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The MMA Best of 2018 - Staff Picks

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adg211288 View Drop Down
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    Posted: 09 Jan 2019 at 3:21am
Metal Music Archives
Best of 2018
The Staff Picks

As a forerunner to our annual best of year presentation (vote now) MMA staff members select their highlights from the year just gone. This list is not intended to represent an official ranking; the albums have simply been ordered by the number of comments left by MMA admins and collaborators.



Judas Priest - Firepower

Heavy Metal

The British heavy metal legends. In spite of the odd dip in quality, their back catalog from Rocka Rolla to Painkiller is an essential part of any metalhead's collection. Since then, it's been a bit up and down with 2005's Angel Of Retribution standing out as the post-Painkiller highlight, but no more. Against all expectations, 2018's Firepower brings us the closest we're ever likely to get again to classic Judas Priest. It's without a doubt a welcome treat in a year that, for me at least, hasn't actually been as lucrative with new releases as the previous. 

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams

Judas priest have rarely released a bad album - I even loved the controversial Nostradamus but with Firepower they have gone the extra mile and released their best collection of songs since at least Painkiller. From start to finish this album screams classic heavy metal!

- Nightfly, Admin, Death Metal, Doom/Stoner/Drone Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal Teams

Judas Priest has gone through a number of stylistic changes over the years. Firepower, the band’s latest and eighteenth release almost feels like its revisiting past glories in turn. While that makes much of the music seem almost familiar on first listening, each of the songs on the album stand strong in their own right and each sounds modern. After 50 years in the business, Judas Priest have proven that they very much remain relevant today.

- Bosh66, Admin, Sludge Metal, Metalcore/Hardcore Punk Teams

Picking up where Painkiller left off, Judas Priest came to their senses after failed attempts to reinvent themselves as masters of progressive art metal. Getting back to what they do best, namely crank out anthem metal oriented 80s sounding classics, Fire Power finds the Priest in top form once again.

- siLLy puPPy, Collaborator, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal Team

Judas Priest is one of those bands who, in my view, very rarely does wrong. I even have an appreciate for the sometimes frowned upon albums like Point of Entry or Jugulator. Their latest release is Firepower, a firing on all cylinders heavy metal release that seems undoubtedly to go down as their best in almost thirty years.

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams

Can you go wrong with Judas Priest? Well, okay yeah, they did release a real doozy called Demolition once, but we can forgive the that when they can still produce albums like Firepower, over forty years since releasing their debut album. For me this is only the second best JP album since Painkiller, Angel of Retribution being the best, but that doesn't diminish the achievement.

- TheHeavyMetalCat, Collaborator, Black Metal, Death Metal Teams


Haken - Vector

Progressive Metal

Is it fair to say that Haken is now the British progressive metal act? I think it is. While first album Aquarius is one that for me hasn't yet been beaten, Haken have continued to impress across what is now five studio albums, of which Vector is the latest. Like any prog act worth its salt, Haken shakes things up a bit with every release. This one sounds a lot more modern than they ever have before, even sprinkling in some djent elements, especially when comparing to the 70's influenced The Mountain and the 80's influenced Affinity. 

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams

Vector is the latest release from British prog metal band Haken, and it’s a belter. Now on its fifth full-length release, Haken have consistently delivered and Vector is as strong as any release to date. The music is technical, complex and aggressive at times and moody and reflective at others, and is overlaid with lush keyboards and melodic vocals. This really is a good heavy prog metal release, and the best from the genre in 2018 to these ears.

- Bosh66, Admin, Sludge Metal, Metalcore/Hardcore Punk Teams

It's fair to say that Haken has been a major name here on MMA right from their early days, so it's hardly surprising that a new release from them is something that several of us still talk about. It's actually hard to believe that Vector is already the band's fifth album since the 2010 debut Aquarius. It's even harder still to believe that every one of those records carries a unique identity. That's the mark of an excellent band, progressive or otherwise. I don't think it's overkill to consider Haken this generation's Dream Theater at this point. 

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams

Album number five from Haken is a big improvement over 2016's Affinity. They'd always delivered for me up until that point but most of that album was uninspiring to my ears. Thankfully they've more than made up for it on Vector coming back heavier and with more jaw dropping complex moments without losing sight of the importance of great riffs and songs.

- Nightfly, Admin, Death Metal, Doom/Stoner/Drone Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal Teams

A more modern sounding Haken rears it's proggy head on Vector after the band played around with retro influences on their last two albums. A band that's always appealed in equal measure to the metal and prog crowds, this one really feels like it's one of the headbangers.

- TheHeavyMetalCat, Collaborator, Black Metal, Death Metal Teams


Lovebites - Clockwork Immortality

Power Metal

After their debut became not only my biggest surprise of 2017, but also my favourite album (one that has probably been more heavily in rotation this year than any 2018 release I've purchased), I've waited eagerly for them to follow it up. An excellent EP earlier in the year provided a bit of tide over, but fortunately the band hasn't slowed down or lost anything now that we finally have Clockwork Immortality released. Drawing on elements of speed and symphonic metal, this is melodic power metal done right. The rest of the world could learn a thing or three from this Japanese band. 

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams

In a scene dominated by J-pop influences and often lacking in pure metal content, Lovebites managed to blow many away last year with their debut Awakening from Abyss, where they unleashed a surprisingly heavy, riff filled album, featuring some stunning guitar work and powerful vocals. They've since followed that up with a four track EP titled Battle Against Damnation, which managed to be equally impressive, and now with their third release in just over a year, Clockwork Immortality, the band continues to impress, with their mix of traditional Euro power metal, classic speed metal, with slight heavy metal influences, as well as some symphonic touches, one epic ballad filled with amazing guitar solos, and just a tiny bit of J-pop to give their music that distinct Japanese feel. I was already blown away by the band going into this release, and if anything this one may be their best yet!

- DippoMagoo, Collaborator, Power/Neoclassical Metal, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal, Symphonic/Gothic Metal Teams

Though sadly delayed in the UK, at least for physical copies, until 2019, fortunately Spotify exists to make sure Lovebites doesn't get left out in a best of 2018 vote, because they sure deserve to be there. Perhaps a bit more polished compared to their debut, but still with speed and even thrash metal elements in evidence, I'm not sure there's a new power metal band out there that can touch this one. Not bad for a group I'm sure everyone thought was going to be another j-pop bothering modern power metal act. 

