1/02/2019

The 20 Best Metal & Hard Rock Albums of 2018

First off, Happy New Year's! Here is hoping 2019 brings us lots of good and awesome things, especially in this case, lots of killer metal and hard rock!

Which is something 2018 definitely did, both from legends and younger bands. As this list will show, it was a great year for death and black metal, as music on the heavier side is highly present. Anywho, let us not waste anymore time and get to the motherfucking headbanging tunes!

Honorable Mentions
Gruesome- Twisted Prayers
Diamante- Coming in Hot
Skinless- Savagery
Nocturnal Graves- Titan

20. Lucifer- Lucifer II- If you love 70s influenced hard rock and metal, boy do I have an album for you. Mixing doom metal elements with a hard rock hooks and the beautiful and ethereal voice of the lovely Sardonis, Lucifer sound almost like a female Dio-era Sabbath, albeit with a slightly more rock sound. Songs like "Dreamer" and "Phoenix" are among some of the coolest rock songs you were likely to hear last year.

19. Torture Squad- Far Beyond Existence- Torture Squad deliver awesome, grooven laden thrash/ death metal on this thier first album with signer Mayra "Unread" Puertas. My full review: https://www.themastergio.com/2018/02/torture-squad-far-beyond-existence.html


18. Terrorizer- Caustic Attack- The best grindcore release of the year, comes from one of the masters of the sub-genre. My full review: https://www.themastergio.com/2018/10/terrorizer-caustic-attack-album-review.html 

17. Terror- Total Retaliation- Groove filled, badass hardcore with metallic riffage, Terror's Total Retalliation was as a badass a release as you were likely to hear last year. An absolute banger of a beatdown this shit will drive even the dead to get up and jump into the pit! It really ranks among the finest Terror albums, and is my pick for the best hardcore album of 2018.

16. At The Gates- To Drink from the Night Itself- A solid effort from the originators of melod-death metal, this isn't on the level of the greatness their previous effort, At War with Reality was. But, it is, nonetheless, a thrashy riff filled slab of music that blows away a great amount of other more boring melodic death metal acts.


  

15. Jungle Rot- Jungle Rot- Death metal fast and groove filled, just the way I like it! My full review: https://www.themastergio.com/2018/07/jungle-rot-jungle-album-review.html


14. Bad Wolves- Disobey- The best debut of 2018 was this catchy and badass anaglam of groove metal, metalcore, and hard rock. Some of the year's most memorable and best songs to sing along can be found here, including winners like "Run for Your Life", "No Masters", and the monstrous"Learn to Live". It also has last year's most popular cover in the form of the killer Cranberries song "Zombie".


13. Behomoth- I Loved You at Your Darkest- Like the latest from At The Gates, this Behemoth album sees a band following up a masterpiece. In this case, this actually follows the band's greatest release, The Satanist, an album I picked as the best of 2014 (a year where said At The Gates album was ranked as well). Still, even though not as great as that modern masterpiece of theirs, this still a dark and demonic assault. Heavy and haunting when it is on, this fucker is filled with thunderous, hell-spawned killers like "God = Dog" (silly title or not), "Eccelesia Diabolica Catholica", and "If Crucifixion Was not Enough".


12. Light The Torch- Revival- I am gonna put this out there. This is the best album that Howard Jones has recorded since leaving Killswitch Engage. His voice sounds amazing and the music is driving and heavy yet melodic and catchy. It also has one of my favorite and most played songs of 2018 in the form of the soaring and killer "Die Alone".


11. Revocation- The Outer Ones- Talk about a grower of an album. Each listening of this complex, technically eviscerating death metal monster gets better. Each and every song gets more exciting as you hear more layers. Somehow, through the brutality there is this oddly listenable hook in the tracks that set it apart from bands who add a shit ton of tech into their death metal. It also bears mentioning that the cover, seemingly inspired by Lovecraftian horrors, is one of my favorites of the year.

  

10. Amarathe- Helix- This is without question one of the most fun albums of 2018. It so perfectly captures the bands various influences. Mixing pop, metalcore, death metal, and, of course, symphonic metal, they sound like no other band. Great to sing along and headbang Helix is one of the listenable, yet utterly kick ass album that you likely to hear to feature multiple signers.


9.  Monuments- Phronesis- Speaking of catchy and heavy, few bands do that as well as Monuments. And, even fewer albums released in 2018 mixed that seamlessly and impressive as this rolling and hook-filled, metallic rocker. While, d'jent might be over crowded by more and more clones of lesser quality, Monuments remain heads and shoulders above most of them. Their signer Chris Barretto has one of my favorite in modern metal. Songs like "Mirror Image","Ivory", and "Stygian Blue" really best sum up why this is the case. He has so much soul and anger that it is perfect for this progressive metal act.


