Montag, 10. Dezember 2018

Top 10 Releases of 2018

Top 10 (in no particular order):
I don't know if it's only me and maybe I'm just getting a litle more selective whilst getting older,
but I'm under the impression that there have been a whole lot of "good" releases this year,
yet only a handful that really blew me away... still, let's see what actually stood out:
(and sorry for featuring so many of my own label releases again - but I guess that only shows
how much I actually like those myself and that I always try to release and support my favorites,
whenever I get the opportunity to do so)

The new Panopticon Album - probably the hottest contender for the title, if I had to pick
the one record of the year. Two hours of diverse, yet beautiful art by the mastermind A. Lunn.
This record is divided into two parts - the first, which is really well written atmospheric black metal
with (appalachian) folk elements, ranging from a bleak blasting to playful progressive riffs,
breaking up by a sudden melodic acoustic part and atmospheric landscape sounds. Also the lyrics (from what I could understand) and samples are really good - they challenge you to think about
your everyday habits and how we, as humans, tread our one earth and the nature around us.
Therefore I understand "The Scars Of Man On The Once Nameless Wilderness" as a
melancholic accusation. Inspired by "The Singing Wilderness" by Sigurd Olson.
I instantly fell in live with this first part of this album, released on a stunning 2x12", accompanied
by lots of pictures, art and some interesting readings, which complement the record perfectly.
The 2nd part - I have to admit - although took me while to appreciate, as it is full on
americane (folk/country), paired with bluegrass. It's still not that kind of music, which I can listen
to every day on my way to work or sth, but I can embrace the beauty and craftsmanship that lies within it and I understand the composition of this album, as it is meant to be heard;
and so should you! FFO: Agalloch, Wolves In The Throne Room, Falls Of Rauros, ...

Definitely the most exciting and original debut EP I've heard in a while.
Vegan Straight Edge themed Black Metal, mixed with some good old 90's Style Metalcore.
Outstanding good lyrics, screamed with utmost emotion by one of the, in my opinion,
best/most promising and diverse (at least to me) new vocalist in the game, accompanied by sometimes playful and sometimes relentlessly chugging, bleak but substantial riffs.
The name "Gnapenstob" (actually "Gnadenstoß") is a really unique refference to an old
The Crow comic, which makes the band only even more interesting in my book.
These refferences can also be found throughout the 7" layout, as well as the band's merch.
The undoubtably cool and creative indiviuduals behind this project are (or were) also active
in bands like: Apothecarium, The Real Cost, Sympathy Beating, Cruelties, Shoujikina, ...
Furthermore, the band itself basically already started in 2011 under the name Yidak
(and then later Gnapenstob) as a solo oldschool DSBM project from their guitar player (Tristen).

But this new EP sounds far from anything they did before - I'd definitely keep an eye on them
for 2k19 if I were you! FFO: early Underoath, Prayer For Cleansing, Undying, ...

Number one surprise of the year. The new Immortal, with Demonaz (and Horgh) being the sole
and only member(s) left. If you, like me, love Immortal, but thought that Abbath (his solo Album) was good, but not outstandingly great, give this one here a chance! If Immortal was a movie-series
and we would be talking about the Blashyrkh Cinematic Universe, I would argue that this LP
would be in no way a sequel, but rather a pre-(or actually inter-)quel and should be placed between
Blizzard Beasts and At The Heart Of Winter. You have the same cold and distorted "vacuum" riffs,
being torn open by tugging melodies from the depths of the abyss, like in Blizzard Beasts or even Battles In The North. But then you also have these chill atmospheric synth parts, being destroyed
but the most evil and relentless axe (guitar), like in At The Heart Of Winter. Also the lyrics -
just look at those song names - fit in perfectly. Sure, the vocals are different. But they are still
very good and powerful, plus I actually appreciate the "fresh" change. So, check it out.
The physical release offers some cool options, like the deluxe vinyl box version which also holds
a nice slipmat, besides the CD, poster, patch, etc... and I think I have also seen a 12" picture disc
version around, alongside all the different standart vinyl colors - so there should be something
available for everyone - definitely on heavy rotation on my table! FFO: true oldschool Immortal

