Metal Nation’s Top 50 Hard Rock and Metal Albums of 2018

30. Tomb Mold – Manor of Infinite Forms (20 Buck Spin)

While I’m not generally a fan of the majority of bands trying to reanimate the Old School Death Metal sound, Toronto, Canada’s Tomb Mold has fast become an exception to this. After releasing its head-turning (and neck-snapping) debut, Primordial Malignity last year, the inspired quartet resumed its malignant cacophony with Manor of Infinite Forms. The fretwork of Payson Power and Derrick Vella grinds like a chainsaw ripping through a desiccated corpse. The distance between the band’s violently visceral debut and its sophomore slab of heinous brutality is measured only in its growth as songwriters. Tomb Mold seem to be prolific as well, releasing a separate EP, Cerulean Salvation, of equal sonic barbarity before year’s end. Tomb Mold is one of the few burgeoning acts that can reinvent OSDM without coming off as derivative or trite. Austin Splatter (AS)

29. Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods (Nuclear Blast)

New album, new singer–what could possibly go wrong? Nothing. Immortal continues to impress with Norther Chaos Gods. Cold, harsh, and unrelenting; Northern Chaos Gods hit the blackest parts of my heart. There are really memorable riffs here that I was able to enjoy even more thanks to the quality production as well. Black metal is so much more interesting when you can actually hear the very nuanced guitar playing. The songs had so much more texture to them which makes them much more memorable. I’ve had the opening riff from the title track stuck in my head for months now. These guys put on an incredible live show as well, so jump at any opportunity you get to see them! -DL

28. Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want (Ipecac)

Rhode island’s Daughters issued what is arguably one of the more ambitious and innovative metal albums of 2018, the band’s first album since 2010’s self-titled affair. The quartet’s fourth full-length effort is at times haunting, at times anxiety inducing in its disquiet, and still oddly beautiful in its grotesque filthiness. “Long Roads, No Turns” is like listening to the Talking Heads on a bad acid trip. The bizarre and often shrill guitar tones and twisted keyboard effects establish a discordant and otherwordly atmosphere. Every Daughters album takes a different journey and this one is absolutely terrifying. It may be more noise rock than metal, but it is certainly intriguing and bizarrely effective. -RR

27. Michael Romeo – War of the Worlds, Pt. 1 (Season of Mist)

A quarter century after the release of his debut solo effort, The Dark Chapter, Symphony X mastermind and fret wizard Michael Romeo has finally unleashed a new album under his own moniker. War of the Worlds, Pt. 1  is miles and years apart from Romeo’s first solo endeavor,  which is all for the good. His deft ability to create memorable riffs and progressive symphonies collide into a maelstrom of sonic bliss.  His love for John Williams resonates throughout the album in a cinematic display of orchestral themes.  War of the Wolds, Pt 1 is most akin to Symphony X’s The Odyssey  if one is looking for a reference point, and in fact this could easily have been issued under the Symph X name, but of course, Romeo is the band’s prime composer, so that’s not a stretch.  Rick Castellano does a more than serviceable job behind the microphone, and his voice helps separate Romeo’s solo material from his day job, but where this album shines is in the grand compositions and Romeo’s virtuoso guitar displays. -RR

26. Haken – Vector (InsideOut)

British prog titans, Haken released their fifth full-length album in 2018. Vector is comprised of seven epic songs that bring the band to a new level of prog metal. While encompassing their diverse blend of odd time signatures, infectious melodies and innovative structure, Vector also turns up the heavy dial a few notches. The album runs with the broad concept of human psychology and the perils of mental health, bringing thematic influences from historical researchers like B. F. Skinner and classic films such as Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange.” The depth to this album is both impressive and entertaining. Haken released three videos to accompany the singles, “The Good Doctor,” “Puzzle Box,” and lastly, “A Cell Divides.” While Vector is their shortest album to date, it is jam packed with creative and masterfully orchestrated songs topped with intelligent lyricism. It may go without saying the musicianship is nothing short of virtuoso level playing, but I wanted to mention it anyway. If prog metal is your thing, do yourself a favor and have a feast on Vector. -DW

25. Dire Peril – The Extraterrestrial Compendium (Divebomb Records)

I’ve been waiting on this record for some time, and fortuitously, the end result did not disappoint. Dire Peril is the cumulative effort of Helion Prime‘s Jason Ashcraft (guitar) and Judicator‘s John Yelland (vocals), who also put out noteworthy albums for their own respective bands this year with Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster and The Last Emperor. With The Extraterrestrial Compendium, Ashcraft wanted to develop songs based around his favorite sci-fi films, such as Predator, Barbarella, Total Recall, Starship Troopers, E.T., and so forth. The sound of the album is consistent with both Yelland and Ashcraft’s other power metal outfits, but there is a certain magic to what they have created here that has elevated the final result. The interplay between the guitars and Yelland’s unique vocal style is instantly addictive, and carries throughout the record’s 12 tracks. The album has a heavier and more aggressive feel than their other projects as well. There’s something of an Iced Earth meets Blind Guardian essence, which makes sense, as Ashcraft likens it to their own version of Jon Schaffer and Hansi Kursch‘s Demons & Wizards. The album also gives nod to Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One project. All of which is brilliant company to aspire to. -RR