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams

There are good bands and the there are great bands. Then there are bands like Lovebites, who manage to floor me in a way that only the true masters can. Their brand of hard edged yet melodic power metal hits the spot in the way that only the likes of Blind Guardian and Helloween usually can. Clockwork Immortality is as such essential listening for anyone who claims to like the genre.

- TheHeavyMetalCat, Collaborator, Black Metal, Death Metal Teams


MaYaN - Dhyana

Death Metal

MaYaN, who these days are less a band and more of a collective, are one group that gives me a real hard time when I have my reviewer cap on. Having loved their debut album Quarterpast and awarded it five stars, they've managed to continually exceed expectations and just keep going one better with each release, Dhyana, their third, being no exception. This is one of the most epic metal album's you'll hear all year.

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams

Mayan have always been a complex band, and now with Marcela Bovio officially added to the band, they have six vocalists in their lineup, with all of six of them being given a ton of space on their newest release, Dhyana. Their albums tend to be very challenging, as they contain tracks that range from intense symphonic death metal, to opera, as well as some very progressive arrangements, and most tracks feature many different vocal styles, so it can be tough to fully make sense of everything on just one or two listens, but every MaYan release to date has been equal parts challenging and rewarding, and Dhyana is certainly no exception, as it has many stunning moments, and is simply a perfectly put together and fully satisfying album from start to finish, bringing their streak of masterpieces to 3/3!

- DippoMagoo, Collaborator, Power/Neoclassical Metal, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal, Symphonic/Gothic Metal Teams

Sometimes I'm not sure if Mayan knows what they really want to be. Since day one they've tried to associated themselves with death metal but when you actually listen to their music it's unlike any death metal you may have previously heard, even among the so called symphonic death metal bands. Due to their membership it's easy to just think of them as more growl-heavy version of Epica. But whatever they are, they delivered their best album yet in Dhyana.

- TheHeavyMetalCat, Collaborator, Black Metal, Death Metal Teams

It might be Mark Jansen's main band that plays with the word 'epic' in their name, but in many ways it's MaYaN who goes one better in the game of creating epic metal music. While the band has always associated themselves with death metal, on third album Dhyana they've moved away from this root even more, creating something which is more like a progressive/symphonic power/death metal hybrid. Power and death metal aren't obvious bedfellows, but don't knock this until you've heard it. 

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams


Esoctrilihum - Pandaemorthium (Forbidden Formulas to Awaken the Blind Sovereigns of Nothingness) 

Atmospheric Black Metal

Despite it's mouthful of a title, Esotrillihum's second album (the first of two released in 2018) is actually quite an easy one to digest. Slightly turning away from the almost Mare Cognitum-like sound of last year's debut record Mystic Echo From A Funeral Dimension by infusing a hefty dose of death metal into the mix, this is atmospheric black/death metal that somehow finds a working balance between two worlds of extreme metal. It's not to be missed. 

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams

Esoctrilihum, until recently one of the most obscure acts around, have quite changed their musical approach. The French solo project offered us in "Mystic Echo From a Funeral Dimension" a very solid and eerie atmospheric black metal sound, but "Pandaemorthium" is different. This monumental blend of technical black/death metal with atmospheric elements is an extremely compelling work filled with sheer darkness, though a little overlong and somewhat monotonous. Nevertheless, the effort put into this album is titanic, and it's a must-listen for all fans of the genre.

- Sisslith, Collaborator, Power/Neoclassical Metal, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal Teams

Of the two albums released by France's Esoctrilihum in 2018, I was only able to get around to picking up the first of the two so far. While I was impressed greatly by 2017 debut Mystic Echo From a Funeral Dimension, the work could be said as somewhat derivative in the atmospheric black metal genre. In 2018 the project found it's own sound and is now perhaps closer to death metal than black. The results are an immense chunk of heavy, yet still somewhat atmospheric, music.

- TheHeavyMetalCat, Collaborator, Black Metal, Death Metal Teams

When this French one man black metal act first showed up on the scene in 2017 with Mystic Echo From a Funeral Dimension, it was already an impressive project, though many parallels could easily be drawn between it and lablemate Mare Cognitum, right down to using the same cover artist as did the other's popular Phobos Monolith. With Pandaemorthium, musician Asthâghul has stepped out of that shadow in a big way. It's still evident where the project started, but now it has much more of it's own feel and identity; perhaps a slightly more death metal one but still very black metal at heart.

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams


Immortal - Northern Chaos Gods

Black Metal

With Abbath out of the picture, Immortal returns with Demonaz now fully at the helm again, as both guitarist and as vocalist. Is this March of the Norse Part II? Far from it. Unexpectedly ripping Abbath's 2016 solo band effort a new one and also bettering their own last album All Shall Fall, Northern Chaos Gods seems to be a far stronger album than it has a right to be, considering Abbath's distinct growl has always been a part of their signature sound and let's be fair, they are a bit less unique for it's loss.

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams

Black metal masters may not deviate signficantly from one album to the next but are surprisingly consistent. With the loss of Abbath it seemed the band was doomed to mediocrity but on Northern Chaos Gods, they return to a more caustic and aggressive sound not experienced since their origins.

- siLLy puPPy, Collaborator, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal Team

I want to say that this album shouldn't exist. For me, Immortal should always be Abbath and Demonaz together. Even when he was unable to play guitar due to acute tendinopathy he was still there behind the scenes, writing the lyrics. But now it's just him and Horgh (drums). He's got his playing skill back thanks to surgery, but Abbath is gone. It doesn't seem right. So yes, I want to see that Northern Chaos Gods shouldn't exist. Except I really can't, because the record against all expectations turned out so damn good! Well done Demonaz, you proved me wrong.

- TheHeavyMetalCat, Collaborator, Black Metal, Death Metal Teams

While it's all too clear that they could use some fresh lyrical inspiration – the barrel of Blashyrkh being long since scraped – there can be no denying that Immortal have produced one of their most fierce sounding records of their career in Northern Chaos Gods. The absence of Abbath is felt at first but quickly forgotten as the album tears your eardrums to shreds. 

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams


Augury - Illusive Golden Age

Technical Death Metal

They may have made us wait a long time for it, their last album Fragmentary Evidence being released way back in 2009, but Canadian death metallers Augury really delivered the goods in the form of Illusive Golden Age. An intense yet progressive and technical record with a title that seems almost tongue in cheek (had they been producing albums this past nine years, this may well be the golden age of Augury), this was one release that did prove worth the wait. Just don't leave it another nine years okay lads?

