I can't believe it's that time of year again. I've never had a year fly by so fast in my life. Usually every year feels like it's drags on and on and on, but this year has brought on many changes for me and everything past by so fast and it's already the holiday season and I awaken my fingers for the massive undertaking that is The Top 100 Albums of The Year. This year has has some absolutely phenomenal albums of all styles that deserve your love and attention.
Before continuing on, look again at the meme attached to this list. It's important. During this epic journey, I will be covering 140 different albums that came out in 2018. There is not a single album mentioned that I don't enjoy. Nothing here in my eyes sucks or doesn't deserve promotion. My duty every year is to cover as much ground as I possibly can so YOU...YES, YOU!!! can discover some new music. Your favorite album of this year could be my favorite as well. It could be number 26 or 53 or 79 or 100 or in the honorable mentions. You won't know unless you check them out and if an album is of interest to you, you give it a shot. I'm just the messenger bringing you the details.
That said a few notes as I do every year and will be listed again when the full list starts:
1.) These are albums that I have personally checked out this year that I have either bought, streamed or was sent to me via promo.
2.) The order of the Top 100 is just based on my own enjoyment. I do not feel any album here is worth overlooking, otherwise I wouldn't take the time out of my day to talk about it.
3.) When the full 100 list begins it will be 20 albums per list. Starting with 100-81 and going 20 by 20 till the Top 20. The honorable mentions will be in Alphabetical order as I'm already ranking 100 albums, 140 is pure insanity.
4.) My list is not your list. There is bound to be a a few albums that show up on this list that you either hate seeing listed or you will ask why I don't have it on mine. It comes to either I didn't hear it enough, I didn't enjoy it enough, it's not my bag...baby, or I simply haven't heard it. The following 140 albums is not the be all end all list of 2018 rock and metal albums, but it does give a great representation of what came out this year.
5.) The entire purpose of these lists are to have you discover some new music and prove that every year, great music comes out from brand new bands, bands just hitting their stride, classic bands, and anything in between. If any band is of interest to you, go check them out, play a song on youtube, stream their stuff on Spotify, buy their albums if you dig them, go see them live if there is the opportunity; just go support music in any way you can. It's what a music lover's life is all about.
Now...let's show off these Honorable Mentions!
Behemoth- I Loved You at Your Darkest
FFO- Blackened Death Metal
The band continues to grow with every passing year and every year Nergal continues on proves that it is possible to survives life's worst moments. This new album is a natural successor to their previous album, The Satanist. It's shorter, it's more orchestral, and features an evil children's choir. The band continues to flourish musically and to rousing ovation. Despite any feeling you may have about Nergal or the band in general, you gotta admire that someone can get back into their passion after battling and successfully defeating cancer.
Brimstone Coven- What Was and What Shall Be
FFO- Occult Rock
One of the best and underrated bands in occult rock, Brimstone Coven returns with new evil tales that are catchy, hooky, and memorable. If you want that evil classic rock sound and the evil imagery to back it up like your grandparents warned you about back in the day. This is the band for you.
Circuitry- Untouched By Human Hands
FFO- Modern Progressive Metal
It's always great when a band can come out and take a new spin on an ever expanding genre. Circuitry takes the ideals of Modern Progressive Metal and makes the brutal breakdowns more brutal, the experimental moments more experimental, and the hooky riffs even more memorable. It's just a really fun listen for those that want more from your Periphery, TesseracT, Animals As Leaders type bands.
Coffinrot- Retribution Divine
FFO- Old School Death Metal, Black Metal, Thrash
Twin Cities born Coffinrot released their debut album this year and it is a fantastic throwback to classic Death Metal, Black Metal and Thrash. It's a unique take on it as well, carving their own path of the past. If you are in need some new underground extreme metal, check out Coffinrot!
Coheed And Cambria- The Unheavenly Creatures
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal
Coheed is back and heavier than ever. This whole album feels like the heavy prog album I always wanted from them. Of course the signature C&C pop influences still shine through, but it's great to hear them actually embrace their progressive metal influences shine. If I had more time with this album it'd probably be in the Top 100 list. It's also a return to The Armory Wars story, which I've noticed is quite the divisive decision for the fanbase. I just know I love what's going on with this album and hope they keep up this intensity.
Culak- Without A Purpose
A mix of Deftones, Devin Townsend, and Deafheaven. It's a fantastic mix that showcases what can still be done in the Blackgaze genre and it's stellar songwriting. I will say that the cymbal production is a bit peaky (meaning that it crackles) but if you get past that, there is great songs to behold. Solid stuff!
Cult Leader- A Patient Man
FFO- Chaotic Hardcore, Crust Punk, Proggy Moments
The latest album from Cult Leader continues to get more brutal, yet more intriguing. The songs feel tighter, the production is stronger, and the band is just at the top of their game. It captures so much of what I love with experimenting with genres and you just may enjoy it as well.
Exmortus- The Sound Of Steel
FFO- Heavy Metal, Speed Metal, Thrash Metal
A different, but natural progression for Exmortus. With the band basically coming back from the brink of collapse to to reform with a new lineup, The songs focus more on the strengths of the new lineup and keep everything you love about the band in check. It's more of a straightforward album than previous album, but that just means it's the perfect album to start with if you are new to the band.
Grave Digger- The Living Dead
FFO- Heavy Metal
One of the best bands to ever come from Germany has returned with a brand new album that is such a great, horror influenced tour of where Grave Digger is in 2018. It's heavy, it's actually quite poppy, and just an overall fun listen. That's all I ever want out of a Grave Digger album.
Hate Eternal- Upon Desolate Sands
FFO- Technical Death Metal
Hate Eternal arrive back after three years with another onslaught of death metal brutality but this time, they have the legendary Hannes Grossmann on drums. Everything feels tighter than ever with the band's sheer sonic assault. Everything you love about the band is here in strides to progress to being even better than ever. Hate Eternal is so consistent that they can never let you down; if you know the formula, they will deliver!
Hatesphere- Reduced To Flesh
FFO- Thrash Metal, Death Metal
This Danish band is already on their tenth album! I still remember when 2004's Ballet of The Brute came out and loving their unique blend of thrash and melodeath hitting me so hard. Over the years, the band has become more and more thrashy and that is definitely not a bad thing. The songs hit you hard, the songwriting feels very inspired, and the passion of the band is still felt throughout the entire album. Considering the band celebrated 20 years this year; they have earned the right to do as they please, and they are doing it well.
Helion Prime- Terror Of The Cybernetic Space Monster
FFO- Power Metal, Progressive Metal, Sci-fi
This album is filled to the brim with Sci-Fi goodness with a prog power mix of Primal Fear, Sonata Arctica, and oddly enough, Tool. It's a very cool mix and really makes the band stand out in the world of power metal. This album is meant to be a great time and that's exactly what you get here.
