Top 10 Metal Albums of 2018
The end of the year is here and, boy, has it been fascinating for the world of metal. From highly-anticipated releases to sleeper hits and eye-opening debuts, there is plenty to whittle down and attempt to carve out a “best of” list from such a melting pot of sub-genres.
Most of the lists I’ve seen this year heap praise on two giants of the metal community, Deafheaven and Between the Buried Me. If that’s what you’re looking for in this article, I urge you to stop reading immediately.
While I appreciate both of those bands aspiring to wander into uncharted territory (and undoubtedly love the majority of their previous releases), I couldn’t help but feel little to no connection in their new-found focuses.
If you’re still here, the following ten metal records got my blood pumping and made me run from peer to peer exclaiming their weighty impact on me.
Without further ado, I humbly present my favorite albums of 2018.
#10 Pig Destroyer: Head Cage
After twenty years in the game, Pig Destroyer delivers their most streamlined and accessible record to date, while never pulling punches on chaotic aggression and bone-crushing riffs with possibly the best release of their career.
Essential Track: Concrete Beast
#9 Dead Characters: Ashen
The first of three Denver-based bands on this list (I may confess a partial bias being a Colorado native myself, though I believe the music speaks for itself), Dead Characters is a band that has massive potential for the near future. There’s no denying a heavy Russian Circles influence for the instrumental post-metal trio, but certain elements hint at greater ambitions outside the constraints of the sub-genre.
Essential Track: Palo Duro
#8 YOB: Our Raw Heart
The demise of Oregon doom band, YOB, seemed imminent when founding guitarist and vocalist, Mike Scheidt, came unnervingly close to death in a battle with diverticulitis last year. On the band’s eighth studio album, Scheidt funnels his experience into an intimate, euphoric realm the band had yet to explore. Our Raw Heart is a landmark record for YOB that will surely further their berth in the pantheon of seminal metal acts.
Essential Track: Beauty In Falling Leaves
#7 Sumac: Love In Shadow
Founded by Aaron Turner (Old Man Gloom, Mamiffer, ex-ISIS), Sumac continues to expand their gaze in the metal world on their third record, Love In Shadow. With each of the four tracks stretching from twelve to twenty-one minutes, the trio establish a persistent sense of danger through an illustrious fusion of pummeling escalation and prolonged waves of sensory-tormenting distortion. Love In Shadow will pay dividends to the patient observer.
Essential Track: The Task
#6 Sylvaine: Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone
Black metal is no stranger to one-man projects, but Sylvaine anoints her multi-instrumental prowess into one of the most affecting metal albums of the year. The Norwegian artist creates a hypnotizing, layered galaxy of post-black ambiance, while her exquisite vocals stream from glossy melody to gut-wrenching screams in enthralling symmetry.
Essential Track: Mørklagt
#5 Azusa: Heavy Yoke
Azusa’s debut album, featuring members of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Extol, is a masterfully refreshing addition to the ever-expanding progressive metal universe. Heavy Yoke combines countless sub-genres of metal to persistently keep the listener on their toes: thrash, punk, death, math, prog, etc. Do not sleep on this breakout release from some of the metal world’s most innovative musicians.
Essential Track: Heavy Yoke
#4 Glacial Tomb: Glacial Tomb
Another magnificent debut made waves this year in the form of Glacial Tomb’s self-titled record. Serving up sludge-laden blackened death metal, the Denver trio (founded by members of Khemmis and ex-Abigail Williams) fuses ferocity and punishing low-end riffs to machinate dread and doom unto those who dare.
Essential Track: Breath of Pestilence
#3 Wayfarer: World’s Blood
Denver’s superb atmospheric black metal outfit, Wayfarer, returns with their third full-length, expanding their scope and patience for progressive songwriting on World’s Blood. It is an exhausting, engrossing 45-minute epic that stretches past the confines and classic tropes of the sub-genre.
Essential Track: On Horseback They Carried Thunder
#2 Slugdge: Esoteric Malacology
Do you like technical death metal? Do you like mollusks? Well, hot dang, have I got an album for you! With intricate songwriting and pulverizing riffage, UK tech-death monsters, Slugdge, plead you to bow to your slug overlords and embrace a new slime-drenched existence! Submit to the proggy brutality and praise the goo!
Essential Track: Crop Killer
#1 Rivers of Nihil: Where Owls Know My Name
Ever since Rivers of Nihil released their latest effort back in March, I have been pulling my hair out attempting to find a more superior, satiating metal record in 2018; alas, one does not seem to exist.
Rivers’ emotionally gripping style of melodic death metal may have been enough to guarantee them a spot on this list on its own merits, but the incorporation of sparse horns and keyboards at pivotal moments in select tracks elevate this album to the top tier of metal excellence.
Where Owls Know My Name latches onto your heartstrings and consistently surprises you with a flawless fusion of progression and power that will make you continually start the record over again after its blissful conclusion.
Essential Track: Subtle Change (Including the Forest of Transition and Dissatisfaction Dance)
There it is, folks! Tasty tunes, huh?
Well, whether you agree or wish to spout curses upon my future offspring, please let myself, as well as all of us at Wired With Music, know just what you thought about this meaty slab of metal.
Thanks for reading and raise them horns!
Review by Beau Thomsen