Phil Boozeman’s Top 15 Metal Albums of 2018
2018 has been wild, everyone. Politics, music, life and work. Fucking all of it. This year I made an effort to try and actually get to know as many bands as I could in person 1) to make some friends and 2) to make myself learn more about music since, ya know, it’s my job, especially with pumping out Shit That Comes Out Today every week. In fact, I’ve met quite a few bad ass musicians over this year and I learned a lot indeed, many of whom have an album on this list. So I’d like to thank all of you who have let me hang out, party and shitpost on social media with all of your names on it. This year has been crazy, but I’d be a liar if I said it wasn’t a great one. So with that, this year my taste was kind of all over the place so read, enjoy, leave hate mail, whatever. The world is yours.
15. Behemoth – I Loved You At Your Darkest (Metal Blade)
We start things off with the almighty Behemoth. I find it odd myself that ILYAYD isn’t higher up here, but with all the other shit currently going on, I haven’t had as much time to listen to this as I really would have liked. That being said, this is Behemoth and they probably could have just released all of the singles as an EP and it would’ve blown 90% of the records released this year straight out of the water. Although this is more of a record where Behemoth transition their sound and focus more on their anti-religious message, rather than their usual straight heresy and blasphemy, anything that Nergal and crew due is bound to be fantastic, which is exactly what we expect from them.
14. Hollow Prophet/Scumfuck – Split (Self-Released)
For those of you who have read my past EOTY lists, you’re probably going to be just as shocked as I am that this split from Hollow Prophet/Scumfuck is the only deathcore release on here. Do either of these bands ring a bell? It’s because Scumfuck is the side project of Infant Annihilator’s Dickie Allen and Hollow Prophet is the second band of Shadow of Intent’s Ben Duerr. As far as deathcore goes, it doesn’t get much better than this. Duerr is the best vocalist in metal and he puts those demonic pipes to work on this album like no other. Scumfuck’s side of the split is equally as filthy. But the best part of the split, the rug that really ties the room together, is “Scumprophet,” a track that combines the efforts of both bands and results in one of the heaviest auditory assaults of the year. This split has enough chugs to fill a frat house’s quota for a year and the breakdown at the end thing will leave you hot and bothered whether you like deathcore or not.
13. Night Verses – From The Gallery of Sleep (Equal Vision Records)
I don’t listen to much instrumental stuff other than the occasional interlude track on any given album and Intervals. However, Night Verses hooked me almost immediately with From The Gallery of Sleep. With djenty music, I normally don’t enjoy the off-tempo rhythms because at some point, it just doesn’t make sense to my ears and it’s grating to listen to. However, Night Verses, much like Intervals, have just the right amount of djent spice in order to keep it distinct but not overbearing. Whenever you find music like that, especially with the level of talent Night Verses have, it’s hard not to like it.
12. Snakehound – Imitation Crown (Self-Released)
Snakehound are a band that I saw for the first time at a spaghetti wrestling tournament. Yes, really. 400 pounds of noodles with metalheads wrestling. This was also a house show/birthday party. Yes, really. The first thing I noticed about Snakehound was that they play a type of music that I’ve never really cared for. That type of music specifically being in the vein of Converge/Norma Jean. I was bummed for about five total seconds before the song got going and I was fucking leveled by their performance by the energy they brought. I don’t ever think I’ve seen a local band go so fucking hard, especially in a place with so many god damn noodles. So after the show I decided to give them a further listen, and lo and behold I fucking loved it. If Snakehound they can bring my bitter, judgmental ass around to mathcore, then they can do the same for you.
11. Withermoth – Monoliths of Misanthropy (EP) (Self-Released)
I watched this EP come together from the early days of it’s inception all the way to the beast that it is now. Withermoth are the second Kansas City band on this list that dropped fire this year and had it been more than three songs, it could have easily landed higher than #11. However, Monoliths of Misanthropy is Withermoth’s debut EP and once again, since no one in this band will give themselves enough credit, I have to do it for them. As I said last time I covered them on STCOT, ” the highs are putrid and the lows are clean as fuck. The riffs are juicier than a Minute Maid factory and if you can’t find anything to like on this EP, then you’re probably the type of person who reports memes on Facebook.” This is still accurate and even among some of the heavy hitting names on this list, Withermoth’s debut holds it’s own. So, Skyler, Jordan, Matt, Zach, Louie. Gives yourselves some fucking props because your music is fantastic.
