This is my top ten list of favorite metal albums from 2018. You can find the 2017 list here. At the end of next month I will release my top ten list for metal albums of 2019. You can already see my lists here, but in these posts I will go into more detail about why I have chosen these albums.
All ratings are done on a curve based on the fact that these are my favorite albums of 2018. So, for instance, getting a 1/5 stars on this list would still be something like 4/5 stars on any other list where all albums are taken into consideration; in other words, these stars are all essentially fractions of the fifth star in any five-star review criteria. And now with that explanation out of the way, and without further adieu, here are my top ten picks for metal albums in 2018.
Rating: 1/5 stars
Favorite Track: The Spectral Burrows
Slugdge is a band from the U.K. that plays what I can only describe as progressive-blackened-tech-death. Esoteric Malacology is an apt name for the album since the music can be quite esoteric at times and the themes are all about slugs and fungus. The music in this album is exquisitely written and performed, the production is top-notch, and even the clean vocals have a creepy feeling: all these elements combine to form music that is best summed up by the band’s name Slugdge. It’s for these reasons that this album easily makes my list, coming in at number ten on my top ten list from 2018.
Rating: 1/5 stars
Favorite Track: Angelvs XIII
Behemoth is a blackened death metal band from Poland led by Adam Michał “Nergal” Darski. Indeed, Behemoth is the quintessential blackened death metal band: any list of bands in the genre will contain Behemoth lest the list be null and void. I Loved You at Your Darkest is as much a departure for Behemoth musically as the title is from their usually one or two word album titles. The songs on this album skew a little slower, less chaotic, and more melodic than most of Behemoth’s catalogue. They also bring in a chorus of children in places like the intro track “Solve” and the song “God = Dog” as well as an almost Middle Eastern vibe on Bartzabel (though I may be interpreting that in the song based on the music video’s imagery). This isn’t my favorite of Behemoth’s albums, but I am a fan of Behemoth, so even a so-so album from them earns a spot at #9 on my list of favorite albums from 2018.
Rating: 1/5 stars
Favorite Track: Naught but Death
Funeral Mist is a Swedish black metal band formed in 1993 and fronted by Daniel Hans Johan “Arioch” Rostén aka Mortuus from Marduk (since 2004). Hekatomb is the third full length album from the band. Musically it remains similar to previous releases while also differentiating itself from Rostén’s other band Marduk, though it’s easy to tell that the vocals are done by the same guy. This album has everything one would expect from a black metal album with a focus on aggression over atmosphere: trilling, high-pitched guitars, blast beats, fuzzy production, and demonic vocals. As such, it checks off every box needed for black metal, but doesn’t go out on too many experimental limbs, save for the same kind of tribal-sounding singing and chanting on “Naught but Death” similar to what was present on the first album Salvation, and an atmospheric interlude on the song “Cockatrice”. But though Funeral Mist makes by-the-numbers black metal, they do it more than competently, making it an enjoyable listen. That is why I’m putting it at #8 on my favorite albums of 2018.
Rating: 2/5 stars
Favorite Track: Siege Engine
Skinless is a brutal death metal band from formed in Glens Falls, New York in 1992. Savagery marks their sixth full-length release and it does not disappoint.
Rating: 3/5 stars
Favorite Track: Damnatio Memoriae
Kaoteon is a blackened death metal band from Lebanon. As juxtaposed to Behemoth’s more subdued sound in their latest album, Kaoteon opted to go for more chaos. At all times, vocalist Walid “Wolflust” Choughari sounds like he is on the verge of a complete psychotic break, which is a cool sound when talking about extreme metal like this. The music is dynamic enough to get out of that place many death metal bands go where every song sounds very similar to the last. From front to back Damnatio Memoriae is as punishing as a drunk stepdad. For those reasons, I am putting this album at #6 on my list of favorites from 2018.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Favorite Track: The Horrid Strife
Anaal Nathrakh is a grindcore / black metal duo from the United Kingdom who make arguably the most savage music anyone has ever made. That being said, this album is actually somewhat of a step down in the brutality compared to some of their earlier albums, which is strange given the subject matter of A New Kind of Horror has to do with World War One. This isn’t my favorite of Anaal Nathrakh’s albums, either, but it is still a damn good album and still more devastating than even most other extreme metal. Of course, I am a history buff, particularly about the World Wars, so this album played to my preferences with its subject matter. And just like World War One, a person is liable to be shell-shocked and left a palsied wreck after listening to this album, especially if that person isn’t a regular consumer of extreme metal. For those reasons I am putting this album at #4 on my list of favorite metal albums for 2018.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Favorite Track: The Pallid Scourge
Kriegsmachine is a Polish black metal band consisting of the same duo as Mgła. There are definite similarities between the two bands in the musical style, yet the two are different enough to warrant being considered two different bands. One different this album has as compared to Mgła is that there are no blast beats on Apocalypticists. The drumming, aside from just lacking blast beats, is more technical, somewhat airy (compared to Mgła) and even jazz-like at times. The dissonant guitars definitely rings of similarity to the sister band, but I would say the Kriegsmachine style is more technical, not being as repetitive. Apocalypticists isn’t quite as hard hitting as the band’s previous albums, but it still has a fair amount of aggressiveness, though skewing more atmospheric than, say, a Marduk or Watain. That is why I am putting this album at #4 on my list of favorites from 2018.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Favorite Track: Passchenhell
1914 is a blackened death-doom band from Ukraine that focuses all of their subject matter on the First World War, which started in the year of the band name.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Favorite Track: Cave Digger
Rating: 5/5 stars
Favorite Track: Vespertine Decay
Aborted is a death metal band with some grind influences hailing from Belgium. Aborted has a special place in my heart as being the band that got me into extreme metal and away from my gateway bands: Aborted was my gateway from the gateways. In fact, it was this very album that achieved this. That’s why, even if it wasn’t my favorite metal album from 2018, it would still reserve a spot somewhere on this list. It turns out, though, that TerrorVision is my favorite album of 2018. The first thing that always makes or breaks a death metal album for me is the vocals, and Sven de Caluwé has to be one of, if not the, best death metal vocalists there are. His range and creativity in vocals is unmatched by anyone else I know of in death metal. Add to that the brutal, although still atmospheric music on this album, and you get a glimpse of what it must feel like to be at the Battle of Stalingrad: relentless punishment, even when things feel like they’re slowing down. For these reasons, Aborted’s album is taking up the #1 slot on my top ten albums of 2018.