DIDRIK'S TOP 5 ALBUMS OF 2018
With the festivities that befit the end of the year, 2018 has concluded and with it another chapter in the book of new metal releases has been written. 2018 has been an amazing year for metal. Wait, let me revise that. 2018 has been amazing year for death metal. Besides that, it’s been rather uneventful and perhaps a bit underwhelming, with the exception of two outstanding albums. But first let’s start at number five and see what were the stand out releases of the year that I’ve been playing on repeat.
5 : Grimner — Vanadrottning I’ve spoken more about this amazing Swedish folk metal band in my performance of the year article, and their latest release definitely belongs amidst the top folk metal albums of the year. Combining melodeath with folky tunes mainly championed by the flute, the Viking sextet of Grimner - singing only in Swedish - paints a picture of a raiding party who knows the brutality of battle while also maintaining high spirits and, of course, as befits folk metal, is very fond of drinking.
Songs to listen to: “Ägers Salar,” “En Fallen Jätte,” “Vanadrottning”
4 : Nothgard — Malady X The German band is rather underrated in the crowded subgenre of melodic death metal, but hopefully after the release of this album they’ll be getting the recognition they deserve. Malady X, Nothgard’s 5th studio album, is a brilliant thirteen-track album, which even includes a purely instrumental song, as well as a guest appearance on “Daemonium I” from the incredibly talented Noora Louhimo of Battle Beast. The band’s sound draws inspiration from the Gothenburg scene of death metal (At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity) and adds just the perfect amount of symphonics and catchy melodies, but never compromises on the matter of heaviness, which is chiefly defined by Dom R. Crey’s guitar work and brutal growls.
Songs to listen to: “Epitaph,” “Deamonium I,” “Fall of an Empire”
3 : Dalriada — Nyárutó And now for something completely different! Though still unknown in many circles, Dalriada is a Hungarian band that does folk metal exceedingly well, which they've proven once again with their 2018 release. Nyárutó has everything from clean vocals to growls, from pure folk music to heavy melodeath-like sounds with fast-paced guitars. But Dalriada has accomplished something that’s not exactly simple: combining those into an appealing folky album, packed with a variety of folk instruments (bagpipes, flutes, and violins), along with alternating female and male vocals that will absolutely make you want to dance. But, you know, in a metal way.
Songs to listen to: “Búsirató,” “Megöltek egy legényt,” “Thury György Balladája 2. Rész”
2 : Powerwolf — The Sacrament of Sin Powerwolf is the band that I usually call my favourite, which means I was extremely excited about this album coming out and, oh, the German lycanthropic dead priests absolutely did not disappoint! The Sacrament of Sin is the perfect power metal album with an immensely powerful sound, extremely catchy lyrics, brilliant guitar work, mighty orchestrations and, after all, great production. Besides the 11 tracks on the album, Powerwolf has also collaborated with ten other artists who recorded covers of Powerwolf songs from previous albums. The band has fully developed their sound into everything power metal should be and are deservedly selling out venues all over Europe.
Songs to listen to: “Stossgebet,” “Venom of Venus,” “Incense & Iron”
1 : Amorphis — Queen of Time This album feels like more than just an album, it’s a story and a project that I imagine has festered in the minds of Amorphis’ members for well over a year as they worked on this beauty. With bassist Olli-Pekka Laine returning, Amorphis once again consists of four original members, an impressive feat after almost 30 years. Putting the finishing touch to the latest lineup is the vocal double threat Tomi Joutsen, who has been with Amorphis since 2004.
Queen of Time is another very modern album that contains elaborately-woven vocal shifts between cleans and growls, as well as a choir and a guest appearance from Anneke van Giersbergen. Instrumentally, it is aided by Norway’s Shining’s go-to metal saxophone player, Jørgen Munkeby, as well as folk instruments such as the oud and jouhikko and whistles by Eluveitie’s Chrigel Glanzmann. All of this makes the album an expertly-crafted mix of beautiful harmonies, catchy choruses and invigorating growls.
Songs to listen to: The entire album, repeatedly.