Slugdge

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 2017 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

Like Summer 2018 Music to Your Ears playlist + Music Quickies

Like usual in the summertime I have not looked out for that much new music but focused on… Just summer I guess. I dunno where it went. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been new tracks on my playlist. Not all of the chosen music is summery, in fact most isn’t. Instead of idiotic hip summer music, the playlist has plain really fucking good tracks.

Metals of summer 2018

-6122529-1411671592-2798At The Gates published their new album To Drink From The Night Itself in 2018. It’s a pretty good effort with some memorable tracks (To Drink From The Night Itself, In Nameless Sleep, The Mirror Black) but most of all it made me retry their previous album At War With Reality (2014). Somehow I had skipped it altogether and it proved to be a mistake, it’s an extremely solid melodic death metal album that only loses a bit of punch by the end. And I don’t get excited about melodic death metal easily. Circular Ruins has a grandiose last half, great chorus, lovely guitar harmonies and fierce vocals (even the Crawling Chaos from H.P. Lovecraft gets a mention), what’s not to like.


Slugdge-Esoteric-Malacology-e1519751375282Slugdge – Spectral Burrows. Esoteric Malacology is probably my favourite album of 2018 so far. Cosmic progressive death metal with a gimmicky lyric theme, that does not reflect to the overall quality of the music. How the hell a band that sings about snails makes lyrics and music this good.

 



R-10663576-1501951371-9132.jpegMagoth – Requiem Deus (Anti Terrestrial Black Metal, 2017). So, there’s these rare songs that starts with a chorus. Really untypical but you find them sometimes. Requiem Deus is one of those but on top of that, the chorus is instrumental! That’s even rarer I guess! The basis is a strong as shit tremolo melody. I bet a lot of black metal bands could have composed this tremolo but how the track is arranged brings so much more power to it.


R-12160526-1529516094-5694.jpegCraft‘s 2018 album White Noise and Black Metal does not seem to be as strong as Void (2011), but Void was ridiculously good. Cosmic Sphere Falls is right there among the best tracks of Craft’s career. Summer and black metal baby.

 

 


102919-awakeningAsunojokei – Spring of Passion (Awakening, 2018). Combining black metal, post-hardcore and Japanese anime music melodies. How can it not fail? Asunojokei’s compositions sound so logical that on paper they sound much more weird than what they actually sound!

 


homeland

My Reflection – Homeland (single, 2018) Out of the blue My Reflection published the best song of their career. Extremely symphonic melodic metal with a graceful music video that was shot in a time span of one year to portray Finnish nature and the seasons. The track celebrates the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence. Homeland should satisfy the fans of bands like Wintersun and Nightwish. The 2 minute intro already cuts the mustard and it warms my heart that the soaring female vocals are paired with strongly grunted, black metallish rasp and some good ol’ blast beating sections. I also just published a short article about the track: https://likemusictoyourears.com/2018/08/10/my-reflection-homeland-epic-symphonic-melodic-metal/


leprousLeprous – Stuck (Malina, 2017). Leprous gig in Tuska was among the best of the festival. The band looks like school boys and at best sounds like jazz musicians doing their impression of catchy progressive metal. The weird drumming style and lots of rhythmic hooks have drawn me quite in to their style. The last 1.5 minutes of rhythmics on Stuck are such a bliss.

 


doomedDoomed – Our Gifts (6 Anti-Odes to Life, 2018). Death/doom. Strong album that might lack a bit of high-points but the overall quality makes up for it. Especially The Doors and Our Gifts are high class atmospheric death-doom tracks. Strangely the tacit and slow instrumental Layers (Ode To Life) has been playing in my head after waking up, I guess it’s beautiful enough. As a satisfyingly logical detail, it is also the 7th track of the record!

 


Meshuggah_-_The_Violent_Sleep_of_Reason

Meshuggah – By The Ton (Violent Sleep of Reason, 2016). Another high point of Tuska 2018. The rhythmic majesty combined with the supreme light-show at times induced a catharsis. For example the title track of the record had a super satisfying effect of white lights going down on rhythm and speed with huge downward slides of one of the central riffs (first appearing at 0:34). By focusing on the lights they brought a completely new visual rhythm element to the show. By The Ton is still my favourite track of the record.


Electronics of summer 2018

a0487580087_10Slipdrive – Nova Byzantium a Thousand Spires of Light (River of Heaven OST, 2014). A complete random find from a soundtrack of a pen an paper roleplaying game I’ve never played and probably never will. The soundtrack is lovely sci-fi-game music-chillout-electro. Nova Byzantium and The Coming Renunciation seem to launch the listener straight into space.

 


42084Vector Lovers – Monologue (iPhonica, 2013). Music that sounds like you were on drugs. Sounds that seem to come from an other dimension in surprising relaxing symmetry. Such weird sensations and damn if I like it!

 

 


glanko orvotGlanko – Orvot (single, 2018). Glanko’s progressive sci-fi IDM or what the heck it is always activates my synapses. Chillout electronic track with really strong astral spacey vibes. Ideal for watching a spacestation move slowly with a small beam drive, multicoloured star rings and nebulas shining around it.

 


Finnish music of summer 2018 (sad list)

R-12137234-1529049213-7911.jpegPaperi T – Muutos (Kaikki on hyvin, 2018). My mainstream sin. The flow and sound of Paperi-T’s vocals and the cunning punning lyrics are a joy to listen. Even though his darker compositions and lyrics seem to be in the past, when Paperi-T is at his darkest that’s when I enjoy him the most. One of those lyricists that makes you want to google what the hell he is singing about but can also surprise with straight-forward lines and stories. New album is quite uneven but has a really good starting trinity.