The best EP of this year. Raw and energetic, melodic Vegan Straight Edge Metal.
BoD is the solo project of Nolan Arthur, the guy behind HEAL Records, who also plays in
The Cambodian Heat, xEradicatex & Eco-Defense League - he is basically the american pendant
to me and Forward To Eden I guess... However, even if it wasn't for the awesome person behind it,
this EP would still totally rule - scratchy solo guitars with beautiful harmonies, the mandatory chugg,
and all this accompanied by a soulful, emotional high pitched scream - crymosh 2000 AD.
If someone would've showed me this and told me "hey, check it out, this is a lost Undying demo",
I probably wouldn't have doubt it! Also the lyrics are militant vegan stuff, so what else could you even ask for? The 7" copy comes in the most simple DIY way you could imagine. White, stamped
center labels and a b/w fold-out cover. But it is produced as simple as possible, so that the majority
of the proceeds can be donated to a good cause (animal- & earth-liberation). Pretty punk, huh?
Check it out. Should be as interesting for old HL folks, as it is for new 90's revival kids.
FFO: Undying, Prayer For Cleansing, Raid & the Earth Liberation Front!

Have you ever wondered what a "Woods 6" would've sounded like (if it wasn't for Gold's death)?
You might not have to worry anymore, because these guys might just have the answer for us!
After an overwhelming debut LP in 2014 and a split record in 2015, the masters of blackened
doom metal - at least I personally haven't heard anything near as good in this genre for a while -
are finally back with a masterpiece of an album. Just like Woods Of Ypres during their prime (musically somewhere between Deppest Roots & The Green Album), they somehow manage to combine the best of Doom, Black & Gothic Metal, without loosing their own integrity/authenticity.
The Album is carried by a depressive heaviness which sometimes is almost suffocating,
but then suddenly other emotions are breaking through the surface and it feels just natural and relieving. This record has everything, from slow steamroller doom parts, underlaid with harmonic synths and orchestral sung/clean vocals, to fast, grim black metal riffs with a bleak high pitched screaming. The only penalty point for me: no vinyl version (yet)... not even tapes!
Anyway, check it out digitally for now and then lets see what the future holds. This is definitely
a record that can standt the test of time. FFO: Woods Of Ypres, (early) My Dying Bride, ...

Do you also find yourself reminiscing the "good old 90's" from time to time and then, while listening
to Maroon's "Antagonist" think about how all newer metalcore bands are mere blatant fakes?
That doesn't have to be the case any longer - just listen to xEDENISGONEx instead!
Even the cover looks like it could've been an early Maroon release + the logo/lettering is a fucking
Earth Crisis rip-off! you know what to expect, don't you? True to the core 90's Edgemetal!
Starting the album off with a movie sample, and not just any, but a crucial one from the
Berserk anime (100 ponus points for that already), is sure one way to win my heart (or in that case, make me sacrifice all other metalcore bands to the god hand). But this album doesn't stop here.
Ferocious blast beats with powerful growls and bloodcurdling screams over tremolo picking guitars
and dark, heavy chuggs. Anything other than the music (who is behind this project? do the lyrics
even make sense? ...?) is kinda kept a secret - based on the quality (more songwriting and technique than the actual recording), I assume it's safe to say that we might already know some of the
members from other bands though. FFO: Heaven Shall Burn, Arkangel, Day Of Suffering, ...

