Haken

Best albums and tracks of 2018

The best albums of 2018 contains about 80 albums that I listened enough to warrant them a place in this list. Scroll further down for the best tracks as a Spotify playlist and a few pickups that I missed in 2017. Hyperlinks lead to reviews.


Best albums of 2018

Excellent (9)

Summoning — With Doom We Come – symphonic epic doom metal

Ancestors — Suspended in Reflections – doom metal / psychedelic rock

Orphaned Land — Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs oriental progressive metal

Hamferð — Támsins Likam doom metal / death doom


Excellent- (9-)

Gorod — Aethra progressive/technical death metal

Slugdge —  Esoteric Malacology – technical death metal – the beginning trilogy is 10/10, among absolute best tracks of the year but unfortunately the rest of the album is only good.


Very good (8½)

Kallomäki — Roka Ukridark folk metal

Haken — Vector progressive metal

Lik — Carnage – oldschool death metal


Very good 8+

Warrel Dane — Shadow Workprogressive metal / groove metal

Doomed — 6 Anti-Odes to Lifedeathdoom metal

Stam1na — Taival – progressive metal / thrash metal

Sigh — Heir To Despair – progressive metal / avant-garde metal

Snarg — Snarg II – hardcore punk / nintendo rock

Howling void / Nyss Splitdoom metal / black metal

The Ocean — Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic – progressive metal / post metal

King Goat — Debt of Aeons doom metal


Good (8)

Asunojokei — Awakening black metal, post-hardcore and Japanese anime music

Muuan Mies — Elämmekö Unessa? – Finnish indie pop with reggae and rap influences

Hollywood Burns — Invaders synthwave – When Carpenter Brut started going soft, Hollywood Burns composed this joyous hard-hitting synthwave extravaganza. It is not the most original of albums, but the quality of the tracks is high. This is the year I also ran through nearly all Perturbator albums, but Hollywood Burns overtook them all.

Thy Catafalque — Geometriaprogressive metal / avant-garde metal/rock

Xenoverse — The Fall: Part I – progressive metal/rock

Eleanoora Rosenholm — Talvipalatsin puutarhassa – Finnish experimental indie pop

The Eternal — Waiting for the Endless Dawndoom metal / melodic metal

Kovaa Rasvaa — Pahan vaimon käsikirjahardcore punk / chaotic hardcore / metalcore

Sol Invictus — Necropolisneofolk

A Forest of Stars — Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakesavant-garde black metal

Ultha — The Inextricable Wanderingatmospheric black metal

Craft — White Noise and Black Metalblack metal – Craft is one of the most original black metal bands today, great mixture of black metal, doom and depressive tones. I particularly love the guitarists unique style but also the way the bass stands up. Just not enough killer tracks, unfortunately.

Cosmic Church — Täyttymys – black metal

Tribulation — Down Belowblackened occult metal/rock

Slægt — The Wheel Blackened occult heavy metal – initial disappointment wore off and The Wheel turned out to be a fine release, albeit I’m missing the black metal hues of the past that Being Born (Is Going Blind) still successfully employs.

Heptaedium — A M E N – breakcore


Good (8-)

Magoth — Zeitgeist: Dystopia – black metal

Jpegmafia — Veteran experimental noise rap

Omnium Gatherum — The Burning Cold – melodic death metal

At the Gates — To Drink from the Night Itself – melodic death metal

Radien — Syvyys – sludge / doom metal

Iglooghost — Clear Tamei EPIDM, trip-hop / wonky, breakcore, dubstep / maximalist 

Cryptopsy — The Book of Suffering – Tome II brutal/technical death metal

Barren Earth — A Complex of Cagesprogressive (death) metal

Amorphis — Queen Of Time – melodic metal – The c part of Golden Elk sounds like it could have been composed by Orphaned Land lads themselves, and hey some folk from the band are guesting on the album, so maybe it is! Quite a few nice symphonic touches on the album that really resemble Orphaned land, a good thing, their album is one of the best of 2018 after all. Sometimes I feel Queen of Time is a 8+ album and others sounds like another boring Tomi Joutsen era Amorphis album (7), so I settled somewhere in between.

