Franklin's Top Twenty Albums Of 2018
The year of 2018 was rough, like sandpaper fellatio in the Sahara, but there was some incredible albums to listen to, so let’s talk about that instead!
Thanks to all the bands and labels on here for making this year a meaningful journey around the sun!
Amigo The Devil – Everything Is Fine (Regime Music Group)
I’ve been a fan of Danny Kiranos’ EP work for many years now, but the release of his debut LP is absolutely heart melting in the best possible way. Everything Is Fine is a terrific display of mesmerizing artistry, that tugs at our emotions and gives us a reason to continue falling in love, with music. The album is packed with memorable songs, but I still have to give it up to "Hell And You", which I was able to premiere to the world earlier this year.
Tribulation – Down Below (Century Media)
The boys in Tribulation are true craftsmen in every sense of a band I’ve ever known, and following up their breakthrough Children Of The Night was never going to be easy, but adapting themselves as part metal band, part music composers in all things eerie has led them to their brightest opus yet, Down Below. Easily one of the most listened to albums of the year for me, and my review sums up why.
Crippled Black Phoenix – Great Escape (Season Of Mist)
CBP might still be a relatively unknown experiment of 30 rotating members, but Great Escape was certainly one of my biggest pleasures of the year, proving that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If you’re looking to embrace a meaningful and sad sounding album that’ll knock you on your ass and leave you contemplating life from a rear view mirror, look no further than this phenomenal release you need in your life.
Vein – Errorzone (Closed Casket Activities)
Vein has been a truly exciting hard core band I’ve watched tear up stages over the last few years, but 2018 brought the release of Errorzone, their debut album I believe will be the new benchmark for hardcore music moving forward. Mixing classic core elements with the likes of trip hop, dub, electronic, metal and so much more pushes them far beyond their peers and ushers in the next chapter of a classic genre like we've never heard it. I couldn’t be happier to premiere Vein’s first taste of new music this year, a track I still point to as one of the pivotal moments of 2018.
The Armed – Only Love (Self Released)
From the opening moments of Only Love you are invited into what life must feel like inside a surrealist painting lathered in blood, sweat, seamen, and garlic aioli. With the help of Ben Koller on drums, metal’s weirdest band continues to grow into new territory that mystifies, bewilders, and captivates listeners years ahead of their own time.
A Perfect Circle – Eat The Elephant (BMG)
Despite a ridiculous album title and album cover, Eat The Elephant turned out to be my favorite APC album in their long and celebrated career. There are a couple less than favorable songs, but as a whole, it’s an emotional experience that made me fall in love with music and endlessly annoyed I’ll never be able to write songs as meaningful if my life depended on it.
Hangman’s Chair – Banlieue Triste (Spinefarm Records)
The French lads of Hangman’s Chair really hit it out of the park with their latest and greatest, Banlieue Triste, an offering of 67 minutes in dark and brooding sad songs of love, distress and despair. Their brand of doom ranges from the dark romance of Type O Negative to the melodic layerings of Khemmis in a unique package one can really only describe as, Hangman’s Chair.
Del Judas – Deity (Primal Architecture Records)
My first words to this gothic rock masterpiece was simply, “wow”. Former drummer of Tombs and Vaura, two excellent NY-based bands, Deity sees Charlie Schmid move from behind the kit to center stage, crooning out dark songs which remind me that my favorite part of music is how it makes me feel. An absolute must-listen for any fan of gothic singer-song writers out there, a clear soft spot for me.
Ihsahn – Amr (Candlelight Records)
Ihsahn has returned with a majestic new album, Amr, that shines light on his entire body of work past, present, and future. If you’ve ever been an Emperor/Ihsahn fan, then you owe it to yourself to sit down with this one, and give it your undivided attention. Sonically to spiritually the album is an experience you could only receive from this music legend that seems to stand before time, like some kind of wizard.
Azusa – Heavy Yoke (Solid State Records)
I’m not even sure how to start explaining this new band from members of Extol and DEP, other than its turbulent twist and turns are some of the most unpredictable and exciting music making I’ve heard in a long time, but when you consider the folks involved, that should come as no surprise in and of itself. Heavy Yoke is a sneaky kind of album, in that you listen to it a few times just to grasp what’s going on and by your third repeat, you’re already too hooked to stop!
BTBAM – Automata I & II (Metal Blade Records)
We go all the way back to the beginning with these fine lads, and I could not be more proud of the work they’ve been churning out the last few years. 2018 saw the release of their monster undertaking, a double LP titled Automata I&II and my first listen was met with the realization that they may be the best prog band of our generation. If you’re into getting the tingles and feelings when listening to an album, toss this on in a dark room and be taken away.
