Any best of lists (regardless of the genre) must be treated as a subjective thing.
If you have the sort of list where you have a lot of people voting, it’s can be a beautiful collaboration, but there is always some poor bugger who has to deal with it. That would be me on this one, just in case you’re wondering/concerned/bothered. If you have a list which is down to one person’s opinion, well, they tend to be tyrannical in approach. I know the one I wrote for All The Time I Was Listening to My Own Wall of Sound was, but I digress. Thankfully, head-honcho Jon has made it a collaboration list. If he hadn’t I might have had a minor heart attack.
So, how has it been for the noisy end of the spectrum?
To be honest, it’s been a great year for music as a whole, but Metal/Noise/Heavy releases have been pretty spectacular this year. You could make this list a hundred times and probably come out with different results each time. It represents a good cross-section of everything that makes the neighbors’ plates fall off the wall. I would also like to point out that there is no order to this list, there is no “twenty to one” thing going on. All we have are albums that burst our eardrums at some point in 2018, as well as a listen of some other gems! Share and enjoy! – Eddie
The Atlas Moth – Coma Noir
Every other year, people say that XXXX year is the time when Metal will die. I guess that The Atlas Moth didn’t get the memo. Coma Noir could easily be called Hook Dispenser, which would have been a better description. Nothing about Coma Noir is subtle, but that is how I love my Metal. You cannot listen to an album such as Coma Noir and not end up with a massive grin on your face. – ?
Elephant Rifle – Hunk
It’s nice to hear something as insane as The Jesus Lizard in 2019, without having to resort to the delving into the past. When our esteemed leader and Dark Overlord Señor Robertson started to sing the praises of Elephant Rifle (you can read his interview with this from 2018 here), I fully expected them to make at least one of the lists for 2019. Hunk is not an easy album, but you’re not here for easy listening, are you? Elephant Rifle are a prime example of a band who master in massive hooks, Sludge/Grunge riffs and making a glorious racket. Hunk sounds as dirty as the cover, as nasty as you imagine and you need to hear it now. What is there not to like? – Eddie
Hunk is such a perfect title for this album. – Jon
YOB – Our Raw Heart
Out of all the releases in 2018, this for me is the best record released, regardless of genre. Our Raw Heart was a stop-still moment for me, it felt like I’d been hit with a wall and I was in free fall. The fact that YOB even released an album this year is nothing short of a miracle, as outlined in my review/interview which you can read here. It’s a note-perfect release, I find myself having to press play again every time it finishes. The more I’ve listened to it, I am still amazed by it, it’s a challenging and euphoric release. You cannot “get” Our Raw Heart in one sitting, You keep on finding new stuff with each spin. If I was to narrow this list down to one essential record of 2018, Our Raw Heart would be that record. – Eddie
Weeed – This
“Heavy Psychedelic Rock and Roll” from Portland, Oregon. There is flute involved and two fucking drummers. You know you want to listen to this. – Jon
Sleep – The Sciences
Sabbath-influenced sludge manifests itself frequently in heavy music, but Sleep’s The Sciences represents 2018’s best iteration. From the moment the first riffs of the album’s second cut “Marijuanaut’s Theme” breaks in, the tone of Matt Pike’s first heavy outing of the year (the second being High on Fire’s Electric Messiah) reminds us why these dudes were so cool in the 90s (and possibly even better 20 years later). The Sciences sneaky strength arises from the riffs, guitar solos, and riveting bass lines throughout its 6 long-ish tracks that manage to mesmerize with or without a few bong puffs. – Nate Jones
Soul Dissolution – Stardust
Soul Dissolution are a Belgian based Atmospheric Black Metal band who started off as a side project around 2012, with their first release (Cold Rays & Grey Waves) being unleashed in 2014. Stardust was released in March 2018, with a vinyl run coming early in 2019. With each release, Soul Dissolution make a sonic leap forward and with Stardust, they went beyond that. It’s a long release, but it’s over in a heartbeat. I press play on Stardust, and I’m lost and loving it. You have two incredible musicians creating a sound that is vicious, sorrowful and brutal as a winter storm. Ignore at your own peril. – Eddie
Tongue Party – Looking For A Painful Death
Post hardcore, noise rock, whatever you want to call this, Tongue Party are one of the best live bands I saw last year. The whole album is driving and raucous and loaded with tons of sharp temp shifts. Looking for a Painful Death proves that there are still ways to keep rock music fun and interesting. – Brandon Perras
The Armed – Only Love
The Armed (or ⋈ as they are sometimes known as), are a strange bunch, even by my standards. Their identities are secret, they hire drummers like you would stream an album (for this album, they hired Ben Koller of Converge), use actors at press releases, play under secret names at open mic nights, basically they’re nuts. Following on from Untitled, The Armed have tried to keep the secrecy going, but the world is starting to notice. When you hire B-Movie strange guy, Tommy Wiseau to be in a video, the world tends to notice. Musically, Only Love is an abstract, abrasive and above all, brutal album which can punch holes through walls. – Eddie
Wooden Shjips – V.