Valkyrja — Throne Ablazeblack metal

Primordial — Exile Amongst the Ruinsheavy metal / doom metal

Converge — Beautiful Ruin – chaotic hardcore/metalcore – fierce and short, as much as I like EP’s under 7 minutes is so little. Always listening it twice helps.

Voices — Frightenedblackened melodic metal with progressive and death metal twists – Footsteps is an absolute anthem.

Rivers of Nihil — Where Owls Know My Name – technical death metal – Starts really solidly, but soon it becomes apparent that while Where Owls Know My Name is technically really solid it often reduces to chugging around with spacey melodies. I’ve heard this before.

Paperi T — Kaikki on hyvinFinnish indie rap

Mogwai — KIN – post rock – good relaxing background music but lacks a bit of memorability and louder songs.


Good- 7½

Hegemone — We Disappear atmospheric black metal – Similar to Ultha but there’s even more inextricable musical wandering in the tracks. Condensing would be most welcome, Mara, Raising Barrows and Tengri have a lot of good stuff going on in the end. In most cases it takes quite a few minutes of mediocre material to reach the blissful end. Raising Barrows is a good entity and the end of Tengri one of the best moments of the entire year.

Oneothrix Point Never — Age of – experimental mellowly fucked up electronic

Empty — Vaciodepressive black metal – Strangely hooking, might prove to get better with time.

Satan — Cruel Magic80s heavy metal – Usually would not be to my liking at all but Satan is at best great because of solid riffs and vocalists mean enough delivery. Nearly the lone exception in 80s heavy metal department. Atom By Atom (2015) was overall a more varied and solid release.

Iglooghost — Steel Mogu EP – IDM, trip-hop / wonky, breakcore, dubstep / maximalist 

Carpenter Brut — Leather teeth – synthwave

Alex Tiuniaev — The Escapist + Moon Quartetclassical pianist – I’ve never dug into classical elegant piano music, I guess The Escapist is an alright relaxing release of that sort. Moon Quartet is genuinely an enjoyable track with more luscious arrangements, violin etc.. It is not from the short The Escapist EP, but it is a perfect addon to the end. I will certainly keep my eye open for more Moon Quartet like material.

Kriegsmaschine — Apocalypticists black metal


Okay+ (7+)

Mournful Congregation — The Incubus of Karmafuneral doom metal – could grow to be better, about 10 listens did not still unearth this giant. Unlike usually, I liked it more in the first listens, good album straight from the start.

Panssarijuna — Voiko tähän kuolla – Finnish indie rock / trauma blues – the trauma blues elements are considerably less prominent and the album is more polished than before.

Sea of Poppies — Sea of Poppies experimental harsh noise / analogue

The Howling Void — The Darkness at the Edge of Dawnmelancholic doom metal

Behemoth — I Loved You At Your Darkestblack metal / blackened death metal

Machine Girl — The Ugly Art – Electro / industrial / chiptune / darkstep / Metalcore / indie / IDM –  There’s so much different stuff but somehow all fit under Machine Girl’s output (I did not even mention the occasional hardcore punk vibes or rave/psytrance beats / glitchy stuff). It’s not an unclear album at all. I just wish it was better songwise and better sung. The post-hardcore-like screaming does not really appeal to me. A lot of aggression present, a rather enjoyable mindfuck with some really bright spots and constant variation. On some listens I can barely stand the album, on others I am absolutely entertained. Listeners who have a liking of post-hardcore or metalcore can easily enjoy it more then me.

Teksti-TV 666 — Aidattu tulevaisuus – Finnish post punk / noise rock / indie rock

Mörkö — Ulvova Tyhjyys – progressive/atmospheric/ black metal / electronic / ambient – I’ve always liked the weird side of Finnish black metal but Mörkö just keeps going all out ambient in the tracks. Especially the latter half of album is almost only ambient. I almost gave the album a better grade for its sheer strangeness. Probably the most puzzling release of this year, has some strange magic I haven’t yet managed to grasp completely. I might understand the album better in 2 years. I’m actually looking for coming back to it later to see if it has grown. The beginning of Sikiäminen promises so much that on first listen I was ready to deem it among best albums of the year.


Okay (7)

Fireproven — Future Diary – progressive metal – Good live band but the album is too long and repetitive. There’s easily over 30 minutes of 8/10 material. Good amount of promise.

