2018: Let's Get It On! (Jan-Jun)

Actually getting onto this year relatively early, let's see what it's got in store for us all.

Created by: musclassia | 12.01.2018

1. Weedpecker - III
2018 [8.8] - Not sure this quite reaches the exquisitely hazy highs of their fantastic debut, but I'd say this is a step up from their impressive but less enrapturing follow-up II. This one is more lush-sounding, more psychedelic, and with more hard rock stylings than the more metallic II. It does feel a bit closer to the mind voyage of an acid trip than the foggy haze of weed, perhaps reflected in the artwork style, but is nevertheless a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing listen. Even with strong competition from the likes of Elder, these guys might be the best stoner metal band currently active (at least that I'm aware of).
2. Amorphis - Queen Of Time
2018 [8.6] - I love this band, they just don't disappoint. This is now 7 albums with Tomi Joutsen and I could easily pick up and listen to any of them without hesitation. The semi-regular use of orchestral arrangements and choirs, the brief saxophone cameos, the proggier direction of the songwriting, all gets combined with the excellent vocals and innate melodic ability of this band that makes them so irresistible.
3. Slugdge - Esoteric Malacology
2018 [8.6] - After a relatively long gap from their initial slew of consistently quality output, Slugdge have returned with what is, for the most part, more of the same, sonically and quality-wise. Their brand proggy extreme metal with influences from death, black, and more, and with a range of vocal approaches, all culminates in this infectious and distinctive sound. I think, without a number of replays, their songs can tend to blend together a little for the most part, but they're all so good that they justify putting in the listening time to discover their distinctive nuances.
4. Rolo Tomassi - Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It
2018 [8.5] - This was a real surprise - I'd encountered RT nearly a decade ago when they supported Dillinger Escape Plan, but wasn't that into mathcore so wasn't that impressed by them and never listened to them afterwards. However, I saw this album getting good feedback and decided to give it a go, and was taken aback by how good it was. Yes there's mathcore here, like a less frenzied TDEP, but there's also hardcore a la Converge, extreme prog like BTBAM, elements of post-hardcore like At The Drive-In, bits of indie pop (particularly on Contretemps), and yet more ingredients beyond this. That they all fit so seamlessly together such that an album with moments that could have appeared on mainstream radio sit comfortably alongside genuinely aggressive and intense hardcore/metal is a real testament to this band's writing abilities. I think I need to revisit their revious work.
5. Aviations - The Light Years
2018 [8.4] - Some delightful modern prog metal in with elements bringing to mind Karnivool, Disperse, Periphery, and Caligula's Horse amongst several others, sometimes a little awkwardly directioned but a lot of really neat stuff in here, particularly on the instrumental side, which can be delightful (Lullaby is a good example). The vocals are also very solid, if a tad rough around the edges.
6. Sunnata - Outlands
2018 [8.4] - Really well-written and atmospheric sludgy/stoner/doom/post-metal, got a variety of vocal approaches all used in heavy or mystical/ritualistic sections, and really solid instrumentation to deliver atmospheric vibes, neat stoner-ish grooves, and heavy riffing sections.
7. Sleep - The Sciences
2018 [8.3] - The release of this album (first one in 15 years, announced the day before release) is probably more surprising than the sound of this, which is just crushingly heavy stoner doom. It's not the monolith that is Dopesmoker, but it's very much in the same strain of style and quality, so should appeal to fans of this mysterious band. Antarcticans Thawed is probably the standout track, and definitely the most in line with the droning Dopesmoker sound.
8. Somali Yacht Club - The Sea
2018 [8.3] - Really spacious, atmospheric, trippy mesh of stoner rock, post-rock, and alternative metal in parts, has a really infectious fuzz to it.
9. Erdve - Vaitojimas
2018 [8.3] - Some crushing, groovy atmos-sludge (with elements of post-, black, and hardcore in there). Predominantly mid-tempo pounding tracks with a central riff groove to headbang along to, with other elements weaved in and out of tracks. It stays pretty firmly within its comfort zone, but shows command of said zone, this is very accomplished.
10. Monolithe - Nebula Septem
2018 [8.3] - Possibly my favourite current doom band, with an impressively prolific yet worthy output. After their two '3 15-minute songs' releases, we now get a '7 7-minute songs' album. Arguably the capacity for increased diversity with more songs works in this album's favour, with heavy, headbang-worthy industrial/symphonic doom songs accentuated with effective lead guitar melodies early on in the album, much like on past albums, contrasted later on with the 'epic', sorrowful tone of Fathom The Deep, and the electronic-dominated closer Gravity Flood.
11. Rivers Of Nihil - Where Owls Know My Name
2018 [8.3] - Probably the most satisfying tech-death style album since Fallujah dropped The Flesh Prevails/Dreamless. Far more song-oriented than some of these bands can be, some good variation between songs in terms of approach, a satisfying range of dynamics for the genre, and tasteful use of sax on songs such as The Silent Life.
12. Wayfarer - World's Blood
2018 [8.3] - Deeply atmospheric black metal, with some really rich 'campside folk' vibes to a lot of the music along the typical harsh black metal passages. Nice balance of metal and acoustic instrumentation and vocals.
13. Zeal & Ardor - Stranger Fruit
2018 [8.3] - Devil Is Fine was incendiary, but also raw and all too brief. Stranger Fruit adds polish, length, and variety to Z&A's sound, and whilst I'm not sure anything here quite has the immediate jawdropping pull of In Ashes, Children's Summon, or Come On Down, the range and number of songs here has the potential to reward multiple listens. The soul is far more on display here, particularly on tracks such as You Ain't Coming Back and Built On Ashes.
14. Primordial - Exile Amongst The Ruins
2018 [8.2] - Arguably superior to Where Greater Men Have Fallen, this is Primordial once again showing their mastery of their distinctive sound, but without delivering tracks with the memorability of those on To The Nameless Dead or The Gathering Wilderness. Nemtheanga's vocals are a particular highlight.
15. Progenie Terrestre Pura - starCross
2018 [8.2] - This sounds a bit more directly metallic than some of their work, with the black metal front and centre and the electronics a bit further back. I still don't think they've matched U.M.A. with anything they've released since, but they continue to put of quality music.
16. Da Captain Trips - Adventures in the Upside Down
2018 [8.2] - Trippy AF psychedelic stoner rock, purely instrumental, has lovely guitar playing in many styles, and great use of saxophone and other instruments. Can be lush, and also noisy in a mind-spacing way.
17. Panopticon - The Scars Of Man On The Once Nameless Wilderness