 Ancst never seem to disappoint. Blackened crust metal(core) with a message - lyrics about political and ecological matters, as well as personal and psychological stuff. Love metal, hate fascism!
Ancst are easily one of the most active and productive bands in the genre, having released a
full-length, a split EP & another EP this year alone - that's what other bands do in a lifetime -
and all of them are equally great! Also they seem to be always on tour - at least I have again seen them play 2 times this year and I don't even go out that often. I really struggled with the decision of which record to put up here, but eventually just went with the LP, because it's the longest and also shows their musical transition the most. The new EP is still just as good and even looks a lot more amazing in my opinion (12" vinyl with a screenprinted b-side), and the split 7" - also the Depravation side - is definitely stunning as well (even thought about still adding that to the list because of Depravation, so be sure to check them out as well). So, the change/the signing to Lifeforce Records also (may it be coincidentally) came with a little transition in the music. I feel like they added more "modern" elements, more metalcore influences - which isn't necessarily a bad thing though,
as it's still mostly black (crust) metal and appears as a natural evolution. Ancst started as a
one-man project by "Tom Is The Bastard" (the guy behind Yehonala Tapes & Henry Fonda),
but soon became something more with live members from bands like Afterlife Kids, Sinatra, ...
The earlier stuff reminds me a lot of a faster take on Fall Of Efrafa, while the later stuff is more Heaven Shall Burn. I love both. Maybe except for the ambient synth stuff, which they also release under that name from time to time - beware of that if you're just checking them out ;-P

 The proof that a record really can grow on you. When this was released a few weeks/months back,
I - being a huge Thrawsunblat fan and considering Metachthonia one of the best albums of 2016
- actually was a little disappointed at first listen. It was simply far from what I had expected.
Luckily I didn't kick it out of my rotation/playlist though, because at a 2nd (or 3rd) listen,
I slowly began to accept and appreciate it for what it is - overwhelmingly great written folk
black metal, but with 90% acoustic instruments and clean, sung vocals. It's a really interesting
record on it's own - you have songs like "Green Man Of East Canada", which is damn catchy maritime folk music you would expect on a medieval market or folk festival - you could actually
sing and dance to this (if you wanted to) - and then you also have songs like "Here I Am A Fortress",
which make you think: isn't this just (really good) melodic black metal on acoustic guitars?
It sure is a "different" record, which might not appeal to everyone, but I strongly suggest
giving it a try (and maybe also a 2nd and a 3rd). FFO: Woods Of Ypres, Agalloch, Winterfylleth, ...

Eco-Defense League - Join The Resistance / End The Ecocide EP
Bound By Modern Age (Tape) / HEAL Records (Tape)
Anyone else also thinks it's a shame that Green Rage only did that one 7" EP?
Isn't the only thing we want more militat 90's style vegan straight edge chugga core?
Our prayers have been answered: The Eco-Defense League is here to pick things up, where
the notorious xLAIRx since left them for good (another band that is gone way too early).
Also lyric- & ethic-wise you can't get it much butter than this + the physical release comes with
a whole lot of info material (which is always a plus for me): the EDL serves not only as a music project, but a educational gateway into the issues of environmental destruction and the radical environmental movements worldwide. These songs are reflective of the issues plaguing much of
the world, causing harm to all life, be it resource extraction, pollution, or government repression.
This project is non-profit, vegan, and advocates for total liberation and sustainable practices...
The EDL comprises members of bands like: Bring Our Demise & xEradicatex
And, yeah, sorry, but not sorry: my own band's (actually a solo project) LP...
Might come across as a little conceited, but I actually really like what I have created here
and I don't care how you think about this, but I even listen to it regularly! Also, a full-length
was quite an achievement for me, plus look at those labels involved - couldn't be more happy.
Musically, we have Death & Blackmetal influenced vegan straight edge 90’s style Metalcore
FFO: Maroon, Morning Again, Prayer For Cleansing, Unborn & The Vegan Jihad
...and before I loose myself in self-congratulation, for more info, check this:

10 more worthy of mention (in no particular order):
No judgement. Some of these maybe just would've needed a second or a third listen to get into
the actual top 10 - so definitely still all top notch releases which deserve to be checked out by you!

Vatican - Spawn Of All Pain Taken EP

Sorrow Carrier Records (Tape) / Glass Vial Records (Tape)
Chaotic 90's Style Straight Edge Metalcore/Crymosh. Ex-Coastlines.
FFO: Zao, 7 Angels 7 Plagues, Prayer For Cleansing, Poison The Well, ...

