Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Josh's One and Only "AO2Y" List -- The Best Albums of 2017 and 2018

I was lazy in 2017, so enjoy this.  A massive list of the 15 best EP’s (+6 honorable mentions), and the 60 best LP’s (+20 honorable mentions) from the past two years.  Very little commentary to save me time.  If you don’t see one of your favorites on here, just remember that I had more than 200 contenders written down, and I might’ve missed it.

These years, I put a *heavy* emphasis on what albums I had the most *fun* listening to…not just what was objectively the “best” albums.  Hopefully you guys enjoy it, and find a bunch of new stuff!

Top EP’s of the year

There is WAAAAYYYY more deathcore in my EP of the year list than there is in my album of the year list, if you’re not a big deathcore guy.

Honorable Mentions

A Trust Unclean – Parturition (2017)
Genre:  Deathcore/Blast Beats
Preview:  Exonerate

Eartheria – Awaken the Sun (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Death Metal/JFAC/Virvum
Preview:  Escapist

Nociceptor – Penumbra (2017)
Genre:  Progressive Metal/Monstrous Grooves
Preview:  Conduit

Avenge the Sin – Atonement (2017)
Genre:  Deathcore/The Crimson Armada but Broooootal
Preview:  False Awakening

In Reverence – The Selected Breed (2017)
Genre:  Death Metal/Blast Beats

Top 15 EP’s of the year

15.  Zeolite – Sermones Mortis (2018)
Genre:  Deathcore/Death Metal/Impending Doom/Paradise in Exile
Preview:  Ruination

Get ready to have your face ripped off.  Some of the hardest music released in the past 2 years.

14.  Gravemind – The Deathgate (2017)
Genre:  Deathcore/Australia
Preview:  Lifelike

OK, so the preview song is actually a single they released after the EP, but the EP absolutely rips, trust me.

13.   Dear Apollo – Volume One (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Rock/Metal
Preview:  Closure

One of my favorite songs of the year.  Almost unfairly catchy.

12.  My Will Be Done – Temperance (2017)
Genre:  Technical Deathcore/ “Unhallowed”-era Dahlia worship
Preview:  Unto Ashes

The chorus in the preview song is one of the most violently headbangable riffs I’ve heard.  If you’re looking for a band that sounds a lot like they could’ve written a song like “Elder Misanthropy”, this is it.

11.  Blame – Almanac (2018)
Genre:  Technical Death Metal/Russian Insanity/Taking Your Last Chance
Preview:  War

10.  Epiphany from the Abyss – Epiphany from the Abyss (2018)
Genre:  Technical/Blackened Deathcore
Preview:  The Bargain

9.  Delusions of Grandeur – Apotheosis (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Deathcore
Preview:  Groovetrain

Artwork of the year, other than Bell Witch and Archspire.

8.  Omnisium – Celestial Filicide (2018)
Genre:  Technical Deathcore/Crimson Armada
Preview:  Full Album

7.  The Odious Construct – Shrine of The Obscene (2018)
Genre:  Blackened/Extreme Deathcore
Preview:  Full Album

6.  The Hopewell Furnace – 1877 (2018)
Genre:  Technical Deathcore

5.  Damned Spring Fragrantia – Chasm (2017)
Genre:  Progressive Metalcore/Bounce
Preview:  Pages

That preview song has one of the most violent grooves you’ll ever hear right smack-dab in the beginning of that song, and I’d be shocked if it didn’t get you moving.

4.  Mordant Rapture – The Abnegation (2018)
Genre:  Technical/Progressive Death Metal/Obscura
Preview:  Unsightly Beast

Artisan Era needs to stop.

3.  Thornhill – Butterfly (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Metalcore/Heart of a Coward
Preview:  Lavender

2.  Kardashev – The Almanac (2017)
Genre:  Atmospheric/Progressive Metal/Beauty/Fallujah


Kardashev literally made a new language for this song.  +5000 prog points.

1.  Nexilva – Aseity I (2018)
Genre:  Progressive/Symphonic/Blackened Death Metal/Deathcore
Preview:  Decades

Couldn’t be any other album.  This was my favorite EP of the past few years by a large margin.