More heavy dreamy psych stuff from these legends on Thrill Jockey. Silky smooth, slippery, and thick just like that dream you had that one time. Slap this album on and zen the fuck out. – Jon
Great Falls – A Sense of Rest
Great Falls have really outdone themselves with A Sense Of Rest. The Seattle trio has been the premier live music experience for years. Known for an abrasive onslaught on the senses that will not only sonically brutalize you but if you aren’t careful you could get a bass guitar or guitarist to the nose. The new record was able to bottle this energy up for safe in-home consumption. My personal favorite song of the year is the 14 minute epic “We Speak In Lowercase”. Just magnificent. Two thumbs up. 10 stars. 100%. GET IT! – Matt Jamison
What Matt said!! – Jon
Voivod – The Wake
All bands can claim to be unique, but not all bands are Voivod. Mixing Progressive and Thrash Metal elements, The Wake is a continuation of their fine tradition of making albums which bemuse, stun and enthral the world. The Wake is a concept album about the usual topic that Voivod touch up; sinister plots, disasters, chaos, conflicts and fear of the possibilities of alternative consciousness. This makes anything that Dream Theatre can come up within the last ten years’ sound like an Ariana Grande album, The Wake is an amazing record. – Eddie
Pig Destroyer – Head Cage
Kinda like weed whacking your leg. Quick, painful, exhilarating, and nauseating. Pig Destroyer always does what they do best; destroy your psyche in three minutes or less. – Jon
Sylvaine – Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone
The word I associate most with Sylvaine’s third album, Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone, is the word “risk”. After two perfectly fine records, Sylvaine went for broke with this record, taking her Blackgaze (a combination of Shoegaze and Black Metal) as far as it’s probably able to be taken, then went a little further again. The beautiful screams and singing of Sylvaine are stunning; however, all of this would be for not if the music wasn’t up to scratch. So I’m so happy to say that the music on Atoms Aligned.… is absolutely wonderful. Part Drone, part Black Metal, part screeching abyss, all combined to make the sound of the sweetest nightmare incarnate. – Eddie
Big Ups – Two Parts Together
This. Always. Fucking. Happens. To. Me! As soon as I discover a kick-ass band they either don’t exist or are in the process of breaking up. Dammit!
Two Parts Together is my first experience with Bug Ups and it is everything and more. Slint plus more noise-rock. Musicianship is on point, the compositions smash, heavy and moody in all the best ways. Love this band and they are already gone. Balls! – Jon
Dee Snider – For the Love of Metal
When it comes to 1980’s metal, Dee Snider will always be one of the first images that come to the forefront of most people’s mind. The legendary Twisted Sister frontman’s fourth studio album, For the Love of Metal, is not only a showcase of the strengths of Mr Snider, but for strengths of mainstream Metal in 2018 as well. Featuring writing contributions by Howard Jones (ex-Killswitch Engage), Charlie Bellmore (Kingdom of Sorrow), Mark Morton (Lamb of God), Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed – who was also in charge of the project with Dee Snider), Joel Grind and Nick Bellmore (Toxic Holocaust) and Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy).
