(NCS writer TheMadIsraeli turns in the following year-end list, consisting of 20 recommended albums.)
I made it a goal to get back to my old writing output on this site in 2018 and it just… didn’t happen. For good reason mind you, but I do feel somewhat guilty that I wasn’t more active on NCS this year, especially with the way Islander, Andy, and DGR ground the fuck out of their writing this year. Doesn’t mean I haven’t been involved in the back door of the site in ways, and I’ve definitely kept up with music this year pretty competently.
And so, I’m gonna share my top 20 of the year, and the just kind of ramble about my reflections on the music this year.
So, you’ll probably notice some oddly distinct patterns here. I listened to a lot of hyper-aggro death metal, a lot of more atmosphere-geared black metal, and a lot of very jazz-influenced/British-prog-rock-minded progressive metal of varying sorts. There’s a couple of exceptions.
Lucifer’s Child with The Order brought forth the very punchy-production, high-velocity riff-driven style of black metal I typically prefer, but bands like Sectorial, Craft, and Paara just knocked it out of the park this year. Atmospheric and progressive-minded black metal had a field day in 2018, I don’t think that can be argued. There were more such albums that would fit on this list if I did a top 50, but I didn’t feel like going that far.
Metalcore had a TERRIBLE year, though, and that’s really saddening to me. Comeback albums from both Unearth and Bleeding Through were enjoyable, yet disappointing. There’s definitely a sense of running out of steam setting in with these bands who are still around. Yes, The Agony Scene came crashing through the gates this year with Tormentor, but the hardcore side of The Agony Scene is obviously being, not phased out, but relegated to a complementary element on top of a blackened base. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the band moving even further in this direction in the future, because Tormentor is straight up the best record of their career.
Death metal, though, was the real MVP of 2018 in just about every regard. Whether it was the melodically morose Horizon Ablaze and Obscura, the caustic acidity of technical marvels such as Cryptopsy or Exocrine, or the primitive take-no-prisoners bludgeoning of Ayahuasca, Centaurus-A, or The Monolith Deathcult, you were the winner this year for sure if you liked death metal.
I also had a soft spot for some ’70s prog worship cheese. I’ll always be an unashamed slut for this stuff.
I’m excited to see what next year brings, with new Endolith, Misery Index, Oblivion, and Soilwork around the corner, off the top of my head. 2019 is already looking great.
See you all next year.
(Bandcamp links to the listed albums are below.)