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams

Some bands really make you wait a long time for a new album. Leaving it five years between their first two was bad enough, but then it took them nearly a whole decade to come up with third one Illusive Golden Age. While I do think it is fair to say that they return with a sound that is more stripped back compared to what they were doing previously, the end result is still a pummelling progressive/technical death metal album that's far more than a simply satisfactory follow-up. 

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams

It's lucky that their first two albums were just so damn good, otherwise we all may well have forgotten who Augury are through the long wait they put us through to get a follow-up to Fragmentary Evidence, rather than waiting for it with baited breath. Ultimately the end result is actually the weakest of their three albums, but that isn't a criticism since it's still leagues ahead of most of the playing field.

- TheHeavyMetalCat, Collaborator, Black Metal, Death Metal Teams


Uada - Cult of a Dying Sun

Melodic Black Metal

Uada is a band that seems to continually get compared unfavourably to Mgła. To my ears this is one of the biggest injustices in the modern black metal scene, as not only do Uada exist in a completely different black metal niche to the other band, they're also the more interesting act. Having started strong with Devoid of Light in 2016, Cult of a Dying Sun sees them continuing their brand of atmospheric tinged melodic black metal, but this time even more polished and with a much more substantial album to boot (the debut not even reaching 35 minutes). It's a perfect jumping on point for what I consider to one of the most interesting melodic black metal acts since Windir. 

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams

Uada made some great first impressions a couple of years ago when they made their debut with Devoid of Light. Like many black metal albums it was actually quite a short affair: five songs and not even a full forty minutes of music. If their debut had a fault, it's that even with the quality over quantity argument it could have stood to be longer. Luckily they've fixed that on their second release Cult of a Dying Sun, with the album this time being over twenty minutes longer, with the quality remaining on the same level as the previous. 

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams

I'm very fond of the debut of US melodic black metal act Uada, Devoid of Light. To me that album is a true gem of the black metal genre. Follow-up album Cult of a Dying Sun brings more of what made the debut great to the table and in greater measures. You know that can't be a bad thing.

- TheHeavyMetalCat, Collaborator, Black Metal, Death Metal Teams


Panopticon - The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness Parts I & II

Atmospheric Black Metal (Part I) / Non-Metal (Part II)

Though released as two separate albums on most mediums, Panopticon's sole musician Austin Lunn has been quite clear that the two albums should really be played as one work, in spite of their greatly different styles. If anything the only reason that the split seems to exist is for the convenience of those who would not appreciate the very un-metallic folksy second part and vice versa. Lunn knows his own music though and is quite right that both are required to get the full experience that starts off with familiar atmospheric black metal ground and gradually moves through genres like post-rock, bluegrass, dark folk and Americana. 

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams

Recorded over the course of three years, this near two hour long two part album could well be the pinnacle of what atmospheric black metal solo project Panopticon can achieve. It certainly seems a statement to that effect by the artist at the very list, covering all the basis of what Panopticon is about. In truth though, it's just the latest in an ever growing line of excellent releases, all of which can claim to be his best work in one way or another. Oddly, the non-metal second half actually proves more interesting as something we haven't heard so much of from the artist. 

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams

While not his strongest release, a title which for me has to still go to Kentucky (2012), Panopticon's latest double opus will surely go down as one of the most ambitious releases known to metalkind. For many of us only the first part, the black metal part, may prove of interest but I really don't wish to sell the second part short, where musician Austin Lunn explores his other influences. We actually need more black metal acts like this who show their influences off, so that we might finally silence the naysayers within our own metal scene and beyond.

- TheHeavyMetalCat, Collaborator, Black Metal, Death Metal Teams


Lovebites - Battle Against Damnation

Power Metal

I originally wasn't going to mention any EP's among my 2018 favourites, but it's so damn hard not to include Battle Against Damnation by Lovebites, in spite of the fact they've also released a full-length this year that, much like their 2017 debut, sits right at the top of my yearly album list. Battle Against Damnation contains four tracks that aren't on either full-length and it's to any fan's detriment to skip over it and go straight to the album. Everything that makes Lovebites such a strong power metal act is present here, in fact more so than on either of their albums as this EP showcases a neoclassical metal influence that hasn't yet been heard in them outside of this release. In spite of it's naturally shorter length, this is still twenty-one minutes of power metal that is just as essential as their album work.

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams

Not long after their widely acclaimed debut album "Awakening From Abyss", LOVEBITES decided to release an absolutely tip-top follow-up EP full of killer riffs, soaring vocals, perfect bass and drum lines and superb guitar solos. These five ladies are pure energy and virtuosity.

- Sisslith, Collaborator, Power/Neoclassical Metal, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal Teams

There isn't really much I can say about Lovebites's 2018 EP that I haven't already said about their studio album from the same year, Clockwork Immortality. Suffice to say that there are four killer tracks on here that aren't on either of their studio albums (unlike their first EP with the debut), so it's as much a must own as the full-length album releases.

- TheHeavyMetalCat, Collaborator, Black Metal, Death Metal Teams


Orion's Reign - Scores of War

Power Metal

Orion's Reign started out as a solid, but flawed power metal in the mid 2000's, before seemingly disappearing for a while, showing up once every year with a fun Christmas carol cover, and then disappearing once again. With the addition of vocalist Daniel Vasconcelos in 2015, the band finally took a step forward, and now in 2018 they've at last released their second full length album, Scores of War, and it's an epic symphonic power metal masterpiece, which brings classic Rhapsody to mind, except it's generally much catchier, more accessible, a bit more diverse and it happens to not have any narration at all, thank god! On a more serious note, though, it has everything, from epic speedy power metal, to an amazing ballad, to a hard hitting track with Tim "Ripper" Owens", to a beautiful, slightly folk infused track featuring Minniva (who participated on their last few Christmas tracks, as well.) All in all, it's an incredible album, and one of my favorite symphonic power metal albums of the last decade!

- DippoMagoo, Collaborator, Power/Neoclassical Metal, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal, Symphonic/Gothic Metal Teams

Eschewing the cheese of much power metal and taking a surprise turn after a series of Christmas related singles, Greece's Orion's Reign proves that symphonic power metal can be sophisticated and majestic much like the early classics of Helloween and Gamma Ray.

