Happy December folks!
For a true Music Nerd, December is a special, treasured time of year, nothing to do with either Jesus, Santa or family, oh no. December, the final Month of the year, is the time when we finally get to wave aloft our carefully crafted AOTY lists in a pompous statement of "The Music I Like Is Superior To The Music You Like" belligerence.
So then, here's my own pompous, belligerent list for you to coo appreciatively at. For a year that started out slow, it picked up pace considerably and there ended up being an absolute ton of albums this year. So much so that I had to extend my usual Top 20 to a Top 40 and there was still a lot of albums I was sad to see knocked out of the list. I could have easily done a Top 60 but you'd have got bored scrolling long before halfway.
It's been a particularly good year for Extreme Metal with more albums of that ilk than ever before appearing in my list, pretty high too. I don't know if it's just been a really good year for super heavy stuff or if my personal tastes have just changed a bit?
For the first time this blog is a double and, as such, I've split it up into two halves so that it's easier to download.
I've also included a Spotify playlist for those that want it. I had to make a couple of minor changes due to availability but nothing that's going to ruin your day.
Like previous years, I've hidden the tracklisting of the mix(es) at the end to avoid spoilers, such as they are.
The albums are below in reverse order, I hope there's some you agree with and/or some you'll want to check out afterwards.
I guess that's enough waffle, so long for 2018 and I'll hopefully see you all in January!
You can download Part 1 HERE
You can download Part 2 HERE
You can listen on Spotify HERE
40. Fell At Ten - Another Day
39. Muncie Girls - Fixed Ideals
38. The Winter Hill Transmission - The Winter Hill Transmission
37. Thrashist Regime - Carnival Of Monsters
36. Therapy? - Cleave
35. VNV Nation - Noire
34. Psychostick - Do
32. Chthonic - Battlefields Of Asura
31. Sad Hill - Good If It Goes
Mix #40 - My Slumbering Heart, not realising they were going to feature in my top album list. I've been playing Good If It Goes quite a bit since publishing that blog and it's a great little set of Punky, Indie Rock tunes, there's not a weak track to found on the whole album. They remind me a little of the French band, Not Scientists, who feature further on down this list.
30. Zeal & Ardor - Stranger Fruits
29. dragSTER - Anti-Everything
Living In A Playlist Paradise, I gave them an actual proper listen this year and it turns out that I'm an idiot, they're actually pretty damned good. Vaxis carries on the elaborate take told through most of their previous albums, comic books and whatnot but musically, it's more in line with the slight mainstream Rock of their last album, the standalone, The Color Before The Sun. I say mainstream, it's still as Proggy as anything just a little more palatable to the casual listener that's all.
The band hail from Bury St Edmonds that's, er, somewhere down South and offer up a shouty brand of Indie Punk Hardcore Art Rock kind of thing, complete with a selection of chucklesome song titles. The band are going through a bit of turmoil at the moment with losing a couple of members, I hope they soldier through and carry on because I'd love to hear more from them.
26. Dirt Box Disco - Immortals
25. Haken - Vector
24. Karine Polwart - Laws Of Motion
23. Alkaline Trio - Is This Thing Cursed?
21 = Sectioned - Annihilated21 = Frontierer - Unloved
Both bands spew out ferocious, uncompromising, Technical Hardcore with plenty of Djent style riffs and time signatures. Unloved and Annihilated are brutal, intense listens, that'll leave your head ringing and ready for something more sedate afterwards. Which is convenient because...
20. Eels - The Deconstruction
19. Motorjesus - Race To Resurrection
As far as I'm aware, Chris Birx was also leaving the band due to health issues but he must have got better because he's back and his Hetfieldesque voice is in fine form. It's a pleasure to have him, and them, back.
18. Alkaloid - Liquid Anatomy
17. Paul Miro - Sinombré Vol. II: Broken Angels
16. The Skull - The Endless Road Turns Dark
15. Not Scientists - Golden Staples
14. Bloods - Feelings
I nearly passed over this Australian band because the cover looked like it'd be Gonzo Metal or something. I'm glad I didn't because it's a really good album and the title track is one of my favourite songs of the year. Since writing this I've discovered Sweetie is moving away and leaving the band. I wish her luck and I hope the band continues on.
13. Sick Of It All - Wake The Sleeping Dragon!
Well, this was a surprise, These hardcore veterans have not long released what might just be the best album of their 30-year career. It's a thrilling burst of anger with 17 tracks totalling just over 32 minutes, none of them hang about. It's full of anthem after anthem filled with riffs, gang vocals and a violent rage that's obviously come about due to the Trump Presidency. Wake The Sleeping Dragon! hasn't been out long but I've listened to this album a ton already and shall continue to do so.
