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
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Augury – Illusive Golden Age (Technical/Progressive Death Metal)

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As I stated in my review of Where Owls Know My Name by Rivers of Nihil one of my favorite tech-death bands is Beyond Creation, a band many sees as the forefront of progressive technical death metal. Before that band even existed we had Augury though, a band I have to say I personally haven’t listened to simply because I didn’t even know they existed. The band formed in 2002 and released their debut album Concealed in 2004 (a year before Beyond Creation were formed) with the follow-up Fragmentary Evidence coming out in 2009. Both are said to be milestones within the genre to many but since then the band has been quiet, until now.

The album opens up with the title track Illusive Golden Age and instantly I draw a lot of connections to Beyond Creation and Obscura. Which is a good thing and after hearing their older albums right before writing this review I realize Augury’s sound has stayed the same since the debut. The transitions between solos and change of pace is definitely something Augury has learned to master and throughout the album you get hit with one sweet solo after another. There is one big thing that bothers me with Augury though, the clean singing. I wish they stayed to growling all together as to me it fits a lot better to the music. Which is also a big reason why I for example like The Living Vault a lot better than Illusive Golden Age, because there they stay away from the clean singing and it just sounds hell of a lot better.

Seeing as I just reviewed Rivers of Nihil it was impossible not to have the two albums compete a bit against each other. Fact is the two bands have completely different takes on metal as Rivers of Nihils latest album brings so many influences into their music and in some ways break barriers on how tech-death should sound today. Whereas Augury does what Augury does best, a class progressive death metal album which is basically just as good as their past albums and a statement to the newer kids on the block that they are back in action. The main difference is Augury was one of the bands that were ahead of their time back when they first started and a lot of bands have them to thank for what is the core of prog-death today. It’s expected for them after such a long break to come back and give their fans what they crave for. Me being a new listener to the band I’ve learned something new about the whole prog-death scene with not just having found a great album but a whole discography to keep with me at all times.

In conclusion Illusive Golden Age is a wicked album that showcase everything Augury stands for which will surely bring back old fans and add new ones to their ranks. It’s a rebirth from a band that was once ahead of its time and is now in sync with modern prog-death that might as a matter of fact be to their advantage. My favorite tracks include The Living Vault together with the two most hard hitting, brutal tracks on the album Mater Dolorosa and Parrallel Biospheres.

Label: The Artisan Era
For fans of: Obscura and Beyond Creation
Release date: March 30th, 2018
Favorite song: Mater Dolorosa
Score: 4/5

Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name (Technical Death Metal)

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Let me start with saying that Rivers of Nihil is as a matter of fact one of my favorite techdeath bands and have been for years now. Together with bands like Beyond Creation, Archspire, Decrepit Birth, and Spawn of Possession it’s a band I always go to when I have the urge for some technical and progressive metal. There’s always been a feeling that Rivers of Nihil has never unlocked their full potential though and in some ways lacked in their own sound and identity. That being said I had really high hopes for Where Owls Know My Name as the singles I’d heard before were really something completely different from their older music which seemed to have sparked something brand new.

For those unfamiliar with Rivers of Nihil the band was formed in 2009, hailing from USA, has two EPs and two full-length albums released prior to Where Owls Know My Name. Their albums are focused on the different seasons, with the past two albums “Whereas the Conscious Seed of Light” and “Monarchy” were about Spring and Summer. Where Owls Know My Name obviously continue walking on this road with the focus here being on Autumn. The music have always had a lot of emphasis on creating an atmospheric feeling to it more than your common techdeath band which makes the band stick out in my eyes but also means, for some, Rivers of Nihil is a band you get or you don’t. Some even going as far as saying this isn’t technical death metal. Each to their own I guess, I don’t really care if they are labeled atmospheric techdeath, prog, jazz or whatever personally I think Rivers of Nihil are doing a superb job creating music that has a lot of emotion to it with sweet melodies and brings harmony, no matter what label you put on it.

