Welcome to 2018. Welcome? Is anything really welcoming these days? Isn’t the slow crawl of time just another reminder of our mortality and the fragility of society? Didn’t you just come in here to read about tunes? Of course you did. Besides, if you clicked in here looking for some sorta “2018 is a new year and things are going to get better and holy shit 2017 is finally over we will overcome” inspiration, you’re S-O-L. We’d love to feel optimism about the world, but it’s tough, and we aren’t exactly experts at predicting the future. This is a heavy metal music blog, and we deal primarily in art.
In other words, we deal in some much-needed coping mechanisms, and what is art except mankind’s greatest coping mechanism? To express is to share one’s thoughts, fears, hopes, views, and inspirations. To take in that art is to process the emotions of another human, however simple or complex those emotions.
This is why we anticipate. We hope for the art of others to provide us these moments, these joys, these abilities to cope and escape, to provide us strength for battles both mundane and global. We hold to the small details, the extra touches that have provided catharsis, a release of rage, a comforting calm, or simply a good time. We look forward to yet another insight into a creative mind, hoping that it will help us learn more about ourselves.
The whole of the blogging world has made a major past time out of anticipation, for better or worse, despite the albums themselves being totally out of our control. So here are some of our most anticipated albums of 2018. There are many more, of course, so please share your metal-oriented hopes for the year.
2018 is going to be ugly, fun, and ugly, as always.
If ever there was a day for Napalm Death’s righteous cleansing fire to cauterize and scorch the earth far and wide, these days are those days. The scum has risen; we’re somewhere between enslavement and obliteration, our harmony corrupted, our utopias banished to fear, emptiness, and despair. The time is prime for raging against the dying of our light, and no band is better suited for it than these long-running British grinders. Napalm has been on a critical high-roll for over a decade now, and showing no signs of stopping or slowing, so let’s hope this next one is another in their series of perfectly controlled explosions. 2017 should’ve given Barney enough to shout about to fuel three albums, but I’ll settle for at least one total rager… and then I’ll demand another one after that… and another one… [ANDREW EDMUNDS]
TRIBULATION – DOWN BELOW
If you google “Tribulation 2018” you will find many bible scholars claiming that 2018 will be the year of the rapture. I’m hoping it’s not so that I can at least listen to the new Tribulation album scheduled for release via Century Media on January 26th. Being burned alive by hellfire would be markedly less fun. The eyeliner-wearing, swashbuckling Swedish savants have long since shed their somewhat progressive death metal sound for sort of riff-centric, pop-friendly take on black metal. The Children of the Night was a ripping good time full of hooks, slippery lead lines, singable choruses and all the campy ambiance of a Ti West horror film. There’s no reason to expect Down Below to be anything other than a repeat of that effort with better production and a more elaborate aura. What’s truly exciting about a new album is that Tribulation will have to tour to support it and they put on one hell of a live performance. [MANNY-O-WAR]
This one might be on the hopeful side, because although Metal Church mastermind Kurdt Vanderhoof reported in May he had a stack of demo songs for the band’s new record, which he expected to see light of day in early 2018, in October we got the awful news that skinsman Stet Howland (ex-W.A.S.P.) had been diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), an aggressive type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Howland has been undergoing treatment and has stated the prognosis is usually positive for this type of cancer. That said, fuck cancer. Fuck it a whole big bunch. Stet, we wish you the best, buddy.
While the last Metal Church record was hotly anticipated because of the return of vocalist Mike Howe, this one makes the list because XI was easily the best thing the band has recorded since Howe’s departure. Mike’s clearly kept his motor clean because he still has one hell of a set of pipes. Still, that wouldn’t carry the day if Vanderhoof didn’t deliver the goods, and his songwriting on XI was especially potent and energized. If you slept on that album, fix that right quick. And if you also slept on our Metal Church Devil’s Dozen, you can fix that too. [MATTHEW COOPER]
New Jersey’s Replicant has been getting their name out there the old fashioned way: playing as many shows as possible, specifically in Jersey and New York. In 2018 they look to capitalize on their momentum by recording their first full length, a follow up to 2016’s Worthless Desires EP. Of course, lots of bands gain popularity by playing shows incessantly, and not all deserve said popularity based solely on the quality of their tunes. But with Replicant’s music being a refreshing, absolutely riff-o-matic take on the likes of Demilich, Morbid Angel, and Erosion of Sanity-era Gorguts, you can be sure to get plenty of muscular technicality without too much tech and tight brutality without the ignant tendencies of a lot of bands (such as Dying Fetus, for whom they’re opening soon in the new year). Plus, with the band members having spent time in groups such as Dystrophy, Death Fortress, Grimus, Windfaerer, and many others, they have the kind of experience that typically yields great results on the first swing. Really high odds that these guys can help to keep death metal’s current strong streak going. [ZACH DUVALL]
Under the Red Cloud wasn’t just the best metal album of 2015, it was the best record Amorphis released in twenty years—catchier than Skyforger, more thorough than Eclipse, and superior even to Elegy. I think most would agree that a feat such as this so deep into a long career is pretty rare. Even more difficult, however, is managing the monumental task of following up such an epic windfall. Thankfully, Amorphis is smart. Instead of rushing things, they let Under the Red Cloud settle for a good long while as they exhaustively toured the world. And now, unbeknownst to most, they’ve spent many months slowly piecing together the next beast. Album number thirteen doesn’t have a name yet, none of the artwork has been flashed, and the precise 2018 street date remains a mystery, but it’s coming…and it apparently has GONGS. Gongs, people! Gongs. Apart from, well, the actual Gong Show, gongs have never done humans wrong, particularly when it comes to metal. Bring it on, gongs and all. [CAPTAIN]
HOODED MENACE –
OSSUARIUM SILHOUETTES UNHALLOWED
To be honest, Hooded Menace never fully sank their grimy mitts into me until their third album Effigies of Evil. The ghoulish but somewhat monochromatic doom/death of the first two albums didn’t quite do enough to set itself apart from Lasse Pyykkö’s many other projects, and while Effigies of Evil was a step in the right direction, 2015’s Darkness Drips Forth was the truly crushing hammer blow that I had suspected the band was capable of all along. Crucial to that album’s success was the injection of a gleefully arcane melodicism taken quite liberally from the Peaceville 3 playbook. On a standout track like “Elysium of Dripping Death,” Hooded Menace added just enough deathly pallor to some slowed-down Candlemass riffs to allow the listener to envision a skeletal Messiah Marcolin finding himself bewitched in a frost-choked West Yorkshire fen. Although the upcoming Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed will be Hooded Menace’s fifth album on their fourth label, their recent momentum suggests that there’s plenty of life left in this particular old corpse. Ever may it be. [DAN OBSTKRIEG]
Tomorrow we’ll be back with even more of what is tantalizing us in the new year.