2018 has been a solid year for heavy music. Seasoned artists continued to hone their signature sounds and expand on what has shaped them thus far while newer acts have taken the opportunity to lay their foundations to build upon as they head into the new year. I narrowed 2018’s heavy output down to a few releases that stood out the most.
10) Anaal Nathrakh, A New Kind of Horror (Metal Blade)
Anaal Nathrakh’s brand of beautiful chaos is back in top form. The band’s 2014 release, Desideratum, is probably one of my favorite extreme metal albums of all-time, blending breakneck blast beats with unsettling yet surprisingly catchy melodies. This time around, duo Mick Kenny and Dave Hunt show they are not afraid to take a bit of a detour from their usual ways to experiment (see: “Forward!”), but all in all, it’s business as usual on the band’s tenth studio release.
Key tracks: “Forward!”, “New Bethlehem/Mass Death Futures”, “VI Coactus”
09) Unearth, Extinction(s) (Century Media)
Having been dubbed the “Slayer of Metalcore” in an article from a major metal publication a few years back, Unearth is arguably one of only a few bands that are doing the subgenre any sort of justice in the modern day. The band’s consistent output of quality material continues with Extinction(s). Drummer Nick Pierce is one of the most underrated metal drummers in the game, combining blisteringly fast speed and tasteful groove with ease. The production is top notch, the riffs are killer, and the record as a whole is just a fun listen. Equally enjoyed on a long drive or during a lifting session in the gym, Extinction(s) deserves a place on your playlist as we approach 2019.
Key tracks: “Incinerate”, “Survivalist”, “Hard Lined Downfall”
08) Vein, Errorzone (Closed Casket Activities)
Vein is the next big band in hardcore. Infusing elements of hardcore punk and even hints of nu metal, the band is pushing the limits of the genre in a big way. Errorzone is a chaotic mess that makes total sense. Having already shared the stage with huge names in the scene such as Code Orange and Twitching Tongues, look for Vein to widen their impact even further in the new year.
Key tracks: “Virus://Vibrance”, “End Eternal”, “Errorzone”
07) Cult Leader, A Patient Man (Deathwish Inc)
Known for their unique ability to construct memorable metallic hardcore anthems with ease, Utah’s Cult Leader is arguably one of the best new bands to hit the scene in recent memory. Their music is the sonic equivalent of wading through a pond of thick, slimy muck while repeatedly being slapped in the face. For a band like Cult Leader, this might as well serve as the ultimate compliment. Look for the band to explode in the very near future on the heels of their sophomore record.
Key tracks: “I Am Healed”, “Isolation in the Land of Milk and Honey”, “To: Achlys”
06) Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, Wasteland (Rise Above)
Heavily influenced by some of the earliest heavy metal in history, Uncle Acid remains one of my absolute favorite bands when it comes to Black Sabbath worship. The band has a way of layering everything they do with just the right amount of fuzz, making for an eerie and unsettling listening experience. Wasteland blends catchy, driving melodies and slow, swinging hooks with ease, paying homage to many of the band’s forefathers with much welcomed modern flair.
Key tracks: “I See Through You”, “No Return”, “Blood Runner”
Tags: Anaal Nathrakh, Behemoth, Cult Leader, Harm's Way, Hate Eternal, Night Verses, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, Unearth, Vein, Zeal and Ardor