2018 has been chaotic; From January up until now, every day has felt like I’ve been living within a tornado storm watch and I couldn’t do anything but allow for it to come closer. First, it was a “Warning: You are in the danger zone” and then it built up to a “Warning: you are about to be sucked up into the storm” in the end-tails of October, and I just embraced it. So much has happened that I don’t even think I can remember every event, hell, I can barely remember what albums had been released this year?!
However, luckily I am a professional (biggest joke of the year), I’ve done my best to triple check that albums I am about to discuss have actually been released in 2018, which is actyally a big deal since I never proof read, so without further ado let’s get cracking.
6. Wasteland – Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats
Three years after the successful release of “The Night Creeper”, England’s psychedelic stoner metal band, “Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats” released their highly anticipated and fifth studio album, “Wasteland”.
The band started to pick up traction after opening for Black Sabbath on their final tour. Although Uncle Acid was quickly compared to their influences, Sabbath, for their melodic-doomy-metal sounds, BUT despite this they picked up a mass following since their exposure to the legendary band’s fanbase, and have been on their own World Wide tours since.
In comparison to Uncle Acid’s “The Night Creeper”, I find that “Wasteland” brought the band back to their more late 60s metal roots with songs like “Stranger Tonight”, “Bedouin” and “Exodus”. Unlike The Night Creeper, which was filled with more upbeat melodic rock songs, “Wasteland” is filled with more heavier guitars and gritty rock’n’roll songs.
What I like most about Uncle Acid , and the album “Wasteland” in particular, is that their music is truly hypnotizing, whenever I put them on in the background while doing work, I can’t help but fall in a trance to the captivating grooves that Uncle Acid simulate. Which is what got me hooked on their music 2 years ago when I discovered, their “Night Creeper” record. I truly played the crap out of it on bandcamp, and then later found their music on spotify.
Ultimately, “Wasteland” did not disappoint! Despite the fact that I truly enjoyed the grooviness of “The Night Creeper”, I was worried that their next record would just be a repeat; however, Uncle Acid, took their memorable vibes and made it heavier, maybe more Black Sabbath-like, but it’s still personal, it has the distinct Uncle Acid sound that all their fans have come to love, including me. I cannot wait to see the band live in 2019 with the Swedish band, Graveyard!! (be sure to keep an eye out for that review)
5. Boarding House Reach – Jack White
Boarding House Reach is Jack White’s third solo album, and probably 800th studio album he has not only worked on but also released. Jack is truly the Willy Wonka of the Rock Universe; if someone says a recording mechanism is impossible, Jack White will not only find a way to do it, he’d make it more difficult for himself and still be able to craft an impeccable work of art.
So, what’s so special about this album you may ask? Well, first off, Jack had shared with multiple media outlets that the foundation of this album had been recorded in a small apartment in Nashville, Tennessee, where he recorded his songs on a reel-to-reel tape recorder which he purchased when he was fourteen. His goal was “to try to write songs where I can’t be heard by the next-door neighbour”.
Later, White took the recordings to many different studies around the USA, including his own, Third Man Studio in Nashville, where he produced, co-mixed the album, as well as played the guitars, drums, organs, and synthesizers, while also acting as the vocalist. I got tired by just writing everything he did, I can’t fathom actually being able to do all that work; However, that just proves his passion for the art of creating music.
It’s one thing to write and record an album, but Jack White is one of the very few artists that puts literally all their brain, heart, blood, sweat and tears into their music. For that reason alone, I appreciate anything Jack puts out into the world.
Jack heavily emphasized that he intentionally made Boarding House Reach to be an album that was difficult to listen to, in fact, he consciously made sure that most people would actually dislike the record on the first listen, due to its obscure sounds and elements that would make a listener unsure of what the hell they’re listening to. I mean, it’s the most hipster thing I’ve ever heard, but f*ck was he right.
The album is weird, it’s loud, it’s melodic, but also not so melodic that it becomes “an easy listen to” record, it’s just obsecure art. It’s insane, and it’s even better live. I had the opportunity to see the brilliance of Mr.Wonka-White himself back in August, and hearing a few the Boarding House Reach songs live made me appreciate the intricate art of them; watching the man be completely engulfed in his own music for 2 hours, was a chilling experience.. most importantly it was an intense rocknroll experience and I think that’s the best way to describe this album.