2018 [8.2] - A hefty double album from the black metal/Americana trailblazing project. The first disc is in the vein of previous albums, with melodically-inclined yet full-pelt black metal infused with occasional American folk influences, but disc 2 is a complete departure into predominantly acoustic, mostly non-metal bleak Americana. It likely won't be for everyone, but is more dynamic and varied than some other metal artists' attempts at a similar sound (Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till come to mind), and in its finer moments (particularly Cowering At The Foot Of The Mountain) delivers some beautifully wistful yet melancholy acoustic music, with occasional metal cameos used to expand the songs.
18. The Sledge - On The Verge Of Nothing
2018 [8.2] - Somewhere a bit in between Sleep (Holy Mountain at least) and Weedpecker, really enjoyable for the most part, but with a really bizarre vocal section about halfway through the album that's a bit offputting what is otherwise a really nice album.
19. Ihsahn - Ámr
2018 [8.2] - Another thoroughly enjoyable effort from Ihsahn. Less eclectic than Arktis, and with a greater presence of both black metal and songwriting quirks reminiscent of Leprous, it delivers no matter whether it's a melodic clean chorus, or a black metal stretch (such as on the opening track, where the black metal guitar is dominated by a synth track).
20. MuN - Opia
2018 [8.2] - Poland really has a knack for putting out some quality heavy stoner/psychedelic rock/metal ventures. These guys deliver slow/mid-tempo riff-fests with that usual fuzzy, lush stoner sound, anchored by a solid rhythm section and lightened with some tasty lead guitar work. There are occasional weird moments (the huge closer Apathya slows down mid-way through for some kind of awkward breakdown, but soon kicks right back into gear) but otherwise this is a thoroughly satisfying venture.
21. Astronome - II
2018 [8.2] - Really lush and groovy instrumental stoner rock, with some really patient and effective song build-ups.
22. Naxatras - III
2018 [8.2] - Really neat instrumental psychedelic/stoner rock, nice sonic contrast, laid-back chilled vibes in the softer moments and driving riffs in the heavier moments. Somewhat similar to Weedpecker's III album from this year, but less Pink Floyd-y, more up-tempo rock, definitely some Earthless vibes too, but less hectic and complex.
23. Fireproven - Future Diary
2018 [8.2] - High-quality extreme/melodic prog metal debut album from this Finnish group, high instrumental proficiency across the board but still able to knock out well-constructed songs with successful hooks, and enjoyable vocal interchange between growls, male cleans, and female guest vocalists. Definite hints of Dan Swano's Moontower in there, but also had at different points, Amorphis, Devin Townsend, Pagan's Mind, The Faceless, and a couple of other groups, but they do a decent job of sounding like their own selves.
24. Eryn Non Dae. - Abandon Of The Self
2018 [8.2] - I've struggled to find high-quality post-metal in the past couple of years, so it's always nice to stumble across something like this. The music is on the more aggressive, chaotic side, with some dissonant riffing and vicious sonic assaults at times, with a Godflesh-like industrial tinge at times, but it also delivers some effective atmospheres and well-judged song structuring. Not a huge fan of the sung/spoken vocals, but it's not a huge detraction.
25. Bong - Thought And Existence
2018 [8.2] - Hypnotic stoner drone ambient music, has enough rhythm to propel through the repetitive, fuzzy, meditative atmosphere of the music. Highly enjoyable.
26. Barren Earth - A Complex Of Cages
2018 [8.2] - Another accomplished effort by one of the more successful 'supergroup' band lineups I can remember. Further advancing towards their own distinctive sound independent of their clear Amorphis/Opeth/other influences, this is a dynamic, soulful extreme prog album, with tasteful musicianship across the board. Of particular note is the expansive centrepiece Solitude Pith, which gave me, amongst others, a notable Green Carnation vibe.
27. Judicator - The Last Emperor
2018 [8.2] - Heavily Blind Guardian-inspired sound, particularly vocally, but with more of a power metal basis than their recent output. Rather enjoyable listen on the whole.
28. La Iglesia Atomica - Gran Muro De Coma
2018 [8.2] - Expansive, proggy psychedelic stoner rock, going on meditative voyages during lengthy song runtimes. Nothing particularly original, but a high quality execution of a well-established sound.
29. Vallendusk - Fortress Of Primal Grace
2018 [8.2] - This band clearly falls within the atmos-black subgenre, but is sufficiently proficient and satisfying to stand out against the herd. The riffing is a lot more melodic than some in the genre, with northern European folk metal influences that are further underlined by the clean vocals that appear throughout the album. It also is willing to deviate from the lengthy, atmospheric style of atmos-black riffing to move into more direct songwriting, such as the closing minutes of the excellent Coronation. The restrained but effective use of backing keyboards also add a nice additional touch.
30. Mesarthim - The Density Parameter
2018 [8.2] - Very much following in the template of their previous works, Mesarthim do not deviate from the cosmic atmos-black metal, with euphoric mid-tempo BM rifffing overladen with prominent keyboards. However, after a couple of somewhat underwhelming releases preceding this, they've at least summoned up something of similar quality to Isolate and Pillars.
31. Funeral Mist - Hekatomb
2018 [8.2] - Frantic, ferocious, sharp-edged black metal, with clarity and sufficient hints of melody, along with effective atmosphere and measured use of samples, to keep the listener engaged throughout.
32. Shylmagoghnar - Transience
2018 [8.2] - An enormous, dynamic venture of progressive, melodic quasi-extreme metal. Takes a lot of cues from melodeath bands (particularly on Journey Through The Fog with the Nordic folk metal melodies) and progressive death bands, I'm not sure it does enough to be truly distinctive despite its extravagance, but it's a very enjoyable and consumately crafted journey.
33. On Thorns I Lay - Aegaen Sorrow
2018 [8.2] - Melodeath-tinged (the Insomnium/Be'lakor strain) gothic death/doom, lots of plodding, melancholy metal with ample melody in the riffs and guitar leads. Competent clean and extreme vocals, used effectively in segments that merit each, with well-judged vocal lines. Starts off sounding a lot like Insomnium, but this dies down as the album enters its second half.
34. Cosmic Fall - In Search Of Outer Space
2018 [8.2] - Long, mostly instrumental psychedelic/space rock jams taking smooth, laidback ventures into unknown territory. It has a sound not unlike that of a less energetic Earthless or a Naxatras, and is about as enjoyable as one would hope from that description.
35. Orphaned Land - Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs
2018 [8.2] - I like the shift towards a more progressive style and more metal feel, but I don't think this quite matches up to the likes of Mabool or ORwarriOR on first listens. The vocals (including a great Hansi Kursch cameo) and orchestrations are really nice, and the songs generally strong, particularly the likes of Chains Fall To Gravity. However, the songwriting isn't as memorable or compelling as those on the previously mentioned albums, at least on first listen, and there's something about the mix that makes the instrumentation feel a bit flatter than it usually does for this group. Hopefully repeated listens will help it all come together, but still, it's always good to have more Orphaned Land.
36. Elysian Blaze - The Virtue Of Suffering
2018 [8.2] - Grandiose, atmospheric, vibrant funeral doom venture.
37. Euphoreon - Ends Of The Earth
