It’s that time of the year, and the lists across the internet are making their way to the surface. It’s a time of reflection on the incredible music that was released throughout this latest revolution of the sun. I’m not going to challenge your intelligence by telling you that these are the absolute best albums of the year, because I (and others) believe it’s impossible to determine the grade and ranking of each album. My list is a collection of releases that I personally love and want to share with all of our readers. You may find some treasures and that is the ultimate goal of this list… not to mention that they are fun as hell to make.
P.S. These are not ranked.
1. Wolftooth – Wolftooth (Cursed Tongue Records)
This might be biased, I’ll be upfront about it, but this album seriously blew me away the first time I heard it. I’m not the only one who thinks this. In their first year as a band, Wolftooth managed to capture the attention of some major players, including Metal Hammer, Doom Charts, Phil Anselmo, Rob Blasko, Cursed Tongue Records, and many others. These guys have so much passion in everything they do, and they are on track to stardom. Purchase their music here: Wolftooth Bandcamp.
2. Visigoth – Conqueror’s Oath (Metalblade Records)
The latest offering from Visigoth is probably the most “metal” album of the year in terms of its feeling and songwriting. It’s a damn masterpiece, and this album has made me excited for the future of the band. Conqueror’s Oath is packed full of riffage and catchy vocal lines that create powerful imagery of what heavy metal is all about. Stop what you’re doing and listen to it now! Purchase their music here: Visigoth Bandcamp.
3. Coheed and Cambria – Vaxis-Act 1: The Unheavenly Creatures (Roadrunner Records)
Coheed and Cambria is one of my favorite bands, and this was my most anticipated album of the year. The highlight of The Unheavenly Creatures has to be the variety of styles from track to track. They include their slower and emotional roots alongside their metal and progressive influences, and it all meshes together to continue and return to the Amory Wars Universe. Purchase their music here: Roadrunner Records.
4. Khemmis – Desolation (20 Buck Spin/Nuclear Blast)
It’s been interesting to watch the reaction to Desolation, considering that it follows their critically acclaimed release Hunted. I felt that this record is the embodiment of everything Khemmis is. The vocals were top-notch, and they had no fear in experimenting vocally throughout Desolation. The emotional atmosphere is captivating, and it left me wanting more. Purchase their music here: 20 Buck Spin Bandcamp
5. Apostle of Solitude – From Gold to Ash (Cruz Del Sur)
Traditional Doom is a rarity in 2018, but among the best of the best is this prized gem. It’s heavy, thoughtful, and very depressing at times. From Gold to Ash in my opinion is one of their strongest offerings, and I think it will be highly regarded as a classic in their discography. Listen to this wonderful album now! Purchase their music here: AOS Bandcamp.
6. YOB – Our Raw Heart (Relapse Records)
There is no surprise that YOB would put out one of the most highly regarded albums of the year(possibly the best), but a lot happened during the creation of this record that makes Our Raw Heart a true metal classic. The story, vibe, and theme of this record resonated and impacted the entire metal community. The music alone speaks for itself. Purchase their music here: YOB Bandcamp.
7. Sleep – The Sciences/Leagues Beneath (Third Man Records)
To say that this album wasn’t a big deal would be a lie, and that’s why The Sciences lands a place on my list. I think what makes this album so great is that even after decades between releases, it seems so right and that they picked up right where they left off. I also included Leagues Beneath because it was released almost a month after The Sciences and it was a 20-minute ride beyond Space. Purchase their music here: Third Man Records.
8. Psychostick – DO (Self-Released)
Everyone needs a little bit of humor in their lives and Psychostick blends up your favorite bits of everyday woes and struggles with a garnish of METAL. Every Psychostick album contains tracks that are incredibly specific and generally goes along with a theme of the album. Songs about Toast, Moving, Hatred, and DO makes this damn near double album worth some sort of recognition. Purchase their music here: Psychostick Website.
9. Skeletonwitch – Devouring Radiant Light (Prosthetic Records)
Devouring Radiant Light was one of the most curious and long-awaited albums of 2018. I say curious because no one was sure what direction they were going to head down, and it ended up being something leaning closer to black metal than ever before. This album was met with some criticism, mostly because of the new vocalist, but I found Devouring Radiant Light very enjoyable. This is probably my favorite SW album since Breathing the Fire. Purchase their music here: Skeletonwitch Bandcamp.