Henry Derek Elis- The Devil Is My Friend
FFO- Tom Waits, Dax Riggs, Outlaw Country, Satanic Folk
One of my favorite albums that I wish I could have checked out just a tad bit more. I know it would have made the Top 100 list had I just had more time. This album is a loving tribute to folk and country of the past, while giving it the spooky, evil, and satanic imagery that really feels appropriate for a lot of olden day country and folk. If your not familiar with Elis; He is the lead singer of the bands Act of Defiance and Thrown Into Exile. SO it was quite shocking to hear this take on what he can do in a completely different style. It works so perfectly and is easily one of the most evil albums of the year, in the best way possible.
FFO- Modern Progressive Metal
I know what I said in the EPs list about having this go along with their Fight or Flight EP, but this album is too good not to talk about (and in keeping up with my rules I'm giving it an Honorable Mention list, had the EP not come out this year, this would be a top 10 album. HEY...MY RULES!) Anyways, this band's debut album is such a great display of what Modern Progressive Metal could be with nods to King's X, Dream Theater, Periphery, and mixing them into a catchy, heavy, proggy and fantastic listening experience. This band is going to get huge in time and by the time of the next album, you'll be seeing them everywhere.
Imperial Triumphant- Vile Luxary
FFO- American Blackjazz
Nick Cave meets Blackjazz era Shining (NOR) meets Deathspell Omega. AN absolute mindbender of a musical listening experience and not for the faint of heart. This will be an album that you can understand the power of and love it, or you will think it's absolute noise. I've yet to see a "meh, they are ok" quote about them. Purely love or hate. I am in the love category. And this album deserve all the attention it can get. It's pure chaos, but it entirely makes sense if you can comprehend it.
Johnny Gioeli- One Voice
FFO- AOR, Hard Rock
This album would 100% be in my Top 100 list if it wasn't for the fact that it doesn't come out for another week and I just simply have enough time to really digest it enough to fairly call this a Top 100 album. This album is the feel good album I really needed in my life and came into my inbox at the right time. Sometimes you just need an album that is just rockin' enough but with such a great positive message. As you can tell from my lists, I do love a lot of dark and depressing music, but for the sake of having a clear conscious; you need some happy music that makes you feel like you can accomplish something in life. That's what this album does for me and hey, it might for you too.
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
One of the most underrated bands in melodeath. Their impeccable songwriting skills of melodeath, thrash and hints of power metal make them stand out in ways that should make them one of the biggest bands in the business. But for the diehards like myself and others; Palo is just the latest reason why Kalmah is worthy of any praise they get. If you dig melodeath and never heard Kalmah, you are doing yourself a disservice by skipping out in these guys. Remedy that now and check this album out.
Letters From The Colony- Vignette
FFO- Modern Progressive Metal
One of, if not the very first album I received for 2018 promos. This debut album showcases this Swedish band showcases a mix between Meshuggah, BTBAM, and Gojira done in a way that is so pleasing to the senses. Without question, this album chugs, but in the case of this album, it is a complete and utter benefit. and when it doesn't chug, the music stands out so much more. A complete heavy delight to listen to.
Lithium Dawn- Gravity Waves
FFO- Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock
A heavy blend of Porcupine Tree, Opeth, and Tool, sees this prog outfit exploring what can be done in the atmospheric world of progressive music. Their latest album combines their greatest attributes and continues to make their own signature sound of heavy, proggy, atmospheric, rock, and metal. Another great band to explore if you are not familiar already.
FFO- Symphonic Death Metal
The third album from this Dutch powerhouse shows the band maturing and exploring more of what's possible in symphonic death metal. With lyrics that are personal and positively inspiring than the previous two album. Th music matches the powerful positive message shown throughout. It's an odd thing to think about considering how heavy this music can get, but it completely makes sense as you listen and you should listen. Epica's Mark Jansen can do no wrong.
Monstrosity- The Passage of Existence
FFO- Death Metal
One of the more underground, but one of the most important Florida death metal bands returns after quite an extensive hiatus to release some of their best music to date. Covering the spread of death metal from the most brutal to the most thrashy to the most thought provoking and a production that should be a bar that other death metal bands strive for. a stellar album.
Nightmarer- Cacophony of Terror
FFO- Extreme Metal
Absolutely living up to the band's namesake and album namesake; This band and this album is filled with terror, dread and nightmares. The music is beyond intense and gives you such dark imagery that plays in your mind as you listen. If you want a more palatable version of a band like Portal, but just as intense, check out Nightmarer. It's extreme done right.
Opus of a Machine- Stray Fire
FFO- Progressive Rock, Alternative Rock
It's really great to hear a modern prog band that isn't focused on the most dropped tuning and brutal breakdowns matched with odd time signatures. Sometimes you just need something that strays (no pun intended) from the norm. That's what this band is. A mix of Opeth, Haken, and Oceansize takes the alternative route to prog rock and prog metal and makes it completely their won and it works so wonderfully well.
Outer Heaven- Realms of Eternal Decay
FFO- Death Metal
Old school death metal with some of the most absolutely ferocious vocals I've heard in my years of enjoying metal. Seriously every word sounds like a dragon breathing fire at you and it's magnificent. It's a short, sweet, and brutal take on Death Metal and exactly what we need.
Pig Destroyer- Head Cage
FFO- Pig Destroyer
It's almost futile to put labels on these guys other than extreme. They can be grindcore, doom metal, noise, hardcore or punk at the drop of a hat and it will all make sense in context. Continuing to keep making the music they want to make, Pig Destroyer has no intentions of backing down and continuing to show why they are such an intense experience both live and on record.
FFO- Progressive Metal, Hard Rock, Alternative
Unique, not just a great phrase to describe Poem, but a great album. Mixing flavors from bands like Katatonia and Paradise Lost but adding hard rock tinges from bands like, I dare say, Alter Bridge. It is such an intriguing mix that I keep going back to and I had I not discovered it so late, it would be in my Top 100. If you want your music dark but catchy, this is a band you need to know about.
Powerwolf- The Sacrament of Sin
FFO- Power Metal, Symphonic Metal
Another complete love or hate band. Powerwolf knows exactly what they are making dark and gothic inspired power metal with symphonic overtones and songs that are meant to be fun and sung at the top of your lungs. This latest album continues that trend wholeheartedly. whether it is at full speed or a dirge paced ballad, they cover it all and make it such a fun experience. Completely and utterly solid.
QFT- Live In Space
FFO- Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Outer Space
Literally named after Quantum Field Theory, this debut album showcases Linnea Vikstrom spreading her wings from Therion and fronting her own band and talking about what is beyond Earth; all while making it a great album in the process. I'm pretty such this album will help you pass Advanced Physics in college if you are stuck in a bind, haha. But seriously, this is just a great, fun record and if you appreciate the field of science, you'll appreciate it even more.
