In my opinion, 2018 was a terrific year for metal. From gruesome all-out adrenaline to emotional atmospheric work, metal presented astounding artistry.
Below I’ve created a list that celebrates the ten records that made the most impact on me this year. Hope you enjoy and hopefully discover some gems you weren’t aware of!
Outside of breakup songs and hair metal jams, love is rarely spoken of in heavy music. That’s why it was so fascinating to see Sumac take on the subject in such a profound manner. Through the contorting, droning elements of their instrumentation (alongside the lyrics), Sumac presents a meditative experience on what it means to love and to be love.
Beastland is what I like to call a “cinematic record;” as soon as you hit the play button on track one, you can close your eyes, opening yourself to imagination and emotion. Embodying the pain of our current societal landscape, Author & Punisher provides a collection of tracks that exude tension and anger; the instrumentation beats, blares, and drones to hysteric levels, making for an experience of grim contemplation.
The sporadic noise elements of Daughters continually exudes chilling vibes. Maintaining a somewhat general structure to their compositions, Daughters’ material is another cinematic record where listener’s minds can coast along to rhythms, guiding their imagination into a world of nightmares. This collection of intricate instrumentation shows off Daughters at their best, displaying their ability to create enchanting and haunting music.
Even after releasing three EPs in one year Thou still went ahead and released a new LP. It’s tough to classify Thou into one genre, for in their sludge appeal they incorporate a tremendous amount of atmosphere and musicality. With introspective lyricism and a blend of instrumental droning, distortion, and thrashing, Magus is an awesome addition to their discography.
While I’m all for pummeling death metal, I also enjoy when the genre shows a little more thought. Whereas past Rivers of Nihil records unleashed plenty of blast beats and guitar shredding, their latest LP displays a maturity in craftsmanship. Weaving a number of musical genres into their brutal mix, while switching up song structure as the album progresses, Rivers of Nihil have raised the bar for technical death metal.
On the flip side of death metal, I love me some good ole murky, dungeon crawling gruesomeness. Through their instrumentation Tomb Mold is able to present a physicality to their sound; in each riff, one can feel a slime; in each drum beat, one can feel heat and pressure. The chaotic nature of Manor Of Infinite Forms creates an atmosphere that exudes madness, making for a terrific experience of all-out rage.
Besides winning me over with their Metal Gear inspired name, Outer Heaven is one of the best new acts in the world of death metal. With their apocalyptic lyrical themes, the band unleashes some of the most devastating instrumentation I’ve heard in some time. The lyrics and instrumentation come together to exude anxiety and chaos, while also presenting a sincere theatrical element.
This was the first record I got a hold of in 2018 and it is one of the more remarkable musical experiences I’ve had in years. While I’ve been a fan of Sumac for some time now, Keiji Haino was a new name to me. Diving into this record, I was not prepared for the uncomfortable, cinematic depth the noise instrumentation presented. American Dollar Bill is one of those records full of surprises; through its instrumentation, it subconsciously opens pathways to fascinating, surreal levels of auditory sensation.
The Body is not an easy act to listen to in the sense of their instrumental structure and that of their subject matter. I Have Fought Against It, But I Cannot Any Longer is their darkest, most depressing work. Embracing the subjects of depression, loneliness, and anxiety, The Body’s music opens up a space for contemplation; one can go into this album embracing its atmosphere, allowing for introspective discovery. With every song you never know what you are going to get, for The Body is constantly including a number of different musical genres into their work, all while constantly changing up their song structure. I Have Fought Against It, But I Cannot Any Longer is brilliant work of depth and emotion that taps into an invisible pain.
Panopticon mastermind Austin Lunn presents the best work of his career in both these records. Part one involves the black metal instrumentation we’ve come to know from Panopticon, while part two is Americana/folk music; it’s important to note that while one can listen to both parts separately, I personally encourage listeners to listen to both as a whole. The Scars of Man is a breathtaking experience of wonder, brutality, and ethereal exploration. Embodying Lunn’s passion for nature, The Scars of Man cries with aggression and serenity, embodying a plethora of various song structures and instrumentation. These are records best experienced in that of nature; not only do they encourage introspection, but they are unique works of music that imbue life into one’s surroundings. In his exploration of nature and humankind, Lunn offers folks one of the most astounding atmospheric records in recent years.
A giant thank you to everyone who checked out Metal & Mike this year! I have a lot of incredible interviews lined up for 2019, but until then – keep headbanging my friends.
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