So, when half the world sits and try to avoid a “double pizza” on the New Years Day, I give you the list of the best records I came through during the year of 2018. A few records disappointed me and are therefore not on my list.
As usual, rules: only full-length albums with new material, no ep´s, compilations or live albums…
25. Memoriam “The Silent Vigil”
No Brummies, no list… These dudes really did their job 2018. This is an exact record you can expect from a band like this. Really high expectations now for their third record. This is great with traces of Bolt Thrower.
24. Alastor “Slave to the Grave”
Swedish sludgy Doom which is way better than in my ears the more in my ears mediocre bands such as Monolord, Domkraft and others. A well packed double album with loads of variety. Dynamic Swedes worth a try.
23. Venom “Storm the gates”
By far the best Venom-album not featuring original drummer Abbadon or guitarist Mantas. Maybe this is more of continuation of the 85-86ish era with “Possessed” and “Calm Before the Storm” is my first thoughts when the opening track “Bring Out Your Dead” bursts out of the speakers to demolish my ears. Then this orchestra, today lead by Cronos, goes on into an NWOBHM-wave over a few songs returning to Cronos punk rot in “Dark Night (of the soul)”. A few songs later come my big, big question mark. I am a fan of the old Twisted Sister records and the song “Destroyer” in general. Here comes Venom playing a song named “Destroyer” be very similar to Twisted Sisters song with the same name from 1982. Is the song made with any awareness of Twisted Sisters ditto and they thought that no one remembers the great rock n roll by Dee Snider & the fellas?
22. Lucifer “Lucifer II”
This might just be the hard second album, but still not that bad. Competence my dear people, competence here named Nicke Andersson. After a great first album, Johanna went on a long journey ending up with her singing increased enormously in quality and moving to Sweden and marrying Nicke Andersson. Nicke is a super competent songwriter and musician and to have him back behind the drums is a bit of a dream to come through for some of us old schoolers. So i do believe that he will come there with the third Lucifer album. This one is great but missing out in production here and there be a bit too thin. Like the second song “Dreamer”, which is a very heavy and doomy live favorite of mine but on the record it sounds more like a cheesy 80s ballad. Opener “California Son” is a classic fuzzy motorbike anthem. The concluding three songs pretty much helps this album. Black Sabbath/The Beatles/Pink Floyd-snorting “Before The Sun” shows uo how you combine some of your dearest influences in a great presentation without no influence be unfair to the other. “Aton”… well these people like Blue Öyster Cult which you can clearly hear here. “Faux Pharao” is a step back to the doomier first album and the heaviness this album needs. Also Johanna can sing out some with her lovely voice and Nicke bangs the drums over fuzzy, heavy guitar leads.
21, Fu Manchu “Clone of the Universe”
The Desert Rock is NOT dead. Dudes do pretty much what they always have done and sometimes it is just enough. A fast, heavy, fuzzy opening with songs such as “Intelligent Worship” and the hit “(I´ve been) Hexed”. The title track sounds so much as this band should sound as their selves so it is beyond fantastic. Finishing the record with the 18 minutes long “Il Mostro Atomico” just shows off that this band loves to play be one of their best ever tracks.
20. Black Elephant “Cosmic Blues”
Italian psych is progressing and this metal outfit of the psych style gives us a lot for the money you spent on buying their record. Well played fuzz guitars, intense vocals without any flashover and it gets me to think about the two brilliant albums Corrosion of Conformity did after reuniting with Mike in 2011 with their Animosity line-up. A bit of the same feeling to it and this, ladies and gentlemen, is good rock an roll with a psychedelic twist to it. With some back-up, they can make it pretty big, I do believe. A great, new discovery for me.
19. Abramis Brama “Tusen År”
Swedish retro rockers with their finest record to date. Groovy, atnmospheric and dark 70s rock with all the ingredients we need. To understand the lyrics and song titles you need to fire up Google-translate if not speaking Swedish. Because they are well written and good. The Judas Priest-influenced “Hav av Lögner” might be their strongest song to date. The band raised up a notch in every single corner of their sphere in this.