24. Behemoth – I Loved You at Your Darkest (Metal Blade)

There is a certain weight to the name Behemoth. The band has built a legacy upon some of the most brutally evil music around. I Loved You At Your Darkest is the 11th addition to their catalog, raising the bar for everyone in proximity. The album is another Satanic concept piece and man, did they really nail this one. There were no sacrifices made in the name of all things heavy and evil here. The record is consistent in brutality while still being dynamic enough to not all sound the same. All in all, this album is bad ass the whole way through. Major points for content cohesiveness and attention to detail. It grabs you by the soul and doesn’t let go once. If there is a Lucifer out there, he probably has Spotify and I Loved You At Your Darkest will definitely making its way into regular rotation. -DL

23. Anaal Nathrakh – A New Kind Of Horror (Metal Blade)

Anaal Nathrakh is a very special band. Simply two talented guys, David Hunt and Mick Kinney, making some absolutely insane music. Most easily described as music for the apocalypse, Anaal Nathrakh is not for the faint of heart. A New Kind of Horror is the latest in a line of horrifying records. These guys can honestly do no wrong for me. Whatever strange frequency they’re on, I’m right there, too. This music resonates with me on a spiritual level, honestly. Yet again, Anaal Nathrakh brought the sounds of the Void to life and produced another killer album. A New Kind of Horror is all the horrifying noise you’ve come to know and love this band for. As they’ve matured over these last few records, things have only improved. If we learned nothing from Cryptopsy, even the greatest can fall, but I see nothing but great things ahead for Anaal Nathrakh! -DL

22. Horrendous – Idol (Season of Mist)

Philly’s upstart Old School Death Metal quartet, have kept fans waiting three years for the follow-up to their brutally stunning third effort, 2015’s Anereta. Most fans will quickly unite in agreement that Idol is easily the band’s strongest effort to date, which is pretty significant praise. Idol continues to demonstrate the band’s notable songwriting growth. This record showcases more progressive threads woven within its brutal textures and revels in performances awash in complex intricacies which still maintain a surprising organic cohesiveness. Guitarists Matt Knox and Damian Herring are quickly making a name for themselves for their diabolical dual fretwork. In the band’s short career, Horrendous has managed to take the raw promise of its retro 2012 debut, The Chills, and make bold strides in fusing its humble Death honorarium with a modern progressive confidence few of their more learned contemporaries can muster. Idol is grotesquely beautiful. -RR

21. Hyvmine – Earthquake (Seek and Strike)

Earthquake is the debut release from Hyvmine, released in January, and saw the band coming out of the gates in a fury! Comprised of a few tunes from founder Al Joseph‘s instrumental solo record, Earthquake saw Joseph putting vocals to his tunes to give them a new feel and look. Personally I think it was a smart decision because it opened the door to a lucratively creative project. This debut album packages clever progressive writing with engaging emotive vocals delivering a playlist of songs that span the listener spectrum. Prog fans can feast on the time signatures underneath the kickass riffs, lovers of a well written song can enjoy the structure and execution, while the layman listener can sing along to Joseph’s infectious vocal lines. It is an encompassing package that will satisfy music lovers of all types. Hyvmine had a solid year in 2018 with this debut release followed up by their exceptional three track EP, Fight or Flight (released in July), and topped off with the release of another fresh single, Retaliation, that came out before the year’s end. Perhaps one of the hardest working bands this year in terms of product output and quality. Every sonic gift they gave this year remains in heavy, and I mean heavy, rotation in my world, and they remain the band I am most excited to continue following from here on in. For me, 2018 was the year of the Hyvmine!! -DW

A Sound of ThunderAlien WeaponryAll That RemainsAmorphisAnaal NathrakhAvatarBehemothBest of 2018Between the Buried and MeBoss KeloidBurning WitchesClutchCorrosion Of ConformityDaughtersDee SniderDire PerilGhostGraveshadowHakenHigh On FireHoly GroveHorrendousHYVMINEIcarus WitchImmortalJudas PriestJungle RotKhemmisManimalMetal ChurchMichael RomeoMike Lepond's Silent AssassinsObscuraOh.Pale DivinePig DestroyerRivers of NihilSaxonSleepSlugdgeSoulflyTribulationUncle Acid and the DeadbeatsVeinVisigothVOIVODWitch mountainWitherfallYOB
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