Let's just get this out of the way now. While in normal circumstances, the first half is January 1st- June 30th. While that is correct, that's not how it normally works when it comes to music releases. While some do release albums the last few weeks of the year, the typical tracking is January 1st through the 2nd week of December. If you want to be on a Best of The Year list, you are being a real jerk waiting till the last 3 weeks of the year to release an album. So there!
Anyways, let's get into the swing of things. The rules are stated in the title. This is the top 50 albums of 2018 in the first half of the year. This is in alphabetical order, not ranked order (that comes at the end of the year, as always). This is all of music I have had the chance to check out this year. Anything that came out June 1st or before that is not on this list either isn't technically an album, I didn't get to check out yet, or quite possibly, I just didn't enjoy.
That said, let's go!
The Absence- A Gift for the Obsessed
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
A band that's been away way too long is back in ever-loving full force. Everything about this band has improved and they have made some of their best material to date. Catchy, heavy, technical, brutal. Everything you could possibly want in a MDM album, but updated to fit the band's mold. Go support these guys. Absolutely brilliant.
Against The Grain- Cheated Death
FFO- Rock N Roll, Speed Metal, Punk
An absolutely fun Midwestern band that knows when to kick things into overdrive as much as they know when to take things easy. IF you love that classic 70s-80s Hard Rock vibe mixed in with intensity and fun; Against The Grain is the band for you. Cheated Death is their finest example to date of what they are capable of on record and live. You need fun in 2018, check this out.
Ails- The Unraveling
FFO- Black Metal, Experimental, Ludicra
From the ashes of the California Black Metal band, LUdicra comes the band Ails, which has fully formed their debut album. Bringing some of the best elements of their previous band into a more raw and experimental approach. If you want your Black Metal intense, immense and listenable, Ails is right up your alley.
Alkaloid- Liquid Anatomy
FFO- Technical Death Metal, Progressive Metal
How do you make the best of a bad lineup breakup? You make a new band and pummel everything in it's path! With Alkaloid's latest album, they completely scrub the animosity of Obscura away, forging further with their blend of Tech Death, Prog, Frank Zappa style quirks, and insightful scientific stories that with snap your neck on the turn of dime, yet make you think. It's a great feeling when a band can make you do that!
Amorphis- Queen of Time
FFO- Finnish Melodic Death Metal, Progressive Metal
There's not many bands that can be around as long as Amorphis and have the amazing discography to back up those years. Queen of Time is the next logical step for the band, incorporating more symphonic moments, amazing guest spots, and the brilliant songwriting that keeps Amorphis one of the best bands in the game. The era of their prog side continues to soar higher and higher.
FFO- Progressive Metal, Power Metal
Best Angra album since Holy Land. I don't think there's really more I can add to it than that.
At The Gates- To Drink From The Night Itself
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
The kings of Melodeath are back with their new album. The new album is a bit more experimental and proggy in comparison with the previous album, At War With Reality, but it fits so perfect. Everything you love about the band is here, but just more to it. ATG can do no wrong!
The Atlas Moth- Coma Noir
FFO- Post Metal, Sludge Metal, Groove
Without a doubt my favorite album from TAM to date. The dynamics on this album are stellar. The production is what the band always needed. The songwriting is top notch. This album has everything I want in this style but exaggerated to levels that really make every note stand out and have purpose. I couldn't recommend this more.
Bad Wolves- Disobey
FFO- Modern Metal, Hard Rock
This band features members of bands who all have been burned in one way or another (I know how that feels). After the burning stopped, they got together to make their own blend of Modern Metal and Hard Rock to make it stand out to the crowd and ESPECIALLY with the popularity of their cover of The Cranberries' Zombie, have put all their previous bands to shame (in popularity, music quality is subjective). The original songs on this album have the right amount of heavy and catchy moments that will catch your ears and draw you in. Sometimes when you listen to music so heavy, or so proggy or so underground, you just want a solid catchy album, that's what this album and band is in waves. I wish them nothing but the best, they deserve all the love they are getting.