18. Brant Bjork “Mankind Woman”
Stoner ace Brant Bjork is back with maybe his finest solo album to date. A lot of the 70s to be heard in here. Nothing special, just the usual, Thin Lizzy fuzz mixed with more underground Detroit.stuff and modern Desert Rock. “Pisces” is a soulful outfit with the fantastic one-liner “I´m so sick and tired of being sick and tired, my friend”. “Nation of Indica” contains a few examples of what we in Sweden would call “emergency rhyme” without making it cheeky for that sake. Good when old farts still keeps up to standards.
17. Johnny Marr “Call the Comet”
I´ve always been weak in my mind for what this Mancunian can do with a guitar. I am a major fan of his 80s band The Smiths, mostly because of the guitar playing. A few years ago he sorts of re-started his solo career after running around under the moniker Johnny Marr & The Healers over a few years releasing “The Messenger” in 2013. From there, things moved in the right direction again. Tweaky and melancholic guitars and he shaped up his voice singing properly and doing great works with his heritage of British pop music. This, his third record in this modern solo-effort shows us a Johnny with a hunger for the world and there are so great moments on this record such as the opening four tracks “Rise”, “The Tracers”, “Hey Angel”, “Hi Hello”. Contains slight thefts from his own bloody career and it is just a good way. “The Tracers” be a bit early 90s goth style and gives me the memories from the Leeds band The Mission. The experimental “New Dominions” flips into the summer hit “Day In Day Out”. A weeping guitar storms up “Spiral Cities” and “A Different Gun” just gives you the yearning for more.
16. Painted Doll “Painted Doll”
Chris Reifert never lets me down, not even when he plays alternative, poppy rock´n roll somewhere between Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Ramones with American comedian Dave Hill. The opening riff in minor for “Together Alone” reminds me a lot of late 80s alternative/indie. The blues-inspired heavy “Carousel” just flies you back in time to the ’70s and as the third track the hit song “Hidden Hand” kicks off with a poppy punk feeling somewhere between Ramones and Iggy. Wonderful. Those three songs pretty much talk about the mod on this great record and concluding with a version of Screaming Jay Hawkins “I put a spell on you” pretty much confirms what I did just talk to you about.
15. Axegrinder “Satori”
Lately, I´ve been listening to Head of David “Dustbowl” and Fudge Tunnel´s “Hate Song in E Minor” along a lot of old singles from Sub Pop and Amphetamine Reptile Records, that is most likely why I do like this record so much. Aggressive riffs upon a hard square beat, without being industrial, heavy and punky as hell. Angry aggressive vocals from Trev just wrap this into a package not heard since Helmet released their debut album. The songs expire a bit into the record and the title track, be way over 7 minutes is an epic, hard beating heavy piece of dirty rock, a true headbanger. Concluding “Too Far From Home” is a ballad drenched with heavy riffs and screams, with for me an unidentified female voice dragging the aggressiveness down into some beauty pub-sing along.
14. Maidavale “Madness Is Too Pure”
Here we have risen after a near overdose trip of acid… These girls went from being a great sort of stoner rock band to a superbly great psych-rock band over a night. How the hell this happened so quick, nobody knows but I do bloody adore it. This album progresses and grooves more and more in my mind the more I do listen to it. I ´m so bloody curious in what they are up to next. So far from their first gigs I spotted at KGB ages ago.