Honorable Mentions

Hate Eternal – Upon Desolate Sands (2018)
Genre:  Death Metal
Preview:  Portal of Myriad

This band is still as preposterously good at death metal as anybody, even after all these years.

Voices From The Fuselage – Odyssey:  The Founder of Dreams (2018)
Genre:  Progressive/Atmospheric Metal/Beauty/Ashe O’Hara
Preview:  Vestibule of Hell

Ugh, god I miss Ashe so much in Tesseract.  Dan is good, but his vocals sound cold and soulless compared to Ashe.

Fit for an Autopsy – The Great Collapse (2017)
Genre:  Deathcore
Preview:  Black Mammoth

In Vain – Currents (2018)
Genre:  Progressive/Melodic Death Metal
Preview:  Soul Adventurer

Soen – Lykaia (2017)
Genre:  progressive metal/Tool/Opeth worship
Preview:  Opal

Dance Gavin Dance – Artificial Selection (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Rock/Pop-Punk

By far the best song DGD has ever made, and is it any wonder that it features Andrew from Eidola on vocals this time?  (He’s one of their touring guitarists)

Unflesh – Savior (2018)
Genre:  Technical Blackened Death Metal
Preview:  Bestowal of Decay

Hieroglyph – Ouroboros (2017)
Genre:  Progressive Metal

One of the most criminally underappreciated releases from the past 2 years.

Dodecahedron – Kwintessens (2017)
Genre:  Black Metal

The Breathing Process – Samsara (2018)
Genre:  Blackened Deathcore
Preview:  Absolute Truth

Tetrafusion – Dreaming of Sleep (2017)
Genre:  Scale the Summit with Vocals / Progressive Metal
Preview:  The Void

That preview song is one of the best prog songs I’ve heard in YEARS.

Through the Eyes of the Dead – Disomus (2017)
Genre:  Death Metal
Preview:  Obitual

The Kings are back.

Sorrow Plagues – Homecoming (2017)
Genre:  Emotional/Atmospheric Black Metal/Deafheaven but better
Preview:  Homecoming

SikTh – The Future in Whose Eyes? (2017)

This album should really, really, really be in my top 60…

Black Tongue – Nadir (2018)
Genre:  Low-N-Slow/Deathcore
Preview:  Ultima Necat

Gorod – Aethra (2018)
Genre:  Technical Death Metal/Prog/Trippy/Jazz?
Preview:  Aethra

No, this album is not named after the hole where your pee comes out.  Common misconception.  Gorod doing what Gorod always does.

Machines of Man – Dreamstates (2017)
Genre:  Progressive metal/BTBAM worship
Preview:  I Am The Colossus

If you like Colors-era BTBAM, you are going to LOVE this.

Currents – The Place I feel Safest (2017)
Genre:  Progressive metalcore/bounce
Preview:  Apnea

The Parallel – Weaver (2018)
Genre:  Invent Animate’s Younger Brother
Preview:  Chimera

Ingested – The Level Above Human (2018)
Genre:  Slam/Brutal Death Metal/Grind
Preview:  Better Off Dead

Between the Buried and Me – Automata II (2018)
Genre:  Progressive / Avant-Garde Metal

BTBAM’s weakest offering in a while, but it’s still BTBAM, so who can complain I guess?

Top 60 Full Lengths of the year

60.  Ulsect – Ulsect (2017)
Genre:  Death Metal/Ulcerate
Preview:  Fall to Depravity

Ulcerate worship never sounded so good.  If you’re a fan of Ulcerate or Gorguts, you’ve GOT to check this out.

59.  Dethrone the Sovereign – Harbingers of Pestilence (2017)
Genre:  Theatrical/Symphonic Deathcore

These guys are what Born of Osiris *wishes* they sounded like after “The Discovery”…at least until their new album dropped at the start of 2019.

58.  Aviations – The Light Years (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Metal/The Human Abstract/Metalcore?

While there isn’t as much neoclassical influence as THA, these guys will whet a bit of your appetite for more, especially that preview song.

57.  Artificial Language – The Observer (2017)
Genre:  Progressive Metal/The Human Abstract/Art By Numbers
Preview:  Unself Portrait

Maybe a bit of a theme from these first two albums with the Human Abstract influence?

