The Metal Gamer Best of 2018 (J.B. Edition)

Here we are, another year is coming to an end and what a year it has been! I got married to my wonderful supporting wife, turned 30, started supporting events in my hometown to help the local scene while we had a lot of awesome games and albums released too! New for this year is that I am doing a top 50 instead of top 40, now with a top 5 in order then I split the other 45 albums into two tiers (in no order). This way you get more of a read on what I enjoyed the most instead of just a long list. Obviously this list is personal and I am sure to have missed out on an album or two during the year (some of them I mention in my “five albums I missed” section). I have linked the reviews, if there is any, on the album titles. There will also be a best of list coming from Kristian Person, my partner in crime since a couple months back driving The Metal Gamer forward. One thing worth noting is that to be eligible for this list the album needs to be a new full-length release, so no EP’s nor re-releases. So lets recap the year!

During the few years I’ve been running The Metal Gamer this has been the best year for death metal with veterans like Monstrosity, Unleashed and At the Gates as well as younger blood such as Corpsessed and Lik putting out killer releases. Technical death metal did also have a fantastic year and I even had to leave out albums from Arsis, Revocation, Psycroptic, Inferi and Alkaloid due to this year having so much great tech-death it wasn’t easy to pick. Deathcore had an off year in my opinion but at the same time I think last year was that genres best in many years. However The Breathing Process, Ingested, Within Destruction for example did release great material you shouldn’t miss. Brutal death metal may or may not have had a good year, in all honesty I haven’t listened to a lot of the albums that’s been released within that genre this year. From those I heard it was either hit or miss, with Serocs being one of the few hits. With that said, if you’re a label that specialize in brutal death metal (or in a band) then feel free to send promos my way, I would love to hear more what the genre has to offer! Just like BDM I didn’t get a chance to listen to much of the atmospheric metal side either but with class releases from the likes of Ennui, Sojourner, Raven Throne and totalselfhatred I can’t really complain there, I got my fill.

Black metal had an interesting year for me. Necrophobic showed me just why they are one of the best bands I know of, both live and with their latest release Mark of the Necrogram. Immortal surprised me with a comeback that just about missed my top five, even though I was very hesitant on the release to begin with. Behemoth was another band I was debating adding in my top five, it wasn’t as good as The Satanist (hard to do though) but even with the hate it received from some people I can’t stop playing it every now and then. On the other spectrum my biggest disappointment is Eonian by Dimmu Borgir, I just can’t get into it even after several spins… Biggest surprises for me this year were Serocs, Ennui, Sadistik Forest and 1914. 1914 just about made the list as I only found out about them a week before I wrote this (note this was written a week before being published). Without any further ado here is The Metal Gamer Best of 2018 by Jimmy Barendt!

The Metal Gamer Best of 2018

The top 5:

  1. Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
  2. Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
  3. At the Gates – To Drink From the Night Itself
  4. Hate Eternal – Upon Desolate Sands
  5. Beyond Creation – Algorythm

Tier 2 (6-25)

Behemoth – I Loved You at Your Darkest
Lik – Carnage
Bloodbath – The Arrow of Satan is Drawn
Unleashed – The Hunt for White Christ
Funeral Mist – Hekatomb
The Breathing Process – Samsara
Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods
Amorphis – Queen of Time
Gorod – Aethra
Monstrosity – The Passage of Existence
Corpsessed – Impetus of Death
Harakiri For The Sky – Arson
Serocs – The Phobos/Deimos Suite
Sojourner – The Shadowed Road
Aborted – TerrorVision
Wombbath – The Great Desolation
1914 – The Blind Leading the Blind
Sadistik Forest – Morbid Majesties
Vanhelgd – Deimos Sanktuarium
Abysmal Torment – The Misanthrope

Tier 3 (26-50)

