OK, so first of all, I’ll be honest- “Top 10 _______ of ‘year x'” lists in the past have always been kind of stressful for me because I suddenly start looking at everyone else’s lists that come out around December and realize that most of them are better/”cooler” than mine, are much better written and/or more witty, and can often be an attempt to perhaps create a composite of the overall sound or trend for that specific year. While I appreciate that everyone takes the time to make them, I think all too often it just becomes a scramble to try and make sure that the list you’re compiling be at least halfway-respectable.
I’m all for everyone doing whatever they want in this case, of course, but for me personally I want to state officially that for me, 2018 was the year that I decided to liberate myself from this unnecessary torment!! I want my top 10 of the year list should be fun, not tedious or stressful. That being said, I’ve decided to redefine what my “top 10 metal albums of the year” list means for me.
I’ve come to realize that these lists shouldn’t reflect what one thinks are actually the 10 best metal albums of the year. Instead, this list should represent the best of the metal that came across my path over the course of the entire year. All of your hot jams for any given year are on these albums! Additionally, these lists should be amorphous and constantly changing in our own minds as we consume more and more music from any given year in the past over the course of our lives, so naturally in our minds these kinds of things should rarely be set in stone…but in terms of a list written at the end of the year (or in January of the following year) about your listening habits and what you enjoyed most over the course of that year should be more or less set in stone, because it’s not like you can just go back in time and change what you listened to in order to make it more encompassing, cool, or less embarassing haha.
Therefore, I present to you the new-and-improved incarnation of Wulf’s almighty Top 10 Metal Albums of ‘Year X’ list- 10 of the best metal albums that I enjoyed in 2018!! Enjoy!!
10. For I, the Misanthropist – Human Serpent (Greece)
The Hellenic metal scene is one that I definitely look forward to exploring more in the future; unfortunately, up till now I’m only familiar with the random Greek bands like Rotting Christ, Septicflesh, and Order of the Ebon Hand (and I’ll bet I only checked them out because they were named after that one (underrated IMO) Magic: the Gathering card haha). Anyway, Human Serpent definitely channel that sort of “early Hellenic sound” in terms of melancholic melodies, gloomy atmospherics, and an overall vibe that reminds me of a more aggressive early Rotting Christ.
You can check out the new Human Serpent album here: https://humanserpent.bandcamp.com/album/for-i-the-misanthropist
9. The Sciences – Sleep (USA)
I’m not sure if you all know this or not, but I moved back to the States (after living in South Korea for some time) in like February of last year. Upon returning to the States, I decided to give weed another go (after having quit for like 14 years!) for a bunch of different reasons, but mainly for some health-related issues. To my amazement, not only did I find both the short- and long-term effects to be extremely beneficial, but also this lifestyle change happened to coincide with the glorious return of the almighty Sleep!! It’s pretty much what you would expect too- another riff-filled land to follow the smoke to with your bong in hand as you drop out of life!!
You can check out the album here: https://www.thecirclepit.com/2018/04/sleep-the-sciences-full-album-stream
8. The Luciferian Crown – Archgoat (Finland)
Ahhh, good ol’ Archgoat. Honestly, I’m going to say that Archgoat (as opposed to, say, Blasphemy or Black Witchery) are the Coca-Cola of war metal in that they define the genre and are so reliable in that they never disappoint! I don’t really know what to say about this record other than that this is another filthy Archgoat war metal opus, so if you’re into that you can’t go wrong with this!
You can check out the album here: https://archgoat666.bandcamp.com/
7. Mark of the Necrogram – Necrophobic (Sweden)
For those of you who miss the glory days of late 90s / early 2000s-style melodic black metal (Dissection, Naglfar, Dark Funeral, etc.), this is the album for you! I’m not sure if there are really a lot of newer bands these days that try to pull off this style, but it’s great to see the Old Guard STILL putting out high-quality material that also can scratch that “nostalgia itch” as well. The cool Necrolord artwork doesn’t hurt, either!