13. Octopus “Supernatural Alliance”
The Detroit rock scene is more alive than ever and this is no exception. Heavy riffs, Hammond sounding organ and a powerful singer in Masha Marijeh. Not to be confused with neither the Scottish or English bands with the same name. Sniffing on the sounds of psychedelic 70s rock with the elegance of pure Detroit heavy rock music, this is living proof of why the song “Detroit Rock City” by Kiss do have a meaning even after Chris Cornell’s suicide after a show in that city. A high whirlwind rock tempo through over the groove, fuzzy riffs and almost hysterical vocals by Masha. “The Unknown” is a song so heavy so it must have the grounds beneath the bands practice room to sink… Of course, being from Detroit, there is a ballad full of sorrow and pain in “All The Love” named “Fleetwood Mac” on the vinyl version (I do have both the clear vinyl and iTunes versions), starting with a piano plinking which indicates that this is not a song about a fun night at the Tivoli. The lead from Joe Frezzato creeps in under your skin before turning into a very Deep Purple-ish mood. Another thing is that the opening track is named “Beyond The Center” on my vinyl and “The Center” on iTunes. “Black Dynamite” is a sing-along that could´ve been recorded by Candlemass during the Messiah-years, Detroit goes 80´s doom, nothing strange with that. “Dragonhead” be the final song of the record and drags us into modern psychedelic pop-rock music. A wonderful adventure worth every penny spent on it. I do hope they come here to play one day.
12. Siege of Power “Warning Blast”
If you take Chris Reifert on a holiday in The Netherlands meeting up with various Death Metal musicians such as Theo van Ekelen (ex-Thanatos, Hail of Bullets etc), Bob Bagchus (Infidel Reich, ex-Asphyx, ex-Soulburn etc) & Paul Baayens (Asphyx, Thanatos, ex-Hail of Bullets etc), this is most likely what is happening: old school, grind crusty powerful Death Metal in the traces of Slaughter, Napalm Death, Nuclear Death & Necrophagia. Special the tracks in the middle of the record are very influenced by the 80s grind-era with “Uglification” be the top song of the whole record, smack in your face, just like the Napalm Death-song “Siege of Power” that this band is named after. So, Chris Reifert got me on two hobby (?) bands this year.
11. Moenen of Xezbeth “Ancient Spells of Darkness…”
This must be the oddest named band I´ve bought this year. The opening is just reminding me of the likes of Funeral Nation in the late 80´s/early ’90s somewhere. Maybe the artwork and doomy riffing get me some old Vital Remains and Mortuary Drape too, the vocals definitely do. Conjuring on the weak line between 80s heavy, symphonic and very dark Death Metal to 80s Black Metal with riffs I think we all wrote in our versions just gives me a lot of love and passion. Even the sound on this recording does have an authentic dodginess over it and just missing out that the drums should be just drier, then it would be perfect. This is where I do come from myself, as it was back then when I was a young boy in the 80s reading every Death Metal fanzine I could come over, getting bullied in school for odd taste in music heading into Stockholm city hanging with the older blokes in Morbid, Mefisto and later Therion. I like this record so much because it pretty much tells my story of how I started up and where I still hold my ground. “Oath of Malignancy” does contain all the tricks with atmospheric synthesizer leads upon the dark rhythm, just beside the guitars. The omens of “Obscured by Lunar Rites” be bloody deadly. This is a well-done portion of dark metal.
10. Nocturnal Graves “Titan”
Not really coming up to the standards of the supreme “…From the Bloodline…” from 2013, this is still really a modern classic in Speedy Aussie Death Metal. 2012 this outfit added home turning Shrapnel, after löliving a few years in Europe playing with Deströyer666, Razor of Occam and last but not least, Adorior. This was the missing link from the past and with such a competent musician in the band things are basic. The tight riffing and intensity of “Souls Tribulation” sets a pace for this winger. I do have high expectations on this load for the future.
9. Septic Tank “Rotting Civilisation”
The sticker on the vinyl says “18 tracks of fast, raging, gut-grinding mayhem. For fans of Discharge, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Slaughter, Crucifix, Seige etc. Featuring members of Repulsion, Napalm Death, Cathedral and Acid Reign (!). Pretty much says it all.
8. Voivod “The Wake”
There are a very few bands with such innovation as Voivod. Over the years they´ve released a number of various music in tremendous terms on a shit load of records and in September 2018, their next brilliant work appeared in my mailbox on golden vinyl. Voivod tried a gazillion styles of metal and rock over the years including punky crusty black stinking thrash metal, psychedelic rock, progressive metal, and space metal. Still, they had everything sounding like Voivod. You can hear it so quickly when it is Voivod and when it is not. Through their career they´ve changed a number of bass players and even singer Snake were out of the band 1994-2001 with drummer Away being the only constant member from the start AND having Chewy completing the mission impossible of replacing the late guitar player Piggy, who died in Cancer in 2005, not only in playing guitars perfectly in Voivodian style but also looking like him. Constant Canadian excellence since 1982.