Skeletonwitch – Devouring Radiant Light (Prosthetic Records)
Skeletonwitch has always been a band you can count on for some quality grooving thrashiness, but this year brought a very new direction I absolutely adored. They continue their brand of raw energy and head-bang ready grooves, met with a much bigger emphasis on blackened guitar melody that created a package so magnetizing that Devouring Radiant Light became an LP I kept revisiting through out the whole year. Simply put, I think it's their best work yet!
Behemoth – I Loved You at Your Darkest (Metal Blade Records)
Behemoth has been pillaging their way to our blackened hearts over the last couple decades, and their hard work is rightfully celebrated with the release of I Loved You at Your Darkest, an album that embodies the harmonious gathering of the band’s epic aggression and funeral-like delicacies in one. It’s been an amazing ride to watch them flourish over the last 11 albums, and we’re excited to hear what they do next!
Svalbard – It’s Hard To Have Hope (Holy Roar Records)
Svalbard is easily one of the most exciting bands to drop on the metal scene the last few years. From their hard hitting hardcore edge, to their tremolo ethereal qualities and beautiful melodies, they’re a band that can easily take you away to wander around your own head. IHTHH might only be their sophomore LP, but already shows tremendous growth in a band already destined for world wide touring. Let’s hope that happens soon, for the sake of our scene.
Craft – White Noise and Black Metal (Season Of Mist)
Craft is back, and better than ever! It’s not surprising at all that my favorite straight up black metal album of the year comes from one of the genre’s greats! As their first release in 7 years, White Noise and Black Metal showcases the bands ability to jump leaps and bounds in their song writing capabilities and a production that ushers in a new and refreshing chapter for these veterans.
Anaal Nathrakh – A New Kind Of Horror (Metal Blade Records)
Anaal Nathrakh has a long career of disturbing the peace across nine previous albums, but would you believe their tenth, A New Kind Of Horror, is their best yet! Once again donning their brand of black metal meets high intensity industrial, the duo created a fully charged mind fuck I haven’t felt since mid-90’s SYL, and from first to last song, never held back. The album is a prime example of a still relatively unexplored sub-sub-genre, deserving of the album title.
Slugdge – Esoteric Malacology (Willowtip Records)
What is not to love about this groovy AF progressive death metal band that centers their existence around a fictional story of a cosmic slug!? In what is easily the duo’s best work yet, Slugdge take on new dimensions for their first Willowtip release that shows promise of a band ready to take over the world, and now with TBDM’s Alan Cassidy behind the drums, there’s probably nothing that can stop the upward steady crawl of the slug!
Revocation – The Outer Ones (Metal Blade Records)
Proggy Death Metal bands might be a dime a dozen these days, but fucking dammit does Revocation do it faster, cleaner, and better than most. If malicious sonic assault with a tremendous sense of precision is your thing, then hop on board with The Outer Ones, a powerhouse album in an already impressive collection for the band.
Arsis – Visitant (Nuclear Blast)
Arsis have always been a mainstay in engineering guitar driven melodic death metal, while maintaining their own unique sound. Visitant in particular is drenched in so many damn hooks I can’t help but smash that repeat button as soon as it’s done. It might just be their best work yet!
Pig Destroyer – Head Cage (Relapse Records)
Pig Destroyer returned this year with a pummeling new album that reinforces their status as a grind band that does much more than just blast beat their way through a record, but builds several layers of unforgettable grooves that keep us coming back for more!
Zeal And Ardor – Stranger Fruit (MKVA)
Z&A mastermind, Manuel Gagneux, returns with yet another opus titled Stranger Fruit that sets him apart from the rest of the genre. Combining elements of negro spiritualism, post-black metal, and even new elements that go far outside the metal realm, he forms an avant-garde mix most of the world might not even be ready for yet, but is needed in a time where barriers need to be broken. Pushing boundaries musically, politically, spiritually and sonically is what Zeal & Ardor is all about, and I can’t imagine a better person to lead that charge.
CLOSE CALLS (If Only My List Was Longer)
Void Ritual – A New Ritual
Khemmis – Desolation
Graveyard – Peace
The Ocean- Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic
Bosse De Nage – Further Still
High On Fire – Electric Messiah
Rivers Of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
Judas Priest – Firepower
The Lions Daughter – Future Cult
Carpenter Brut – Leather Teeth
Ghost – Prequelle
Harakiri For The Sky – Arson
Wolfheart – Constellation of the Black Light
Sectioned – Annihilated
Andrew WK – You’re Not Alone
Grayceon – IV