Between The Buried And Me- Automata I
Funny enough, as I write this up, I just got sent Part II. In the interest of fairness, when it comes time for the end of the year, I may put these two together as one album...we'll see. But anyways. BTBAM came back in full force with Automata. Coma Ecliptic was a watershed album for the band and while they didn't abandon that sound, they did bring back the heavy moments that most fans crave. Simply put, if you dig the band, you'll love this album, even if you felt slighted in the past. Now after I'm done writing all this up, I'll be jamming Part II.
Bleeding Through- Love Will Kill All
FFO- Metalcore, Black Metal
I never expected to hear a new Bleeding Through album, but in 2018, here we are. Combining all the best elements that made the band stand out from the crowd, Bleeding Through comes back to make their style even stronger. You can't compare the band to any other of their era, it just doesn't work. But if you haven't heard them before, if you wanted your Metalcore to not sound Metalcore and your Black Metal to have more catchy appeal...BAM! Bleeding Through is for you, And why not start with their best album to date?
Corrosion of Conformity- No Cross, No Crown
FFO- Southern Sludge, Hard Rock
How many bands can get back together with their best known lineup over a decade later and put out their best album? Not many, but COC did! Combining the best qualities of the Pepper Keenan era of COC with the right amount of new flavoring makes this album a sheer joy to listen to. Start to finish, everything makes sense. If you ever heard of the band or loved the band for years upon years, please pick this up and support the revival of one of the best American bands around.
The Crown- Cobra Speed Venom
FFO- Melodic Death Metal, Thrash Metal
Wow, has this been an amazing year for Melodeath or what? As if the best bands of the genre didn't put out albums this year already, The Crown comes back and arguably puts out the best of them all. Combining everything that makes the band great with even more speed and intensity, The Crown shows every band that came after them how Melodeath is done with just enough Thrash to destroy all your senses. Phenomenal stuff.
Entransient- The Weight of Things
FFO- Progressive Rock, Dark Metal
Completely switching gears here, Entransient returns with their latest album that is a completely heart wrenching album in all of the best ways. If you never heard of the band, imagine an American style Porcupine Tree mixed with Katatonia. It can bring you down emotionally, but you feel so good listening to it. That is how it's done, folks! Give this a spin and thank me later.
Exmortus- The Sound of Steel
FFO- Speed Metal, Thrash Metal, Classical
A new era of Exmortus is here. While on the surface things may not have changed much, the foundation of the band changed, new styles are incorporated and the band is arguably stronger than ever. If you want your metal fast, heavy and forward thinking, Exmortus does it all and gives you the throwback of Classical influences that really makes the band soar above the rest. Check this one out!
Follow The Cipher- Follow The Cipher
FFO- Modern Metal
I'll put it bluntly...do you miss the sound of Amaranthe from their first two albums? Do you want more of that, but done even better and more bold? Follow The Cipher does that and then some. More daring and courageous, yet keeping that catchy, mainstream, modern metal sound in tact. This should appeal to you if you enjoy your Metal catchy. Follow The Cipher deserves to blow up like Amaranthe did. I can't wait to see what they do next.
Galactic Empire- Episode II
FFO- Metal Star Wars
Just like the FFO suggests, this album is filled to the brim with Star Wars covers done in a Metal vibe. No vocals, just instrumentally. To fit the name, the songs do feel very dark and brooding just like the end of Empire or Rogue One. It's just a really fun album and a great take on some classic songs (make sure to check out last year's album as well!).
