” and “Haven.” “The Shadow Theory” lived up to these albums and took the band to soaring heights within the realms of symphonic and power metal.
Loma Vista Records, June 1, 2018
“Prequelle” propelled Tobias Forge (or rather Cardinal Copia) and his Swedish ghouls in Ghost to arena-rock superstardom. With hit singles boasting huge riffs and choruses, Ghost seized 2018 as the biggest rock band and had the year’s biggest rock hit with “Rats.”
Nuclear Blast Records – October 19, 2018
As if the legacy of Sepultura and Soulfly hadn’t already had Max Cavalera’s name carved into stone in the halls of the metal gods, the past few years have been a celebration of Max, his pioneering style, and underlying influence on bands old and new. So the newest Soulfly record, “Ritual,” doesn’t even have to be great; it just have to live up to the legacy. And, of course, it does.
3.) Parkway Drive – ‘Reverence’
Epitaph – May 4, 2018
“Reverence,” the sixth album from Australia’s Parkway Drive is its best and most complete yet. Once just a promising, up-and-coming metalcore band, Parkway Drive showed hints of what was to come on its previous record, “Ire.” “Reverence” is a cinematic album with themes of death and religion that sees the band further distance themselves from metalcore into a full-on heavy metal powerhouse.
Napalm Records – October 26, 2018
Norway’s Sirenia, masterminded by founding member Morten Veland (ex-Tristania), is now on its fourth female lead vocalist. But not only has the band found its best one yet in French singer and former Sirenia Choir member Emmanuelle Zoldan, but it also has just composed its ninth and strongest album to date in “Arcane Astral Aeons.” Along with Delain’s “Moonbathers,” Tarja’s “The Shadow Self” and Epica’s “The Holographic Principle” (all released in 2016), this is equal to and the best album of the subgenre since.
1.) Behemoth – ‘I Loved You At Your Darkest’
Metal Blade Records – October 5, 2018
“I Loved You At Your Darkest” is not your typical or expected album title from a blackened death metal band, but then again, Nergal and Behemoth have been doing everything but the expected on its last two albums. Building on the organic nature of “The Satanist,” “ILYAYD” adds more than a splash of blood and rock ‘n roll into its all out desecration of old J.C. For me, personally, I got a Danzig vibe at times with the occult nature and visuals of the accompanying music videos. But diehard death metal fans need not worry, there’s still more than enough extremity to satisfy.