Realm of Wolves- Oblivion
FFO- Atmospheric Black Metal
If Blackgaze is too happy sounding for you, but you like the atmospheric overtones, Realm of Wolves is the band for you. Keeping that evil, haunting black metal tinge, while appreciating soundscapes in the process; this album covers so much ground in this style that needs to be heard in 2018. A jaw dropping experience.
Septic Tank- Rotting Civilization
FFO- Punk, Hardcore, Metal
Do you miss Lee Dorian singing faster songs? I think we all do, and it sounds so great hearing him sing over these songs filled with social depravity that is toxic to today's world (which is accurately portrayed by the album cover). Simply, if you want a short, sweet, and rotting punk album; this is for you.
Set and Setting- Tabula Rasa
FFO- Instrumental Metal, Post Metal
AN absolutely solid release from this band that continues to expand upon what is possible in the instrumental post metal realm. more ambience, more evil riffs, and some of the best songwriting done in this style. While instrumental music is a hard sell for some people, I highly advise giving this band a shot. It's well worth the shot.
Sinsaenum- Repulsion for Humanity
FFO- Blackened Death Metal
The long awaited sophomore album from the powerhouse group featuring past and present members of Slipknot, Dragonforce and Mayhem (no, you didn't read that wrong). The songs are even more diverse, more brutal, more evil and so great to hear done this well. A fantastic album that proves that humanity sucks, but it's done in such a great way that you don't mind as you listen...but maybe try to better yourself after listening to it.
FFO- Thrash Metal, Groove Metal, Death Metal
Death metal Max Cavalera is the best Max Cavalera, even if it's diverse death metal. Hearing the intensity Max and Co. bring on this album is so great to hear and it's so great to hear that revitalized intensity flourish throughout this album, no matter what tangent it follows. Plus it has a song about Hellraiser, so yeah, automatically a great album!
Spock's Beard- Noise Floor
FFO- Progressive Rock
The catchiest, poppiest and easy going Spock's Beard album to date. It is such a strange thing to comprehend, but I really think it works. Sure, it's not for everyone and for some, it's not even for long time fans. But if you look at it as it's own entity, it perfectly makes sense with where the band is at in 2018 and I'd rather have an authentic look at the band than forcing a prog induced album they didn't want to make. Right place, right time, right album.
Ted Poley- Modern Art
FFO- Rock of All Styles
I may dare say that Ted Poley has put out some of my favorite songs and albums over the last few years by simply being himself. While other bands of the 1980s make rehashed albums with no authenticity or becoming just a soft rock band; Poley makes rock of all styles, it gets heavy, it gets poppy, it gets emotional, and it's 100% authentic as it's what he wants to do. And what a welcome change that is to hear in today's age. If you're expecting Danger Danger songs or something, you'll be disappointed. If you are looking for a new adventure of what is possible in rock in 2018, check this one out!
FFO- Modern Progressive Metal
This album really.....REALLY needed to happen. I thoroughly enjoy the band and the first two albums I feel are spectacular pieces of work, but it started becoming quite...well...stale after a bit. Thankfully Sonder freshens things up again and is not just songs that in the same tempo and rhythm patterns. It's diverse, its ever growing and exactly what the band needed. I am so thankful for that.
Therion- Beloved Antichrist
FFO- Symphonic Metal
To be 6 years between albums and come back with a 46 track, 3 disc, metal opera; to say that is ambitious is a gigantic understatement. To put it simply, if you enjoy Therion, no matter what era of the band, you will find something to love in this triple album. It's a massive undertaking clocking in at around 3 hours total. Even if you listen to it in small doses, it's well worth the investment in time.
Tremonti- A Dying Machine
FFO- Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
It's insane to think about how consistently solid Tremonti is with his solo albums. Every single album is filled with metal, rock, emotion, and completely personally driven in a way that's hard to find in other bands that can be considered radio friendly. It's such a welcome change and it's great to hear another album that is stellar from start to finish from Tremonti.
Twitching Tongues- Gaining Purpose Through Passionate Hatred
FFO- Hardcore, Metalcore
Another short, sweet and beautifully chaotic trip in the world of Twitching Tongues. No matter the speed, no matter the content, no matter the message; this album slays on all levels and makes you hate the world around you, but also try to make it better. That's the sign of a great album!
22- You are Creating
FFO- Alternative Rock, Progressive Rock
Feeling like a mix between Muse, Mew, Minus The Bear, and Oceansize; 22 returns with a double album based on limbs, with both sides giving very distinct styles and attributes. This is an ambitious album that really showed off what was possible with proper creativity and poise. It can be quirky, it can be thought provoking, it can just be great music. What ever your take away from this album, you can't deny the catchiness and power that can come from this outfit.
And there we go. 40 Fantastic Albums from to18 (That Just Happened to Be Honorable Mentions). This was the most work I've put into a list in just one sitting and it feels great to show off 40 albums that just may be worth your time checking out.
Starting Monday, the monolith, the megalodon, the mammoth, the "I Can't Believe You Have That Mush Time To Listen To Music" list begins with That Drummer Guy's Top 100 Albums of 2018 with Part II: 100-81!
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Shorter albums and EPs are actually a great marketing strategy in 2018. Release a handful of songs, and do it more often to keep peoples attention (pretty much the opposite of my last list). Some bands have some great material they want out there either starting out or just between full albums as well. These fifteen EPs covers a great amount of ground in the rock and metal fields. Let's see if these short tastes of bands pique your interest enough to give them a full change.
15.) Depths of Hatred- Bloodguilt
FFO- Technical Death Metal, Deathcore
A rather shocking discovery for me filled with brutal intensity and melodic songwriting paired in perfect fury. It's great to hear music this technical and heavy with melody and harmony behind it, making it stand out from the crowd. For fans of Cryptopsy, Arsis, and Misery Index. You will be sure to enjoy this EP in all it's glory.
14.) Progenie Terrestre Pura- Starcross
FFO- Industrial Black Metal, Post Black Metal
A mindblowing combination of genres that work so well together. Imagine the band Mechina, but more blackened instead of death metal driven. Just a fantastic listen through space and time, as beautiful as it is terrifying. A perfect band to expand your musical horizons.
13.) Witch Casket- Punishment
Blackened Death Metal, Melodic Death Metal
Should note that this band also released another EP this year, Hatred Index, which is equally fantastic, but I picked this one as it is newer and, I feel a bit more of what the band is truly capable of. A fantastic blend of chaos, evil, metal, and outrageously good songwriting. The songs are straight to the point and filled with the melodic brutality we all need sometimes. If you want some melodic brutality as stated a sentence ago, check this one out.
12.) Ostraca- Enemy
FFO- Shoegaze, Hardcore, Screamo
Such a crazy combination of music that truly works. If you want a crazy mashup of Deftones, Converge, The Smiths and AFI, this is it. It gets super down trotted and at the turn of a time goes into the chaotic hardcore you never see coming and then super melancholic . A great combination and a band to look out for.
