2018 was, in retrospective, a year in which quality trumped over quantity. Not many albums (and EPs) got picked this year, but a good lot of digging of new horizons, some surprises, some disappointments and some “fairly good” stuff. I hate trying to set my Top 10 of the year, for many reasons. But here are my album picks for this year, ranked alphabetically.
Clouds – Dor
I love listening to doom metal, because it is a genre that allows me to undergo an introspective meditation, allow some of my melancholy to resurface and think about those that I loved and are no more existent. This album spoke straight into my limbic system and heavily touch my feelings. It is something that rarely musical pieces are capable to achieve. Dor is an honest work from the author that is intimate and sincere.
Ex-Libris – Ann (Chapter 1 EP)
Dianne strikes back with her prog metal band Ex-Libris and damn it is just pure bliss to listen to her in something more cocky, more proggy, more versatile, in other words more “Ex-Libris”. Sure the EP is only three songs and kind of let you thirsty for more but surely looking forward to listen to the rest. If you like Dianne’s voice and ready to embrace some nicely crafted prog metal, you should grab this EP.
FT-17 – Verdun!
FT-17 brought in his second album, right on the mark of the 100th anniversary of the final offense of Verdun, as the tide turned on “La Der des Ders”, thanks to the involvement of the American troops on the front, bringing new troops and new warfare. The album continues where we left our private Marcellin Trouve, now fully inside the hellfire of Verdun. The band nicely translated the fury and violence of the trench wars in their second album, that not only will satisfy black/death metal enthusiasts, not without getting a lesson on World War 1, and the atrocity (if not the plain futility) of this war that decimated a whole generation and set the world on fire for the next 100 year.
Ghost – Prequelle
Ghost. Rarely a band has been so divisive and such a zebra for metalheads. Also, the media firestorm that engulfed Ghost by revealing the identity of Papa Emeritus (identified as Tobais Forge), the fratricide conflict that has hit the band. “Prequelle” was a good album, but honestly I was not as much blow away as I was from their first two albums. There are some good tunes such as “Rats” , “Faith”. Some very interesting and engaging experiments such as “Miasma” bringing 80s synths and jazzy saxophone into the mix. But also a good half of the album I could just toss because “meh”. Is the album good? Yes it is good. Does it deserve being #1 of metal of the 2018 Top 10? I think there are contenders for that position.
Hellight – As We Slowly Fade
This was a late-one coming to my ear. Coming from Brazil, an impressive doom metal album. When you think about Brazil, you think about colored beaches, carnaval, sunshine, futbol and samba. Well, you also have a lightbulb turning on with metal bands such as “Sepultura” and “Nervosa Thrash”. But getting into an album that bring the darkest tones of doom from Brazil is almost mission impossible. Yet, Hellight shows us that Brazil can impress us and produce some gems. If you are looking for some doom coming outside the realms of Asgard, you will have a secured pick.
Kalidia – The Frozen Throne
Kalidia brought us their second album this Fall, showing us that slowly but surely the Italian power metal scene is getting hands on with promising rising star. It is a very nice follow-up of their first album, more focused, harder, louder, faster and full of vigor like a young wolf. You can find a more detailed review in my previous posts.
Lux in Tenebris – To A New Eternity
Marion-Lamita is back, after going through tumultuous and rocky years, into the scene by experimenting new avenues. One of theme is “Lux In Tenebris”, an EP that is pretty good considered the limited access she had. There is some potential to grow here, most of the EP is pleasing to the ears and hopefully can set a ramp to something promising. I wish good luck to her and Thierry for having a transforming and prolific 2019.
Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart
Oceans of Slumber was another surprise, especially coming from Houston. What I can tell more about? Well nothing much, except to read the review I published on earlier this year. One of my favorite album I have for this year!. A must-listen album!
Ophidian Spell – Nux/Hemera
This was really a random pick as my SO went visiting my family back home. I asked her to pick me some albums from local bands in my favorite record store in my hometown and this was one of the album pick really just by randomness (my wife hates metal, so it was really random and just guided by genres given). Result? A very interesting prog/technical death album that is a delight to hear. It is fast, it is furious, but it is also nicely set with “dentelles” around, giving a kind of the best of both worlds for me. Give a try to their tunes, this one from their track “Mental Universe”. https://youtu.be/jIr9pWVToOQ
Omnium Gatherum – The Burning Cold
2018 was the year I kind of embraced Finnish melodic death. First it was Insomnium with their last album “Winter’s Gate” (in complete opposition to critics, I really really loved that one), then my second pick this year was Omnium Gatherum. A very good album overall nicely blending the brutality of death with a good ounce of melodics giving this escapism to Finland forest. You can find my full review on that one too in my previous posts.
Ragana – Let Our Names Be Forgotten (EP)
Another discovery this year. Ragana, coming from Oakland, CA. An interesting pick for sludge metal this year. Rough, dark and primal. I liked it.
Sytigian Crown – Through Divine Rite (EP)
Another EP discovered while wandering on Bandcamp. It has this Black Sabbath-esque kind of vibes, coming from the LA scene that I found very pleasant.
Swallow the Sun – Lumina Aurea (EP)
Swallow the Sun simply outdid themselves by releasing an audiovisual wondering experience with Lumina Aurea. Get your best AV equipment and watch this!
Therion – Beloved Antechrist
Therion. A band that keeps breaking the norms, that keeps experimenting and setting milestones in the metal scene, that their fan like it and not. They know how to do impressive stuff and “Beloved Antechrist” was would an opera metal would sounds like if it was a real theatrical performance. A 3 hour album. What? You did not get it? You have been missing something big. Again, I will refer back to my previous blog post.
Whyzdom – As Time Turns To Dust
Whyzdom, my go-to French symphonic metal band that is playing now at the same field than juggernauts such as Epica and Nightwish, while having their own “French touch”. It is baroque, well-orchestrated and very pleasant to the ears. Again, you can find my review on this one as well. What? You never heard about Whyzdom? Listen to them and get a catch-up course ASAP.
Wolfheart – Constellation of the Black Light
My second Finnish melodic death album of the year. A damn good album overall to listen. It is loud, fast, brutal yet again a road to escapism from Finland. Did I ever told you how Finland knows how to blacksmith their metal with such elegance? Enough said!
This was about my 2018 year in music, and the least I can say as I become older I become picky on my choices. Lets see what 2019 will give me.