- siLLy puPPy, Collaborator, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal Team

With Scores of War, Orion's Reign delivers a lesson in how to make an epic and fun symphonic power metal album the right way. Are we sure they aren't Rhapsody of Fire in disguise? No? Well, they definitely sound like Greece's answer to the famous Italian band.

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams


Metal Church Damned If You Do

Heavy Metal

When Mike Howe rejoined Metal Church for the 2016 album XI, his first with the band since 1993's hideously covered Hanging in the Balance, it was certainly a big deal for metalheads worldwide. For many XI quickly become the best Metal Church album in years. For me though, latest release Damned If You Do goes one better. With it's cover artwork invoking that of their 1984 self-titled debut, with the exception of carrying the voice of Howe instead of the late David Wayne, it comes close to having the sound to match, finally again channelling the 80's US Power Metal sound that the band started their career with. 

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams

Well this was unexpected, even after the excellent Mike Howe reunion album XI: Metal Church's best album since Howe's debut with the group, Blessing in Disguise, from way back in 1989. Heavier and more aggressive than XI, Damned If You Do is the most essential slab of heavy metal/USPM to be released in 2018. You won't be damned if you've bought it, only if you don't.

- TheHeavyMetalCat, Collaborator, Black Metal, Death Metal Teams

Is Damned If You Do the best album of Metal Church since the eighties? For me the answer is clear. Yes. Yes it damn well is. If you like heavy metal just get yourself a copy already; there really isn't much more that needs to be said. 

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams


Аркона - Храм(Arkona - Khram)

Pagan Black Metal

Russian folk metal act Arkona has always had a grounding in black metal at the base of their sound, but on latest release Khram they really bought that influence to the fore. While still folksy enough to keep fans of past releases happy, Khram is much more the pagan black metal release than anything the band has released before. An experiment not just in shifting (to a closely related) genre, but also in crafting mostly long songs that can border on progressive metal, it shows, like Yav before it, that Arkona is no longer content to play things safe with their folk metal formula. But where Yav in hindsight seems like a stepping stone, Khram is firmly on the other side of the river. And that's why it's their most exciting album since Goi, Rode, goi! almost a decade earlier.

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams

Folk metal and me aren't exactly best friends, so when Arkona, who I consider one of the more interesting bands of the genre, were said to have this time around made a pagan black metal album, a genre I do quite enjoy, I was definitely intrigued. The result is something that can and still will by many be called folk metal, but that aspect of the band is a lot more restrained here. While some of the song-writing may prove too drawn out for all listeners, for me it's the first Arkona record I've actually bought.

- TheHeavyMetalCat, Collaborator, Black Metal, Death Metal Teams

Khram will probably go down as one of the biggest metal surprises of 2018 given how well known Arkona is in the folk metal scene. Of course there are still just enough folk elements here to call it that, but what we really have in Khram is the group's first true black metal album. The influence of the genre has always been there in Arkona's music, but before it's always just been a building block for the folk. Personally I still prefer several of their older albums to this one, but Khram sure does providing a refreshing change of pace. 

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams


Burning Witches - Hexenhammer

Heavy Metal

I have to confess that Hexenhammer, the second album from Swiss all female metal act Burning Witches was a little disappointing at first after their debut, but this was mainly due to me having expectations of it that clearly weren't in line with the band's vision of their music. Where I was expecting them to more heavily delve into the aggressive power metal side of their music this time, an expectation only fuelled by lead track Executed, they instead went the other way and largely focused on classic heavy metal. There is of course nothing wrong with this and few listens done the line the album reveals itself to be a very worthy second offering from the ladies; more polished in many respects from song-writing to production, with enough of the harder power metal parts from the debut still remaining to provide variety. 

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams

Since the days when I first listened to metal when it was all just heavy metal it has branched off into much more extreme sub-genres many of which I enjoy but sometimes you want nothing more than some plain old school heavy metal, the way it used to be. Of course it has to have the riffs, the songs, the hooks but fortunately Burning Witches have them in spades. Hexenhammer, their second album proves they're no flash in the pan - more traditional metal than the power metal leanings of their debut but all the better for it to my ears.

- Nightfly, Admin, Death Metal, Doom/Stoner/Drone Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal Teams

I consider Burning Witches, a Swiss all female metal band, to be among my best discoveries of 2017. Their sound on their debut could be described as sounding like the female lovechild of Judas Priest and Grave Digger. On follow-up Hexenhammer these vibes have somewhat subsided, especially through the lower amount of power metal elements used, but even though the similarity to the other bands was initially a draw for me, it's no less of an impressive heavy metal album. 

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams


Nachtlieder - Lynx

Black Metal

Female solo artist Nachtlieder's last album The Female of the Species proved to be a dark horse. What initially appeared to be simply a solid black metal release turned into an album that kept drawing me back time after time again. With Lynx musician Dagny Susanne hasn't seen fit to mess with her formula, but has certainly gone from strength to strength as a songwriter, honing her craft to produce her best album yet. 

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams

Fact: the black metal genre is now flooded with solo projects. Second fact: a lot of them aren't anything special. Third fact: Nachtlieder isn't one of those ones. Lynx is this project's third album. It's a rarer example of a female solo black metal project, but one where the musician isn't relying on her gender to stand out and that's exactly how it should be. One thing that Nachtlieder has going for it in the whole solo project field is that the drums (performed by a session musician) are real, not programmed, something that has become far too common with the use of modern technology in creating music. And it terms of the actual genre, everything's done right. It's shocking that more people aren't picking up on this act.

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams


Dire Peril - The Extraterrestrial Compendium

Power Metal

Dire Peril is a band whose music I have encountered before with their EP Queen of the Galaxy. That was however four years ago and I'd since lost track of the band. Apparently they released another EP since then but for me, their debut full-length The Extraterrestrial Compendium is one of those albums that crept up on me. Some things have changed since I first heard them: The line-up has changed with the addition of Judicator singer John Yelland and they've nerfed a lot of the thrash metal they used to have in them, resulting in a more dominant power metal sound, but still drawing on thrash, heavy and even progressive metal. Lyrically fuelled by sci-fi movies and featuring a guest performance by none other than Ayreon's Arjen Anthony Lucassen, this is not one to be skipped. 