2018 [8.2] - It's been so long since this band's debut that extreme power metal peers Wintersun have released 2 (!) albums. However, for those fans of the epic and energetic side of this subgenre, Euphoreon's latest is likely to be more appealing, particularly given the relative dearth of top-tier bands in the niche. There's not much in the way of surprises here, but there's big, heart-stirring epic tracks here with memorable hooks and solid song structuring.
38. Drudkh - Їм Часто Сниться Капіж (They Often See Dreams About The Spring)
2018 [8.2] - Soulful, expansive-sounding, semi-euphoric pagan-tinged atmos-black, I'm not a keen fan of Drudkh but I've heard their 'classic' albums and this isn't a whole long way off them.
39. Universal Hippies - Evolution Of Karma
2018 [8.2] - Some more instrumental hard/psychedelic/stoner rock from this year, but probably one of the more interesting ones, just due to some of the interesting and unexpected musical turns they take during their songs. The vibe here is perhaps less hazy and more serious and 'emotional' for lack of a better word that some of their contemporaries, and the lead guitar work that is consistently on display really helps the songs movie in interesting directions.
40. Monotheist - Scourge
2018 [8.2] - I generally don't care much for tech-death music any more, but this was rather enjoyable on the whole. More of a mix of prog-death and tech-death than an outright version of either, the brutality and technicality is balanced by intelligent songwriting, variety in atmosphere and approach, and some satisfying hooks. I also enjoyed the almost classical music-esque ending to Mark Of The Beast II.
41. Sojourner - The Shadowed Road
2018 [8.2] - This is a brand of 'epic' black metal that is far more up my street than the offerings of Summoning and their ilk. The mix of harsh male shrieks and ethereal female cleans, the prominent melodic guitar leads, the Forefather-esque folk-inspired melodies and arrangements, and a consistently impressive level of songwriting throughout. Can get a bit same-y, but it's a thoroughly enjoyable sound such that this isn't that huge an issue.
42. Mournful Congregation - The Incubus Of Karma
2018 [8.2] - Funeral doom albums are typically an undertaking to listen to all the way through, but I have warmed ever so slightly to it over the years, particularly when done as well as this. It is regularly snail-like in its pacing, but the mix of lead and backing guitars alongside synths regularly deliver an evocative vibe, and the title track actually goes for a shorter, more directly melodic approach which adds some nice variety. Probably won't listen again, but made for a rewarding initial listen.
43. Harakiri For The Sky - Arson
2018 [8.2] - Generally enjoyable melancholic black metal with a post-rock touch, but at nearly 80 minutes the album is a bit on the excessive side. Stillborn is the most memorable song on first listen.
44. Thought Eater - Bones In The Fire
2018 [8.1] - Heavy, crunchy instrumetal proggy stoner/sludge metal. Has a mix of desert riffs and solos along with more punishing, swamp riffs, as well as a trend towards complex songwriting and interesting song turns. Not all of it comes off smoothly, but it has more hits than misses.
45. Thy Catafalque - Geometria
2018 [8.1] - TC have still not delivered another album that I dig in the way I do Rengeteg, on more specifically, the first three tracks on Rengeteg. However, this may be the closest they've come since. Still some of that subtle eastern European folk melodicism included in some songs, this is typically quite a lush album, but has songs and segments with a heavier doom/black approach (see the closing song).
46. Messa - Feast For Water
2018 [8.1] - Bluesy, jazzy, ethereal drone/doom, not particularly metallic but quite unique-sounding, with dreamy female cleans floating through the plodding doom riffs, interspersed periods of saxophone and bluesy guitar playing. Likely to be one of the most interesting doom albums released this year.
47. Twin Speaks - Soulss
2018 [8.1] - This album morphs a lot during its runtime - through 40 minutes of music, it moves from doom, to stoner rock, to post-rock, to something reminiscent of The Bees Made Honey-era Earth (the latter most notably on Moonbathing, but also clearly present on Mantras Monsters). It all comes together to give an instrumental album that is both moody/melancholy and yet regularly laid-back, sometimes alternating between the two.
48. Khemmis - Desolation
2018 [8.1] - Along with most traditional-style doom metal, this isn't quite what I'm interested in listening to, but the quality of the vocals, songwriting, and musicianship is clearly on display, and Khemmis have once again released what is a top-quality effort.
49. Convocation - Scars Across
2018 [8.1] - Desolate Shrine (death metal) and Dark Buddha Rising (ambient drone/doom) members have come together to produce a definitely above-average grandiose death/doom album, full of density, menace, and atmosphere, and supported by use of sinister keyboards. I was hoping for something a bit closer to recent Dark Buddha Rising from the collaboration, but it's very good for what it is.
50. Oak - Oak III
2018 [8.1] - Really cool stoner rock/metal EP, cool mid-tempo grooves and old-school psychedelic vibes in the guitar playing and vocals.
51. Møl - Jord
2018 [8.1] - Blackgaze album that follows the blueprint of others in the genre, but delivers a level of hookiness and memorability to the music that gives it an edge over some of its peers. The closing title track in particular manages to be movingly melodic.
52. Death Grips - Year Of The Snitch
2018 [8.1] - Not at the same level of The Bottomless Pit, but still plenty to like here amongst the predictably frantic and varied tracklist here.
53. Varathron - Patriarchs Of Evil
2018 [8.1] - More melodic and song-oriented than some black metal, and more riff-focused as well, with less reliance on tremolo riffing. The songs are consistently enjoyable, and the keyboards, whilst perhaps a bit cheesy, are a well-utilised background tool in shaping the sound of the album. Overall, just some good, relatively accessible, perhaps slightly Gothic-sounding melodic black metal.
54. Necrophobic - Mark Of The Necrogram
2018 [8.1] - For better or worse, Necrophobic haven't changed all that much since 2007's Hrimthursum, my introduction to the band. They still play blistering, hook-filled blackened death metal to a high level of quality. As it is, I don't think this matches the memorability of Hrimthursum, but is a very worthwhile addition for fans of the band/style.
55. Violet Cold - Sommermorgen (Pt. I) - Innocence
2018 [8.0] - Pretty enjoyable indie/atmospheric/post-rock/shoegaze instrumental music, I see he has a trilogy of albums coming out, it will be interesting to see if either of the following 2 albums are closer to the blackgaze of Anomie or if he has completed departed from metal. This makes for very pleasant background music.
56. Yob - Our Raw Heart
2018 [8.0] - This is my second encounter with Yob after Clearing The Path To Ascend. I can definitely see the appeal, but haven't quite been fully won over yet. The sound is quite diverse, mixing different aspects of doom and stoner metal to drift between heavy, punishing beasts (e.g. The Screen), and more melodic, melancholy work (Ablaze, Beauty In Falling Leaves). I'm not sure the heavier stuff matches up to the stomping Nothing To Win from CTPTA, nor the melodic stuff against Marrow from the same album, but it generally makes for a lengthy but relatively rewarding listen. I would say the lengthy closing title track is the most successful song, another slow, melodic dirge, but with some of the more effective riffs and vocals, and a bit of a psychedelic vibe to parts of it that give it a distinctive flavour.
