We have finally made it to the part of the list where the most people start paying attention, the Top 40 Albums of 2018. For the average reviewer, news site, and consumer; 40 albums is a lot of ground to cover and the average consumer feels that anything more than this is worth skipping out on; I hope my lists prove that theory wrong. These next 2 lists just so happen to be the 40 albums I enjoyed most this year. You may love them as much as I do, you may think my musical credibility may need to be reconsidered after looking; that's all on you, the reader! So let's get these pesky rules out of the way and get into some music, eh?
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.
Let's Begin The Top 40 Albums of 2018!
40.) Riverside- Wasteland
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Experimental
Overcoming pure tragedy to continue as a functioning band is something that can seem impossible. Thankfully, Riverside, overcame the odds and wrote another masterpiece of an album. This album hits you on all levels; heavy, mellow, acoustic, poppy, and grabs you by the soul. While the band may be a bit different now, they are still Riverside and that's all any of us could ever want.
39.) In Vain- Currents
FFO- Progressive Death Metal, Modern Metal
The band's previous outing, AEnigma is still one of my favorite albums of the last decade and it was going to take a lot to be able to top that. They didn't top it, instead they matched it by going in a different direction. Instead of keeping the music as an epic, atmospheric progressive metal route; they focused much more on writing catchier, heavy modern metal with progressive death metal mixed in. It was a bit of a risky move, but it really paid off as this album has gotten the band more attention than ever before and new fans have 3 other albums to explore. They still sound like In Vain, just more catchier to unknowing listening ears. A great choice and shows that the band can write whatever they want and it will sound awesome.
38.) Light The Torch- Revival
FFO- Heavy Metal, Hard Rock
I'm just going to straight up say it. With everything that happened with Devil You Know behind the scenes, had they just kept making the same style music, I would have been disappointed. I'm quite thankful to hear this band going more into the heavy rock route rather than trying to make more metalcore. I really enjoyed Devil You Know, but the fact that they went this direction feels so refreshing. Screams are kept to an absolute minimum, double bass is only hinted at and not a focus, and there's not excessive use of brutal breakdowns. It's just solid heavy hard rock and it fits so perfectly well. Nice, short, catchy and memorable. This is an album I've always wanted to hear Howard Jones make and the heavy music world should be thankful. I know I am.
37.) At The Gates- To Drink From The Night Itself
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
The absolute kings of melodeath return and grace us with another chapter in the world of At The Gates. If you are looking for that signature ATG sound, it's here. If you want them to experiment with the formula, that is also here. It's a great blend of both sides of the band and creates an atmosphere that just simply works. No one can do melodeath like At The Gates...nobody!
36.) Gruesome- Twisted Prayers
The band's newest release tackles the inspiration of the band, Death's, Spiritual Healing album and creates their loving tribute of completely original music. Making the production, vibe, tone, and musicianship the band has paid tribute to the band so far; this is another case where the band just knocks it out of the park. Gruesome is easily one of my favorite active death metal bands and this is just another example why. Revisit 1990 28 years later in 2018 with Gruesome's Twisted Prayers!
35.) Amorphis- Queen of Time
FFO- Progressive Metal, Melodic Death Metal
Amorphis has yet to ever make a bad album, or even a weak album. Queen of Time continues to prove that whether they make a full blown death metal album, a pure prog album (saxophone and all) or a mixture of both; They can nail what ever music they choose to make. This album is the latter, which may be their signature blend. Growls when needed, proggy when called for, and melodic...so melodic, in all the right spots. I've said it a few times now but it bears repeating, Finland makes the best metal music. Amorphis is Example A...for Amorphis.
34.) Between The Buried And Me- Automata (I & II)
FFO- Adult Contemporary Progressive Death Metal
Is it two albums? Is it two EPs? Is it an album that was split in two and released a few months apart? I'm going with option three on this one to make it fair to both the EPs list and to any band I would of had to knock off this monumental list of mine. BTBAM made what some call a return to form with Automata. With a new label backing the band in Sumerian; The band has taken what has made them stand out in the past, but also kept their progressive side continue to flourish. Basically, whether you love the death metal or prog side of the band, you'll LOVE Automata as it features both and should make fans on both sides of the fence satisfied. I know I am.
33.) Corrosion of Conformity- No Cross, No Crown
FFO- Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Stoner Metal, Hardcore
Anyone else miss Pepper as much as I have? Don't get me wrong, I love what COC has done since In The Arms of God and it was fantastic to hear their early hardcore roots once again. There is just something about that Pepper Keenan era of COC that just has the tastiest riffs, most killer songwriting and overall coolest vibes of all eras of the band. This album seriously sounds like they haven't missed a step and I am so thankful for that. For the longest time this was my album of the year and I can see how someone would think that I lost love out of it seeing it's at number 33. Nothing could be further from the truth. This deserves all of your love, one listen and you'll understand why.
32.) Obscura- Diluvium
FFO- Progressive Death Metal, Technical Death Metal
The final chapter in the 4 album concept cycle Obscura has created shows the band hinting back at the previous three albums, yet hitting brand new territory at the same time. The music is just as insane as ever with creative songwriting, killer musicianship and the perfect blend of melody and technicality. If you are brand new to the band, this is the album to start with, then go get the previous three albums and discover all the Easter eggs laid out in Diluvium. Such an utterly brilliant album.
31.) Wolfheart- Constellation of the Black Light
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
Finland...best music country around. Getting past that, Wolfheart returns with their latest heart wrenching, depression filled, melodeath epic and that is what I really needed in 2018. This hits you on all levels of dynamics and emotions and doesn't let go till the bitter end. Finnish melodeath...man what a journey. ALSO, if you watch the video for the single, The Saw, be forewarned, it's literally not for the faint of heart...just trust me...