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams

Dire Peril started out as a fun, but rather flawed power/thrash band, putting out three EP's which were good musically, but brought down slightly by some inconsistent vocals. Before working on a full length release, guitarist and main songwriter Jason Ashcraft brought in Judicator vocalist John Yelland, and the two (along with some guests) have put together an epic masterpiece of varied power metal, with each song being based on a classic Sci-Fi film. The release has a very diverse sound, with a mix Iced Earth style power/thrash, some Maiden infused heavy metal, a couple of ballads and some slight progressive nods, with the most obvious coming on the stunning closing track, "Journey Beyond the Stars", which features Ayreon mastermind Arjen Lucassen. For an album I expected little from, it sure turned out amazing, and is easily my biggest surprise of the year!

- DippoMagoo, Collaborator, Power/Neoclassical Metal, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal, Symphonic/Gothic Metal Teams


Terrorizer - Caustic Attack

Deathgrind

Powerful deathgrind release by one of the seminal artists in the genre. Only Sandoval is left from the original lineup, but that doesn't matter much. This sounds unmistakably like Terrorizer.

- UMUR, Retired Admin & Collaborator, Errors & Omissions Team

This is the fourth instalment from a highly influential band which never managed to record an album in it’s original incarnation. Extreme metal, grindcore, deathgrind, or whatever other label you want to slap on this band, simply doesn’t get much better than this.

- Vim Fuego, Admin, Death Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal, Grindcore, Various Artists Teams


Seventh WonderTiara

Progressive Metal

Coming after an 8 year wait, during which vocalist Tommy Karevik recorded three albums with Kamelot, fans were finally treated to the long awaited follow up to The Great Escape, which along with Mercy Falls, stands as one of the absolute best prog albums of all time. Following up such amazing albums was always going to be a challenge, but thankfully Seventh Wonder were up to the task, producing another concept album, which feels in part like a spiritual successor to Mercy Falls, containing an epic story with many dramatic moments, as well as some emotional tracks. Musically, the release has a slow build, before an emotional climax in the middle, and then the band goes all out during the last few tracks, for some of their best work ever. All of this is further highlighted by one of Tommy's career best performances, which helps make the album well worth the eight year wait!

- DippoMagoo, Collaborator, Power/Neoclassical Metal, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal, Symphonic/Gothic Metal Teams

Seventh Wonder is one of those acts that I'm been aware of for quite a while but can't honestly say that I'm even slightly familiar with their music. Prior to the release of Tiara I believe my experience with them begins and ends with hearing Mercy Falls once, though I do recall really enjoying that album. This, I acknowledge, is to my own detriment, so Tiara, their first album since 2010, seemed a good place to get reacquainted with them. I wasn't wrong.

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams


Jungle Rot - Jungle Rot

Death Metal

Jungle Rot has always been solid, but decidedly second tier. Until now. All things being equal, this album should push them into death metal's top echelons.

- Vim Fuego, Admin, Death Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal, Grindcore, Various Artists Teams

I had to include Jungle Rot as it hit me immediately. They've released good albums before but this is their best yet. An album of instantly memorable and hook laden riffs with plenty of groove, seemingly giving its all on the first listen could soon wear thin, but such is the quality of these songs they just get better and better with each play.

- Nightfly, Admin, Death Metal, Doom/Stoner/Drone Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal Teams


Hamferð - Tamsins Likam

Funeral Doom Metal

Funeral doom is not always the easiest of genres to listen too but Hamferð 's unique take on the genre is refreshing. This album is epic and extremely heavy, brilliantly played and topped off with Jón Aldará's dramatic vocal delivery. 

- Nightfly, Admin, Death Metal, Doom/Stoner/Drone Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal Teams

While I don't claim an extensive knowledge on the funeral doom metal style, I must say that Hamferð have intrigued me with their seemingly unique take on the ultra slow doom genre. A band to watch.

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams


Visigoth - Conqueror's Oath

Heavy Metal

I haven't heard such a fine traditional heavy metal album in a while. "Conqueror's Oath" is entirely relentless and anthemic, with a top-notch first half. The lyrical content and epic themes will inevitably make you move your feet and sing its infectious choruses. VISIGOTH are definitely a band to watch in the forthcoming years. 

- Sisslith, Collaborator, Power/Neoclassical Metal, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal Teams

A very solid slab of epic heavy metal from this US band, who also released an impressive debut in 2015. With heavy metal having so many greats from decades ago that remain most of our go-to bands it's easy to forget that the genre still turns out acts of this calibre.

- TheHeavyMetalCat, Collaborator, Black Metal, Death Metal Teams


Pestilence - Hadeon

Death Metal

Hadeon is Pestilence best release since their comeback, but I wouldn't call it excellent on all parameters. A nice technical/progressive death metal release though.

- UMUR, Retired Admin & Collaborator, Errors & Omissions Team

Whilst in no way as raw as their classic 1989 album Consuming Impulse, Hadeon is at least Pestilence's most straight death metal album for years. Of course they don't ditch the technical aspects altogether, there's still a healthy dose of dissonance too but Hadeon focuses on great songs with loads of groove making it my favourite of theirs since they reformed.

- Nightfly, Admin, Death Metal, Doom/Stoner/Drone Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal Teams


Alphakill - Degrees of Manipulation

Technical Thrash Metal

Fairly technical old school thrash metal, by a band who also understand the importance of melody and shout-along choruses.

- UMUR, Retired Admin & Collaborator, Errors & Omissions Team

There's not exactly been a deluge of great thrash metal in 2018 so I'm very grateful for this really solid second album from Alphakill. Whilst these guys seem to be influenced by old school thrash like Forbidden and Exodus they add a more technical edge with a sympathetic modern sounding production and never lose sight of the fact that at the end of the day it all comes down to great songs and riffs. 

- Nightfly, Admin, Death Metal, Doom/Stoner/Drone Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal Teams


Esoctrilihum - Inhüma

Atmospheric Black Metal

As if one mammoth album of atmospheric black/death metal wasn't enough for one year in 2018, France's Esoctrilihum just had to go and deliver a second equally mammoth album later the same year as Pandaemorthium (Forbidden Formulas to Awaken the Blind Sovereigns of Nothingness), the much shorter titled Inhüma. It proves no less of a mouthful of an album though when it's songs carry titles such as Exhortathyon Od Saths Scriptum and Lörth Volth Lynhnzael (Lost in the Storm of Itshka Blood). It's hard to know exactly what Esoctrilihum is going on about with this one, but one thing is for sure: it's an equally powerful record. It's hard to call which one of the two 2018 releases is the better one. 

