Friday, January 4, 2019

The Cream of the Crop: Arthalos Picks His Best of 2018

Top 25 Albums of 2018****

25) Evoken (US) - Hypnagogia
24) Golgothan Remains (US) - Perverse Offerings to the Void
23) Horrendous (US) - Idol
22) Behemoth (Pl) - I Loved You At Your Darkest
21) Ghost (Swe) - Prequelle 
20) Sulphur Aeon (Ger) - The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos
19) Stam1na (Fin)- Taival
18) Lucifer (Ger) - Lucifer II
17) Haken (UK) - Vector
16) Khemmis (US) - Desolation
15) Graveyard (Swe) - Peace
14) Judas Priest (UK) - Firepower
13) Kontinuum (Is) - No Need to Reason
12) King Witch (UK) - Under the Mountain
11) Satan (UK) - Cruel Magic 
10) Uriah Heep (UK) - Living the Dream 
 9) Sigh (Jp) - Heir to Despair
 8) Ihsahn (Nr) - Àmr
 7) Saxon (UK) - Thunderbolt
 6) Voivod (Can) - The Wake
 5) Rising (Dn) - Sword and Scythe
 4) The Night Flight Orchestra (Swe) - Sometimes the World Ain't Enough
 3) Madder Mortem (Nr) - Marrow
 2) UDO (Ger) - Steelfactory 
 1) Amorphis (Fin) - Queen of Time

YouTube links to sample songs have been embedded above.

Honorable mentions

Wytch Hazel - II: Soujourn
Angra - OMNI
Bane - Esoteric Formulae
Gorod - Aethra 
Summoning - With Doom We Come
Usurpress - Interregnum
Necrophobic - Mark of the Necrogram 
Striker - Play to Win
Witherfall - A Prelude to Sorrow

This was an insanely prolific year for aged veterans, especially those coming from the British Isles, whether it's triumphant continuations of their already amazing compendium of 21st century releases from bands like Saxon and Satan, or just straight up shockers from Uriah Heep and Judas Priest... it's almost as if the entire cadre of geriatric rockers decided to make a few last statements before calling it quits (even relative unknowns like Heir Apparent and Fifth Angel made notable, if not particularly great, comebacks). At any rate, these records are all fantastic additions to some of the most legendary discographies in all of heavy metal, and serve as a surefire kick on the face for all the countless agglomerations of oafish retro stuff that's being churned out ad nauseaum by newer generations. But the veteran aesthetic is prominent across plenty of genres here, with melodic death, black metal and progressive metal variants generating all sorts of lofty impressions thanks to Ihsahn, Voivod, Madder Mortem, Sigh, Behemoth, and Amorphis. The Behemoth record might be questionable choice for two reasons: firstly because the band fails to explore any uncharted territory as they did with their groundbreaking 2014 opus The Satanist, and secondly because it feels like a B-side to its predecessor at times. Yet despite the controversy surrounding it, it was a well-balanced and fabulously produced record with a good few tunes that will definitely stand the test of time.

At the same time, there is disconcerting side to this list in the relative absence of any 'new' bands; in fact there are probably around 5-6 bands here which I would or have not included in any of my yearly lists at any point in time. This isn't all bad, though, and I was greatly elated by further solid outings by some of my favorite 'newsprint' acts, like Ghost, Sulphur Aeon, Khemmis, Haken and, most notably, Horrendous, who at this point have cracked the formula of penning compelling, melody-driven old school, splatter-thrash-induced death metal that channels anything from Finland's Sentenced to early Death. Beyond these, I was pleased that a list largely bearing the odor of classic heavy, power and progressive stuff could incorporate some genuinely resolute, unbridled evil and despair towards the tail end, and indeed there was also had a metric ton of archaic and mesmerizing death metal to boot, even if these weren't the crème de la crème as far as the entire glut is concerned.

I'm currently working on a top 100 (non-hierarchical) list for RYM, though it's uncertain when it will reach completion. I will include a link here once it's finished. Stay tuned.

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