Trevor Strnad's Top 100 Metal Albums of the Year
These are my favorite heavy albums of 2018, in some kind of order. As usual, I am aiming for both quantity and quality with this list in an attempt to expose you to as much cool shit as I can. I think all of these are great albums… it was such an absurdly awesome year for the underground that I found it nearly impossible to rank all this stuff.
As you can see, there are many albums here that I sadly never got around to posting about this year in The Obituarist, and for that I truly apologize. 2018 was one of The Black Dahlia Murder’s most successful years as an outfit, which came with an even more exhausting touring cycle than usual. Once I fell behind on releases, it was a slippery slope that I was never truly able to recover from, despite pressure from different bands, labels, and fans.
Now that 2019 is about to begin, you will be seeing both a lot more of me and a lot less of me. I’ll be back with ten entries a month, every month. It’s important to me that I hit this mark. You’ll be seeing less of me, in that each entry will have a lot less hyperbole on my part (read: much shorter), in an attempt to save my personal sanity and to help maintain my energy for the task at hand. Besides, I think getting the Youtube sample into your ears is far more important than what buzz words I poorly choose to use about them (crushing! Monolithic! Face-ripping!).
Am I right? Anyway, thanks for reading about and hopefully buying the albums that I write about. Be sure to hit the comments sections with anything you think I missed. Without further adieux, I present my favorite heavy albums of 2018!
1.) Serocs – The Phobos/Deimos Suite
I’ve known Antonio, the main man behind Serocs for some time now. First through our beloved world wide web but then in real life as well when The Black Dahlia Murder played a one-off with Serocs in Mexico. I’ve been on board as a fan for a couple of albums, and this is bar none the finest hour the band has brought forth and surely one of the best and most creative death metal albums I’ve heard in a minute. As if Antonio weren’t already too talented, in 2012 he enlisted the brilliant contributions of a young Phil “Pat” Tougas (Chthe'ilist, First Fragment, Zealotry, Cosmic Atrophy, Eternity’s End, Funebrarum, ex-Vengeful) who has since joined the band full-time and offers his incredible soloing and an even heightened sense of technicality, all of which has really come to a head here with The Phobos/Deimos Suite. I feel like if Cryptopsy were still pushing boundaries rather than just resting on their speedy laurels we’d be greeted with something like this. The hair-raising neo-classical flourishes would make Jon Levasseur extremely proud. Speaking of legends Cryptopsy, they are really the only direct influence I can comfortably site for this wildly original, boundary pushing band. They’ve amalgamated so many outside influences into this shapeshifting monster that it’s become something entirely new. Rounding out the line-up this time we have an impressive roster of players mostly hailing from the tech death scene out of Montreal, save French drummer Kévin Paradis (Benighted) who bomb blasts and grooves his way to victory. Laurent Bellemare from Montreal’s progressive death metal freaks Sutrah provides a sick, dry, Lord Worm-ish low vocal that fits the sideways assault of the music just perfectly to these ears. These indecipherable growls are of course way more on time than Lord Worms wily free-for-all approach. Chthe'ilist bassist Antoine Daigneault does a bang-up job as well, displaying a complete and utter mastery of his instrument. Truly impressive musicianship on all fronts. Outstandingly creative yet immensely violent progressive death metal mastery that just might be the greatest thing you’ll hear all year long. If you’re looking for the next thing in technical death metal, this is as good as it gets. Prepare to be dazzled.
2.) Michael Romeo – War of the Worlds // Pt. 1
WHAT?! A progressive/power metal album at number TWO? That is correct, sir! Read em’ and weep. War of the Worlds // Pt. 1 is the perfect blend of forward-thinking adventurousness and balls out heaviness. Romeo absolutely murders the guitar on this album. Naturally, the approach here has a lot in common the last few Symphony X offerings, but honestly, I prefer Rick Castellano’s higher register here by just a hair (sorry Sir Lord Russell The Great!). This album fucking RULES. Don’t believe me? Hit play and take the plunge!
3.) Deceased – Ghostly White
Goddamn! I was really hooked on this for a while. I was playing it twice a day when it first landed. What an incredible offering from our old pals King Fowley and Deceased. King is without a doubt one of the biggest lyrical inspirations for my band The Black Dahlia Murder and here he is as brilliant as ever. I like how unashamedly raw the production is… takes me back to first hearing them on Blueprints For Madness. This is easily the best thing they’ve put forth since the incredible Supernatural Addiction. It’s a real shame that drummer Dave Castillo passed away before he was able to see the massive positive reaction to this fine album. I can see some of you of pro tools generation youngsters being “too cool” for this band… I can’t begin to explain how very wrong you are. There is simply none more metal and none more death than Deceased!