11.) Marxthrone- A Blaze in the Western Sky
FFO- Black Metal, Socialism
The only reason this isn't up higher is because of how recent this released. I still can't really tell if this is taking the piss out of the world right now, a knock at a band like Neckbeard Deathcamp, or a black metal band that really thinks Democratic Socialism works. Regardless, this EP is filled with such great nods to classic 80s and 90s Black Metal while forging their own path with their (parody or not) message. Politics aside the music is great and worth checking out for that alone.
10.) Goliathan- Albion
FFO- Instrumental Blackened Post Rock
What a great release from Metal Assault Records. This band releasing this EP showcases everything the band is capable of, with evil sounding riffs, tons of atmosphere and songs that keep you interested from beginning to end. I can't give it a better description than that, they are very much worth your time.
9.) Conception- My Dark Symphony
FFO- Symphonic Metal, Progressive Metal
Roy Kahn has returned with Conception and the world of music is better for it. These tracks are so perfect for Kahn's amazing voice, maintaining the fantastic songwriting of Kamelot, but instead of power metal, going prog instead. The songs are super catchy and filled with dark joy, I expected nothing less and leave every listen of the EP completely satisfied.
8.) Fractal Cypher- Prelude to an Impending Outcome
FFO- Modern Progressive Metal
This EP is sheer brilliance from beginning to end. Combining so many great elements of melody, harmony, technical ability, and vocal delivery makes this a band you simply need to check out if you are a prog fan of any kind. You will find something to enjoy here, guaranteed.
7.) Neckbeard Deathcamp- White Nationalism is For Basement Dwelling Losers
FFO- Grindcore, Crust Punk, Anti- Trump
If you haven't gathered from this point, I do enjoy me some left wing views and left wing extreme music. Neckbeard Deathcamp has been making the rounds as of late for their name and lyrical content (I wonder why...?) but they also match their controversial lyrical content with fantastically made extreme music. Is it a novelty? time will tell. Till then I love what I hear and I really hope even better things are to come.
6.) Dead Now- Dead Now
FFO- Early Day Torche
The FFO pretty much sums it up. While being different enough to stand out, Dead Now covers the sludgy, poppy, doomy, dreamy styles that early day Torche albums cover so very well. Don't get me wrong they are their own band, but it is so great to hear this style of music again in my ears. A sheer delight to the senses.
5.) Tzimani- Tzimani
FFO: Classic Metal, Speed Metal
One of the best bands to come out of the San Diego area and another great signing by Metal Assault Management. These tracks fill you with that 70s-80s Heavy Metal you love and need in your life, but it's updated just enough to give their own flavoring. What makes this even better is that this band is two brothers, Eddie and Sebastian Vazquez. It's great to see family that gets together for the power of metal. They are going to go far if they are capable of this so early in their career.
4.) Candlemass- House of Doom
FFO- Doom Metal
The absolute masters of doom are back with their latest EP. AN interesting note is that vocalist, Mats Levin soon left the band after the release of this EP and returning, original, vocalist Johan Langqvist is back. It'll be interesting to see where the band goes from here. But before that, this EP is filled with the great, doomy, Candlemass you know and love. Catchy, doomy, heavy, and just plain...CANDLEMASS!
3.) Destroyer 666: Call of The Wild
FFO- Blackened Thrash Metal
Easily my favorite band of the genre, D666 returns with new tracks that fill the evil sense of dread and hopelessness, but in the most catchy of ways. Memorable riffs, superb vocal delivery, and stunning songwriting. They just do it right every single time and this proves it once again. Can't wait for the next LP.
2.) Hyvmine- Fight Or Flight
FFO- Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock
If it wasn't for my one release per band, per year, limits I put on myself, their debut album, Earthquake would be very high up on my Top 100 List coming next week, but as this is newer, and I really feel this EP shows off what the band is evolving into, I went with this one instead as it is three absolutely solid, catchy, and some of the best written songs I've heard from a brand new band. Imagine King's X with Dream Theater inspiration mixed with Modern Metal and poppy sensibilities. This band has it all. Go check out both Earthquake and Fight or Flight.
1.) Threads of Fate- A Funeral for the Virtuous
FFO- Symphonic Metal, Black Metal, Progressive Metal
Another one of my favorite discoveries of the year. This band captures the dark, haunting and necro-beautiful landscape that has been missing for quite a while with new talent. Imagine Kamelot, Dimmu Borgir, and Evergrey started a band; if you are someone like me, you instantly see the appeal. This entire EP is jaw dropping from start to finish and hits every single mark that I wanted check for a band like this. I couldn't suggest more that you check this out and bask in it's glory.
And there we go. The top 15 EPs of 2018. We finally did it folks, we covered so much ground between all these lists and I can just kick back, relax, and be gaming till 2019. Oh....wait...did I forget to do something? Oh right, I still have my Top 100 Albums of 2018 coming up next week. That will be a massive challenge but well worth it. Narrowing it down to 100 is a challenge for someone like me, but I can.....wait...what? Before that I gotta do some Honorable Mentions? That will help ease the pain of showing off some great albums that didn't make the Top 100, name 5-10 more shouldn't hur....huh? Oh come on....40 HONORABLE MENTIONS?!?!?! Well kids, looks like my job is far from over.
See you tomorrow for That Drummer Guy's Top 100 Albums of 2018 Part I: 40 Honorable Mentions
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Simply put, this is a list of the best songs that are over 10 minutes long. This is something generally for the prog fans or the doom metal fans or the stoner fans to enjoy. If you like your songs short, poppy, and easy to make love to; this is not the list for you (unless your into that, then *HIGH FIVE*) Let's get right into it!
10.) Mike LePond's Silent Assassins- Pawn and Prophecy- Pawn and Prophecy
FFO: Progressive Metal, Power Metal
Legendary bassist of Symphony X, Mike LePond has made a remarkable name fro himself outside of SX not only guesting on some great albums from great bands and playing live shows with great artists outside of SX; but he has a killer band known as Silent Assassins, where he gets to show off more of his Power, Prog, Classical, and Metal influences. This 21+ minute epic title track showcases so much of what he and the rest of the band (including some great guest spots) Everything from what you'd love to hear in Symphony X to brutal metal moments to pure orchestrated epicness to the middle section that's....well I'm not ruining it for you, I'll just say it'll make you smile. This song is such a great thing of beauty and worthy of a listen.
9.) Hands of Despair- Body And Souls- Well of the Disquieted
FFO: Progressive Black Metal
This sixteen minute epic from this fantastic Canadian band take you on a musical journey of the deepest reaches of your black soul and sends it to hell. The melodies and harmonies used amongst the evil riffs and haunting vocals are matched up so perfectly. The song also features some amazing guest spots throughout that if you know your Canadian Metal, you'll pick up on immediately. Such a fantastic band and album with this Epic as a real highlight. It's required listening if this intriguing to you in any way.