I absolute adore Boarding House Reach.
4. Avatar Country – Avatar
If this isn’t your first time reading a review of mine, you would know that if there’s one thing I never get bored of in music, it’s concept albums. I f*ckng love concept albums! If done correctly, they never fail to blow my mind and I will spend every penny in my bank to support artists that try bring their creative stories and vision to life.
To me, Avatar is one of the few bands that take concept albums to a whole different level and is successful. “Avatar Country” from start to finish is absolutely brilliant, the band has exceeded my expectations on how far an artist can go with making sure the record follows a storyline. Although, their master of the craft was not an overnight thing since this album is actually their 7th studio album!
Avatar is one of the “must see” live bands, that helps you become obsessed with their showmanship and creativity. I recommend you read my older post that goes in full detail about the band and their live experience, but I think it’s important that I re-emphasize on how captivating the band really is, and how much more they are than another “Swedish metal band”. Again, like Jack White they put all their money, talent, physical and mental strength into their art and you can really see that in their performance, as well as hear it in their music!
“Avatar Country” is an elaborative thematic record, that emphasizes on middle age Scandivania, in attempts to recruit average people to pledge to their King, guitarist Jonas Jarlsby, of Avatar Country. All 10 tracks on the record have the word “King” in it and all follow that storyline of their Kingdom and its glory. Not only does the record tell a cool, and fun, story, but the band is taking the vision of the album to a full length feature film!
Earlier this year, Avatar asked for their fans to help kickstart full film to bring the album of “Avatar Country” to life. The band shared that this record is more than a 10-track record that they want to perform on stage, and if the fans allowed, they would like to share with us what the album truly holds. Therefore, I pledged a whopping $60CAD in order to become an official citizen of “Avatar Country” and then demanded to see more because I was having a music-boner at the thought of MUSIC MOVIE?!
In the end, the band cumulated $188,259(usd) to bring this story to life! and have gone from touring for a couple of months, straight into production to share their fans what the true image was being thought of when writing and composing this really cool album. I am so incredibly excited to see the concept of “Avatar Country” come to life, I mean how many other bands not only write, record and produce an album but also turn the image they imagined for their songs to a movie? that’s just wild in my opinion.
3. Nina Cries Power – Hozier
2018 blessed us with an abundance of new music, and since my personal taste has shifted towards the more hard-rock/metal scene, this EP almost slipped away from me. “Nina Cries Power” is Hozier‘s second EP and the predecessor of what will be his Sophomore record that is said to be released in early 2019.
You would have to be straight up ignorant to deny that the foundation of all rock music is blues. Which is why I think this EP is not only so important but also so well done. Now, I’m not going to drop any names because I know a lot of my friends will drag me to hell and back, but there have been other bands this year that tried to reclaim the blues-rock genre, and have successfully claimed the title of “The ones to bring it back to the charts”, which truly pains me. Hozier’s EP “Nina Cries Power” respectfully, and originally pays homage to the genre, in the most humble and tasteful way.
This EP is so beautiful, it’s raw and powerful without screaming that this record will bring Blues back to rock music. Which is why it almost slipped in the cracks for me, because I was so caught up with listening to bands that were grabbing me by the throat and squealing “WE ARE ROCK MUSIC” that I almost thought I was too good for pop-artists like Hozier.
“Nina Cries Power” was needed in 2018; and even though the name Hozier almost seems overrated, I truly feel he is underrated for his talent and what he actually brings to modern radio music.
2. I Loved You At Your Darkest -Behemoth
Behemoth is a Polish black metal band that has been in the heavy metal scene for well over two decades with 11 studio albums and 7 EPs under their belt, and so I ask myself, what the f*ck has taken me so long to give them a proper listen? Probably my sheer and utter ignorance towards the black metal genre, that I’ve come to quickly learn that Black Metal is actually genre made for me (if we disregard the originating bands that were Nazi’s).
I’m a person who very much dislikes religion, I could literally write a 300-page dissertation on that topic of “why and how religion in the 21st century is useless, problematic, divisive, backwards”, ANDDD…well..lucky for you, that’s not what this post is about. Behemoth, however, especially the leading singer-songwriter of the band, Adam Nergal Darski would agree with me on that topic, which is why I’ve quickly grown such an intense love for the band.