57. Toundra - Vortex
2018 [8.0] - Instrumental post-rock/metal, of the more riff-based and up-tempo variety, without quite the same 'to-and-fro' of dynamics and tone. Lengthy centrepiece Mojave is the standout track from this venture.
58. Stoned Karma - The Dark Side Of Destiny
2018 [8.0] - Nifty instrumental psychedelic stoner rock - quite moody, and has very prominent lead guitar work (not technical, but carries the melodies and directs the jam-like nature of songs). Wouldn't say it's up with Astronome but is overall rather enjoyable, with Creatures Of The Grain in particular carrying an unusually moving and melancholy vibe for this kind of music.
59. Long Distance Calling - Boundless
2018 [8.0] - I wouldn't say this band particularly excites me any more, after their relatively prolific output, but there's no denying they are highly accomplished at their own particular brand of post-rock/metal. Manage a decent level of variety between post- slow-burners (Out There), slower moodier numbers (Out There), driving heavier numbers (Ascending made me think a little bit of 10's Mastodon in riffing style at least), coming together effectively via quality songwriting and instrumental structuring.
60. The Great Machine - Respect
2018 [8.0] - Rather generic but wholly satisfying somewhat doom-y stoner metal in the vein of Kyuss, Sleep, and more.
61. Arkona - Khram
2018 [7.9] - Slightly limited, yet well put-together and fairly effective pagan folk metal. The atmosphere on the colossal Tseluya zhizn' constructed by the interplay of pounding tom drums, folk wind instrumental, background electronic thuds, chanted children's vocals, and slowly intruding guitars demonstrates a clear ability to combine the different aspects of their sound into something greater than the sum of it's parts. Not quite at the level of, say, Moonsorrow, but very capable in its own way.
62. Huntsmen - American Scrap
2018 [7.9] - An interesting and mostly very likeable combination of rural American folk-y/Americana rock with post-metal. It starts off focusing more on the former, but from Atlantic City the two parts end up meshing together nicely and the rest of the record is mostly very strong. I'm not completely sold on the vocals, and wonder if with a more gruff, intimidating clean vocalist it might sound more complete, but there's plenty here to indicate this band has got a great record in them if they continue to grow.
63. Subsignal - La Muerta
2018 [7.9] - A very picturesque and delicate effort, but I think Subsignal could do with bringing back a bit more heaviness in their sound. Or whatever it is they've been lacking since Touchstones.
64. Et Moriemur - Epigrammata
2018 [7.9] - An impressive amalgam of doom, death, and elements of gothic and black metal in a morose, grandiose display of bleakness. The infernal atmosphere of death/doom riffs and instrumentation with hints of black metal at certain points is combined with vocal choirs, keyboards, and gothic melancholy to add a touch of spectacle and grandeur.
65. Harm's Way - Posthuman
2018 [7.9] - Heavy, groovy, nasty, sludgy stuff. One mid-tempo headbangable stomp after another, fun stuff.
66. Maladie - Of Harm And Salvation
2018 [7.9] - The ability and ambition of this avant-garde black metal conglomerate is undeniable, but the excess and exuberance on display does cause the volume of music here to somewhat blend together into a flamboyant, impressive, yet difficult-to-digest mess.
67. Killer Boogie - Acid Cream
2018 [7.9] - Nice fuzzy psychedelic stoner rock.
68. Appalooza - Appalooza
2018 [7.9] - A combo of grunge, stoner rock, and perhaps a bit of sludge, this is some highly percussive heavy rock with somewhat Staley-esque vocals and thick riffs. Some of the hooks don't land and the songs occasionally take some awkward times, but at its best it delivers a foggy, menacing vibe twisting through quite variable headbang-fests.
69. Tesseract - Sonder
2018 [7.9] - A very short effort even by TesseracT's standards, this is of similar quality to previous efforts, a number of satisfying moments and even complete songs, but with something slightly holding me back from fully embracing it that I can't really identify.
70. At The Gates - To Drink From The Night Itself
2018 [7.9] - A step up from their comeback At War With Reality, this is consistently engaging throughout, and very much of the sound one might expect from the band that produced Slaughter Of The Soul and Terminal Spirit Disease. Lots of hooky buzzsaw riffs and melodic hints contrasted against sinister atmosphere, but some reasonable variety in tempo to mix things up a bit.
71. Earthless - Black Heaven
2018 [7.9] - Earthless departed from their crazy extended jams to some more palatable hard rock here. It's definitely good for the genre and generally enjoyable, but doesn't make them stand out in the way Rhythms Of A Cosmic Sky did; they're now just a good quality psychedelic/hard rock band now rather than a crazy instrumental epic jam band now. Vocals also not necessarily their strong suit. It does end with its 2 strongest songs, the title track and Sudden End.
72. Sons Of The Stone - Stone Tales
2018 [7.8] - Moody, soft, effective instrumental stoner rock, quite a light tone in terms of intensity, but a serious and evocative tone.
73. Muyubyosha - 一期一会
2018 [7.8] - A very peculiar album, the subdued death metal approach reminded me a bit of Emptiness' Nothing But The Whole, but with a bit more chaos lurking underneath in this one. Effectively produces a hellishly grim atmosphere, and even fits in some bizarre divergences such as the electronic motif on If Return - A Mirror Glance.
74. Dark Buddha Rising - II
2018 [7.8] - Dark ambient drone doom in the vein of Inversum, I wouldn't say it was as compelling as that one, but it still offers up relentless noisy droning riffs that generate an appropriately dark-yet-rich atmosphere in part 1, and a subdued, haunted vibe (assisted by the screaming sound effects) in part 2.
75. Oceans Of Slumber - The Banished Heart
2018 [7.8] - I'm definitely open to changing my opinion on this with further listens, as it's a lot to take in, but on first listen I found it a lot less soulful than Winter - the rich, slick, emotional vibe of the likes of Winter, This Road, and the Nights In White Satin cover didn't really come through here. The songwriting has become a lot more progressive, and there's still emotion, but more of a typical sorrowful feel. There's definitely good stuff here - the title track outro is really nice, Etiolation stood out as a strong song, and the closer Wayfaring Stranger is a stripped down vocals-and-piano piece that captures some of the soul I was hoping for from this album.
76. Cruachan - Nine Years Of Blood
2018 [7.8] - I'd been aware of Cruachan for a while as that 'other' Irish pagan metal band other than Primordial, but had never really delved into them. After listening to this, it's clear they have a very different approach to their compatriots. Right from out the block, the more prevalent black metal streak is obvious, as is the use of non-metal folk instruments and traditional folk melodies. It is a good album and manages to be less cheesy than some of their Scandinavian folk contemporaries, but didn't quite offer the novelty or quality to be great in my eyes.
77. Chaos Echśs - Mouvement
2018 [7.8] - The more extreme, dissonant death/black metal parts didn't particularly engage me, but when it took a more psychedelic, meandering, atmospheric vibe, I found myself getting drawn in. Would definitely rank the second track, 'As An Embraceable Magma...', as my favourite on the album.