8.) Mournful Congregation- Picture Of The Devouring Gloom Devouring The Spheres Of Being- The Incubus of Karma
FFO- Funeral Doom Metal
Mournful Congregation may be my favorite funeral doom metal band and if you need a reason why; I have a little over 22 minute reason why right here. This song will literally eat your soul, joy, and happiness away in the best way possible. It is slow, brooding, moody, and darker than you could anticipate. Of course that is what any funeral doom metal band should hope to achieve. If this something you could even manage comprehending, you need to check it out. Just please make sure that you are in the right state of mind to do so. It's that dark...just trust me....
7.) Redemption- Long Night's Journey Into Day- Long Night's Journey Into Day
FFO- Dark Progressive Metal
I have so much more to say about this band when the Best Albums of 2018 lists start flowing, but I'll try to keep this short. Tom Englund is one of my favorite singers of all time. Redemption is a band that means so near and dear to me; seeing that these two hiveminds are now together as one for Redemption makes me so happy and this 10 minute plus epic is a prime example why exploring so much of what dark progressive Metal can and should be. If for any reason you checked out Redemption in the past and were not interested before, just give this song a chance and see if it changes your mind.
6.) Wolfheart- Everlasting Fall- Constellation of the Black Light
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
It goes without saying that Finland has the best bands for Melodeath. It's not even up for debate. Per capita, there is no one stronger. And Wolfheart continues to prove that statement right and Everlasting Fall is a prime epic to prove it so. Starting off slow, heavy, symphonic, it builds and builds and buulds into absolute melodic chaos. The whole album is stellar, but this song is simply magic. Listen and understand why.
5.) Wills Dissolve- On This Cold November Night- The Heavens Are Not On Fire
FFO- Progressive Death Metal, Post Metal, Doom
This band is one of my favorite discoveries of 2018 and this song brilliantly shows off why that is so. Conveying inspiration from bands like Isis, Novembers Doom, Swallow The Sun and Opeth, this whole album is filled to the brim with melancholic masterpieces. This song in particular is a great starting point as to understanding what this band has in store for you.
4.) Lux Terminus- The Courage To Be- The Courage To Be
FFO- Progressive Rock, Fusion, Instrumental
This band is a hard sell for the brutal, angsty kid in all of us. But for those that just want to kick back, relax and hear three beyond excelled master musicians writing music that is not only complex, but perfectly inspired and written with songwriting in mind (rather than just chops); Lux Terminus may just do it for you. The title track in particular, captures some of the greatest emotions on the album from beautiful to heavy to mindblowing. Knowing the backstory and concept of the album, the title track really makes you appreciate live and all it has to share with us. I'm glad I stuck around and live in an era where this just released.
3.) Panopticon- Snow Burdened Branches- The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness (I and II)
FFO- North American Folk Metal (Black Metal, Folk, Americana)
This band is one of, if not my favorite Black Metal band going. This double album is actually a bit different as the Black Metal and Folk/Americana sides are actually separated by disc. This song still features some of the folkish elements I love, but really showcases the power of the nature inspired band and really, how really messed up the world so far; BUT, it gives you hope that we can change it for the better. This is required listening for any heavy music fan.
2.) Yob- Our Raw Heart- Our Raw Heart
FFO- Doom Metal, Post Metal
Another album I have to much to say about, but that will come in time. For the title track it grabs your heart and doesn't let go. Mike's Scheidt's vocals on this song are so powerful and sorrow filled. The song maintains the same slower tempo throughout but it matches the tone of the song and album perfectly. Knowing the back story of what Scheidt has gone through in recent times, it'll be hard not to tear up during this song, I know I did. Absolute power driven doom metal
1.) Witherfall- Vintage- A Prelude To Sorrow
FFO- Progressive Metal, Power Metal
It really couldn't have been any other song this year, expect the other epic off this album, but I kept this to one band each. Simply put this album is something I'll be talking about more soon, but the this epic is about the moment of the band losing one of my best friends in the world, Adam Sagan, and drinking the sorrows away. There's so much more that could be said and will be said, but for just this song, it's so powerful, moving and brilliantly written, it's the best Witherfall song to date; after checking it out, I hope you agree.
Alright kids, that is ten absolutely stellar epic songs from 2018. Some fast, some slow, some heavy, some beautiful, some all of those things. While we live in a world where everyone's attention spans are shortening, I hope you can strive to fight that and give at least one of these songs a try if it's something of interest. These ten songs alone are over 2 and a half hours, which is about 5-6 pop albums, put your mind and ears to good use!
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
It's quite hard to talk about live albums in 2018. As fantastic as they are to hear bands and artists in that live setting in a recorded form; it has somewhat been ruined by live phone bootlegs with horrendous sound quality and so shaky it's hard to watch. BUT, thankfully, there are musicians who make live albums and make them matter with top notch sound quality and now even 4K quality visuals to make you wonder if getting beer spilled on you by a drunkard during your favorite song is worth it anymore. These are just ten fine examples of that. In the interest of fairness, this is in alphabetical order.
Accept- Symphonic Terror- Live At Wacken 2017
FFO- Classic Metal, Symphonic Metal
In what was at the time a once in a lifetime opportunity; Accept played the 2017 edition of Wacken separated into three smaller sets. A set of newer Accept songs, a set of classic orchestrations, and a set of classic Accept songs with the full blown orchestra. The clarity on this album is top notch and it makes you wish you could have been there to see it all. Thankfully with this Blu Ray/CD set, you can relive it any time you want. For the classic metalheads, classical fans and those that are both, it's a must have.
Alice Cooper- A Paranormal Evening at the Olympia Paris
FFO- Classic Rock, Heavy Metal
Alice Cooper still puts on one of the greatest rock shows in 2018 with this release showcasing the classic Alice Cooper songs you know and love, and the newer songs that have become live staples. The band is top notch, the song selection is perfect, and the sound quality is just fantastic. Is it the best live Cooper album? Who's to say. But it is definitely worth a listen.
Amon Amarth- The Pursuit of Vikings- Live at Summer Breeze
FFO- Viking Metal, Melodic Death Metal
Easily the most consistent metal band of recent memory, Amon Amarth returns before their next album to release this astonishing live spectacle. This showcases both of their live sets at Summer Breeze 2017 plus a nearly two hour documentary! A sheer delight for the vikings in all of us and well worth checking out.
Anneke van Giersbergen- Symphonized
FFO- Atmospheric Rock, Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Symphonic Metal
The second release on this list to feature a symphony; Anneke van Giersbergen (one of the greatest voices in music, PERIOD!) graces our ears once again with a 25 year retrospective of her career; back by Residentie Orkest The Hague conducted by Arjan Tien. Everything from The Gathering to VUUR is covered here in mindblowing Symphonic arrangements. Much like mentioned with Accept earlier, wherer you are an Anneke fan, a symphonic fan or both; this has MUST HAVE written all over it!