56.  Fractal Universe – Engram of Decline (2017)
Genre:  Progressive/Technical Death Metal/Obscura
Preview:  Sons of Ignorance

Should really be higher up on my list…fans of Obscura will absolutely LOVE this, and will probably get hooked within the first minute of that preview song.

55.  Heretoir – The Circle (2017)
Genre:  Post Metal/Atmospheric
Preview:  The White

54.  TesseracT – Sonder (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Metal
Preview:  King

AsheIsBetterAct, but still the best thing they've done since Altered State.

53.  Conjurer – Mire (2018)
Genre:  Sludge/Doom/Death Metal/Ulcerate
Preview:  The Mire

52.  Abhorrent Decimation – The Pardoner (2017)
Genre:  Death Metal/Groove Metal
Preview:  Votive Offerings

51.  Sunless – Urraca (2017)
Genre:  Post Metal

50.  The Afterimage – Eve (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Metalcore/Erra
Preview:  Floodgate

49.  Aviana – Polarize (2017)
Genre:  Progressive Metalcore/old Northlane/Structures worship
Preview:  Canvas

Nothing new or groundbreaking here, just really well-executed Invent Animate/Northlane style metalcore.

48.  Shading – The Vanishing of our Lore (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Metal/Monuments new album, but good
Preview:  The Scent

The new Monuments album won’t make this list, but rest assured, at least one band that sounds like Monuments did.

47.  The Ralph – Enter Escape (2017)
Genre:  Progressive Metal
Preview:  Enter Escape

46.  Thy Art Is Murder – Dear Desolation (2017)
Genre:  Deathcore/Beef
Preview:  The Son of Misery

Ho-hum, another TAIM album where they absolutely kill it.  I hope they change up their formula a bit for the next album, though.

45.  Lorna Shore – Flesh Coffin (2017)
Genre:  Blackened Deathcore
Preview:  Flesh Coffin

The main reason I put Lorna Shore ahead of TAIM is because they actually made a "new" album, rather than a rehash of the old, and it turned out wicked good.

44.  Valis Ablaze – Boundless (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Metal/Tesseract
Preview:  Lumen

43.  Order ov Riven Cathedrals – Göbekli Tepe (2018)
Genre:  Symphonic/Blackened Death Metal/Fleshgod worship

This is EASILY one of the least-known albums on the list, and I have no idea why.  Such a phenomenal album when you’re looking for something that’ll just tear you apart.

42.  Aepoch – Awakening Inception (2018)
Genre:  Prog/Symphonic/Blackened Death/Thrash/Vektor?

While not as good as Vektor, Aepoch is 2018's answer to Vektor's masterpiece from 2016.

41.  Alkaloid – Liquid Anatomy (2018) (
Genre:  Prog/Tech/Extreme Death Metal/Necrophagist
Preview:  Azagthoth

40.  Barren Earth – A Complex of Cages (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Death Metal /Blackwater Park Opeth
Preview:  The Ruby

Maybe the most criminally underappreciated album on the entire list.  If you like progressive death metal even a little bit, Barren Earth is an absolute must.

39.  Napoleon – Epiphany (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Metalcore/Riffs
Preview:  Living Ghost

The intro to that preview song is one of the tightest riffs I’ve ever heard.

38.  Revocation – The Outer Ones (2018)
Genre:  Thrash/Death Metal

Revocation’s best album ever.

37.  The Aftermath – Vermine (2018)
Genre:  Technical Death Metal/Grind/Groove
Preview:  All You Can Eat


36.  Foreboding Ether – Dunamis (2018)
Genre:  Technical Deathcore
Preview:  Pillars of Thought

SHRED SOME MORE!  I’ve been waiting for this album for *years*, and it totally lived up to the billing.  The lyrics are kind of stupid, but the fretwork will make any technical deathcore fan salivate.

35.  Harakiri For The Sky – Arson (2018)
Genre:  Post Metal/Deafheaven, but better
Preview:  Heroin Waltz

Sheer beauty.  For fans of Alcest.

34.  Entheos – Dark Future (2017)
Genre:  Progressive Death Metal/Funk/Groove
Preview:  The World Without Us

33.  In Search of Sun – Virgin Funk Mother (2017)
Genre:  Progressive Metal/Funk

Some of the best clean vocals all year, and such a perfect blend of funk and metal.  This album stuck in my head more than almost any other in the past two years.