Where Owls Know My Name takes their song-writing to a whole other level. Rivers of Nihil have really captured the atmosphere of Autumn with this one, especially with the great use of keyboards, trumpets, cellos and saxophones that makes this album a whole other beast than their previous releases. It’s really impressive and I get a new feeling each time I take the album for a spin. It is an album I do feel you need to be in a certain mood to listen to though in order to fully grasp and understand it though, seeing it is quite different and the influences are many. They’ve left most of their core sound behind and this album has gone even further into the atmospheric sound than ever before, even having a jazz feel to it. Breaking their own boundaries. That to me is a much welcoming move but I can see it perhaps leaving a few fans shaken up by it. Rivers of Nihil have only evolved though and grown even better in my eyes. Where Owls Know My Name is one of the best albums released this year that gets even better with each listen. This is what technical death metal is all about to me, full of emotions through instruments, breaking barriers, creating an atmosphere you could only dream of. Just listen to The Silent Life, A Home, Where Owls Know My Name or the instrumental track Terrestria III: Wither and you’ll see. It might not be for everyone but for me it’s close to a five, the bands best album to date, and I can’t wait to hear what Rivers of Nihil do next after having ascended into a new being.

Label: Metal Blade Records
For fans of: Decrepit Birth and Fallujah
Release date: March 16th, 2018
Favorite song: The Silent Life
Score: 4.5/5

Neck of the Woods – The Passenger (Progressive Death Metal/Metalcore)

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Sometimes Spotify really does give me great weekly lists with some new bands and albums I’ve never heard before. This time they pointed me in the direction to Neck of the Woods, a Canadian band which plays a progressive death
metal/metalcore type of music. Think of Misery Signals or August Burns Red doing a co-op project with Dillinger Escape Plan and you’re kinda there. The Passenger is the bands sophomore release and from hearing the opening track Bottom Feeder before I knew I was in for something great.

The progressive elements really does push this albums to great heights. I never get bored and there are so many good riffs and breakdowns on The Passenger it’s almost silly. I haven’t really enjoyed metalcore releases these past years since the genre doesn’t give me anything to enjoy anymore. However once in awhile a band like Neck of the Woods comes along and mixes different elements creating something fresh and new. They got slow paced starts like on Bottom Feeder which eventually turns and produces some metalcore goodness. Nailbiter on the other hand is pedal to the metal from the get go with furious riffs and becomes a favorite of mine, really giving me those August Burns Red vibes. White Coats bass solo is sweet but other than that the song doesn’t quite capture me like Bottom Feeder and Nailbiter did, good song but a bit too slow for me. Open Water is a beautiful passage leading into You’ll Always Look the Same to Me. Initially I found the song a bit too metalcore, less progressive, for my taste but halfway into it they change the pace and I really like it. Making use of the elements I find them sticking out from the rest.

Face of the Villain, oh wow, the start on that features everything I am liking with Neck of the Woods. The bass, the drums, guitar and vocals. Everything is synced well, pushing their sound to new levels and this is the way I want them to sound. Together with Bottom Feeder and Nailbiter it’s definitely the song I will remember from this album. Drift crates another well written intermission until Foothills kicks in. Starts as one of the heavier tracks on the album but eventually slows down and becomes very progressive-sounding like Vattnet. Not a personal favorite of mine but I like that they did a song like this going more all in progressive. The song to end the album, Before I Rest, features another slow progressive start then eventually turn into the August Burns Red-like metalcore sound just to turn it back around. A good ending and one of the better songs on The Passenger.

I have to say I enjoyed my listen of The Passenger. It had its up and downs giving and taking from a wide range of genres but when Neck of the Woods are on form jelling those elements together into one I find them being one of the most interesting bands to follow.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pg/neckofthewoodsmetal
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/NOTWmetal
Label: Basick Records
For fans of: August Burns Red and Dillinger Escape Plan
Favorite song: Face of the Villain
Score: 3.5/5

Rapheumets Well – Enders Door (Progressive Death/Black Metal)

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Are you ready for a sci-fi concept album? Follow the rogue travler Eryos and how he discovered an artifact that would change his place in cosmos forever. This one hour long journey will leave you wanting more of Eryos and his adventures. Rapheumets Well were formed in 2008, North Carolina USA, after changing name from Blue Man’s God (created 2002). Having had a very wide range of influences on their albums, experimenting in classical, ambience and metal music this band stands out. Enders Door is the bands third release after having told other stories within this multi-verse on Dimensions and The Exile.

One thing is certain when you listen to Rapheumets Well, it’s epic. Much like you find Dimmu Borgir’s symphonic black metal massive and sometimes overwhelms you with their orchestral music Rapheumets Well does the same. Differences are many though. The progressive elements and clean vocals (both female and male) makes you think about The Faceless more than Dimmu Borgir. There is also a lot of death metal influences in the music, still very symphonic, which bands such as Fleshgod Apocalypse are known for. The whole sci-fi take on all this is awesome and at times I think on movies such as Tron or Ghost in the Shell while listening to Enders Door. The different directions the songs take is also what makes Enders Door sick out from the rest. It feels like a movie in musical form, and it’s freaking epic!