FFO- Classic Metal, Evil
Boy oh boy, are Ghost the band the point of contention in the Metal community, eh? As least in my experience People either are enthralled with them or despise them. I am in the former. After completely breaking out with their last album, Ghost had to up the ante with this album. How did they do so? Well they keep their Mercyful Fate meets Blue Oyster Cult sound in tact, but they added a new flavor to their style...Queen. There are so many Freddie Mercury and Brian May nods on this album and it's a great thing to see. This album is not their heaviest, but it is the most musical. But I know how this works, if you love the band, you'll love this. If you hate the band, your mind is already made up and nothing can change it and for some reason my musical integrity is discredited for liking the band...fine. But just like your mind won't be changed, neither will mine. This is a brilliant band who put out another triumph of an album.
FFO- Blues Rock, Heavy Metal
Sometimes you need to step away to find...peace. Pun aside Graveyard has returned after their hiatus to put out some outstanding rockin' tunes. They are as fuzzy, bluesy, and heavy as ever, but with that new invigorated feel that you can't describe, but only can feel. Peace is what the band needed to keep going and I hope it lasts. Such a fantastic album.
Gruesome- Twisted Prayers
FFO- The band Death
Another point of contention band in list. Gruesome are unapologeticly a tribute to the great Death Metal band of all time...Death. Their latest release is their tribute to the legendary album, Spiritual Healing. It's not a covers album, its an original album that stays true to what this album is about musically, thematically and with overall presentation. Much like I talked about with Ghost earlier, you either get what Gruesome is doing or you don't. I get it, I appreciate it and that's why I love it. If you have your own (Individual) thought (patterns), check out Gruesome. They are doing a tribute album for every single Death album. You won't be disappointed if you get it.
Gygax- 2nd Edition
FFO- Hard Rock, Classic Metal, Nerd Culture
What a fun band this is. I mean the name alone should tell you everything you need to know about the band. It's fun, nerdy, doesn't take itself too seriously, and just wants to put out great music. That's exactly why it is such a great album. If you dig music like Thin Lizzy, The Sword and Wolfmother, this should be right up your alley.
Harakiri For The Sky- Arson
This band continues to improve with every single album. Every album gets catchier, stronger, and more thought provoking. Arson takes their blend of Black Metal, Shoegaze and Post Rock and make it stand out from the crowd with adding much more catchy moments and their best production to date. Go in with an open mind and this may end up being one of your favorite albums of the year. It definitely is for me.
Howling Sycamore- Howling Sycamore
FFO- Technical Death Metal with Clean Vocals
You didn't think it could be done? Have you not heard Cynic before? Anyways, this debut release has completely blown me away. While if you are a purist, the vocals will take a while for you to get (let's face it, some of you will not be able to), but if do get it, everything fits so perfectly here and really shows off that good music is good music, no matter what tuning it's in, no matter what vocal range is being used, and no matter what styles are blended. Such a brilliant album and I can't wait to see what's next for these guys.
FFO- Modern Metal, Progressive Metal
Much like Melodeath, 2018 has been a stellar year for debut releases. This is a prime example. Hyvmine comines what is being used in Modern Metal, Prog, Djent, etc but makes it beyond catchy and with so much soul. As if Dug Pinnick wanted to make a modern Prog Metal album. These guys are going to simply explode if they catch on and they deserve it. Outstanding work.
Ihsahn is literally incapable of making the same album twice. 'Amr sees Ihsahn embrace more of his 80s musical mentality and incorporate it with his innovative style of Progressive music he has been making since his solo venture debuted. It's nowhere near Black Metal except when it is. It's not Proggy except when it is, it's not catchy or mainstream except when it is. It's all of that but more! You gotta have an open mind to full grasp Ihsahn's solo work, but 'Amr is the closest thing he's done yet to being mainstream and it's such a valiant album for that. Just give it a spin and gather your own thoughts. You kinda need to anyways.
In Vain- Currents
FFO- Extreme Progressive Metal
Easily one of the most underrated bands around. Much like Ihsahn above, this is the most mainstream effort from the band, but that said, it's also a complex, invigorating showcase of Extreme Metal, Prog, and catchy elements and blend into a fantastic listen. Even Trivium's Matt Heafy gives his stamp of approval by signing on the album. Check these guys out and see what you've been missing out on all this time.
