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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Jay Snyder 

Though I had another very hectic personal year, the music still keeps me going.  2018 was another great run for the heavy stuff and I’ve heard plenty that’s worth mentioning on a year-end list.  Some of my old favorites put out fantastic new records and I heard a few bands that were off of my radar that also ended up making a serious impact on my daily listening habits.  Keep in mind that I never really order these things and think everything I put on my lists as worthy of being a top contender.  

Top albums of 2018:

  1. Deceased – Ghostly White

Has it really been over 7 years since King Fowley and company put out Surreal Overdose?  That’s way too damn long if you’re a fan but the fact of the matter is that new Deceased material is always worth the wait.  Surreal Overdose was fucking great, simply put, as hard and as fast as anything and everything the band has ever done with some excellent melodies and forward-thinking songwriting keeping the music exciting.  Ghostly White has some of the best riffs and writing of the band’s career.  There’s not a dud on this thing which is impressive for a band that’s been around for over 30 years.  King’s got it and he’ll never lose it.  They’re also one of my favorite live bands of all time. 

  1. Deadpressure – Dead Pressure

This debut LP from these San Jose lunatics takes me back…back to when labels like Pessimiser, Slap A Ham! And Crimes Against Humanity ruled the punk/grind roost.  That era unleashed some of my favorite crust punk and grindcore albums ever.  Deadpressure’s music is a true throwback to that era with a lot of varied nastiness happening across this entire motherfucker of a record.  Mixing a grind/punk template, they also veer into repugnant sludge, filthy black metal melodies, early Neurosis chiseled tension building and a whole lot of other freakout tactics.  The songs are tough and memorable and that’s why this beast is on the list.  They’ve got the inventiveness of Gasp or Unruh mixed with the sheer hatred of Phobia and Deadbodieseverywhere.  I couldn’t ask for more. 

  1. Cavern – Eater

Cavern’s been a great band since day one.  After seeing these Maryland magicians live and spending significant time with their prior 2 full-lengths and EP, there’s no fuckin’ doubt that these cats can play and play hard.  The Self-Titled with vocals was my entrance to the arena but when they went instrumental on their sophomore outing Outsiders…that’s when they really showed their hand.  They’re trimmed down to a duo on Eater and the arc of this album is truly something to behold.  From racing, tempered aggression to gleaming 70s psychedelic melodies and 90s progressive instrumental influences (think prime Don Caballero or Breadwinner) these songs get in your head and stay there.     

  1. The Black Sorcery – And The Beast Spaketh Death from Above…

Perhaps the most hopeless, nihilistic and aggressive album I’ve heard all year and maybe in many years before it, Canadian psycho-sociopaths The Black Sorcery are the sound of murder.  This album creates atmosphere by destroying it in a blistering, countryside rampage of mercurial black metal violence spewed from death metal and grindcore’s insectoid anus.  Additionally, there are merciless breakdowns into sludge as well.  Some band’s try with all of their might to achieve an evil sound such as this only to come off cheesier than twenty year old Limburger but And the Beast Spaketh Death from Above makes pulling off evil insanity look like child’s play.    

 

  1. Lord – Desperation finds Hunger in all Men…

This long-running Virginia band never got quite as many dues as they deserve, though the people that know seem to really KNOW.  Helmed by hot handed guitarist and songwriter Willy Rivera with the cast iron pipes of Steve Kerchner eventually becoming the prime vocal outlet, Lord has delivered a severely noteworthy increase in quality from release to release that started stretching out big time with the Chief album.  I was pretty sure that they couldn’t top Blacklisted but Desperation finds Hunger in all Men is a powerful, progressive, hell-tangled entity of doom-y thunderclaps, lightning handed thrash/death done Virginia style, 70s hard rock, grind, punk and beyond.  The songs are MASSIVE and the musical change-ups come at you like an army of poisonous snakes hellbent on biting your balls off or sneaking up your vagina for the kill.  It’s a shame that this is their last record but I’ll be damned if they didn’t go out at the top of their game.       

  1. The Asound – The Asound

Hailing from the North Carolina foothills, The Asound have built up an impressive discography since their inception.  Multiple 7”s, splits, EPs and a prior full-length have cemented the band as one of doom’s best kept secrets.  But hold up a second here you ol’ fuckers, this isn’t just a “doom” band…no The Asound are not content to stick to one speed and their onslaught of yeti squashing heaviness is intersected by steel-toed gut kicks from punk, sludge, old hardcore and even thrash.  The tumbling weight of “Dead Rat Cinders” is easily one of the heaviest riffed-out songs I’ve heard in 2018 but then they can unleash urgency like nobody’s business with swift knee breakers like “Triple Saints” and the thrash-y “Throne of Compulsion.”  There’s a reason pure punk label Rusty Knuckles took an interest in these guys.  They’ve got the attitude and then some.    