You can find out more about Necrophobic and this album here: https://www.necrophobic.net/
6. Northern Chaos Gods – Immortal (Norway)
When I found out that Abbath had left Immortal and that Demonaz (!) was going to take over on guitar and vocals, I was skeptical that that this was going to be able to live up to their solid discography. Demonaz’ solo album (March of the Norse) that he put out a few years ago didn’t seem to generate much of a buzz; I also wasn’t too impressed with the stuff that I heard, either. Luckily, I was wrong, as I found this to be a worthy addition to Immortal’s (overall) solid discography. Admittedly, it IS kind of weird to hear Immortal without Abbath’s signature croak, but Demonaz’ hoarse rasp definitely works, too! Hail Blashyrkh!!
You can support Immortal here: https://www.immortalofficial.com/
5. Maltrér – Verheerer (Germany)
I discovered this band randomly late one night with the track “Kultyst”, and was really impressed with the band’s feverish sound and occult atmosphere (and really cool cover art for the album too!). They reminded me a bit of a more fun version of their fellow German countrymen, the brooding Secrets of the Moon (perhaps Antithesis (2006)-era?). Definitely looking forward to exploring this record at a later time!
You can check out the album here: https://verheerer1.bandcamp.com/album/maltr-r
4. Mythen, Mären, Pestilenz – Ungfell (Switzerland)
Ungfell hearken back to the glory days of early Peste Noire when they were at their most medieval and raw. I love that a lot of bands nowadays seem to be emulating this style and coming up with some pretty cool stuff, as Ungfell aren’t the only ones who are killing it with this style (see Aorlhac below). However, Ungfell seem to take their concept to the extreme with absolutely nuts shrieking vocals, frantic drums, and a ribald Dark Ages atmosphere that shouldn’t be missed!!
You can check out the album here: https://ungfell.bandcamp.com/album/mythen-m-ren-pestilenz
3. Perennial Fire – Primal Cult (Greece)
I don’t know what it is about this year, but most of the metal that I really enjoyed this year was stuff that reminded me of the kind of metal I came across when I first started getting into the genre back in like 2002…I’m talking classic stuff like Rotting Christ, Naglfar, Dissection, etc. You know…stuff that was that was underground and respected by most, but still was melodic and accessible for kids like me who were just starting to discover the joys of extreme metal. Of course, Primal Cult is one of these bands that I discovered in 2018 that took me back to my teenage years! Although the drum production needs some work, this is still a great record that has that melodic, brooding, Gothic atmosphere that only the Greeks still seem to know how to execute perfectly. An underrated gem!!
You can check out the album here: https://primalcult.bandcamp.com/
2. Call of the Wild – Deströyer 666 (Australia)
Yeah yeah, this is an EP, so it kind of goes against my “only LPs” rule for these kinds of lists, but seeing as to how I’ve already laid out my argument for why these lists should capture your jams (as opposed to some all-encompassing “these are my picks for the BEST metal albums of the year” list) that you happened to discover and really enjoy over the course of the year, I’m going to go ahead and put the latest Deströyer 666 on this list! This is pretty much what you would expect from Deströyer 666 at this point in their career; IMO it sounds like a continuation of what was explored on the Wildfire LP (2016), which made my “top 10 metal albums” list for the year, too. If you like Deströyer 666’s brand of barbaric death/thrash metal with a hint of that “black metal biker” aesthetic, then check this one out if you haven’t already!
You can check out the album here: https://destroyer666.bandcamp.com/album/call-of-the-wild
1. L’esprit des vints – Aorlhac (France)
Do you wish Alcest and Peste Noire would just go back to playing Medieval-themed black metal like in their early days? Then this is the record for you! I really love the atmosphere on this album, as listening to it conjures up images of full moons, misty forests, raving madmen drunk on wine, the majestic French countryside in autumn, and peasant witchcraft.
The performances on this album are great too- Ardraos’ drumming is on fucking point; the guitars have this feverish edge to them that is gives the whole record a sense of urgency; and I also just really love hearing black metal vocals when they’re in French. Light some candles and enjoy this one late at night!!
You can check out the album here: https://ladlo.bandcamp.com/album/lesprit-des-vents