Every year, Hellbound writers submit their top albums of the year. They all get compiled into Hellbound’s Top Metal Albums of the year (coming soon).
Top Albums of 2018
After the unexpected passing of founding guitarist Piotr Grudzinski, Riverside have regrouped and put together their best album since Shrine of New Generation Slaves. Inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Wasteland marks a new chapter of the band as the continue on as a three-piece, deciding to not fill in the void left by Grudzinski. A beautiful album.
New bassist Hugo Doyon-Karout really shines on his debut album with Montreal’s Beyond Creation. The band have taken Quebec’s trademark technical sound and made it their own with a wonderfully sci-fi-esque atmosphere.
Ihsahn’s previous album, Arktis, was my album of the year in 2016. While Ámr isn’t nearly as catchy as its predecessor, his seventh studio album finds a balance between more complex and progressive songwriting and those catchy hooks that made Arktis one of my favourites.
7. Illusive Golden Age
Augury finally return with their first album in nine years – and what a return it is. Quebec technical death metal at its finest (a controversial statement, I’m sure), Patrick Loisel’s vocals and alien-like songwriting have been refined and Dominic “Forest” Lapointe enhances anything he touches.
6. Stranger Fruit
I was a big fan of Zeal & Ardor’s first release – and Manuel Gagneux has put together a more polished release in Stranger Fruit. Mixing black metal with African-American roots music, Z&A is still one of the most interesting (musically and politically) combinations of genres in years.
5. The Scars Of Man On The Once Nameless
It’s really difficult to put together a successful double-album that can keep a listener engaged, but Panopticon’s mix of atmospheric black metal and Americana is a perfect listen for a cold hike in the woods.
I was late to the Khemmis train in 2016, not picking it up until the following year, but after really getting into Hunted and seeing them live in Toronto, I was really excited for what the Denver foursome had in mind for their next release. Desolation delivers with beautiful doomy melodies and their best vocal performance to date.
3. Esoteric Malacology
Slugdge continue their epic tales of invading space slugs with a varied mix of genres, pace and vocal styles to make something really special in Esoteric Malacology. Throw in heavy metal puns (“Transilvanian Fungus” anyone?) and I’m all in on the intergalactic war against Rhaexorog.
2. The Banished Heart
Cammie Gilbert’s vocal performance in the title track is enough to crack my list on its own. But Oceans of Slumber didn’t stop there and created one of the most beautiful albums in recent years. Just as they fill your heart full of feelings of despair, they do leave you with hope that there still is a way out.
1. Queen of Time
I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing that I could copy and paste my thoughts on Amorphis’ last album here. “While Under the Red Cloud might not be the most exciting album out this year, it’s the album that I’ve kept coming back to the most.” The same can be said again for Queen of Time. “Daughter of Hate”, “The Golden Elk” and “Wrong Direction” have the trademark Amorphis hooks that can stay in your head for days. An appearance by everyone’s favourite vocal guest (well, at least mine), Anneke van Giersbergen on “Amongst Stars” keeps me coming back to this album again and again.
Album Cover of the Year
While it may not be the most exciting album cover, Beyond Creation’s Algorythm cover captures their sound perfectly.
Best Gig of 2018
I had the privilege of seeing Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds for the first time, knocking another band off of the bucket list. Playing for around 2.5 hours, Nick Cave and company knocked off all of my favourite tracks and navigated a roller-coaster of a set like the pro that he is.
Favourite Physical Item Purchased
It won’t be in the mail for a bit, but the most exciting purchase is the final (first?) chapter of Virgin Black’s Requiem series, Pianissimo. Coming out 10 years after the last installment, fans of the band had all but given up hope on the last piece of the trilogy, as the band had essentially disappeared. However, the duo of Rowan London and Sesca Scaarba returned to complete what is one of the most beautifully dark pieces in my collection.
Most Anticipated Album(s) of 2019
Devin Townsend – Empath
Looking Forward To in 2019
In July I’ll be heading up to Heavy Montreal, regardless of who’s playing, to partake in the best Canadian metal festival alongside Hellbound’s “Mean” Gene Gaona. Will be great to see him again and enjoy whoever the festival decides to throw our way.