10. Alterbeast – Feast (Unique Leader)
As the name would suggest, Feast is an absolutely vicious album. Although I normally stand on the melodic end of the spectrum rather than the straight death/technical realm of things, I was hooked on this album the second I heard “Apex Night Eclipse.” Feast was written over the span of 4 months by former vocalist Michael Alvarez and current guitarist Andrew Lamb. According to Alvarez, Feast was meant to take “a vicious bite out of the jugular of the metal realm. We take what we want and leave behind no survivors.” There are many different vocal styles used in the album and although all the songs are linked together by Alterbeast’s overarching sound, they also all do their own thing and no two tracks on this album could be mistaken for one another. Just compare “Apex Night Eclipse” and “Where Dead Angels Lie.” And if that weren’t enough, they also have what is probably the coolest logo in all of metal right now. If you’ve ever wondered what the soundtrack to being eaten alive by wolves would be, then I’m happy to inform you that your search is over.
9. Void Ritual – Death Is Peace (Ipos)
Void Ritual is a one-man project out of New Mexico from the mind of Dan Jackson. It’s a black metal project that features all the staples, such as the high shrieks, haunting guitar melodies and epic power riffs that paints a mind-numbing vision of the end of life. Although the music itself is obviously what we’re focusing on here, it needs to be noted that Death Is Peace isn’t even the only Void Ritual record that came out this year. It’s not even one of two. It’s one of THREE full-length records that Jackson cranked out in 2018 for this band. Of course they’re all killer, but this one just so happened to be my favorite. Rather than just relying on tremolo picking and blast beats, Jackson shakes things up with riff and drum patterns which makes Death Is Peace a very easy record to digest, and one of my favorite black metal releases of the year.
8. Soreption – Monument of the End (Sumerian)
I’m just going to rip myself off from when I covered Soreption in STCOT back in August when then album dropped. “Soreption are an example of what technical death metal can be when bands can balance melodies and riffs with technicality rather than just fucking your ears off with five billion nonsensical time signatures stacked on top of each other inside a trench coat.” There is no other way I can describe this band that is more accurate that that. So if the technical end of the spectrum has become a bit too abrasive for you like it has become for me, then this is the album to keep you hooked.
7. Anaal Nathrakh – A New Kind of Horror (Metal Blade)
Anaal Nathrakh are a special kind of insane that makes them one of my favorite bands not only to listen to, but also to play just for pure shock value. This is especially fun with my metalhead friends who haven’t listened to them before because they can be overwhelming for even the seasoned metalhead. Everything is all fine and dandy and next thing you know, your pleasant walk through Blast Beat National Park is interrupted by a bear with opera vocals and grind riffs kicking you in the balls. Don’t get me wrong though, I love every bit of it. A New Kind Of Horror is an album about the atrocities of war and it brings with it Anaal Nathrakh’s signature blend of blast beats, frantic and static-laced vocals, grooves and heaviness with it. These guys can be difficult to put into words but if you’ve never listened to them, imagine something along the lines of Misery Index and Napalm Death having a baby and that will get you close. Make sure you cancel all of your plans before listening though because Anaal Nathrakh are an auditory lobotomy.
6. Ahtme – Sewerborn (Unique Leader)
Have you ever wondered what your most painful burrito poop would look like as a death metal band? Well, you need no longer wonder because Ahtme are that band. Why? Because Ahtme means Lord of Shit, or at least that’s what guitarist Dalton Harper tells me. Ahtme are the 3rd Kansas City band to make it on my list this year and Sewerborn was highly anticipated not only locally, but by basically any band that has played with these guys. If you like Decapitated even a little, then you owe it to yourself to check these guys out. Ahtme bring intricate, relentless guitar work, and and aggression that will work up any self-respecting death metal fan into a frenzy. Vocalist Brent Turnbow even shakes things up a little bit in the unofficial title track (below) with some Covan-esque melodic screaming. So grab a box of fiber bars, get comfortable on your favorite toilet and give Sewerborn a spin because by the time it’s over, your intestines will belong to Ahtme.