Hebosagil — Metsätie / JokiFinnish noise rock – Too pleasant, where’s the mud and dirt? I gotta say I quite enjoy the new clean guitar sound though.

Jukka Nousiainen — Ei enää kylmää eikä pimeää – Finnish retro 70s jytä/purkka rock/pop –  Pretty much everything is done the right way but it is not my thing. At worst such bright 70s poprock I’m glad I wasn’t yet born in that decade. But the meandering between quiet and noisier sections works delightfully, especially Aurinko paistaa romukasaan is a successful piece. Instrumentation is well played, some lyrics border great, some are quite naive, nicely airy sounds. I can imagine Jukka Nousiainen works well live, his other band Räjäyttäjät! definitely does.

Sarr — Ávitun – black metal –  3 track ep has a good title track, then it goes very repetitive and lo-fi with little ideas and a lot of length. Side-project of Nyss.

Makrofagi — Makrofagi – progressive rock/metal – In a world where Yup, Cmx or Absoluuttinen nollapiste didn’t exist, this’d be great. Technically good, atmospheric, even a quite original progressive weird rock/metal, just does not catch flight for reasons a bit unknown. All the sudden, a language change: liikaa hitaita biisejä, sanoituksiin on vaikea samaistua, aika pimeitä tarinoita. Jumalattaressa on hieno kertsi. Hyvä suomalainen häröilymusa lienee saturoinut korvani niin että vähempi kuin mestariteos ei kelpaa. Ne ovat aina liian lähellä EP:n Aavekaupunki on valitettavasti edelleen Makrofagin paras biisi.

Heptaedium — The Great Herald of Misery – djent / electronic


Okay- (6½)

There’d be significantly more albums here and below, but I didn’t see a reason to find albums I did not like to listen them again for a fair grade.

Sear Bliss — Letters From The Edgeatmospheric black metal – When another metal veteran Amorphis made their best record of the 2000s, Sear Bliss who has always delivered so far did the opposite.

Watain — Trident Wolf Eclipseblack metal – Sworn to the dark pt II, this time with a lot less soul.


6+

Therion — Beloved Antichristsymphonic heavy metal – Listening any of the 3 albums is quite pleasing, it is the entity with not enough substance or variety that is hard to fathom.


6

Ronski & Satanic — Täältä tullaan kuolema! – Finnish occult rap – Cool concept and a good idea. Should be my cup of tea but the most important, lyrics, instead of being deep and esoteric unfortunately are half interesting and half sound stupid. The single track is very good, at least.

Møl — Jordblackgaze – Professional, loudness war, serene, bright. Møl is making me understand why some people hate blackgaze.

Kalmah — Palomelodic death metal – I can find no burn of emotion here, just casual melodeath with extremely generic melodies. I liked every Kalmah album before this. Stalker is a decent piece of a track though.

Necrophobic — Mark of the Necrogramblack metal – Mediocreness overload, it is actually hard to understand why I get no joy out of Mark of the Necrogram, I even liked it on the very first listens. Very professional record in all measurable variables.

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard / Slomatics splitdoom metal / sludge – There’s quality in here, I reckon there’s a lot of people who might enjoy this kind of slightly psychedelic, slightly stoner, slightly oldschoolish sludge doom similar to Ufomammut. I don’t. Perhaps the riffs fail to find my connection or perhaps they really are generic.


5

Khôrada — Saltprogressive metal –  There’s no way I’m listening this mess more than 1 time if it’s not a side-project of Agalloch. What a letdown. Vocals are close to incessant wailing and the song-writing is a mess. If given enough time, it might grow to be a bad album instead of very bad. I guess John Haughm was the visionary of Agalloch after all. I genuinely hope that Khôrada picks it up later, in paper they have a lot of talent.


Some albums I checked out artificially but I didn’t have enough time to properly listen them

KivirantaGammasäde
KivirantaDolce Vita
ÖverFacing Trancendence
Anaal NathrakhA New Kind of Horror
Jarkko MartikainenAina Auki
VolaApplause Of A Distant Crowd
SerocsThe Phobos​/​Deimos Suite
The Beast of NodVampira: Disciple of Chaos
Hiidenhauta1695
Thomas Erak and The Shoreline — The Whole Story
Perfect BeingsVier
W.A.I.L. Wisdom Through Agony into Illumination and Lunacy vol. II – the most demanding album this year, after over 5 listens I am still unable to place this monstrous doom slab anywhere.


