Best Song Names
Rebel Wizard, album - Voluptuous Worship Of Rapture And Response —
1. Persisting as it does
2. The prophecy came and it was soaked with the common fools forboding
3. High mastery of the woeful arts
4. Drunk on the wizdom of unicorn semen
5. The poor and ridiculous alchemy of Christ and Lucifer and us all
6. Mother Nature, oh my sweet mistress, showed me the other worlds and it was just fallacy
7. Majestic mystical burdens
8. Healing the chakras with heavy negative wizard metal
9. Voluptuous worship of rapture and response
10. Exhaustive glory
Best Traditional Death
MONSTROSITY (FL), album - The Passage of Existence
Song: The Hive (0:26-5:05)
— Sweaty old mullet metal bros that have headbanged their way around Florida death for decades. These guys know the riff, the guitar solos, the intricacies of vocals and the headbang. Just a gem.
CORPSESSED (Finland), album - Impetus of Death — Blast blast blast in your face and Finnish country folk that bite the antlers off rabid beasts. These guys go all out epic.
LIK (Sweden), album - Carnage — I like Lik because it reminded me of At The Gates (listen to Rid You of Your Flesh), almost the exact same vocals, melodic touch to old school death. Fucking headbang with a fist in the air. Nothing new, but so much fun.
HATE ETERNAL (FL), album - Upon Desolate Sands — Muscular death metal that flex: technical, brutal, overtly masculine vocals. They are innovative beyond throwing around testicles. Guitar solos are epic, so many crushing riffs.
PORTRAYAL OF GUILT (TX), album - Let Pain Be Your Guide
Song: Your War (6:55-9:13)
— Bleak and raw, emotional; deeply-felt lyrics which is a staple of hardcore. This is just the beginning for these guys.
JESUS AIN'T IN POLAND (Italy), album - No Man's Land — Jesus Ain't in Poland have slowed their version of grindcore to dynamic, eruptive, melodic hardcore. With some grind sprinkled on top.
MAMMOTH GRINDER (Austin), album - Cosmic Crypt — With members of Iron Reagan and Power Trip, Mammoth Grinder unsurprisingly blended the chompiness of hardcore into death, short little bits of fun to dig your teeth into.
IDLES (UK), album - Joy as an Act of Resistance — Idles got my last year's Best Punk album. Bristol punks want you to find joy as the resistance, gawd how sweet. These are hot British guys you want to hug and punch and drink beers with. Stylized punk with deep lyrical content.
FUTURE CORPSE (Melbourne), album - Culture Ruins Everything Around Me — A triumphant experimental sound, diving face splat first into prog and punk, stir some badass death metal kick, simmer with jazz, and all with the young heart of poppy punk and hardcore vocals. Stunning fantasy album art.
Best Legendary Band
SATAN (UK), album - Cruel Magic
Song: Legions Hellbound (9:52-14:50)
— 40 years of dense and intricate guitars creating melodic thrash, and they don't need to speed it up to make their point.
AT THE GATES (Sweden), album - To Drink From the Night Itself — In the 90's I headbanged to this band religiously in my car. Their new albums sound a lot like Slaughter, but why the hell not. Again, with age comes refinement.
JUDAS PRIEST (UK), album - Firepower — Judas Priest prove they are still heavy metal gods. They engage in their trademark hooks and harmonies and manage to remain muscular. A must-have album.
Best Female Vocalist
CLOUD RAT (Michigan), album - Silk Panic
Song: Nago (15:20-17:50)
— This album encompasses a universe of emotions that every woman possesses. She screams it for us. She sighs. She breathes. She is amazing.
IZEGRIM (Netherlands), album - Beheaded By Trust — Geezus, the female vocalist is nothing short of amazing. Check her out here: https://youtu.be/w3_-ps206sM
DEATHBELL (France/Ireland), album - With The Beyond — Incredibly jolting pagan psychedelic doom led by a French goddess with sultry vocals.
MESSA (Italy), album - Feast for Water — Don't worry, she's on the list below.
LUCIFER (Sweden/Berlin), album - California Son — Berlin has blues in their blood. This is perfect 70's rock with a badass female lead vocalist.
Best Extreme/Technical Death
GOROD (FR), album - Aethra
Song: Hina (18:24-23:38)
— And the guitar lords speak after the bloody battle. You have won, tech death nerds, you are the mighty warriors of all. This album is frighteningly fast, crazy, brutal, but most importantly a fucking blast.
PORTAL, album - Ion — Anonymous, cloaked members creating completely fucking alien dissonant atmospheric for your fucked up brain.
REPLICANT (NJ), album - Negative Life — Bass-heavy, harmonies and space between the chaos breathes fresh energy in this modern tech death, heavy on the riff. Then the vocals vomit its raw horror.
INOCULATED LIFE (Denver), album - Exist to Decay — Colorado rises, yet again. These guys have a long, long life. This was a killer debut.