  1. Zombiefication – Below the Grief

Mexican butchers Zombiefication have had my full attention since Procession through Infestation.  Primarily a duo operation, Below the Grief is a HUGE sounding record of cavernous death/thrash, diseased Swedish d-beat punk, sludge/doom sediment in the key of Celtic Frost and searing Norwegian fury.  I would have probably picked this one for my list based on the sprawling “From Death to its Son” alone but the whole release is nothing but one quality track after another.   

  1. Fu Manchu – Clone of the Universe

I’ve been a Fu Manchu fan for over 20 years now and they’re another band you have to see live to get the full-experience.  Their legacy of badass albums took a pretty rough turn when Start the Machine hit shelves.  It just really wasn’t a good record and I think they knew it because starting with We Must Obey, god have these guys gotten fuckin’ heavy!  The band’s last three releases were all on completely different level than even the old stuff and I think Clone of the Universe takes it all of the way.  The overpowering sludge meets old school hardcore punk on “(I’ve been) Hexed” and the godless 70s gone to the mental institution riffs of “Don’t Panic” and “Nowhere to Hide” are so heavy it hurts and the soundtrack-esque closer (with support guitar by Alex Lifeson) never lost my attention across its 15+ minutes of play-time.  By far their best work to date…  

  1. Dirge – Ah Puch

Some real deal “fuck you” sludge from India right here and it’s some goddamn good stuff.  They can wield riffage with the best of them but Dirge is a unique animal in a crowded pack.  The texture and arrangement of some of their instrumentals and riffs have a very regal feel to them.  Almost the classical side of 80s thrash filtered through traditional Indian music.  It’s a textural element that makes the songs and guitar-work stick out from the norm…but then “Swamp of Blood” could have been coughed up from the same muck that birthed legends like Eyehategod and Cavity with its mutant Sabbath-y grooves.  I got a lot of mileage out of the music here and anyone into sludge that shifts tempos and atmospheres up should be too.  The crust and thrash influences on this were also welcome and powerful without making the band sound like just another lot aping High on Fire and calling it a day. 

  1. When the Deadbolt Breaks – Angels are Weeping…God has Abandoned

Connecticut experimental madmen kicked my ass into cinders this year with their best album yet.  It’s baroque, theatrical (in a good way without any bullshit), heavier than fucking hell and psyched out to the borderline of oblivion.  One minute they are delving into “Sky will Fall” which is as expansive as the best Pink Floyd but given more life and energy thanks to its shove you down the stairs sludge/doom/death influences and vile aggression and the next you’re still trying to sort out the American gothic influences in opener “Centering through Isolation” which gets as disgustingly thick and viscous as Burning Witch while balancing space-y melodies and dusky clean vocals.  It’s a challenging record but rewards come at every turn. 

  1. Human ServicesSocial Studies

I never am able to keep within normal numbers on lists because I always feel I’m forgetting something.  These noise-rock veterans have released some severely underrated, non-traditional recordings since their Self-Titled.  No two albums sound the same and they can take the form of pure noise, ruthless scathing metallic insanity like early Today is the Day/Meatjack, sludge, hell, a bit of everything.  This one has some of the Virginian monsters most melodic material in tow but also some of their most sandpaper scraping shit as well.  It’s a really good fuckin’ record and shouldn’t be missed if you like Am-Rep Records, industrial, metal, doom, who knows. 

  1. GnosisThe Offering of Seven

These Floridian death metal rippers might not be the most brutal or heavy of the bunch but something about their dissonant tones, derelict screams and ragged song structures that incorporate blackened melody and oddball riffs into the brew simply resonates with me.  I enjoyed their first release quite a bit but this one ramps it up a notch with more memorable songwriting, a solid slab of well-written tunes and even some sleazy slow-motion breaks that sound like Incantation meets On Thorns I Lay (in terms of melodic texture…Gnosis is much heavier). 

  1. Internal BleedingCorrupting Influence

For me, this is the best record since the first two.  Still not sure why The Extinction of Benevolence got a lot of shit way back when but that was a tight record in my eyes.  I’ll always thank CD Warehouse for getting my savvy on Internal Bleeding back in the 90s.  Those huge, crumbling breakdowns mixed with lardy, bulldozing death metal was a formative DM influence on me and they were a major player back then along with Deicide and Incantation as to why I got into the genre in the first place.  This record is a real deal comeback.  The stuff after Frank was out was solid but something about the writing on this one feels more powerful and urgent than the past couple.   

  1. Black ElephantBlack Elephant

Full disclosure, not too into the band name; sorry fellas in the band, I’m a fucking asshole.  I almost wrote this off because I thought it was going to be super generic stoner rock.  Well, didn’t they make a fuckhead out of me because this is an authentic 70s blues/proto-metal record with a warped feel somewhere in between Blue Cheer, Jimi Hendrix and Sabbath.  You could make breakfast with the egg on my face.  This is a good fuckin’ record and it’s psyched out as hell and not in a lame lava lamp way.  It’s got an aggressive bite to it with thick tones and winding songs. 