Best tracks of 2018

Best tracks arranged to a playlist in quite random order.


Bubbling under

Brilliant tracks just below the first category. Except on a good day…


2017 flashback

albums from 2017 that I found out too late to make it into last year’s top list.

9+

Iglooghost — Neō Wax Bloom – IDM, trip-hop / wonky, breakcore, dubstep

9-

King Gizzard — Murder of the Universe – progressive rock / garage rock – the darkest, weirdest and most progressive of 2017 King Gizzard albums, making it the best one.

Aether Realm — Tarot melodic death metal
Caligula’s Horse — In Contactprogressive metal – Songs for No One jumped straight into my best progressive metal tracks of all time list.
Lauren Bousfield — Fire Songs – experimental idm / breakcore
Camerata Mediolanense — Le Vergini Folli – neoclassical

8+

Magoth — Anti Terrestial Black Metal – black metal

8

Perturbator — New Modelsynthwave
Aivovuoto — Dötöx Finnish rap
Saimaa — Urheilu-Suomi
– progressive rock for sportsmen
King Gizzard — Polygondwanaland – garage rock – 5 albums released 2017 and all of them quality! Polygondwanaland is a complete free download too. Not only that but it was released with a statement “This album is FREE. Free as in, free. Free to download and if you wish, free to make copies. Make tapes, make CD’s, make records.” There’s 234 different versions to date! Growth from 2017’s is 74! I also made a best of 2017 collection which I will publish later.
King Gizzard — Sketches of Brunswick East – garage rock

8-

Venenum — Trance of Death – death metal
Leprous — Malina – progressive rock / progressive metal
Earth Electric — Solar, Vol. 1 – heavy metal / doom metal / progressive
Mustan Kuun Lapset — Saatto
– dark metal

7+

Black Dahlia Murder — Nightbringers – melodic death metal

Anathema — The Optimist – post rock / alaternative rock – Anathema’s albums nearly always have individual great tracks, here it’s Endless Ways.


OK 2007 albums I didn’t listen enough, but there were some potential

Angerfist — Creed of Chaos
Insurgency — Militant Death Cult
nishaiar — UNIVERSUM
Light of the Morning star — Nocta
Mogwai — Every Country’s Sun
Resurgency — No Worlds…Nor Gods Beyond
Deserted Fear — Dead Shores Rising
Ghost — Prequelle

Haken – The Good Doctor

Is this a good single or what! Haken’s last three releases Affinity (2016), Restoration (2014) and The Mountain (2013) are among the very best progressive metal/rock releases of the 2000s. Haken is about to release a new album Vector October 26th. First single The Good Doctor really ups the expectations.

 

Riff driven, memorable melodies, funky bass groove… Haken is a multifaceted band but I’m glad they are embracing their riff driven metal side. The musical theatrics of Crystallised and Cockroach King, occasional worship of Dream Theater or 80s prog rock of Affinity is not on the forefront. Rhythmic mid-part reminds quite a lot of one of their killer tracks In Memoriam from The Mountain. It’s still pretty damn neat. The way it flows seamlessly back to now heavier double-kicking bridge that leads to chorus really makes sparks fly inside my mind.

Two of the best progressive metal bands at the moment are Haken and Vektor. Therefore I do not think it is coincidence that Hakens new album will be named Vector. The title of Vektor’s next album is still unannounced, but I bet it will be called Hacen!

Best albums and tracks of 2016

Also known as what new releases I happened to listen in a limited timespan of one year.

Last year I realized I’m not too old yet as many an album caused childlike enthusiasm. In the early 2016 it was mostly blasts from 2015 (Wilderun!) but as the year went on, 2016 unveiled a good amount of solid material. 2015 had higher peaks but 2016 did have its share of killers with a strong base level. As proven by 2015 reprise list that you can find on the bottom of this text, many of the best albums are going to be unveiled only later.