Ayreon- Ayreon Universe
FFO- Progressive Metal, Arjen Anthony Lucassen
Another showing by Anneke on this list, who would have guessed, haha. In something as a nearly career long fan I never would have expected; Ayreon FINALLY played live and we have been blessed to have this been recorded for all of us to enjoy. A great career retrospective featuring some of the best Ayreon songs (and those that fit best in a live setting). It was amazing enough to get The Live Equation, which any of us would have guessed was a one time live deal, but now getting to hear classic Ayreon songs done by some of the greatest voices and musicians in the business? It's too good to be true, but thankfully, it is true and I couldn't be happier.
Devin Townsend Project- Ocean Machine- Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv
FFO- Progressive Metal, Hevy Devy
In what will most likely be the final release under the DTP moniker, the band performed in 2017 for two sets to be recorded. One set of classic songs by request, the other performing what may be the most celebrated Devin Townsend album, Ocean Machine with...you guessed it...A SYMPHONY! It's almost as if Symphonies and Metal work seamlessly together...But this release has everything I could possibly want form a Hevy Devy live album and the more I hear it, the more it just feels like the perfect send off to this band. I've seen this band 8 times total and I am fortunate for every opportunity. Now it's time to see what Devin and Co. do in their respective endeavors.
Fates Warning- Live Over Europe
FFO- Progressive Metal
You guessed it! Fates Warning toured Europe touring behind what is quite possibly their best album, Theories of Flight. Considering it has been nearly two decades since the last FW live album, this was a very welcome thing to see. Mainly focusing on Material not heard on the first FW album, the band proves that they are at the absolute top of their game and I simply can't wait for the next album. That fire is burning bright for the band and this live release proves it.
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Rock
Haken is one of the most celebrated modern prog bands with good reason. They can do everything from the classic prog rock of yesteryear, get down tuned and brutally heavy when needed, or sound as poppy as any 80s pop song; it's up to them. This first live album from the band showcases all 4 albums up to that time with some of their best songs from every album. Haken are an incredible experience live and this live release shows you why.
Opeth- Garden Of The Titans (Opeth Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre)
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Progressive Death Metal
Say what you want about Opeth in 2018, but they still put on a killer show and this live release showcases everything they are capable of today. Whether it's classics like Demon of the Fall or new live staples like Sorceress; The band has done no wrong to me yet and I don't see that ever changing. IF they can keep up this live quality; their studio quality will match that on the next album, I can feel it.
Steven Wilson- Home Invasion: In Concert At The Royal Albert Hall
FFO- Progressive Rock, Crying
Steven Wilson live...if you've never experienced it, you haven't experienced a true emotion in a concert setting. Home Invasion brilliantly showcases that in all facets. Not only featuring work from ALL of his solo , he has also graced us all by incorporating Porcupine Tree songs into the set, which is what every fan wants if the band is not getting back together. Though I didn't get to experience this tour live, I still choke up hearing some of these songs live; what a great feeling that is when music can move you that much. A true prog live release that is worthy of your time.
And there we go, folks! 10 live albums of 2018 that showcase very unique styles ranging from symphonic to Melodeath to just solid live shows. It also kind of shows that 2018 was a big year for Prog live albums, which is never a bad thing to me. Prog fans love setting up their home theaters and enjoying some great live music from home, this more than fills that need. Hopefully it will for you as well.
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
As you may have seen from my previous list, as shocking as it sounds, I do have ventures outside of music. Along with wrestling, gaming was a huge part of my childhood and unlike wrestling, it always stuck with me to this day. in 2018 you have 4 main options for gaming, PC, PS4, XB1, and Nintendo Switch. I am of the PS4 camp, converting from the Xbox 360 a few years back. Once again, like my previous list, I am not the biggest gamer in the world. As long as the game works, is of my interest and give me a fun experience, that's all I need. Frame Rates, refresh speeds, resolutions, etc are important things, but not enough to turn me off as long as I can sit down and enjoy it. The only downside I find to games is microtransactions...those can suck it!
That said, I am checking off every 2018 game I bought this year. No qualifications for being on this list as this is all 11 ranked from least favorite to favorite and quick thoughts about each one. So if you are a beginner to intermediate gamer like I am, I hope you enjoy this and maybe even find a new game to play. I apologize for only focusing on PS4 games, but that's just what I play.
11.) Jurassic World Evolution
FFO- City Building Simulators, Sim City, The Sims
Another game I really wanted to like and if I had a better grasp of these types of games, I'd be all over this. It's Sim City but based in the world of Jurassic World. Having not played a Sims type game in probably two decades, I found the game to be more aggravating than anything. Every time I got a little closer to getting it, I realized that I didn't get it. If go back to it and try again I may dig it more, but that's something time will tell. Also, Jeff Goldblum...He clearly did this for the paycheck and you can definitely hear it as it sounds so uninspired, which is heartbreaking. But anyways, if you dig city building simulation, you will love this, otherwise...you will not.
FFO- First Person Shooters, Multiplayer
This game was 100% made to be played with friends or online play in mind. Which is probably why I didn't enjoy this as much as I hoped. You don't need to play online for this as you have computer teammates, but it feels hollow. It follows the Left 4 Dead format with maps based on different stories and no real campaigns, but instead of zombies, it's aliens. Not a bad game by any means, but if you are a single player gamer like myself; there's better games to play to fill that void of the FPS single player games.
FFO- Walking Simulators, A look at Mental Health
I picked this one up the day it came out squarely on the premise of this being a very short game that is a true look at Depression from the outside and the inside...and it truly is. It's a heartbreaking game that looks at person who suffers a tragedy that leads to the deep well of depression that I know all to well myself. It shows it from the sufferer and their partner and how it affects both parties. If you're anything like me, you'll cry by the end and it's a well deserved cry. The biggest reasons why it's this low is because A.) You can complete it in under two hours. B.) When I played it, it had some major glitches to it, game breaking ones in fact, but they have been patched out and its a much better experience now. and C.) It's a walking Simulator. All you do is move around and see what's around you. There's no button commands, you don't pick anything up, there's no quests. You life this life as it's spirals downwards. I love it, but it's a hard sell for those looking for more than that in a game. If you wanna see how Depression really works, I highly recommend this game.
8.) Far Cry 5
FFO: First Person Shooter, Action/Adventure
The first Far Cry game to focus on the United States as a map. The game was heavily controversial all the way up to it's release due to the political climate that is hinted at in the game (but not really a focus as much as talked about). It looks, feels, acts and plays like a Far Cry game, but just different enough to make it worth it. A fun/dark story, a gigantic map to discover with tons of secrets, and at least to me, a worthwhile endeavor. You can get the game pretty cheap now so it's well worth the experience.