78. Black Willows - Bliss
2018 [7.8] - A single near-20 minute track packed with rough-edged, heavy, fuzzy stoner doom in the vein of Sleep or OM. Moves at a plodding pace, carried by drums, featuring slowly transforming, crushing riffs. The production is a bit rough, and they have the monotony of Sleep without quite the same charisma, but it's pretty solid overall.
79. Paara - Riitti
2018 [7.8] - Starts out very Moonsorrow-esque with atmospheric, slow BM and chanted vocals for about 8 minutes before the black metal kicks in. From that point onwards, there is some fluctuation between folk BM stuff in the vein of Moonsorrow, bits that sound a bit like Below The Lights-era Enslaved, and then substantial portions of straight-up black metal. The production is decent, not raw but still suitably unpolished for the genre, and they do incorporate some segments of clean vocals amidst the more extreme black moments to add some variety. Altogether it's a decent effort, nothing stunningly original but not a complete replica of any one band, and with the songwriting chops to mesh these different influences together into something generally engaging and worthwhile. Also, bonus points for the 'epic' closing couple of minutes, a mesh of melancholy slow BM riffs with evocative male and female cleans and mellow melodic guitar leads, a really nice conclusion to proceedings.
80. Šiškin Les - Универс
2018 [7.8] - Transfixing, glacial funeral doom/drone metal juggernaut that relentlessly trudges forwards for 30 minutes to the sound of slow, ponderous riffs, accentuated by female cleans, growls, and scattish electronic sounds.
81. King Goat - Debt Of Aeons
2018 [7.8] - I might've liked this a bit more without the classic 'wallowing in misery' epic doom vocals; they're good for what they are but it's just not a sound I'm that fond of. The rest of it is interesting and sometimes surprising proggy doom.
82. Uada - Cult Of A Dying Sun
2018 [7.8] - Fairly by-the-books black metal, but ultimately well-made and satisfying.
83. Winterfylleth - The Hallowing Of Heirdom
2018 [7.8] - Winterfylleth release their own Kveldssanger. Purely acoustic neofolk, not necessarily the most gripping, but done effectively and makes for soothing background music.
84. The Steams - Wild Ferment
2018 [7.8] - A lot more 60's-inspired than a lot of albums on SMOD, there's a real 'flower power' feel to the atmospheric mellowness of some of these songs, not in least due to the vocals and percussion, and a definite psychedelic rock vibe to the guitar sound. The used of saxophone on some tracks also adds another interesting flavour to songs.
85. Primitive Man - Steel Casket
2018 [7.8] - Sinister noise music, with underlying droning sound overladen with a collection of noises, including what sound like horns, and buzzing insects. Really manages to summon the horrid atmosphere it's aiming for.
86. Autokrator - Hammer Of Heretics
2018 [7.8] - Some above-average cavernous blackened death metal, with a vile production sound and thunderous riffing. I feel like they sound less industrial and atmospheric here than on their debut, but it's so long since I listened to that I might be wrong.
87. Tribulation - Down Below
2018 [7.8] - Continuing in the vein of Children Of The Night with a more Gothic, more rock-y sound, compared to the twisted, proggy/psychedelic extreme metal on the fantastic Formulas Of Death. It's dynamic, well-written, and consistently enjoyable, particularly Lacrimosa, the song that really stood out on initial listen to me. However, I just don't find this current sound as enthralling as what they accomplished on The Formulas Of Death with stuff such as Apparitions and Randa.
88. Hamferð - Támsins Likam
2018 [7.8] - Atmospheric, melancholic doom that drifts between soft, spacious roaming and intense dirges. Some intelligent musical arrangements here, including fairly effective use of non-metal elements, and the whole package delivers an effective atmosphere. However, it isn't sufficiently compelling beyond it's basic high level of competence to reach that next level.
89. King Weed - Eternal Hypnosis
2018 [7.7] - Introspective instrumental stoner rock, with calm, contemplative, slow-burning tracks. A bit let down by a muddy production that obscures some of the finer details, but generally makes for a relaxing and moving listen. If they managed to combine this writing with a production job such as those Weedpecker consistently manage, this could be really neat.
90. Arkheth - 12 Winter Moons Comes The Witches Brew
2018 [7.7] - This is a thoroughly strange album, and one that spends a significant amount of time balancing the line between 'out there' and 'annoying'. A mix of avant-garde black metal with a dramatic flair not too different from Tribulation, spastic saxophone, a range of shrieked, sang, and croaked vocals, stuck together into multi-faceted songs featuring riffing that varies from traditional black (particularly on the closing track, arguably the most 'normal' on display here), to almost euphoric riffing, to just plain weird and uncomfortable-sounding. This isn't for those looking for something grounded in normality, but for brave adventurors, it's worth looking into whether this scratches your itch for the abnormal.
91. Slave To Sirens - Terminal Leeches
2018 [7.6] - Some ripping thrash metal from Lebanon, with hooky riffs, shredding vocals, and a meaty production sound.
92. Boss Keloid - Melted On The Inch
2018 [7.6] - I found this okay, but it didn't win me over in the way I was hoping it would based on the descriptions and reviews. The sludgy/psychedelic prog metal approach produces some quality moments, but there were few times I felt truly hooked, and several times I found myself disinterested or irritated. Not sold on the vocals either, I found myself disliking them more often than truly enjoying them.
93. Lunatic Soul - Under The Fragmented Sky
2018 [7.6] - Mariusz Duda can do very little wrong for me, but I don't think this companion piece to last year's Fractured is quite his finest work. It's quite a bit more experimental with the sounds it uses, which can work out positively (on He Av En or the title track) or negatively (the maddening opening sounds of The Art Of Repairing).
94. Sectioned - Annihilated
2018 [7.6] - Pure hard/mathcore savagery. Too much for me to really enjoy with its consistent intensity throughout its runtime, but I can appreciate it, and even enjoy certain songs, such as Starved Lives and the electronic-driven second half of Portrait.
95. Alkaloid - Liquid Anatomy
2018 [7.6] - Long, diverse, technically proficient, and ambitious prog/tech-death. However, across the bursts of extreme metal or the off-kilter melodic passages, there was nothing here to inspire or engage me at more than a surface level. Much prefer Rivers Of Nihil's latest as far as extreme prog goes.
96. Hell To Pay - Bliss
2018 [7.6] - Crunchy, frantic, punishing crusty hardcore, with meaty slow riffs and frenetic fast sections. Probably not as up my streets as the similarly aggressive hardcore album from Eglise a couple of years ago, but it makes for an appropriately energetic 20 minutes or so, before the near-10 minute closing title track goes on a curious venture through a range of different samples.
97. Calliope - Chapel Perilous
2018 [7.6] - Some intriguing psychedelic rock - lurching from 60's/70's hard rocking, to slower grooves, to periods of droning noise, and even some quite gnarly, eerie riffs in there. Very much 60's/70's put through a somewhat dark and moody filter.
98. In Vain - Currents
