In a world full of political turmoil and controversy, it's good to have something to help us escape from the droll of day to day life. Luckily, we had plenty of good music to get us through.
From veterans staying on top of their game, to new acts emerging from the crypts, this year was full of great releases. With so many to choose from, narrowing them all down to a list of 10 is always difficult. That being said, here are my picks for the 10 best metal albums of 2018.
10. At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself
It’s been twenty-three years since At The Gates took the world by storm with Slaughter of the Soul. One of the most influential albums of all time that’s still inspiring bands today. This year the group further cemented their legacy with To Drink From The Night Itself. Although guitarist Anders Björler and the band parted ways last year, the album possesses a sound reminiscent of the groups’ earlier material, most notably Terminal Spirit Disease. As usual, Thomas Lindberg’s vocals sound like they’ve been kept in pristine condition for the past two decades. The Swedish legends continue to prove that they can stand apart form the many imitators that have come and gone.
9. Funeral Mist – Hekatomb
Good things come to those who wait. And for those waiting on a new release from Funeral Mist, the anticipation was worth it. The follow up to 2009’s Maranatha, Hekatomb caught many, including myself, completely off guard. Stripping away the atmospheric elements that were prominent on previous releases, Funeral Mist have opted to go straight for the jugular in a full-on assault on the senses. Is this a new era for the group? Perhaps it is. If there’s one thing that’s certain—we’re eagerly awaiting the next installment.
8. Mopok – Carpathian Fullmoon Ritual
Although still unsigned to a major label, Mopok are a shining example of atmospheric black metal. The solo project of Severoth combines drawn-out chord progressions, stripped-down production, and minimalist keyboard backing. Similar to the likes of Striborg, this third release shows promise that the next year will hopefully bring us a new full length. There are still plenty of gems lurking in the underground; one just has to know where to look.
7. Sigh – Heir to Despair
You never know what to expect when Sigh release new material. As a band, their entire body of work has taken on many forms as they’ve continued to explore new directions. Heir to Despair is another entry in a long line of albums that defy typical convention. The music illustrates a descent into madness while implanting psychedelic elements into the fold. This newest offering is easily one of their finest yet. As they’ve shown us before, whatever comes next will most likely exceed our expectations.
6. Sodom – Partisan
It’s hard to say anything about Sodom that hasn’t already been mentioned. Along with other Teutonic thrash acts Destruction and Kreator, Tom Angelripper and company have churned out an endless amount of anthems over the years. Partisan, the groups newest EP is another entry in a discography that serves as the perfect soundtrack to warfare and destruction. With no conceivable end to conflict around the globe in 2019, Sodom give us a glimpse into a new blackened thrash assault that lies beyond the horizon.
5. Profanatica – Altar of the Virgin Whore
As a group, Profanatica have never been known for their technical prowess. Nor have they ever shied away from their use of Satanic imagery on their albums. What you get is stripped down and abrasive, not to mention completely unapologetic. Altar of the Virgin Whore is the latest entry in the group's blasphemous catalog, which has grown steadily since their reformation in 2001. Highly recommended for fans of primitive black metal and nightmare-inducing atmosphere.
4. Craft – White Noise and Black Metal
The newest from Craft is another example of something being worth the wait. Properly describing the Swedish black metal outfit has always been a challenge. While misanthropy and chaos are certainly expected from the genre, Craft weave a complex wall of sound, multilayered, atmospheric, and nihilistic to the core. White Noise and Black Metal marks a slight progression from the groups 2011 release Void, with a polished production and further musical complexity. It’s also recommended listening from start to finish, letting the music guide you down a path you won’t soon regret.
3. Sargeist – Unbound
Lead by Shatraug is the Finnish black metal titans Sargeist, and the groups fifth full-length Unbound lives up to its title in every sense of the word. The group's previous release, Feeding The Crawling Shadows felt disjointed at times and lacked solid direction. Unbound shows a group completely focused on what they do best—crafting unrelenting music that is undiluted, raw, and at times uncontrollable in its frenzy. There are very few bands out there today that even come close to this level of perfection. Unbound was unleashed without any warning and is easily one of the biggest surprises of 2018.
2. Judas Priest – Firepower
For a band that made their debut in 1974, Judas Priest are still turning out formidable releases in a music world that’s constantly changing. The second full length to feature guitarist Richie Faulkner, who replaced K.K. Downing in 2014, Firepower is a statement of the groups’ longevity. Priest offer up a unique blend of lightning-paced guitar work fused with melody. Best described, as a marriage between Defenders of The Faith and Painkiller, there’s no stopping this metal juggernaut anytime soon.
1. Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods
With the departure of Abbath, many were skeptical about the future of Immortal. With Demonaz Doom Occulta returning to guitar for the first time since 1997’s Blizzard Beasts, the result was something that silenced any doubts. Northern Chaos Gods is a return to form, and reminiscent of previous efforts such as Pure Holocaust and Battles in the North. Thundering like a cavalry charge, Immortal have firmly re-established themselves as the most commanding force in black metal.