10. Fire Down Below – Hymn of the Cosmic Man (Ripple Music)
This is one of my favorite stoner rock jams of the year. The main thing I can say is that the space theme is on point. I loved every second of this album because it has the right amount of epic sound to make it an easy listen. The songs are structured in a way that flows and makes sense, the vocals are clear, and the guitars are crisp but also fuzzy at the same time. Do yourself a favor and pick this up. Purchase their music here: Fire Down Below Bandcamp.
11. Arsis – Visitant (Nuclear Blast/Agonia)
It’s been a little while since Arsis have blessed us with new music, and they did an incredible job. Two points that stood out to me about Visitant was how ferocious the vocals were and the amount of influence The Black Dahlia Murder had. It’s very technical, but not over the top. If you’re looking for something to get your blood pumping then this is for you. Purchase their music here: Nuclear Blast Records.
12. Harakiri For The Sky – Arson (AOP Records)
I never thought that I would get in on this current black metal wave, but I have to say that Arson opened my mind to a new found appreciation. This album is absolutely stunning. It’s epic, atmospheric, and clean. I love the production and tone. Take your new Deafheaven record and replace it with this album (not to disrespect Deafheaven), because it’s that good. Purchase their music here: AOP Bandcamp.
13. Spacemetal – Shroud (Self-Released)
These guys appeared out of nowhere and I was instantly a fan. This is a straight up rock and roll album, and it’s bad-ass. The vocals remind me of Ozzy (not a bad thing) and the rest of the band is incredibly original and unique. The sounds they manage to create with the guitars provide an interesting atmosphere and vibe that no other band is currently nailing. That’s why this album is on my list. Purchase their music here: Spacemetal Bandcamp.
14. Wayfarer – World’s Blood (Profound Lore)
This is probably another one of the best black metal albums of the year. The interesting thing about this album is that it’s one of the first albums in the Western-themed black metal trend. That might sound weird and crazy, but it works. It’s very atmospheric and bleak, but it’s also full of life, and the originality is very refreshing. This band is one of the frontrunners of American black metal. Purchase their music here: Wayfarer Bandcamp.
15. Nanowar of Steel – Stairway to Valhalla (Self-Released)
This is an odd one indeed. Nanowar is a parody band that makes fun of power metal and other topics. The cool thing about this album is that they cover every style of power metal throughout the album. They cover Blind Guardian, Sonata Artica, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Rhapsody, and other emulations with their weird and quirky sense of humor. This is a very happy and upbeat album, and it’s a power metal nerd’s dream. Purchase their music here: Nanowar of Steel Bandcamp.
16. Uada – Cult of a Dying Sun (Eisenwald)
Another great black metal release for 2018. This band has been making lists already and it’s for good reason. Cult of a Dying Sun is top shelf black metal, and its quality reflects a band that takes their art seriously. This record is aggressive and downright mean. If you’re into that, then dive right in. Purchase their music here: Uada Bandcamp.
17. The Ocean-Phanerozoic 1: Palaeozoic (MetalBlade)
I’ve never really dived into the Ocean’s discography (pun intended), but I decided to give this one a shot. I’m glad I did, because this album rules. It’s a progressive post-rock album that is very polished and epic. It has its aggressive moments, but it also has calm and atmospheric sections as well. It’s pretty consistent in its flow from track to track, and it ends so seamlessly. I highly recommend this one. Purchase their music here: The Ocean Bandcamp.
18. Flight – A Leap Through Matter (High Roller Records)
This one sneaked up on me at the last minute, but I had to include it because this album is stunning. It’s not really metal, but it’s kinda progressive 70s rock. Imagine a slightly quicker and harder shredding Boston/Kansas. The album art kicks ass, and the music has a cool vibe that not many bands can nail. Give this baller a shot. Purchase their music here: Flight Bandcamp.
19. August Burns Red – Winter Wilderness EP (Fearless Records)
Yes, it’s August Burns Red. Yes, it’s a Christmas album. They do a cover of Wham’s “Last Christmas” and the Home Alone theme music. Seriously, this EP is pretty great and the title track “Winter Wilderness” is an amazing song. Give it a shot. It’s the holiday season. Purchase their music here: August Burns Red Website.
20. Captain Caravan – Shun the Sun (Cursed Tongue Records)
Last but not least we have Captain Caravan. This album is slightly newer, but it’s one of the best stoner rock albums of the year. Shun the Sun is all attitude and riffage. That’s how it’s supposed to be. The production is outstanding and it sounds powerful. They sound like they’ve been around forever, but they are relatively new. Go give them some love. Purchase their music here: Captain Caravan Bandcamp.