Best albums of 2016

Vektor — Terminal Redux – progressive sci-fi thrash metal – Vektor’s hyped 2016 release is astronomically progressive metal. Vektor was the best modern thrash metal band for years, it is about time for them to get recognition. For an album that sates and mildly bores the listener while delivering killer tracks (Pteropticon, Psychotrophia, Pillars of Sand) a bit over midway, it is astonishingly good but would be more enjoyable shorter. The last two tracks, Collapse and Recharging the Void manage to uplift the album to great heights again with surprising twists. It’s really not a better or worse album than their previous efforts but ridiculously good and full of everything tasty. 

Katatonia — The Fall of Heartsprogressive melancholic rock/metal – Some outerworldly charm with heartbreaking atmosphere. Drags time to time yet still wrenches heartstrings every minute. Passer‘s descending scale should be obnoxious yet it is genuinely alluring. How on earth did they make it work. I did not expect this at all, what a comeback.

Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik’s Skuggsjá: A Piece for Mind & Mirrorfolk / folk metal – A project by Enslaved and Wardruna veterans, which may run below radar cause of it’s eccentric name that sounds like artsy folk music. In a lot of ways Skuggsja sounds more like folk with metal elements than the other way around. Though even the folkier tracks often have a heavy backbone that owes to metal and makes these two elements come together naturally. Stunning.


Excellent (9-)

jumalten_aika

Moonsorrow — Jumalten Aika – folk metal / black metal


Very good (8½)

Panssarijuna — Nyt Sattuu – trauma blues / rock

Omnium Gatherum — Grey HeavensWhen rather basic melodeath manages to excite me like Grey Heavens does, it’s worth a lot of points.

The Wounded Kings — Visions In Bonedoom metal


Good+ (8+)

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard — Nonagon Infinity – psychedelic rock / garage rock

Fleshgod Apocalypse — King – symphonic metal / neoclassical death metal

Oneohtrix Point Never — Garden of Deleteelectronic / experimental / IDM – Probably an album I was most excited about cause it’s such a fresh kick in the eardrums (I just found out it’s a November 2015 release but what the hell, it was an important album for me last year).

Haken — Affinityprogressive rock – Some of the best moments of 2016 but also completely lackluster tracks. Their 2013 record The Mountain which I also found this year would be up there among the best albums of the year.

Whispered — Metsutan – Songs Of The Void – Japan influenced melodic death metal 

Behexen — The Poisonous Path – black metal


Good (8ish)

Paradox — Pangea – oldschool thrash metal

Blaakyum — Line of Fear – thrash metal

King Goat — Conduit doom metal / heavy metal

Myrath — Legacy – progressive rock / metal

Anaal Nathrakh — The Whole of the Law – grindcore, black metal

Hebosagil — Lohtu – noise rock / post-metal / sludge

Tähtiportti — Eetterimessu EBM

If These Trees Could Talk — The Bones of a Dying World post-rock

Dark Lunacy — The Rain After The Snow melancholic melodic death metal

Trees of Eternity — The Hour of The Nightingale – atmospheric doom metal

Oranssi Pazuzu — Värähtelijäpsychedelic black metal – I wanted this to be the best album of the year but unfortunately it’s the worst in Pazuzu’s discography. Another of my personal hype albums with Vektor. Vektor delivered, Pazuzu sort of. It does have about 50 mins of solid material but there’s an extra 20 mins  on top.


We’re still good (7½)

Alcest — Kodama – blackgaze

Vola — Inmazes – djent / progressive rock

Mogwai — Atomic – post-rock

The Dillinger Escape Plan — Dissociation – progressive metal / mathcore / metalcore

Riutta — Sinun Täytyy Elää Vielä Kerran – progressive rock / indie rock

Sulphur — Omens of Doom – black metal


Okay (7ish)

Hanging Garden — Hereafter – melancholic rock / doom metal

Obscura — Akróasis – progressive metal

Glanko — Isometrik – downtempo / ambient / IDM

Wöljager — Van’t Liëwen un Stiäwen – neofolk

Insomnium — Winter’s Gatemelancholic melodic death metal – It was supposed to finally be a great album after all the pretty good melodeath they’ve done of late, repeating the same formula that drew so much blood in their early albums. In the end it’s just pretty good melodeath again with some quite stunning moments.