NAUT (UK), album - Raise the Lights
Song: Frames (24:17-30:41)
— I can't deny, this is one of my favorite categories. These guys use bass to create their brooding melody, with those death rock vocals, encompassed in a bow of shimmering guitars. They are nostalgic personified.
THE SOFT MOON (Berlin), album - Criminal — Stylish, intense industrial darkwave with a really cool-styled vocalist. Extremely danceable.
LEBANON HANOVER (Germany), album - Let Them Be Alien — German dark danceable wave done to perfection by a duo of vocal perfection, both male and female. Gorgeous synth and bass.
Best Traditional Doom
MESSA (Italy), album - Feast for Water
Song: Leah (31:34-39:34)
— Soft, strange, lovely mood created by angelic and powerful vocals with crisp, bluesy guitars. They were nominated last year, and a clear winner in this, hands down.
DEATHBELL (France/Ireland), album - With The Beyond — 4-female created distorted, thick melodic doom. Incredibly jolting pagan psychedelic doom led by a French goddess with sultry vocals.
URFAUST (Netherlands), album - The Constellatory Practice — The vocalist is a wavering thin screech between a wall of black meditation, an oppressive push that pressed my brain into a slit. Controlled Bleeding experimental style mixed with melodic and cathedral vocals in parts. This is the last part of a trilogy.
SOLSTICE (UK), album - White Horse Hill — Solstice started in 1990; if you are Indian and can do math in your head, that is a fuckload of time ago. Led by a charismatic lead singer, pagan heavy metal doom.
APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE (Indiana), album - From Gold to Ash — 2 vocalists are standouts, gorgeous harmonizing loveliness.
1914 (Ukraine), album - The Blind Leading the Blind
Song: Passchenhell (40:11-47:03)
— I may have cheated placing this death-leaning band in sludge, but it has elements of sludge: filthy, crushing, dense, suffocating.
FISTER (St. Louis), album - No Spirit Within — Fister is one of the best sludge bands ever created. Infusing slow tempoed darkly filthy passages with the evil screech and rasp of the vocalist, bubbling into catchy rhythmic headbreaking, but only in brief slashes of time. The rest is just gurgling torture. Had one of my favorite songs all year: https://youtu.be/Vfoo0l9x14Y
BRAINOIL (Oakland), album - Singularity To Extinction — Bay area Brainoil releases groove rampage sludge that is that Brainoil-style of satisfaction. Greg's vocals are epic. John Santos created-album art.
Wytch Hazel (UK), album - II: Sojourn
Song: See My Demons (47:51-52:13)
— One of the hardest, worst categories for me to rate, because I loved every single one of these albums. For (2) of them - Graveyard and Greenleaf, I was banging my head on the wall, I love these bands so much. But, this was the album this year. Story-telling, jamming guitars, and those vocals. Rich, rich stuff.
Graveyard (Sweden), album - Peace — If you know anything about me, you know that I worship Graveyard, the warm melting sweet chocolate vocalist. In the midst of becoming famous, winning a grammy in their country, and discussions of breaking up, these guys took their sabbatical and came back together strong and vital and strong in storytelling, hooks, blues, ripping my heart apart yet again.
The Night Flight Orchestra, album - Sometimes the World Ain't Enough —
They blend the funk of the 70's and classic metal ballad vocals and lyrical content of the 80's. Super fun.
Greenleaf (Sweden), album - Hear the Rivers — Swedes do psychedelic jamming blues the best; and Greenleaf has been one of my favorites of these bands. They changed their incredible singer a few years ago, which was terrifying to me. But holy shit, they must have sacrificed to Satan because he is amazing. This is one of their strongest soulful albums to date.
Best Modern Black Metal (mixed genre)/Best Evil Male Vocalist/#2 Album
CONVULSING (AU), album – Grievous
Song: Relent (53:37-END)
— This album reminded me of Ruins of Beverast and Venenum. Not in the sound, but the creation of an epic, unexpected trip within and outside your brain. Yes, this is a 1-man band. He has climbed through my brain with massive vocals, contrasting tempos, creepy atmosphere climbing into dissonance. Bleak and monstrous.
SKELETONWITCH (OH), album - Devouring Radiant Light — I don't care what anyone says, Skeletonwitch has always been genius. THe new lead singer put me at a loss at first, but I think he found his footing with this one. More focused on fierce cold black metal, rather than the charming previous lead singer's love for groovy thrash. It fits now.
REBEL WIZARD (AU), album - Voluptuous Worship Of Rapture And Response — The vocals are a knife, the technical guitar solos are worshipful. Australia had the most epic scene of 2018. Reb
GAEREA (Portugal), album - Unsettling Whispers — Bleak to its core, whispers of evil and death crawling up your spine, the tempo is not based on your need for headbanging. They will let you know when it is appropriate or necessary, nothing is staged.