Given those impressive writing credentials, on paper, it would seem improbable that there would be any bad songs on this album. At the very least, there might be one or two that are at least worthy of a few listens. For the Love of Metal is twelve fist-banging, mosh pit inducing, air guitar hits in the making. It feels like the beginning of something which could be huge, expect more of this sort of noise from Dee Snider in the future. – Eddie
Dee Snider is on this list?! Seriously? What the fuck?! – Jon
Spielbergs – Distant Star EP
This probably shouldn’t be on the “Heavy” list and probably should have been on the Hidden Gems List, but whatever. I am in charge around here and I do whatever the fuck I want. Spielbergs are spazzy, spacey, punky, hyper, and amazing! Love this EP. Can’t wait for more from this band! – Jon
Amorphis – Queen of Time
Hailing from Helsinki, Finland, Amorphis have once again more a little further down the road from their original Death Metal sound with a Progressive Metal album for the ages. Their last release, Under the Red Sky, was my first introduction to their work and I was amazed I’d missed them. What they’ve done with Queen of Time, is keep the same style, but make everything just slightly better.
That might sound flippant, but it’s an incredibly hard thing to do. Especially when you consider that this is the first album since 1994’s Tales from the Thousand Lakes, as you might have expected them to return to their origins in some way. But thankfully, they’ve kept true to the path they started on and unleashed one of the highlights of 2018. You need to check out “Amongst Stars” duet they created with Dutch singer Anneke van Giersbergen. That song is not only the highlight of Queen of Time, it’s also one of the best Metal songs of 2018 as well. – EC
Marriage + Cancer – S/T
Everyone always says The Jesus Lizard plus Nirvana when talking about this band and while I can hear the similarities there is something much more nihilistic about Marriage + Cancer. They just dropped a new 7″ called BRO that is super dope as well. Check em. – Jon
Sumac – Love in Shadow
It’s pretty much mandatory that any Aaron Turner-inspired effort will land in the top ten of a Bearded Gentlemen best-of list. However, for my pesos, Love in Shadow represents the most interesting work Turner has churned out in years. Perhaps due to the influence of his collaboration last year with Japanese improvisational noise meister Keiji Haino or the scrapping of their initial stab at the album to significantly air out its compositions, this recording feels fresh and influential.
Albeit long-ish, Love in Shadow’s four tunes don’t meander but intentionally ebb and flow from fascinating improv to austere arrangements. The best illustration of this effect is the raucous jamming sequenced through the second track “Attis’ Blade,” which faultlessly transitions to the seven-minute, gloriously constructed bass opus that opens the song “Arcing Silver” (a beginning that lovingly recalls some of the post-metal magic Isis consistently delivered). Given releases like Love in Shadow, Sleep’s revival album The Sciences, YOB’s Our Raw Heart, and a hatful of others, 2018 was an exciting year for heavy music. – Nate
My love for Sumac has been a slow gradual love. This music is incredibly abrasive, but the musicianship and song compositions are absolute perfection. I expect nothing less from three of the best musicians of all-time (at least in my book). Love in Shadow I love on you. – Jon
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – King of Cowards
Whilst I’ll always try to sing the praises of bands from the North-East of England, it’s genuinely a pleasure to be able to add them to this list. Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs (or Px7 for short) are firm believers in amplifier worship. Following on from 2017 Feed the Rat (a superb three-track beast in its own right), Px7 have outdone themselves with King of Cowards. Six tracks long, massive hooks, bass lulls, and massive drums, King of Cowards has everything anyone with a Sabbath itch requires. My favourite track is “A66”, an eight-minute whirlwind of noise and psychedelic noise, one that makes you automatically start to wonder where the fuck they’re going to go from here. – Eddie
Ministry – AmeriKKKant
Just stop for a minute and take a look at who the president of the United States is right now. Of course we have a new Ministry record! It was inevitable! For a man who’s best material comes when there’s a terrible president, Al Jourgensen doesn’t go for the low hanging fruit on AmeriKKKant. Sure there’s plenty of samples of the carrot-in-chief spewing his word salad, but for the most part, the record has more to do with the state of his followers. Sonically speaking, Jourgensen takes the thrash metal down a few notches and goes for a sound similar to Psalm 69. With guest appearances from members of Fear Factory and even N.W.A., AmeriKKKant is ugly and aggressive but one of the most satisfying releases of the year. – Aaron Cooper
Kal Marks – Universal Care
Kal Marks are incredibly underrated and appreciated at least in the circle of music nerds that I associate with. I love this Boston based trio. They do such cool shit musicianship and dynamic wise. Carl Shane does super cool shit with his voice too, oscillating between gnarly barks, drunk Lane Staley impersonations, while adding in touch of Les Calypool. Shit I don’t know how to describe his vocals I just know that I love them and this band is something special and I am glad I have their tunes in my life. Plus they started their latest album Universal Care with a song titled “Fuck That Guy”. Haha!