FFO- Finnish Melodic Death Metal
Quite possibly the most underrated of all Finnish bands, Kalmah returns with sheer passion and aggression on Palo. It's symphonic, catchy as all get go, brutal, and showcases such brilliant songwriting qualities. Finland quite possibly has the best track record per capita as far as quality metal bands go, check out Kalmah for another reason why that fact I made up is true.
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
Comeback album of the year? It's a strong contender if nothing else. The band hasn't felt this inspired since Serenity In Fire. After some much needed changes in the band, both musically and outside of the music itself, the band is firing on all cylinders and captures everything you love about the band. The brutal riffs rip your face off, the melodic moments are so pleasing to hear, and the more atmospheric moments capture something in the band that's always been there, but now finally shines through. Simply astounding work.
Letters From The Colony- Vignette
FFO- Modern Progressive Metal
Remember earlier what I said about debut albums? This is another reason why 2018 has been amazing for debuts. Mixing Meshuggah, Gojira, Zappa, and leaving out all the moments of Djent you probably hate; Letters from the Colony shines through any monotony that has plagues through music in recent times and shows what can really be done in this style. Jaw Droppingly great stuff!
Light The Torch- Revival
FFO- Modern Metal, Hard Rock
Much like Bad Wolves earlier, Everyone in Light The Torch has gone through some hard times both in the band and other personal matters, It's great to see how after 75% of this band came from Devil You Know and returned with a mainstream Metal and dare I say....Rock album. I honestly find it to be such a refreshing change of pace. It doesn't venture into the Metalcore or Death Metal or Tech Death styles that members have been known for, but just writs simpler, yet punishing songs. Revival proves the point when you write the music you want to write, you will end up so much happier and when you have people who enjoy it as well, it's the icing on the cake.
FFO- Old School Death Metal
Do you miss the early day Death Metal of the early days of 90s Sweden? Fret no more as Lik returns with their 2nd album and its going to destroy your senses. This is a dirty, gritty, angry, and for that reason, sexy, Death Metal album that hearkens back to those glorious Death Metal days of Entombed, yet updated just enough to make it something you know can thrive in 2018. Superb work!
Lione - Conti- Lione - Conti
FFO- Power Metal, Progressive Metal
Bet you didn't realize that there was no animosity between both singers of Rhapsody did you? In fact, they wanted to actually make an album together showing off what they could do working together. The music is ferocious when it needs to be and so melodic when it calls for it. Plus, both voices sound so angelic combined together. This is what every Power Metal band should strive to be. One listen in and you'll understand why.
Long Distance Calling- Boundless
FFO- Instrumental Progressive Post Metal
Another band that is incapable of making the same album twice, LDC actually did a full 180 on their sound. Their previous album features vocals on nearly every song and got them the most popularity I've seen in their career. So they went ahead and made a completely instrumental album to counteract that. Don't mistake the wording, they only make what they want to make and a 100% instrumental album fits so perfectly at this stage in their career. Showcasing all of the best musical sides of the band, LDC feels even stronger than before and proves that the band will forever be, Boundless.
Lords Of Black- Icons of The New Days
FFO- Power Metal, Hard Rock
Lords of Black is quite possibly my favorite Power Metal band and this brand new album continues to show off why. While this album is far more commercial sounding than their first two albums, the band has not let go of what makes them stand out amongst the rest. The phenomenal vocal delivery, the undeniably astounding songwriting but now just a bit more palatable for those that more of a Hard Rock tinge. Seriously, if you're not familiar with the band, go check them out immediately. You'll understand why.
Lunatic Soul- Under a Fragmented Sky
FFO- Progressive Rock, Experimental
Quite possibly the most mainstream Lunatic Soul album to date? I'm as shocked as you are! The songs on this album are much more album focused and blend together so well in the format. I am not sure if this means Riverside will be getting heavier to counteract this change in Lunatic Soul, but I love what is going on here. If you like the early to mid era of Porcupine Tree (basically anything up to In Absentia), this will be completely up your alley.