2018 [7.6] - Generally follows in the footsteps of Aenigma, but lacks the hooks and memorability of that album. The content here is entirely listenable and mostly enjoyable, but doesn't match the quality of its predecessor.
99. Third Island - Omelas
2018 [7.6] - Decent post-metal, arguably most distinguished by the rich, melancholy clean vocal approach during its softer moments. The transitions between heavy and soft are less stark here than with some bands, and the band stays mostly rooted in the semi-harsh metallic riffing sound that comprises the bulk of its sound. There is a doom side and almost industrial feel to the music on here to go with the typical post-metal components one might expect. Ultimately, it is well-made but not all that compelling.
100. Them Moose Rush - Don't Pick Your Noise
2018 [7.6] - Fun, energetic proggy post-hardcore with a hint of stoner rock. Features engaging songs with a healthy degree of variety and effective hooks.
101. Wrekmeister Harmonies - The Alone Rush
2018 [7.6] - Not quite up my street, but the slow, subdued, minimalist, morose atmosphere of this venture is rather effective. There were times I felt the drumming felt a bit overbearing and overly loud (particularly towards the end of I think Behold! The Final Scream), and the dissonant heavier parts were less appealing, but the times it was plodding along with its minimal droning instrumentation and rich Gothic vocals I found some things to enjoy there.
102. Shining - X - Varg Utan Flock
2018 [7.6] - Some commenters labelled this Shining's best effort since Halmstad, which was quite the claim. For what it's worth, it's more accomplished than the snippets I've heard from the band since then. It has the typical range of diversity, from full-pelt hate-filled black metal to quite melancholy, sometimes within a single song, such as the closing track (and possibly best song) Mot Aokigahara, which also features a couple of great guitar solos.
103. Judas Priest - Firepower
2018 [7.5] - For a band that's over 40 years old, this is an impressive record. Taking elements of classic 80's Screaming For Vengeance/British Steel JP and meshing it with more modern elements, it is remarkable that they can still rock this hard after such a long career. Still, it doesn't manage to overcome my disinterest in heavy metal - these are good songs for the genre, but not all that personally stirring.
104. Nekrogoblikon - Welcome To Bonkers
2018 [7.5] - When it's in more melodeath/tech-death/thrash/extreme power terriotory, this is pretty fun, but the showtune about the spider and the closing glam rock piano ballad were less up my street.
105. Ape Cave - Language Of The Earth
2018 [7.5] - Not entirely sure what to make off this, a slightly oddball proggy sludge (with brief stoner elements) metal albums, with twisting songs, some punishing riffs alongside some almost psychedelic jams, all capped with a slightly rough production. Not the hookiest of experiences but certainly not unenjoyable. However, it is extremely long considering the density of the material on show.
106. Fractal Gates - The Light That Shines
2018 [7.4] - Pleasant but pretty unremarkable melodeath.
107. Thirst Planet - The Essence
2018 [7.4] - Stoner doom metal, with the slow heavy riffs that one would expect from that genre description. Not the kind of all-consuming huge sound of Sleep, it's a bit lighter and rockier, and also not necessarily super-hooky. Probably the most attention-grabbing track is the closer Muddy Feet, with its ominous lead guitar lines and huge closing riff.
108. Hazy Sea - Cargo Incognito
2018 [7.4] - Reasonable but slightly forgettable instrumental stoner rock, alternates between almost semi-frantic heavier parts down to long, calm, meandering sections with lots of clean guitar. Totally fine but not quite up with some of the finer examples of the sound currently coming out.
109. Angra - ØMNI
2018 [7.4] - My only previous experience of Angra is Temple Of Shadows, which is a really good prog/power album. Maybe I should check out more of their early stuff, but as for now 2018 has been the time to check in again with them, now fronted by Fabio Lione. Whilst the music here clearly isn't close to ToS in terms of ambition or inspiration, this is one of the more enjoyable power metal albums I've dipped into in the past few years, particularly from a genre veteran. It definitely is identifiable as the same band that made ToS, with some of the same bells and whilstles, but with less extravagant songwriting, typically slower songs, and not as memorable songs, but still mostly filled with generally pleasant earworms. The slower semi-ballad Always More and the ØMNI two-parter are probably amongst the stongest songs.
110. Sinistro - Sangue Cássia
2018 [7.4] - An early solid post/doom release, with ample atmosphere, not least in part to the floating, haunted leading vocals. Some songs work better than other - closer Cravo Carne is probably the best vehicle for their ominous post-doom sinistry, whilst Abismo is an appropriately sorrowful doom venture.
111. Human Serpent - For I, The Misanthropist
2018 [7.4] - Yup, that's black metal.
112. Watain - Trident Wolf Eclipse
2018 [7.3] - Hooky and satisfying but generic and repetitive thrashy black metal. Easy to headbang along to or get hooked on but very limited long-term appeal with little to distinguish itself from past efforts by Watain and their contemporaries.
113. The Sword - Used Future
2018 [7.2] - Clearly The Sword are a long way from the pummelling stoner rock that propelled them to moderate success early in their career. They've now fully become a retro-hard/space rock band, albeit passing that 60's/70's sound through something of a modern filter. I was actually surprised how much I kinda enjoyed this album, considering I remember finding High Country kinda dull. Nothing special, but pleasant enough.
114. Exlimitir - It Weighed Itself In Silver
2018 [7.2] - Cavernous, dissonant, frenzied tech-death with clear Demilich influence. Manages to carry a decent amount of groove for the discordance and chaotic nature, but not something I would fancy listening to again.
115. Corrosion Of Conformity - No Cross No Crown
2018 [7.2] - Very 'standard' stoner rock, no surprises but it's got it's good share of hooky riffs and good vocals. The most captivating track is the lengthy, and somewhat grandiose-sounding A Quest To Believe, with it's slow, hooky riffs and tasteful overladen guitar leads.
116. Wet Cactus - Dust, Hunger & Gloom
2018 [7.2] - Closer to a classic 70's bluesy hard rock sound than some of the dense astral travellers on the Stoned Meadow Of Doom channel I've been digging in recent months, it's pretty pleasant, but the vocals sound like Ozzy without that eerieness that makes his vocals so intriguing, meaning in this case it's just competent singing without either enough power or charisma to stand out. Beyond that, the hard rock sound is neat enough, but there's quite a few segments in which the sound feels quite thin. Perfectly likeable but not as memorable as some of the other underground bands I've been recently discovering in the scene. Aquelarre is probably the most compelling track if I ever want to revisit it.
117. Heaven Pierce Her - Flowerworks
2018 [7.2] - Colossal one-man post-rock/metal/ambient project. It certainly drags at times during its extensive song lengths, but the atmosphere generally builds at a mostly well-judged and satisfying pace, and the ambient, rock, and metal sides are all generally competent; however, the last is most undersold by the understandably imperfect production.
118. God Is An Astronaut - Epitaph
