Kayla’s Top Fifteen Metal Albums of 2018
I’m certain that I’ve listened to more music in the last six months or so than I did in the rest of my 21 miserable years combined. I’ve always been fond of heavy music, but it wasn’t until about June (aka, while scrambling to put together my “Best of 2018 So Far” list) that I really started to lose myself in the infinite labyrinths of metal.
Does that make me the world’s biggest poser? Possibly. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s been wild to experience all this music for the first time, and this may just be my wide-eyed naivety speaking, but the fact that there will always be something new to find is super phucking exciting.
Amidst the existential angst and hum-drum of everyday life, I’ve found a lot of personal fulfillment on this musical journey. So, without further rambling, here’s a handful of 2018’s most mind-blowing, face-melting, or straight up siqq releases.
15. Imperial Triumphant – Vile Luxury (Gilead Media)
It’s difficult to even describe Vile Luxury without sounding like a pompous asshole, but essentially, it’s chaotic avant-garde blackened jazz something something. There’s moments of operatic female vocals, too, which means instant bonus points from me.
14. Potmos Hetomois – Vox Medusae (Not Music)
Some of the best things come to us when we least expect them. While lurking deep in the bowels of r/musictheory, where musicians’ dreams go to die, I stumbled upon a comment mentioning this band. Spazzed-out progressive sludge was about the last thing I was anticipating.
This. Shit. Is. Wack. New details and nuance jump out upon every listen, and I’m sure it will take plenty more spins until I have any sort of basic grasp on what is even happening. Also, it’s about porn addiction.
FFO: weird stuff, saxophones, Intronaut, Thank You Scientist, Inter Arma
13. Sumac – Love in Shadow (Thrill Jockey)
Sounds like what one would expect from the mighty Sumac. However, the freeform nature of this record brings out a new layer of vulnerability in their sound. Cerebral, dense, and primal, Love in Shadow is a stream-of-consciousness outpouring of unbridled emotion.
12. Urfaust – The Constellatory Practice (Ván)
I learned the hard way that the awesomeness of this album is inversely proportional to the listener’s sobriety level… as are most of the finer things in life. The Constelltory Practice is best enjoyed with a healthy dose of jazz cabbage and a strong desire to astral project.
11. Outer Heaven – Realms of Eternal Decay (Relapse)
If you’re into gnarly, pulverizing death metal, you’ve probably already heard this inevitable classic a thousand times. If you aren’t, well, sorry.
10. The Secret – Lux Tenebris (EP) (Southern Lord)
Lux Tenebris is a stellar comeback record from the Italian terrorizers, and could more accurately be thought of as a re-imagining of The Secret’s previous work than an expansion thereof. It’s a slow build, gradually swirling and churning until it finally settles into its final form: a monstrous, unhinged nightmare machine.
9. Fórn – Rites of Despair (Gilead Media)
Think the skull-splitting vengeance of Conan plus the despondency of Bell Witch. That’s Fórn. Acoustic anguish bleeds into unapologetic ferocity, making Rites of Despair an excellent soundtrack to accompany you through that mid-winter funk.
8. Thou – Magus (Sacred Bones)
Thou’s release strategy has always been… interesting… and this year was especially crazy, dropping no fewer than 5(?) records under their name. Amidst the noisy drone, quiet acoustic, and melodic grunge, Magus is Thou’s classic doom ripper of the year.
7. GosT – Possessor (Blood Music)
Possessor is the ultimate crossover event between metal and synthwave. Retro AF, but also futuristic and far beyond its time. It’s hard to go wrong with this one — every track is a banger.
6. Conjurer – Mire (Holy Roar
I already said a lot of nice things about Mire a couple weeks ago, so rather than typing it all out again, I’ll direct you to my commentary over here. In a nutshell: Conjurer are transcending our ideas of a “genre”, shamelessly ignoring pre-conceived boundaries and weaving ideas from all across the board into a single flawless package.
5. Yashira – Shrine (Good Fight)
Yashira are another one of those sprightly bands drinking from the post-everything well, very much like Conjurer but with a bump up in the violence department. Shrine employs the best ideas from the full spectrum of metallic influence and masterfully welds them into an altar of sacred songwriting and righteous riffs.
4. Secret Cutter – Quantum Eraser (Holy Roar)
Angry Metal Guy said it best: “If you want sweltering, metal-melting, sweat-inducing music, Quantum Eraser is for you.“ Secret Cutter’s latest is a short & sweet punisher that kinda sounds like a grindier, more frantic Meshuggah. Trance-inducing, yet absolutely hellish.
3. Esoctrilihum – Inhüma (I, Voidhanger)
Is it black? Is it death? Does anybody care? Inhüma is cryptic, terrifying, and alien, blasting the listener into a supernatural horrorscape and binding them by the shackles of brute sonic force. This record is disturbingly heavy, yet among the Lovecraftian ruins, one can still find a sense of peace and beauty in the unknown.
2. Tomb Mold – Manor of Infinite Forms (20 Buck Spin)
Infectous grooves. Other-worldly artwork. Incredible talent from some of the most creative, prolific minds in modern metal. Nods to Dark Souls left and right — and with that, aural filth that sounds like it was sucked straight from the cavernous depths of Blighttown.
1. Infernal Coil – Within a World Forgotten (Profound Lore)
I was first introduced to this band at Fire in The Mountains, a mystical middle-of-nowhere metal fest that celebrates music, nature, and our elemental human desires. Upon having my entire world warped by their demented grind, I did some research and discovered that not only are Infernal Coil hella rad, they’re also my next-door neighbors! Hailing from Boise, ID, a mere 7 hour(!!!) drive away from my MT crib, these dudes are unleashing some seriously twisted depravity upon the Northwest.