Memoriam- The Silent Vigil
FFO- Death Metal
You miss Bolt Thrower, I know you do. While we will never get them again, Memoriam continues it's memory by forging it's own path in slow to mid paced Death Metal. With this sophomore album from the band, they have gained some notoriety, especially with the video for the song Bleed The Same. If you watch it, you'll understand their political side hangs to the left, which in a climate like 2018 where stating your political opinions could destroy, the band just wants to do what they feel is correct and if I can say so...they really have knocked it out of the park on all levels. You need some thought provoking Death Metal, even if you think opposite of what they do. Gain that open mind and enjoy some killer music in the process.
Mile Marker Zero- The Fifth Row
FFO- Progressive Metal, Alternative Rock
The very first concept album from this long standing band is exactly what we needed in 2018. A great concept, fun catchy songs no matter the dynamics and a sheer joy and passion that seems to be missing in so many bands as of late. If you haven't heard the band before, imagine Dream Theater meets A Perfect Circle meets Hurt. An excellent combination that makes for fantastic music you need to hear.
Oceans of Slumber- The Banished Heart
FFO- Doom Metal, Progressive Metal, Death Metal
After showing off what the band is capable of with their debut album, the band expanded their sound tenfold with The Banished Heart. The lyrics are absolutely devastating, the music is more melancholic and emotional, and the overall power of the band surpasses what even I thought was possible. While there are more slower numbers on this album, when it fully kicks in, it makes your jaw drop in the best way possible. You're not going to hear another band like this that does what they do better. Go grab this NOW! Probably grab some Kleenex while you're at it.
Orphaned Land- Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs
FFO- Progressive Metal
I've had this album since 2017 and I totally forget that it's actually a 2018 album. This concept album continues to show off the power and glory that is Orphaned Land. Be it acceptance of all people in the lyrics or just sheer amazement of the songwriting and arrangements that happen throughout. Even Hansi from Blind Guardian helps add to the power of this album. It's a sheer delight to listen to and while it goes through many phases, their message of acceptance is one that everyone needs to take to heart. The world would be such a better place if they did.
Panopticon- The Scars of Men On The Once Nameless Wilderness
FFO- American Folk Metal
If you're not familiar with the FFO above, simply it's folk metal but using the Americana and Folk, Bluegrass elements in the right ways. That's the best way to describe Panopticon, or at least what the band has become. This double album showcases both sides of the band perfectly. Disc I is the Panopticon that truly signifies American Folk Metal, while disc II is actually a bit of a departure of the band, completely taking out the Metal elements and writing a straight up Folk/Americana/Bluegrass album. This band isn't for everyone, but this band is 100% for me and it's awesome to say they are a Minnesota band. Give them a shot, especially if you want something new. They are a truly mindblowing band.
Primordial- Exile Amongst The Ruins
FFO- Black Metal, Folk Metal
Possibly Ireland's greatest band? At least in my eyes they are. Primordial returns with another epic journey of the senses, history and musical fulfillment. While not really straying from their sound, it's completely and utterly solid and that's all it will ever need to be. You need feel triumphant, well, this is the soundtrack to help make it happen.
Rivers of Nihil- Where Owls Know My Name
FFO- Extreme Progressive Metal
I'll go ahead and say it, this is my favorite album in the first half of 2018 and it's going to take a juggernaut of an album to knock it off the top spot at the end of the year. While I always loved the band, this album REALLY showcases what the band is capable of. Still containing their signature style of metal done on their previous two albums, they added atmosphere and prog that didn't realize the band needed in their sound. Moments of saxophone haunt you in the right moments while adding a hefty helping of Cynic to fill out their sound. Whether you have been a long time fan or just hearing about the band now for the first time in this post, you owe it to yourself to check this band out and see why the band has exploded in 2018. If any band deserved that happening, it's these guys.
