With the dawn of the THKD YouTube channel, I decided to do something a little different this year. I’ve split my year end top 20 metal albums list in two; half of them can be found below, the other half on YouTube. So, once you’re done reading this list, head on over to THKD TV and check out the rest of the list… if you don’t mind watching a semi-drunken nerd rant and rave about heavy metal for thirty minutes. But enough of my rambling; as I’ve been saying for almost a decade now, long-winded intros are bullshit. Let’s get on with it.
1. Judas Priest – Firepower (Columbia)
Ever since Judas Priest reunited with Rob Halford back in 2003, fans have been hoping that the band would release another classic. Up until now the results have been mixed; Angel of Retribution and Redeemer of Souls were both rather middling and the less said about the pretentious nonsense that is Nostradamus, the better. But with Firepower, the band has finally released a comeback album worthy of their reputation for trad-metal ass-kicking. Songs such as “Lightning Strike” “Spectre” and the title track are every bit the burly, swaggering metal anthems we’ve come to expect from Halford and Co. and as a whole Firepower can stand proudly next to the likes of Painkiller and British Steel. Fear the Priest.
I didn’t review Firepower, but I did write an article about all the ass-kicking robots they’ve featured on their album covers.
2. Amorphis – Queen of Time (Nuclear Blast)
With Queen of Time, Finland’s Amorphis have added another jewel to a discography that’s already overflowing with riches. For nearly three decades, the band has successfully continued to evolve and expand their sound and this, their thirteenth album, is no exception. Vocalist Tomi Joutsen, who is equally adept at soaring clean vocals and earthshaking growls, remains the band’s not-so-secret weapon, and tracks like “The Bee” “The Golden Elk” and “Among Stars” are among the best the band has penned since he joined back in 2004. Indeed, Amorphis continue to exude excellence within the realm of their difficult to pin down take on progressive metal, proving once again that they’re one of the best and most underrated bands in the universe.
Read the full review HERE.
3. Voivod – The Wake (Century Media)
Many were skeptical when the surviving members of legendary Canadian metal band Voivod made the difficult decision to soldier on after the loss of founding guitarist and driving force Dennis “Piggy” D’Amour, but the band quickly silenced the naysayers with 2013’s Target Earth. Now with The Wake, the band have declared on no uncertain terms that they’re here to stay and are as good as they ever were. Striking a balance between metal, punk and psychedelic rock, Voivod weave us a weird tale of mankind’s over-reliance on and addiction to the trappings of modern technology. This is the kind of socially-conscious metal the world needs, lest we all become “Obsolete Beings.”
4. Summoning – With Doom We Come (Napalm)
It’s not hyperbole to say that Summoning might just be the greatest symphonic/atmospheric black metal band of all time. For twenty-five years, the duo of Silenius and Protector have worked tirelessly to create an immersive soundtrack to the literary worlds created by JRR Tolkien and With Doom We Come is no exception. The album is similar to 2013’s Old Mornings Dawn in many ways, yet it’s also darker and more melancholic, recalling the atmospheres of classic Summoning releases such as Stronghold and Oath Bound. All in all, the album serves as an important reminder of just how lucky we are to have such an idiosyncratic pair of musicians as part of the black metal scene.
5. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Wasteland (Rise Above)
The whole retro/stoner/whatever rock scene is probably one of the most over-saturated in heavy music right now, but the mighty Uncle Acid stands head and shoulders above the hordes because they consistently write amazing songs. Picking up where they left off with 2015’s excellent The Night Creeper, the band have crafted another acid-drenched ode to the seedy underbelly of the psychedelic movement in the form of Wasteland, a hazy world of bad drugs, worse sex and hippie murder cults bent on bringing about the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine). In a just world, Uncle Acid would’ve already taken over the airwaves with songs such as “I See Through You” and “Stranger Tonight” but for now they remain one of the underground’s finest.
6. Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods (Nuclear Blast)
Immortal without Abbath? The thought of Norway’s sons of northern darkness returning without their iconic frontman seemed a bit hard to swallow, that is until Northern Chaos Gods dropped on July 6th and mopped the fucking floor with every other big league black metal album that’s been released before or since in 2018. Demonaz and Horgh sound lean, mean and hungry on the band’s ninth album, bringing Immortal back to its ice cold and blackened roots yet retaining just enough of the Abbath-era’s ear for melody to keep things riffy, rocking and catchier than herpes. This is Norwegian black metal the way it was meant to sound.
7. Destroyer 666 – Call of the Wild (Season of Mist)
Ok, I realize Call of the Wild is an EP as opposed to a full length album, but hey, it’s my list so I’m allowed to break the damn rules. Besides, this twenty-minutes of pure metal hell is so enjoyable that it deserves the recognition. A deliciously wicked mix of Venom’s first wave black metal stylings, Motorhead’s proto-thrashing penchant for bulldozing over everything in their path and early Diamond Head’s old school swagger, D666 are on fire throughout the four tracks presented here, kicking more ass in less than half an hour than most bands can muster in twice that amount of time.
Read the full review HERE.
8. Witchsorrow – Hexenhammer (Candlelight)
The award for most improved band of 2018 surely has to go to Witchsorrow, who have managed to step up their game exponentially with the release of their fourth album, Hexenhammer. The British trio often recall Cathedral at their bleakest (think Forest of Equilibrium or Endtyme), but they still manage to put their own slow ‘n’ low stamp on Sabbathian UK doom, bringing the pain but also keeping things memorable on songs such as “Demons of the Mind” “The Parish” and the gargantuan title track. Witchsorrow aren’t reinventing the wheel, but they’ve definitely honed their craft and released the year’s finest under-the-radar doom album.
Read the full review HERE.
9. Marduk – Viktoria (Century Media)
Swedish stalwarts Marduk returned in 2018 with yet another slab of vicious World War II-themed black metal, manufactured internet controversies be damned. At just thirty-three minutes, Viktoria feels like a bit of a blur at first spin, but the more one listens, the more one comes to appreciate the blistering blitzkrieg of “Werwolf” “Tiger I” “The Devil’s Song” and others; the album’s cold, unforgiving violence is rivaled in the band’s discography only by 1999’s land speed record-setting Panzer Division Marduk. All-in-all, Viktoria is another slab of raw devastation from one of the most consistent veteran bands in black metal.
Read the full review HERE.
10. Dimmu Borgir – Eonian (Nuclear Blast)
I can’t believe I’m putting a Dimmu Borgir album on my year end list in 2018, but fuck it, here we are. The long-running Norwegians didn’t exactly set the world on fire with their last few albums, but with Eonian they seem to have gotten back some of the fire that yielded classics like Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia and Death Cult Armageddon. From the black metal meets Sisters of Mercy meets KMFDM crush of “Interdimensional Summit” to the slithering, tribal stomp of “Council of Wolves and Snakes,” Eonian shows that when they want to be, Dimmu Borgir are still one of the most uniquely creative entities in mainstream metal, not to mention a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.
Well folks, that wraps it up for 2018. Thanks to everyone that has continued to support THKD through its up and downs, name changes, periods of inactivity and all the other dumb things my erratic ass has been known to do. 2019 marks ten years of THKD and I plan on continuing this path of chaos and blasphemy, so I hope y’all will stick around!