Kyle McGinn Best-of 2018

Wednesday, 12th December 2018

As per the norm, when it comes to songs, it’s an opportunity to showcase a further diversity in the scene. So you won’t see any particular tracks from the top 12, but rather a standout from some equally worthy tracks that just fell short of the cutoff line. While things like Pandora and playlists on Spotify might cut it for some, there’s nothing quite like a full beginning to end listen for this scribe. It’s a bit of a bummer that in our high-speed modern world, we struggle to take a little break and just absorb something that we truly enjoy.

10. Kobra and the Lotus “Heartache” (from Prevail II)
Kobra and the Lotus have become masters at writing songs like this one. Catchy, emotional, and straight to the point. In a perfect world, this song would annihilate the radio waves.

9. Visions of Atlantis “The Deep & The Dark” (from The Deep & The Dark)
The latest iteration of Visions of Atlantis with Clémentine Delauney and Siegfried Samer may have unfortunately been short-lived (Samer has since exited the band), but it’s a powerful combination of voices. Regardless, Visions of Atlantis have the symphonic metal game mastered at this point.

8. Bleeding Through “Fade into the Ash” (from Love Will Kill All)
Bleeding Through’s return was a pleasant surprise, and “Fade into the Ash” is precisely why they were missed. Aggressive and in your face, but with an epic sense and just the right amount of emotion to back it all up.

7. Slugdge “Slave Goo World” (from Esoteric Malacology)
Opening up this song with the most ‘head-bang’ friendly riff of the year, the progressive metal act Slugdge really came into their own on this release. Progressive, interesting, and gloriously slimy, Esoteric Malacology is everything you could want in death metal.

6. Cognitive “Fragmented Perception” (from Matricide)
In the presence of an increasingly dry field of ‘who can be the most tech’ in death metal, Cognitive haven’t forgotten that it’s still brutality that rules all. If this song doesn’t knock you on your ass, what will?

5. Anaal Nathrakh “Obscene as Cancer” (from A New Kind of Horror)
The masters of chaos, Anaal Nathrakh bring the apocalypse better than anyone else. Twisted and abrasive, yet with a beacon of epic glory that shines through it all. Terrifying, yet you can’t help but smile and soak it all in.

4. At the Gates “To Drink from the Night Itself” (from To Drink from the Night Itself)
Dark and melancholic, but with a forward-moving melodic death coating, To Drink from the Night Itself ups the ante from their comeback release and prove why they are still legends of the genre. This track is ample proof of that.

3. Eleine “Sanity” (from Until the End)
Groovy, symphonic metal with a gothic sheen surrounding it, the atmosphere is everything on “Sanity.” Dark yet inviting, with a feeling that can be both heavy and addictive. Not quite sure why Eleine aren’t catching more ears with this one – this is what gothic metal should be all about.

2. Idle Hands “Blade and the Will” (from Don’t Waste Your Time)
A combination of traditional heavy metal/NWOBHM alongside ‘80s rock and gothic flavors make Idle Hands one of the most exciting new bands of 2018. Could have picked any of these EP tracks as an example, but the addictive, fist-pumping chorus of “Blade and the Will” should easily hook anybody in the nearby vicinity.

1. Blackbriar “I’d Rather Burn” (from We’d Rather Burn)
This song simply takes you into a grim fairytale – the unique atmosphere is everything, from the eerie piano to Zora’s potent vocals to the catchy riff that will all combine to embed itself in your head for days. An elegant and beautifully dark track. Truth be told, if We’d Rather Burn was a full-length, it would have easily snagged a spot away from one of the others.


Best Newcomer: Phantom Elite
As someone who doesn’t like to give out a lot of perfect scores (the personal count currently sits at 13 out of about 2,000 reviews at DR), Phantom Elite truly impressed with their astounding debut. Wasteland was an inspiring take on the symphonic metal genre, and one that should be working as a launching pad for the band to go onto even greater heights with their next effort.


Biggest Surprise: Jill Janus suicide
There’s been a lot of tragic deaths and loss of those in the limelight this year, but none hit closer to home than that of Jill Janus’ suicide this fall. While Huntress had been off the radar for a bit, they were about due for something, and there had been no mentions of Janus having any current struggles, as had become more forthcoming about them with the release of Static. A unique and kind woman of the scene, hopefully she has found some peace.


Best Concert: Cellar Darling – September 11 – Saint Vitus Bar, Brooklyn NY
A tough call between this one and finally catching At the Gates on a headline set in October, Cellar Darling won out due their ability to bring their magical This is the Sound to the stage without losing any of its charm or whimsy. An intimate performance with the band giving it their all, and a performance worth cherishing.

[See larger image HERE]
Best Cover Art: Psycroptic’s As the Kingdom Drowns
Mariusz Lewandowsky has put out some absolutely jawdropping artwork over the years, and As the Kingdom Drowns is on par with some of his best. It’s dreary, eye-catching, and absolutely mammoth in its scope. Not to mention the interesting color palette and the details you can find as you really give it a good once-over. Worth getting a larger copy and framing (or at least a wall flag).


Biggest Disappointment: Ævangelist – Matricide in the Temple of the Omega
Ævangelist came out big with 2013’s Omen Ex Simulacra, an album that felt like it was pulled from the bowels of Hell itself. An atmosphere of dread and sheer terror that was completely captivating. But with each album since, and particularly the overly long Matricide, has failed to capture those emotions. Instead the only thing that has been building is the sense of boredom from hearing the same murky atmosphere to the point that it is nauseating.


Most Anticipated Album of 2019: Delain
It would be all too easy to just slot Soilwork or Allegaeon in here as usual, but given the drought of new material from the band (as well as the promise of what is incoming) and watching the current iteration come across the States twice now in support of the excellent Moonbathers, the band is definitely riding high on some deserved success. A little tweak to the already well-working formula could all but guarantee an even stronger album from Delain.

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