Teeth of the Divine Staff Picks for 2018

The way we do the TOP 2018 list here at Teeth is that we’ve waited until the year was actually over. That way, we’re sure we didn’t miss giving proper credit to that one album that released a minute before midnight on the 31st. So just in case some metal band from Tonga got an idea, we were ready for it. Nonetheless, every year there’s more and more material out there for us to listen to and it’s pretty much impossible to cover it all. Yet, 2018 saw plenty of albums that deserve to be remembered next year — and some being which will stick around longer. Maybe you missed something? Maybe you have your own ideas what ruled in 2018 and what should never have been released in the first place? Check our lists out, see how our picks matched up, and let’s hope 2019 doesn’t prove to be worse.

by Staff

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Jordan Itkowitz

Top 25

  1. Void Ritual Death is Peace (Ipos Records). So how did an obscure, one-man black metal project out of New Mexico wind up at the top of my list? ‘Cause it’s one of the best and well-written black metal albums I’ve heard in quite a few years. No frills, no gimmicks – just authentic mid-‘90s rawness and melodies, plus a variety of shifting moods, from somber to triumphant. Seriously, if this had come out 25 (!) years ago we’d still be talking about it with the same reverence as The Shadowthrone, For Kunsten Maa Vi Evig Vike, or Bergtatt. Also, it’s one of three albums released this year by the same guy (Daniel Jackson), so he’s nothing if not prolific. Those are definitely worth your time too, but this one kept me coming back time and again.
  2. Immortal Northern Chaos Gods (Nuclear Blast). Even without Abbath, this is a hell of a comeback and a note-perfect way to return to the frozen world of Blashyrkh. The songwriting on this is so good, this might now be my favorite Immortal album, period.
  3. Chapel of Disease – …And as We Have Seen the Storm, We Have Embraced the Eye (Van Records). 2015’s The Mysterious Ways of Repetitive Art impressed me with its occasional blend of scraping death metal and bluesy psychedelia. Since then the band has become even more creatively emboldened and gone all-in on the 70’s rock sound. Thin Lizzy meets Asphyx? It works. More than that, it jams, it rocks, it wanders, it explores, and most of all, it entertains.
  4. Dimmu Borgir Eonian (Nuclear Blast). Not gonna lie, I thought this was gonna be a disaster after that first ridiculous single, but I wound up loving this album. It’s bombastic, overwrought, epic, and impeccably produced – in short, it’s Dimmu Borgir – and yet it still brings a few new elements to the mix. I think they need to dial back on the choirs next time – two albums in a row have more than explored that element – but I can’t wait to hear what they do next. Just don’t take 8 more years to do it.
  5. King Buffalo Longing to Be the Mountain (Self-Published). I fell in love with this band with their 2016 release Orion. This has the same earthy mix of desert rock and stoner metal but it’s more relaxed. Consider it ‘stoner Meddle.’
  6. Judas PriestFirepower (Columbia Records). Their best album since Painkiller, no question. And that was almost 30 years ago!! It’s a diverse collection of songs too – from fast-paced attacks like the title track and “Lightning Strike” to triumphant and regal smokers like “Traitors’ Gate” and “Rising from Ruins.” Now I just gotta make sure I catch them while they’re still touring this album.
  7. Agrimonia Awaken (Southern Lord). This band takes a mix of miserable elements – melancholy doom, crushing sludge, and blackened fury – and turns it into something elegant, powerful, and at times, beautiful. It’s their most accomplished and cogent album to date. Headphones a must.
  8. Satan Cruel Magic (Metal Blade Records). British heavy metal still flying the colors strong – this is a fantastic and frenetic collection of songs. Good luck getting the melodies out of your head. There were more than a few mornings where I had to cue up “Legions Hellbound” right away just to scratch that itch.
  9. Wiegedood De Doden Hebben Het Goed III (Century Media). I’ve been to Belgium a couple of times and it’s a lovely country full of chocolate, fries, and excellent beer, and yet this is just terrifying. Loved the last one too and this is pretty much the same formula – hypnotic melodies, blasting, Burzum-y fuzz, and screaming. Lots and lots of screaming.
  10. Ghost Prequelle (Loma Vista Recordings). Fuck the haters. I still love this band’s creativity, their effortless command of melody, and their willingness to add a variety of classic sounds into their now well-established mix of shtick and Scooby Doom. This time we get some Ozzy-era heavy metal (“Rats”), dorky instrumental prog (“Miasma,” “Helvetesfonster”), and crowd-pleasing pop (“Dance Macabre”). Also, the chorus of “Witch Image” has the best melody (and most wink-wink lyrics) since “Ritual.”
  11. Fractal Gates The Light That Shines (Self-Published). Astral, addictive melodic death/doom with deep space atmosphere and even deeper growls. Flows like a dream – it’s an excellent listen from start to end.
  12. Monstrosity The Passage of Existence (Metal Blade Records). This is their first album in 11 years (lots of comebacks on this list!) and it’s groovy, relentless, and surprisingly melodic. I’ve not really listened to these Florida death metallers before – there are just so many of them! – but I’m definitely paying attention now.
  13. Omnium GatherumThe Burning Cold (Century Media). Cold or no, this band has been on a creative hot streak since New World Shadows in 2011. I think the vocals are still a tad too monstrous for the intricate guitar melodies and gorgeous atmosphere, but this is still one of the best bands in the genre.
  14. Amorphis Queen of Time (Nuclear Blast). I’ve seen this at the top of a few lists but I don’t know why it’s not higher on mine. It’s flawless Amorphis, particularly majestic tracks like “The Golden Elk” and “Heart of the Giant.” Maybe it’s that Under the Red Cloud was also so superb that I was just not ready to be spoiled again so soon.
  15. Eneferens The Bleakness of Our Constant (Nordvis). Lovely melodies and frantic blastbeats can make for an unusual and successful mix when it’s done right – though most of the atmospheric black metal I hear is too formless or ambient to hold my interest for long. This one-man project from Minnesota does a fantastic job because the songs are actually well-crafted and not just morosely pretty. Fans of Orchid and Morningrise-era Opeth would well to check this out.
  16. Varathron Patriarchs of Evil (Agonia Records). Greece has always had a peculiarly theatrical and folky take on black metal. This album marries those unique elements with focused, kick-ass songwriting. “Into the Absurd” is one of my favorite metal tracks of the year.
  17. The OceanPhanerozoic I: Paleozoic (Metal Blade Records). A crushing post-metal/sludge concept album about creepy-crawly prehistoric undersea monsters and mass extinction? Now that’s a hook. The atmosphere on here doesn’t quite fully explore that weirdness, but the monumental and powerful writing – shades of Cult of Luna’s brilliant Vertikal – plus an appearance by Jonas Renske of Katatonia made this a compelling listen nonetheless.
  18. Obscura Diluvium (Relapse Records). A welcome return to the balanced combination of twisty, proggy melody and cogent songwriting that made previous albums so successful.
  19. Uada Cult of a Dying Sun (Eisenwald Tonschmiede). Not as enamored with this one as I was with the debut – those death metal bellows and hoarse hardcore shouts have got to go – but the melodies and writing on here are still top-notch.
  20. Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats Wasteland (Rise Above Records). This band is just fucking cool – an alternate-universe Beatles where all those psychedelics pushed them to invent punk, a decade before the Sex Pistols or Television.
  21. Shylmagoghnar Transience (Napalm Records). Award for the best made-up band name of the year for sure. Also the best late ‘90s symphonic black metal throwback – think Throes of Dawn, Thy Withering Orchard, and Summoning. The latter half of the album sags, but this is worth it for the 12-minute title track alone – one of the year’s best metal songs – which soars to heights of triumphant grandeur and majesty.
  22. Riverside Wasteland (Mystic Production). This is an even more somber and sedate affair from these Polish prog-metal poets – and with good reason, as their guitarist died while they were touring for the previous album Love, Fear, and the Time Machine. This is first and foremost a cathartic tribute, yet still winds up being damn fine prog album in its own right.
  23. The Absence A Gift for the Obsessed (M-Theory Audio). You don’t hear this band mentioned often with the melodic death veterans, but they’ve been putting out high-quality albums for years. This beat out the new At the Gates and Arsis albums without a problem.
  24. Blood Tsunami Grave Condition (Indie Recordings). Slayer-worthy riffs and solos, blackened howls, and a punkier approach than the melodic death/thrash of Grand Feast for Vultures. One ass-kicker after another.
  25. Great Leap Skyward Map of Broken Dreams (Metalopolis Records). Hell of a debut from this Australian progressive metal outfit. They tend to paint in darker moodier colors and textures throughout the album but when they let loose – as on the fierce and twisty “Singularity” they soar. More like that please.

