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 becomes a Club Abraxas sponsor!

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When I started The Metal Gamer it’s always been to support the underground metal scene. While I will always enjoy sharing music and reviewing albums I’ve wanted to do more than just that. It just so happens I got the opportunity to sponsor the local scene in my town Malmö, Sweden! Starting with the Oktoberfeast event featuring Venenum, Slægt, Maligner, Armory and Völva the 20th October. It is a privilege to be able to sponsor the underground metal scene for real with helping host plenty of events just like this one for a long time to come. I have said it before metal gamers but I will say it again, always support your local scene! If anyone of you happen to drop by one of the many events coming up for the rest of the year then feel free to have a beer and say hi! This is a new chapter for The Metal Gamer that I am really excited about and hoping it brings a lot of joy to the underground scene.

You can find the announced events here:
Oktoberfeast (Venenum, Maligner, Slægt, Völva, Armory) – October 20th
Day of the Dead (Necrophobic) – November 2nd
Nekrokraft, Orm, The Generations Army – December 8th

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

Nekrokraft – Servants (Black/Thrash/Death Metal)

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I was not overly happy with the Will O’ Wisp debut. It was one of the earlier albums I reviewed but looking back to it I was too nice, it lacked a lot and I’d almost forgotten about the album. How funny that a band can make such an insane leap and improvement in only two years though! The production is miles better than Will O’ Wisp and their mix of death/thrash/black works wonders this time, making you miss Old Man’s Child and Dissection less. You might even be wondering if this could be the new album from Dimmu Borgir at times when they add their more symphonic tracks. In all honesty I wish Dimmu Borgir’s new album had more in common with Servants than with their own album Eonian, because this is simply better and some songs even sound more Dimmu than Dimmu Borgir does themselves. “Lechery” is a prime example to that to name one song. Add the fact Nekrokraft hits as heavy as Necrophobic does and got a similar mix of styles then you know this is a top notch recipe for an album. You might even remember that Necrophobic’s latest offering Mark of the Necrogram got a stunning 5/5 by me, yet my only one.

What makes me love this album and give it such a high score is the fact it never gets dull and it grows with time. There are so many different elements put into this record with such fine craftsmanship that each song stands really well on their own. Doesn’t matter if you take the thrash inspired “Gateway to Damnation” or as mentioned symphonic Dimmu Borgir-like “Lechery” they are all great songs that will be spinning for months to come. Also have to say the vocalist Angst, who is also on vocal duty for Witchery, has in my opinion his best performance yet. There is next to nothing to complain about on Servants really, hence the score.

If you like your extreme metal crushing and unforgiving with some of the most memorable songs of the year then don’t sleep on this one. This will end very high on my album of the year list.

Label: The Sign Records
For fans of: Dimmu Borgir and Necrophobic
Release date: May 4th, 2018
Favorite song: Lechery
Score: 4.5/5

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