I can recommend Rapheumets Well to anyone who is out for something a little bit different. It’s a great concept album with various of influences covering a wide range of genres. I would also love to see this band live, from what I’ve read they seem to make it like a play when performing their music. I can imagine it being a great experience in the veins of what Fleshgod Apocalypse or Carach Angren does.

Rapheumets Well – Enders Door is out May 26th through Test Your Metal Records.

Also with this review I will leave you guys for two weeks. Traveling to Tokyo tomorrow and I will not be reviewing any new albums while there. Hopefully I will get the chance to catch a concert on some of the local bands there though!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Rapheumetswell
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rapheumetswell
For fans of: Dimmu Borgir and The Faceless
Favorite song: Lechery Brought the Darkness

Persefone – Aathma (Progressive Death Metal)

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Ah Persefone, a band that I’ve always liked when I want “sofisticated” progressive/technical metal as I like to call it. Plus the fact the have some of the coolest album covers I’ve seen on literally every single album. Andorra’s offering to the metal world Persefone now gives us Aathma, the bands 5th release since they formed in 2001.

You are instantly hit with sweet guitar solos and riffs that will make you blush like if your crush were singing to you from the guitar sound. I know a lot of my readers aren’t fans of clean singing but how can you not like Persefone when musically everything just clicks. Aathma is as much as an outer body experience as it is progressive death metal madness.

The fun thing with Aathma is how the tracks leads up to one another and you can feel the emotions flow through this album. Opening songs are instrumental and will guide you through the journey to come. Then comes Prison Skin and you’re left numb. After that you just sit down and relax, take it all in as I am sure Persefone fans know by now. You enter such a calm and blissful place in your mind while listening to Persefone it’s a nice change from the worlds usual sorrow and death. Let go of anger, fear and guilt.

If you were to listen to only a few tracks on this album then do take Aathma Part I to IV. The ending of this album is superb and could easily be an EP by itself (actually looking at metal archives they have it down as a 20 minute long track). Lucky enough it’s on Aathma and the one hour soul searching experience is over in a great fashion. Fans of Persefone don’t worry Aathma is another hit from Andorra’s finest, granted hard to top Spiritual Migration as that’s one of the best progressive albums released in my opinion but still an insanly good album. If this was a release from a band which didn’t have such a high average level then it would be named progressive album of the year right away. Question is readers, are you ready to transcend?

Persefone – Aathma is out now through ViciSolum Productions.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/persefoneband
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/persefoneband
For fans of: Ne Obliviscaris and Edge of Sanity
Favorite song: Aathma Part I-IV

Morgue – Sense of Fear (Death Metal)

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Morgue from Israel is a band not many might have heard of but they are actually a piece of history being active between 1990-1994 (releasing a demo during this time), making them one of the very first metal bands from Israel still active that I know of (only Salem seems to be older dating back to 1985). The band reformed in 2014 and Sense of Fear is the first album the band has released since their comeback. What’s also special about the band is that it features Sami Bachar on vocals. Bachar was an original member of the famous progressive band Orphaned Land, back then he was on drum duty.

Sense of Fear features five tracks and is 24 minutes of death metal madness with a progressive and oriental touch. There are elements on some songs that takes me to the early stages of Orphaned Land due to that progressive and oriental feeling while yet keeping it dark and heavy. Sense of Fear also feature Orphaned Lands vocalist Kobi Farhi as a guest appearance, making the links between the bands even bigger.

Ve Hamaskilim Enon Heikhalin (Intro) starts with oriental chants leading into Slaughter of Thousands which got some classic old school death metal riffs and vocals going. Perfect for fans of early Entombed or Dismember. The albums title track Sense of Fear brings in the prog and oriental music into the mix which makes it stick out from the classic death metal and get Morgue their more unique sound to it. While on Free from Perfect the band brings more of the death metal solos and grove. The Evidence on Stones (Deny the Pain) keeps this going and ends Sense of Fire with a bang.

Sense of Fear is a great comeback from Morgue, who not only brings you old school death metal but with a oriental and progressive twist to it that will surely surprise a few of you. Sense of Fear is out now as an independent release.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/morgueband
For fans of: Entombed and Orphaned Land
Favorite song: Sense of Fear