Buñuel – The Easy Way Out
Buñuel is the combination of the talents of Xabier Iriondo, from Afterhours, Pierpaolo Capovilla, and Franz Valente, from Il Teatro degli Orrori, along with Eugene S. Robinson, from Oxbow. The noise super group has been together since 2016, The Easy Way Out is their second album after A Resting Place for Strangers. This American/Italian collaboration is not for the faint hearts, and as I’m writing this on a list that contains Sleep, YOB, and The Armed, those words should not be taken lightly.
There is something frantic and wonderful about this, it reminds me of noise mavericks Ephel Duath, you cannot quite put your finger on what is happening, but it sounds fantastic all the same. The Easy Way Out is an aggressive piece of art, it beats you into submission and that’s fine by me. Here is hoping that Buñuel release some more music very soon! – Eddie
Cortez – No More Conqueror
Utter-Savagery!! – Jon
Sandrider – Armada
Matt says this is the new dad rock and I’m not gonna argue with him. Sandrider should be the new dad rock. – Jon
Clutch – Book of Bad Decisions
I think at this stage in their career, it’s incredibly hard for a band such as Clutch to make a poor record. Clutch just seem to get better with each release, and Book of Bad Decisions is no exception to that rule. I know a lot of people are saying that this album is not as good as Psychic Warfare, sadly they’re wrong. You have stone cold classics on here such as “How to Shake Hands”, “Spirit of ‘76”, “In Walked Barbarella”, “Emily Dickinson”, you could name each of the tracks on here.
I stand by my opinion that this will be viewed as a classic from Clutch. It might take a while, but it’s one of their best ever. As I said in my review of Book of Bad Decisions (you can read it here), there is nothing I don’t love about this record. Also…..Hot Damn!!!! – Eddie
Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want
Daughters seems to always add or subtract a little something to their sound with each album and I think they found their stride here. Nothing else sounds like You Won’t Get What You Want and it is their best album to date. – Brandon
Heads – Collider
Heads keep getting better and better with each release. They just make perfect, dark, atmospheric, noise-rock.
Mantar – The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze
Much like The Atlas Moth, Mantar didn’t receive the memo that Metal was dead. Mantar are a band I’ve followed since I first found Death By Burning in 2014, with each release they’ve taken sonic leaps forward. The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze is no except to this rule, with super-heavy noise such as “Age of the Absurd”, the Titanic “Taurus” and manic “Eternal Return” being the highlights. This is European Metal at it’s finest, it’s loud as hell, sounds massive and you can scare your parents with the sound at the right frequency. – Eddie
Somali Yacht Club – The Sea
Post-Metal-Rock-Stoner-Jams from the Ukraine. The Sea feels like what it would be like to be lost at sea with no hope of dry land or rescue. – Jon
Corrosion of Conformity – No Cross No Crown
The return of Pepper Keenan to C.O.C. was always going to be a special event, one surrounded by hype and expectation. Following on from the excellent IX was always going to be an issue, especially when you factor in the eighteen-year gap since this line-up recorded America’s Volume Dealer. Thank fuck that C.O.C. are experts at what they do!
No Cross No Crown was released early on in 2018, but it made an impressive impact. You can hear the Southern American Metal sound and the ghost of Black Sabbath being mixed and torn apart once more. All to create noise, sweet noise with enough bass sounds to bury you. .O.C., it’s great to have you back! – Eddie
Wrong – Feel Great
Remember that time you got drunk and told your friend to kick you in the Taters? This was probably the album that was playing in the background when it happened. – Jon
Sick of it All – Wake The Sleeping Dragon!
Hardcore legends Sick Of It All really don’t need an introduction, so let’s get straight to the point. Wake The Sleeping Dragon! is an important album, not just for SOIA, but for Hardcore and music as a whole. It’s also one which doesn’t worry about legacy either, they know their worth, their status and they do what they do best.