  1. Mountaineer Passages

No post-metal record in years has even come close to this one in my estimation.  Mountaineer manages to take the template laid by Neurosis and Isis yet transform it into something completely their own.  It’s as heavy as it is beautiful with two long tracks divided into movements.  The “Hymnal” segment is worth buying it for alone but the whole damn thing is great with superbly textured songs that wind to corrosive and emotional climaxes; bringing down a hammer from the heavens. 

 

Top EPs//demos/short-form releases of 2018 (also in no particular order):

  1. The Great Lie – All Roads lead to where you Stand

A New York trainwreck clusterfuck of old 80s hardcore mixed with sleazing sludge breakdowns, crust punk and thrash with alternatingly strangled and decipherable vocals. Damn good, hitting you hard and fast from all directions while keeping the songs short and to the point.  

  1. Dead RegisterCaptive

One of my favorite bands from Georgia returning with a new EP for 2018 and it’s up to their usual standards of depression and desolation doom domination.  Heaving riffs, haunting vocals and rich keyboard atmospheres combining Godflesh, Bauhaus, Katatonia and Sisters of Mercy, this is easily on par with their masterpiece LP, Fiber

  1. The Human Race is Filth – Liberate

From York, PA comes a tsunami of crust/grind ferocity tempered by a few Spartan sludge breakdowns that give the music weight and menace.  It’s barely 20 minutes of pain but I remembered it all throughout the year and gave the fucker plenty of listens.   

  1. Vile Ent – Morning Wood

Masterminded by Canada’s best kept mythical legend Graham MacSkimming (from seminal thrashers Ligeia, sludge/doom warlocks Witchsnake and with songwriting ties even stretched to Annihilator), Vile Ent’s latest EP runs the gamut from scathing industrial with deliciously nasty lyrics to crazed sound collages to the electro-stoned n’ guitar heavy blues sludge of his classic tune, “Honey, I’m Home!”  It’s a gripping piece of work with plenty of fury and personality.    

  1. False Flag/Neck Deep in Filth – Split

India’s False Flag are bar none one of the most unique sounding crust bands since Remains of the Day or Wake up on Fire.  They bend the genre as far as it can go with influences from trippy post-rock, 80s hardcore, grind, thrash and doom rounding out a very full, very impactful sound.  Neck Deep in Filth matches False Flag’s moves on this split with a thrashing, doom-bombed hardcore/crust sound that’s as a metal as a piston crushing your head into splatter.   

  1. Black Box WarningAttendre la Mort

Pure doom death that forgoes all semblance of melody for bulk riff tonnage, mutant rhythmic hypnosis and vocals spewed from an open gash wound.  These French fiends aren’t flashy about what they do but like bands such as Coffins, Warcrab or the late, great Winter, they know how the fuck to do it right. 

  1. Escape is not Freedom/dUSK Village – Split

A badass double deal here that mixes up its genres and overall sludgy mangling to a deviously varied degree; both bands possessing enough nuclear atmospheres to radiate a major city.  Chicago’s Escape is not Freedom might sound like the bastard children of Unsane, 16 and Hammerhead on “Boiling Nails” but alongside the brilliant lead vocals of Emily Jancetic they veer into serenely heavy Hum/My Bloody Valentine waters on “We’re Wrecked.”  dUSK Village is the descendent of Israel’s punk/noise/sludge overlords Rabies Caste and they offer up a monstrously sleazy, slime bag jam and a lean twisted crusty charge across their pair of offerings.  Both bands make this one a more than worthwhile pick-up.  

  1. Crypt Rot/Cringe – Split

A fucking venomous split with two great bands.  Ohio’s Crypt Rot is like Napalm Death, Discharge and Extreme Noise Terror in a blender full of raw sewage and they also mix in some black metal thanks to the nightblack tremolo riffs and keyboard work.  Cringe are a gang of blasting crust/grind speedfreaks and their side matches up to the high bar set by Crypt Rot.

  1. Rebreather – Rebreather

I will always miss bassist Chad Fondak in Rebreather but the facts are on the table and this new EP is fuckin’ great.  The core of the band is still tightly intact and these Ohio cosmonauts have no shortage of huge, sinking and quaking riffs stacked onto tricked out drum patterns on their latest EP.  The low-end is also held down tightly even in Fondak’s absence.  There’s no bad blood, so it’s great to see them continue on.  “Starved” is one of the dirtiest tunes they’ve ever written, “Sunday” has one of Barley’s all-time biggest and best riffs and “Five’s” one of their tightest closers on a recording.   

  1. Caustic Casanova – Pantheon III

These state capital fun nuts blew me away when I saw them live.  To this day I remember the show and since then I’ve never been able to get enough of their LP, Breaks.  They reminded me of an old legendary punk band like X but more care free with the tonality of a damn good doom band.  They get wild on this one with the riffs and keep things almost entirely instrumental; showing off their chops and prog influences while tearing through punk rock speed/attitude and bellowing doom grooves.  There’s also a fuckin’ deliciously sneering cover of Weedeater’s God Luck and Good Speed that really gets it on.  They trip out the vocals and instrumentals more with Stephanie (drums) and Francis (bass) really kicking ass on the twin microphones.       

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Comments

  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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