32.  Aether Realm – Tarot (2017)
Genre:  Folk Metal/Extreme Metal/Functional Alcoholism


31.  Shadow of Intent – Reclaimer (2017)
Genre:  Symphonic Deathcore

Ben Duerr’s voice is the stuff of nightmares.

30.  Horrendous – Idol (2018)
Genre:  Post black metal/death metal
Preview:  Soothsayer

29.  Aversions Crown – Xenocide (2017)
Genre:  Technical Deathcore/Dictionarycore
Preview:  Prismatic Abyss

This band keeps getting better and better.

28.  Ulver – The Assassination of Julius Caesar (2017)
Genre:  Retro synthpop / darkwave
Preview:  Transverberation

I don’t usually like darkwave, but this is SOLID.

27.  Convulsing – Grievous (2018)
Genre:  Oppressive/Dissonant Death Metal/Ulcerate
Preview:  Inert

One of the best one man bands I’ve heard in YEARS.

26.  Inferi – Revenant (2018)
Genre:  Technical/Epic Death Metal

Malcolm Pugh is not human.  Artisan Era is unfair.  Everything sucks, but this is good.

25.  Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram (2018)
Genre:  Blackened Death Metal

Best blackened death metal album in years.

24.  Irreversible Mechanism – Immersion (2018)
Genre:  Progressive/Technical Death Metal
Preview:  Immersion

These guys spent an inordinate amount of time listening to “Harvest Wombs” by Fallujah, and that’s perfectly OK.

23.  The Black Dahlia Murder – Nightbringers  (2017)
Preview:  Catacomb Hecatomb

Dahlia's best since Ritual.  Brandon Ellis is the best thing to happen to this band in some time.

22.  DVNE – Asheran (2017)
Genre:  Post Metal/Groove
Preview:  The Crimson Path

These guys are what I imagine Mastodon would sound like if they stuck to their roots.

21.  Ahtme – Sewerborn (2018)
Genre:  Soreption/Slugdge/Death Metal/Groove
Preview:  LOS / Dig

One of the best, most unrelenting collections of riffs of the past 5 years, with the exception of a few albums I have yet to get to on this list…

20.  Existem – Mantle (2018)
Genre:  TRULY Progressive/Atmospheric Death Metal/7 Horns 7 Eyes
Preview:  Descent

This is progressive death metal perfection – and when I say “progressive”, I mean it.  Total originality.

19.  Erra – Neon (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Metalcore
Preview:  Disarray

Erra’s weakest album, but it’s still Erra, and they're still the Kings of Metalcore.

18.  Obscura – Diluvium (2018)
Genre:  Progressive/Technical Death Metal
Preview:  Ethereal Skies

17.  Persefone – Aathma (2017)
Genre:  Progressive/Technical/Melodic Death Metal

Maybe one of the most talented bands in the world.  Aathma is awe-inspiring in scope, and guaranteed to never bore you.

16.  Archspire – Relentless Mutation (2017)
Genre:  Technical Death Metal/¥2 beats/min

Maybe the only band with a vocalist on the planet that you will probably never, ever, EVER see anybody able to sing along with at a concert.  Also, *probably* one of the best album covers ever.

15.  Polaris – The Mortal Coil (2017)
Genre:  Progressive Metalcore
Preview:  Consume / Crooked Path

Mortal Coil may be my absolute favorite metalcore album since Erra’s Augment.  Every track is violently catchy, and they seem to take elements from all the best bands in the genre and combine them perfectly.

14.  Cytotoxin – Gammageddon (2017)
Genre:  Technical/Brutal Death Metal/Massive Radiation Detected
Preview:  Radiatus Generis

The Geiger counter breakdown in the preview song is one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard in metal, unnfffff.  Beneath the Massacre says what up.

13.  Ne Obliviscaris – Urn (2017)
Genre:  Progressive/Theatrical Black Metal

Again, Ne Obliviscaris’ weakest album (at least in my opinion)…but it’s still NeO, aka the best band on the planet.  Want evidence?  This is the ONLY preview link with a live version, because they’re so preposterously good live.

