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

Grá – Väsen (Black Metal)

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Let me start off with saying “Krig” is a hell of a song! Starting with some slow riffing almost Tiamat style to then have Heljarmadr come in with “jag stinker av hat” as the music stops for a few seconds gives me goosebumps. The bands third album Väsen is the best they’ve done so far, no contest. The sheer consistency, acoustic elements and great production throughout the album has upped the game for them a lot. That being said apart from “Krig” and the albums title track “Väsen” I had a hard time find a song that stands out. Along with the fact that “Gjallarhorn” is even being close to getting the skip button ready, simply put I am no fan of the electronic elements they added there, which stops the album from reaching the higher grades. However Grá has done a good job on being willing to try new things, hats off for that.

Overall you can not really find much wrong here though as the albums 40 minutes are in fact enjoyable and seasoned fans of the early waves of black metal will revel in Väsen. Personally I had higher hopes after having heard the single “Krig” before and I thought it would be an album of the year contender. The competition is fierce this year however with, in Sweden alone, Nekrokraft, Avslut, Necrophobic, Skogen and Wormlight all putting out solid albums. Väsen eventually lands on a good album grade, nothing more nothing less.

Label: Carnal Records
For fans of: Domgård and Avsky
Release date: April 27th, 2018
Favorite song: Krig
Score: 3/5

Avslut – Deceptis (Black Metal)

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Alright this review has taken me a really long time to get out, I try to stay on two maybe three months old top but I kinda of had a writer block when this initially came out. Sorry for that! Also at the first spin I said to myself “Dark Funeral in Swedish”? That was my initial thought on the first listen but given time it grew on me and they are no simple copy of the Swedish giant. The songwriting is really dark and memorable as songs like “Pestilens”, “Förlorad” and “Terra Mater” have been spinning quite often at my place. The songwriting is also what makes Avslut stick out in the end and together with Christians superb vocals that makes the lyrics justice Deceptis becomes a must-have for black metal fans this year. Overall a very complete album and I can understand why it took Avslut such a long time to get their debut album out. It shows diversity, great musicianship and especially how important it is to emphasize on strong songwriting to stand out so you don’t get labelled as a mere copy of a bigger act.

Deceptis is an album that will set Avslut on the right path right from the start. It’s consistent and really enjoyable throughout. A tad too close to Dark Funeral on some songs (but hey they are one of the best black metal bands in my book) and it will be interesting to see what they come up with next and if they can separate themselves to a greater extent to become more unique. If they do they will certainly overthrow a lot of the black kings in only a couple of years as a band.

Label: Osmose Productions
For fans of: Dark Funeral and Nazghor
Release date: February 23rd, 2018
Favorite song: Förlorad
Score: 4/5

Wormlight – Wrath of the Wilds (Melodic Black/Death Metal)

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Lets get straight to it. Wormlight plays melodic black and death metal the way it has been played for years. Nothing wrong with this at all! Not as memorable as the releases from Necrophobic, Avslut and Nekrokraft have been to me but Wrath of the Wilds is certainly a good album that I enjoyed. It’s 90’s melodic black/death metal worship the Swedish way and I get some Naglfar, Dissection and Unanimated vibes for sure. Seeing as we won’t hear any new material from those bands any time soon (or ever) I say this is a perfectly good album to get your fill! There is no need to reinvent the wheel and Wrath of the Wilds is not only a good debut album, it is also a big step forward from the band since their EP Bloodfields came out in 2015.

The mid-range death growls together with the energetic hellfire the band unleashes is enough to make fans of melodic black metal be pleased with this release. There isn’t really something to point out as bad on this album and the 55 minutes go past with a feeling of satisfaction. However if you do put Wormlight against previously named bands and the new releases from for example Necrophobic then it lacks that extra punch to become an album I want to revisit instead of those. Either way I know a lot of you are like me and can not get enough quality black metal and Wrath of the Wilds certainly does fall into that category. If you only want to try out a couple of tracks it should be “Vittramark” with its icy atmosphere, piano outro (which they do use on several occasions though) and overall a great sounding song. That song along with “Invocation (intro)” leading to “Feast of the Mountain Kin” is a perfect example how to finish an album on a high note.

Label: Black Lion Records
For fans of: Unanimated and Necrophobic
Release date: April 25th, 2018
Favorite song: Feast of the Mountain King
Score: 3.5/5

In Reverence – The Selected Breed (Atmospheric Death Metal/Deathcore)

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In Reverence is something as weird as a Swedish deathcore outfit, or at least that’s how it started out. Since the demo “Necrosis” in 2011 the band has not only changed members but also their sound to a much more death metal oriented style, or as they call it atmospheric death metal. The two founding members still remains, Oscar Krumlinde on drums who some of you might know from the upcoming Swedish black metal act Avslut, and Filip Danielsson on vocals. Pedram Khatibi Shahidi, who you hear shredding on the guitar, adds oriental instruments into the mix and is the main songwriter, has been with the band since their very first demo as well.

It’s not easy to change the sound when the majority of the lineup has stayed the same throughout but with the decision to make Pedram the main songwriter for the band it seems to have gone rather smoothly. In Reverence offers a much more atmospheric and oriental death metal approach than before, and even if the deathcore sound is still there at times I find this a much more enjoyable listen than I did with Hallucination. The sound reminds me of Lord of War if they would be joining forces with Pyres of Kiev and I Shall Devour. Death metal and deathcore joining together in a nice mix that is. During their time together as a band they have grown a lot tighter together as a unit as well. The riffs are more on point, vocals more brutal and drumming releases thunder like never before.

I always find it enjoyable to hear a band evolve their sound and not being scared to change. Sometimes it can lead to the better and sometimes worse, in this case definitely the better, but either way it’s something I respect a band for trying. In Reverence has found their new sound and it’s now a new beast (the selected breed one could say) that’s coming to take the metal world with brute force. Favorite tracks are Gods of Dehumanization, Anthropogeny and Red Waves.

In Reverence debut full-length album The Selected Breed is out now through Non Serviam Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/inreverence
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/inreverenceswe
Label: Non Serviam Records
For fans of: I Shall Devour and Lord of War
Favorite song: Red Waves

Nekrokraft – Will o’ Wisp (Black/Death Metal)

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Nekrokraft is a rather new band being formed in Linköping, Sweden 2012 and got an EP released during the same year, Witches Funeral (Reborn in Fire). Since then the band has gone through a lot of changes, adding new members (from four to five) and changing some (bass and drums). With the changes the band has been ready to work towards releasing their first full-length album named Will o’ Wisp, which came out from the ashes in late 2016.

The band draws a lot of influences from the old school black metal scene from legends such as Emperor and Immortal with a hint of death metal Behemoth and Dissection style. There is much to like on this album, it’s melodic yet punishing and the vocals are just what I am looking for within black metal, angry with hissing shrieks and screams that gives me the chills. Lyrical wise it’s what you expect from a black metal album, occultism but taken from folklore (also a reason the album is named Will o’ Wisp I take it), a concept I like and had a bit different touch to it due to it. All seven tracks on the album are of high quality and I had a really hard time picking my favorite song from the album. Which eventually actually lead to a choosing a song at random from Worship, Hellfire and Armageddon Unleashed.

Only downside of Nekrokraft’s first full-length album is the length of it, clocking 23 minutes. I personally feel anything less than 30 minutes is more of an EP than a full-length album. However you do get 23 minutes of great black/death metal and fans of the dark arts will surely enjoy the will o’ wisp symphony.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nekrokraft
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Nekrokraft
For fans of: Immortal and Emperor
Favorite song: Worship