“I Loved You At Your Darkest”, to me, is a life changing album, it has opened a new world of comfort and enlightenment for me. It is not cheap, or tacky in production, lyrics, or instrumentalism. It’s smooth, it has moments that have just the right punch that ultimately binds the album to a 46-minute philosophical trip. When I say it’s not cheap, I mean that it’s not “god sucks, the end”. Although, you may get that impression with “God = Dog”, I at first saw that too and mentally prepared myself for gimmicky anti-religion lyrics, but it was in fact, cleverly written… Just like the entire album.
Normally, I don’t read other people’s reviews, believe it or not, music is subjective, so why would I care what someone else thinks about it? Lately, however, I’ve been sucked in a youtube hole of watching people react to music I immensely enjoy and I came across the review that guy who proclaims to be the “busiest music nerd” whatever that means, and he said the album felt like a 46-minute continuum of one song, and to him that makes the record weak.
I honestly didn’t understand that criticism, or what the point of that comment is? It’s a record, it was made with the intention to be played in order, the band clearly wanted it to be a continuum transition of one song to another, hence the lack of clear endings to each song. To me, that makes an album strong, I like when you put on an album on to play, especially on the record player, and the second the needle touches the Vinyl, you sit down and don’t realize that it’s already over and you need to turn it over. That is a STRONG album in my opinion, and what I really enjoyed about “I Loved You At Your Darkest”.
Anyways, this album blew my mind and I can’t stop listening to it. I am so eager for Behemoth to come back to Vancouver so I can experience it live .
1. Prequelle – Ghost
Tada! you’ve made it to my number one, and I doubt anyone on this Earth, even those who’ve just the one time, is surprised. Of course my number one is Ghost, and of course, it’s “Prequelle” because this album is everything and more than I ever expected it to be. “Prequelle” is the Swedish Metal band’s fourth studio album, and the physical proof that this band grows with every step in the studio they make, well Tobias Forge does, because it is a one-man project.
There was a lot dramatic-buzz around Ghost and their fourth album due to the highly publicized law-suit by the band’s former hired performing musicians; so people were wondering: can Tobias Forge really pull off this album on his own? Is the band truly as “one-man” as he claims it to be? Will Ghost even be good live, without the former “Nameless Ghouls” fans had grown to love and become attached to?
The answer to all those questions is a big fat YES. In fact, OF COURSE, Tobias Forge can pull it off because the band is his blood, sweat and tears; and like I just said, “Prequelle” is the proof of that. Now, if you want to read my full in-depth review of the album, you can click here. 2018 was the year of Tobias Forge the man accomplished, so much and more than people had anticipated.
He, Forge, broke the barrier between “Black Metal” (Aka Satanic Imagery and themes) and mainstream music scene by being nominated for TWO Grammy’s that were not just “metal performance”, he sold out AMERICAN arenas, Prequelle charted on mainstream music charts; He overcame the drama, the pettiness and proved himself to the world, this is why Ghost is my number on this year, and probably forever.
I am so proud of Tobias Forge, but his success wasn’t just luck or an overnight gimmick. He has worked so hard on his career and on his band, that there’s a real reason to why all this attention has been drawn to Ghost, and I truly believe they will only get bigger in 2019, which is why I feel so unbelievably lucky that I will be seeing them in 2019 in STOCKHOLM for their home show.
Every time I listen to “Prequelle” I get a surge of pride, all I can think of is a man, a father of two, who not long ago was selling phone plans in Sweden has defeated everyone’s doubt about him and has become one of the biggest names and acts in hard rock music. To me, “Prequelle” is truly the best album of 2018, so if you haven’t listened to it yet, please do (in order lol).
2018 has been a whirlwind of a year, both personally and musically. There has been the discovery of great new things, such as albums and bands, and disappoint in the same fields. There were albums by artists that I had truly anticipate to drop this year, that didn’t exceed, let alone meet, my expectations, which is why I’ve chosen to leave out of my list. However, I am looking forward to my musical journey in the upcoming new year, and I hope you all are there to join me!
Until next time Interwebs 🕸
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