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams

Pretty much picking up where Pandaemorthium left off earlier in the year, Inhüma very much feels like a second part to what Esoctrilihum started on the second album. It's very similar in style, though perhaps has an even more claustrophobic black/death metal sound than last time. Is it better than the previous album? Possibly, possibly not. It's that close of a call. Just buy both, you won't be disappointed. 

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams


Pure Wrath - Sempiternal Wisdom

Atmospheric Black Metal

While neither it nor the debut album Ascetic Eventide can really be said to be breaking the atmospheric black metal genre any new ground, the one man band Pure Wrath certainly knows have to make atmospheric black metal music the right way. For me, this second effort Sempiternal Wisdom is a case of being more of the same and as such doesn't manage to make as much of an impact as the debut, which is one of my favourite atmospheric black metal debuts for some time, but that just means it's still better than a lot of work being released from the genre. 

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams

One of the most impressive newer atmospheric black metal acts, Indonesia's Pure Wrath delivers a second dose of six tracks (via a split appearance) to follow-up the excellent debut Ascetic Eventide. Sempiternal Wisdom shows no sign that the first one was a fluke. 

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams


Sacral Rage - Beyond Celestial Echoes

Technical Thrash Metal

Sacral Rage produced a debut album in 2015 called Illusions In Infinite Void that offered up an intriguing, if not ultimately that satisfying, mix of speed, heavy and progressive metal elements. To say they've streamlined this sound for their follow-up Beyond Celestial Echoes wouldn't be quite right, but they have changed a fair bit. The speed metal sound has evolved into a mix of power and thrash metal, while most of the prog is now just technicality. While perhaps less unusual than progressive speed metal, the band has certainly found their sound in technical power-thrash metal, resulting in a high energy, technically thrashy yet melodic album that's sure to offer something to fans of both power and thrash. 

- adg211288, Admin, Black Metal, Folk/Viking Metal, Power/Neoclassical Metal Teams


Corrosion of Conformity - No Cross No Crown

Stoner Metal

A decent comeback album to the Pepper-fronted COC.

- UMUR, Retired Admin & Collaborator, Errors & Omissions Team


The GrotesqueryThe Lupine Anathema

Death Metal

Another solid old school death metal concept horror themed album release from The Grotesquery. Not their best, but still a decent release.

- UMUR, Retired Admin & Collaborator, Errors & Omissions Team


Powerwolf - The Sacrament of Sin

Power Metal

It would be easy to accuse Powerwolf of sticking to a formula, which features some very energetic and stupidly catchy power metal, mixed with religious themes tied to werewolves, vampires and other supernatural creatures, and for the most part, all of that is true. However, with The Sacrament of Sin, the band has slowed down and mellowed out just a tiny bit, crafting some of their most memorable and unique tracks to date, including the stunning ballad "Where the Wild Wolves Have Gone". Obviously, the release still contains bursts of their usual sound to keep that distinct Powerwolf feel, and overall it may just be their best album yet!

- DippoMagoo, Collaborator, Power/Neoclassical Metal, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal, Symphonic/Gothic Metal Teams


Temperance - Of Jupiter and Moons

Alternative Metal

For their first three albums, Temperance played their own brand of modern melodic metal, including elements of many genres including power metal, symphonic metal, trance metal, melodic metalcore and alternative metal, with everything tied together by the amazing Chiara Tricarico. With her leaving the band, they came up with a new lineup for Of Jupiter and Moons, featuring a vocal duo of Alessia Scolleti and Michele Guaitoli, which has led to some incredibly epic vocal harmonies, which help build on their already strong choruses. Musically, this release features the same mix of genres as their past works, and while it's a bit simplified compared to their previous release, The Earth Embraces Us All, it's still just as diverse, and contains the same balance between big melodic choruses and enough heavy moments to keep the metal edge in tact. Overall, it's every bit as good as their previous release, which was already one of my favorites of the decade!

- DippoMagoo, Collaborator, Power/Neoclassical Metal, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal, Symphonic/Gothic Metal Teams


Sirenia - Arcane Astral Aeons

Gothic Metal

Songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Morten Veland has long been one of my favorites, and so I'm always excited whenever he makes a new album. With Arcane Astral Aeons, he has put together a release that contains some of the classic Sirenia elements, including a decent amount of growls, an overall darker tone, some very heavy extreme sections, slight progressive tendencies and more complex arrangements, as well as having some traces of lighter, catchier and more accessible releases like The 13th Floor and The Enigma of Life. All of this is capped off by another strong performance from Emmanuelle Zoldan, who sounds as diverse and impressive as she did when she debuted on Dim Days of Dolor, and all of this has resulted in one of Morten's best releases to date!

- DippoMagoo, Collaborator, Power/Neoclassical Metal, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal, Symphonic/Gothic Metal Teams


Solborn - Dark Lights of Delirium

Power Metal

Fans of early Nightwish hoping for that band to return to their old sound will probably never have that wish fulfilled, but if they want something similar, they can look to Canadian band Solborn, who have unleashed an epic symphonic power metal masterpiece on their debut, Dark Lights of Delirium! Indeed, it's a very fun, fast paced symphonic power metal album, with a very early Nightwish feel to it, with mostly fast paced songs, though it does have a couple slower tracks in the second half to add some diversity, and it has some progressive arrangements as well. More importantly, it's expertly crafted and performed in every way, with vocalist Mckenna Rae in particular standing out for her excellent, super smooth operatic vocals, which help take the songs to the next level! Overall, an incredible debut, especially coming from Canada, which isn't exactly known for this sort of thing!

- DippoMagoo, Collaborator, Power/Neoclassical Metal, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal, Symphonic/Gothic Metal Teams


Derdian - DNA

Power Metal

Derdian has been one of my favorite Italian bands, ever since I discovered them with their third release, New Era Pt. 3 - The Apocalypse. They play a super melodic brand of power metal, with very diverse songwriting, including elements of symphonic metal, progressive metal and neoclassical metal, and while their first two releases with vocalist Ivan Giannini were already impressive, DNA is probably their best yet, as it has everything from super catchy, melodic power metal tracks like the title track and "Red and White", to slow, but epic tracks like "Hail to the Masters" and "Elohim", and the super hard hitting "False Flag Operation". It's perhaps their most diverse and most addictive release yet!

