With the year of 2018 coming to an end, it is time to choose the best releases of the year. Like in previous years, we will be publishing our staff’s choices daily as well as a final Top 20 for the zine of the best albums that were released in 2018.
Here are the choices of Ricardo Pereira
1. Amorphis – “Queen Of Time”
The true king (or queen) of 2018. A massive and epic album which, despite not adding much beyond a sax solo when compared to Amorphis’ most recent releases, stands on its own as a simply marvellous work filled with intricate details, compelling lyrical themes and utterly inspiring riffs. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, the apex of the work that the band started with “Circle” ( Nuclear Blast, 2013), having refined that aesthetic to a point where listening to “Queen Of Time” might prove itself as a serious addiction.
2. Riverside – “Wasteland”
Riverside’s emotional testament to loss, sadness and apathy is a definitive step-up compared to their previous releases. Catchy, without loosing its prog-rock feeling, with a deep looming sadness and overall emotional weight, and almost completely avoiding all clichés of the genre. This is probably their finest work so far.
3. A Perfect Circle – “Eat The Elephant”
A lyrically ironic and politically charged manifesto that steers clear of everything previously released by APC, as well as Tool and Puscifer, making for a very interesting change of pace for the band. We all know Maynard’s a genius, but he keeps reminding us just in case.
4. In The Woods… – “Cease The Day”
The prodigal doom returns with In The Woods’ second release since their recent comeback, and their best yet. A spectacular example of what doom metal should sound like, as everything in this album consists of the perfect soundtrack for a lumbering giant.
5. Primordial – “Exile Amongst The Ruins”
Maybe it’s the luck of the Irish, but Primordial are yet to put out a bad record. This latest work is far more than that, it might actually be Primordial’s magnum opus for years to come. Experimental, yet familiar to those who know the band’s unmistakable style.
6. Dimmu Borgir – “Eonian”
The best thing about Dimmu is that they completely refuse to let their sound gather dust. Eonian is a highly polarizing work among fans, albeit impossible to criticize regarding the band’s sheer musicianship, creativity and originality.
7. Orphaned Land – “Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs”
Peace remains main message, and this time it was delivered in a work that features highly symphonic elements, as well as Kobi Farhi’s tremendous vocal range, that even includes a respectable amount of guttural vocals, because nothing says “peace in the Middle-East” more than guttural vocals!
8. Wardruna – “Skald”
A fairly simple formula: A great voice + Norse harp = Masterpiece. Wardruna’s homage to skaldic poetry goes far beyond the simple historic re-enactment, instead being an emotional journey almost exclusively carried by Selvik’s fantastic vocal technique and skill in playing this archaic instrument.
9. Shining – “X – Varg Utan Flock”
Everything about this album and Shining in general just screams “f*cked up”, and I love it. If you manage to remove yourself from the group’s imagery of chaos and destruction, you will also find a very dynamic and innovative piece that brings us the kind of fresh sounds that a stagnant subgenre like black metal desperately needs.
10. Powerwolf – “The Sacrament Of Sin”
Powerwolf still steem to be unaware of the “sometimes, less is more” motto, but that’s just part of their natural charm, so don’t expect anything that doesn’t sound absolutely epic. Also, more werewolves!
11. Zeal & Ardor – “Stranger Fruit”
A most triumphant return for one of the most unique projects in the current metal scene. After a stunning debut, Zeal & Ardor do it again with “Stranger Fruit”, delivering further proof that the innovation well in metal is far from empty.
12. The Ocean Collective – “Phanerozoic I: Paleozoic”
The Ocean is an incredible experience through the upper echelons of metal music composition, as well as music composition in general. This album is no exception, being fashioned with the incredible dynamics that the band popularized in their previous works, accompanied by the albums powerful theme. A true journey through the ages!
13. Harakiri For The Sky – “Arson”
“Arson” contains a more melodic Insomnium-like vibe mixed with the band’s well-known sonic-landscape, showing the world that aggressiveness and emotional depth are not incompatible with melody. The ethereal aesthetic of their sound, shaped in equal parts by their composition and the albums production, takes the listener on a fantastic musical journey.
14. Gaerea – Unsettling Whispers
It is always a pleasure to have fellow countrymen of my list, and Gaerea have definitely earned their spot. Their modern approach to black metal that somehow manages to keep the core values of the genre intact is certainly the path towards a very successful career.
15. Barren Earth – A Complex Of Cages
A super-group with nothing but super-albums. “A Complex Of Cages” is about what you would expect from the members of this project, shared with bands such as Swallow The Sun and Amorphis. One of those albums that helps fill the musical void that Opeth left with their recent (and successful) change of style.
16. NERVE – “AUTO-SABOTAGEM”
NERVE is a Portuguese hip-hop artist that I consider as one of the most original creators of contemporary music. If you can’t understand the lyrics you can still appreciate his off-the-chain downtempo beats, erratic rhyme scheme and insane metrics, however, it’s worth learning the lingo just so you can truly grasp the depths of this man’s creativity.
17. Eminem – Kamikaze
Eminem’s “Kamikaze” is whiny, bitter, childish and completely stuck up its own arse. It is also proof that Eminem is a master wordsmith, capable of manipulating the english language with ease in a mind-boggling fashion. Welcome back, Shady!
18. YOB – Our Raw Heart
It came out of nowhere and baffled fans of the genre with a completely new approach to doom in both sound and imagery. If YOB keep this up, they are in for a grandiose future.
19. Summoning – With Doom We Come
Tolkien and black metal go together like fire and wooden churches, and Summoning continue to prove themselves as royalty of this particular musical niche with yet another symphonic opus filled to the brim with the fury of Mordor’s flames.
20. Shylmagoghnar – Transience
Shylmagoghnar’s latest work has managed to help the band transcend from their previous status of “nice, but forgettable” to something else entirely. Melodic, obscure, progressive, like Wintersun’s evil twin. Very interesting and worthy of checking out as further proof that we need the underground scene so that great bands can mature an thrive.