Stilla – Synviljor
Sargeist – Unbound
Ingested – The Level Above Human
Nekrokraft – Servants
Totalselfhatred – Solitude
Inferi – Revenant
Paara – Riitti
Deicide – Overtures of Blasphemy
Svavelvinter – Mörkrets Tid
Gluttony – Cult of the Unborn
Avslut – Deceptis
Skinless – Savagery
Ennui – End of the Circle
Raven Throne – I miortvym snicca zolak
Krisiun – Scourge of the Enthroned
Infuriate – Infuriate
Enblood – Cast to Exile
Bloodtruth – Martyrium
Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse
Imperialist – Cipher
Skeletonwitch – Devouring Radiant Light
Within Destruction – Deathwish
Carnation – Chapel of Abhorrence
Crawl – Rituals
Wolfheart – Constellation of the Black Light

Album of the year:
Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
Deathcore album of the year:
The Breathing Process – Samsara
Technical death metal album of the year:
Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
Death metal album of the year:
At the Gates – To Drink From the Night Itself
Brutal death metal album of the year:
Serocs – The Phobos/Deimos Suite
Atmospheric black metal album of the year:
Sojourner – The Shadowed Road
Black metal album of the year:
Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods
Debut album of the year:
Imperialist – Cipher
Song of the year:
Necrophobic – Tsar Bomba
Best concert I went to in 2018:
Necrophobic, Blood of Serpents and Coffin Creep (Plan B, Malmö, November 2nd)
Five albums I missed but need to listen to:
Sigh – Heir to Despair
Svartidaudi – Revelations Of The Red Sword
Obscura – Diluvium
Between the Buried and Me – Automata I + Automata II
Møl – Jord
Biggest disappointment:
Dimmu Borgir – Eonian
Most anticipated album of 2019:
Malevolent Creation – The 13th Beast

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The Metal Gamer Top 30 albums of 2018 so far!

The Metal Gamer Top 30 albums of 2018 so far!

Am I missing any albums? Do you agree?

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The bands and albums featured are:

Sadistik Forest – Mordbid Majesties
At The Gates – To Drink From the Night Itself
Amorphis – Queen of Time
Nekrokraft – Servants
Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
LIK – Carnage
Gluttony – Cult of the Unborn
Totalselfhatred – Solitude
Svederna – Svedjeland
Svavelvinter – Mörkrets Tid
Avslut – Deceptis
Skeletal Remains – Devouring Mortality
Raven Throne – I miortvym snicca zolak
Skinless – Savagery
Unflesh – Savior
Demonical – Chaos Manifesto
Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods
Gaerea – Unsettling Whispers
Depravity – Evil Upheaval
Alkaloid – Liquid Anatomy
Begat The Nephilim – I: The Surreptitious Prophecy / Mother of the Blasphemy
Kataklysm – Meditations
Ingested – The Level Above Human
Organectomy – Domain of the Wretched (went off the Unique Leader Records release)
Arkona – Khram
Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse
Augury – Illusive Golden Age
Mordant Rapture – The Abnegation
Chelsea Grin – Eternal Nightmare

The Father of Serpents – Age of Damnation (Gothic Doom/Death Metal)

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From Serbia there is a new gothic doom/death act in the veins of My Dying Bride, Saturnus, Paradise Lost and Moonspell coming full speed ahead. The band consist of members from renown Serbian acts like The Hell, Tamerlan, Rain Delay and Consecration. The clean singing and narrations makes me think of Moonspell, adding the growls and guitar play that feels very much like Paradise Lost earlier work and you got yourself a good baseline for a good doom act.

Personally I’ve never been a Moonspell fan so the parts that sound very Moonspellish actually gets me hoping they had stuck more with the growls. Especially since Tamerlan’s growling reminds me a lot of Amorphis (one of my absolute favorite bands) vocalist Tomi Joutsen. None of the songs on the album really stands out for me but the opening track The Walls of No Salvation along with The Flesh Altar made up for a good start and I had a lot of hope this could be a hidden gem. Sadly Age of Damnation have a string of songs I didn’t find appealing at all up until The Afterlife Symphony with its beautiful violin play and sweet guitar solo makes it one of the highlights I take away from this album. I could definitely recommend this to goth and doom fans who likes the sound of Moonspell, but since I don’t I couldn’t really appreciate Age of Damnation that much. Together with some lack of consistency on the album makes Age of Damnation something I probably won’t get back to any time soon this year. As a debut this shows a lot of promise for the future though and I got high hopes they can make an even stronger sophomore album.