4.) Aborted – Terrorvision
Fuck Goremageddon. There, I said it! People need to realize Aborted is currently in their prime right now. If you’re still stuck on Goremaggedon, I’ll bet you just haven’t given any release of theirs a real chance starting with Coronary Reconstruction and forward. This is when in my opinion they reclaimed their rightful throne of skulls and it’s been gradually growing more impressive ever since. Retrogore was sick. Like really sick. But Terrorvision is a whole other level altogether. I simply don’t know how they continue to do it… besting themselves with each and every release. They sound so fucking energized. Ferocious without ever losing a sense of Carcass-esque melody. Terrorvision has everything a death metal head could want in a modern death metal album. Bruising breakdowns, blazing technicality, unreal solos, blasting cruise control set to a terrifying 280bpm… Aborted are more deadly than ever!
5.) Vein – Errorzone
Yep! I caught the Vein fever, just like everyone else. What a breath of fresh air these young Bostonites provide to these grumpy old man ears. These dudes are wonderfully stuck in the early 2000s metalcore sound… particularly the more angular stuff that was coming out on the likes of Ferret, Trustkill, and Eulogy records. The nostalgic feelings when hearing this are very powerful. Vein wield a sick mix of riffage that recalls bands like Botch and Deadguy at times and the springy metalcore bounce of Barrier others. Throw in touches of industrial and an occasional dash of nu metal violence and you have one of the most refreshing albums I’ve heard in years. I must’ve listened to it a billion times by now. The uber distorted main vocals remind me of that of latter day Deadguy. Mean as fuck! Yes, there are some clean vocals but I feel like they are done in a cool climatic way how the old metalcore bands used to do it (see Torn Apart, Cave In, Poison the Well etc) for maximum effect. The production by Will Putney is pretty much perfect. Such a massive guitar sound. I think this would be just as big as it is at the moment if it came out in 2000 on Ferret or Trustkill records. If you’re somehow still in the dark about these guys, do you self a favor and check them out immediately.
6.) Tomb Mold – Manor of Infinite Forms
I’ll bet you aren’t surprised to see this here. I mean, who the hell didn’t like this record? Tomb Mold are having a massive year. I need to see these dudes live as soon as humanly possible. Also, it’s already been said that these dudes will crank out a new full length in 2019 so you might do good to write your will right now. Be sure to leave me all of your death metal CDs.
7.) Imperial Triumphant – Vile Luxury
I ended up listening to this album at Coney Island on acid. Night had fallen and the neon of the amusement park behind us was all lit up. This album scared the shit out of me in the best way possible that night, and if given the chance, it’ll get you too!
8.) Revocation – The Outer Ones
The shapeshifting Revocation return in a more death metal form than ever, and I for one dig the fuck out of it. Lovecraftian themes, inventive songwriting, the godly solos of Dave Davidson and the serpentine rhythms of one of the most talented drummers in extreme metal today in Ash Pearson… Revocation are simply unstoppable this year.
9.) Obscura – Diluvium
I will admit that I was definitely put off for a second there when Obscura lost their ex-Necrophagist connection in the departure of both Hannes Grossmann and Christian Münzner but this album reminds me why I was so excited for this band in the first place. Diluvium is absolutely bonkers incredible. It has a lot of urgent energy that hasn’t felt as prevalent since their break-out release Cosmogenesis. It’s as aggressive as it should be. This is death metal, after all. It also has an awesome sounding vocoder voice that recalls Cynic’s Focus album and more Castlevania-sounding neoclassical riffs than you can stick up your ass. Unreal!
10.) Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
Remember how dark it was looking for these guys for a moment there around 2013? I for one feared that the mighty Necrophobic might be done forever. They first lost both guitarists and then their long-time vocalist Tobias Sidegård when he was arrested on some pretty heinous domestic abuse charges. It was looking pretty darn dire. I am SO happy the line up I was able to tour with in 2010 came back (save Tobias of course) to once again unfurl their godly brand of Death/Black metal mastery in the way that only Necrophobic can. Regaining Sebastian Ramstedt and Johan Bergebäck was a crucial move, but rehiring Anders Strokirk (who offered his growling approach to their debut album The Nocturnal Silence way back in 1993) was probably the only thing they could have done to save face… a truly brilliant choice that worked and then some. Mark of the Necrogram has received the most praise I’ve ever heard sung for the band, who I consider to be criminally underrated. Finally, the world is awakening to the power of the Darkside. Good on them and good on you for checking it out!