Be’lakor — Vesselsmelancholic progressive melodic death metal – Alike Insomnium, in theory Vessels is a really good album but there’s something bothering me. Maybe it’s the production that lacks danger, or the sounds that remind of Insomnium too much.


Okay- (6½)

Most 6ish albums I didnt listen enough and/or simply forgot about but these ones got a chance. None of them are bad but I’ve already heard similar stuff done way better or they elude my musical preferences.

KYPCK — 3epo – Doom metal

Reptilian — Perennial Void Traverse – Death metal


Oh well… (6ish)

Devin Townsend Project — Transcendence – progressive metal – I wanted to like Transcendence cause I dig Devin’s creative lunacy. However, Transcendence has an unbearable scent of virtues and purity. In a way it’s the opposite album to the chaotic nature of Deconstruction. Clean production, clean prog metal, fun for everyone. Not for me, I crave for some evil.

Spigu — Viimeinen papukaija – indie pop / country – Spigu’s first album from 2013 was one of the biggest surprises this year, if it was a 2016 release it would be on the very good category. Unfortunately Viimeinen Papukaija fell short. I don’t get the lyrics and the sprained bluegrass feel is replaced with compositions and themes so major key it doesn’t strike my positive nerve at all. At least the title track is a nice piece. I still haven’t lost hope on him.

Venetian Snares — Traditional Synthesizer Musicbreakcore / improvisational – My face when he finally… (makes an album that does not hold my interest).

Deathspell Omega — The Synarchy of Molten Bones – progressive black metal – Evil [x], atmospheric [x], virtuoso [x], good riffs [x], bad riffs [x], songwriting [-], thanks for coming see you next time. Even the dark lord must be thinking: “Man, these guys sure make worship hard for themselves, how about you just switch to a frigging goat sacrifice every now and then?”.


Best tracks of 2016

Haken – The Architect
Haken – Initiate
Oranssi Pazuzu – Hypnotisoitu Viharukous
Riutta – Valkoinen Kohina
Riutta – Lorenz
Hebosagil – Pian tämä kaikki on ohi
Oneohtrix Point Never – Animals
Katatonia – Residual
Katatonia – Passer
Trees of Eternity – Gallows Bird
Tähtiportti – Abraxas
Tähtiportti – Ihmeiden aika ei ole ohi
Vektor  – Mountains Above The Sun & Ultimate Artificer

Bubbling under

Brilliant tracks just below the first category. Except on a good day…

The Wounded Kings – Beast
Riutta – Pyhäjoki
Hebosagil – Peltirumpu
Oneohtrix Point Never – Sticky Drama
Alcest – Oiseaux De Proie
Moonsorrow – Mimisbrunn
If These Trees Could Talk – Swallowing Teeth
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – People-Vultures
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Road Train
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Evil Death Roll
Omnium Gatherum – Storm Front
Vola – The Same War
Mogwai – U235
Sulphur – The Force of Our Fall
Sulphur – Gathering Storms
Trees of Eternity – The Eye of The Night
Vektor – Collapse
Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik’s Skuggsjá – Tore Hund
Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik’s Skuggsjá  – Rop frå røynda / mælt frå minne
Whispered – Tsukiakari


2015 reprise

a bunch of really interesting 2015 releases found too late


10

Wilderun — Sleep at the Edge of the Earthprogressive symphonic folk metal – The best album since 2014, or perhaps even further

9ish
Lost Soul — Atlantis: The New Beginning – technical death metal
Lik — Mass Funeral Evocation oldschool death metal
Hanging Garden — Blackout Whiteout doom metal / melancholic rock


Genocide Shrines — Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil: Scriptures Of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder – death metal
Akrabu — Ziggurat Ascension – acoustic folk / ritual

8
Barren Earth — On Lonely Towers – progressive death metal / melodic death metal
Satan — Atom By Atom – heavy metal
Janne Westerlund — Marshland – folk / country
Batushka — Litourgiya – melodic black metal
Slægt — Beautiful and Damned – heavy metal / black metal
Ghost — Meliora – heavy metal / hard rock
Venetian Snares — Your Face (When I Finally) – breakcore


Downfall of Nur — Umbras de Barbagia – atmospheric black metal
Zuriaake — 孤雁 Gu Yan – atmospheric black metal