- DippoMagoo, Collaborator, Power/Neoclassical Metal, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal, Symphonic/Gothic Metal Teams


Alien Weaponry - 

Thrash Metal

The lyrical and musical maturity on show throughout this album belies the tender age of these three young men. “Tu” is a highly impressive debut album. 

- Vim Fuego, Admin, Death Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal, Grindcore, Various Artists Teams


Cripple Bastards - La Fine Cresce da Dentro

Grindcore

Guido and his bastards are back after four years. Still noisy, still angry, still delivering intense grindcore.

- Vim Fuego, Admin, Death Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal, Grindcore, Various Artists Teams


Gaylord - The Black Metal Scene Needs to Be Destroyed

Black Metal

Dismissed as a joke by some, takes a none-too-subtle poke at the fascist and nationalist elements of the black metal scene.

- Vim Fuego, Admin, Death Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal, Grindcore, Various Artists Teams


Neckbeard Deathcamp - White Nationalism is for Basement Dwelling Losers

Black Metal

2018 is the year I started listening to black metal again. Why? Because black metal bands have finally started addressing the diseased part of the genre. Neckbeard Deathcamp is part of the cure.

- Vim Fuego, Admin, Death Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal, Grindcore, Various Artists Teams


Ministry - AmeriKKKant

Industrial Metal

This is Al Jourgenson's big "what the fucKKK?" to his countrymen, who sleepwalked their way into possibly the greatest political shitstorm to ever hit the USA.

- Vim Fuego, Admin, Death Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal, Grindcore, Various Artists Teams


Tu Carne Acumulacion de Cadaveres

Goregrind

The Spanish gore masters came back to life. Of course, they never really died, they just smelled like it.

- Vim Fuego, Admin, Death Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal, Grindcore, Various Artists Teams


Arch Enemy - Råpunk

Hardcore Punk

Arch Enemy bared their teeth and showed off their hardcore roots. This is a short, sharp little EP exploring the heavier side of the band's influences.

- Vim Fuego, Admin, Death Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal, Grindcore, Various Artists Teams


Deicide - Overtures in Blasphemy

Death Metal

Deicide is solid as ever, delivering the expected dose of blasphemy and speedy death metal. There's a lot to be said for reliability.

- Vim Fuego, Admin, Death Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal, Grindcore, Various Artists Teams


Primordial - Exile Amongst the Ruins

Heavy Metal

There's been some heavy debate over exactly what Primordial's latest Exile Amongst the Ruins actually is, but it's difficultly to actually file on a site like Metal Music Archives is one of the reasons why this album is special. It's rare that a band manages to defy genre definitions completely. If I was going to put a label on this album, then I'd have to say it's simply a modern kind of heavy metal, but don't expect it to fit in alongside the kind of acts usually called heavy metal either, while it certainly also has elements of black metal, doom metal and folk metal in there. It's definitely one that has to be heard.

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams


Kayleth - Colossus

Stoner Metal

Kayleth and their second album Colossus stands as one of my most unexpected finds of the year. They play stoner metal, but their twist on the genre is that their psychedelic element draws most heavily on space rock. It's a working formula and has made the band one of only a handful of stoner metal acts that I've returned to after checking them out, since it's not actually a genre that I listen to too much. 

- 666sharon666, Admin, Black Metal, Heavy/Glam Metal & Hard Rock Teams


Tribulation - Down Below

Gothic Metal

Practically no traces of the blackened death metal of earlier releases remain now in Tribulation's sound baring the vocals. They have completed the move into gothic territory that they began on Children Of The Night. Though this can be seen as a sister album to COTN they've streamlined their sound even more. Is it better? Perhaps not, but certainly equal brimming with catchy as hell riffs and loads of melody. With a January release my album of the year came very early.

- Nightfly, Admin, Death Metal, Doom/Stoner/Drone Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal Teams


Revocation - The Outer Ones 

Technical Thrash Metal

Technical death and thrash metal make for a captivating combination of genres and no one does it better than Revocation. They've never released a a bad album but the last three in particular have been flawless. The Outer Ones continues the tradition of jaw dropping musicianship but never at the expense of a great song. 

- Nightfly, Admin, Death Metal, Doom/Stoner/Drone Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal Teams


Unleashed - The Hunt For White Christ

Death Metal

Despite a long run of excellent albums Unleashed have raised the bar slightly and released their best one since Midvinterblot. A band that's been going as long as Unleashed has every excuse to rest on their laurels but they play with the energy of a band half their age on a classic collection of old school death metal.

- Nightfly, Admin, Death Metal, Doom/Stoner/Drone Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal Teams


Black Moth - Anatomical Venus

Stoner Rock

Anatomical Venus whilst I didn’t originally think so is the bands best work so far. A few listens however soon revealed what a compelling collection of songs this is with a few clever and unexpected twists and turns. Stoner rock/metal of  the highest order.

- Nightfly, Admin, Death Metal, Doom/Stoner/Drone Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal Teams


The Skull - The Endless Road Turns Dark

Traditional Doom Metal

Trouble may exist no more but vocalist Eric Wagner's latest band The Skull is more than ample compensation. Album number 2 improves on their debut with a strong collection of traditional doom metal better than anything I've heard all year.

- Nightfly, Admin, Death Metal, Doom/Stoner/Drone Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal Teams


Taphos - Come Ethereal Somberness 

Death Metal

These Danes know that raw organic heaviness is far preferable to processed precision, especially if you’re going for that old school sound. This is raw and ferocious blackened death metal and one of my favourite discoveries of 2018.

- Nightfly, Admin, Death Metal, Doom/Stoner/Drone Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal Teams


Barren Earth - A Complex Of Cages

Melodic Death Metal

There's no better sign of a great album than the fact that I still regularly play it months after it's release, especially as I buy far too many which jostle for my attention. It's the second album in my list to feature the vocal talents of Jón Aldará, the other being Hamferð. Having largely ditched the Opeth influences they've found their own sound and it's their best collection of progressive death metal yet.

- Nightfly, Admin, Death Metal, Doom/Stoner/Drone Metal, Thrash/Speed/Groove Metal Teams


Orphaned Land - Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs

Folk Metal

Inspired by Plato's Allegory of the Cave, ORPHANED LAND have probably released their best album to date. The captivating voice of Kobi Farhi, together with the celestial choir and oriental instrumentation present throught the record, make it a wondrous piece of art. 