FFO: RPG, Horror, A Question of Morals and Ethics
Set in 1800s England, you play as a doctor, coming home from war, but falls victim to a vampire. Throughout the game, you continue on with your doctoral duties deciding who lives and who dies, all while finding out how you became this way and potentially end it. It's a great game with RPG mechanics and a great morality and ethical gut check seeing if you can live life without hurting others or if the temptation is too great. The weakest part is qithout question, the controls and gameplay, but everything else makes up for it and if you are a seasoned gamer, you can adapt very quickly. A fun, worthwhile time for the macabre in all of us.
6.) Yakuza 6: The Song Of Life
FFO- Brawlers, Soap Opera Drama, the Best in Japanese Quirks
If you've never invested time in the Yakuza series, you are doing yourself a gigantic disservice. This series has everything you could want from a Sega licensed game from constantly fighting battles, a gut wrenching story, almost every single type of gaming style, and the wackiness that comes with modern Japanese culture. Yakuza 6 is the final chapter in the story of Kazuma Kiyru. It is HIGHLY recommended to try out Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami 1 and 2 (I still need the latter) before playing this game to get a better grasp on the stoyr. Though there is a recap section in the beginning. But again, even if the story isn't for you, there is baseball simulation, side quests finding stray cats, internet sex chatrooms, and the ability to play actual Sega games from yesteryear in the Sega Arcades. THere's even a mini game story arc featuring professional wrestlers from New Japan Pro Wrestling. It is one of the most hard hitting, yet, off the wall franchises you can possibly play, and worth every single second.
5.) Detroit: Become Human
FFO- Interactive Movies
The FFO section is exactly what this is; an interactive movie that YOU make the decisions for and forge your path. The game takes place in Detroit in a fictionalized 2038 where you play 3 different Androids of different walks of life and explore there stories and how the world is in 2038. This is an emotionally driven game that can test your limits of morality and ethics and doesn't give you much time to decide on particular moments. You gotta constantly pay attention or you may end up on a path of this story you do not want to take. If you only play this once you can finish it in 1-3 days depending on your gaming schedule, and it's broken up into several chapters. It really hits home for me and it may for you as well.
4.) Marvel's Spider-Man
FFO: Open World, Action-Adventure, Superheroes
This game...this game. This game has no right being as good as it is, given the past of Spider-Man games, but it is easily not only the best Spider-Man game, but may rival the Batman Arkham Saga as best Superhero game and the potential to be the best Franchise Superhero game (you know as least 2-3 more sequels are coming, it's guaranteed). The web-slinging in this game is so satisfiying and exploring Manhattan as your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is worth the price of admission alone. The story, which is an original take on Spider-Man shows off Peter Parker 8 years after dawning the costume and is thankfully NOT an origin story. You jump right in as Spidey and and a grand ol' time. Until the DLC, this is one of the only games I have ever been able to beat 100% and grab every trophy. I will eventually get the DLC for it and get things back on the right track (thankfully, I still have the platinum trophy for my efforts). You see everywhere how this game is getting rave reviews, this game couldn't possibly be more deserving. It's pure fun!
3.) Hollow Knight
FFO- Side Scrollers, 2D Platformers, Creepy but Cute Imagery, Dark Souls
One of my favorite games I'll probably never get to beat as it is ridiculously hard. The game takes inspiration from the Dark Souls & Bloodbourne games as far as difficulty, but re-imagines it as a side scroller 2D adventure playing as an unnamed hero who wanders it's world, digging deeper and deeper discovering other bug/insect like creatures it must defeat or befriend to survive. With it being bugs and insects it can turn people off, but the graphic style really makes the protagonist quite the cute little thing, along with many other creatures in the game, but to flip the coin, there is many grotesque things as well, but more cartoony and fun. I have gotten respectfully far in the game, but with it's sheer difficulty I am not sure I'll ever be able to finish the game. I will continue to try. It's an easy game to grasp comprehension of but it takes a master gamer to perfect. All that said, I love this game and it goes for 15 bucks for a normal price. I am over 80 hours into the game and have not completed it and I still loe playing it. That's a worthy investment.
*NOTE: I am aware this game originally came out in 2017 on other platforms, but it was released for PS4 in 2018, so I'm counting it*
2.) God Of War
FFO: Action Adventure, RPG, Nordic Folklore
If you have played any of the original God Of War games before this soft reboot, only keep the story in mind as everything else has changed and easily, for the better. Rather than Greek Mythology, this follows Nordic Mythology as Kratos discovers he has a BOY (sorry, I mean, son) and goes on an adventure that brings them closer together, while nearly getting killed every step of the way. The graphics in this game are impeccable. The story is heart wrenching, intriguing, and mesmerizing. The controls and gameplay are some of the most satisfying you'll ever find in a game to this point (especially when throwing your axe...PERFECTION!!!). This game is what I always hoped I would enjoy in the GOW series and I simply can't wait to see how this story continues on in the future.
1.) Red Dead Redemption 2
FFO- Grand Theft Auto, Except the Auto is a Horse
If no one else can sell you on this game yet, I guess I'll give it a shot. If you enjoy the gameplay, the open worlds, the stories, and the atmosphere that Rockstar games have done in the past, this is the game for you. Despite the misleading title, this is actually a prequel to the events of the original Red Dead Redemption. Following the story of a brand new character not even hinted at in the original game, you follow a dramatically bigger story of how this all began in a drastically bigger world, so much more to do, jaw dropping graphics, and that Rockstar attitude they are famous for. Obviously I am making this before I had a change to play Red Dead Online (which I can do now as I finally upgraded to 2005 and got a PS Plus Subscription), I am purely basing this off the single player game which is worth every single cent you spend on the game. It just has such a stellar story, sooooo many secrets to find, side quests that fill you with such intrigue, and the overall best presentation I have ever seen in a video game to date. If this and anything else about this game you have heard didn't sell you on it, nothing will.
And there we go, folks, my 2018 Game Purchases for PS4 in 2018 ranked in order or greatness. So many absolute winners and so many great reasons why I am so happy with my PS4 and maybe even I helped you out in picking up a game. Needless to say, gaming is becoming more and more fun as the years go on. I can't wait to see what I explore in 2019.
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy
Those that saw my previous list of the best matches of 2017, you may be surprised that the list is half as long and isn’t just a love letter to WWE. To be blunt, WWE (Raw and Smackdown) have really let me known every since the Royal Rumble and it feels like every month is getting harder and harder to watch due to bad storytelling, roughly half the roster now being on the injuured list, repeat after repeat after repeat after repeat matches and feuds and of course the whole Saudi Arabia thing that has made me almost stop watching entirely (mainly keeping up as I still have favorite wrestlers that are there and they are not the ones responsible. I’m smart enough to realize that). But also since last year, my love for NXT has grown exponentially and I have been able to REALLY discover wrestling outside of the WWE moniker. While there are sooooo many promotions I can’t follow, haven;t had the chance to follow, and simply don’t know about; I have been able to enjoy more from promotions like New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring Of Honor and more. And with the heavily rumored talks of the wrestling stable The Elite potentially starting their own promotion in 2019/2020 to possibly rival the WWE (or at least give them reason to believe they are not the only horse in town anymore in the states); it’s an exciting time to be a wrestling fan...if you know where to look for it.
