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Top 5 metal albums of 2018

2018 has come to an end. Hundreds of metal albums have been unleashed upon the headbanging population and it’s time to count down the best of the best.

Ghost – Prequelle

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[A MESSAGE FROM THE CLERGY] Thanks to the people of Philadelphia for another great ritual. #cardinalcopia #namelessghouls #apaletournameddeath2018 @ryancphoto

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After the 2017 separation and legal battle between Ghost vocalist Tobias Forge and the rest of his band, the new line-up was able to deliver an enjoyable album in 2018.

Although it might not be considered as their best work among many within their traditional fan-base, the departure into a softer, more digestible pop/glam rock sound makes it a remarkable introduction for newcomers of the genre.

Rats single embodying the Black Plague lyrics and aesthetics that characterise the album.

The record still maintains the grandiose atmosphere and dark thematic that have always accompanied the band, making many of the songs perfect for live spectacles. Live concerts remain one of the main strengths of the newborn Cardinal Copia and his newly acquainted Ghouls.

Essential tracks: Faith, Rats, Miasma.

Final Score: 3/5 

Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats – Wasteland

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Wasteland. Out in October. Tour starts November #uncleacid #uncleacidandthedeadbeats #wasteland

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For this album, the band has traded the high levels of fuzziness and psychedelia present in their previous releases for a more straight-forward rock sound, and have performed that effort to perfection through the delivery of some of the band’s catchiest songs up to date.

The album still maintains their characteristic hazy sound and old-school production style, combined with an addition of cleaner, more melodic, synth and hard-rock sounds.

Essential tracks: Shockwave City, Stranger Tonight, I See Through You, Bedouin. 

Final Score: 4/5

The Ocean Collective – Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic

Did you mention a Great Dying?

This record exceptionally encapsulates what progressive death metal is all about. Through a superb musical execution, clean and harsh vocals, a mix of styles and different instruments, the theme and album lyrics carry us across the geological history of Earth, with pieces set in periods of mass extinctions which evoke the Anthropocene epoch some experts argue we find ourselves in.

Within their experimental output, we can find a good amount of influence from the post-rock sphere as well as great cello and piano additions. Katatonia’s Jonas Renkse collaboration also fits perfectly within the stylistic ambitions of the band.

Overall, another enjoyable progressive effort delivered by The Ocean.

Essential tracks: The Great Dying, Devonian: Nascent

Final Score: 4/5

Polyphia – New Levels New Devils

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‪Well guys we did it. We put out the best album ever made. Congratulations!!! To us. ‬

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Polyphia have delivered another highly technical and playful album led by groovy, often darker and instrumentally clear tunes.

The different collaborations and stylistic combinations across the album, including a track with pop vocals and electronic tunes, help maintain everything fresh. The relatively short duration of the album allows us to unpack the density of their work throughout several listens without making it too overwhelming.

One of Polyphia’s catchiest albums up to date, it is perfect for those seeking a virtuous and amusing exponent of progressive metal.

Essential tracks: G.O.A.T., O.D, Saucy, Yas, So Strange.

Final Score: 4/5

Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name

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“Where Owls Know My Name” was released one year ago on this day. Come see us play the whole record tonight in Sacramento at Holy Diver. #riversofnihil #whereowlsknowmyname #metalbladerecords

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This record symbolizes not only the culmination of Rivers of Nihil style, but is also a major exponent of the best this genre has to offer, making it a landmark album for progressive death metal.

Fun, dark, jazzy, beautiful and brutal, all summed up in one track.

It mixes the brutal and perfectly executed highly technical components of their previous records with superbly fit-in melodic and jazzy elements, and a spot-on inclusion of saxophone tunes.

The bass, drums, guitars, harsh/clean vocals, melodic chorus and progressive elements bring this style up to its highest potential.

Overall a memorable album, with many tracks surely being a delight to enjoy live.

Essential tracks:  Where Owls Know My Name, A Home, The Silent Life.

Final Score: 4.5/5

Honorable mentions:

There are still a good number of 2018 albums that could have easily made it into the list.

Beyond Creation and Revocation have delivered some high-quality progressive death metal releases.

Sleep’s mighty awakening from a 20-year slumber with The Sciences is excellent news for fans of stoner metal, while High on Fire’s Electric Messiah is also a worthwhile addition to the genre.

All Them Witches, Windhand, Greenleaf and Clutch new records are there for those who prefer a purer old-school rock sound.

With their releases, Owane, YOB, Skeletonwitch and Between the Buried and Me have kept pushing boundaries within their respective styles, while VOLA and Zeal & Ardor new albums are great listens for those in seek of something different.

Although 2018 might not be remembered as one of the most prolific years for metal music, there are still plenty of valuable options to choose from, proving that the genre remains alive and well.

Check out this Spotify list for the entire compilation!

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