The Father of Serpents debut album Age of Damnation is out now through Satanath Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thefatherofserpents
Label: Satanath Records
For fans of: Moonspell and Paradise Lost
Favorite song: The Afterlife Symphony
Score: 2/5

Moribundo – Raíz Amarga (Death/Doom Metal)

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Are you a fan of bands such as Swallow the Sun, Draconian, Paradise Lost and Amorphis? Then look no further! Moribundo (means “Dying” in Spanish) and the melancholic thoughts you might get when thinking of death is something Moribundo expresses through their music. Created in 2014 Raíz Amarga is the Spanish bands debut album and what a debut it is!

The various influences Moribundo takes from have created a new beast entirely. The use of different instruments like piano and violin combined with the depressed growls creates an almost funeral doom experience at times. Not only that the four tracks are really different to each other, with a lot of variety to the music it makes Raíz Amarga an album you can easily listen to several times without getting bored. Death and despair. Take those words in and what they really mean to you then listen to this and you will experience the bitter rot Moribundo so beautifully expresses.

I found this to be a rather epic experience. It’s sweet melancholic symphonies and variety in music that makes it stand out from the average doom act. Adding the mixing of Hiili Hiilesmaa at Yellow House Studio (Swallow the Sun, Moonspell, Amorphis, Sentenced) and you got yourself one of the better doom albums of 2017.

Raíz Amarga is out now through Satanath Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MoribundoMetal
Label: Satanath Records
For fans of: Swallow the Sun and Draconian
Favorite song: Luz (Ciego Color)

Shores of Null – Black Drapes for Tomorrow (Doom Metal)

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Candlelight Records used to be a label I always looked at when I wanted the more extreme quality music. Sure they still got Emperor, Winterfylleth, Shade Empire and Limbonic Art that I like but they used to have so much more than that! Entombed, Enslaved, Enthroned, Dismember, 1349, Candlemass etc. The list is very long on some of the worlds biggest metal acts that’s been with Candlelight one way or another. From Candlelight we do have one of the best melodic doom albums you will hear this year though. It’s the Italian band (I’ve told you, this is probably Italy’s biggest metal year) Shores of Null that bless us with their sophomore album Black Drapes for Tomorrow. The band was formed in 2013 with members from the likes of Zippo and Noumeno.

Black Drapes for Tomorrow offers the same kind of high quality doom metal you’re used to hear from heavy hitters within the scene like Katatonia, Daylight Dies and Novembers Doom. This is the first time I hear Shores of Null and they are blowing me away quite frankly. I can’t really find a single song that isn’t good, and it gets better each time I play it. I’ve heard from others that told me about Shores of Null that this record is a safe path and a bit weaker than their debut Quiescence. If it is then I’ll be damn that album is nearly perfect, just like this is a hidden gem within the metal community every doom fan should be all over, safe path or not. Straccione’s vocals are perfect for this kind of music and the guitar duo Raffaele Colace and Gabriele Giaccari are in sync like it’s almost a symbiosis.

As I said before this album is so damn good and solid through and through it’s hard to pick favorite tracks (second album in a row, lucky me). If I had to then it would have to be Donau, Tide Against Us and We Ain’t Ashes. If you need your fill of gloom and darkness then Black Drapes for Tomorrow is an album you can’t miss. Shores of Null sophomore album Black Drapes for Tomorrow is out now through Candlelight Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoresofnull
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/shoresofnull
Label: Candlelight Records
For fans of: Katatonia and Daylight Dies
Favorite song: Tide Against Us

Wolfheart – Tyhjyys (Melodic Death Metal)

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Next up in my melodic death metal spree from Finland we have Wolfheart. A band that features one of my favorite musicians Tuomas Saukkonen due to his work with Before the Dawn, one of the greatest melodic death metal bands to come out from Finland in my opinion. Wolfheart were formed in 2013 as a solo project by Toumas (just like his other bands began) but in 2014 he decided to disband all his other bands in order to fully focus on Wolfheart. I may have labeled Noumena, Mors Principium Est and now Wolfheart with the melodic death metal genre but they all sound very different. Wolfheart is definitely the more brutal sounding of the trio with it’s fast blast beats, Tuomas harsh growling style and overall more heavy sound. Calling it winter metal it’s no surprise it is heavy and brutal, while keeping it melodic and even featuring soothing flute play on The Flood, Wolfheart are great at capturing the essence of winter with it’s melancholy harsh style.

