I consider myself immensely lucky to be able to be my own boss and run my own business. One of the biggest perks for me is being able to play whatever music I want, whenever I want, as loud as I want. I have been afforded the luxury of being able to stay relatively in-touch with new music coming out, and for that I feel blessed. I am a huge fan of music and take great pleasure in being able to distill down everything I have listened to into one list at the end of the year. However, don’t interpret this as my ‘rating’ of other people’s art. This list is in no particular order. These albums all carried me through different things, they made me feel certain feelings, and I consider these following 15 choices to all be albums that I had special moments with throughout 2018. I would encourage you to check them out and see if any of them resonate with you as well.
This album most definitely got the most spins outta me this year. A politically and sexually charged tour de force that screams “I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR” at you from every possible angle. A powerful soundtrack to 2018, and an album that I believe will go down in history for its unapologetic narrative of our current socio-political landscape. They way that Janelle Monáe jumps from being a smooth R&B queen to a hip/hop rhyme machine seemingly in one breath is absolutely astounding. A perfect 10 from top to bottom.
There was a few years back there where a handful of metalcore bands were trying to ignite the Nü Metal revival. No one could quite get it right. No one had the magic touch. Well, worry no more, because Cane Hill came along on their second release “Too Far Gone” and not only did they master it - they did Nü Metal better than most Nü Metal bands of the genre’s heyday did Nü Metal. Blending aspects of 90’s grunge like Alice In Chains, but with riffs with the power of Slipknot, It’s safe to say that Cane Hill have solidified themselves leaders of new frontier.
The 1975 are a band that has so eloquently perfected the balance between keeping the original fans happy, but also growing, developing, and never becoming stale. On their third album “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships” you’ll hear a perfect example of that growth across a hefty 15 tracks that never gets old too soon. Merging their signature 80’s pop, with laid back Jazz, modern Bon Iver-esque experimentation, and even a peppering of true electronica, The 1975 has reaffirmed the fact that they can essentially do no wrong.
Following the tragic passing of their guitarist Tom Searle, Architects have put together an absolute masterpiece of an emotional metalcore record. You can hear the pain and agony in each note, each scream, and each strike of the snare. If you use music for therapy and catharsis for your pain, then consider “Holy Hell” the cure. It’ll fix whatever ails you.
I discovered Ghost a bit late in the game. “Rats” was the song that made my ears tune in. I backtracked this year and listened to all their past albums and can say they have easily become one of my favourites. “Prequelle” is an epic piece of metal/rock/pop that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. It’s a perfect introduction to this new era of Ghost.
This album took some time for me. I have always loved A Perfect Circle, and essentially anything that Maynard touches. I’m a fan boy through and through, but “Eat The Elephant” was a journey to say the least. It was only months after it’s release that I fully realized it’s genius. I now consider it one of A Perfect Circle’s best releases next to their debut “Mer Des Noms”.
This album teleported me back to the early millennium when I was listening to bands like Spitalfield, Taking Back Sunday, and the first Brand New album. Real Friends have put together an awesome collection of songs that will scratch that emo/pop itch you’ve been unable to reach until now.
I am a 34 year old man, and when I listened to this record I thought “I better hide this one from my parents”…Then I remembered they don’t monitor my music like they did when I was a little kid, trying to sneak metal albums into the house. This record is the most crushing 28 minutes you will probably ever experience. Chaotic, but so masterfully put together. Vein turn chaos into charm.
The boys in Living With Lions took their time with releasing “Island” and for a good reason. This album is absolutely fucking littered with hooks. If you told me someone held a gun to their heads and said “write the best pop punk songs I’ve ever heard” I’d believe you - because Living With Lions delivered that and more with a top shelf album that you won’t be able to help but sing along to.
Take Fleet Foxes and Ray LaMontagne and put them in a room with Mastodon and maybe…uh…Behemoth, and then ask them to make a record. That is the best description I can give Zeal & Ardor. But even then, I don’t even know. I cannot explain this album to you - but what I can do is tell you to go listen to it right this second.
One of my favourite things in the entirety of heavy music is when a band comes along that takes a weird risk and makes something new out of existing ingredients. Obviously, Rivers of Nihil are not the first to use brass instruments in death metal, but the way that they did is such a thrill to my ears. There are so many peaks and valleys and interesting experiments on “Where Owls Know My Name” that it was impossible to not include it on this list. Check out “This Silent Life” for a surprise Saxophone.
On “Love Is Dead” Chvrches play it safe. It is a near perfect extension of what we heard on their last release “Every Open Eye”, and that’s a damn good thing too, because that means they have put out another set of perfectly executed pop songs. Chvrches have an innate ability to write hooks that end up stuck in your head for days on end.
This record hit me like a ton of bricks. I grew up listening to Underoath, as they were a Mom & Dad Approved™ metal band. As I grew up, I distanced myself from the church and blotted out the brainwashing I had endured from so-called spiritual leaders. Fast forward to 2016 at an Underoath show in Seattle and Spencer drops an “F-Bomb” on stage. I felt so happy for them in that moment. It was like seeing people I grew up with break through the ceiling and be true to themselves. No more fakery. This album is their truth, and you can hear it in the passionate delivery of each note.
There are very few albums that put me into a trance. This is definitely one of them. I found myself putting on this album and letting it spin on repeat for entire work days. That happened multiple times throughout the year. It literally carried me away. Beach House have created an expansive soundscape without getting too convoluted or bloated. “7” is a solid record filled with the type of sounds you only hear in your dreams when you’re off in another universe travelling among stars. Loaded with layered vocals and experimental textures that make every note wrap around your head like a warm blanket.
Sevendust have been a band for roughly 25 years, and have somehow been able to stay disgustingly heavy and absurdly melodic and catchy. I firmly believe that they are one of the most underrated bands in heavy music today that deserve a lot more attention and credit than they get. Lead vocalist, Lajon Witherspoon writes melody lines like they are going out of style. Mixed with the pummelling guitars and thundering drums, Sevendust are absolute masters of their craft.