They smash it out of the park, with anthem after mosh pit inducing anthem. Each song is a short, sharp kick to the mind. You can barely get your breath before they jump head-first into the next song. This isn’t Sick Of It All reclaiming their crown, they never lost it! Wake The Sleeping Dragon! is Sick Of It All reminding you just how fucking good they are! As if we needed it….. – Eddie
Miserable – Loverboy / Dog Days
I’m just going to link you here for background on the latest Miserable release. I love the somberness and Kristina Esfandiari’s vocals on this release. Esfandiari can do no wrong when it comes to her band King Woman or her solo stuff with Miserable. – Jon
Black Peaks – All That Divides
Whilst not being an exclusively UK based genre, Progressive Rock and Metal do contain a lot of British qualities. Black Peaks are one of many great British Prog Rock/Metal acts currently on the scene, All That Divides is their second album which was released on Rise Records. Following on from Statues, you can see how Black Peaks have improved over the last few years. Their confidence has grown and you can hear that in tracks like “The Midnight Sun”, “Fate I & II” and the awesome “Aether”. If you’re looking for something new in British Prog which is not Steve Wilson (as good as he is), Black Peaks are the band for you. – Eddie
Four Stroke Baron – Planet Silver Screen
Man, this band is just wild! Prog shredding for days with 80s type new-age Tears for Fears type vocals. Probably the most unique heavy band you will hear in sometime. – Jon
KEN Mode – Loved
Hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, KEN (Kill, Everyone, Now) Mode have been going since 1999. I would love to say I’ve been a fan for years, but Loved is the first album that I have knowingly heard from them. And what an introduction it is ladies and gentlemen, what a fucking introduction. Loved is about as subtle as a kick in the personal parts with a barbed wired boot, you’re gonna feel it no matter what. It’s audio assault, after audio assault, after audio assault.
This Metal/Hardcore crossover is a refreshing throwback in sound, but not a dated one. Songs such as “Not Soulmates” and “Fractures in Adults” are intense, destructive numbers. But it’s all build with KEN Mode, it all leads to the devastation of “No Gentle Art”. This ladies and gentlemen, this is one of those tracks where you need a lie down afterwards. I love it, it’s a glorious moment from 2018. Play it now, get Loved and thank the Deity that KEN Mode still exist. PS, that artwork is fucking terrifying! – Eddie
Weedpecker – III
Not so much heavy, but stonery with Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon vibes. Weedpecker were a new discovery for me in early 2018, but III stayed on heavy rotation throughout the entire year. Shoutout to Jasper for the recommend. – Jon
Honourable mentions (because the list started off a lot fucking longer, which also extended when everyone else added their albums)
Anaal Nathrakth – A New Kind of Horror; Goblinsmoker – Toad King EP; Behemoth – I Love You At Your Darkest; Waheela – Star Spangled Banger; The Chewers – Frankie’s Downhill Calendar; Orange Goblin – The Wolf Bites Back; Ballpeen – Loose Knots; Supersuckers – Suck It; Judas Priest – Firepower; Loathe – This Is One EP; Will Haven – Muerte; High on Fire – Electric Messiah; Oh Sees – Smote Reverser; Collapse the Sky – Consumed; Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Wasteland; Sectioned – Annihilated; Zeal & Ardor – Stranger Fruit; The Messthetics – The Messthetics; Idles – Joy as an Act of Resistance; Therapy? – Cleave; Monster Magnet – Mindfucker; Chthonic – Battlefields of Asura; Frontierer – Unloved;
One Man Wizard – Blame It All On Sorcery; Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods; Conan – Existential Void Guardian; Turnstile – Time & Space; Bongripper – Terminal; Sigh – Heir to Despair; Slugdge – Esoteric Malacology; ; King Woman – I Wanna be Adored (single/cover); ; The Dirty Nil – Master Volume; Vein – Errorzone; Ty Segal – Freedom’s Goblin; Preoccupations – New Matter; Between the Buried and Me – Automata I/II; Acid Cannibals – Why Not Every Night (EP); Great Grief – Love, Lust and Greed;
P.S. – Please remember, if we’ve missed your favorite album, there’s only limited space in an article such as this. Look at the list of albums that didn’t make the main section!!!!! If you disagree, you can write your own list and shout X bands’ praises to the High Heavens or lowest trenches of Hades, send links and I’ll read them. Either way, it won’t change what’s on this list – have a nice day. 🙂
Owner of more Frank Zappa music than one human needs, two cats and looked after by an Angel, Eddie Carter thinks about music more than a Geordie should. Hailing from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK, Eddie spends most of his time surrounded by CD’s and records. He also writes for All The Time I Was Listening to My Own Wall of Sound, his beard is grey and not long enough – also, he wants a pint.