30.) LIK- Carnage
FFO- Old School Swedish Death Metal
Swedish death metal is just something made of pure glory. While many bands have come and gone or come and stayed; the genre has been transformed in so many ways, there is something about the original sound that is just so perfect in the right mood. That's what LIK brings back to the masses. If you enjoy your OSDM or if you like other bands that pay tribute to it such as Bloodbath; you are doing yourself a disservice by skipping out on this band any longer. Arguably, no one does this better in 2018.
29.) Harakiri for The Sky- Arson
With other bands of the style either breaking up or nearly completely dropping the black metal aspects of the genre, HFTS is my favorite active band in the genre. With such a signature blend of black metal, shoegaze, post rock and pure emotion, the band just does it right and every album seems to get better than the last. There's just something about how the band does this music that just soothes the soul in a way you don't realize until you let it come over you. A masterpiece of a blackgaze album.
28.) The Ocean- Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic
FFO- Progressive Metal, Sludge Metal, Post Metal
The Ocean (Collective) is one of the most underrated bands currently active. One of the most unique sounds in the business with their pulverizing song structures and some of the most hauntingly beautiful soundscapes. This is a band that if you love oceanography or you just beautifully crafted heavy music you won't hear anywhere else, pick this album up immediately.
27.) We Sell The Dead- Heaven Doesn't Want You and Hell is Full
FFO- Hard Rock, Gothic Rock, Heavy Metal
An All Star band featuring past and present members of In Flames, HIM and Firewind that write music about 1800s European Horror (fiction and non fiction). The songs are so heavy yet so catchy, it should be played regularly on Top 40 radio, in all honesty. Just a completely solid debut album from a band that I hope continues to write albums for decades to come.
26.) Slugdge- Esoteric Malacology
FFO- Death Metal, Progressive, Technical, Many Other Styles
This band covers the extreme metal genre to an absolute T. While the FFO may make it seem like it's a giant hodgepodge of sounds; It truly all makes sense. It can go from death metal to sludge metal to technical metal to blackened metal on the flip of a switch and it will feel completely logical. This is truly forward thinking music done in the best way possible and I love every second.
25.) Lux Terminus- The Courage To Be
FFO- Instrumental, Progressive Rock, Fusion
Much like I talked about in my Top 10 Epics of 2018 List, this is a band that created by some absolute masters of music creating music that you can hear both at a Lounge in Vegas or in the pit opening for Animals as Leaders. This album is filled with so much emotion in both the music, the songwriting and the final track, Fly, which features one of the greatest voices in music, Anneke Van Giersbergen. This album is not for everyone reading this list, but I recommend it to ANYONE with an open mind, appreciation for skilled music, or like me, had a really bad go of it this year and need a reason for hope to continue on. The Courage To Be is simply that...the courage to be...YOU. And no one can do that better than you. Easily the most impressive (nearly completely) Instrumental debut album I may ever hear.
24.) Seventh Wonder- Tiara
FFO- Progressive Metal, Power Metal
Man, those last 8 years just flew by between albums didn't it? No? I completely agree; it's been such a long wait for this opus, but I'm so thankful we got it. This album is exactly what I was hoping for, heavy, melodic, powerful and moving in all the right spots. If you want to describe progressive power metal to someone who is completely new to the genre, throw on this album and let them enjoy. It's not the most innovative album of the year, but it's not set out to be. It's 100% solid and that's all I wanted.
23.) Anaal Nathrakh- A New Kind Of Horror
FFO- Sounds of the Apocalypse
AN is that band that is the pure soundtrack to the end of the world. black metal, industrial, grindcore, noise, and oddly some of the most melodic moments you'll ever hear in extreme music. The band continues this trend with seamless evolving with every album and destroys everything in it's path. A worthy investment once you comprehend the band.
22.) Journal- Chrysalis Ordalias
FFO- Majestic Epic Technical Mathcore
In speaking of 8 year waits between albums, this was an album I simply didn't expect to see and I am so thankful that they returned with complete full force. IF you want music that is complete off the wall in technicality and intensity, Journal provides it to you. If you want some of the most dream filled, majestic melodic riffs on that same album, that's here too. This band is a complete mind screw in the best way possible. Imagine being a gamer that loves hack and slash games, but out of nowhere you start riding a unicorn on rainbow road in Mario Kart before it transforms back into a demon and are about to be slaughtered. All that and more kinda, but ask anyone else who comprehends the music and they'll give you a different answer, describes the band and what an epic journey it truly is once again.
21.) Magic Dance- New Eyes
FFO- 80s AOR, Hard Rock
If you especially checked out the last two albums on this list, you may just wanna sit down in your favorite chair, put on sunglasses, put on a Maxwell Cassette tape in your 80s Stereo System and be blown away a band that channels their inner Kenny Loggins, Toto, Loverboy and Icon. This band channels the 80s in one of the most original ways I've heard. Yes, there is nostalgia to be found, but there is originality, excelled songwriting, and some of the most upbeat, and beautiful rock music of 2018 also featured on this album. If you are reading this as the list comes out, the album comes out tomorrow. Go and pick it up. Couldn't recommend it more.
And there we are kids. 120 albums covered in five lists because I am an absolute psychopath and want to see myself suffer...I also love showing off the best music of the year, every year. The best part is that I still have one list tomorrow. That Drummer Guy's Top 100 Albums Part VI: The Top 20.
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)