12. Dan Webster - Devil Sky
11. Behemoth - I Loved You At Your Darkest
10. Frank Turner - Be More Kind
Little Changes video?
9. Amorphis - Queen Of Time
8. Adult Cinema - Teaser Trailer
7. Half Man Half Biscuit - No One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin' Hedge Cut
6. Clutch - Book Of Bad Decisions
They're carrying on with the good time Bluesy Stoner Rock they've pursued over the last three albums and sound all the better for it. I'm sure they'll meander down some experimental path once again but, for now, let's rock!
5. Eureka Machines - Victories / Rarities
4. Sojourner - The Shadowed Road
I never thought I'd see the day when a Black Metal album was in my top 5 albums but there's no denying the warm, sumptuous quality of The Shadowed Road. Also, it's hands down my favourite album cover of the year.
3. Ginger Wildheart - GASS Mk. II / The Pessimist's Companion
The ever-prolific Ginger is, once again, knackering up my AOTY by releasing two albums in a year for about the third year in a row now. The Ginger Associated Secret Society was a fan club type subscription thing he did a few years ago and GASS MK. II is the second compilation featuring tracks from that venture. From the Folky, acoustic Caer Urfa to the Pop Rock of Don't Stop Loving The Music and the batshit Prog Metal of Bloody Knees, this album exudes brilliance that fans of The Wildhearts' main man have come to expect.
The recently released The Pessimist's Companion is the follow up to last year's Ghost In The Tanglewood and is more of the melancholic Americana of that album. As good as that album was, this is better. Every track is a near perfect tale of heartbreak, loss and/or mental health. The Pessimist's Companion is an open, honest account of the breakdown of his relationship and his struggles with depression. It's not an easy listen but it is a cathartic one with some oddly catchy tunes for good measure.
2. Dog Fashion Disco - Experiments In Embryos
on the 7th Dec, they'll be releasing the newly re-recorded version of their fourth album, Anarchists Of Good Taste. That was the album that first introduced me to the band when it was first released in 2001, I'm excited to hear what they've done with it but also concerned they're messing with songs I love. I'll be even more concerned when they get to the fifth album Committed To A Bright Future as that's probably one of my desert island discs.
1. Slugdge - Esoteric Malacology
They're a staggeringly good band and Esoteric Malacology a brilliant, brilliant album. Bring them your cabbage leaves.
Fell At Ten - Work Hard
Muncie Girls - Picture Of Health
The Winter Hill Transmission - If I Ever See You Again
Thrashist Regime - Soldiers Of Fortune
Therapy? - Kakistocracy
VNV Nation - Armour
Psychostick - Introvert Party Time
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers - New Ways To Fail
Chthonic - Flames Upon The Weeping Winds
Sad Hill - Lucky Spirits
Zeal And Ardor - Row Row
dragSTER - Enemies
Coheed And Cambria - Black Sunday
Cheap Heat - Unenthusiastic Handjob
Dirt Box Disco - Box Set Addict (*1)
Haken - A Cell Divides
Karine Polwart - Cassiopeia
Alkaline Trio - Throw Me To The Lions
Frontierer - Glitcher
Sectioned - Life's True Beauty
Eels - Sweet Scorched Earth
Motorjesus - Running Out Of Time
The Skull - As The Sun Draws Near
Alkaloid - Azagthoth
Paul Miro - Build My Gallows High (*2)
Not Scientists - Orientation
Bloods - Talk
Sick Of It All - Bad Hombres
Dan Webster - Joe
Behemoth - God = Dog
Frank Turner - Little Changes
Amorphis - The Golden Elk
Adult Cinema - Witches
Half Man Half Biscuit - Knobheads On Quiz Shows
Clutch - Vision Quest
Eureka Machines - Hey Ho John Doe
Sojourner - An Oath Sworn In Sorrow
Ginger Wildheart - In Reverse (*3)
Dog Fashion Disco - God Crisis
Slugdge - Putrid Fairytale
(*1) The only album Dirt Box Disco have on Spotify is their recently released compilation Hooray! Hooray! so I've included their classic track, Burning instead of Box Set Addict
(*2) Neither of the Sinombré albums are up on Spotify so I've included Ghost Heart from his acoustic bonus album from 2013
(*3) The Pessimist's Companion doesn't get released officially until next year so I've included The Words Are Gonna Have To Wait from Ghost In The Tanglewood, which got its full, official release earlier this year.