Spock's Beard- Noise Floor
FFO- Progressive Rock, Rock
The most mainstream sounding SB album to date. It is just a completely solid Rock album from start to finish with the right amount of Spock's quirkiness and prog to let you know the band hasn't changed and are here to stay. Such a great, uplifting album for you all to enjoy.
Subsignal- La Muerta
FFO- Rush Meets Porcupine Tree
That is the best description of the band I can give. It's dark like Porcupine Tree but with the technicality of Rush, but somehow still makes their sound their own. If you even care the slightest bit about Prog, Subsignal will become a new musical obsession. La Muerta is the shining example of why. Plus you'll have 4 other albums to check out when you're done hearing this. So go...do it!
FFO- Modern Progressive Metal
I'll be the first to admit it, I was really hoping to see a change in the band musically. It feels like since Altered State that they may have found the style that fits them and there was no need for change. Boy, was I wrong. Sonder brings back Dan Tompkins into the fold and with it, album showcases dynamics and style changes that I thought were lost forever. This is the TesseracT album we needed in 2018 and I'm so happy we got it. I can't wait to see where they go from here.
Tribulation- Down Below
FFO- Black Metal, Classic Metal
If you are not on the Tribulation bandwagon by now, I can only hope its because you never heard of them until now. Tribulation does every single thing right in Metal. They bring back the classic, evil sounds that are all but gone today, but mixes it with own blend of musicality. Down Below is the next logical step in the band's sound and it's easily their finest work. Hauntingly beautiful and catchy as all get go. The hypetrain is about to take off again, jump on now!
Unreqvited- Stars Wept To The Sea
FFO- Blackgaze, Depressive/Suicidal Black Metal
Simply put, is Deafheaven too hipster for you? Does Liturgy make so you mad that you wanna scream? Are you superficial enough to hate Ghost Bath simply because of their name? Check out Unreqvited. They continue on the trek of making Black Metal with atmosphere, but still showcase the breakdown of life that originally went along with it. The lyrics will break you in one way or the other and music is superb. And unlike most DSBM bands, the production is actually listenable and enjoyable! This is such a stellar album, go check out why!
Visigoth- Conquerer's Oath
FFO- Classic Metal
Do you want to find a band that you enjoy that can take moments of Power Metal and Classic Rock like Manowar, but not feel ashamed to admit to others you like them? Visigoth is here to save the day and slay everything in their path. Absolutely solid musicianship, fantasy lyrics that you can visualize in your head and production that fits right at home no matter how you check out music. Such an underrated band that needs your love. Give Visigoth some love today.
We Sell The Dead- Heaven Doesn't Want You And Hell Is Full
FFO- Hard Rock, Gothic Rock, Doom Metal
Combining members of In Flames, H.I.M. and Spiritual Beggars, writing music in the style of Candlemass meets H.I.M. and being inspired by Jack The Ripper. IF that doesn't sell you on this band, nothing will. It's a Melodic Doom Rock Triumph. And one of the most underrated albums of the year. Discover them now and give them the love they deserve.
Wolvhammer- The Monuments of Ash & Bone
FFO- Sludge Metal, Doom Metal, Black Metal
One of the most innovated bands around have returned with their latest album that will rip your heart out. Combining all of what makes the band stand out from the rest of the pack, the band continues to shine with their dark light making evil music that fits right at home on our playlist. As an added bonus, the album is FREE on their bandcamp page. The only reason for you not to download this is because you are lazy. Don't be lazy, be proactive!
And there you go folks, the Top 50 Albums of 2018 so far. I really hope you can find at least one album here you can appreciate and love as much as I do. The best part of this is that there's still another 6 months of 2018 music coming, I can't wait to see what comes next. And with that tune in next time in December for all of my Top Lists of 2018, including the Top 100 Albums of the year!
That Drummer Guy: Radio DJ, Interviewer, Reviewer, overall...an OK guy.