The year is half over and 10 albums have really stood out to me thus far. As a rule for this post, all 10 chosen albums must have been released by July 1. This way everyone can check out the full album if they’re into it and I don’t end up spoiling any coming reviews.
To the list!
#10 Mammoth Grinder – Cosmic Crypt
Mammoth Grinder returned from the dead in 2017 with founding vocalist and bassist Chris Ulsh of Power Trip alongside Iron Reagan‘s drummer Ryan Parrish and guitarist Mark Bronzino. The trio’s comeback album Cosmic Crypt will not wow you with intricate time signature and modular key changes. Cosmic Crypt will instead cave your skull in with blunt riffs, beefy distortion, and production that sounds like they might’ve recorded the album in an actual crypt.
Buy Cosmic Crypt here.
#9 Messa – Feast For Water
What do you get when you cross Bohren & der Club of Gore, Baroness, and a little Windhand? Messa. Feast For Water is the type of album that isn’t in a hurry to get where it’s going and you’ll be glad you stuck around for the ride at the very end. Feast For Water is a great blend of jazz, hard rock, a touch of Iron Maiden dual lead guitars, and ambiance that really does paint a picture of what it’s like to drown (presumably). Messa is also a part of The Planet of Doom soundtrack alongside some classic doom bands, so that should tell you a lot about their career trajectory.
#8 Nòtt – Nòtt
Nòtt is the solo black metal project of Amiensus guitarist and vocalist James Benson that the world already needs more of. Nòtt’s self-titled debut EP is straight up freezing cold blackened death metal for its whole 25-minute runtime, though Benson somehow works in these grim hooks as if they were regular choruses. Check out the below track “White. Cold. Death.” and try not to invisible oranges/Jens Kidman face the absolute hell out of the halftime “chorus” that pops up throughout the track. It’s impossible. Benson is just too good at what he does.
Buy Nòtt here.
#7 Lesser Glow – Ruined
Lesser Glow‘s music matches the cover art for Ruined – mostly lightless and gloomy as hell. Lesser Glow‘s particular brand of doom incorporates a lot of crunchy full-band riffs that sound like a real, actual band got into a room and played them. Which also works well when the band spreads out into each contributing one element of a soundscape. The recording just sounds good and the music is better off for it. Ruined is an EP that really has no moments that should have been omitted. The release’s six songs all flow into one another to paint one desolate landscape ravaged by some apocalypse.
#6 Split Cranium – I’m The Devil And I’m OK
Split Cranium is the experimental hardcore punk group consisting of Sumac vocalist Aaron Turner, Mamiffer keyboardist Faith Coloccia, Converge bassist Nate Newton, and Circle‘s guitarist Jussi Lehtisalo and drummer Tomi Leppänen. I’m The Devil And I’m OK is furiously fast and loaded with all the d-beats and skank beats you could ever ask for, though Coloccia keyboard wizardry adds an atmospheric layer to the mix and Turner’s vocals practically bleed wrath. It’s incredible.
Buy I’m The Devil And I’m OK here.
#5 Tribulation – Down Below
After Tribulation‘s 2015 album The Children Of The Night, I pretty much assumed whatever they did next would either be a boring rehash or a completely different direction. Instead, Tribulation upped the sinister creepiness factor of what they did on The Children Of The Night, threw in some horror flick keyboards and came up with Down Below. The results are spectacular and seem to have cemented the band as one whose releases will always be big news from here on out. Though now I have to ask as I did with The Children Of The Night – how the hell are they going to top this?
Buy Down Below here.
#4 Vein – errorzone
This is what The Dillinger Escape Plan, Car Bomb, Code Orange, and Frontierer would sound like together. Even that doesn’t do errorzone justice, but it certainly gives you a good idea of what to expect. Vein‘s debut full-length album is hands down one of the best albums of 2018. It’s a progressive, experimental hardcore record that isn’t afraid to constantly explore new areas, but also never goes so far off into experimentation that it becomes less enjoyable. errorzone is an obliteratingly heavy ride. Get on it.
#3 Here Lies Man – You Will Know Nothing
Allow me to repeat myself – Here Lies Man is what would’ve happened had Fela Kuti hung out more with Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath. Here Lies Man is a heavy metal version of the afrobeat genre, and whose members are current and former Antibalas dudes. So if there was anyone that was going to invent this genre, it’s Here Lies Man. You Will Know Nothing is a sweltering, deliriously hot listen that drops you right into the middle of a heat wave. Keyboards waver, but the fuzzed out guitars and clockwork rhythm section will keep you rooted in the constant groove.
#2 Sleep – The Sciences
I should’ve expected Sleep to drop a surprise album on 4/20 and I didn’t. It just never occurred to me. That being said, all I listened to for the ensuing weeks was The Sciences. Loudly. It’s the perfect comeback album from a band who hasn’t composed a full new album since 1998 – it proves Sleep‘s viability in 2018 and blows the stoner metal genre clean out of the water. Matt Pike’s guitar tone is vicious, Al Cisneros demonstrates a deep Geezer Butler-like understanding of his instrument, and Jason Roeder keeps the groove like no other. This is the best stoner metal album of this decade. Period.
#1 Yob – Our Raw Heart
I’m not sure any other album will be able to top this in 2018. Yob‘s Our Raw Heart is the emotional outpouring of guitarist and vocalist Mike Scheidt, who nearly died after a serious bout with diverticulitis in 2017. Our Raw Heart is a brutally honest record that takes you everywhere from utter despair to slow-motion beauty. It’s an album that sounds like three musicians got together in a room and hashed out the story of their past year, and Scheidt’s voice overtop the music is frankly unmatched in metal right now.