5. Existem – Mantle (Unsigned, #hinthint)
Existem have been covered here on MetalSucks a few times over the years. Although they’re still on the local side of Kansas City, I will flex every single muscle in my body to change that and get these guys out there. Mantle is a concept album about a man who has a lucid dream about falling to the center of the earth and meeting Gaia. Gaia shows him the peril of the world we live in, as well as how harmonious life was before humans polluted the world and left their stain on it. She then guides him to become a prophet and usher in a new age of tranquility on Earth. Mantle wrecks in few ways. To start, the production is out of this world. Second, the songwriting is incredible. Third, the use of female cleans as the actual voice of Gaia seems like such a simple choice, but the payoff is huge from both a musical and a storytelling perspective with the way they’re blended in with Chris Gochis’ vocals. Existem have prog DOWN with a perfect mix of groove, heaviness and ambiance that keeps every song interesting from our prophet’s descent to the center of the earth all the way to the his glorious return. I was completely blown away by Mantle. It’s coherent from start to finish and the fact that no one has signed this band is criminal. So, record labels, take the day off. This one’s on Boozeman.
4. Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram (Century Media)
Necrophobic have been around since 1989 and this year, they’re the band that made me feel dumb for having been around so long without me listening to them. If you’ve read anything I’ve written this year, then you know how much I love melodic black metal. Necrophobic came screaming out of the gates of Hell with this album and I could not be more thankful for it. Although the entire album is fantastic and should be played from start to finish on each listen, there’s one song in particular that elevates this album to #4. That song is “Tsar Bomba”. I fucking love every about this song and even thought the album dropped way back in February, this chorus still gives me goosebumps every time I hear it with the shrill, echoing scream. They could have just put that track on a disc 10 times and I bet they would get away with calling it a record. It’s that good. And so are Necrophobic
3. Between the Buried and Me – Automata 1 & 2 (Sumerian)
Although this is technically two separate albums, they are being lumped together because in essence, Automata was really just one BTBAM album chopped in half. However, that isn’t a knocking point anymore since both parts are out and as a whole, Automata is absolutely incredible. But then again, did we really expect anything less from BTBAM? The answer of course, is no. Automata tells the story of a man who has his dreams broadcast as entertainment through a machine for all to view and everyone knows it’s just a dream except for the dreamer. The story delves far, far deeper than that, but you’ll have to listen to the album for yourself for the rest. If you weren’t a fan of the dreamy soundscape of Come Ecliptic, then you will no doubt love the heavier approach used in Automata. Playing parts I and II back to back, Automata is BTBAM’s strongest work since Colors.
2. Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name (Metal Blade)
Rivers of Nihil took a huge step forward from Monarchy with Where Owls Know My Name. Although they’re managed by our very own Vince Neilstein, make no mistake, there is no bias coming into play here. Rivers of Nihil have evolved into a band that engages not only your ears, but your entire mind. The ambiance of the album itself is incredible and all the different facets of music that they make work together add up for an album that is truly special. I’ve scoffed at hearing a saxophone in nearly every metal band that has tried it, but now, the saxophone solo is one of the main reasons that I love “The Silent Life” so much. And by the way, “The Silent Life” has probably the catchiest riff in all of 2018. I cannot fucking wait to hear the follow up to this album. I already know it’ll be another contender for album of the year when it comes out.
1. Slugdge – Esoteric Malacology (Willowtip)
And finally we have it. The magnum opus. The best metal album of 2018 bar none: Slugdge’s Esoteric Malacology. I’m not even sure where to start with how good this album is. I’ve spun so much over the course of the year that my friends stopped letting me play music at parties. They were tired of it always being this. If you have never listened to Slugdge, they sound like the love child of Gojira and Strapping Young Lad, which means that although they share the name with one of the most immobile creatures on the planet, their music can still run fast enough to tear your face off and sew it back on upside down before you know it’s gone. But speed isn’t all they do. Slugdge aren’t afraid to slow it down like they do in “Salt Thrower,” which says leagues about the abilities of founders Matt Moss and Kev Pearson. So again. I’d like to reiterate that every single track on Esoteric Malacology fantastic. From the incinerating riff of “War Squids,” to the blunt force trauma of “Slave Goo World,” all the way to the crescendo of “Limo Vincit Omnia,” Esoteric Malacology demands to be played start to finish every time it’s turned on. Now with Alan Cassidy (The Black Dahlia Murder) helming drums and Moat Lowe (Novena) on bass, there is nowhere for this band to go but up and at the rate that’s happening, the future is going to be very slimy indeed. All hail Mollusca. All hail Slugdge.