This is definitely my last post of the year. Sound the trumpets and that.
First, a clarification – there are 16 lang cats now and not all of them approve of this list. I say that in the full knowledge that none of them know what’s on it. Terry might like a few of these songs, but otherwise it’s just me. But I’ve done one of these every year since setting the business up, and I’m not stopping now. So here we go, top-ten style:
10. Kathryn Joseph: From When I Wake The Want Is (Rock Action) – I saw Kathryn supporting Mogwai at Leith Theatre during the Edinburgh Festival and it was a total highlight of the year. This is not a fun record, but it is absolutely beautiful and will sort of help you out, if you let it.
9. Emma Ruth Rundle – On Dark Horses (Sargent House) – sorry, this isn’t that cheery either. But Emma Ruth Rundle’s 2018 album is a fantastic mix of sort of PJ Harvey and sort of post-rock, and a bit of blackened shoegaze stuff and maybe a bit of Kate Bush even. If that sounds awful, it’s not, and in the interests of trying different things you should give it a listen.
8. Eneferens – The Bleakness Of Our Constant (Nordvis) – OK, this is where the metal starts. Eneferens is one bloke, and I bet you can guess that he’s not from Swindon. Jori Apedaileman is his name, and despite being a Billy Scandi No Mates, he’s created an atmospheric, sometimes melodic, sometimes ferocious masterpiece, which is sort of best filed under melodeath, but not really. It takes a couple of listens to get it, but when you do it’s oustanding. Also gets 23 metal house points for having an indecipherable logo.
7. Architects – Holy Hell (Epitaph) – just because The Kids like Architects and it’s got choruses and stuff doesn’t mean this isn’t a proper metal record. It absolutely is. And where lots of metal bands slap on the corpse paint and pretend to be angry, Architects have genuine loss and tragedy to deal with. Holy Hell is absolutely drenched in grief for the death of Tom Searle, the band’s guitarist and main songwriter from cancer at the age of 28. Again, not the easiest listen, but wow.
6. Malcolm Middleton – Bananas (Triassic Tusk) – Malky is on great form with his latest record, which is in no way the second best record with bananas on the cover. This is an insanely catchy record which makes you awfully glad it’s Malky feeling all the things he sings about and not you. Also great live. He’s not one for big promo videos I don’t think, so this might be a bootleg:
5. Midas Fall – Evaporate (Monotreme) – I’ve banged on about Midas Fall to anyone who’ll listen for years. Not many folk do listen, but you should, especially if you like the idea of post-rock mixed with vocals which wouldn’t sound out of place on an All About Eve record. The new album is definitely worth your £10. I also saw them live in Bannermans in Edinburgh, to a really disappointingly small crowd, which is a crying shame.
4. Suede – The Blue Hour (Rhino) – Not metal in any way at all, but God this was good. I loved the first record in 1992, tolerated Dog Man Star and then took a pass on pretty much every Suede release until this one. Loved it. Except the little home-recorded bits in between the songs, but that’s what fast forward is made for. I played this a ridiculous amount in 2018.
3. Judas Priest – Firepower (Columbia) – they’re wrinkly, they’re crinkly but they still absolutely have it. Monstrous record from a bunch of folk very much old enough to know better, much aided by the legendary Andy Sneap on guitar and production. Anyone who loves Priest knows what they want from a JP record – some aggressive stuff, some big power ballads, ideally about war and stuff, a 12-minute progressive epic and a couple of howlers. Firepower has all of these and more.
2. Amorphis – Queen of Time (Nuclear Blast) – I’m new to Amorphis this year, but I’m very glad I found ’em. This is a great mix of melodeath, a bit of folk, some blackened shouty bits and all sorts of other metallic goodness. It’s cemented its way into my most played of 2018. The video below also has Anneke van Giesbergen in it, who as all metalheds kno can do no wrong. I’ve even found that a few folk who don’t embrace The Metal can find their way to not hating this.
1. Omnium Gatherum – The Burning Cold (Century) – in the absence of Insomnium releasing a record this year then Omnium Gatherum (I’m not the only one to think that they should form a Finnish melodeath supergroup called Insomnium Gatherum, surely) was always going to take top spot. If you like this sort of music, then you’ll love this. Not much more to say about it really, but it’s a total belter.
And that’s it for this year. Honourable mentions go out to Olafur Arnalds, Hinayana, Jon Hopkins, Mogwai, Anaal Nathrakh and A Perfect Circle, all of whom were much played and enjoyed but were edged out, and not in a pleasurable way.
Gig of the year was a toss-up between Garbage at Brixton Academy and Slayer‘s stop in Glasgow as part of their neverending retirement tour.
Total bootleg of Slayer here:
And of Garbage here: