(Here’s a Top 10 list for the year by NCS contributor Todd Manning.)
2018, a year of escalating violence, the collapse of logic, and the furthering fall of because. Can we even remember what happened from one week to the next? Narratives battle for your attention like two bikers stabbing each other with rusty screwdrivers. Is this the era Extreme Metal has always sought to narrate? I don’t know, but to paraphrase the Chinese proverb, we are cursed to live in interesting times. Here are the albums that made up my personal soundtrack.
- Imperial Triumphant – Vile Luxury
Perhaps no band captures the above sentiments better than Imperial Triumphant. Vile Luxury is one of the most harrowing listens I’ve encountered, fusing perplexing Blackened Death with also sorts of experimentation, old and new Jazz, and moments of pure sensory overload. This beast grabs the listener by the throat immediately, but can only be grasped after repeated listens.
- Horrendous – Idol
Horrendous are producing Death Metal at a level that rivals any genre classic — full stop. Idol is so goddamn perfect, melodic yet brutal, technical but memorable. These guys have been heading on this trajectory for awhile now, and the only question is how long can they maintain this level of quality.
- LLNN – Deads
Neurosis is definitely a desert island kind of band for me, and I like Isis well enough too (especially the early stuff). However, most of the other bands in that Apocalyptic strain of Doom/Sludge usually fall a little flat for me. Not so with these Danish maniacs. This album is absolutely devastating, and the second track, “Parallels”, is easily one of the heaviest things I’ve ever heard.
- Hissing – Permanent Destitution
Wasn’t 2017 supposed to be the year of Death Metal? You wouldn’t know it from my list last year, yet 2018 sees four of my top five going to Death Metal bands. Hissing represents the best of the newest wave, burly and nasty, taking the timbre of classic Incantation and combining it with the complexity of Portal or Deathspell Omega. This really captures the zeitgeist for me.
- Infernal Coil – Within a World Forgotten
Really, Infernal Coil and Hissing form the perfect one-two punch, and it was nearly impossible to pick one over the other. These guys pummel from start to finish and it took me several spins to grasp how to comprehend the onslaught.
- Lychgate – The Contagion in Nine Steps
Somehow sounding like a Baroque Doom band mixed with Black Metal, and also a stray influence from Technical Thrash outfits such as Watchtower, there is no one quite like Lychgate. A bit less accessible than their last effort, An Antidote for the Glass Pill, but definitely worth the work.
- Horsewhip – Self-Titled
I was a Metalhead first, but my relationship to Hardcore and Punk goes back a couple of decades at this point (yeah, I’m old). Horsewhip is at the forefront of a revival of ’90s style Hardcore and this debut is well worth the effort. These guys did time with such scene stalwarts as Reversal of Man and Combatwoundedveteran and this is just as awesome but with an added maturity and production that places it in the present day.
- Howling Sycamore– Self-Titled
I don’t like Power Metal but I wish I did. Now, I know Howling Sycamore aren’t Power Metal, but still, they scratch that itch for me with Jason McMaster’s theatrical vocals and the virtuous performances from Hannes Grossmann and Davide Tiso. This shit kills, and you get blast beats and sax solos to boot.
- Ghastly – Death Velour
More Death Metal. Perhaps a bit more atmospheric than some of the other stuff on the list but Death Velour proves equally punishing as well. Perhaps a bit reminiscent of Morbus Chron but more immediate.
- Voivod – The Wake
I damn near get choked up thinking about Voivod’s career, and am utterly amazed they can still produce material of this caliber thirty-six years after they formed. It boggles the mind. Granted, it’s not all original members obviously, but they are unique to the vision that has guided them throughout their career.
Tons of other dope records came out this year from: Tomb Mold, Portrayal of Guilt, HHY and the Macumbas, Stern, Book of Sand, Cosmic Atrophy, Confusion Master, Fister, and Aeviterne, along with a bunch of other stuff I’m still trying to catch up on.
It’s a funny thing, this is my third year doing a list for No Clean Singing, but when I recently read someone slagging the act of putting together a year-end list, it made me think about what a nerd I am. I used to do this shit before I ever published anywhere, you know, just because I enjoyed it. Like I said, I’m truly a nerd, at least when it comes to music. So consider this an act of devotion to the world of underground music, something that brought me back after a few months where the day job kept me too busy to do many reviews. Here’s to getting back on the horse and getting ready for 2019.