If you’ve heard Tuomas Saukkonen work before then you can know what to expect. It’s high quality music with a lot of catchy melodies to it. Shores of the Lake Simpele is a nice three minute intro, building up the atmosphere for Boneyard, the first single that came out from the album and in my opinion the high point of Tyhjyys. The orchestrations and acoustic passages that are common elements in an Wolfheart album are better than ever and it really helps setting the tone for this cold winter release. That or the beautiful tunes on The Flood, that’s both dark and sad but yet gorgeous. The lyrics are dark, from what I’ve read it’s partially due to Tuomas personal struggles over the years which makes sense, I think the more you can relate to the music you write the better you can show those emotions on the songs.

As a fan of Tuomas Saukkonen’s work I knew I would like this release. I think this is one of his best creations as of yet with Wolfheart and it’s a solid melodic death metal album. It might not be as good as some of his work with Before the Dawn and Black Sun Aeon, but that’s insanly hard to top. Finland is having a superb 2017 already getting some pretty great albums out. Fans of the darker side of melodeath will love Tyhjyys. It’s Tuomas putting out one of his best releases in years with the atmosphere of winter metal being colder than ever before. Every single song is good by themself and they showcase quite different aspects of both nature and battles.

Tyhjyys is out now through the legendary Finnish label Spinefarm Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WolfheartRealm
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/WolfheartFIN
For fans of: Insomnium and Before the Dawn
Favorite song: Boneyard

Noumena – Myrrys (Melodic Death Metal)

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When thinking of melodic death metal from Finland I would guess bands such as Amorphis, Insomnium and Children of Bodom are the first ones that comes into your mind. However there is a band that was formed 1998, celebrating 20 years as a band this year, that I think a lot of people miss out on called Noumena. Having not had a single member leaving the lineup since the formation 20 years ago is quite rare and I respect that a lot from them. In 2009 Suvi Uura joined as a vocalist to add a female touch to the music which was first heard on their latest album Death Walks with Me. The album title “Myrrys” (old Finnish) refers to ruckus, tumult or uproar. Which is the emotions Noumena will give the listeners through melancholic Finnish mollie tunes, just like you love it from the Finnish melodeath scene.

What makes Myrrys stick out from the rest of Noumena’s discography is the use of Finnish throughout the album, this is the first time they do that. Reason for not using English on this album is due to the albums lyrical theme, including Finnish nature and cultural heritage, and intimate stories which required the use of Finnish to be expressed the way the band wanted it to. Every single member of Noumena has contributed to the songwriting as well, even the cover art is made by a Finnish artist by the name of Otto Lehtonen. Safe to say this made in Finland all the way through.

If you’re a fan of Finnish melodeath then you will love this. That melancholic feeling, sweet melodic riffs, tempo changes at just the right moments, Suvi’s clean vocals to add more depth to the album (I get Myrkur vibes listening to her) and Antti Haapanen’s growling together in a sweet package will make any melodeath fan happy. Sanansaattaja and Murhehuone are the perfect way to demonstrate the more melancholic side of Noumena where I think Suvi really shines, while tracks like Roihu and Metsän viha will hype you up with the fast riffs and overall tempo of the songs, bringing the more classical Noumena sound. The last two songs on the album is a great display of epic duets between Suvi and Antti. Pedon veri being the most epic song, if I can call it that, on the album. Ending this journey in Finland we have Syvällä vedessä, wrapping it up where Kohtu started. Clocking at almost ten minutes and being melancholic down-tempo this is a song that will bring fort all the emotions on Myrrys. A great way to end this tumult and emotional journey.

As my favorite song I had a really hard time choosing between Sanansaattaja, Murhehuone and Syvällä vedessä. All three portray Noumena of today in a great way and I am sure you will think the same.

Myrrys is released April 28th by Haunted Zoo Productions, an independent record label established by Noumena members. Distribution by Playground Music and Inverse Records. Released in Russia by FONO under the license from Haunted Zoo Productions.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Noumenaband
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/noumenaband
For fans of: Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum
Favorite song: Murhehuone