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Top Ten Music Albums 2018
Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, this is indeed a list of the best albums of 2018 being posted well into 2019. Procrastination I suppose has kept me from putting this up for eleven months, but here it is now!
Best Cover: Ken Mode – Loved
While I unfortunately didn’t enjoy this follow up to Success, an album which I held in high regard, as much, the cover art was something that was always on my mind. Something simple yet menacing about it that sticks out. Now it will terrify all of your dreams!
Worst Lyrics: Machine Head – Catharsis
There was a point (Supercharger) where Machine Head kind of slipped, then they made a come back with their current sound. It seems like years of producing that sound has made them want to go with something a little less serious. The album does have some great tracks but songs like Triple Beam, Razorblade Smile and California Bleeding left me scratching my head. Furthermore the political injection seems kind of forced and not well thought out.
Better than Expected: A Perfect Circle – Eat the Elephant
The release of this album came seemingly out of nowhere, then leading up to the release I hadn’t heard anything about it, someone said whatever song they played was terrible. The album art also is not great (someone tell me why it’s brilliant) but the actual music wasn’t too bad
Worse than Expected: Alice in Chains – Rainier Fog
While their previous two albums weren’t amazing they were good for AIC albums without Layne Staley. However, this new album seems to be missing a lot of what makes Alice in Chains the band they were, but while creating a new identity they haven’t done anything to make them stand out as new and improved. In the end they made a very meh doom-lite album that isn’t very entertaining. There are some alright songs but overall very meh and I suppose I expected better.
Devin Townsend – Ocean Machine: Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv
Personally I don’t like to put live albums as an album of the year because the material isn’t new, but I do think this one is worth mentioning because it’s quite outstanding. I guess 2017 (when this was performed) and 2018 (when this was released) marked the 20th anniversary of Ocean Machine. So in classic Devy fashion he performed the whole album live in the ancient ruins in Plovdiv, it’s certainly a spectacle but the album is just as amazing now as it was back then in fact he brought back the original bassist just for this concert. Not to mention it has some fan selected tracks played with an orchestra which is also amazing. And yes, he does Thing Beyond Things live (you know what I’m talking about!)
Fairies – Jukebox
I thought this was a really good album it didn’t have one cohesive style but kind of jumped around, kind of like some songs sound like a throwback to an era sort of (Something like Mr. Blue Sky) – Anyway, just energetic and happy and kinda cool if you’re into that sort of thing.
Coheed and Cambria – Vaxis
I really enjoyed this band back in the day but I felt their quality proceeded to diminish after In Keeping of Secrets of Silent Earth: 3. Last album I got by them was Year of the Black Rainbow which I don’t remember much. They have released 4 albums since and this new one so happens to be the one I said, “oh I remember these guys” – As it turns out this is a good album to pick up from because chronologically it is the latest in the saga they are telling (something I don’t really pay attention to anyway). In any case, the album is really good. It’s like an accessible prog album with good songwriting and the album is quite lengthy. I’d say the biggest gripe I’d have is that for a space album it doesn’t really evoke the a sci-fi feel. It was a hard decision to bump this from the top ten but it is worth a mention and if you haven’t heard them in a while this is a good chance to hop back in.
Bleeding Through – Love Will Kill All
Remember Metalcore? Remember this band? I do. I remembered they were one of the few Metalcore bands I did enjoy. That being said I only had heard This Is Love, This is Murderous and upon revisiting it it had some good songs but mostly forgettable songs. I think I enjoyed it mostly for the Boondock Saints clips they played before the songs which is ironic because I don’t even like The Boondock Saints. So 15 years later how do they sound? Better than ever. I think they took my medical advice and put some black metal on it because a lot of the songs have that black metal tone to it, they’ve got some HIGH QUALITY SYMPHONIC sounds for instance. The clean vocals sound a bit odd, but overall I found a lot to enjoy from this album.
Warrel Dane – Shadow Work
Sadly Warrel Dane passed away at the end of 2017, a truly unique voice. Nevermore had not released an album since 2010 and it was mixed to put it kindly. However, it looks like he was working on some solo album which was released posthumously. The production is a little on the rough side but this is a great album from start to finish. In fact a lot more enjoyable than a couple of the previous Nevermore albums. This could have easily been a quick cash in but it turned out to be an album worthy of his memory.
Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears
Strange group name, strange music but in a good way! It begins as a kind of electronic heavy pop album with a tinge of new-waveish sound, but towards the end of the album it gets to sounding very pink floydesque. Upon first listen you might be like “what the hell is this?” But by the time it ends you’ll say, “wait play that again!”
Sigh – Heir to Despair
Sigh has been making music regularly for a number of years, however, they’ve never been able to reach the height of Imaginary Sonicscape. Then again they hardly ever make the same sounding album twice. Heir to Despair marks another finish to the word “sigh” and I think it’s one of their better albums. They’ve always generally been a black metal band but on this album they channel their inner Dream Theater and Iron Maiden (the first two songs sounding like that) ending in their 10 minute long epic, Heir to Despair. Really the only flaws are the weird 3 part song in the middle and maybe the cover art. Personally I don’t mind the cover but other people have commented on it. Watering plants is so metal!
High on Fire – Electric Messiah
High on Fire is has been a very consistent band. However, I feel like a good amount of their recent albums have kind of dropped off after the first half. Death Is This Communion has been their most consistent and cohesive album to date but Electric Messiah is a good challenger to that throne. The album is like an unrelenting wall of sound pummeling your ears but this is the kind of pummeling you can enjoy. It seems like the longer the album goes the faster and heavier it gets, but the sound never grows old, it’s consistent throughout.
Perfume – Future Pop
I’ll admit I wasn’t super impressed with Perfume when I first heard their other albums but I decided to pick up their new album and thought it was really good. But I was surprised to see fans hating on it. Well their loss is my gain because I quite enjoy this album. I thought this was a lot like the fairies album earlier but with better songs. This is probably one of the only J-pop acts that can get away with a completely instrumental song and have it be good.
Mutant Monster – 離してあげる
I was actually very surprised by this album. It feels like very much a throwback to straight up rock music. It’s three Japanese girls but there are no death metal gimmicks or anything like that. Just straight up rock done very well and they even play their own instruments. Some of the songs remind me of something that would be in a skate video back in the day, some punky songs some surf rock sounding songs, varying styles but all together it adds up to a great album.
Dessa – Chime
Dessa has always been a very good MC but on Chime not only does she showcase her rapping chops but explores a lot of other styles as well. I think it’s difficult to make catchy yet well written and smart lyrics and this album has all of those. This is an album with appeal beyond that of the main “genre” it is. Just something special and unexpectedly good.
Karg – Dornenvogel
Have you heard of this band, Harakiri for the Sky? Well Karg was around long before them and play very similar music. They are from Austria, they play that sort of black-gazeish type of depressive metal. In fact JJ from Harakiri is in / this band. However, Karg’s lyrics are in German and while the two bands sound similar there are minor differences in their style. This album leans a bit more on the black metal spectrum and I would say the vocals are a bit on the raw side. However, the remarkable thing is that the longer the song progresses the better it gets. The kind of songs you start listening to saying, “okay…” then you’re 4 minutes in and you say, “alright!” and you get to the end and you say, “OMG!” The first track for instance starts out sounding very black metal then begins to add on the post rock polish and then ends with a sort of punky breakdown. But the second song is completely different but has the same sort of progression. I think it’s just a remarkable album.
Harakiri for the Sky – Arson
It was difficult to choose this over the Karg album, personally I would say they are equally as good. In 2016 I had this as my AOTY runner up, but two years later they have managed to climb to #1! As good as Trauma was I felt the more I listened to Arson the better the album turned out to be. The songs are a lot more elaborate now, there’s those micro melodies scattered throughout each song. The lyrics are depressive as hell but luckily the music is just the opposite, well for the most part. The instrument tone on some songs, like Tomb Omnia, give the songs a different texture and I’m a sucker for those buzzsaw sounding guitars. (Fun fact: The session drummer for this album plays in SepticFlesh.) In any case a great album that is even being recognized by their own country. Arson is up for the Amadeus Austrian Award – Kind of like the Grammys. So if that doesn’t make it the best I don’t know what does!