- Skeletonwitch – Devouring Radiant Light
- Zealotry – At The Nexus of All Stillborn Worlds
- Arsis – Visitant
- Khemmis – Desolation
- Burial Invocation – Abiogenesis
- Cist – The Frozen Casket
- Mournful Congregation – The Incubus of Karma
- Ascension – Under Ether
- Our Place of Worship is Silence – With Inexorable Suffering
- Hate Eternal – On Desolate Sands
- Mortuous – Through Wilderness
- Monstrosity – The Passage of Existence
- Ingested – The Level Above Human
- Outer Heaven – Realms of Eternal Decay
- Molested Divinity – Desolated Realms Through Iniquity
- Necros Christos – Domedon Doxomedon
- Azusa – Heavy Yoke
- Scorched – Ecliptic Butchery
- Oxygen Destroyer – Bestial Manifestations of Malevolence and Death
- Micawber – Beyond the Reach of Flame
- Facelift Deformation – Dominating the Extermination
- Haunt – Burst Into Flame
- Lago – Sea of Duress
- Habitual Depravity – Realms of Abysmal Servitude
- Obliteration – Cenotaph Obscure
- Eternity’s End – Unyielding
- Tribulation – Down Below
- Infernal Coil – Within A World Forgotten
- MDMA – Chemical Obliteration
- Cosmic Atrophy – The Void Engineers
- Homewrecker – Hell is Here Now
- Internal Bleeding – Corrupting Influence
- Cryptopsy – The Book of Suffering: Tome II
- Depravity – Evil Upheaval
- Runemagick – Evoked From Abysmal Sleep
- Taphos – Come Ethereal Somberness
- Torture Rack – Malefic Humiliation
- Innumerable Forms – Punishment in Flesh
- Sectioned – Annihilated
- Incinerator – Concept of Cruelty
- Harm’s Way – Posthuman
- Fecundation – Decomposition of Existence
- Funeral Mist – Hekatomb
- Ossification – From the Suppurate Bowels of Innermost Earth
- Certainly Demented – Inhaling the Fragrances of Insanity
- Unbirth – Fleshforged Columns of Deceit
- Evoken – Hypnagogia
- Outre-Tombe – Necrovortex
- Anachronism – Orogeny
- Candy – Good to Feel
- Uada – Cult of a Dying Sun
- Immense – Slaughter of Brutality
- Corpsessed – Impetus of Death
- Ineffable Demise – Beyond the Marrow Gates
- Black Tongue – Nadir
- Pig Destroyer – Head Cage
- Plague Years – Unholy Infestation
- Chalera – Theophobium Excruciation
- Injurious – Abominable Extermination Through Uncanny Passages
- Skeletal Remains – Devouring Mortality
- Infuriate – Infuriate
- Terrorizer – Caustic Attack
- Mutilation Rites – Chasm
- Spectral Wound – Infernal Decadence
- Gruesome – Twisted Prayers
- Quantum Hierarchy – Neutron Breed
- Abysmal Torment – The Misanthrope
- Drawn and Quartered – The One Who Lurks
- Mammoth Grinder – Cosmic Crypt
- Gravestone – Sickening
- Svartidaudi – Revelations of the Red Sword
- Soreption – Monument of the End
- Petrification – Hollow of the Void
- Mass Infection – Shadows Became Flesh
- Baest – Danse Macabre
- Reduced – Majesty from Within
- Bane – Esoteric Formulae
- Heteradelphy – Inundated with Decomposed Torsos
- Nightmarer – Cacophony of Terror
- Psycroptic – As The Kingdom Drowns
- Osmed – Territory of Warfare
- Horrendous – Idol
- Dysmorfectomy – Disembodied Anomalies
- Posthuman Abomination – Transcending Embodiment
- The Heretic’s Fork – Tormentore
- Flesh Consumed – Hymn for the Leeches
- Archgoat – The Luciferian Crown
- Ripped to Shreds – 埋葬
- Inferi – Revenant
- Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
View all of our Best of 2018 lists.