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  1. Commented by: Morbid

    Some good stuff in here, lots I missed or haven’t got to yet. Checked out the Aepoch and regret not looking into it earlier.

    Nice to see the Abysmal Torment mentioned a couple of times, it’s phenomenal for the genre but seems to be getting missed elsewhere.

    For me:
    Thrash AOTY (by a mile): Sabateur – Vicious Circle. Fun as hell thrash, charismatic vocals, plenty of ’80s twists, fantastic dual-guitar solos, and unlike some other late thrash albums that won’t be named, the songwriting doesn’t involve stretching 3 minute songs to 6+ minutes by spamming the chorus over and over again and re-playing build up sections. Every song is memorable and has its own character. Could be my AOTY as well, but there’s still a few things I need to check out before making that claim.

    Proggy tech death AOTY: Exocrine – Molten Giant. This album worked its way into my head and has stuck with me better than the Obscura, Beyond Creation, or Gorod, for whatever reason. Hayato is an awesome track.

    Best EP: Teleport – The Expansion. Vektor-twisted Blood Incantation-y death metal. Just got signed up with a label so interested to see what is coming up for them.

    How the hell have I not listened to this yet: Deceased – Ghostly White. Loved the rest of their stuff and part of why I’m not ready to call the Sabateur my AOTY.

    “I’m not yet sure how much I like this, but it intrigues me and I want more” award: Λ S T R Λ – (some Russian writing stuff, a pair of singles released this year). Weirdo atmospheric/avant/blackened death I guess? Their 2017 release is pretty cool too so I can listen to that while I wait.

    Disappointment of the year: Chapel of Disease – ..And As We blah blah blah. Had never listened to them before, but it was an initial AOTY leader for me when I first heard it and after a few more listens while I was working/gaming etc. Then I finally gave it a few dedicated listens where I didn’t have something else distracting me, I fell out of love with it. Too much pointless repetition that left me wishing the song would move on or just end too many times. A disappointment from initial impression, rather than something that failed to deliver on expectations… but that counts.

    Best single-musician release: Nott – The Wretched Sounds. Bleak, heavy stuff that I guess is sorta “deathcore” but that doesn’t seem quite fitting. (Honorable mention to Dysmorfectomy as well though, some good slam.)

    Most irritating song: Exmortus – Strength and Honor. Obnoxious chorus that for some reason they felt needed to be repeated over and over for a solid minute instead of just ending the song. Irritating because it makes me get up and go to the CD player to skip track every playthrough. Yes, I’m a grouch.

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