Youth 2 Youth Records (Tape) / Cavalcade Records (Tape)
Metallic oldschool Hardcore from Poland. Members of bands like: Incitement, Outbound,
Heatseeker, Desperate Times, ... FFO: Sunrise, Congress, Integrity, Morning Again, ...

Battle Ruins - Glorious Dead LP
Rock'N'Roll Disgrace Records (12")
Heavy Oi Metal Hardcore Punk Veterans. Members of bands like: XfilesX, The Rival Mob,
Mind Eraser, Magic Circle, Blank Stare, Boston Strangler, No Tolerance, Innumerable Forms, ...

Vital Force - Fetus Of Mankind EP
Bound By Modern Age (7")
Metallic vegan straight edge oldschool Hardcore/Metalcore from Russia.
FFO: Raid, Morning Again, Seven Generations, ...

Skeletal Remains - Devouring Mortality LP
Century Media (12"/CD) / Dark Descent (12"/Tape/CD) / Satanath Records (CD)
Oldschool Death Metal from California. FFO: Morbid Angel, Asphyx, Gorguts, ...

Wake Of Humanity - Fight / Resist LP
Bitter Melody Records (12") / Ugly & Proud Records (12")
Vegan straight edge, metallic oldschool Hardcore FFO: Birthright, Culture, Earth Crisis, ...

Elderwind - The Colder The Night LP
Self-Released (CD) / Depths Of Void (Tape)
Atmospheric/Symphonic, nature themed Black Metal from Russia. FFO: Drudkh, Summoning, ...

Avantgarde Music (12"/CD) / Folkvangr Records (Tape)
"Epic", atmospheric, multi-national folk Black Metal. FFO: Agalloch, Caladan Brood, ...

Eisenwald Tonschmiede (12" / Tape / CD)
Oldschool Black Metal with some melodic Death influence. FFO: Mgla, Satyricon, Immortal, ...
Also members of bands like: Ceremonial Castings, Infernus, Pillorian, ...

New Age Records (12")
Vegan Straight Edge 90's Style Metallic Hardcore. FFO: Unbroken, Strife, Inside Out, ...
Members of bands like: Cutting Through, Odd Man Out, Different Face, ...

And 5 more, which would've been in the actual top 10
...but couldn't legally be, because they either were re-releases or compilations:

Nechochwen - The Ancient Pulse (Comp)Bindrune Recordings (CD) / Nordvis Produktion (CD)
Appalachian folk (black) metal. FFO: Panopticon, Wolves In The Trone Room, ...
Members of bands like: Angelrust, Coldfells, End, Forest Of The Soul, Brimstone Coven,
Icarus Witch, Iron Flame, Obesquiae, Unwilling Flesh, Infirmary, Harvist, ...

Destroy Babylon - By The Knife LP
Bound By Modern Age (12") / Animals X Kingdom (12") / Diorama Records (Tape)
Militant vegan straight edge 90's style Metalcore from Italy. Members of bands like:
Absence, Rage Of A Prophet, The Battle, One Fine Day, Black Hill, Timor, End Of Suffering, ...

God's Heritage - Age Of Agony (Comp)
Mark My Words Records (CD) / Bound By Modern Age (7")
OG 90's Style Metalcore from Japan. Members of bands like: Statecraft, Loyal To The Grave,
Canopus, Extinguish The Fire, ... FFO: Morning Again, Kindred, Upheaval, ...

Cattle Decapitation - Medium Rarities (Comp)
Metal Blade Records (12"/Tape/CD)
All-Vegan Oldschool Grindcore/Gory Death Metal Legends. Also Members of bands like:
Anal Trump, Murder Construct, Creation Is Crucifixion, The Locust, Scour, My Lai, ...

Bound By Modern Age (Tape)
The perfect answer to the question "hey man, can you recommend me some cool new music?"
An original 90s style mixtape with all your favorite metal & hardcore bands on it! hehe...

Yeah, that's it... feel free to tell me about your favorites in the comments and I'll tell you how
I felt about those and why I didn't involve them in this list. See you next year! ;-)

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