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Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier's Top Ten Albums of 2018.

Added 21 December 2018, 2:44 PM
Author:

Isn’t every year a good one for Metal?  Of course but even among them, 2018 has stood out.  I’m in my third year of being a reviewer at Metal Temple thus this my third top 10….and it was harder than the previous two years to pick a top ten.  It wasn’t this way because of a dry spell for music….it was a flood of music.  I spent months coming up with this list—indeed, with each great release my list would change.  I eventually made my top 10 and stuck with it, no matter what else I heard.  I wanted to change it many times but…at some point you have to stop.  So this is it: my top 10 Metal Albums of 2018.  Please note, my number one is definitely the best of the year but after that there isn’t any real order.
 
 
No. 10:

Band:  Oubliette
Album: The Passage
Genre: Melodic/Atmospheric Black Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2011
Record Label:  The Artisan Era

OUBLIETTE and their second full length album ,”The Passage,” is a stirring example of how to make Black Metal break the confines of its limitations while still carrying that blackened spark that made it so special in the first place. “The Passage,” is chocked full of many moments where the band turns on a dime to mix up their aggression or approach.  All the elements in play with all the instruments are a constant force of perpetual motion that enables the album to be played straight thru without a moment of boredom creeping in.


 
 
No. 9:

Band:  Solstice
Album: White Horse Hill
Genre: Doom

General Information:

Year of Formation: 1990
Record Label:  Independent

There is a lot going on in this album so its hard to really describe them…they definitely have a sound all their own.  Although Doom owes everything to bands like BLACK SABBATH, PENTAGRAM, CANDLEMASS, TROUBLE, MY DYING BRIDE, and KATATONIA, these Englishmen really don’t sound like any particular type or era of Doom.  Rather, they pull from each style of a variety that often goes unnoticed to most.  Their guitarists WALKER and WHITTAKER really lay down riff filled songs and melodies that are so grandiose that I found myself humming along to them and trying to “sing” them.


 
 
No. 8:

Band: Sacral Rage
Album:  Beyond Celestial Echoes
Genre:  Power/Speed/Traditional Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2011
Record Label:  Cruz del Sur Music

The overall package is indeed chocked full of different elements but the band plays with such fervor and cohesiveness that the ride never fills forced or bloated.  It is definitely a lot more adventurous than your average thrash album and definitely not as narrowed minded.  Simply put, there is a lot of music here to listen to with plenty of hooks, nooks, and crannies to bring you back for another listen for a long time. Each song presented can go from break neck speed, to melodic moments, and even to some progressive elements. No matter what direction the songs go into, there is an energy here that I haven’t heard in some time and it is always full speed ahead.


 

No. 7:

Band:  The Crown
Album:  Cobra Speed Venom
Genre: Death/Thrash

General Information:

Year of Formation:  1990
Record Label:  Metal Blade Records

I’m happy to report that “Cobra Speed Venom,” not only brings back the whiplash but it also their best since 2000’s classic “Deathrace King.” The boys don’t have a bad album under their belt but this is their most urgent mix of Death and Thrash in some time.  With “Cobra Speed Venom,” THE CROWN have crafted a cleverly written, superbly played everlasting ode to all that is brutal, evil, and dark in Metal.  It is a statement that they are better than ever and will not thrash quietly into the night.



No. 6:

Band:  Omnium Gatherum
Album:  The Burning Cold
Genre: Melodic Death

General Information:

Year of Formation: 1996
Record Label: Century Media Records


Eight albums into their career and these Finnish Melodic Death giants have no idea what the phrase, “law of diminishing returns,” means.  With “The Burning Cold,” they build and extend their sound into a new era without compromising their stellar combination of hard-hitting metal and moments of sheer melodic beauty.


 
 
No. 5:

Band:  Assumption
Album: Absconditus
Genre:  Death/Doom

General Information:

Year of Formation:  2011
Record Label:  Everlasting Spew Records

Absconditus,” is a special album for a special segment of Doom Metal fans.  Even within the realm of the most slow, dark, and heavy Doom, this album still stands out as being even further away from the mainstream. The overall atmosphere is made up of wonderful crushing despair contained withing long songs that, while slow to burn, do ignite into a forsaken Doom sound not of this world, featuring long spacey filled clean guitar, flutes, and some strange keys/synth that bring about a second heavy layer on top of the crushing guitars and vocals.


 
 
No. 4:

Band: Vessel of Light
Album: Woodshed
Genre: Doom

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2017
Record Label:  Argonauta Records

Everything about their EP has been expanded and raised up quite a few notches. Opposition and Lorenzo  have really grown as an exciting song writing duo; despite the fact their other bands/projects don’t sound anything alike, the two have found common ground on this violent and dark Doom Metal release. VESSEL OF LIGHT’s “Woodshed” is an album that envelopes the listener in a world ruled by two guys who have honed their song writing prowess to a very sharp point.  Not only did they avoid the so called “sophomore slump” but have raised the bar for themselves and modern day Traditional Doom Metal.


 
 
 No. 3:

Band: Serocs
Album:  The Phobos/Deimos Suite
Genre: Technical Death Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation:  2009
Record Label: Everlasting Spew Records

This album is without a doubt the most insane Death Metal album I’ve heard this year. Still, the album is surprising in its ferocity and uncompromising approach to an audible mental hell, much of what the lyrical content centers on. SEROC’s approach to modern day Tech Day is so refreshing to my ears; the album focus on telling the story through not only the lyrics but the music itself, giving the atmosphere a focus that, instead of subduing the craziness, actually gives it room to grow.  In the end, SEROC’s fourth album “The Phobos/Deimos Suite,” is a near perfect representation of Tech Death and is quite the trip into insanity’s requiem.


 
 
 No. 2:

Band:  Construct Of Lethe
Album: Exiler
Genre: Death Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation:  2010
Record Label: Everlasting Spew Records

Exiler” is an album that is built upon a punishing foundation of Death Metal that expands and grows.  The atmosphere of this album is incredible, due in no large part to the impeccable production.  The album sounds like the soundtrack to the apocalypse; the riffs, the bass, drums, and the overall tone of the punishing Death Metal contained within is harrowing.  Even with such an arresting piece of music, the band still displays song writing at an extremely intelligent level; this is definitely thinking man’s Death Metal.  Just when you think you have it figured out, they throw a wrench into the works; the music conjures up images from the depth of my imagination until everything is just one big fluid movement of inner struggles and Hell itself, perceived or otherwise.  If I made a Top 10 Death Metal album of 2018 list, this one would be at number one, no question.


 
 
No. 1:

Band: Amorphis
Album: Queen Of Time
Genre:  Melodic Death/Folk/Prog

General Information:

Year of Formation:  1990
Record Label: Nuclear Blast

My favorite album of the year should come as no surprise, as I’m sure it has made many a best of list from other sources.  As one would expect from their name, this album sounds different than what came before but it still pulls in elements from their entire career; as such it is not only the best album of the year but also the most varied and dynamic. AMORPHIS maybe almost 30 years into their career but they have proven that old dogs can definitely learn new tricks.  Simply put, “Queen Of Time” is a modern day Metal masterpiece that cannot be missed.

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