Modtoid Man’s Top Fifteen Metal Albums of 2018
I think even a cursory understanding of my music taste shows that I like my music varied, catchy, and genre-bending. Only five albums from my mid-year list made it to the year-end list, and that goes to show that 2018 was fairly backloaded. Mix that with me gaining more of an appreciation for a couple albums from earlier in the year I may have overlooked or didn’t give a fair shot to, and that’s how we got here today. And no – Coheed and Cambria’s album didn’t make this list as I predicted/wished, but it was still a pretty good album.
See you nerds in the comments. ;)
15. Harakiri for the Sky – Arson (AOP Records)
Pain makes for wonderful art, and Harakiri for the Sky carry it in spades. The post-metal duo from Austria return with their best, most evocative, honest work yet. Lyrics covering death, loss, suicide, mental health, and other shit people like to avoid talking about gives these songs an elephantine weight. You factor in the tremolo-picked guitars, pianos, ceaseless drums, and better production, the whole heart-rending piece comes together. Also, their cover of Graveyard Lovers’ “Manifesto” is one of the best of the year.
14. Voices From The Fuselage – Odyssey: The Founder of Dreams (White Star Records)
I would blindly follow Ashe O’Hara into battle. Like most, I was introduced to his introspective, emotive vocals via TesseracT’s Altered State, a masterclass in progressive metal. They’re on full display here with Voices From The Fuselage, though the instrumentation holds up very well on its own merit. Dramatic, cinematic structures utilize prog metal and post-rock atmospheres to showcase something replete with a lot of heart and soul. Light a candle or something and press play.
13. Alien Weaponry – Tu (Napalm Records)
“He taua!” The youngest band on the list by far, Alien Weaponry are quite the metal darlings of the year. Three teens from New Zealand launch out of the gate with a hearty and thrashy sound that incorporates their Te Reo Maori heritage and history to great effect. What’s not to love? These boys are going places.
12. Fucked and Bound – Suffrage (Atomic Action!)
We’re not playing any games with a name like that. Lisa Mungo and Brian McClelland of He Whose Ox is Gored make some hardcore D-beat that sounds like a molotov cocktail thrown through your window. Fed up and out to destroy, Fucked and Bound take aim at everything from needy bar patrons to creepy men prowling the street. It’s fast, furious, and untamed.
11. Harm’s Way – Posthuman (Metal Blade Records)
I’ve always admired Harm’s Way for being uncompromisingly heavy. Their blend of tight hardcore, metal, and industrial is admirable, and they are on a warpath to improve with each album. Posthuman is a grim look at Earth’s (increasingly possible) future, strangled by pollution, drowned by rising sea levels, singed by heat death. It’s like Cattle Decapitation’s The Anthropocene Extinction, but with more muscles and breakdowns. More importantly, it’s probably a warning we’d do well to heed.
10. Mad God – Grotesque and Inexorable (Innsmouth Records)
Groovy doom metal from South Africa? Sure, why not? There’s much weirder marriages on this list, just keep reading. As everything in the header implies, this is occult-themed metal with songs based on Lovecraft, Charles Manson, and a real-life mass killing that took place at a Stellenbosch resort in 2015. Edgy, yes, but it makes a good foundation for lurching, bloody, unsettling doom metal.
9. Anaal Nathrakh – A New Kind of Horror (Metal Blade Records)
Anaal Nathrakh are one of the heaviest bands in existence, full stop. The duo keep pushing themselves to do more. How did they manage that this time? Well, basing your album’s themes on the atrocities of World War I is a good start. Lyrical interpolations of D. H. Lawrence and Wilfred Owen’s timeless poetry doesn’t do anything to lighten the weight of this nihilistic, cold machine of brutality one bit. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
8. Night Verses – From the Gallery of Sleep (Equal Vision Records)
No offense to Douglas Robinson, but the best thing I think Night Verses could have done was go instrumental. Look at all of the creativity they unlocked by doing so! Instrumental progressive music is a crowded genre right now, so it takes a lot to set yourself apart from the crowd and bring something truly special to the table. With superior writing and interesting dynamics, they’ve achieved just that with From the Gallery of Sleep. The best instrumental album I’ve heard since Animals as Leaders’ Weightless.
7. Hated – Breathless Art (Independent)
Death (the band and the genre) fans, this is for you. Hated hail from Russia and excel in creating some awesome progressive death for your listening pleasure. It’s as savage as it is melodic and mind-bending. What could have been a simple, derivative tribute to a mostly bygone sound ends up being one of the best debut albums in metal-ass metal for 2018. Хорошее дерьмо!
6. Horrendous – Idol (SoM)
And speaking of that bygone sound, Horrendous have got that on lockdown. Four albums in and they just keep. Getting. Better. Idol sees them really get dynamic by incorporating some very smartly used clean vocals and more palatable Cynic-esque tones buried deep in their foreboding prog death metal fortress. This band is one of the best in the game right now.
5. Psycroptic – As the Kingdom Drowns (Prosthetic Records)
Hey, I think I know what the kingdom is drowning in: riffs. I’m trying real hard to battle recency bias with this one, but the fact of the matter is the riffs and melodies of “Frozen Gaze” and “Upon These Stones” have been stuck in my head for a couple months. Psycroptic have been very solid for years now, but As the Kingdom Drowns is a different beast.
4. Rolo Tomassi – Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It (Holy Roar Records)
Never heard of Rolo Tomassi before Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It which probably made this album all the more impactful to me. Sometimes ethereal, often ferocious, always relentless and cinematic. This is post-hardcore music like no other, and the most unconventionally beautiful album of 2018. The light atmosphere will lift you high, only for the unchecked heaviness to spike you back down to earth with a meteoric crash.
3. Sandrider – Armada (Good to Die Records)
Sandrider is amazing. The energetic stoner rock group from Seattle has always been a mainstay in my playlists, but the ante has been thoroughly upped with Armada. It’s more massive and catchy than their previous efforts, something I thought to be almost impossible. Never shall I doubt again. If you love deserty, gnarly grooves and tons of infectious vigor, look no further.
2. URSA – Abyss Between the Stars (Blood Music)
Made up of three members of Cormorant, URSA takes a dramatic turn into fantasy doom metal. Epic vocals, fuzzy riffs, and supreme catchiness are your guiding lights as you traverse the “Wizard’s Path” where you’ll encounter the “Serengeti Yeti” and “Thirteen Witches” on your way to the “Cave of the Spider King.” If that sounded like the synopsis of some RPG quest, well, that’s by design as the members set out to make a “choose your own adventure album” of sorts, and greatly succeeded. Doom fans, pay attention.
1. Grzegorz – 33 (helltag)
My number one pick is also my most “out there” pick. Grzegorz’s debut album is a nihilistic monolith weaving together the sounds of synthpop, 80s rock, and black metal. Seriously. From the blast beat fury in the title track, to the dreamy industrial rock flair of “I’ve Lost My Friends to Cocaine”, it’s a sonic marvel of smoothness and abrasion. An apocalyptic cloud looms over 33, which is prefaced by – of all things – an audio clip from Rick and Morty. An album like this only comes every so often. I implore you to check it out before the bombs drop.