2018 [7.1] - GIAA have gone for a far more ambient vibe on this one than previous records I remember of theirs. It's actually quite compelling during the title track, but by halfway through it begins to drag a bit. Nice to see them mixing it up a bit, as I thought the last few albums were getting kinda same-y, but will perhaps have slightly limited appeal.
119. Bloodshot Dawn - Reanimation
2018 [7.1] - Sounds like mid-90's At The Gates, pumped up on steroids, and then lightened up with some occasional 00's Gothenburg melodies and refrained use of keyboards, alongside some pyrotechnic lead guitar work. Not really my thing, but it's all pretty solid and relatively enjoyable on the whole, apart from some awful vocals that almost sound like Donald Duck growls amidst the far more competent convential growls and screams.
120. Untamed Land - Between The Winds
2018 [7.1] - Sounds like Summoning mixed with bits of Western soundtrack style music, with some super cheesy keyboards in parts. Definitely more listenable than Summoning, but has the same propensity to bore.
121. Black Space Riders - Amoretum Vol. 1
2018 [6.9] - I swear this is a departure from the sound on Refugeeum, although admittedy it's been a long time since I heard that album so possibly I'm misremembering. There's still some decent stoner rock instrumentation on here, but I found myself put off by the vocals, both the subpar growls that popped up on the opener and at a few other moments, but also the vocal style, which gave track 2 an indie feel and track 3 a Vulture Industries/80's new wave/Goth rock vibe. For whatever reason, that vibe ended up putting me off the music, even when the instrumentation was at a good standard. Not a bad album by any means, but not one I enjoyed to a great degree.
122. Under The Sun - Vol. I
2018 [6.6] - Satisfying but rudimentary stoner hard rock EP.
123. Light The Torch - Revival
2018 [6.5] - Adequate and passingly pleasant metalcore, but not much in the way of standout songs, and without Howard Jones there's little else on display here to really inspire repeat listens.
124. Summoning - With Doom We Come
2018 [6.4] - Everything you might expect a Summoning album to be - you can decide for yourself if that appeals to you.
125. Ænimus (SWE) - The Final Warning
2018 [6.3] - As far a trad-style heavy/power metal goes, this is definitely better than some of the old relics repeating the same inanity (still get shivers thinking of that terminally dull Primal Fear album I tried a couple of years ago), but it still has the same 'old territory retread without a new spark to make the journey exciting' that I get from >95% of trad-heavy metal bands these days.
126. Kamelot - The Shadow Theory
2018 [6.2] - I hoped that Silverthorn would be the mildly decent starting point for Kamelot to grow with Tommy Karevik towards their former glory, or something approaching it. However, the music has got less impressive and memorable with each successive album. I can hardly remember anything from this, and have no interest in giving it further listens, which is unfortunate.
127. Therion - Beloved Antichrist
2018 [6.0] - I find Therion pretty enjoyable in small doses - a 46-song triple album isn't 'small doses'. I would say the music here is not at all without merit, and there's more than a few parts that are reasonably good, but the general level is nothing spectacular, and nowhere near good enough to overcome the extreme runtime and lack of variety during said runtime. Apparently it's supposed to be the soundtrack of a stage production; maybe it could work for that, but for personal listening, I feel like you have to be a real diehard fanatic of a specific aspect of Therion (theatrical and not particular metallic) to not grow tired of this before the end of even one disc, never mind all 3.
128. Chaos Echśs - Sustain [Collaboration]
2018 [5.8] - Semi-interesting tribalistic dark ambient shat upon by unlistenable free jazz saxophone. Free jazz is the antithesis of musical satisfaction for me, every time it stopped playing the music got like 2 points more enjoyable.
129. Accu§er - The Mastery
2018 [5.8] - Not really into thrash much any more, especially not any new bands after discovering Sylosis, but for some reason tagged this as something to check out. The music is okay but very generic except for a bit more oomph and heaviness than, say, Bay Area thrash, and the songs aren't all that interesting. Not sure why I thought it was worth giving a go, clearly not what I'm looking for.
130. Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals - Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue
2018 [5.7] - The first Phil Anselmo & The Illegals album was so fully packed with unrestrained anger that the songs became messy and incoherent in ways that almost became amateurish. They've found a way to shape this aggression more effectively this time; there's still enough venom to poison a city, but the sludge on display here has an element of control to go with the bile-filled vocals (Phil on top form), vicious faster riffing (which are at times death-metal tinged) and swampish slower crawls. Still not hugely appealing but a far superior effort than the debut, and a somewhat worthy sludge/death album for those who just want music fuelled by pure misanthropic hate.
131. Peosphoros - Pink Metal
2018 [5.5] - A virtually unlistenable opening track blends into some mediocre black metal matched with an array of vocal styles, from typical shrieks to jokey operatic vocals. Apparently the USP of the album is the lyrics, but considering I couldn't understand what was being said, all I got was a half hour of pretty uninteresting black metal.
132. Portal - ION
2018 [5.5] - I'll be honest, I don't like Portal - it mostly just sounds like incoherent mess, and I'm well aware of experimental music and dissonant music, but this kind of thing sounds like it's being different for the sake of being different rather than sounding good. But even by that opinion, this is much less appealing than their previous record, not least due to the iffy production giving no punch to the endless chaotic guitar playing and pounding drums.
133. Spectral Lore - Helian [Split]
2018 [5.0] - Yeah, not for me. The Jute Gyte song is just aimless noise that was intolerable at the midway point. The Spectral Lore song is better, with a more palatable brand of ambient black, noise, and doom music, but eventually descends towards the end into an unappealling mess. Not SL's finest work by any means.
134. Machine Head - Catharsis
2018 [3.7] - After the first few songs, I thought it was pretty underwhelming and featuring the worst of Machine Head without all that much of their best, but nothing as offensive as I'd heard about the record. Then it reaches Triple Beam, and between that, Kaleidoscope, and Bastards, unleashes a torrent of shit all over my temptation to be friendly to the album. Bastards in particular is the exact kind of jawdropping incompetence I was anticipating before I started listening to the record and was surprised didn't arrive in the first few songs. It improves a bit after that song, but not especially, and between the bland acoustic Behind A Mask and the sloppy aggression of Psychotic, there's a few more duds in store before the inexplicable 75 minutes of the album are over and done with. Admittedly, the 9-minute Heavy Lies The Crown actually has some decent riffs and vocal lines on it (but is let down a bit by the vocals singing those lines), and is those closest the album gets to the quality one might hope from modern Machine Head. Overall, it makes Bloodstone & Diamonds looks like a decent album, which is saying a lot.