7. Watain “Trident Wolf Eclipse”
Being one of the first albums out in 2018 and be one of the löast albums I will listen to before we force our bodies into 2019. Watain never disappointed me at any level. This is no exception. Bursting in a very high tempo into “Nuclear Alchemy” stepping back towards the sounds of the bands early days. Be one of the leading bands in the worlds Black Metal scene of today, they prove why with looking both back and forward over 9 songs in 42 brutal minutes. Backed up with successful world tours with numbers of live shows, of which I saw a few, with various set lists also proves how strong this bands career been. “The Fire of Power” towards the end digs up the more melancholic and depressing riffs with Erik’s vocals be more furious than ever which gives this publication such an elegance worthy the darkest evil powers upon earth. The guitar playing on this is just near perfection for its sake of music. “Antikrists Mirakel” concludes another chapter in a very important bands history in style be an epic wall of sound with psychedelic and horrific speaks upon an enormously epic piece of well-balanced music.
6. Cemetery Urn “Barbaric retribution”
This Aussie-burster is a clean modern top machine. The riffs… the riffs… This is the finest pot of classic Death Metal from down under and we surely soaked our minds time after time over the years demanding such thee. Just shut-up Death Metal with style. Just listen to the album, you will be tormented and sorry.
5. Witchskull “Coven´s Will”
Yet another Aussie band qualifies with one of the purest and best doom metal albums in modern history. In Sweden, we say PANG PÅ RÖDBETAN! The rage in Marcus voice in the chorus of opener “Raven” is shocking. This is WHY I love Doom Metal. The riffs dooms on to perfection and remind me of the glory days of Trouble, Cathedral, and Confessor. This record is so powerful, heavy and full of treasures in melodic forms so I was nearly shocked first time hearing it. There are great moments all over and the fury and raging vocals is just top notch. This is so far from bullshit you can not imagine. “The Empty Well” is an epic doom classic and sounds very Candlemass.
4. Unleashed “The Hunt For White Christ”
You are taken by surprise sometimes. Not because the warriors in Unleashed makes a good album, because they always do. They are one of the most reliable bands in Death Metal of making good records. This is on the other side may be their best release since their glory days of the early 90s and that is a very great effort to create such thing the year 2018. No surprises, just a bit better than usual.
3. Sinistro “Sangue Cássiva”
Portuguese masters of darkness and depression did it again. Ambient Doom Rock. Live they are a beautiful piece of art with Patrícias horror mental psychedelic theatre, monochrome films and utterly dark rock and atmospheric rock somewhere between Doom, Post Rock and some sludge. Been onto them for a few years by now and had the opportunity to see them live in several countries on varied sized stages and set times over the years.
Best thing from Portugal since Port Wine.
2. Necros Christos “Domedon Doxomedon”
This is an experimental album that takes a while to listen to, as it lasts for nearly 2 hours, as well as it takes some time to get into every corner. I will sit with this one for years and discover new things and will try to figure things out. Still you can hear the great excellence and familiar style of the band with reaping, pounding Death Metal. This band defiles in their own Champions League of European Death Metal.
- Deicide “Overtures of Blasphemy”
You can say a lot about Glen Benton, but you can never take away the musical genius he and his bandmates are. This is one hell of an album. A true masterpiece. Definitely album of the year without a doubt. Their return to Europe 2019 is one of the most awaited ever.
Enough said, have a tremendous hung over!
Also worth mentioning and a long listening:
Sarah MacDougall “All the Hours I have Left To Tell You Anything”
Emma Ruth Rundle “On Dark Horses”
Then there are a few, I´m shameful & can confess, I did not listen to like At The Gates…