The political lyrics are also commendable -and much-needed in this chaotic world in my opinion. Middle Eastern folk metal cannot get better than this.

- Sisslith, Collaborator, Power/Neoclassical Metal, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal Teams


Sinistro - Sangue Cássia

Atmospheric Sludge Metal

The enthralling and seductive voice of Patricia Andrade and the dark, haunting yet doomy atmosphere complement each other perfectly. One-of-a-kind album and highly recommended.

- Sisslith, Collaborator, Power/Neoclassical Metal, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal Teams


Rolo Tomassi – Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It

Mathcore

A reviewer on the old interweb reflected that Eva Spence sings like an angel and growls like Satan, and that dichotomy runs through this album. The latest in a string of excellent releases, Rolo Tomassi’s latest mixes dark and light, sweet and sour, jarring mathcore with melodic post-hardcore and calming ambient passages.

- Bosh66, Admin, Sludge Metal, Metalcore/Hardcore Punk Teams


Amorphis – Queen of Time

Progressive Metal

Finland’s Amorphis is a band that I’ve tracked since Tales From the Thousand Lakes back in 1994, and great as that album was, Queen Of Time is stronger. In fact it’s my favourite release to date from this progressive metal / melodeath band. An eclectic album, this progressive opus “provides a ground-breaking epic about the rise and fall of civilization…” with style.

- Bosh66, Admin, Sludge Metal, Metalcore/Hardcore Punk Teams


Daron Malakian & Scars On Broadway – Dictator 

Alternative Metal

It’s been a while since we’ve had anything from SOAD, but Daron Malakian’s Scars on Broadway provides a more than satisfactory substitute. Mixing alternative metal with punk, strong and complex melodies with thought-provoking and political lyrics, this is an excellent release.

- Bosh66, Admin, Sludge Metal, Metalcore/Hardcore Punk Teams


Thy Catafalque – Geometria

Avant-Garde Metal

Taking influences from all over the place, not only extreme metal but folk, jazz and electronica too, Geometria is the latest in a long line of top-drawer releases from these Scottish-based Hungarian avant-garders. Perhaps not as all-out heavy as earlier albums, Geometria is at times brutal, at other times reassuringly strange, but also beautiful on occasion. Highly recommended.

- Bosh66, Admin, Sludge Metal, Metalcore/Hardcore Punk Teams


Pig Destroyer – Head Cage

Metalcore

A strong release from Pig Destroyer, the band still sits on its grind heritage but delivers a brick heavy and intense experience that pulls in influences from metalcore, sludge metal, death metal and groove.

- Bosh66, Admin, Sludge Metal, Metalcore/Hardcore Punk Teams


Ken Mode – Loved

Sludge Metal

Another strong release from the Canadian KEN Mode, Loved nicely balances post-hardcore with sludge metal and noisecore. Dark, well-crafted and heavy. Brilliant. 

- Bosh66, Admin, Sludge Metal, Metalcore/Hardcore Punk Teams


Conjurer – Mire

Sludge Metal

The debut album from English progressive sludge metal band Conjurer garnered a lot of attention when released this year on Holy Roar and with good reason. Doomy and heavy, and drawing from bands like Neurosis and Converge, Mire is an accomplished release that augurs well for the future.

- Bosh66, Admin, Sludge Metal, Metalcore/Hardcore Punk Teams


Thou - Magus

Sludge Metal

The latest release from prolific Louisianan sludgers Thou, Magus continues where the excellent Heathen left off. Magus is 75 minutes of grungy sludge, mixed with post and drone metal and overlain with insightful lyrics. This is Thou’s strongest release to date.

- Bosh66, Admin, Sludge Metal, Metalcore/Hardcore Punk Teams


Voivod - The Wake

Progressive Metal

Hitting a home run out of nowhere, Voivod returns to the progressive roots of their late 80s tech thrash glory. A polished piece of progressive thrash perfection, The Wake is guaranteed to shake slumbering fans from their long wait for another masterpiece.

- siLLy puPPy, Collaborator, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal Team


Portal - Ion

Technical Death Metal

Pummeling shrapnels of sound emerge in the form of the new Portal album taking tech death metal to new surreal heights as technical bombast emerges with an interdimensional mind trip. Not for the faint of heart.

- siLLy puPPy, Collaborator, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal Team


The Ocean Collective - Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic

Atmospheric Sludge Metal

Continuing their unique mix of sludge metal and progressive chamber rock, The Ocean Collective once again don't disappoint with another album of haunting beauty graced with the return of bombastic metallic sludgery of their earliest releases.

- siLLy puPPy, Collaborator, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal Team


Oh. - Metallia

Progressive Metal

The feminine divine delivers a delicious serving of Mediterranean metal with progressive touches unlike any other. The Athens based OH carves out her own niche that sounds like Kate Bush joined Slayer.

- siLLy puPPy, Collaborator, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal Team


Behemoth - I Loved You At Your Darkest

Death Metal

Blasphemy has never been so melodically delicious. With greater emphasis on guitar tones, feedback fuzz and intricately composed compositions, Behemoth returns with another dose of blackened death metal laced with liturgical choirs and Nergel's unique compositional flair.

- siLLy puPPy, Collaborator, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal Team


Between The Buried And Me - Automata I

Progressive Metal

Part one of Between The Buried And Me's sci-fi concept finds the band continuing where they left off with Coma Ecliptic with more progressively infused metalcore  compositions that meander through a series of aggressive and mellow parts.

- siLLy puPPy, Collaborator, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal Team


Between The Buried And Me Automata II

Progressive Metal

Part two of Between The Buried And Me's sci-fi concept adds new musical dimensions unlike anything they've tackled before including Diablo Swing Orchestra inspired swing jazz metal and more touches of avant-garde.

- siLLy puPPy, Collaborator, Progressive/Avant-Garde Metal Team

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nightfly Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jan 2019 at 2:51pm
Great work as always Adam and a reminder that even after the year has ended there's still quite a few albums that I have yet to listen to fully that have been on my radar for a while. Hopefully I'll address that in time to not have any glaring omissions from my final top 30 in the annual vote.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bosh66 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jan 2019 at 3:31pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote siLLy puPPy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jan 2019 at 10:13pm
Yeah, great as always! Thanks for doing this. It makes the whole year seem more exciting! I'm amazed at how different everyone's lists are!
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