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  • Writer's pictureKai


This year was not the year of my most anticipated releases, but it was the year of the most surprising. From out-of-the-blue saxophone solos to aural hallucinations speaking of fantasies of big bushes, 2018 has been a hilarious musical whirlwind for me. Narrowing it down to 5 albums certainly wasn’t easy, but the best stuff has a way of always rising to the top. Bringing you my personal cream of the crop of 2018, here is my top 5 best albums of the year.

Ghost — Prequelle (2018)

5 : Ghost — Prequelle Finding a way to top the critically-acclaimed Meliora was not going to be an easy task for Ghost, but they certainly give it the old college try with Prequelle. Even amidst legal troubles concerning ex-band members/contractors, now-outed Tobias Forge managed to retain the creativity, sound, and sort of sacrilegious creativity synonymous with the Grammy-winning band.

With a young Cardinal Copia taking over for the geriatric Papa Emeritus III, the album has more energy than the previous, ensuring a good dance session at every listen. Prequelle is bizarre in the best scooby doom way, earning the band two more Grammy nominations for best rock album and best rock song.

Songs to listen to: "Dance Macabre" (followed by its Carpenter Brut remix). "Rats", "Miasma".

Kalmah — Palo (2018)

4 : Kalmah — Palo Songs about swamps: that’s mostly what I look forward to when listening to Kalmah. As a swamp demon myself, I’ve always been entertained by Kalmah’s backwoods horror lyrics, anger-ridden riffs, and creepy, borderline-theatrical keyboards, and the band’s last effort does not disappoint. Full of vitriolic melodies and the kind of lyrical depression only a person who hasn’t seen the sunlight in 6 months can write, Palo is a gruesomely-beautiful album.

Expertly mixing power metal and melodeath influences like nobody else, the Finnish band’s first album in 5 years is a better follow-up to Seventh Swamphony than I could have dreamed of.

Songs to listen to: "Erase and Diverge", "The Evil Kin", "Waiting in the Wings"

Powerwolf — The Sacrament of Sin (2018)

3 : Powerwolf — The Sacrament of Sin

It is a truth generally acknowledged that every new Powerwolf release will make its way into my top albums of the year, and 2018 is no different. The German blaspheme that is Powerwolf has redefined what it means to be a band with a killer gimmick once again with The Sacrament of Sin. From the moment the first single “Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend” was released, it was clear that they were going to stick to the formulaic organ, deep operatic vocals, myths, and religious zeal mix, but the album is in no way predictable.

A power ballad? A half-Latin, half-German song about sex? Songs about wolves? Demonology? A bonus CD of bands such as Battle Beast, Epica, and Amaranthe covering Powerwolf songs? The Sacrament of Sin has it all! Ave Powerwolf et sacrilegum!

Songs to listen to: "Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend", "Venom of Venus", "Stossgebet".

Amaranthe — HELIX (2018)

2 : Amaranthe — HELIX I love a good female singer. Pair a powerful voice with a producer who knows how to get the best out of female vocalists and you get one explosive mix. Amaranthe teamed up once again with Jacob Hansen to produce HELIX — the band’s 5th full-length album and first without founding member and clean vocalist Jake E — and created a fresh new take on the band’s signature sound.

Way heavier than anything the band has ever done, HELIX marks the beginning of a new era for Amaranthe. Between the better-than-ever vocals of Elize Ryd, the deep harshness of Henrik Englund Wilhelmsson’s growls, and the addition of power metal dynamo Nils Molin (Dynazty), Amaranthe’s vocal lineup has never packed a bigger punch. Mix in the same heavy riffs and futuristic keyboard that have always been part of the Swedish band’s arsenal as well as some surprisingly-fast and heavy drumming and you get a jaw-dropping record that’s still right at home within Amaranthe’s discography.

Songs to listen to: "Iconic" (with particular attention played to the drumming), "GG6", "Momentum".

Dynazty — Firesign (2018)

1 : Dynazty — Firesign Whenever I get asked who I think is the most underrated band in power metal, one band comes to mind immediately: Dynazty. In 2016, the Swedish band gave the world one of the most epic emotional rollercoaster of an album with Titanic Mass, but Firesign, this year’s addition to their discography, flipped the script on the Dynazty formula.

Aggressive, fun, and danceable, the band’s 6th album is not surprising, but it is typically Dynazty. Full of anthems and occasions to headbang for your life, Firesign is stacked with wailing guitars, power vocals and keyboards for the gods. Though most albums on this list contain at least one song that was just okay, Dynazty managed to piece together an album that sounds more like a Best Of than a complete album of fresh compositions.

Songs to listen to: "Breathe with Me", "In the Arms of a Devil", "Let me Dream Forever"


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