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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Comments: 7   Visited by: 76 users
25.02.2018 - 16:36
Au Pays Natal
One-man projects are always hit or miss. Mass respect for all of them though. Will follow this list to the end....
25.05.2018 - 15:28
Pay more attention to how ya tag albums
Jusqu'ici, tout va bien...

2021 goodies
25.05.2018 - 19:07
Written by RaduP on 25.05.2018 at 15:28

Pay more attention to how ya tag albums

Is this in reference to the Drudkh album? I first used the tool to insert albums from collection into lists which didn't work, and then I copied the album title, which didn't work, and I was too lazy to put any more effort into sorting it out at that point, and keep forgetting when I add in more albums
25.05.2018 - 19:17
Written by musclassia on 25.05.2018 at 19:07

Written by RaduP on 25.05.2018 at 15:28

Pay more attention to how ya tag albums

Is this in reference to the Drudkh album? I first used the tool to insert albums from collection into lists which didn't work, and then I copied the album title, which didn't work, and I was too lazy to put any more effort into sorting it out at that point, and keep forgetting when I add in more albums

Also Untamed Land as Untamed Lands or Sustain without the [Collaboration]. And yeah Drudkh as well.
Jusqu'ici, tout va bien...

2021 goodies
25.05.2018 - 19:30
Written by RaduP on 25.05.2018 at 19:17

Also Untamed Land as Untamed Lands or Sustain without the [Collaboration]. And yeah Drudkh as well.

Ah yeah, okay I fixed them all now
26.05.2018 - 14:22
At best deranged
Great list imo. I heard a bunch of these records so far this year and I agree with almost all your explanations. Still a bunch of records on this list I can check out.
08.08.2018 - 02:13
Cool list mate, cheers!
But I think you should give Shining some more love..

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