8. Immortal- Northern Chaos Gods- Immortal are back motherfuckers! It had been nine years since the band's last album, and since then Abbath had left to form his own solo band. Demonaz has now picked up vocal duties. And, any doubt that this wouldn't work gets thrown out with just seconds of listening to the first song on the album, which also happens to be the title track. Featuring a thunderous and cold sound that is perfectly captured on the mix, one that is both low-fi and clearly produced. This destroyer feels like a blizzard that will decimate everything in its fucking site!


7. Bleeding Through- Love Will Kill Us All- 2018 saw the return of many other of my favorites, including Bleeding Through, my all time favorite metalcore act. The last album they had put out was what the dark and face melting Declaration, which might have until that point been their finest work. With this comeback they manage to challenge that album. At times driving and heavy and at others melodic and haunting (many times in the same song) Love Will Kill Us All blew me away. It is always scary when one of the bands one loves comes back after many years of being away, but thank the dark gods Bleeding Through more than delivered the pain filled goods.

6. Halestorm- Vicious- Any year where Halestorm puts out an album is one that makes me a very happy rocker. One of my personal favorite rock bands, they have a very special place in my heart. I don't think they ever put out a stinker and always remains true to their sound. Vicious is no different. It is not only the absolute finest hard rock record of 2018, but it even tops their last release, Into the Wildlife. The title is also very appropriate because when it decides to rock hard, it fucking rips. As always the lovely Lzzy Hale signs her ass off and tracks like "Black Vultures", "Skulls", and "Do Not Disturbed" are among my most played of last year.

5. River of Nihil- Where Owls Know My Name- Call this the surprise album of 2018. Rivers of Nihil, the seemingly eternal opening act, have created an album that is as great, if not better, than the bands they have opened for. The critical acclaim and fan love for this fucker has been huge, and it is with great reason. Where Owls Know My Name blew me the fuck away, and does every time I listen to it. The album has, unquestionably, made Rivers of Nihil headliners. It is a a complete masterpiece with spacious sounds (including some use of a fucking saxophone!!) that adds to the complexity of the music and progieness of it all. The record is heavy and crushing, yet also accessible and approachable without sacrificing the death metal aesthetics, And, as proven by their music video below, they don't take themselves too seriously and know how to have some fun. It makes the music even more likable. 

4. Judas Priest- Firepower- If I had to pick an album that far blew me away far more than I thought it would, then it would be this barn-burner from the metal gods, Judas Priest, themselves. I honestly had thought the last couple of albums from them were OK but wholly forgettable. Firepower, though, is Judas Priest's finest work since Painkiller. And, I mean that in every sense of the word. In fact, I think that it ranks right up there with the best in the band's historical discography. Songs like "Lightning Strikes', "Evil Never Dies", and "Necromancer" are full throttle  killers. Hands down the best pure metal release of 2018.



3. Watain- Trident Wolf Eclipse- Far less experimental than the awesome The Wild Hunt, Trident Wolf Eclipse is more straight forward sounding, classic black metal sounding. And, in some ways it is for the better for that, because while I loved that aforemntioned album, I think this is a better release. Break neck paced and gloriously evil, this is truly savage and righteously Satanic metal. I have been listening to this record since the week it came out and haven't stopped. In my humble opinion it is the best black metal of 2018.




2. Light This City- Terminal Bloom- I pretty screamed in joy when I heard that Light This City would return. And, while I knew they always deliver the goods, I didn't think they would give this near perfect a masterpiece. My full review: https://www.themastergio.com/2018/05/light-this-city-terminal-bloom-album.html



1. Aborted- TerrorVision- Taking the spot is this brutal and eviscerating album. A vicious and merciless release, Aborted have made the best album, thus far of their career, which is saying a lot if you ask me, Shredding riffs, pummeling blast beats, and brutal grooves are accompanied by anger filled guttural vocals and gore drenched lyrics. This fucker blew me right through my office, the first time I heard. It continues to do so every time I hear it. Songs like the title track, "Farewell to the Flesh", and "Deep Red" are among the most savage and ripping tracks you and your soon to be broken neck (from headbanging so fucking hard) were likely to hear. Yet, they are not above slowing shit down and, yet still, mixing it with blast-bearts for a song like "Vespertine Decay" (below) and pummel you straight to fucking hell. As good as modern day death metal can get, this was 2018's soundtrack to pure sonic butchery. Oh, and the horror filled album cover absolutely fucking rules!

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