12.  Beyond Creation – Algorythm (2018)
Genre:  Progressive/Technical Death Metal
Preview:  The Inversion

11.  Slugdge – Esoteric Malacology (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Death Metal/Slugs
Preview:  Limo Vincit Omnia

10.  The Ocean – Phanerozoic I:  Palaeozoic (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Metal/Atmosphere/Extinction Event

The two preview songs might be two of the best metal songs I’ve ever heard.  If the rest of the album held my attention as consistently as that, Phanerozoic would be in the top 3.

9.  Time, The Valuator – How Fleeting, How Fragile (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Metal/Metalcore/Beauty
Preview:  How Fleeting

Catchiest, most sing-alongiest album of the year.

8.  Psycroptic – As The Kingdom Drowns (2018)
Genre:  Technical Death Metal/Groove

“Kingdom” is up there with Wretched’s “Exodus of Autonomy” as one of the most relentless compendiums of unbelievable riffs ever.

7.  Soreption – Monument of the End (2018)
Genre:  Technical Death Metal / Groove

Soreption is what Decapitated might’ve evolved into after “Organic Hallucinosis” if Vitek and Covan didn’t die.

6.  Unleash the Archers – Apex (2017)
Genre:  Heavy metal/thrash/Iron Maiden worship
Preview:  Shadow Guide / Awakening

Probably the best power metal I’ve ever (or will ever) hear.  If you’ve never liked power metal, give this a chance…trust me.  I’m not a big power metal guy, but this album makes me feel like riding a goddamn dragon into battle.

5.  VOLA – Applause of a Distant Crowd (2018)
Genre:  Progressive Metal/Jazz Fusion/Darkwave/Indescribable
Preview:  Alien Shivers / Ruby Pool

Get ready to be blown away by something you’ve never heard before.  Try to imagine if Meshuggah and Ulver had a baby that took jazz classes, and knew how to write the ever-loving shit out of a song.

4.  Eidola – To Speak, To Listen (2017)
Genre:  Swancore / Progressive Metal

Eidola is going to be one of the biggest bands in the scene one day, if there’s any justice in the world.  Andrew Wells’ voice is one of the purest things in metal, and their lyrics are wildly intelligent and thought-provoking.

3.  Dyscarnate – With All Their Might  (2017)
Genre:  Death Metal / Groove / Angus Beef

The best flat-out death metal album I think I’ve ever heard, and Mark Morton of Lamb of God agrees -- he called Dyscarnate one of the best bands in metal, just last year after seeing them live.  This album will CRUSH you.

2.  Rivers Of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name (2018)
Genre:  Progressive / Atmospheric Death Metal
Preview:  A Home / A Silent Life

It’s not a 2018 album list without Rivers of Nihil’s masterpiece at the top…HOWEVER……..

1.  Caligula’s Horse – In Contact (2017)
Genre:  Progressive Metal / Reach
Track-by-track explanation:  Overview / Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

There has never been a metal album that resonated with me, and spoke to me the way that “In Contact” did when I first heard it, and continues to.  I literally get goosebumps from start to finish.

As Jim, the lead singer says, “In the world in which this album is set, every piece of art is an attempt by human beings and artists to remember a dream we’ve all shared in the past, that we’ve all forgotten”.  The dream connects us all, and all of artistic inspiration is an attempt to reach for that connection.  The story of the world is told through the perspectives of four different artists – a writer, a singer, a poet, and a sculptor.  I won’t spoil the whole album, but the first preview song “Songs for No One” is about a singer/musician (maybe back in renaissance times) who’s kind of a Cassanova type with ladies swooning all over him…but he’s actually gay and needs to hide that fact from everybody else so he isn’t executed.  Every song that he writes, the ladies he sees think the songs are for them, but his songs are actually written for his real inspiration/muse – the man whom he loves – and he expresses his hidden hurt that he cannot reveal his true self throughout the song.

The rest of the album goes on in that way.  It’s one of the most beautiful concepts I’ve ever heard, told through beautiful personal stories, and one of the most well-written, far-scoping, ambitious albums I have ever or will ever hear.  For that reason, not only is “In Contact” my #1 album of 2017 and 2018, it’s firmly in my top 5 albums in any genre, ever.