Granted, I am not the biggest wrestling fan in the world anymore, my knowledge of wrestling up to 2001 means that I have 2002-2016 wrestling that I’ve missed out on experiencing first hand. The following 5 matches is not the most comprehensive list in the world, nor will I treat it as such. I treat this as a music fan that got back into the love of wrestling and enjoys it for what is, while still being a complete smark about it. But here is my top 5 matches of 2018 and 5 excellent reasons for non wrestling fans to give pro wrestling a(nother) shot.
5.) Hangman Page vs Joey Janela (Chicago Street Fight)- All In
Right up till the time I originally stopped watching wrestling, I LOVED hardcore matches and that only grew as I got older. I loved the table crashes, chairshots, the blood, the chaos of it all. Now a days I am a bit more sensitive to it all, especially after I got the internet and found out about Japanese Death Matches and especially considering the horrific events that happened in 2007 that lead to the WWE being more mindful more of concussions and affects to the brain (come on, you know what I’m talking about, just google it if you really don’t know), it’s really hard to look back at some matches of the past, especially unprotected chair shots. All that said, when I first heard of this match, I was curious as I love Hangman Page, but knew literally nothing of Joey Janela, so I had zero insight as to what they had in store. Simply put these guys absolutely delivered. Some spots made my jaw drop wondering how they did not die (specially Janela), the use of tables, ladders, chairs and a literal Cracker Barrel just had everything I loved about hardcore wrestling back when I was a kid, but updated so it was a little safer, yet, even more INSANE. Plus the events that happened after the match featuring Famous Dick Wrestler, Joey Ryan just added all the comedy aspects that I miss about old school WWF wrestling, as immature as one could see it. Just a perfect hardcore match that’s not too extreme but brutal as you can get at the same time.
4.) Kazichika Okada vs Marty Scurll- All In
What else can I possibly say about All In? As a whole it’s the best PPV to this date! This match was an absolute highlight of that. Much like the match coming up after this; this match focuses on two villains that came together for this PPV, but not for a title, not for brand supremacy, not even for a title shot; but simply because these two are two of the best in the buesiness at what they do. Okada representing Japan and the Villain Marty Scurll representing the UK (and The Elite) in the longest match of All In. What made this match work so well was not just the chemistry between the two; but it was a match where you thought you knew who was going to win from the beginning, but as the match went on, you began to really question it and think “WOW, IS HE GOING TO WIN?” That’s great storytelling in wrestling when you are genuinely wondering what will happen. This nearly 30 minute match will keep you on the edge of your seat and for good reason. A sheer David vs Goliath match that will keep you guessing till the very end.
3.) Tomasso Ciamp vs Velveteen Dream (NXT Championship)- NXT Takeover: WarGames II
My favorite One on One match under the WWE moniker. Who would have thought as a kid who stopped watching when he was 11 would get back into it in 2017 and discover that wrestling as DRAMATICALLY improved in all facets. A brilliant match between two egomaniacs (both heel and babyface….that’s bad guy and good guy for the non wrestling fans out there). Both men are LOVED by the crowd but get the exact reactions they deserve. Ciampa being one of, if not the greatest heel of all time, the crowd despising him, his infatuation of never losing the title, undeniably fantastic promo work and a master of the ring and what a bad guy should be. The Dream starting off as the eccentric megalomaniac bad guy, turned into one of the most loved baby faces in NXT history...all while still pretty much being exactly the same. To make it simple, he is the 2018 version of WWF legend, Goldust, but updated for the time and no focus on sexuality (unless you look for it...perv!) The battle between these two seemed like it was going to be a good match, but not the best of the night, and it did start that way; but the longer it went, the better it became. Every near fall had you gasping when the opponent kicked out before 3. The high spots from Dream were insane, the tactics by Ciampa were so methodical and brilliant. Easily some of the best chemistry I’ve ever seen between two guys in the ring. It’s a shame we’ll never get a match like this in the WWE, but thankfully for fans like myself, NXT exists and only gets better as time moves on.
2.) Adam Cole v Ricochet v Lars Sullivan v Killian Dain v Velveteen Dream v EC3 (North American Title Ladder Match)- NXT Takeover: New Orleans
My favorite match under the WWE moniker. This match has everything you could possibly ask for. Hardcore spots, high flying, infinite tension, and 6 of the best NXT superstars (past and present) at the time. You got the smarmy villain that’s a mix of Shawn Michaels and Triple H (Cole), The master of the fly flying spots (Ricochet), The monster brute (Sullivan), The loveable brute (Dain), The flamboyant egomaniac (Dream), and the Cocky rich kid who just came to town (EC3). Outside of supernatural powers ala The Undertaker or the bloody brutality you find in CZW or Japanese death matches; it’s so hard to be disappointed in this match. When it was live, you had no idea who was going to win and if you were a fan of NXT; you would have been happy to see that belt on any of the six. The outcome was exactly how it should have been (which won’t be spoiled here) and 4 of the guys men in this match have had great success after this match (the other two; Dain and EC3 have so much untapped potential that hasn’t hit this year yet, mainly due to booking and over saturation of great talent). There’s so much good to say about this match. Just go watch it and see why wrestling as as good as it has ever been.
1.) Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada (2 Out Of 3 Falls)- Dominion 2018
This is simply the greatest match I have ever seen. The 4th One on One encounter between these two legends of the business gave us a 65 minute epic that pulled at your heart and soul with every passing minute. Not to mention that this was a 2 out of 3 falls match, which just built the tension even more. The near falls, the repeated finishers, the endurance, and most importantly, the story being told in the ring is simply astounding. Omega is arguably the moved wrestler of today. His love of video games, the most brilliant acting seen in wrestling, an absolute seller of any match he is in, the best promos in the game, and such a loveable personality; the man has it all. Okada is the definition of Japanese wrestling. His persona, his skillset, his (at the time) no nonsense mentality, and absolute sheer brilliance in the ring. Every single time between these four matches, these two have been in the ring, has been masterclasses on wrestling with every match being better than the last. Whenever anyone says that wrestling was only good in the late 90s during the WWF’s Attitude era; make them watch this match and this should easily change their minds. Two of the absolute best wrestlers not under the WWE moniker, it’s not even up for discussion.
And there you have it. My top 5 matches of 2018. I again apologize for no Main Roster WWE making the list, but, if you’ve seen the quality this year; there have been some good to great matches, but absolutely nothing I would go back to. The fact I have been watching about the first half hour of Raw before shutting it off due to sheer boredom pretty much says it all. Coming back into wrestling last year; that’s a heartbreaking statement. BUT thankfully things like NXT, NJPW, ROH, what ever The Elite do in 2019, etc prove that there is quality wrestling out there, just like quality music in 2018. You just gotta look for it.
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)